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Toyota Sienna Maintenance and Repair (2003 earlier)



  • deg856deg856 Posts: 120
    The logic is easy to understand - they have no way of knowing if oil changes were actually done despite the fact that the customers paid for the service. Here is an example. My aunt has long suspected that the independent mechanic she uses to service her Mercedes has been cheating her on oil change, but she is so ignorant about car maintenance she didn't even know how to check. Finally, a friend of hers checked the dipstick right after an oil change and found the oil to be extremely dirty. They went back and confronted the mechanic, who agreed to do it over. How this mechanic stays in business, and why my aunt still goes back to him, is beyond me. Are national chains better? I wouldn't count on it judging from the periodic scandals that break out in the news. I would like to think that the vast majority of service places are honest, but even if one out of a hundred places cheats their customers, there would still be a lot of cars that are not getting properly services. If you go to Sears for regular oil change and still get oil sludge in your engine, shouldn't Sears be responsible for fixing the engine since they're the one performing the service and guaranteeing the work? We know where that argument is going to get you with Sears (or with any other third party service places), but why not? Why should these third party service places earn your money for service but assume no responsibility? It's a classic Ford vs. Firestone argument, in which average consumers, individually, simply don't have enough insight to know the true guilty party. The fact of the matter is it's a lot easier to blame the car manufacturer no matter who services the car. If you go to Toyota dealers for service of your Toyota vehicles, at least there will be no argument on who's responsible if something goes wrong since it's their car and their service. No matter where you go, I still recommend checking the dipstick before and after each oil change to verify that the work is actually done. It's a small effort for your own protection.

    San Jose, CA
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    thanks for the insight. i can say that since i installed michelins and got rid of those dunlops - definitely better ride and the pulling or drifting or whatever people call it is pretty much gone. not completely but i can live with it. alignment was done using a laser guided alignment system and it was perfect.

    i gave my dunlops to my nephew for his caravan and i personally feel those dunlops were junk! he installed them on his caravan and about 5000kms later, they are almost bald! i havent seen tires wear out so fast.

    thanks again
  • I hope I'm not jinxing myself, but our Sienna just hit 50 K miles and we have not had any significant issues. Minor include:

    1. Some rattles
    2.distorted windshield
    3. and a right rear seat that will not come out. Dealer fixed once, but is now stuck again.

    I've always been lukewarm about the sienna, and have never cared to drive it. Its my wife's car and it functions like a basic appliance. Plain as vanilla, little personality. However, just replaced the OEM Dunlops and put premium Michelin's X-1s on it and oh my what a difference. Why weren't these the OEM tire? Better handling, better straight line stability, smoother ride, quieter ride. All of you Sienna owners do yourself a favor. No matter what your mileage get rid of thos Dunlops or Firestones. It is a totally different van and I actually enjoy driving it and throwing it into a curve. Before I was afraid it would tip over, or a tire would self destruct.

    As far as sludge, no signs. I change with the dealer every six months or 7500 miles and usually do a synthetic change myself once a year. So about three per year averaging every 3000 K miles. Our brakes are finally due for replacement, any opions or experiences with have the brakes serviced??
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    i think the reason michelins are not OEM on sienna is coz' of the price! michelins are much more expensive than dunlops. old corolla's, tercel, camry all come with michelin. nowadays, very few manufacturer use michelin as OEM.

    i definitely noticed the better ride and handling with my michelins.

