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Toyota Sienna Maintenance and Repair (2003 earlier)



  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    The letters are going out in batches. The first batch was to people known to have had problems. The rest will be going out in waves. Toyota only has so many people to handle the phone calls and this prevents them for getting flooded. Everybody will get them eventually.
  • bb8bb8 Posts: 60
    Oh! I see, those Toyota well placed people have their asses sitting on the altars for too long, they lost touch with the reality, no wander they are baffled by all of this.
    The problem is improper maintenance: Tell me if the maintenance is/was done by the dealer, Ha, Ha! may be you guys are putting your own stingy shoes right into your own mouths again, and then blame the consumers for improper maintenance, consumers are all suckers, I guess from the Toyota point of view, a recall is a recall, just don't come up with a weird terms like: good will, improper maintenance etc., oh! let Toyota reminds your guys how to change oil, right, I owned 3 cars and they ran over 200k miles when I get rid of them, right, don't tell me I can't read the schedule maintenance table.
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    Sorry, I thought you had a serious comment. I apologize for trying to address your concerns. I'll not make that mistake again.
  • john339john339 Posts: 229




  • I was wondering just what is(was) included in the Tow Package option that was on my '01 Sienna. I checked through the entire manual and there is no mention of it, even in the towing section. Is it a tranny cooler, an aux. engine oil cooler, both or neither? I did find something that mention it included something about revised fan speed logic, I presume to make up for the increased temperatures while towing-but nothing about what other components were included with the option. I also remember seeing it on every '01 Sienna that I looked at-CE, LE, and XLE. I've also noticed that is also included on every V6 '02 Sienna and Highlander(at least around here). Does anyone know when the Tow Package option was first included on new Siennas and would this have any effect on decreasing the possibility of developing oil sludge, even with oil changes on average at 3500 miles? To Dardson 1; I am curious how you made out on trading in or selling your '01 Sienna and what did you replace it with?
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    Now you're taxing my memory. I've been off the sales floor for a few months now so let me see if I can remember. I'm nearly positive it includes a transmission oil cooler. The engine oil cooler is standard.
  • "Now you're taxing my memory ... includes a transmission oil cooler. The engine oil cooler is standard. "

    Cliffy? Didn't it start showing up on most of the Siennas to assist with the transmission and possibly to alleviate the problem that occured with a few of the 2000 models that went out in a bad production run in the summer of 2000? ..sometime end of 2000, the towing package became standard.. does that sound right??
  • john339john339 Posts: 229
    what bad Sienna production run are you talking about? is this related to the engine failure problem? does the oil cooler you mention solve the engine failure problem?
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    Actually, 100% of the Siennas we ever saw here in the Central Atlantic Region had the TO option, starting in '98. It took a factory order to avoid it from the very beginning. The torque converter problem in 2000 was unrelated.
  • I bought my 2001 Sienna XLE in September 2001. I don’t drive my Sienna much, just short trips around town. In light of the engine’s probability to sludging, short trips must be extra hard on the engine. Now my Sienna is just six-months old and has 1350 miles on the OD. I changed the oil and filter last weekend.
    I’ve been reading Town Hall for several months but I haven’t come to any consensus about this sludging problem. Now my questions. Has anyone who changed their oil every four to six months or 3,000 miles experienced sludge? Is the sludging related to climate? How many of you had the dealer perform oil changes and still got sludge? What was the mileage and time frame between service? I still plan to change my own oil, even after allot of you said take it to the dealer. I know, I know, but I hate dealing with those service reps. So, in conclusion, if I change my oil often, say every four months or three thousand miles, which ever is first, can I expect a sludge-free engine? Thanks in advance, Rudy
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    You are what I would call a "tweener" in that your driving is certainly "severe" because of the short trips, yet you put very few miles on it. You are smart to pay attention to time (6 months) rather than miles. You will *probably* be fine continuing with 6 month oil change intervals, but you may want to play it safe and switch to 4 months.
  • On my 2k Sienna, the tranny cooler was 'standard' option; there was a separate line item on the sticker, retail of about $110, which included a tranny aux. oil cooler and 'revised' cooling logic. The aux cooler is just in front of the left front wheel well fender liner and the tranny fluid flows to the radiator tranny cooler and then the aux cooler, then back to the tranny. I believe the revised cooling logic means that the transmission fluid temperature is monitored by the computer more closely and signals a cooling fan to start if the tranny get hot even if the engine temp is ok. All to presumably help keep the tranny from overheating given the weight of the van, towing, etc. All in all not a bad setup. The tranny works hard in these vans so it's a good good idea to change the tranny fluid regularly even though it is not specifically a maintenence item. As stated earlier, the tranny problems in 2000 (torque converter part problem) were unrelated.
    The sludge issue MAY be connected with high engine operating temps., but this is not clear. THe engine on top of the tranny adds to heat build up in the tranny case and such may have led Toyota to install the cooling package as a matter of practice.
  • Clffy1,

