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Toyota Avalon 2004 and earlier



  • I've had my Avalon since April 1997. No problems.
  • My new 2001 Avalon wanders (especially to the left) when I drive it - especially at highway speeds. It is very hard to keep it going in a straight line. It is very disconcerting to drive. Has anyone else experienced steering problems? I have had the tire pressure checked and it been re-aligned twice.
  • Me too! It's driving me crazy, constantly fighting this car! I took it to the dealer and complained, they said the alignment was perfect. Their answer to the problem was to rotate my tires. It did _not_ fix the problem...

    I have the 2000 Avalon XL. Has anyone found a solution to this problem? Otherwise a great car.

  • mgmoymgmoy Posts: 2
    I was getting better mileage in the summer and fall, about 27 - 29.
    Now it's around 25 - 26. Could be the cold weather or could be the
    oxygenated gas. I noticed the same thing with my previous car.

    I un unleaded regular all the time. I experimented with special
    when I got the car in the spring. Made a difference in performance
    but no difference in mileage. I find that the car has plenty of
    pickup with regular and don't see a need to use the higher grades.

    I do about 25%/75% city/highway
  • I have a rattle in driver side of the dash . the dealer said they think it is the windshield and it needs to be re packed . anyone heard of or had this problem
  • alan_salan_s Posts: 362
    I read some other post about a rattling Avalon windshield. That person discovered that it was the plastic grill on the outside of the windshield, under the wipers that were rattling, and nothing inside the car. Apparently some foam rubber fixed it.
    Just a thought before you pull your windshield out!
  • parnolaparnola Posts: 140
    I'm getting ready to purchase an Avalon XLS and am debating whether or not to get the Vehicle Stability Control option. Has anyone had any experience with it and does it work well (and worth the price)?

    Also wondering what the preferred method of purchase is with you guys - local dealer, direct via internet, etc. I'm in Dayton, OH so the competition isn't terribly great.


  • Picked up my 2001 Avalon XLS with Vehicle Skid Control system last month. Have driven about 3100 miles and the "check engine", "VSC" and "VSC OFF" lights all came on at the same time. The dealer could not determine what is causing the problem. They reset the lights and before driving 1/2 mile after leaving the shop, all the lights came on again. Any other owner have the same problem? If so, what was the cause? Also, the service manager emphatically stated that the VSC system still is working, even though the VSC OFF light is illuminated. Does anyone know if the service manager is correct about the VSC system still working when the light is on? (Just found this board as I tried to "research" my VSC problem. GREAT SITE!!)
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    I like VSC. I've played with it a good bit and can attest to how well it works. The deal is though, it is nearly useless on dry pavement. When I went to a Toyota "ride and drive" I had the opportunity to drive on a closed course or pylons. I tried as hard as I could to engage the system. I finally did it but it turns out that I was the first salesman to ever do this. Over 1300 salesmen had tried before and couldn't drive it hard enough to engage it. I was driving like a maniac.

    Wet roads are a different story. It works extremely well in preventing understeer and will keep you in much better control. As to its value, that is up to you and a realistic evaluation of how and when you drive.

    I have had a customer that had a problem with the VSC. Within the first 100 miles on a new car, the check engine and VSC lights came on. We reset the system and it happened again. I can't remember what the exact cause was but I believe it was actually a vapor sensor in the gas tank. It had nothing to do with the VSC but it tripped the VSC light anyway. Have the dealer read the code and fix whatever caused it to come on. My customer had no further problems after this.
  • ratledgeratledge Charleston county, South CarolinaPosts: 233
    Steve ("Cliffy1"), is there any place to put in suggestions for future Avalons? I really want my next car to have "HID"/Xenon headlights. Sounds simple, since even some lower-end Lexi offer these... I'm still about eight-ten months out from a purchase, likely will wait for the '02 models.

