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Toyota Sienna Maintenance and Repair (2003 earlier)



  • cblake2cblake2 Posts: 53
    Based on some further discussion, I feel compelled to make a few comments in the name of consumer rights preservation. I see that Toyota's stance is that only a *very few* vehicles are affected by the torque converter problem. I would take this information with a big grain of salt. History can prove (but I hope it is *not* the case for those affected) that the automaker may cover for known, widespread problems. The proclaimed numbers affected are *not accurate* in many cases.

    Take, for instance, the anti-lock brake failures on the Chrysler minivans. Thousands of owners began to complain in the mid-90's (though many had the problem on the earlier models, too) of sudden brake loss with no electronic warning. Still others had the dash lights come on intermittently and were told by the dealers not to worry. Chrysler said any problem was *DRIVER ERROR* related to the proper use of ABS. IMO (and that of many others, too), it denied, lied, and defrauded owner after owner over the course of several years. The repair to the slow leak in the hydraulic assembly portion of the ABS cost most owners from $2000-3,000!! Many (myself included) only owned their vehicles a couple of years.

    To make a very long story short, after hundreds of owners banded together first on the internet and then in a class-action lawsuit (supported by oodles of documents from the NHTSA), Chrysler finally had to succumb to a major recall of the 1991-1993 minivans with ABS (my personal feeling is that many more years should have been included). Owners were reimbursed for the earlier repairs (IF they knew about this) and given a warranty to 100,000 miles. The problem was KNOWN but MINIMIZED by Chrysler for several years. The Chrysler executives fought the facts tooth and nail and made their "Customer Ones" scapegoats for a major defect in manufacturing!! It was a fiasco.

    To make matters worse and get to the point of my post, Chrysler put in either new or remanufactured parts which were **no different** from the original. They simply did not know how to fix the problem, and many owners continue to have repeat ABS failures from the parts used. THIS is why I caution you about the new torque converters. HOW do they differ from the original components? IS Toyota buying time by simply putting in the same variety? I trust that no manufacturer could stoop to Chrysler's former conduct (but I am still naive). We will know when those with replacements report their findings after several months. I am hoping that Toyota will come forward and RECALL these vans so that they do not alienate customers the way Chrysler did a few years ago. Honesty will help Toyota's bottom-line. Ask Chrysler what secrecy (and fraud, IMO) did to them....with owner collaboration on-line, manufacturers are wise to come clean very early in the game. A few owners with a bit of simple frustration can finally get assertive and very vocal when met with an unresponsive manufacturer.

    Good luck to all affected.....start your database of e-mail addresses and symptoms/repairs NOW....
  • lynne29lynne29 Posts: 46
    A long way back, some complained of squeaky back row seats when folded up and away.

    I never had that happen until this weekend, when I was in a hurry and folded them up without taking off the headrests. Hope this helps.
  • edmonds92edmonds92 Posts: 1
    Bought my 2000 Sienna LE yesterday, the check engine light came on today at 47 miles on the odometer, doing about 55mph. My dealer had mentioned the torque converter problem but since I saw no light on the lot I figured I was OK (wrong!!). I put in a call to the dealer tonight to notify them and will continue to pursue the fix with them. The dealer insisted that the car wa OK to drive even with the light, but I just don't believe it. Appreciate the numerous posts on lemon laws and consumer rights, pls keep them coming. I will continue to check this sight for updates and will keep all updated on my successes/failures. I refuse to get screwed on this!!
  • yupingyuping Posts: 8
    I got my Siennea LE last week and now the engine light on. It has only 130 miles(manufactured in July'00). I noticed many postings which say it's torque converter's problem. Has anybody got his van fixed with this kind of problem and what's the solution? I'll contact the dealer on Monday to check if I can still drive this van safely with the light on.
  • cblake2cblake2 Posts: 53
    Just to give you an idea of what the internet can do for you as a concerted group, please see ""
    and for more details see ""
    To get a perspective on what other owners of other makes have had to deal with and to get good consumer rights information, visit the "Chrysler Products' Problem Web Page" created by Brian Gluckman. He did a phenomenal job in helping owners get a start on getting lemon relief. Be certain to read the St. Louis Post Dispatch article about the ABS problem and get a look at the automaker's response (or lack thereof).

