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Toyota Avalon 2004 and earlier



  • 5539655396 Posts: 529
    You should find all you need in this forum or in

    You could also search on abfisch and 55396.
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    Nice posting. I have similar and have contributed to this site for awhile. Have an 02 Avalon XL with 96K on it. Have had CV/axle problems in the beginning with the car but now OK. Automatic car washes are hurtful to the brakes up here in North County.

    To answer your questions about suspension, I have posted these before but will again for you. I would not recommend putting in OEM Toyota struts/dampers. They are inferior in quality and performance to a twin tube low pressure gas shock. Two manufacturers, both TokicoHP and KYB GR2's are both very good. You will thoroughly enjoy the difference. For a high mileage car, the bushing/bump stops for the top of the shock housing and rubber where the spring sit s on the strut should be replaced at the same time too.

    Have them check on the CAB(control arm bushings) as well as the sway bar bushings. They are made of rubber and they dry rot through the years. They do make PU(polyurethane) bushings which are essentially thick plastic instead of rubber(Energy Suspension). I like them better, but they are NOT for everyone. There performance is superior, which makes the Avalon's turn in much sharper without an body lean b/w the shocks and the bushings. And they do not deteriorate at all like rubber so no need to replace again. However......there are disadvantages. They are higher maintainance, and tend to creak if not lubed once a year, and they do affect ride qualtiy negatively. To describe it to everyone, your XLS requires 32 PSI in the tires. Put 37 PSI in all your tires and ride around in it for awhile. That is how it will ride(quality) with PU bushings. So if the roads are bad, so will be the ride. If it is mainly highway, it will be much more controlling. Start with the struts and their associated hardware.

    Otherwise a very good car. The tranny fluid and the PS fluid(same fluid) should be addressed if not done so already.

    Hope this helps.

  • I am looking at a 1999 Toyota Avalon. I have heard reports in here about the more recent ones of how they have trnasmission probs and other oddities. Can somebody tell me what to expect from a 1999 Avalon? What kind of mileage could they run as high as before the car was done for? It has 149,000 miles on it.
  • finfin atlantaPosts: 591
    I put 90k trouble free miles on mine, a '99 XL, before going to an '03 XL. The first one was near perfect. Trouble spots in general for the '99 model year were a soft suspension, excessive front brake wear, some engines that had an oil circulation problem and an A/C temp control problem on the XLS only. Despite all this, it was still a very reliable car compared to all others.

    With proper care the car could go 200k, maybe more. Do you know anything about the car's history? Got a Carfax report? Priced right, based on condition? Think about it... you might have a winner! Hope this helps. :)
  • bwiabwia Boston Posts: 1,907
    Sounds unbelievable but last night I got 40.3 MPG on my XLS (as measured by the digital display which is quite accurate). On my stop-and-go normal commute I usually get 18 - 21 MPG. Last night I decided to take the expressway and I got this unbelievable 40 MPG even though I was driving between 60 and 70 mph. Somehow I could sense something unusual was happening because the engine purred so smoothly and quietly just like the first day I brought my baby home in July 2000.

    For the record the car is a 2000XLS with 60,900 miles on it and I've had only one problem so far, the replacement of a fuel sensor. I rarely drive on the freeway as most of my driving is confined to the traditional suburban to city driving. Great car although my brakes seem pulsate especially on wet surfaces.

    Question to Avalon owners, how is your Avy holding up in terms of handling and repair costs? And are you getting anywhere near the mileage I reported above.
  • rpfingstenrpfingsten Posts: 154
    Bwia... if that's accurate that's incredible.. Funny you brought that up tonight because just tonight I checked my mileage since my last fill up. In combination city / highway driving my o7xls averaged 28.2 miles to the gallon. However I don't think the computer displayed avg. is accurate. I did the math the old fashion way ( on a calculator ) when I got home and it came out to 26.74 mpg. Not sure what post it was I read, but somewhere on this board, somebody reported that the odometers were'nt calibrated perfectly, as a result your mileage and computer displayed fe would also be off.. If anyone remembers that post, please refer me to it so I can go back and look at it and re-calculate my FE. Thanks.