  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    I wish there was some sort of suggetion box. I know Toyota does extensive market research including focus groups but I don't know how a person could get involved in that. I don't know how far this would get you but you might try calling 800-GO-TOYOTA and asking them.
  • indyoindyo Posts: 5
    yes my car drifts left too. still happens after an alignment. i thought i was the only one!
  • pilot13pilot13 Posts: 283
    This may help solve the dilemma. Have the dealer service crew check the gas cap, and make sure it's on tight.
    Had the same problem with our 2K XLS; it took less than 5 minutes to reset the instrument panel code-- after the gas cap was found to be loose enough to trigger the warning lights.
    Otherwise, our Avalon is a very impressive car in all respects. Hope you have similar results with yours.
    And Cliffy, many thanks for your informative posts to this topic--It's not often that people who sell cars have the kind of integrity you seem to have.
  • parnolaparnola Posts: 140

    I'm ready to purchase my 2001 Avalon XLS - are you aware of any incentives (either cashback or financing) that will be offered in January? I'm trying to decide if I should wait a week to see if anything becomes available, or go ahead and buy now.


  • To:;

    The quality (or lack there of) issue in the Toyota is significant. Toyota's hallmark has been long-term reliability. I believe this is NOT the case now. It may well be a myth perpetuated by Toyota. Owners are likely to have false hope based on this myth.

    Did you know that some owners are experiencing sludge in the engine and being denied warranty claims? Did you know that these same owners are paying $5,000-8,000 for new engines? Did you know that some 2000 Sienna owners are having torque converter replacements within the first few hundred miles of driving? Did you know that others have had total transmission failures after after a few thousand miles? Did you know that there are other problems common to this vehicle? Have you had:

    1) Persistent drifting/pulling to the left or the right
    2) Uneven wear of tires with need for early replacement
    3) Premature brake component wear, including rear brake drums
    4) Power steering problems, including inner tie rod or total rack and pinion replacement
    5) Vibrations, esp. at speeds above 50 MPH
    6) Premature transmission problems or failure
    7) Torque converter replacement, sometimes just after delivery
    8) Sliding door latch problems with sticking and difficulty opening
    9) Oil sludge in the engine related to a contaminated system

    IF you have experienced these problems, please write to the following agencies and file a report detailing your case. THEN, network with others by visiting sites where owners post experiences.

    U.S. Department of Transportation
    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
    Office of Defects Investigations
    400 7th Street, NW
    Washington, D.C. 20590


    Center for Auto Safety
    1825 Connecticut Ave., NW
    Suite 330
    Washington, D.C. 20009-5708

    The Complaint Station--click "T", then "Toyota"

    Car Trackers Discussion Forum

    Phil Edmonston's Lemon-Aid Car Guides

    Also, use the USENET groups:

