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Toyota Sienna Transmission Questions

On my 2005 Sienna, we changed the transmission fluid at 30,000 miles and just checked again at 67,000 and it is nearly BLACK. I had it changed along with the filter and 4 days later it is black again...the transmission is running well but I know this is not normal and want to avoid problems down the road. My mechanic advises against a full flush because it can cause damage to the seals.
Is it normal for the turn dark so quickly in this vehicle?


  • jipsterjipster Louisville, KentuckyPosts: 5,443
    Hard to say if beginning of problems, more likely an isolated incident. Anyhow, it's totally unacceptable that this would happen on a brand new van. I would ask the dealership to extend the warranty of this transmission to 7 years. Others have asked to be switched out with a brand new van.

    If van continues to have problems you can pursue lemon law, or Toyotas have high resale value... sell it.
  • Hello. 45 days ago I purchased a new 2007 Sienna XLE. It test drove beautifully (actually drove it for a full day or so before buying). It had about 350 miles on it when I took it for the test drive.
    It currently has under 1,600 miles on it and about 10 days ago I noticed when it would shift from 1st to 2nd gear, it would hesitate & buck. It almost seemed as if it was a manual transmission & you let the clutch out too fast. On the way to the dealer, I noticed that it wouldn't go into overdrive until reaching about 53 mph which seemed too high to me.

    Dealership says I need a new transmission (obviously under warranty). My question is that my family has owned approx. 6 Toyotas throughout the 80's and up to 2004. After putting up to 120,000 miles on these vehicles, we NEVER had any issues with anything other than the normal items that get replaced (brakes, timing belt, tires).

    Should I be concerned that this is only the beginning of problems? I totally babied this van driving it very conservatively. The dealer said the transmission is shot & it is a defect.
  • Luckily we have a lifetime power train warranty that our dealership provides to every new Toyota, so that is good. Yes, I'm hoping it's an isolated incident. This was the entire reason why we dumped our GM & bought a Toyota.
    I don't know if it makes a difference, but I was reading on this site that the transmissions are now made in the US in West Virginia for the Camry, Sienna and possibly another model. I figured the parts were still made in Japan, but assembled in the US. I guess not anymore.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Let them fix it.

    The 5 speed trans is actually pretty good. Toyota is having more issues with their 6 speed, though the Sienna didn't get that new design yet.

    Mine has been fine, so I agree this will likely be an isolated incident.
  • lxpatellxpatel Posts: 34
    Life time warranty that you did have to pay for? or they gave that as a result of tranny failure. Let us know, I would want to shop over there next time, to avoid buying extended warranty.
  • The lifetime powertrain warranty was given to us by the dealership at the time of vehicle purchase. It is something that all of the Toyota dealerships give at the time of a new Toyota vehicle purchase.

    Got my van back on Friday and it runs beautifully! Super smooth (I think smoother than when I purchased the vehicle)!

    So far, so good! :-)
  • You just got yours back today and mine was just diagnosed today!!!! I also have a Sienna 2007 LE and it has 4,500 miles on it and we purchased it in May this
    They are ordering a new transmission for the vehicle! Obviously it is under warranty...but we did not get the lifetime, because Gettel Toyota did not offer it. However we got the vehicle for several thousand less than other toyota dealerships that offered the lifetime. This is our 3rd Toyota...and the first to have a major issue:( Coincidence...or just a bad line of transmissions...or the beginning of a lot more problems???? I'd like to know also.
  • caravan2caravan2 Posts: 198
    That's interesting.... I was giving the option for 100K warranty if I do all the maintenance work at their shop.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Hopefully they fix yours just like they fixed his. Let's see.

    I bought mine in May and the trans is fine, actually my overall performance/MPG is fantastic.

    Extended warranties are dirt cheap, about $800 for a 7/100. There is a thread here on Edmunds if you search.
  • Good luck with your new transmission, pingmoon. Hopefully your 2nd one will be perfect -- mine is far better than the original but I had no idea because that was the only Sienna we test drove. Hmmm, maybe that's why we got such a good deal?? :-)

    If you can, let me know when you get your Sienna back with the new transmission. Our service advisor told us that we were getting a "new" transmission. However, when we got the receipt, it shows a "reman atm". Turns out it is a remanufactured one, sort of. They told us the transmission is new except the outer casing. They told us that the dealership cannot obtain a new transmission through Toyota, only this one which legally must be called a remanufactured one because the outer casing is from another Toyota.

    I've never had to deal with any of this before but I feel since it has a lifetime warranty, then I should be OK.