    if you can service your own brakes, you'd definitely save big $$ even if you use OEM parts.
  • I'm finally ready to replace my Dunlops with a set of Michelins... but I've had a hard time narrowing down the model choices. Any ideas or suggestions would be welcome.
  • This is not related to sludge. I read your response about the tire wear/pulling on the early Seinna's. Do you know when those were manufatured? I have a 98 that the alignment has always been in spec, but it wears tires badly. I now have some BF Goodrich tires on it and they are lasting longer than any other tire I have had on the van. But they are still wearing badly. The really wear the edge of the tire towards the inside of the van, the left front worse than the right front. My van was purchased in May 98. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    It was early in the '98 model year. I don't believe there was an actual recall on them, but there was a TSB. The difference is that a recall affects all cars while a TSB is meant to cover cars with specific problems that actually manifest themselves. It is possible yours would be covered under the TSB. I'm not in the service end of things, but it may be worth while to talk to your dealer's service director.
  • I chose the X-Radial Plus or sometimes called the X-Radial One in the 215/65 size.
    Our XLE came with 215, but if you have the smaller 205 consider going up a size.
    The X-Radial is premium touring tire with an 80,000 mile treadware. The tire guys tried to talk me into a sedan or minivan tire, the Michelin Symetry. While is has an agressive tread it is a very basic tire. The X-Radial is very quiet and is designed for luxury sport sedans with modest handling requirments. The next Michelin up is the Energy which is designed for the likes of Accord EXs, BMW 3s, etc. You'll gain some additional side wall stiffness, which is overkill for a minivan, at the expense of ride quietness and comfort. I love the x-radial, I can't gloat overthem enough. It even gives the van a more solid feeling.

    Back to brakes, but never anti-locking ones. Is there any specific difficulties with doing the Sienna brakes.
  • I have a 2001 Sienna with approximately 15,000 miles. When the engine is started in the morning occasionally there is a rattle/clicking sounds to the engine at approximately 2500 to 3000 RPM. This goes away fairly quick as the engine warms. Is this unusual? Could it be related to the sludge issues I have recently heard about. Thanks in advance for any help. FYI, I have had the oil changed at about 6000 miles and due for another soon.
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    What you are hearing probably has nothing to do with sludge. In winter months, it is common to hear a ticking noise under acceleration. To be safe, you should have your dealer look at it, but it is probably nothing.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    the michelin i have are from sears. made by michelin for sears and can be bought only in sears auto center. i think they are called weatherwise, not positive. same great ride and handling and it's a little bit cheaper than buying michelin from tire shops.

    i havent changed my brake shoes/pads but i did have a look at it. looks pretty standard to me and nothing special about it so i dont imagine it would be hard to replace - assuming you have done brake jobs before.
  • cp4hcp4h Posts: 18
    Those who brag about the performance of their X-1s obviously do not live in the snow belt. I am not saying that X-1s are not good tires - they are indeed excellent tires, but the compound they used to make these tires are a bit on the hard side for the purpose of prolonging tire life, and hence mediocre performance in snow.

    If you don't believe me try it out in the snow. I have used both X-1 and BFG TA M65 on the same car, and the BFG, which costs half of what I paid for the Michelins, performs much better on ice and snow. But then the Michelin is better on dry pavement and could last longer.

    There are other Michelin tires which are better in snow than the X-1s, such as the XGTH4, or even the symmetry.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    i use snows on 4 corners in the winter time and my michelin for the rest of the year.
  • jj35jj35 Posts: 283
    The Toyota manual states that you can get your Toyota serviced at non-Toyota garages as long as you maintain records (receipts) as evidence and states that doing so will not violate the warranty. However, when sludge presented itself in my Sienna, they stated that they didn't believe that the oil was really changed (wouldn't even look at the receipts). If Toyota is not willing to accept receipts as proof of maintenance, what are you supposed to do? Take photos or videos every time you get your oil changed? If you must get your oil changed at Toyota, then I think the law is that Toyota needs to provide that service for free.
  • I've owned a 2000 XLE for about 6 months and everything is fine except squeaking brakes when I come to a stop. One dealer said the brakes were fine and that the noise is normal. Another dealer cleaned the brake dust off which worked for about 2 weeks. I've never owned a vehicle with this problem and I'm wondering what's going on. Any suggestions?
    Thanks, Charlie
  • Yes, I should have mentioned that the Michelin X-Ones are not the greatest in the snow. Contending with snow is not a big issue here in this part of Maryland. The X-one tread pattern is good for rain but not aggressive enough for good snow traction. Good observation!