    Charlene Blake
  • pilot13pilot13 Posts: 283
    Sounds like a disgruntled Toyota owner with an axe to grind (Imagined or otherwise).
    A tad more fact and much less innuendo might lend some badly needed credibility to the so-called problems noted in the above!
    A visit to several more accepted websites (JD Power for example) might be in order to put ludicrous and malicious claims like this in their proper perspective!
  • jmbkljjmbklj Posts: 19
    In Sept I took delivery on a 2001 XL which was ordered with exactly the options I wanted. Got a good price and an efficient, straight forward, no hassle deal working with the Internet Manager at Kings Toyota in Cincinnati. His name is Mike Rutherford. Give him a call and tell him that Kathy in Columbus recommended him. Phone is 1-800-526-3518. Or just send an email to the Internet Manager. Email address at the dealership is I knew exactly what options I wanted. It was the best car buying experience I ever had. I also tried all the dealerships here locally. Their prices were much higher and they tried to do all the horrible, typical car sales tactics.
  • Just look at the ridiculous and repetitive posts in the Sienna threads about her problem. she THINKS she has a sludge problem but doesn't really know if she does or not. She's the only that cries wolf about the sludge topic. If you read previous threads about sludge...shes the one on top of it sounding like a broken record...repeating her argument over and over and over again and time and time again...she is just ignored. LOL I'm sure if she had a Mercedes Benz or a Rolls Royce, she'd complain to BBB or NHTSA or whoever about why their cars cost too much or some ludicrous idea like that. HAHA. Do like everyone does and have been doing...IGNORE CBLAKE. Her statements have no credibility because SHE THINKS that she has problems and doesn't really know that for a fact.
  • is a well made engine because I know several people with high mileage Camry 1MZ-FE V6's with no problems. My friend's 94 Camry Coupe with the 1MZ-FE has over 110K miles and no problems. Another friend has a 94 XLE V6 with 149K problems and a person I know of has 125K miles on his 95 Camry Coupe V6. This particular engine have been out about 6 years now...and if this engine is so called "FLAWED" why haven't these engines of the cars described above failed yet due to sludge...along with my 83K mile Avalon??? Most likely...the one who THINKS she has sludge or has had sludge problems in their engine is "FLAWED". It's proof positive whether you own a $10,000 compact economy car to a $300,000 exotic sports car, that regular and timely oil changes prevents MANY if not ALL problems the longevity of an engine. CBLAKE chooses to ASSUME things and THINKS she has a problem with sludge in her van. She doesn't know for a fact she has this problem or not. The sad thing is if you agree with her, she will be your best friend, but if you disagree with her..she will discount you from her buddy list. That really breaks my heart...boohoo. Her stories don't add up. Basically in her view, shes right and the rest of us higher mileage 1MZ-FE V6 owners are wrong. Now who are you gonna believe...A person with experience with this V6 engine in their car or someone who THINKS they have problems because she read something off the net? LOL
  • I am in the market for a new car and have considered a new Avalon, a Maxima, and the new Hynudai XG300. My father recently bought an Avalon and is very happy with it. Because I usually pay cash then drive em till they drop I am studying each of these cars carefully. Frankly, some of the attitudes on this forum disturb me. I do not know cblake2 but have read her many posts, particularly at the thecomplaintstation site. What is disturbing is that some happy owners are so quick to discredit anyone who might have a problem with their Toyota. If cbalke2 was the only one complaining of the sludge problem it would be easy to write off the problem as a fluke. However there have been a disturbing number of other complaints with similar problems. All of these people swear that they followed the recommended maintenance yet were faced with large repair bills, under warranty, that Toyota was at best reluctant to honor. Are all of these people liars? Possibly, but why are they more probably liars than just victims? One seemingly knowlegable owner even went so far as to have his oil analyzed which showed water contamination leading to the problem. I also have a personal friend who owns a 99 Camry with a problem with the front strut. This is another well documented problem that several other Camry owners have also had. He has been waiting for a new strut literally for months and months. Though his Camry has been otherwise trouble free, he has had it with Toyota on this matter and vows to never buy Toyota again. While not every other Camry owner has this problem, just because he and a few others do doesn't make him a nut case. Doesn't cblake2 deserve the same benefit of the doubt?
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    Incentives are a regional thing. In the Central Atlantic Region, we have no incentives on the Avalon and I don't think we will see any for a couple of years yet. The upper end vehciles rarely have them. The only time we ever had anything on Avalons was when the 2000s came out and they put them on the '99s. Even then, it was only $500.
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    OK, lets talk about sludge. I am a salesman so you can all take this for what it is worth. I have tried to research every complaint I read on this message board and have reported on various Toyota problems such as transmission problems in the '00 Senna, brake issues on the Tundra, strut problems on the '98 Avalons, stereo problems on the '01 Land Cruiser. I'm not one to deny real and widespread problems. The thing is, there is no widespread sludge problem. It just does not exist on cars that have been maintained as per the manual.

    Now, have I seen a large number of Camry with engine sludge? Yes I have. Every one of them was 3 years old and were purchased at auction. Not by coincidence, auction cars tend to be "off lease" vehciles. Toyota is currently experiencing a problem with off lease cars because the owners figure they don't own the cars and don't bother to maintain it. Toyota even re wrote the lease contract recently to insist upon the driver performing required maintenance.

