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Toyota Sienna Maintenance and Repair (2003 earlier)



  • sgergensgergen Posts: 155
    There was nobody forcing you to purchase this vehicle, right? Many of the things you mention (interior lights for window switches, overhead garage door buttons, glove box. The Hood being held up by a rod, no light under the hood. Tires by Firestone) were in place when you bought the car, right?

    If so, why are you bringing these up as faults now? If you didn't like the car you shouldn't have bought it. Sounds like we have a case of buyers remorse.

    My Toyota is one of the quitest vehicles I have ever owned. I have owned Ford, Honda, Chrysler (Eagle), Chevrolet and Saturn. It's layout is intuitive and everything fits tight.

  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    i agree with you. why complain now?

    leather seats does have this sound when u move around. personally, i think leather seats are a big waste of money!

    it would be nice to have shocks hold up the hood instead of a metal rod and also nice to have a light under the hood. BUT, these are minor things that i can live without.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    all the things you mentioned sounds to me like all minor and perhaps annoying.

    my question is: since you bought the van, did you have any problems? i'm talking about major problems that required parts replaced, recalls, etc.? after you answer this question - compare it with your previous vehicles.

    if you owned ford, jeep, gm, etc. before, why did you buy toyota this time and not the same brand(s) as before?
  • smfransmfran Posts: 432
    After reading your latest post, I can certainly state that you have no credibility as far as I am concerned. Even if your "beefs" have merit, I hope we all on this board have the intelligence to make a purchase decision after researching a vehicle thoroughly. If you are having legitimate problems, have them taken care of or sell the car. If you don't like the "cosmetics", it's your fault for buying this vehicle in the first place. There are too many satisfied Sienna owners here for you to state your case to. You should go find a better audience.
  • Can anyone point me in the right direction to start an arbitration process with Toyota? I have had MAJOR problems with my transmission, brakes and alignment of my vehicle. The dealer customer service manager and regional Toyota rep insist everything is great in spite of the fact that my trans shifts horrible, my front tires are bald on the inside half of the tires, and the brakes clunk loudly everytime I back up the vehicle (see post #1415 for details).

    How do I start arbitration now that I have exhausted the incredibily useless Toyota Customer Service Channels? Has anyone else gotten to this point of frustration annd despair with their Toyota vehicle? You'd think that since I had to get a new torque converter in my Sienna after only 100 miles that SOMEONE in Toyota would want to make things right for us!!! Please help if you can!!!!

    Steve Paravola
  • bob57bob57 Posts: 302
    Took me 14 months and 20K miles but finally found a problem with my '00.
    Driver's side seat belt warning light does not work. Toyo said bring it in - takes one hour.
    Gotta use that warranty somehow....!
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    ** hope this post is ok now. last one got deleted

    i can't comment on your tranny coz i havent driven or seen your van.

    i can only offer you my comments/opinion on the tires and brake "clunk". the brake "clunk" is normal and i have it on my 1999 sienna since day one! everytime i back up and step on the brakes, i can hear the sound. as far as the tires go, if you have dunlop or firestone - get rid of them, replace with a good brand name tire (such as michelin). my van came with dunlops and i removed them and bought michelins. i gave away my dunlops to my nephew who drives a 1998 caravan. after 2 months use, the dunlops on the front (inside) are bald!
  • dardson1dardson1 Posts: 696
    I live in a small city. There is one dealer. The nearest otherwise is 110 miles away. In the month I shopped my dealer never had an XLE, never had one with leather, never had more than 3 on his lot, and never had anything but a slick brochure to show my future car. I was assured and convinced by the sales manager if I port ordered my car optioned as I wanted the luxo XLE would measure up. It was not a good idea but I was suckered by the Toyota hype and the great Lexus my wife drives.
    Think what you like, but a Sienna is not a value in the XLE version. My wife's 01 Lexus ES300 listed exactly $1900 more. It is as solid as a rattles, no buzzes, no nothin'. It has high dollar wheels and tires, a superior sound system with a subwoofer, traction control, lights everywhere, side air bags, superior leather, more horsepower, sunroof, a free loaner for even an oil change, a year longer warranty, and (what do you know) a pneumatic assist to raise the hood. The real value cars are no longer Toyotas. You gotta drive a few blocks down the street to Lexus to get what used to be a Toyota.
    By the way, I traded my Sienna for a Tahoe today. After two months of shopping my van I can tell you Toyota's reputation for "great" resale is more hype than truth. My 01 Sienna lost 40% of it's MSRP in 15 months. That's right up there with a Buick Regal. If you don't believe me, ask the guys on this site at "Real World Trade Values". They watch the auctions. I could never get an offer a penny more than the 20k they suggested was the "real money" for this car.
    I repeat....the Sienna is reasonable value in the base version; but when they try to turn it into a high dollar car, they miss the mark by a mile.
  • zman21zman21 Posts: 46
    Hmmmmmmmmmm......Goodluck buddy...we'll miss yah!
  • sgergensgergen Posts: 155
    ...are absolutely depressed! There is an unbelievable glut of used vehicles on the market, they can be had for cheap.

