Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Toyota Sienna Maintenance and Repair (2003 earlier)



  • Relax! Sounds like serious after-purchase paranoia. I can relate. But take your own advice - enjoy your new (excellent) van. Mine has over 9k now (bought it in April) and have had zero problems. Good dealership, great product!

    Good luck & enjoy!
  • dmathews3dmathews3 Posts: 1,739
    Sounds like the now famious T/C problem. Nothing to worry about. They just tear apart half your vehicle and drop the transmission and install a new torque converter. A couple months to order the part and a couple days to install, but you can drive the van in the mean time. Toyota says it won't hurt it.
  • jmsimsjmsims Posts: 14
    A check engine light can be due to a lot of different things. It means there is a problem, and the only way to find out more is to have the dealership hook up an OBD-II code scanner to read the diagnostic trouble codes. In the case of #353, a P0733 means 'Gear 3 Incorrect Ratio', which means the speed ratio between the input and output shafts of the transmission did not track properly at some point while in 3rd gear. I would guess that it could be due to a bad speed sensor or poor sensor connection, but the dealership will have to figure that one out. It's probably not related to the infamous torque converter problem. That one caused a P0770 which was due to an excessive lockup time in the TC clutch.

    No, I'm not a professional mechanic. But I have a Sienna service manual and some personal experience rebuilding a few automatics in my garage.
  • Note that sometimes the check engine light came on was due to the gas cap needs to be turned for about 5 clicks to be sure it is pressure tight.

  • dmathews3dmathews3 Posts: 1,739
    Sorry got my numbers mixed up. Bet you can guess, I ain't no mechinac either. Or English teacher either. :-)
  • We bought our Sienna in 1998. It currently has 27,00 miles on it. True, the oil changes didn't get done as often as they should have, but they got done. A few days ago smoke came out of the van after it was started but quickly cleared. It was a cool morning, so we thought it was from the coolness of the air. It happened again the next day. Checked the oil and the dipstick had no oil on it. Towed it to the dealership to check it out. They took a full week to get back to us to say that the short block needed to be replaced and it was going to cost us $6100. Toyota said they would make a goodwill gesture of $1000, but the remaining $6100 we had to cover ( total cost $7100). I have never heard of an engine going bad this early on, no matter what. Our dealership says Toyota does not cover damage from sludge. What do you think?? We are so disgusted about this, we want to trade the thing for a different make altogether.
  • lleesllees Posts: 7
    Hey thanks for the suggestions!! I will go that!
    I actually looked at the headrest and thought about doing that, but noticed that one side of the bar has notches and did not think it would even fit. Great idea.
  • I have read several postings on the "engine sludge" problem with the Sienna's, most recently from cblake and abcdefg6. I'm no mechanic, but wonder why, if this is a TRUE Sienna flaw, that more people have not experienced this same problem?

    In #359, the owner clearly admits to not having the oil changed regularly and that there was no oil on the dipstick. Does this mean changing the oil every 5,000 miles instead of 3,000, or simply skipping an oil change every so often? The fact that there was no oil on the dipstick meant that it was at least 1 - 1 1/2 quarts low-not a good sign. But where did that oil go? If it was on the floor of the garage or driveway, then it was leaking through the oil pan and should have been noticed. If it was burning up (visible smoke), than I believe that means the rings are bad, which could have been caused by not changing the oil regularly. I'm also curious as to why it was towed, did the engine actully sieze?

    The bottom line is that oil will break down, regular oil quicker than synthetics or blends. If you value your vehicle, no matter what make or model, have the oil changed every 3,000-5,000 miles and check it every 2nd fill-up. Next to gas, oil is the most vital fluid in your engine.
  • mrfong1mrfong1 Posts: 16
    Was your "Low oil light on"? If it was and you neglected it for awhile perhaps the fault is yours. If it did not turn on then perhaps you could claim that this malfunction prevented you from realizing that your oil was too low. Also, as readytobuy4 inquires, what was the cause of your Sienna to loose over 1.5 quarts of oil!? If that was due to malfunction, perhaps Toyota would be responsible. Since they already tore your engine apart it is unlikely that you would find this out now.

    I change oil ever 3500 miles and notice that there is no measurable loss in the oil level.
  • jmsimsjmsims Posts: 14
    Keep in mind that the oil light in the Sienna indicates low oil pressure, not oil level. When the pressure is low enough to turn on the oil light, it's usually too late. The damage may have already been done. It's better to do a visual inspection of oil level.

