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Toyota Avalon 2004 and earlier



  • miss66miss66 Posts: 12
    I am considering the purchase of an '04 XLS Avalon. My question regards the suitability of leather vs. fabric seats.I wonder if leather is the way to go if I plan to keep the car for at least 10 years. Does leather require maintenance? Anyone have any idea as to the life span of heated seats? Are they expensive to service should they fail? I like the fabric because its cool in the summer,warm in the winter. I just wonder if this is a poor choice for this car.I would appreciate any input on this or any other suggestions regarding options. I'm not really sure which items I should consider.
  • fndlyfmrflyrfndlyfmrflyr Posts: 668
    My Avalon is nearly 9 years old. The standard leather seats have held up well with the normal small amount of surface cracks mostly on the driver seat bottom. Have had the driver seat bottom and back re stained once about three years ago because a spot about the size of a quarter became discolored on the bottom and the color on the seat back had rubbed off on the outer edge. Cost was about $60 and it still looks good.

    I prefer cloth seats, but have found the Avalon seats to not be a problem even during 100 degree plus days.

    The back seat looks and feel new. It has been used a lot, especially during the last year. The passenger front seat shows virtually no wear.

    Cleaning is easy. I use a a leather cleaner every now and then and a couple of times a year I use a conditioner. Sometimes I use a combination product.

    I find leather tends to scratch if a pet has sharp nails (the dog does not ride in the Avalon).

    Have had leather in the last four cars. Before that all of my cars had cloth seats, except for the Avalon. In the long run my cloth seats have stayed looking good/like new longer than the leather seats, but I haven't worn out a leather seat.

    Plan on a little more maintenance compared to cloth to keep leather looking clean and feeling new. It doesn't take long and doesn't cost much
  • fndlyfmrflyrfndlyfmrflyr Posts: 668
    Our Avalon, until two years ago, was our primary family and trip vehicle. A little over a year ago our new driver became the main driver of the Avalon. It has become a teen hauler. The teen friend that is 6'7" has loads of room.

    Today I drove our 96 for the first time in about six months. Felt like I was sitting in a hole (very low) compared to my other cars, but it was easy to get in and out. I'm still impressed with how quiet it is and how smooooothly the car operates. Very pleasant to drive. Now I remember why we liked it so much. Not fun, not entertaining, but so relaxing to drive. After today's drive I'll put the next generation Avalon high on my list of possibilities for my next car.
  • finfin atlantaPosts: 591
    Our '99 XL leather front seats showed a little wear after 4 years, but nothing really bad. A little discoloration maybe, here and there on the edges, but no major problems. Rear seat was like new. It was never cleaned or treated, just washed lightly every now and then. Leather is always big help on resale value if that matters.

    The '03 XL we bought has the new "perforated" leather and it is much better than the solid in the Georgia/Florida summer heat. Not offered on XLS in '03. Maybe now. This may be a nice compromise if available.

    Can't help on cloth interior as we have not owned a car that came with one in probably 15 years or more. And never had the heated seats either.

    Avalon is a great car for the money. Not perfect, but very good. Find one you like and enjoy it.
  • miss66miss66 Posts: 12
    Thanks for all the input about the leather seats.
    I plan to ask about the perforated seats.
    Also, I assumed that you could use regular gas in the avalon. I just read a message that indicated that the manual says for max performance use 91 octane. Also, again from this site I found out about after market sites. I found avalon wheel locks and floor mats at discounted prices. Is it wiser to get these things, especially the wheel locks from the dealer?
  • fndlyfmrflyrfndlyfmrflyr Posts: 668
    I recently ran a test in one of my premium recommended cars (not the Avalon) to find out how much difference in performance and mpg there was between regular and premium gasoline.

    The engine did not ping/knock on regular. Below 60 mph the car 'felt' the like it had the same acceleration. At freeway speeds it felt a tiny bit less responsive.

    I ran regular for several tanks (premium had been used up to this time) and did an acceleration test using a stop watch (actually several).

    Results: Mpg dropped by a little more than 8% using regular, slightly more than the savings using regular vs. premium. Acceleration, while it felt the same was actually slower from 0-60 by about .35 seconds. In short, the car ran fine on regular, but cost less per mile, based on nearly $2.50 per gallon around here, to operate on premium, and performance was better with premium too.

