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Toyota Sienna Maintenance and Repair (2003 earlier)



  • Hi, thanks for your reply, I wish it were an aftermarket alarm, but it came from the Toyota factory-- do you know how to "disarm" the factory alarm?
    Thanks again, Flyrod
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    Are you sure its a genuine Toyota alarm? The reason I ask is because if you live in the Southeast, the regional distributor is not owned by Toyota and often installs aftermarket equipment. This equipment is included on the MSRP label so it looks like factory stuff. It isn't.

    If not, I'm as stumped as you are.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    thanks for the info.
  • deg856deg856 Posts: 120
    I know what you mean. Our 2001 Sienna is my wife's daily driver, and I only drive it on the weekend. One time I drove the van with the visor deployed to block the sun coming in from the driver side window, and my wife warned me about the visor being loose enough to swing over in a turn. Being an all-knowing guy that I am, I immediately replied, "Nah, that CAN'T happen." Well, the visor swung over and hit me on the side of the head as soon as I made a turn! It did kind of startle me, but it didn't knock off my glasses. I don't if the passenger side visor does this since I've never used it. Somehow we never thought of getting that fixed.

    San Jose, CA
  • Sun visor pivots in my 2002 xle are also too loose. They were replaced by service-but no improvement. The dealer does not know anything else to do. Any suggestions?
  • HI Cliffy1, thanks for your reply, I appreciate it. I checked the 1999 Sienna brochure, it states that a theft deterrent system is standard on the XLE, which is what I have. I bought it from a dealer in Salt Lake City, Utah.
    Would it do anything to remove the battery terminals and then re-attach them?

    By the way, today the demon is gone! My Sienna is very well behaved currently. I am sure it will come back to possess my Sienna very soon, as it has before.
    Thanks again, Flyrod
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    I missed that fact that you have the XLE. Unfortunately, I have no suggestions.
  • Every Toyota Service Dept. has a "manual" rel. VIP that details programing options for your syst. I recently installed a VIP (Toyota parts) in a 2002 Tacoma and there are all kinds of options/choices to be made...rel. how your system works. If you unlock/turn off the VIP armed system....via key or remote....and then you don't enter vehicle within about 15 secs....the doors will automatically relock themselves. In a nutshell, I recommend you go see a Toyota Service Dept. and ask to see their instructions rel. programing the various features on your system. They shouldn't charge you to look at the info and may even allow you to copy you will have your own means to change some things. Good Luck.
  • carmi1carmi1 Posts: 3
    Our Toyota Sienna is less than 1 week old. Sometimes, when we start the engine and the a/c is on, we hear a 'crunching'/creaking type sound. Or when we turn the engine on and then we turn on the a/c, we hear that sound. It doesn't happen all the time, maybe once a day.
    Does anyone know what is happening here?
    Also, I've read a couple of people's comments regarding the loose visor. Can anyone point me to an answer to this problem as well? What message number? Thanks.
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    Its the AC starting up. I don't know why it only seems to do this upon start up, but it is normal.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    by reading your post, sounds like you forget to turn off your a/c sometimes, when you shut off your engine.

    i was told and have heard from a few that it's not good to do that to your a/c. it's best to turn it off, then shut off your engine.
  • I may drop by the Toyota Service Department and look through that manual you mentioned.
  • rward99rward99 Posts: 185
    Any chance what you're hearing is the ABS self test? The ABS system tests itself whenever you start the engine. It can be delayed by stepping on the brake while you start, but when you take your foot off the brake it will happen. I'm thinking that because of the delay you may be turing on your A/C at just the right time and are attributing the noise to that.

    Try this. Next time you start your car, keep your foot on the brake, and don't do anything to the A/C. Then take your foot off the brake and listen for the noise. If you hear it, you're hearing the ABS self test.

    If that isn't it, then I would suspect either a loose V-belt or just normal A/C noise.
  • So far I have not seen a solution posted, just other folks reporting that they have the problem too. See # 2041, 2048, and 2049. Also saw same comments in

    Have not seen it in a TSB, but the problem seems to span 2000, 2001, and 2002 without much fuss being raised about it.