    Several years ago, my father had his oil pressure light start flickering ON in his 1984 Camry. When I checked his oil dipstick, there was no oil! I asked him who had worked on the car last. He said the timing belt and oil had just been changed. Looks like somebody drained the oil, changed the timing belt, and then forgot to fill it up with new oil. Nice going! It still ran OK till he traded it in, but sounded a little funny after that incident. I would recommend that everyone check their oil level regularly and especially after any oil change. Don't wait for the oil light to come on.
  • mrfong1mrfong1 Posts: 16
    so basically there is no function in a "low oil pressure gauge" since if it comes on it is probably too late. They should change that because as far as I am concerned it is a waste of $ to put it in.
  • cblake2cblake2 Posts: 53
    My follow up to "leslieldf" would be to say that I am very in-tune to ABS noises. I had major ABS failure in a Dodge Caravan (along with thousands of other owners), and the van would constantly "buzz" like a bee.

    Why? The ABS pump would have to run nearly constantly to make up for depleted pressure in the hydraulic assembly of the ABS. The noises were said to be "normal" by all Chrysler dealerships (data accumulated over two years). In fact, the noise was a real sign that the ABS was not working properly. The "buzz" should have been very intermittent.

    Many owners had brake failure (I don't want to hear that it was just the assist because many accidents occurred, nonetheless.). It was a situation that was *grossly minimized* by the manufacturer. NOTHING was admitted until hundreds of owners banded together on-line and in a class action lawsuit. The NHTSA was *partially* helpful but mostly in the manufacturer's "back pocket" on the problem (as it continues to be today, IMO).

    So, it is *not* the ABS that I hear. It is a metallic clunk clearly. But, thank you for your input.
  • cblake2cblake2 Posts: 53
    Thank you for posting, "abcdefg6." Before you trade in that van and take FULL RESPONSIBILITY for this problem *before* knowing if it is an inherent problem, would you mind sending me your details in an e-mail message? I have been keeping tabs on the trends I see because many of the vans affected are the '99 van, which I currently own. Your information could help add to the growing database on this matter.

    Please, do not go silently away without documenting fully. Contact the Center for Auto Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in writing and describe the problem details. The details you have given sound very similar to others who have had the same problem. Many have changed the oil more often than you but they have still had the problem.

    "Readytobuy4," it seems that you are "readytoblame" the owner without further evidence. As "mrfong1" points out, the check oil light did not come on. This has been noticed in the other cases, too. One owner is very upset that his warning system was not effective in preventing a low oil situation. What if an owner DID change the oil every 3,000 miles, but the light did not work when abnormal oil consumption began? I have seen that other owners complain that the Sienna began to burn oil prematurely. I'd like to know also what causes this.

    I have begun to see white smoke, too. I am now attributing it to the cool air as "abcdefg6" did. I will check my dipstick to make sure. I think this owner did the right thing by towing. Wouldn't you blame him if he drove the van knowing it had no oil?? Sure you would. Why would you question why he had it towed?

    There are still many questions to be asked about the sludge issue. No one is going to convince me that these cases were preventable with every 3,000 mile oil changes UNTIL THE ROOT CAUSE is found.

    My guess is that Toyota will NEVER say a word.....well, unless FORCED to do so by a lot of angry owners. Let Toyota PROVE that the owner caused the sludge problem. I'd like to see the scientific proof, especially since Toyota has rejected PROOF from owners with sludge that it was NOT their fault.

    Owners report that Toyota isn't interested in doing any testing beyond the independent testing done by the owners. Toyota's stand is that it is the OWNER'S proof necessary. It says sludge is NOT COVERED....REGARDLESS of the root cause. Easier to say it is infrequent oil changes IN ALL CASES.

    Can you really blame Toyota? Why would it want to open that can of worms???? In the words of Martha Stewart, "Too much testing is a bad thing." It can be quite incriminating for a manufacturer! Too many damaging documents might be generated....

    Well, I suspect time will tell "readytobuy4." Many of the '99 vans are just now approaching the infamous 25,000 miles+ when the sludge is often seen. There are tons of these vans around where I live....time to start looking for the white smoke and making inquiries. If this is truly a NON-problem as some are implying, then I won't find out much from such inquiries.
  • I believe the noise you hear when backing up and applying the brakes are the front brake pads "moving" in their "holders". If I remember correctly pads for disc brakes are not rigidly mounted in their holders. They sort of "float" in a pocket on each caliper. By float I mean they are able to move back and forth (front to back) a bit. My guess is that the pads are normally in a forward position. When backing and up and the brakes applied the pads move to rear position and the clunk is heard. My van also makes this noise. My Nissan Maxima does also, but it much have to be outside of the car to hear it. In my opinion, this noise is a non-issue. If you are concerned about the noise, take it to a brake professional. I sure they will tell you the same thing. I would say take it to your Toyota dealer, but from previous posts I do not believe you would value their opinion.
  • I have to say, after having read postings related to Toyota Sienna in the past 5 months I have yet to see anyone other than cblake have as many problems with their past and current vehicles. Just remember, paranoia will destroy you!