    One quick question. Anyone know a good way to change the middle captain chairs to the bench. The captain chairs are great for older kids, but putting a small toddler in the rear seat is basically a pain because there is no real easy access. I'd like to temporarily put a bench in but am not sure of the price or if the hold-down brackets are compatible.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    many people asked the same question you did. i clean mine twice to 3 times/year. thats about it.

    u can try to see if the dealer will replace or fix it for u but i doubt it. i read somewhere on this board or another that a sienna owner had his dealer replace the shoes/pads and the squaek/squeal stopped.
  • yamanyaman Posts: 113
    If it is any comfort-squeeky brakes must be endemic to the Sienna.Everytime we bring the car to the dealer we mention it and everytime " its normal".It is a bit disconcerting though to hear these loud squeeks when you hit the brakes.
  • deg856deg856 Posts: 120
    I'm a Sienna owner myself and I have no incentive to side with the manufacturer. I'm just hoping someone can clarify this issue for the rest of us who don't have sludge. Does any one of you (with sludge problems) go to Toyota dealer exclusively for oil changes? Is there anybody out there who goes to Toyota dealers for all services based on the recommended intervals and still gets sludge in the engine? I'd like to know how many of the 3000+ vehicles with sludge problem fall into this category. On the other hand, if it turns out that only vehicles serviced by non-Toyota garages have the sludge problem, would you agree, then, that the problem is with the service, but not with the car?

    If you went to an outside brake shop to get the brakes services, and one-month later the brakes failed and you crashed the car, is Toyota or the brake shop responsible? It's not that clear-cut, is it?

    Forget about the receipts for a minute. Do you personally know for a fact that your mechanics actually did what you paid for? Have you ever checked the dipstick after an oil change, and then re-check periodically, to make sure that the oil is clean and there is no early signs of abnormalities? If the oil is always reasonably clean looking, then where is the sludge coming from? If you're just interested in getting receipts, I'll gladly sell you all the receipts you want for $10 a piece. Getting sludge is a bad deal, but it's no excuse to make accusations without proof.

    San Jose, CA
  • navyairnavyair Posts: 202
    Blowing dust/dirt off brakes almost never works. Very occasionally, IF you made a panic stop somewhere to avoid banging into someone, then lightly sanding pads to remove a heat induce glaze on the brake pads, and then cleaning up residual dust/dirt will work.

    Brake pads are as different as tires. Some are soft, and wear out fast, others hard and last a long time. If you feel a vibration when you are braking to a stop, chances are that heat build up when you were braking sometime (panic stop, or not) has warped your rotors (the surface that brake pads press against to stop you). IF you are lucky, mechanic can "turn" them or cut out the warp and re-round them. If not, or if they have warped more than once, chances are, he/she will recommend replacement of the rotors.

    If you've made a hard stop lately, and then feel a vibration when you stop next time, brakes are working OK. However, eventually, you will have to replace rotors. Although dealer prices are steep for replacement, the independent brake shops usually are OK. Caveat Emptor.


    mechanic's son
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    One other thing I suggest besides checking the oil after an oil change is to mark your oil filter. Use a grease pencil on the top just prior to bringing it in. When they are done with it, check to make sure a new filter is in place. This is a very simple way to keep the shop honest.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    i hear you loud and clear.
    i had this incident with my toyota dealer early last year and its why i stopped taking my van to them for service.

    i posted the story before but i'll post it again. i took my van to the dealer for one of its routine maintenance service. the service calls for oil/filter change, check brakes, check horn, lights, check this and check that. at that time, i had my snow tires installed and it was around march/april. after service was done, went home and decided i want to take off my snows and put back my regular all-season. well, well, well... 3 out of 4 wheels were seized-up and won't come off due to the salt/rust build-up between the rim and brake drum. one of the wheels, it took me more than 30mins to remove!

    now, as the service states - check brakes. if they had removed my wheels to check my brakes - i wouldnt be having such a hard time removing them,would i? so this tells me the mechanic didnt check my brakes at all! since it was fairly new and low mileage - he "guess-timated" my brake pad/shoe wear. i was so mad/upset that i paid them over C$130 for the service and it wasnt done properly!