    On my 96 Avalon I have notice better trip mpg using premium and the car felt like acceleration was a bit better on premium too. I didn't do any stop watch testing or drive enough tanks in a row on premium to be sure how much better the average mpg might be using premium instead of regular. It would be no surprize if the results were similar to my other car.
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    I understand what you are saying, and yes, if the overall tire diameter is the same, it would seem that the similar tires would wear the same, but that is not the case real world. Going to a lower series tire obviously adds cost as your have to increase the diameter. To doucment my point, about wear, go to a LEXUS dealership and pull one of the LS 430 catalogs, look in the section on options as they have a sports suspension now with a tire upgrade in size. In Tinny, tiny print, it reads something to the effect that you should not expect much more than 20K from the larger tires. Whether it is from the different compound, over width, different composition of the rubber, it is a mout point, as increasing the dimaeter (plus one sizing) will increase intial cost and most likely increase the rate of wear. To further expound, plus one sizing comparisons CR did an article to compare plus one, plus two, and plus three and its effects on multiple areas in their usual decision type matrix. The BOTTOM LINE is that most people, should NEVER change the tire size more than plus one, as the effects on ride, hydroplanning, wet cornering are reduced drastically with a little increase in performance, traction, dry cornering, dry braking, etc. They did not even take into account a derease in longevity but did mention the intial expense. To go further with my point, you start to put a tire that handles better on a suspension that is NOT up to the same performance level as the tire. Take for example the big SUV's you see with 21" rims and 35 series tires, just plain ridiculous and in fact dangerous. The tire react way before the structure of the car ever could. Additonally, who says that lower profile tires as actually Better LOOKING???? Who makes those judgements that it looks better???? Why???? Because you see more rima and less tire. You are being SOLD, at least partially in my opinion by the auto industry. This is all IMO, so you can do whatever you want and spend your $$$ however you want.

    But.... a seasoned automotive enthusiast that has worked on vehicles would tell you differenet. Let the suspension do the work, not just the tires. The tires are the last thing I modified for my 02 Avy, when I wanted to have a more highway worthy car. I have both 205/65 H 15 (New Falken Ziex 512's ) as well as 215/55 H 16 as well as Winter tires on standard rims, 205/65 H 15. Depending on the driving conditions that year, depends alot on which size I prefer, but going 5 hours a clip from West Point, NY to Ft. Drum, NY, I am running the Falken 205/65 H15. Realize that my car has TokicoHPs struts, Energy suspension PU bushings for the sway bars and the lower front suspension arms and the car carries some extra weight from my stuff in the trunk and the trailer hitch.

    In any case, let us know how you do, the decision you made and how the car functions for your application.

    Good luck.

    "Feed the fourm"

  • jscott13jscott13 Posts: 9
    I have read on various message boards about LANGKA paint chip repair. Has anyone actually used this product? Does it work? How good does the end-product look?

  • fndlyfmrflyrfndlyfmrflyr Posts: 668
    I've tried Langka a number of times. One of my cars is quite chip prone. I've tried Langka on three cars, MDX, PT GT, and Avalon. The results have been mixed.

    On the Cruiser Langka, every time, removed not only the 'blobs' but all of the paint in the chips too.

    It seems to work better on my MDX with Langka removing the 'blob' but leaving paint in the chip - as long as the chip is a deep one. The problem has been that the paint that is left in the chip is dull and needs to be polished to bring back the shine.

    On the Avalon I found the same problem as with using Langka on the Cruiser. No matter how careful I was Langka always removed all of the paint from the chip. My Avalon is pearl white and the factory touch-up paint is very thin. It takes a lot of coats to get coverage with the touch-up. In addition, I found that is possible to damage the existing OE paint with Langka. I now have a small area on my Avalon hood that looks like the paint melted. This is an area around where I tried to use touch-up and then get rid of the 'blob' using Langka. I suspect I used too much pressure and damaged the paint. It was the first time I tried using Langka. It hasn't happened again.

    I contacted the manufacturer directly and found they (Larry) was very good. Several suggestions were given that, while they still didn't make Langka a 'blob' flatener, did make Langka a useful item to have. I've tried to get Langka to do what Langka says it will do and have not met with any success on two of my cars. I followed all of the suggestions, including waiting longer to use Langka, diluting Langka, and using virtually no pressure at all.

    Apparently the depth of the chip is very important. Not deep enough and Langka takes away all of the touch-up. I also have the impression that Langka performance also depends on the make up of the touch-up paint. It works better on one of my cars than the other two,

    I've found I like having Langka around because it will completely remove a sloppy touch-up and therefore make it easy to redo.

    I noticed my Acura dealer now sells a 'Blob' flatening product too (not Langka). It comes with a polish to shine the flatened touch-up and is supposed to be used within 15 minutes of applying the touch-up paint, while Langka prefers more drying time.
  • jscott13jscott13 Posts: 9
    Thanks for the reply. I take it that the product is useful if the chip is deep enough or to correct a bad touch up.