    For further tips on the preservation of your auto rights, visit "" and be sure to file all complaints with both the Center for Auto Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (of course, make copies for your files).

    While one owner can do a lot of research and settle an individual issue with the automaker, it is much better in the long run for owners to unite and speak up together. The message is, give us this poor quality at a high cost and you *will* hear from us if there are major problems!!" Go quietly away (just as the automaker wants you to do) and you will continue to purchase vehicles with inherent defects.

    The "battle" is not easy or pleasant, but with the internet, you can reach a lot of people quickly. If the automaker is responsive, good for you! If not, seek the help of the media as you unite. Proceed to seek **fairness under the law** and do not be bothered by those who try to strike you down for your actions. Go with your gut instincts on this one......
  • racharacha Posts: 1
    I am presently looking to buy a mini van. The problem me and my boyfriend have is he is 6"6' and 250lbs. How ever I sugest to you that you wait about a month before buying, because dealers will be having BIG sales to get rid of the 2000 modles. I believe that in Sept. most dealers will be looking forward to the 2002 modles and still trying to get in more 2001 modles. The cost of a mini van after the summer may also be cheaper.
    These, of course, are just sugestions. Good look in finding a good price on what you are looking for.
  • kraftiekraftie Posts: 2
    We were in the final throes of negotiating purchase in Colorado of an LE 2000 for about 24,600 plus tax. This was 3% above invoice and the dealers locally are not going lower - they say this model is in too much demand - I wonder if we are falling for a line... ALSO, I am now reading (with concern) your comments about problems with a torque converter, what is that and what months of manufacture has it been a problem? We are scheduled to drive 2400 miles next week with this vehicle and don't want an unexpected failure on the road! Are we crazy to make a drive like that with a brand new vehicle?!
  • ksundforsksundfors Posts: 4
    Allegedly, this torque converter problem affects a percentage (at least 2%) of Siennas manufactured in May, June and July 2000. Supposedly the vans made late this month were fixed at the factory. I would ask the manufacture date of any Sienna you are considering. If it falls in that range, ask if they have replaced the torque converter. Also ask if the service department has the part in stock.

    We just bought and will take delivery today on a CE that supposedly was manufactured in March. We are hoping to escape that problem, but our fingers are still crossed.
  • yupingyuping Posts: 8
    Ref: 40

    The dealer cleared the light after resetting computer code. Now there is no this check light.I found the shift is not smooth like before resetting the shift soinod. BUT told me the torque converter still needs to be replaced. They ordered the part for me and takes about one week.
  • At highway speed, my 2000 Sienna XLE has a wind noise coming from the left slidig door. Upon comparing the left and right side doors, I found that a rubber insulator which runs along the front edge of the right side door is missing on the left side. I am not sure if it is by design or it's a factory screw-up.
    If any 4-door Sienna owners have the insulation rubber installed on the front edge of BOTH sliding doors, please be so kind to let me know. I have to be armed with evidence when I go to the dealer's. Thank you very much for your assistance in advance!!

  • OK...This is a weird one:

    When we turn OFF the A/C in our car and have just

    Is there a filter somewhere that I can change?

    WHat gives? When the A/C is on, it's not bad at
    all. But when it's off, it's STINKY!!


    Help !
  • cblake2cblake2 Posts: 53
    I have a few questions about my Sienna repairs. The needle of the speedometer supposedly was not working in the startup period because of some "sticky substance," or so I was told. IF this was the case, why would it suddenly start working after the van warms up a bit...e.g. 10 minutes down the road? I know there was a T.S.B. on that problem, too, but I don't know what it says.

    Next, the rear brakes...What would cause my brake drums to be out-of-round this early? I was told that the severe vibrations I felt after routine maintenance was caused by my brakes, NOT my alignment problem. One suggestion was that a brake shoe may have been sticking....isn't this dangerous?? I mean, I don't want to think that I am driving around with my brakes intact! Can anyone help on this issue?