  • lxpatellxpatel Posts: 34
    can you tell us dealership that gave you the lifetime warranty, Thanx
  • Jenn,
    How frustrating. Do you think they are telling the truth when they say it is new except for the casing? These vehicles are too new to have to accept a used transmission. I'll let you know what they tell me.
    Thanks to the other poster for the warranty info!
  • Yes, I know it's hard to believe....My hubby and I bought a brand miles....2007 Sienna LE in July of this year and in 2 weeks and under 500 miles I was stranded 4 hours from home. Transmission acted like it was slipping and then would not work at all. We towed it to dealership and they just said since it was so new etc. they would just feel better replacing the whole tranmission. Ok, so I'm a little disappointed that I have a 29,000 dollar van that didn't even make it 500 miles....but I got over it. Now, with 5500 miles and ownership of just over 3 months it stranded me again. This time I was slowing down at stop sign and there was a huge noise and I could no longer accelerate and when I put it in park it began to roll down the hill where I was. Obviously it was towed in yesterday (Sat.) and we haven't heard yet.....but I am convinced they are going to tell me it's the transmission. In Ark. you have to have the same problem 3 times before it's a lemon. I'm well on my way huh?
  • Tonya, honestly, I don't know what to believe. Unfortunately there's not much I can do unless I have the same problem 3 times (Lemon Law). I guess I just have to hope for the best and assume that they are telling me the truth about it not being a rebuilt.

    The name of my dealership is Toyota Center in West Columbia, SC. There were and have been very good to deal with, I'm just hoping I don't need any other service except for scheduled maintenance!

    So sorry to hear about your Sienna, Budgetmom. I can certainly understand your disappointment and frustration! Please let me know what you find out!
  • Budgetmom,
    So can you pursue the lemon Law? Or do you technically have to wait for it to happen one more time? This is really scary to hear....this is so unusual for a toyota.
    They did change the transmission from the 2006 to the 2007 model...I think. Maybe you need to let them know this is the route you plan on pursuing if they don't get it right. They told us....and ours was just making a barely detectable unusual sound...that they don't repair transmissions...they just replace them. Also when my husband dropped off the vehicle, he asked if it was being replaced with a "new" transsmission...the reply was "absolutely" ...that was yesterday morning. So we will see. This is the first time we have ever purchased a new vehicle..and the most we have ever spent one also. so it is very dissappointing. Thanks for sharing it is very good to be in the know about these things. Thanks for taking the time to post.
  • siennamisiennami Posts: 116
    Oh, no... I test-drove an 07 from there in June. I ultimately ended up with one from Florence Toyota. Ironically, they offered an "exclusive" lifetime warranty also! I'm very sorry to hear of your problems with your van. So far mine has been working great.
  • I got my Sienna back last week from having the transmission far so good. I'll post here of any future issues with the transmission.
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    NOT true. I tried to trade off my 2006 Sienna LE with less than 3,000 miles on it. The Toyota dealership used car manager said it was worth only $19,000...which is a loss of $ 10,000 in only a few months. :sick:

    If you are having problems with your vehicle, would you sell it privately to dump your problems on another person? :confuse:
  • I really hope there will not be anymore transmission problems. That is the only problem so far, but that was a pretty big issue for a Toyota. If I continued to have
    big issues, I might seek legal advice, if we chose not to go that route and the dealer would not give me a reasonable trade-in then I would sell privately, but I would definately tell the person the transmision was replaced. It is sad because this is the first time I have chosen to buy new. However I guess I could have bought my same van a year later 1 year used on a Toyota lot and never would have known the transmission was replaced.
  • mcase2mcase2 Posts: 160
    This is the most disturbing Forum on the Sienna I have ever seen. The transmission on my 2004 Sienna has a dead spot at around 1100 rpm. This was common on the 2004, but was only a minor nuisance. In fact I only notice it once or twice a year when stuck in stop and go traffic. However, failing transmisions are absolutely inexcusable on this high priced Toyota. The problem is widespread enough to have resulted in a forum and I would opine that most people do not get the warranties mentioned in these posts and are taking a huge risk in buying this car. I actually was thinking of getting another Sienna when the 7/100,000 was up on my 2004, but this not going to happen in light of the this latest failure on the part of the "the most reliable car maker on the planet." I had a failed transmision on a cheap used Dodge Caravan and Chrysler actually gave me a new transmission - not a reman. Toyota has cheek palming off remans on people who bought their high priced minivan. By the way, the word of a car dealer that only the case is recycled is meaningless. Its all about money and the guts are recylced as well. The sad truth is that you don't have remans available unless you have a high failure rate. Clearly Toyota has lots of failed transmissions to pick parts out of.
  • s4f4ms4f4m Posts: 19
    Definitely ask for a NEW one. What is REMANS? It is remanufacturing of a used transmission...replacing only the broken components. There is still wear/tear on the non-replaced components.
  • I agree, this is horrible...I am getting bent out of shape because our 2002 Honda Odyssey at 89,000 miles needs a new transmission and I need to pay over $2k to get it fixed and having to fight with the dealer and corporate Honda to come down from trying to charge me the full $5k for the swap. In fact, during the time the Honda case manager was ignoring me, I started to research buying a 2008 Sienna to replace the Honda piece of junk, and here I see that brand new Sienna's with 500 miles are dropping transmissions, and some are on their second one by 3500 miles???? :confuse:
    What's going on? Used to be Odyssey's and Sienna's were the best of the best.
    Transmission failure is unacceptable. That's why we got the Odyssey back in 2001 and even had to pay $1k over the sticker at the time (and that was a good deal, since they were going for $2500 over...). We were after Honda reliability and quality. 20/20 hindsight, I should have gotten the Dodge Grand Caravan instead. :P
    My friend has an 05 Sienna AWD Touring model and so far has not mentioned any transmission issues.