    You seem to be familiar with the sludge issue. Are you aware of any cases before the SPA was initiated where a customer was able to get an engine repaired after agreeing to sign a non-disclosure agreement? One person I have communicated with signed an NDA in order to settle with Toyota.

    Thanks, j mcd
  • john339john339 Posts: 229
    can someone give more information on the transmission problems with the 2000 Sienna? it has been mentioned in a couple posts now but details not provided.
  • john339john339 Posts: 229
    did a search on the NHTSA site and found 32 records of transmission problems with the 2000 Sienna. Many of those records are for transmissions failing. Is this what you guys are talking about?
  • john339john339 Posts: 229
    can't seem to link the whole search but here is one of the records.


    the link is too long for edmunds, you have to cut and paste the whole address.
    odino=883438&make= TOYOTA%20TRUCK&model=SIENNA&year=2000
  • After reading this post about Sienna owners having sludge problem, I wonder if these owners are using conventional motor oil and changed their oil at every 7,500 miles or 6 months interval?

    Does anyone using 100% synthetic (not blend) motor oil and changed their oil at above stated interval also experiencing engine sludge problem?

    I have a 2001 Sienna and I had my first oil change at 2K. I replaced with Mobil 1 oil & filter. I changed the oil 6 month later using Amsoil oil & filter. I have no problem. I changed from Mobil 1 to Amsoil because Mobil recently changed their formula in their production of Mobil 1.

    Maybe using 100% synthetic motor oil might avoid sludge problem because synthetic oil can absorb a higher tempeture so the oil would not breakdown so easily. Any comments welcome and will definitely help all Sienna owners.
  • beckpbeckp Posts: 20
    I have an '98 XLE, 62,000 miles on it. I've used Mobil 1 from after 500 miles and have never used anything else. I don't try to push it on the change interval. I'm from the old school where I was taught 3000 miles. Granted, I don't panic if I can't get to it until 4,000 or even 4,500 but never higher. I don't have one hint of a sludge or engine problem at all.

    What amazes me is people spending a great deal of money on a vehicle and then all of a sudden they want to get cheap with the single most important thing you can do to preserve the life of it, change the oil faithfully and regularly. Now I know you are going to say, the manual says....... I know what it say's but how many of you followed the break in instructions word for word, how many drive the posted speed limit, or slow down to the suggested speed limit on a corner. We are all given a brain that offers us some flexability and the ability for common sense.

    If all the 98' Siennas have the same engine, why don't all of them develop sludge? Why, beacuse something very unigue come's into play, owner treatment and attention.
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    I know of none with respect to this issue. Remember, I am in the sales side of the dealership and while I can listen and ask things of the service guys, I don't deal with it on a daily basis. The only agreement that I know about similar to what you are talking about dealt with a Sequoia. That was not related to sludge.
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    Thank you. Common sense like yours is far too uncommon.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    just curious, how many of you here would agree that oil change on any car should be at 5000kms.=3125miles interval under normal driving conditions.
  • cliffy1 wrote:

    > I am in the sales side of the dealership and
    > while I can listen and ask things of the
    > service guys, I don't deal with it on a daily
    > basis.