    I want more information on the rack and pinion and how this ties in with the alignment. At first, I was told that I might need a new R & P assembly, but later learned only the inner rack rods were replaced. Why would this be? Like with the solenoid before torque converter issue, I am wondering if I will need other parts of the R & P replaced later.

    I still have a pull to the right after all the brake work, the rod replacement, and the new tires. I noted it clearly after testing it many times under different road conditions. It isn't my imagination. I feel the road bumps a lot more now....I *thought* this would be the opposite. Is the alignment problem causing suspension parts to fail? I would like information if you have it.

    And, one last weird thing is that it feels like the van isn't going into OD like it should. I wouldn't expect any transmission involvement unless the speedometer failure is in some way connected. I remember back when I had the Dodge Caravan that the speedometer failed a few months before the transmission did. Can you explain that connection?

    Since the sliding doors were repaired, they are MUCH easier to open. I know one person who had a repeat problem. I HOPE we don't!! The kids would complain that they simply couldn't open the doors. I had to struggle, but managed after pulling several times.

    Additional observations in my van are at times I do smell the "mold" on the recirculation mode of the A/C. I see paint being scratched off VERY easily on the hood after I bumped into a bicycle a couple of times gently. I really like the seating with the bench in the middle because of all the room on the right side. My kids complain of no leg room in the third row, though.

    I do like the looks of the van much better than others out there. It is roomy enough. I just want to be confident in the van's long-term reliability. I will post the outcome of an upcoming long trip, and I would appreciate the same from others. Thanks in advance.
  • sbrandonsbrandon Posts: 24
    One thing we were told is if you run the a/c in the recirculate mode you need to hit the outside air or vent, or whatever is marked as the opposite of recirculate, prior to shutting down. This should flush fresh air thru the system and hopefully bacteria (which could cause a smell) does not build up in the system.
  • linkuslinkus Posts: 4
    I bought sienna ce 5 door about a week ago. I drove it mostly highway and now have about 400 miles on. I noticed somewhat vibration during acceleration above 45 mile per hour when I bought it. TOday, i felt a little more vibration and a little more bumpy driving on the street at around 50 mph. From what i read so far, it seems to happen to a couple of people. I am just wondering what the solutions were for those who had such problem. Even though I love my car, I do need to make sure it is well taken care of :-). In addition, I have heard that Firestone tires have defects and caused a number of accidents and fed is investigating. I did not know what kind of Firestone tires were bad. I have Firestone tires on my Sienna CE and am wondering if they are the same type as reported ones. Has anyone experienced any problem with the tires (Firestone)?
  • I bought a 2000 Sienna about 1 1/2 weeks ago, and Its been great so far. I can't help getting nervous, though, about this engine light.

    Many people have been posting that they have this problem, but very few have been telling us what date their car was manufactured. I would ask anyone posting an engine light problem to also check the driver's side door tag for the date of manufacture.

    I only ask because I have heard differing stories on which vans are affected... anywhere from May to July, to just June. My dealer assured me my van is "safe" from this problem, but hey -- I only trust you guys :)

    (Mine is a July 2000 LE, and no engine light problem as of 150 miles.)
  • yupingyuping Posts: 8
    My Sienna LE was manufactured in July. The check engine light came on at 150 miles.
  • sgergensgergen Posts: 155
    Mine was June 2000 and with almost 600 miles we're in the clear so far!