    This is due to the 0% financing, huge rebates and free extended warranties that are being offered by many car companies now. You didn't really think that your GM dealer was going to discount that Tahoe and give you a rebate and give you top $$ for your Sienna, did you? You probably would have done better at a Import dealer (Toyota, Honda, Lexus) because then they would've had better odds of keeping the vehicle and not auctioning it like the GM dealer almost assuredly will.

    I brought this up a few posts ago (post #1476), hope it didn't come as a huge suprise.

    The Tahoe is a nice vehicle, I have a '99 Suburban and had a '97 Suburban before that. Very solid, good resale, but quite a bit noisier than the Sienna (engine noise and rattles/squeaks). Nice truck though, I think you'll like it.

  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    to be fair, i would have to agree that high-end models usually have lower re-sale value, regardless of manufacturer.

    in my area, a brand new toyota avalon XLE(1997 model) cost around C$40,000 back then. a used 1997 avalon XLE with around 130,000kms. is now only worth about C$14,000! that's a very big drop in value.

    my sienna CE (1999) was around C$29,000 (brand new) and the value right now is anywhere between C$26,000 to C$27,000.

    i personally would have traded for a toyota sequoia and not a tahoe! all i can say is goodluck with your tahoe and pay attention to your fuel pump when your mileage reaches 100,000kms.!
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    my driver side power window seems to slow down when coming up (about half-way). i can hear the motor slow down and sometimes the window itself will vibrate as it comes up. i took it to the dealer and they wanted to charge me C$75 to fix it. they said it needs lubrication.

    i'm just waiting for the weather to get warmer and i'll do it myself! apparently, it's not covered by warranty! bunch of crooked dealers!

    anyone have experienced this problem?

  • bob57bob57 Posts: 302
    Had a chance to roam around the dealership last night while they were fixing a minor problem on my '00 - first time I used the warranty.
    Prominently displayed in two areas were stands of Toyota oil filters vs other brands with pictures, etc. Interesting. Also noted was a claim of 28% more filtering capacity than other brands. I didn't see this display two weeks ago while getting my oil changed. Again, interesting....
    By chance I asked the service guy about oil changes - he said, "Read the manual. Mileage on the dash is not an indicator of when you should change oil".
    Yeah, well, that's a good thought but that's generally leaving it up to the customer's interpretation and everyone is going to come up with a different view on that. If you think about it, sitting in stop & go traffic for an hour (hey, this is Houston) and other variables thoughout several months really doesn't dictate a set time to change the oil. Quick runs to the corner store and the engine never gets to operating temperature. High humidity (still Houston guys - choke) and maybe condensation in the oil screws up the viscosity (gummy bears...).

    I'm just rambling I guess - three of my friends have Sienna's ('99 '00 '01) also and none of us has had problems of any sort.(notice I didn't say "yet").