    Thanks. My experience with my Toyota salesman was great. My experience with the service department was characterized by accusation, contempt, and instant defensiveness. Unfortunately the salesman will suffer for the poor customer skills in the service department.

  • rward99rward99 Posts: 185
    Cliffy, I wish that my '99 had come with the TO option (I bought it used), but it did not. I checked with two dealerships about having it added but both said that there isn't a 'kit' for this and you have to add up all the individual components; every little wire, motor, hose, clip, fuse, etc. With a frame hitch and all the little stuff it came to about $1300 at the dealership. The biggest pieces for TO were larger fan motors (2), the tranny oil cooler, and some logic chips controlling the fan motors. Most of the rest were clips, fuses, screws, etc. (Of course the frame hitch itself was a big piece, but not part of the TO option itself).
  • and I pretty much have taken the same course with my '01 Sienna. I mean, you can either invest a little more in having frequent oil changes(cheap insurance, as far as I can tell); or you can take your chances on the lengthier intervals and maybe have a sludge problem some day. I too, was brought up with 3k to 4k oil change interval, and think that compared to the original purchase price of the vehicle, or the price of a new engine; that frequent oil changes still make a lot of sense to me.
  • deepandeepan Posts: 342
    "From above post: by joe1948
    I have a 98 Sienna with 47,000 miles. I too found a thin layer of black gritty sludge in the oil fill hole. This black grit seems to be limited
    to the small area at the oil fill hole. Why? No idea.
    My question is what caused this grit? "

    Is there some sort of a (black) filter in the fill hole that filters the oil ( dont know why it needs a filtration) before it enters the engine
    block that we may be mistaking for sludge.

    anyone working for toyota probably could take a look in a new sienna by opening up the cap of the oil filler hole and let us know. Or other owners maybe. No one has really addressed this point.
    thank you
  • That's exactly what I saw in my 2001. I was able to scrape it off with a knife just to see how deep it was. It was just on the surface and just enough to make it look worse than it was.

    I have an oil change scheduled for tomorrow and will have someone take a look and hopefully explain why it would concentrate in the filler area. Cliffy said what I described was what sludge looked like. I've had oil changes around 3000 miles and used the dealership from day one, so based upon what Toyota is saying about proper maintenance it shouldn't be sludge.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    my 99 sienna have that same black sludge you mentioned. from what i understand, it's not the same type of sludge thats causing engines to die.

    i was told this black stuff is carbon build-up and i check other cars and i did see the same stuff. i also understand that the only way to find out for sure if you got sludge or not is to pull off your valve cover or you see puff of blue smoke from your tailpipe
  • I've been so concerned about the "sludge" reports that I even had a nightmare about it a couple of nights ago. ..scary~ I could never afford to spend the amount of money needed to fix the problem if it really existed. Our Sienna is our only car and I bought it so my wife didn't end up stranded with our children on one of the remote roads out where we live. Our monthly payments strain our finances with little room for any major engine problems out of pocket.

    That said, I had to find some humor in this hot topic. ..I was just thinking that IF the sludge issue really ends up being just a myth and mainly a side-effect of poor maintenance, Toyota owners are going to have some of the best maintained vehicles around :) ..maybe it's really a strategy by Toyota to keep it's cars regarded as the most reliable cars out there.. gotta try~
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    Thanks for the note of levity. I like that kind of thinking.

    To relieve your stress, I would recommend getting an oil change now and ask the dealership to let you take a look under the valve cover. They will charge for this, but it will be worth viewing to ease your mind. Then, proceed with normal maintenance, preferably at 5000 intervals or less. Doing this, your van will do exactly what you expected it to when you bought it.
  • john339john339 Posts: 229
    you have mentioned in others posts about a bad batch of torque converters on the Sienna or something like that. Can you please expand on what the issue is?
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