    days later, one of their reps gave me a courtesy call to see how the service was. i started to tell her about my brakes. i told her if my brakes fail coz they didnt check it - i will be down in her office with my lawyer!! at that point, she offered to have another look at my van free of charge but i declined the offer and gave her some nasty comments! from that day on, i only take my van to the dealer for services that i cannot perform myself and i mark everything that i know needs replacing or removed for service! crooked dealers!
  • All the info on the internet has made me very nervous about my 98 Sienna. I have 47,000 miles trouble free miles so far. I usually drive my vehicles until they have 150,000 to 200,000 miles. I checked my oil fill opening, started probing around and sure enough found a small layer of a dark gritty substance. Now I was very worried. I pulled the front valve cover and was pleased to find everything spotless, camshaft, lobes, gears, all the upper head area. The inside of the valve cover was darker and slighty varnished, but no sludge or gelled oil. I change my own oil and have done so every 3 to 5,000 miles with conventional and synthetic oils. Where did the dark grit come from? I have no idea. It seems to be limited to that one small area. I now plan to keep this vehicle but my question is should I use conventional oil with 3,000 mile drains or Mobil 1 for 5,000 runs? Thanks for any replys.
  • bob57bob57 Posts: 302
    You're going to get 20 different opinions on that (and so he offers his opinion...)
    I say keep doing what you're doing. You don't have the "horrible sludge" and there's nothing that says you will. Just keep changing the oil like you mentioned - in my opinion :))
  • dardson1dardson1 Posts: 696
    What a nice feeling it is that I traded out of my 01 Sienna a few days ago. No more worries about getting that oil changed on the dot and only at the Toyota dealer. No more greasing the sliders to stop the flexing groan, no more phantom noises coming from the rear suspension, and no more trying to get the service rep to explain why my rear brakes whine when there's 90% of the brake shoes left. In the 35 years I've been driving one car after another I've NEVER heard of engine sludge til I got that Toyota. Not since 1966 have I had a car that had brakes the squeal every time I roll into an intersection. Maybe these are GREAT cars but you coulda fooled me. I wish you all luck and continued happiness driving these "perfect" automobiles. I, for one, have come to believe the emperor has no clothes.
  • bb8bb8 Posts: 60
    Definitely there will be a spot of doubt in the back of the buyer's mind when a purchasing decision is made. Toyota need to prove to us the real core problem and the real solution to this engine sludge problem, the PR thing make me wonder should I trust Toyota again and continue to purchase their new/used vehicles with a higher premium, the answer is "NO", Toyota's engine design's fault is not the consumer's fault, when the problem finally emerged, the PR gesture of "Goodwill" thing makes me wonder if the Toyota owners are those homeless dude standing in front of Salvation Army waiting for their dinners, the consumers are not going to pay ten of thousands of dollars for a 1997-2001 used Toyota to inherit a known problem without a straightforward explanation of the problem, satisfied fixes, and the report of the testing of the new fixes.
    I see row of Toyota in the Dealer lot, yes, I'm shopping, Will I walk in? Hell No!
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    Simply amazing. The problem is improper maintenance. The solution is proper maintenance. I've spoken to some well placed people at Toyota and they are a bit baffled by all of this. All their research indicates that Toyota is not experiencing any more "sludge" problems than any other maker. The .1% figure is well within industry averages. What is baffling to them is why they are getting crucified and the other manufacturers are not.

    I told them my theory. It is a two fold problem. First is that customers have a higher level of expectation of Toyota. The next is that they were unfortunate enough to sell cars (or vans) to a few loud people who feel they are owed something. On this issue, Toyota is no better or worse than anybody else, but it has been owner reaction that is very different.

    The SPA is genuinely a goodwill gesture. They didn't have to do it. Every arbitration I know about agrees that Toyota is not responsible for these engine failures. Toyota has voluntarily chosen to pay for repairs in a number of cases. They are also the only manufacturer I know of to actually post in this, or any other forum. Show me where a corporate representative of Daimler Chrysler has ever had anything to say here at Edmunds.
  • jj35jj35 Posts: 283
    Another article.

    In earlier press releases, Toyota said that they mailed the letter to 3.3 million owners of 1997 - 2001 Siennas, Highlanders, Celicas, Solaras, Avalons, Camry's, Lexus RX-300s, and Lexus ES-300s, however everyone who I know who has not experienced sludge has not received their letter. Are there any people here who did not experience sludge and have received the letter? Just curious.

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