    Regarding trade-ins - a little over a year ago a dealer was ready to offer me $1000 under the wholesale value of my car which was in top shape. I walked, sold the car to an individual and got the wholesale price - everyone was happy! I never encountered a dealership that even came close to what the car was worth and still giving them a decent profit. You are always ahead selling the car outright to an individual if you have the time and a little patience.
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    That oil filter display is old. It may be new to your dealership, but we have had it for years.
  • bob57bob57 Posts: 302
    Never mind...
  • I have copied and pasted this from another forum. Thought it was pretty interesting. Take a look.....

    " I've just been informed by a Toyota Service Department Manager that Toyota has issued a special policy adjustment regarding sludge in Sienna engines. I was given a toll free number, 888-802-9436, and told to call for information. The recording referenced the "Oil gel special policy adjustment", and provided instructions for filing a claim. I also spoke with a customer service rep. Apparently, they are reimbursing people who had sludge and provided reciepts from franchise oil change services. They would not provide a copy of the policy document, and seemed to fall short of admitting that there was an engine problem. The customer service rep did say that the standard oil change interval should be 7500 miles, except if some of the special circumstances listed in the manual applied. Then the 5000 mile interval would apply. I faxed them all my receipts and documents. I'll just wait to see what happens. "
  • jj35jj35 Posts: 283
    You made my day!

    2000 Sienna
    Sludged at 17,000 miles
    3 oil changes
    $3,300 in repairs not covered under warranty.
  • Anyone out there have any easy solution to get rid of the squeak that I hear every time I raise or lower the armrests on my front seats, both driver and passenger sides?
  • alexv1nalexv1n Posts: 248
    Even though I'm a little late for the discussion on rear wheel brake squeak, I'd give it a shot anyway. I own '00 Mazda MPV and it developed brake squeal when moving slowly and braking. It became very loud and irritating. Everybody (dealers) was saying that it's new metal-based pads, or brake dust, or moisture, or rust and they cannot do much about it. They kept cleaning pads and it helped for about a week. Then some day Mazda came up with a TSB on the issue. The fix was completely changed design of rear brake assembly. To fix, they replaced shoes, and 9 other parts in the assembly. Adjusters were now placed behind return spring, etc. In other words, completely different design. Now the brakes have been silent for months.

    What I'm trying to say is if the brakes are squealing, then it's most certainly bad design. And even though rust, dust and moisture can contribute to the problem, it is certainly not the main cause and with the proper design, those factors do not result in audible noise.

    Just my .02
  • Here's the reply from Toyota Customer Service (this is follow up to message #1489) when I asked them to review our situation with a bad torque converter and problems that have developed after its replacement. I have included my original e-mail to themn at the bottom. I have not edited a single word of either e-mail. I believe the following correspondence speaks for itself:

    >> Toyota's response follows:

    At 02/04/2002 08:53 AM we wrote -

    Thank you for contacting Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

    We apologize for the concerns you have been experiencing with your 2000 Sienna.

    In our continuing commitment to provide quality service, each Toyota dealership has, on site, a Customer Relations Manager to address any concerns a customer may have. In addition, regional factory representatives support the dealerships by providing additional assistance and acting as consultants in unusual situations. We regret to hear of your dissatisfaction in this matter and have thoroughly reviewed your situation. We note that the regional representative responsible for Lombard Toyota reviewed all information pertinent to your case, and rendered a decision, declining your request on behalf of Toyota. Because the regional representative has been trained by Toyota, the decision rendered by this individual represents Toyota?s position. Our review of the case indicates that all of Toyota?s guidelines have been followed and we accordingly concur with the decision.

    Toyota values you as a customer and we appreciate this opportunity to further review your request.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at 800-331-4331 between the hours of 6 AM and 6 PM, Pacific Time, Monday through Friday, with your file #200110230897.

    National Customer Relations

    >> Original E-Mail to Toyota:

    ---- 01/30/2002 05:19 PM ----
    I'm not certain if this is the correct place to submit this type of request or not, but I have not had any luck with the standard Toyota customer service channels.