  • mcclearyflmcclearyfl Posts: 149
    No, I have never achieved more than 33 mpg on my 2003 XLS, and then only at 75 mph on long stretches of Florida's Turnpike. Of course the warm air doesn't contribute to ideal combustion conditions. Most of my long journeys average 29 mph, and the computer and my direct calculations are usually within 1.5 mpg of each other.

    The pulsation on braking is a very well-known feature of our previous-model Avalons. The disks warp easily, aided by regular overtorquing of the lug bolts by gorillas at the tire shop or dealership. Hand tightening the bolts will somewhat reduce the problem, but ultimately the only solution is to replace the (front) disks and pads. I did this with Brembo disks and Toyota Racing Development pads at 60K, and the braking is now completely normal (and quite sporty).
  • 5539655396 Posts: 529
    Anyone know if rotor warpage occurs primarily on the front which does most of the work? I would assume that to be the case. If so, maybe it's only necessary to replace the front. Or, are your mechanics only replacing ones that are actually warped? I suppose it depends on how many times they have been resurfaced also.
  • mcclearyflmcclearyfl Posts: 149
    I have only replaced the front rotors, and pulsation has gone, so I assume the rears are OK. Normally it is the fronts that warp in most models and brands.

    I don't remember the source but I recall reading that resurfacing the Avalon disks was a waste of time, since the reduced thickness simply contributed to further warping. There is a significant labor charge anyway. The concept of using new better-quality disks seemed appropriate to me.
  • finfin atlantaPosts: 591
    Be assured you made the right decision. The OE rotors were one of the weak spots in this five year run of Avalons. Enjoy your car... Have had one of each generation of Avalons... great cars... :)
  • 49364936 Posts: 15
    You asked about others experience. Just traded my 2000 XLS for a 2008 LTD. We already have had a 36mpg on interstate 62-65 mph trip. The 2000 never got that high on the same run usually 33-34mp this is from eastern Pa to western Indiana. Always better coming back than going west. The 2000 had 106000 miles miles with no problems other than the battery gave up in the last month. I had new plugs, timing belt water pump, replaced all struts around 75000 miles. The car was perfect in all respects, got about $12000.00 against the new one MRSP $36000.00 paid out $2000.00
  • bwiabwia Boston Posts: 1,907
    Be assured you made the right decision. The OE rotors were one of the weak spots in this five year run of Avalons.

    I have to agree with you on that. On Tuesday the dealer replaced the rotors and brake pads on all 4 wheels of my 2000XLS at a draw dropping price of $1,018 (after a 10% discount). This is by far the most expensive (or should I say taken to the cleaners) brake job I've experienced in my life.

    The mechanic said there was significant pulsating on both front and rear wheels but the rotors were too warped to machine down. Seeing how slow it was at the dealership in these hard economic times the service manager was obviously trying to sell up to pay for those idle mechanics. Nonetheless, the car is driving fine again and it almost feels as new. Now only if I could stop them from pressuring me into doing a 60K mile service.
  • mcclearyflmcclearyfl Posts: 149
    Your experience is like my $380 charge for the part and labor on a rear wheel bearing. Toyota parts prices can be frightening, and I don't know why - there are many aftermarket OEM parts suppliers.

    I paid $85 for two Brembo front disks; I can't remember the cost of the pads because I have had them for over two years, but let's say $50. Thus the aftermarket cost of parts for front and back approximates to $270. The difference between that figure and your $1018 is solely due to labor and the high cost of Toyota parts.