    Toyota makes one of the longest lasting engines on the market. They will develop sludge in large dose if you fail to change the oil on a regular basis. If somebody has CONCRETE information to the contrary, please, post it. Show me the recalls, show me the specific complaints, show me the maintenance records and I'll change my tune. Since one cannot prove a negative, it is up to the accuser to prove the sludge accusation and that has not been done by Charlene.

    All this said, I don't deny that there may exist a small number of instances where a Toyota engine did develop sludge. I was in contact with a TH member about 9 months ago with this problem. He convinced me that his problem was real. This in no way indicates a wide spread problem. It means one guy in Leesburg VA had a problem.
  • pilot13pilot13 Posts: 283
    Nuff said. There are, without doubt, unhappy owners of all makes and models--Let 'em have their say, and then let's move on.
    I'm a totally satisfied Av owner who believes regular oil changes are the best (And cheapest) insurance for engine longevity.
  • There is another consideration in preventing sludge by following recommended oil changes:

    1. Drain oil from a hot engine.
    2. Allow to drain for 2 hours, not 2 minutes.

    Of course, you may have to do it yourself for # 2 to happen.

  • pilot13pilot13 Posts: 283
    Goodness gracious, great ball of fire! I'm tempted to really lose it on this topic if this rhetorical nonsense about "Sludge" resurfaces one more time!
    (1) Recommended oil change interval for the V6 engine is 3000 miles. That's fine if operating parameters are adhered to-- that is to say, engine temps at optimal levels (Highway speeds for more than 30 minutes) at most times, filter change at time of oil change, oil change when hot, etc. Any deviation from this criteria warrants a more frequent interval.
    (2) Moisture will always be present in crankcase whenever engine temps are not sufficiently high enough to boil off residual moisture (Short runs, insufficient warmups are the norm).Water boils off at 212 degrees F-- if engine temps are not sustained above that on a regular basis, you're gonna have problems! Sludges Law: Moisture =Sludge.
    (3) It should not be necessary to drain oil for 2 hours to ensure all moisture and other contaminants are removed from crankcase. It's safe to assume all is OK after oil stops dripping significantly.(Usually 5 minutes if oil is sufficiently warm).
    (4) Always change filter at any oil change.It's not worth waiting longer.And it's not a bad idea to cut the filter open to see if there are any metal particles there. (If you can read serial numbers on the pieces, don't run the engine any more!)
    (5) Whitish residue on inside of oil filler cap is an indication that condensation exists in the crankcase--Driving habits and/or improper maintenance are the problems, not the engine!
    (6) Toyota's V6 is one of the most reliable in existance--It's track record is indisputable.
    (7) All of the above advice applies to ANY manufacturer, not just Toyota.

    Good Gawd, Let's put this nonsense to rest once and for all! Enuff already!
  • Last Friday I made my first on-line automobile purchase via The experience far surpassed my expectations and was the best car buying experience I've encountered to date.

    We purchased a 2001 Toyota Avalon with vehicle stability control, #7 leather interior package, 16" wheels, all carpeted car/cargo mats & nets, factory installed security system including glass breakage sensor, home link system, JBS sound system AM/FM, 6 disk in-dash CD changer, diamond white pearl paint option, and gold package for $31,866.

    Before contracting w/Greenlight, on Dec. 3, I e-mailed 13 Toyota dealers in the upstate NY and West. MASS. area to see if they could meet my request. Some of the dealers never responded, others wanted me to come to their dealerships to "discuss" this purchase. But, surprisingly those that might fulfill my request couldn't or wouldn't meet the Greenlight price. So, I decided to take a shot with Greenlight, figuring I had nothing to lose.

    I am so glad I did. I immediately received a confirmation e-mail from Greenlight specifically stating the make/model of the vehicle w/options that I requested, along with their confirmed selling price. Most of the contact I had with Greenlight was via e-mail and telephone.