    As far as being "readytoblame" abcdefg6, try reading my posting again. Merely asking questions does not equate to laying blame. I sympathize with abcdefg6 if indeed the vehicle was maintained and the repairs are due to a flaw in the Sienna's design. It just seems odd that a vehicle with only 27k miles would consume 1.5 quarts of oil if properly maintained. Also, asking whether the engine siezed would let us know if the engine had lost even more than 1.5 quarts of oil-or was it towed as a precaution.

    If you are keeping track of those Sienna owners who have had sludge problems, I'd be curious to know how many have responded to you. And of those, how many can PROVE that their vehicle was maintained properly? It seems odd that so many people spoken out about their torque converter problems, as I have, yet so few have said anything about sludge with their Sienna???
  • Take a look at Charlene Blake's (cblake)topic # 1564, Sludge in the Engine Problem: Sienna, Camry, & Avalon. No Sienna sludge problems listed, except for Charlene.
  • We are considering purchasing a new Sienna and a
    key issue in deciding between the LE and the XLE is
    the standard body side cladding vs. the painted
    body side cladding.

    Can anyone comment on their experience with the
    durability of the painted body side cladding. Our
    past experience with the type of material used in
    molding and body cladding -- often a flexible
    plastic/rubber composite -- was that paint did not
    stick and was subject to peeling off over time.
    This has happened with our 1987 Audi Coupe GT where
    Audi decided to make the very last batch a
    "special edition" and paint things like the side
    mirrors, the bumper protection, etc. The cars
    looked great at first and luckily we wanted a black
    car (the other choices were fire engine read and
    milk white). Since the paint and the painted
    material were both black, the peeling paint has not
    been too bad of a problem for us, but the red and
    white models look horrible.

    So that is the reason for our concern.

    Do you know if the XLE body side cladding is the
    exact same material as is used on the LE, but just
    painted. Or is it possibly a different material
    that may hold paint better, but not necessarily
    flex as well when hit with rocks, car doors, etc.

    And finally, can anyone comment on the durability
    of the LE body side cladding -- does it hold it's
    color or does it tend to develope that whiteish,
    faded, dull look that a lot of plastic/rubber
    composites tend to pick up as they age.

    Thank you for any feedback on this subject.
  • purchased a 2001 LE about 3 weeks ago. Had 73 miles on it from transport to the dealer. after a couple of days, we heard a noise from the engine. first we were told it was bad valve springs(s). they were replaced but the dealer wasn't happy with it. they got the ok from Toyota to replace the lower engine block! at the time it had only 143 miles on it! we feel we no longer own a new van but a van with a rebuilt engine and we'll forever be listening for noises. we complained to Totota customer relations that we wanted a new van. we were told that it was being fixed under the warranty. we are now going to take them to arbitration to try for a new van. has anyone else had this engine problem?
  • rms63rms63 Posts: 4
    Leslieldf: (# 343)
    My problem sound identical to yours...especially the lack of customer service. I would like to know how you got a copy of the Toyota Technical Service bulletin I would like to get the same. My check engine light went on at appx 100 mile mark and when I went back to dealer to have it checked, while also there for other paperwork they only reset the light and didn't bother to tell me the problem, in fact they told me they would hook the van to computer to dx problem and when they gave it back to me they said everything was OK. Check engine light back on 1 week later then finally dx'd with TC problem. The dealership denies any technical service bulletin regarding this problem...another lie I am sure. I am scheduled to have the repair Monday but after all the lies I don't know that I will ever trust the vehicle again... Your explanation of the problem is reassuring and hopefully once the TC is replaced things will be AOK. Please let me know more info re Technical Service Bulletin . Thank You
  • elsethelseth Posts: 3
    I have a 1998 Sienna with 41K miles and the rear brakes squeal. Have tried for 2 years to get them fixed. Toyota claims it is normal. Anybody else have this problem? More importantly, anybody get it fixed?
  • I got the bulletin from the service dept. where I had the problem diagnosed. After reading through this entire section, I had all the info I needed (also recommend and they were very straightforward.