    When I have time, I'll get the dealer to replace my visors and hope for the best. I'm certainly not ready to resort to velcro (which is how I fixed the visors on my 1985 Audi after they tore up after 17 years of working fine.

  • I have a 98 Sienna (3L V6) and have been having a problem with the cooling system for almost a year. The first thing I noticed was the coolant overflow jug would fill up - sometimes overflowing - on long trips (4-6 hours of highspeed driving) but would not return coolant to the engine after sitting overnight. The first thing I did was replace the pressure cap with no improvement. Next I replaced the thermostat. When the weather turned warm this spring the engine started running warmer than usual (temp gauge moving up and fans running more than normal) so the radiator was checked and found to be clogged. Replacing the radiator cured the overheating but during a road trip this summer the coolant overfill jug again fills up to the point of overflowing and will not return to the engine after sitting overnight.

    Some other things I have noticed are these. Some type of floating white crud accumulated in the overflow jug, I think this crud is what clogged the radiator. The coolant was replaced when the van was 2 years old and flushed and replaced when the radiator was replaced this spring. Distilled water was used to mix with antifreeze when the radiator was replaced. After replacing the radiator the temp gauge has not gone any higher than normal. The cooling system does not have any external leaks and the engine is not overheating.

    When this problem is noticed the cooling system remains pressurized even after sitting overnight, when removing the cap the next morning air will blow into the overflow jug. I simply pour the coolant from the jug back into the engine and resume my travel, as long as I do this I am not experiencing any overheating.

    I am thinking it is a headgasket problem, all the dealership here can do is scratch their head. I know Toyota experienced headgasket problems on early model V6s.

    Has anyone here heard of a headgasket problem on these engines? I am aware of the oil sludge problem concerning these engines but I have not experienced it. I have changed the oil religiously every 3K miles.

    Has anyone here experienced or heard of similar cooling system problems?
  • I have a 2000 Sienna with 42K miles on it. My wife usually drives it but I've noticed in the last month that I hear a light squeal just before the car comes to a complete stop. Also if I back up in the car (usually slowly) I hear the squeal when I put on the brakes. Is this an indication that the disc brake pads need replacing? I've replaced pads on other cars but I haven't tackled that chore yet on the Sienna. Can anyone give me some steps in removing the caliper and changing out the pads? Thanks! Also I read in another BRAKE section of Edmunds that squealing is sometimes due to vibration not wear, and you can put a piece of duct tape on the back of the pad to reduce vibration (& squeal). So even if it's not time to change the pads, I'll need to know how to remove them if I want to add something to reduce the vibration. John. Durham NC.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    the answer is not necesarily.
    only way to be sure is to remove your wheels and inspect. with your mileage, you probably just need adjustment and cleaning.

    sienna brakes are known to squeak/squeal.

  • Took my 2002 Sienna in for its 2nd oil change - advised by Toyota dealer (Florida) - that they use 10/30 - I requested 5/30 as called for in owner's manual - they said they don't use 5/30 and in fact they don't have it in Fla - had to settle for 10/30 - had my first change done in Colorado while on trip - they wanted to use 10/30 but put in 5/30 when requested - was told it made no difference - concerned about possible "sludge" problem down the line - any suggestions or advice - averaged 27+ on my Colo trip - only problem was loose visors that swing and hit you on the head when making turns
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    While I am a fan of sticking to Toyota recommendations on 5w30, I can understand FL dealers having only 10w30. In fact, your manual does say this is acceptable.
  • I have a 1999 Sienna that has just recently developed a slight oil leak. I have have had the dealership visually look at it and the said they could not see the source and needed to remove some parts to find the leak. I am scheduled to bring it back in a couple of days.

    My question is, what are the symptoms of the Engine Sludge/Oil Gelling problem?
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    what made u think u have an oil leak? did u see a pool of oil on the ground, oil on your engine, do you have to add oil every few days/weeks, etc.?

    i suggest that you try to find the source of the leak first before you take it to the dealer. sometimes, it could be as simple as excess oil not wiped off from the previous oil change and it just slowly found its way to the bottom of your engine or to the ground.

    symptoms/signs of sludge: your engine using up oil, blowing blue smoke, clumps of oil during oil change... to name a few.