    I have used a toothpick for most repairs and tried to fill the very small chip to a certain point and then wax the car until the small indentation more or less disappears. Large paint chips are another matter. I have not found anything that smooths out the chip without otherwise causing some damage to the paint around it. Is Langka basically a polish of some sort?

    BTW Griot's makes great polishes and waxes, the best I have found. Even if the paint is slightly damaged, using one of their three polishes and then their wax restores the paint to perfection.
  • fndlyfmrflyrfndlyfmrflyr Posts: 668
    Langka is not a polish. It leaves the new paint dull.
  • mcclearyflmcclearyfl Posts: 149
    There have been a few posts about gas mileage, and a two-day round trip to Canada gave me the opportunity to do some measurements. Ours is a 2003 XLS, loaded, and was carrying a driver, passenger and about 100 lb of luggage in the trunk. We did not use the radio, so there was no antenna drag. Airconditioning was running all the time. Tires were a pound above standard pressure. The car has 10K on it, and was recently serviced, so the motor should be at an almost ideal state of tune. We used exclusively premium gas, and filled the tank each time to the absolute top of the filler pipe.

    There were three segments to our journey. #1 was a fast, 450 mile stretch, typically at speeds between 75 and 80. The terrain was essentially flat. #2 was a 275 mile mixture of county roads, interstate and a small amount of city driving. #3 was the same as #1 but at a slightly slower pace, about 70-75 mph.

    #1 – fast interstate driving 26.3 mpg
    #2 - mixed rural driving 25.7 mpg
    #3 - moderate interstate speed 28.5 mpg
    EPA Highway estimate 29.0 mpg

    We didn’t buy the Avalon for its “economy”, but it appears to come close to EPA standards. Our Saab 9-3 4-cylinder turbo typically returns 30 mph, and our former Buick Regal 3.4L supercharged model (heavier and more powerful) never returned less than 29. So the Avalon is reasonably acceptable in terms of gas consumption. On the plus side, we thoroughly enjoy its smoothness, visibility, comfort and silence. It is a joy to drive, lacking only a few extra horsepower that would be so useful on the “ragged edge”.
  • bwiabwia Boston Posts: 1,907
    Today at New England’s largest Toyota Dealership (also the world’s #2 Toyota dealership) I had a rather pleasant service experience. As I entered the waiting room I was greeted by an official greeter (a la Wal-Mart) who offered to brew me a fresh cup of coffee or chocolate.
    While I waited she offered me freshly made popcorn and engaged in light hearted conversation. She said Boch Toyota started the “meet and greet” program a couple of weeks ago and her job is to make customers feel comfortable while they wait for their automobiles. And would you believe her name is “America?” for which she has a canned response, that in her native country, America is a common girl’s name.

    When I asked for a Prius brochure, she instead brought a salesman who told me I would have to wait eight months and they were getting mark-ups of $7,000 above sticker. If the Prius is so popular why doesn’t Toyota increase production? BTW, the salesman said that they have a Prius on eBay which is now up to $31,500. I must say the Prius is a good looking car and definitely I will be looking at hybrid technology for my next purchase.

    What does all this shi shi service cost? about $80 standard hourly labor rate.
  • gteach26gteach26 Posts: 576
    Interesting service experience. I'm not sure if my wife would like me sipping coffee and eating popcorn with America when I go in for oil changes though! ;)

    Also, on the Prius thing... I'll never understand people. How many years will these people have to drive their prius before the gas savings kick in?

    These prius folks would be better off getting a good mileage mid-sized sedan, pocket the 7 grand and buy gas for the whole family for half a decade.

    I guess making a "statement" is worth 7k to some folks.
  • petlpetl Posts: 610
    I tended to agree with you. Then I started thinking... it's more than spending extra to get better gas mileage. It's about cleaner air and saving a non-renewable resource (or at least making it last longer). We may not see it in the foreseeable future. However, eventually we will run out. It (hybrids) may not be the answer, but I'm happy the attempt is being made to save on this resource that most North Americans take for granted. It's more than a statement.
  • gteach26gteach26 Posts: 576
    ...but not at that price premium. I'll gladly be a "late adopter" and buy a hybrid once the hysteria wears off and it becomes more mainstream.

    It does seem like hybrids are the way of the future. Can you imagine how nice it would be to step outside and not see smoggy haze surrounding our cities? Next we need to get our factories, energy suppliers, and trucking companies to keep nipping away at the pollution dilemma.