  • 2000 XLE mfgd 6/2000. Light on at 65 off at 120 on again at 165 - dealer diagnosed fault at 215 as P0770 - shift solenoid fault. Ordered new solenoid. Reset engine light. At 400 and no part and no light so far. Appointment scheduled for tomorrow and part is not here. Service Mgr. indicates that Toyota is trying to come up with another solution; he believes solenoid replacement is a stall until they get enough torque converters or some other fix. Suggests solenoid replacement is a waste of time. Suggests I call back to check if they have a fix later. Huh? This is crazy. I hope someone in the Toyota universe is taking note of these and other posts. Only takes one bad experience to kill any affinity for a brand not to mention resale value. Oh what you do for me.....Toyota.
  • csnycsny Posts: 1
    My Sienna LE had only 59 miles on it when the engine light came on. Took it to the dealer today. I was told the torque converter was fine. The problem was the oxygen sensor which the dealer had replaced. The light has stayed off so far. The Service Manager said he was aware of the engine light problem associate with the torque coverter with the Sienna. He was positive that mine was not among them and instructed me to bring it back if the light ever comes on again. I hope he was not b-s-ing me. I'll appreciate feedback from anyone who has been told of the same thing and how it turns out.
  • Sbrandon, are you supposed to turn on the fresh air vent EVERY time you turn off the car if you were running the AC to avoid the smell? I had a wonderful Honda Civic for 8 years, and my only complaint was that it stunk when the fresh air vent was on without the AC. I really don't want to have the same problem and would appreciate the advice.

    Also, my Sienna LE was manufactured in June 2000 and the engine light came on at about 150 miles.
  • I the winner? About 31 miles on the van when the engine light came on (we were driving it home from the dealer). Called them up, they gave me the song and dance about it being a "sensor". However, when I took it in today they changed their tune to "torque converter" My concern is basically whether it is safe to drive? They say it is, I am not so sure. I did call the 800# in one of the previous posts and open a claim, at least then Toyota can track this problem if we keep reporting it. Supposed to take 2 weeks to get the part in. Boy am I glad I didn't sell my other car, at least I don't have to worry about being stranded. I live in the desert and drive to work by way of nowhere every morning. Not exactly what I bargained for when I pictured myself tooling around in my new Sienna. Hope Toyota gets their act together and takes care of us folks with this problem. Incidentally, the vehicle is a new 2000 LE and was manufactured in Kentucky in July 00.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    Normally, when you are done using your a/c - slide your lever back to "fresh" and this will eliminate that strange smell. For my van, if I leave the lever on "recirculate" over night and turn on my fan next day, I would get this smell but not stinky though.

    What I do is I turn off my a/c and switch back to "fresh" when I'm 2 blocks from my final destination for the day. This brings in the fresh air and won't give me that smell the next day or next time I turn on my a/c or fan.
  • jo45jo45 Posts: 5
    I purchased my Toyota Sienna 2000 CE yesterday. My engine light came on after a whopping 65 miles. I took it back to my dealer and told him about the torque converter problem on some of these vans. They checked that and said it was fine. My solinoid switch was reset, and so far no more engine light. Thank you all for these posts. They really helped me out when deciding what vehicle to purchase.
  • Mine came on at around 500 miles. Purchased van in late July. Took it in and got the old "bad torque converter" story. I also called Toyota and told them to check out this website and see how many disappointed new Sienna owners with "check engine" lights there are. To their credit they said that they would and apologized up and down for my inconvenience. If the repairs come out OK and I no longer have any problems, my faith in Toyota will be restored. By the way, I'm waiting for parts and still driving the van with no other problems (1200 miles). Took in on a 500 mile trip and it just drives fine. Other than this fiasco, I really like it.
  • dmathews3dmathews3 Posts: 1,739
    What is this smell crap. I have owned at least 10 american cars with air and I never had to put the air back to fresh before turning it off. I talked with a bunch of my friends and they too have never had a problem. Is this just part of the Toyota problems that are creaping up more and more.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    I don't find the so-called "a/c smell" a problem. For my van, it doesn't stink or smell bad at all -
    some people are more sensitive to smelling things and consider this a very bad smell. No, it's not a part of Toyota problems unless it smells like rotten eggs, then there's a problem. No car manufacturer is perfect, every single manufacturer have their share of problems.

    I switch from fresh to recirculate to get the air inside moving. I don't find it annoying and it's not a big deal to me doing it. If you don't have to do this, then good for you.
  • brentg1brentg1 Posts: 10
    As I have said before, Toyota is NOT ARGUING with you people about your problem. They are FIXING the problem. Geez, loosen up a little. One misbehaving part on a complex machine does not make it a lemon.
  • timbftimbf Posts: 1
    I just spent $30K for a car that's FAILED 3 times before I could even get home from the dealer. That's had at least the tranny out of it TWICE before 150 miles. That's been in the shop 16 of the first 18 days I owned it. That's cost me >10 hours either sitting in the shop or on the phone. And I'm supposed to cut Toyota a break?? I don't think so!