    My 2003 Avalon is long out of warranty, so the need to patronize these high-price dealers has long since gone. Where possible I buy aftermarket parts and negotiate the labor charge with the dealer's service department. They used to be reluctant to do work in this manner but, as you say, a dollar is a dollar these days, and they are much more willing to go after your business. I could easily have avoided the heft wheel bearing charge, but I had not been aware of the problem prior to taking my noisy car to the dealer.
  • jesch1jesch1 Posts: 9
    Consider your luck. My rear wheel bearing was $468.00. That will cost them a new car sale and all my past business and recommendations worth another ten cars! All for 15 minutes labor! On 66,000 miles.
    I can remember wheel bearings packed for comparatively nothing! In fact, it was a comparatively simple do it yourself effort.
  • I had the check engine light come on in my 2000 Toyota Avalon XLS (85000 miles) and I took the car to autozone and my local mechanice both of whom diagnosed the error code as P0420 - Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold ( Bank # 1). My mechanic said this problem was common on avalons and attributed the reason to the catalytic converter failure. He said it would cost me $ 630 /- for parts + $ 100 /- for labour to replace. Which In my opinion is too high. Has anyone faced a similar issue before ? There is no effect on the performance or MPG of the car. What could've gone wrong and how much will it cost me to fix ? Is it really the Cat conv or the O2 sensor ? Incase its the cat, can I buy one from junkyard ? Also will it have any effect on the car in the long run ( besides failing the DMV Inspection) if I continue to drive without addressing this issue.
  • kpraveenkpraveen Posts: 22
    I got the same problem and was able to fix it.
    It is very easy to fix and just matter of $99+ tax (on $99).
    Let me tell you exactly what needs to be done, based on the code P0420 you need O2 sensor before catalyst. I bought BOSCH made O2 sensor in autozone for $99.99 (part# 13355) link:,07029/initialAction,partProductDetail/initia- - lpartType,00117/initialR,APP230038/shopping/selectZip.htm

    It is very easy to replace before cat than after cat, you can take help of autozone guys to show where it exactly located or you can search online, there are several websites guides how to replace it. Sorry, i am in a rush but thought to let you know so that you can easily fix over this weekend.
    Again, this part is like plug n play installation. There are other universal models available where they price 30 to 40 dollars cheaper than bosch made but installation takes more time than Bosch. If price is not a constraint you can buy Bosch and install it yourself. You have to run your car for 2 miles before you change it but dont over run because it will over heat the part and difficult to replace it as it becomes too hot.
    It will fail DMV inspection if you dont fix it. Also, DONOT take it to DMV inspection until you drive the car for 1000 miles and put fuel injector in fuel tank.
    Hope this helps you and good luck.
  • finfin atlantaPosts: 591
    There are 3 posible answers here: The UPstream O2 sensor is bad, the DOWNstream O2 sensor is bad or the Cat Converter is bad. You cannot really tell without diagnostic machines or scanners and an understanding of how the system works. (But a bad sensor may produce a different code in addition to this one.)

    Before doing anything: fill up and drive at the legal limit+ for at least an hour. Load the car with people and turn on the AC. Fill the trunk. Find some hills. Make the engine work. You may be able to burn off buildup on the Cat filter surfaces and fix the problem. Try this several times. You don't drive a lot (8 years, 85k) so the converter may be able to fix itself if you get it hot enough for a while.

    If this fails and the light is still on, there are various electronic tests that compare voltage between the sensors. These tests are helpful but you must start with a cold engine and take some wasted if the converter is in fact bad. Both sensors probably cost less than the test if the test is done properly.

    Do not use a salvage converter. You have no idea as to the condition and cannot measure it prior to installation. You can't pass inspection with this code showing but the car will drive ok. There may be no good solution except to replace the Cat converter. Hope this helps.... :)
  • Thanks fin and Praveen for your quick responses, what you are saying perfectly makes sense to me...