  • I believe you can use strong stream when you wash
    your car point at brake caliper to wash the dust
    away it might help
  • My brand new symphony has the same problems. I think it's the design problem. I do not think replace it will solve the problem. I had to live with it unless there will be some kind of recall.
  • to jeprox: can you give me some tips on how to clean and adjust the Sienna brakes? In regard to cleaning, is this a matter of using air, vacuum, or water to clean them ? And regarding the adjustment part, what is involved in that task? Thanks.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    sure i can give you some tips but just remember that it would be better if you read the service manual first before doing any of this.

    to clean: remove wheels and rear drums. as much as possible, try not to blow coz the dust is harmful if you inhale it. best way to clean is to use those canned brake cleaner or use a wet/dry vacuum and suck all the dirt. i would stay away from using water coz this may cause rust and parts seizing up on you.

    to adjust: you need a flat head screwdriver. remove the rear drums. at 12 o'clock position, you will see this "starwheel" that's pushed against the brake shoes at both ends. u need to turn the "starwheel" down (if i remember correctly). you can only turn it one way and this will expand your shoes. when you adjust the starwheel, you use the screwdriver and turn it about 2-3 clicks at a time. if you do it too much, you won't be able to re-install the drum and u need to back off the shoes! if this happens, there's a clip that locks the starwheel in place - lift the clip slowly and rotate the starwheel backwards. each time you adjust the startwheel, install the drum and turn the drum to see if it will rotate freely. you want to adjust it so that when you turn the drum by hand, it will turn only about half way or one full turn and it will stop by itself. if the drums rotate freely, it means you need more adjustment.

    there's a rubber plug on the drum. when you install the drum, make sure the rubber plug is not sticking out. if it is, you have to remove the drum and re-position it.

    do all this on the other side and test your brakes and you're all done! no need to adjust front disc, they adjust automatically.
    when you're done adjusting, your parking brake will be higher as well

    goodluck. job should take you an hour at the most
  • jeprox Sep 17, 2002 1:47pm
    To jeprox: thanks for the tips on adjusting the drum brakes. Your advice is just how I remember doing it when I helped my Dad. He was a machinist for the railroad; he made custom brake adjustment tools (at the rail shop) for each of his cars. However, I don't remember having to remove the wheel from the car to adjust the brakes. I recall that there was a little opening on the inside of the wheel and you inserted the adjustment tool through that opening and turned the star wheel in that manner, turning the wheel occasionally to check for brake tightness.
    What about when it's time to change the disc pads? I have a service manual for a '96 Corolla but not one for the Sienna. I'll just check and see if the calipers look the same, and follow the Corolla manual.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    i've never tried adjusting from the rear of the drums so i can't tell you if you can do it on the sienna or not. i know some cars, you can do that/ some you cant.

    since you are cleaning the brakes so it would make sense to remove wheel/drum and then adjust. i always remove the wheels and drums to adjust.

    i haven't replaced the pads yet but from what i saw on the manual, it looks fairly easy. looks like you remove a few bolts and swing up the caliper and out comes the pads. doesn't look like you need to remove the whole caliper.
  • rward99rward99 Posts: 185
    The little opening you're talking about is long gone. Your description of the adjustment is correct, they just don't make them that way any more. (Thank God for that improvement) I remember having to do that on a '58 Chevy, my first car. It was that way on each wheel. If you were just a little off on any one of them your steering was affected when you applied the brakes. I still have the brake adjusting tool in my tool box.

    Now that 'star wheel' has a self adjuster built into it. You adjust it so that the drum just barely fits over the linings. Backing up will adjust the brakes automatically.
  • Finally gone on mine. Might be worth sharing this with guys with the same problems. For the first time in my life, I took my vehicle, Sienna in this case, to Midas. So far, bye,bye, annoying noise.
  • I went to the dealer last weekend to have an alarm installed for my 03' Symphony. According to them they don't have any available security alarm yet for this model, they said that they have to check it first. I ask them if they can just use the '02 alarm that they installed on the same models yet they told me that it is different.
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