    Following is an overview of my current problems with our 2000 Toyota Sienna:

    - 1 day old when the Check Engine Light came on (August 2000 - car built in July 2000). Problem was bad torque converter and Lombard, IL Dealer replaces it.

    - Drive Sienna out of dealer and the trans shifts poorly from 1-2 gears IMMEDIATELY. Steering wheel is tilted significantly to the left and car seems to pull to the right.

    - Several trips back to the dealer to complain about poor shifting and alignment problems.

    - Front tires are mostly bald on the inside half of BOTH tires 5,000 miles after trans work. Car pulls right significantly since trans work.

    - Sienna has been back to the dealer 4 times. Customer Service Manager and regional Toyota rep insist car operates properly. The Regional rep (Mike Fliesher I believe) told me that he sees problems, but that we should expect unusual shifts, alignment problems and prematurely balding tires with this vehicle since it is within established parameters!(?)

    My wife and I bought a Toyota because we had such bad problems with a Mercury Villager minivan. It was a much better car than our Sienna to date. After such drastic problems with the Sienna, we have no idea what to do to get Toyota to at least review this problem and propose some type of remedy. Our Sienna problems are very obvious and potentially affect the safety of this vehicle and, therefore, my family.

    The only corrective action we are requesting is that Toyota replace our current torque converter and align our vehicle properly so that the vehicle steers straight and shifts correctly. Also, as our tires began to wear strangely very shortly after the initially torque converter replacement, we feel that the tires should be either replaced or at least Toyota should contribute the appropriate amount of money based on our usage over time.

    Can someone please help us address these issues? We were VERY HAPPY customers with our 1989 Camry and would very much like to believe that someone at Toyota is concerned that they have a very unhappy customer now who only wants REASONABLE assistance correcting problems caused by a defect torque converter in a brand new vehicle. Thank you in advance for any assistance you can offer...

    Steve Paravola
    >> end of e-mail
  • I have 01 LE with 5900+ miles on it. Whenever the gear selector is in Drive and I have my foot on break (for example stopping at red light) the hum of the engine increases or it resonates. It happens also when I have put the vehicle in Park and have applied the parking break while the engine is still running. In this situation also the engine hum/resonance increases. It is not so bad but still noticeable and creating some unwanted pressure in my ears. It does not matter whether the window is open or no. Opening window reduces the ears pressure slightly. BTW my ears are very sensitive.
    Is it normal or only I am having it? Otherwise van is running very smooth.

  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    my only suggestion is the next time you hear this sound, check to make sure your A/C is not "ON" or your heater settings are not on "defrost".

    if your a/c is on or you settings are on defrost, you can sometimes hear your compressor kick in and your rpm will go up/down.

    this is the only thing i could think of. other than this, you probably just have bionic ears!! :)
  • Yesterday I tried with my heat off and it still happens. Right now we are using just the heat so I switched off the heat and tried all the combination stop light , parking etc. etc.
    In RX300 forum someone was talking about exhaust dampner. may be when I go for next oil change , I may ask about it.
    May be as you have rightly said "BIONIC ears" !!
    My wife even does not hear the the engine humming !! BTW playing music helps my bionic ears !!


  • Since day 1, My 01 Sienna has the same problem of hum or whining when putting the vehicle in Park or appllying the parking break while the engine is still running. I think some folks in this site already found out it is the alternator that made the unpleasent noise. BTW, it happens normally when the engine at ~1000 RPM.
  • Hey, everyone. After a few months of having a relatively problem-free Sienna (had many functional problems initially which were mostly resolved by the dealer, but no powertrain problems), my Sienna has developed a most discouraging sounding problem.