    Okay, I don't want to hijack the Avalon thread with hybrid talk -- BUT since Toyota seems to be an aggressive backer of this technology, let's hope the Avalon gets a hybrid engine soon.
  • qualitynutqualitynut Posts: 36
    Anyone know if this feature is on the car? It seems like I hear a pump (barely) run soon after starting the car. My 99 Aurora had it, nice feature.
  • 5539655396 Posts: 529
    I've always hated the way a touch up looked. Either a bump or a depression, usually with some touch up on the surrounding paint. This time, I decided to experiment. I slightly overfilled the chip and let it dry and cure out. Then I went back with a razor blade and, being carefil that the angle wouldn't cut too deep, trimmed off the excess. I then gently sanded just the touched up spot with 1500 grit (2000 would be better yet)wet or dry paper and water to finish leveling the paint. I followed this with a polisher, although polishing compound applied by hand should work just fine too. Looks great. The key to getting the spot to shine is to make sure the paint has cured out first.
  • seabushseabush Posts: 68
    I'm looking to purchase a new vehicle. I've compared the Avalon XLS to the Infiniti I35. Both seem to be pretty equal in terms of features. Infiniti is offering some incentives right now that makes purchasing that vehicle more attractive than the Avalon. However, I'm still torn about making a decision to buy that vehicle. I'm curious to know whether anyone hear evaluated both cars and what made you decide to purchase the Avalon over the Infiniti.
  • finfin atlantaPosts: 591
    To Seabush:

    Have made this comparison frequently. Here is some of what I have found thru the years:

    Avalon - is a much softer ride with very large comfortable bucket seats in front. The rear seat is a cave compared to the I-35. The trunk is also larger. Current year Avalon visibility is better in most directions. The XL is probably less expensive, the XLS could cost a little more, than the I-35.

    Infinity I35 - is a more powerful car that corners, brakes and rides quite different from Avalon. No nose dives when brakes are applied at high speed, flat corners in the mountains, etc. The warranty is longer and better. The service department is better (probably). Name prestige, if that means anything. Resale value, maybe.

    Even - Reliability. Gas mileage, but Avy does have a slight edge.

    Avalon buyers are probably a little older than Infinity I35 buyers. We enjoy the size/ride and do not care about performance.

    And - Drive the Infinity and watch for "torque steer" on hard acceleration as mentioned in several other posts on Edmunds. Also, read about the nexgen Avalon, due as an '05 or maybe '06. If you can wait, it might be worth it.

    You should get several posts in reply. Hope this gets you started.... :-)
  • pmcb48pmcb48 Posts: 192
    Buying an Infiniti wouldn't be a mistake, per say, but it's basically a cosmetically fancier version of the Maxima, like Chrysler van is to a Dodge van, whereas Avalon is a car with more differences than the equivalent Camry, including bigger rear seat room, and standard V6, and a better value than the low-end Lexus for all but the most finicky. I say this having owned a 1993 LS400 and a Maxima for the last nine years. I-135 has the bigger "Maxima" engine, but next generation Avalon will have similar-sized engine if you can wait. They'll hold your hand better at the Infiniti dealership, as per above post, but you'll pay for it. Even the Infiniti G35, the next model up, I think is not worth going to over the Avalon (particularly the next generation one) unless sporty performance over comfort and room is your first priority.
  • jscott13jscott13 Posts: 9
    I have never tried using a razor to cut down the chip before sanding. I did a similar repair to one of my cars and discovered to my dismay that I had sanded too much in one spot, leaving a slight depression. ... Polish and waxing should bring back the shine on any car surface.
  • gerry100gerry100 Posts: 100
    Had the KYBs installed today at a cost of approx $700 plus tax.( including the necessary alignment).

    Very positive difference in the way the car drives. Similiar to what I've read on other posts.

    Ride is slightly firmer than when car was new,with vast improvements in turn in,body roll and nose dive during braking. Much easier to balance in a corner. Taking first long trip this weekend, I'm sure tracking and overall cruising comfort will be much better.

    Formerly a used Japanese Buickm now a Japanese Cadillac. Not a bad thing at all.
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    I am pumped!!!!! Never thought you'd do it as most are too skidish. Glad to here they make the ride much more "controllable" without harshness. If that still is not enough, Energy Suspension PU bushings for the sway bars ONLY, both front and rear, will very nicely change the cornering prowess (read: flat) with just a tiny bit more of vibration but nothing untolerable. The result is very noticeable. The PU bushing are relatively inexpensive as compared to the shocks, no more than $50 and you can actually put them on in your driveway with a few good tools.