    Infact I have a few more inputs to add since I have been facing this problem for almost a month now. The light had turned itself off after I changed the gas station and started filling Exxon instead of Shell..just to return back "on" during a long trip > 120 miles last I am really confused .what exactly is the problem...

    fin - is there a simpler test like an emissions test or something done which I can get done for much lesser cost which can definitely tell me whether the CAT is indeed performing sub optimally or no.

    praveen - do you also have a 2000 avalon and did the problem get solved just by changing the O2 sensor ? coz my mechanic tells me that if the O2 sensors are faulty then I should be getting some other code besdies P0420

    Eargerly awaiting your replies

  • kpraveenkpraveen Posts: 22
    I have 1995 avalon with 169k miles on it. There are no other codes displayed besides P0420 for before cat O2 sensor.
    I also experienced the same way that the check engine was going on & off for few weeks but after a month time it was on for long time. I did not fix it the check engine for almost 6 months but when inspection time was near i had to fix it.
  • finfin atlantaPosts: 591
    The OBD system is a constant test of all parts of the car. And it's free. Other tests, to check on the OBD error code in this case, are not worthwhile if you pay full price for them.

    If this were my car and it was doing OK otherwise, a good car, and I intended to keep it for some time, (and driving for an hour at freeway speeds with injector cleaner has not solved the problem) here is list of things you might consider:

    1. Get the 90k service. Clean the injectors off the car. Replace the plugs. Then drive the car. If the CEL is still on and will not go off on the highway, replace the O2 sensors.
    2. If none of this gets the light to stay off and no other codes appear, replace the Cat converter.

    Some people replace the sensors at 100k anyway. They heat to the same temp as the converter and won't last forever. But they are much cheaper to replace if they go bad and you don't really need a converter. Good luck! :)
  • I am looking to replace my 96 Avalon XLS that has 196,000 miles. I am looking for a 2000 thru 2004 XLS. I am limiting my years because of the pricing of these vehicles. I am very satified with the performance and reliability I have experienced in the last 4 years with this 96, so I am going to be a repeat buyer of a vehicle for the first time in my life. (I have owned lots of vehicles)

    I have a question about using a 2003 or 2004 XLS steering wheel on a 2000-2002 XLS. Will the 2003 or 2004 XLS steering wheel match up to the 2000 thru 2002 XLS wheels? The 2002 thru 2002 XLS wheels are fully leather-wrapped and have a tendency to deteriorate where my hand or wrist rests. The 2003 and 2004 wheels are partial simulated wood. Does anyone know if the colors are about the same and if the mounting apparatus is the same?

    I am still looking for that 2nd gen Avalon and can't wait to upgrade.
  • jesch1jesch1 Posts: 9
    My 02 would fit the bill, but my old cars bring repeat buyers so I would have to be coaxed to part with what I considered my best car with 66700 miles and I'm 80! I'm IL.
  • mcclearyflmcclearyfl Posts: 149
    There seems to be a loyalty to the 2nd generation Avalon that may not exist in the 3rd. We leased our 2003 XLS for 4 years, and then purchased it. We are paying, for a 5-year old car, probably more than if we leased a brand new model of almost any mid-size vehicle. Of course, in 3 years when the payments are over, we will still have about $9000 of equity, so the comparison is not exactly fair.

    Our Avalon has not been trouble free. Repairs have totaled $1400. Nevertheless, my wife - who views any used car with complete suspicion - is enchanted with the comfort, the relatively strong performance and, amazingly, the looks. Every time we get into a 2008 car or SUV we find ourselves comparing them unfavorably with the 2003 Avalon.

    We have owned a wide variety of cars including three Saabs, a Buick Regal GSE (probably our favorite after the Avalon), a VW Jetta, an Olds Aurora, a Maserati and, for fun, a restored Nash Metropolitan. Never in a lifetime would I have thought that an Avalon would capture our imagination and loyalty.