    Toyota gets a premium price for their QUALITY, not their repair service. My expectations are higher. I could have bought a Chrysler product for this! I'd REALLY like Toyota to take this car back and let's start again! At a minimum, a DECENT apology for all the crap and BS I had to wade through to get it fixed. I look forward to the satisfaction survey I'm supposed to be getting %*)

    BTW, I'm a 20 yr veteran mfg engineer for a large electronic instrument company. I KNOW how these bad part situations usually play out. I'd be surprised if it's not at least a 20% problem once the dust finally settles. There's big bucks involved.
  • cblake2cblake2 Posts: 53
    "brentg1," I have to side with "timbf" on this one. It all boils down to asking yourself, did you feel you got a safe, reliable means of transportation which will not be devalued due to inherent manufacturing defects. I am not too pleased with problems after the one year mark already; I am afraid I would be livid if my major powertrain components had to be taken out of my newly delivered van!! It is difficult to ask owners to *not* be emotional about the issue. WHO wants the headache and hassle so early??

    Having said all that, I will say the BEST defense is to have good documentation while being clear about what you expect. Base your expectations on the federal and state laws. You have a right to demand fairness under the law. The laws are there to protect you...READ about them and use them to your benefit.

    Network with as many other owners as you can. Check to see what the Center for Auto Safety can do to assist you in this matter. The more knowledge you have, the better position you will be in.

    Personally, I think this torque converter thing is a real test for the auto manufacturer. If enough angry owners gather information and discover that Toyota has NOT informed them prior to purchase about a known possible defect, then things could get *very sticky*. Do check with the Federal Trade Commission on this and hold Toyota to the law! In my reading about auto consumer issues, I have not seen anything quite like this. Usually there is a much longer period before the problem surface allowing the manufacturer to "plead ignorance."

    Now, to Toyota's credit...I think the memo which "dblum" (Thanks for your details!!) mentions above is very smart! At this point, Toyota cannot risk NOT taking some action in the predelivery stage. Just letting the vans sit on the lot, knowing full well that any one of them could have the problem once it is actually driven, is NOT A SMART MOVE. I have to give Toyota applause for taking this *small step* in the right direction.

    I think that "dblum" is quite valid in EXPECTING a new van....ASSUMING the replacement is indeed NOT defective. He'd be wise to investigate all his legal rights. You may *not* need an attorney to get Toyota to be fair. BUT, you MUST know your rights and have a good general idea of what is fair under the existing laws. It doesn't hurt to consult with a "lemon law" attorney to find out if you don't want to take the time to learn on your own. I wouldn't recommend a general attorney who may or may not know these laws.

    "brentg1," you have to understand that it is actually better to be level-headed, on guard, and constantly digging for information when in "dblum's" situation. One owner can hardly "loosen up" when faced with a manufacturer the size of Toyota! I would venture to say that Toyota is little worried about "dblum" alone; however, if many "dblum"s gather together, then Toyota would possibly blink, more than once!

    No one is really berating Toyota here, as far as I can see. BUT, many want to send the message loudly and clearly that they are waiting (but not too long!) for fairness. I think owners are clever enough NOT to allow the manufacturer to "slip out the back door" on this one. I say, keep the heat up and EXPECT clear, decided action from Toyota. No mud-slinging is needed; a strong, united consumer front is needed, though.

    I don't have the 2000 Sienna, but I relate FULLY with the owners....particularly those that left the Chrysler, vacation-bombing minivans to come over to Toyota! I have been reading with great interest the chronology of issues on the Sienna. WHY can't we get a quality minivan????
  • eomeom Posts: 8
    Anyone have any idea as to exactly where the trans. serial # is actually located? I know...someone will respond that it's on the trans., but would appreciate a specific location as to where one might look to find exactly what serial no. is associate with our trans.

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