    To make a long story short, Greenlight found the exact vehicle for me in Fordham, NY (about 150 mi. away); secured the best financing rate possible (comparable or less than credit union rates, etc.); and arranged with the dealer to trade in my 1998 Honda Civic (which the dealer ultimately gave me $10,800 as a trade in). The Greenlight consultant, Rhonda, kept me updated regarding the status of my vehicle (which was in transit from the factory to the dealer), fixed a few glitches along the way and notified us immediately regarding when we could take delivery.

    Greenlight also offered us an opportunity to have the vehicle delivered to our home or office, which we may have accepted had it not been for our trade in. All paperwork, bank drafts, etc. were handled very efficiently. Greenlight did everything they could to see that we were 100% satisfied.

    In fact, when we picked up our Avalon, the gold emblem package was not installed on it. So the dealer arranged for the Toyota Accessories truck to travel to our home next week to do the installation. The only problem we encountered was the interior color was not what we originally requested w/Greenlight and we had the opportunity to decline the deal or accept a monetary compensation for our troubles, which we readily accepted. and the Fordham Toyota dealer were outstanding to deal with and I would definitely consider buying another vehicle from in the future.

    We are very satisfied with our overall experience and with our first Toyota purchase...

    PS: Does anyone know about the gold emblem package..and what's entailed with its installation?
  • parnolaparnola Posts: 140
    Can anyone tell me if the heated outside mirrors on the Avalon XLS are also auto-dimming? I have a 2001 Lexus RX and they are auto-dimming. We're considering an Avalon and I'm wondering if it's the same. Thanks, -Pat
  • Just purchased a 95 Avalon XLS, and am pretty happy overall with the car, but do have a few questions that I hope someone can help me with.

    1) Since the car is out of warranty, will I have to pay for the weather seal/wind noise fix kit? (there is a TSB for this problem). If so, how much might this cost?

    2) The gas pedal seems to be SO sensitive, can this be adjusted to be firmer? Hard to relax my foot, otherwise I'm going too fast!

    3) I am looking for a more sporty driving feel, will going to 16in wheels (and 215/60 tires) improve handling/ride/noise? If so, is there any down side to going to 16in wheels, like affecting odometer or speedometer readings? Also, what would be the best tire, Michelin, Yokohama, or ?

    4) I have the light bronze factory tinted glass. Will this affect the color or appearance of my windows if I tint with the usual after market darker gray? I'm thinking of the LLumar brand.

    Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions!
  • I have a 95 Avalon XLS with now 83K miles I purchased certified last year.

    1) Yeah, TSBs are just there for the dealerships so they will acknowledge the problem. The Toyota dealership is not obligated to pay for any TSB work. Check your local Toyota dealer and see what they have to say. But most likely, you will have to pay out of your pocket. I haven't had time to look up for the repair myself.

    2) Unfortunately, the tension/spring rate of the accelerator is the same for all the 1MZ-FE V6 powered vehicles like the Camry, Solara, Avalon, Sienna, RX300 and ES300. You might wanna remove the slack out of your gas pedal by adjusting the trottle cable nuts.

    3) If you wanna upgrade to 16" wheels, it would be best to plus size your tires. Go to and find plus sizing there. An equivalent tire size from 205/65R15 is:

    205/60R16 (OEM size 16" on Solara/Avalon/Camry)

    Yokohamas make a great tire..but if you are looking for quietness and quality...Michelin is the way to go.

    4) Is your tinted glass on all the windows? I have this bronze tint as well. It is a film. If you have this film on your glass, it would be best to strip them off and have the other film put on. I will be doing this soon on my Avalon. I most likely will get SolarGard 35 front and 20 in all the rears.

    If you have any questions, feel free to email me!
    Good luck!
    TeamSC³ - Founding Member
  • psymacpsymac Posts: 4
    Thanks very much Ryan for your responses.

    Any downside in performance/ride/handling to going to 16" wheels? Also, any perference to 205/60 vs 215/55 size tires?

    I'll check out the TSB wind noise fix with Toyota and get back to you.

    Not sure about the tint, if if is on all windows, will check into that. Hopefully it can be removed and not interfere with the new gray tinting. You prefer Solargard over Llumar?

    Thanks again!
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