    Now I will think about the Sienna some more (maybe that's why they are offering lifetime warranties, Toyota or their dealers know it's a problem), but definitely stay away from anymore Hondas. Maybe the Saturn Outlook or GMC Acadia are better alternatives.

    So the transmission fails and they replace it with the same transmission that fails again...seems like Toyota doesn't have any solution except to keep putting in replacements that will eventually fail anyways??? Sounds like Toyota is using Honda transmissions now. :lemon:
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I have the 2008 Buying Guide from Consumer Reports right in front of me, and the specific score for transmission for every year, 2001 to 2006, on the Sienna is either "Better than Average" or "Much Better than Average".

    Any car can break, but your odds are better with a Sienna than with any other van.

    My 07 has been flawless.
  • Good point, Consumer Reports is a good guide, but it is still just a guide.

    Real life experiences that threaten the safety and well-being of a car designed to transport whole families is whole other story.

    Having a transmission go out within 500 miles is completely unacceptable.
    Where's the quality control?
    Where's the testing?
    Is it up to the buyer to be the guinea pig?

    There must have been a bad batch of transmissions or some kind of design flaw to cause this kind of premature failure (and then the failure of the replacement transmission? Ouch!)

    The transmission is the second most critical component, next to the engine, without it working properly, you are stuck on the side of the road.
    It's not like a bad power window switch, or a faulty radio knob.
    If the transmissions fails at just the right time and just the right place, people are going to get hurt.

    Obviously Toyota knows something is up with these vans.
    Otherwise why would the dealers so generously offer a lifetime or 100k warranty?

    During my price shopping, I was surprised to find these are going for $5k under the sticker with a $1000 rebate, which puts them at or way below invoice in most cases.

    Sign of the economic times? Slow sales? Or are they trying to unload them?

    I am not totally against Toyota, my sister-in-law has a Sienna with over 120k miles and no issues, and my best friend has a Sienna AWD Limited with no problems so far, that's why I was looking at them as a replacement for the Honda.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Tens of thousands come off the assembly line. One bad apple doens't ruin the batch. There will always be a few exceptions, even on a reliable vehicle. No vehicle is perfect, I doubt there ever will be such a vehicle.

    I'm sure they test samples, but not every one. Costs would skyrocket and you and I could not afford the van if they did.

    Overall van sales are way down, they used to break a million per year but are way down from that peak. GM and Ford abandoned the segment entirely. Crossovers are all the rage, so vans have to offer more utility and value.

    Smart folks step in and take advantage of that fact. Vans are better than ever.

    My Sienna makes 268hp and is quicker than sports cars were not too long ago, yet I've also hit a record MPG of 34.0. Carrying 5 people and cargo. I've never done worse than 21mpg (what crossover can claim that?).

    My van can carry 8 people or a sheet of plywood, has power doors on both sides, yet I paid only $25 grand, about $10 grand less than the average transaction price on a crossover.

    Sure, on rare occasions, they'll break down. There's a lot of complexity and things that could go wrong. Still, the odds are good, and like I said, vans are better than ever.

    Here's a bottom line, though: I got a price quote on a 7/100 bumper-to-bumper warranty direct from Toyota for just $880. So basically the manufacturer is betting that less than $880 of repairs will cover the entire van for that period, and even leave them room for profit!

    They basically put their money where their mouth is. Just get the warranty if you're concerned.

    PS Even Honda's scores for transmission reliability have improved recently (2004 and later).
  • mcase2mcase2 Posts: 160
    The problem started with the transition in manufacturing in 2007 - The stats your reading are irellevant
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Toyota still uses the U151E - 5 speed automatic in the Sienna.

    Are you saying there were significant design changes?

    I kinda of doubt it, given they had already started replacing those with the U660E 6 speed in other vehicles in their lineup.

    I believe the data is 100% relevant.
  • hause7hause7 Posts: 153
    The 5 Speed in the 07-08 Sienna's are the same as the 04-06. Consumer Reports rated it a very good transmission and i rarely hear about people who have problems with the transmission in the 04-06 MY. Our 04 has 72,205 miles on it and counting and the transmission still is like new.
  • vu2000vu2000 Posts: 58
    My brother has a 2006 Sienna LE with 46K miles and it runs perfectly. A few years back I sold my 91 Camry V6 with 155K miles(never had any transmission issue). I am sure Japanese cars are not infallibe, but they are way more reliable than any American brands I've owned in the past.
  • I still love obviously has been a small number of vehicles that have
    had this issue or I think we would be reading about it on a lot more forums....and a lot more on this forum. I'm fine as long as it does not happen again on the same vehicle, if it did then I would become more concerned....I did not get the lifetime warranty.
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