    Good luck with your search!
  • louiskbuilouiskbui Posts: 1
    I am unable to open my back door on the 1995 toyota avalon. How do I fix this issue?
  • leoanrdleoanrd Posts: 1
    my wife used my car, and now the car seat wont back, the switch allows the seat to go foward, up, down, tilt up, tilt down but it doesnt go back.
  • rpfingstenrpfingsten Posts: 154
    Never, Never, Never.... let anyone drive your car. That's a recipe for disaster. I broke my leg and had to have surgery last year, and so for a few months, about once a week my wife would drive my avy to take me to the doctor or whatever, and I don't know what hurt worse, breaking my leg in 3 places, or sitting on the passenger side and watching my wife pull away from the stop light like she was John Force. She was soooo mean to my Avy, and the worst part is she didn't even think she was doing anything wrong. The only time that I actually want her to drive my car is right after lunch when we're on vacation... It's a good bet that daddys taki'n a nap and therefore won't see the horrible way she treats my Yota.

  • At 70K miles my wife’s 2003 Avalon had intermittent idle problems when starting in the morning. Since my spouse believes that any vehicle should behave as if it just came off the showroom floor, my response that “an occasional idle problem was not worth getting upset about” did not go over well.

    Knowing I would have to remove the throttle body, I decided to replace all the spark plugs since, I thought, replacement of the rear bank of plugs would be much easier with the throttle body removed. Even then, spark plug replacement was not an easy job, and my hat goes off to those brave souls who do it with the throttle body in place!

    However, the real story in this post is the Idle Air Control Valve. Removing the throttle body has been described in other posts. My only comment is that the fourth bolt securing the throttle body is on a support by the bulkhead, and you can easily miss this and wonder why the throttle body won’t come off. Once you have the throttle body on the work bench, the rest is relatively easy.

    There are four Phillips head screws securing the IAC valve to the underside of the throttle body. I know of at least one post where the writer couldn’t undo the screws, and simply cleaned the throttle body with an appropriate cleaner, assuming that the IAC would get cleaned as well. This is a big mistake. My screws came out easily, but if you have trouble just use a vise grip on the exposed heads. My IAC had a substantial coating of hard carbon material on the shaft and plate; throttle body cleaner does not remove this. The best solvent is carbon disulfide, but this is toxic, has a foul odor, and is not readily available to the general public. I used Goo Gone together with an old toothbrush and cloths. I removed the black electrical cover (2 screws) which exposed the shaft, and cleaned this again with Goo Gone. Finally I washed everything in throttle body cleaner. The shaft and plate now rotated with no resistance.

    Reassembly of the throttle body back into the car is primarily commonsense, but it is useful to secure the 4th bolt through the bulkhead support before trying to install the throttle body on the three remaining bolts. The total job took about 3 hours. I could probably cut this in half the next time.

    Peace has now returned to the household. I have not heard any more complaints about intermittent stalling. When started in the morning engine idle speed is now around 1400 rpm, returning to about 900 after a short warmup period.
  • 5539655396 Posts: 529
    "On Tuesday the dealer replaced the rotors and brake pads on all 4 wheels of my 2000XLS at a draw dropping price of $1,018 (after a 10% discount)."

    I just saw your post as I was searchong for what someone recommended for aftermarket rotors that were superior to OEM. I just bought an aftermarket rear bearing/hub assembly for our 03 AV. $85 with a 2 year warranty. $300+ at the dealer? Taiwan, but who cares? Labor, about 1 hour @ $48/hr. OK, I took it to a local junk yard. Mechanic builds and races stock cars and seems top rate. New rotors would be $20-30. Pads are almost gone. $20 for OEM. $40 for ceramic.

    I just talked to NAPA and they quoted me $45 per rotor. They didn't have drilled. Then I spoke to my mechanic at the junk yard. He quoted me $22 for grooved rotors. Quess what? He got em from NAPA. He must have not marked them up from his cost. Now that's treating the customer right. So, we are doing a rear hub and bearing assembly, turning the rear rotors, new grooved front rotors, and new ceramic pads all around. Not sure what the total will be.