    When the vehicle is "cold" and I begin to drive, I get this loud growl/grinding noise at about 2600-2800 RPM. This doesn't sound good at all! I'm at about 6000 miles and I had the oil changed to fully synthetic about 2000 miles ago. The "grinding" goes away after the car warms up a bit. But let me clarify... while the vehicle is cold, it's about 50 degrees in my garage, so it's not really THAT cold. Second, I'm not attempting to overrev the car after first starting it. My Sienna normall shifts around 2800-3000RPM in the first few gears, which I think is a result of the VVT-i system.

    Please, someone give me a clue as to what this problem is! My dealer is clueless and I have no trust in them after my previous experience - threats of lawsuits and arbitration to get them to invest the time to finally figure out what was wrong with my van and fix it.

  • Guys...My 2001 Sienna (19k miles)has finally returned from the dealership. When running 87 octane gas the valves sounded like they were going to come thru the hood! The dealership had my vehicle for 6 working days (toyota provided a rental...Minivan that i had to complain to get). First they were sure it just had bad gas! So they advised if i would just run it on cheveron 93 what ever, i would not have this problem. I said its supposed to run on 87 and it didnt do this when it was new! They said well, we will put some 89 octane in it and you will see. 3 hours go by i hear nothing. I call them back....the dealer "yup the gas didnt fix it so we are going to have to call toyota for help". (van in dealership for three days at this point). Three more days go by. Finally the service manager calls me and says they think they have it fixed. (think??) The dealer ship has found a Dirty mass air flow sensor and reset the computer(unplugged the battery) and that has fixed most of the problem. The manager said a little spark knock is normal. He had just drove a new sienna and it was worse.(i am shocked he is telling me this) So after picking the vehicle up it is much better i havent really heard the problem again. I know a Seasoned Professional Toyota mechanic that has his own business. He says that toyota has the VVT 3.0 engine running at a very high compression ratio (10.5:1) and that toyota at the same time wants the engine to emit little emmissions and also develope lots of horse power. He says that they are running the engine management to lean and that is why the spark knock is prevelent in this and other new engines (nissan's new 3.5ltr). Ultimately, the spark knock is the cause of the engine sludging, the engine runs to hot and causes the oil to clot. One solution that we all can do to help our selves is to change our oil frequently! I run an Amsoil synthetic and can every 6 months or so send a sample of my oil off to be analyzed. I really enjoy this message board and am happy to contribute, hope this helps all!
    bthibodeau florida
  • Thanks for your input ! My next oil change is due by next month which I am getting done at dealer's place. As soon as they take care of this humming Sienna ( Bird ??) I will post it .

  • Toyota has issued a "special policy adjustment" (which means, I think, that they've decided to honor their warrenty) regarding "sludge" in Sienna engines (only its not "sludge", its "oil gel.") For more information, call the toll free number, 888-802-9436.

    My apologies to Cblake. Apparently there is a problem with some Sienna's. Good for Toyota for finally deciding to "do the right thing."

    As my Sienna is still new (only 9,000 k), I'll keep taking it to the dealer for oil changes every 3k. (It cost alot more as I have to pay for the oil change and I go get nachos and a beer at the Chilli's accross the street).

    What are the signs that your car may be developing sludge, uhm, I mean oil gel?
  • has anyone seen a new sienna for 2003?
  • rward99rward99 Posts: 185
    Toyota isn't admitting anything. Here is the official notice that I received:


    Both Toyota and Lexus initiated a Special Policy Adjustment (SPA) for owners of certain 1997-2001 model-year vehicles. The SPA was designed to provide goodwill assistance for a limited time to customers who have experienced, or who may encounter mechanical problems, as a result of failure to maintain their vehicles' engines properly for how they drive their vehicles.

    This is a condition, not unique to either Lexus or Toyota products, where old, dirty oil becomes thick and no longer adequately lubricates the engine. If not corrected, it can lead to severe engine damage. This is solely a maintenance issue, and we are not aware of any situation in which a properly maintained vehicle has experienced mechanical problems associated with this condition.

    Letters detailing the specifics of the SPA and reminding customers about the importance of keeping up with their cars' recommended maintenance programs, were sent to owners of the affected vehicles beginning in February 2002
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