    Had to change my OEM tires, and bought same size Falken Ziex 512's. Nice tread design, very little noise, large circumferential groove down center. Vastly better than OEM, and Avalon runs very good at sustained speeds orf 75-80MPH, with a beautiful blend of ride comfort still with much more control. The suspension is now, too good for the amount of horsepower, as I could use about 30-50HP more, but I would rather have it this way than an incompetent suspensionfor sustained highway driving.

    Glad to here things worked out with the struts. It really is a weak point to an otherwise very good car. The other weak point is the brake parts. You'll see.

    "Feed the forum"

  • fndlyfmrflyrfndlyfmrflyr Posts: 668
    Thanks for the Falken tire comment. About to give the 512s a try on a different car. Hadn't thought about them for the Avalon. I had been leaning towards Bridgestone RE 950 or Turanza LS-H for the Avalon. Nice to know the Falkens are good on the Avalon.
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    Let me give you a little more info, why I bought theses for my 02 Avy to give you another point of view. Maybe this can help you make a better educated decision for your own needs.

    I obviously have modified the suspension some in my car, and am between US Army moves from West Point, NY and Ft. Drum, NY, upstate. The roads are in terrible repair down there, and even though I have 215/55 R 16 on different rims, the OEM tires that came with the car, an XL, are 205/65 R 15's which give me a much better ride, since the suspension is tauter, the roads are terrible and I wanted to use up what I paid for in the first place. I am a little of a tighwad and paid for my car cash.

    The mechanic who I had put the Energy Suspension PU bushings in the front lower suspension arms (I did the sway bars), told me my tires were pretty used up, the OEM ones. I said I know, but I wanted to complete all suspension work and see when I have to move up North, where the roads are better. The mechanic said to me, something I will not forget. He said, no matter what tire you put on the car, after 25-30K miles, it is a used tire, no matter Michelin, Gooyear, Yokohama, etc. The inside belts, etc and worn, even though the tread may have some life left, which was the case with these.

    CR did an article within the last year, using a Honda Accord and BMW 5 series, testing multiple tires, same size, and using their typically good decision matrix, objectively testing as much as possible.

    I was going to put on the Bridgestone 950's or the new BF Goodrich Traction T/A's I think they were called that Nomad56 recommended. They got a great review and the Bridgestone 950's and the Turanza's were excellent, top of the list. I went to the Army base to see what price for the 950's and they were going to cost about $95/each for the 15" including mounting and balancing and NO TAX cause it is a military base.

    Well, the Falken's Ziex 512, I got for $51 including shipping off the net, delievered in two days to my door, and I got them mounted and balanced for $7.95, so out the door, $59 each wheel, NO TAX. I could with the amount of difference and leaving it in the bank buy two sets and they run very well. Now, I don't know how they will be in 25-30K miles, but I don't care because at that price, I buy a new set no questions asked.

    My OEM tires were squeeling around corners, without the car leaning or moving at all, a tell tale sign they are not what they used to be. Completely different now, although a sports driving person, would probably appreciate a 55 series tire better, at the expense of ride comfort and an increase change of damaging a rim.

    Hope this helps.

    "Feed the forum"

  • fndlyfmrflyrfndlyfmrflyr Posts: 668
    I like the idea of not over spending for tires too. Falken is part of Sumitomo, known for quiet good riding tires at an inviting price. The Falkens will be tried first on our Cruiser. Looking forward to the quiet compared to the Goodyear RSA OE tires.
  • gerry100gerry100 Posts: 100
    Did about 500miles on the new struts this weekend and was not disapointed. On the highway they track beautifully and the car "planes out" perfectly at speed - no more gentle oscillations or following the ruts.
    The car is transformed ( maybe they use those OE shocks to avoid eating into Lexus sales)

    Improvement was so great that I might even consider spending my own money on it - and that's saying a lot.

    There is a slight increase in harshness, but the improved stability results in a much less fatiguing drive. Some think that softer is by definition more comfortable when in reality your body is constantly adjusting to the undulations - especilaly the eyes and neck muscles. Try standing around doing nothing on even a large sailboat for a day and see how tired you are.
  • qualitynutqualitynut Posts: 36
    Light from both headlights seem to be splotchy instead of uniformly spread out. Light from driver side seems to be too low but I don't see any adjustment screws like on other cars. Anyone know how to adjust? Hate to take it to the dealer since no other problems.

    Thank-you in advance.
  • mcclearyflmcclearyfl Posts: 149
    Our '03 Avalon XLS came from the factory with one headlight assembly incorrectly installed. The first comment I got from the service department was that the assembly is "not adjustable". Nonsense, of course, and it was fixed under warranty in about 5 minutes. Unless your dealer is inconveniently located, I suggest you take it in.
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