    "Now only if I could stop them from pressuring me into doing a 60K mile service."

    I never take my cars to a dealer, so no pressure. I don't do dealer checks. But then. I have a pit in my garage and an ear tuned to abnormalities. Not for everyone, and probably only a few.
  • 5539655396 Posts: 529
    Well, I picked up the Avalon from the junk yard. Brakes have a really nice feel with the ceramic pads that Todd recommended. Very quick with a solid performance feel. This may lessen a bit as they break in, but I hope not much. I like it. We will break them in gently until the surfaces wear in to each other.

    With the previously installed KYB GR2 HD struts ($209/set new on ebay plus installation and alignment) and Energy Poly sway bar bushings, this has become quite a sporty feeling car to drive. I agree with ABFisch, very BMW like. This is now a very enjoyable car to drive, and I don't even have the rear bushings installed yet. I couldn't believe the difference the front bushings alone made. I highly recommend them. At about 30 bucks, you can't beat the improvement. If your struts are weak, this should firm things up a bit too. I did ours before the struts, ant it was very noticeable. My wife was thrilled with the difference. Now that says alot.

    A rear wheel bearing started to go on the trip home from Arizona 2 years ago, but didn't seem to get any louder, so made another trip last year fully loaded. Still no change, but I thought I had better not push my luck. Good thing probably, as it takes considerable effort to rotate the old one. More of a lube problem than anything. I can usually lube a bearing and free it up, but this one isn't responding well, so I assume it's the outer bearing that I can't get to. I'll let it sit a day or 2 to see if oil gets down to it.

    Anyway, I bought a new bearing/hub assembly online for $82, and Todd installed it. I probably could have - only 4 bolts, but didn't want to this time. At 68k, the pads were quite thin, so we replaced them with ceramic. and turned the rear rotors as Todd said they rarely warp. In retrospect, I would have gone new, as the cost was only slightly more. Should be fine though, as only needed to clean them up because they weren't warped. Fronts were warped and pulsating, so we replaced them with grooved aftermarket rotors. Bearing/hub labor was only $33.80. I won't dirty my hands for that. Turning the rear rotors and all other labor came to $78. $20 for 'shop supplies' seemed excessive, but no complaints at this price.

    So, my out the door total including tax was $283.18, plus the hub/bearing that I supplied. Helluva deal.

    My theory is that when coming to a stop and holding the brakes on causes the heat to remain under the pads while the rest of the rotor cools, possibly causing the warpage. So, we try to brake early and more lightly, then stop about 10-12 feet back at an intersection. The rotors don't get so hot with easy braking, but then we also let the car creep ahead so that the rotors cool more evenly. It's my wife's car, and while she says she practices this, I notice that she sometimes, um, forgets.
  • Some interesting observations, 55396. You did much of the work I have done on my Avalon, but at considerable savings. Well done!

    My front ceramic pads on aftermarket disks (neither drilled nor slotted) were a little abrupt for the first 1000 miles, but have smoothed off since then, sufficiently in fact to demonstrate the limited capabilities of the suspension (which you and Abfisch have addressed). I have not yet done the rear brakes, but a very minor pulsation suggests to me that, unlike your Avalon, my rear disks are slightly warped. The replacement cost for a rear bearing, including labor, was ridiculous. I also wasn't pleased when a new a/c compressor cost $1000.

    One of the difficulties in doing "serious" maintenance on an older car is the cost-benefit analysis. Is it worth spending a large chunk of money (assuming much of the work is done at the dealership) rather than simply trading for a new vehicle? Each of us will have our own analysis, but I suspect the final decision is emotional rather than analytical. My wife expects new car performance regardless of the vehicle's age, and sometimes the easiest answer to that is a new car. Nevertheless, my wife uses the Avalon as a standard, and few vehicles we have looked at come close. Compared to my faultless 70K Saab 9-3, however, the Avalon is becoming a bit of a liability.
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