    I also told them I wanted proof to take to the dealership where I bought the car, although I just asked for the printout from the diagnostic reader. The service fellow gave me the TSb on his own. The TSB details are:

    Toyota Technical Service Bulletin, dated 08/18/00
    Title: M.I.L. "ON" DTC P0770
    (note...P0770 is the diagnostic code that is returned)
    Models: '00 Sienna
    There's a code "EG006-00" on the right hand side of the bulletin, looks like a label indicating a section.

    "Introduction Some 2000 model year Sienna vehicles produced within the VIN ranges below may exhibit a DTC with M.I.L. "ON" P0770 as a result of a torque converter manufacturing issue."

    "Applicable Vehicles 2000 model year Sienna vehicles produced within the following VIN and ATM serial number ranges."

    I gave these before. It also lists Parts Info, Required Tools, Repair Procedure and Warranty Information. But I think you have enough detail now to impress your dealership with what you know.

    I called the four dealers closest to me describing my problem and asking what experience they had with it...I took it (for the diagnostic - not repaired yet) to the one of the two that were upfront about it with me from the start.

    Your warranty allows you to go to ANY dealer, not just where you purchased if you don't trust them. Good Luck!
  • rms63rms63 Posts: 4
    Thank you very much. I called another dealer today very nice on the phone but only got through to sales guy. He refered me to service dept manager and I will call him tomorrow. The van is scheduled for T/C transplant tomorrow hopefully postoperative course will be uneventful. :). I will let you know what happens. I will like to get copy of the TSB will have to see what I can do. I will print out your above message, so again I thank you.
  • beckpbeckp Posts: 20

    I bet you return a lot of meals back to the kitchen when you go out. I wonder how many make it back to you with a little something extra on it. Will you please lighten up.

    Suggestion on:
    Get rid of this horrible albatross called a Sienna so you'll get off this group. I'm sure I'm not the only one getting tired of your constant paranoia and complaining.
    Suggestion off:

    The dealer must love you. Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf?
  • rms63rms63 Posts: 4
    wouldn't it be easier to just skip posts from cblake if you are tired of them? I haven't read all of the posts but cblake has contibuted some helpful suggestions too.
  • We have a 2000 LE w/7700 miles - Purchased 12/99.

    The van has performed perfectly until this last week when we started noticing two different (related?) problems.

    Please forgive the poor descriptions but each of these just started and have only happened a couple of times.

    1) When accelerating from a stop, the van seems to shudder or jump.

    2) When accelerating right after a stop (but not from a stop - and not in conjunction with the the first problem) the engine seems to lose its pick up. I notice that the tachometer seems to lock in at about 2200 RPM for a few seconds and then it shifts. This is very noticeable.

    If either of these problems sound familiar I would appreciate some feedback. We are taking the van to the dealer tomorrow but I am worried that they will not be able to reproduce the problems.

    This is my 5th Toyota (the other 4 being virtually problem free). I have a hard time believing something could be wrong with the transmission or some other major component on a 10 month old Toyota but I know from reading this forum that it can happen.
  • yupingyuping Posts: 8
    It seems still normal to me. If you give a hard acceleration, it would act like that. I think my 2000 LE also does this. However, if your dealer find something wrong, pls share with us.
  • Have them check for sludge in the engine, ,,,,,,,, just kidding.

    Your LE is the same engine/transmission as the other Sienna models of that year, so it could be that others may share your same problem and have different models. (Make sense??)

    Try a few different options to get a better feel for the cause of the problem and to better describe it at the dealer. Using regular gas, try premium. Is the A/C on when accelerating, if so try doing it again with the A/C off. Is the engine warm or cold when it happens? Does it happen all the time or sporadically? The more info you have the easier it will be for the dealer to replicate the problem!!

    Good luck......
  • My wife took to the van to the dealer today. They had a mechanic take it for a test drive with her and he noticed both of the problems I noted in my earlier post. They said they need to replace the transmission and they have already ordered a new one. I called the service advisor to find out if he knew the specific problem but he was not sure other than some "internal defect". The mechanic will likely have more information.

    I have surely lost a lot of faith in Toyota quality. I plan to call their consumer hot-line to press my case that I should be given an extended power-train warranty.

    I will place a future post after the replacement is completed.
  • rms63rms63 Posts: 4
    I picked up my van yesterday after T/C replacement, running better, alignment seems fine. Good luck to the rest of you awaiting the same.
  • We have a 2000 XLE and I notice that there is dull clunking sound when backing up. It sounds like the spare tire being loose and hitting against the van. I checked and the tire was well secured. It might be one of the chairs in the back not secured properly. I'll check that next.

    So far I've had no problem with the T/C problem. I think it is because the van not made in production months that have this problem. I do notice that under hard acceleration, the van shifts hard from 1st to 2nd gear.
Sign In or Register to comment.