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Toyota Sienna Maintenance and Repair (2003 earlier)



  • We bought our van new, no problems until now. We have a whining noise that starts at 20 mph and progressively gets louder as speed increases.

    We have ruled out tire noise, sticking caliper and wheel bearings. Three places have told us it is something in the transmission.

    We are reluctant to take it to the dealership before finding out what is wrong with the car. I have had experiences with taking my camery to get a recall done on the stirring wheel and 3 hours later getting the car back with a 3 page list of what is wrong and how much it will be to replace...

    I have been reading archives of this board for 2 days now and I do find this board inlighting and confusing at the same time.

    From what I have read, we either have a transmission problem, torque converter, alternator or fan belt. We are over our warranty and hoping that toyota will fix what ever is wrong. Looking for advise on how to go about problem. I have called Toyota warranty department and have been given a claim number and the name and number of the person that I need to talk to in the warranty department in the local dealership where we bought the van from.

    Now what, I do not want to go into the dealership empty handed.

  • Since I got my 02 Sienna, I occasionally hear a soft clunk under the front area, driver side. I hear it sometimes when I go over bumps or ruts.
    When I took it to my dealer they said not to mind it much, as it is just a "rubber bushing" issue. I asked a second dealer and they replaced my front left strut and adjusted the toe-in, because they said it was noisy. But now I notice the clunk is still there and my steering wheel is slightly off center already.
    I am now hesitant to take the van back to the dealer beacuse I am worried that they might make more replacements and adjustments(!) on the van, that probably are not related to the problem.
    Anybody had a similar experience.
  • deepandeepan Posts: 342
    there was a TSB on earliar siennas regarding the front struts.
  • Believe rear brakes self adjust when using the emergency brake....not backing up....on the Sienna.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    i'm not 100% sure but i don't think i've seen any notes on the sienna shop manual that the rear brakes for are self-adjusting. i did see the book explaining how to adjust the rear brakes using the starwheel.

    i've had my van for 3yrs. now. the parking brake kept going further down until i adjusted my brakes, then i only need to step on it for a few clicks.
  • spgrspgr Posts: 23
    I was about to post a question about a break squeak that I hear just before my Sienna goes to a complete stop when I noticed PIUSJUDE's post. PIUSJUDE what did you do to stop the squeak? I scrolled up some messages on the list but couldn't find the answer.
  • I have a 99 Sienna LE that was purchased used. I received only one remote and it does not work all the time, even with a fresh battery. The remote is shaped like a kidney and has three buttons; red, green, and black. The alarm has remote start and it looks like a aftermarket product installed at the dealership. I can buy a remote at a local dealer for $30.00, but they will not give me the programming information, they charge an extra $50.00 to program. Does anyone know the programming sequence or the brand name this alarm might be?

  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    if the alarm is aftermarket, it could be any brand and not every brand have the same programming sequence. if it's a toyora OEM alarm, you may have to pay the dealer unless someone can get you the OEM programming codes.

    look on the back of the remote to see if there is a model number or brand of the alarm or if your windows still have the alarm stickers with the brand name on it.

    if not, crawl under the dash and look for the alarm "brain" which is usually strapped near your steering. that little black box will have the brand name and model number. get it and look on the internet for the owners manual. manufacturer would usually have the manual available for download and you may be able to order remotes as well at a cheaper price!

  • SPGR,

    Took it to Midas for brake pads replacement.
  • Hi, everyone. I have Sienna CE 1999. Just about a month ago I did 30000.00ml service at Keyes dealership. A week after front of the car (steering wheel) start to shake little by little, more at slow speed 20-30 ml/hr. I went to tire place to check the tire balance but it was fine. They say that car is getting this shaking because of incorrect air pressure in tires & now looks like I have to get 4 new tires. On the dealer they say that tires were properly rotated & it is not manufacturer problem. Did any one experienced same type of problem. Is it possible that tires were changed or something wrong with chassis?
  • koigalkoigal Posts: 1
    I've got a 98 Sienna that is having a problem with water leaking inside the van. Seems to happen only in a hard rain, and I haven't been able to reproduce the problem with the garden hose. Water inside the car caused carpet to mold so I removed it. I need to find and fix the leak before I install the new carpet I bought.

    Does anyone else out there have this problem? Or can you suggest ways of finding the problem?

    Thanks so much!

  • Karen - Where's the leak appear to be coming from? Driver/front passenger area? Second row seats? Rear? Do you have a sunroof?
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    did you have any windows replaced recently?
    did your rear light assembly broke recently and had to be replaced?
    there are rubber plugs on the floor (in the rear of the van), are they still in place?

    you didnt really mention where the leak is.
  • mrfong1mrfong1 Posts: 16
    By any chance do you have a sun roof? I have one and would find water on the floor of the van up front, but NOTHING on the ceiling interior or sides (interior) of the car. This only happened during a hard rain when the car was parked at a certain angle. Turns out that the sun roof itself is not 100% water tight, thus there is a drain on the tracks of the sunroof with divert any water to underneath the car. If the holes (which are visible on the sunroof track) become clogged, water leak into the car. ALSO if the drains hoses become twisted, it can also lead to a wet interior. I tested by pouring water in the drain and looking for dripping UNDER the car, and found that I had a problem. The dealer took care of it but had to keep the car overnight. He said that something needed gluing and it had to set overnight. I've never had a problem since but think it was a HUGE job for them to fix. After writing all of that, I hope you have a sunroof!
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    These are the biggest cause for leaks but not because of the roof itself. Believe it or not, it is user error. Many people try to stop the roof when it looks like it is flush on the inside. If they hold the button longer, it looks like it tilts. Trust me, it doesn't. The roof is just moving up into its recess. To get it to tilt, you must remove your finger and hit the same button again. I can't tell you how many customers are unaware of this. This is the number one cause of leaks and excess wind noise.
  • 2001 xle sienna with 26K had a passenger side door that did not close with the button. The button would click, but nothing would happen. This problem was intermittent. When attempting to pull the door close to activate the motor, it would jerk up a few inches then return to the open position. The dealer replaced the junction and the computer for the door; luckily under warranty. Just a warning for everyone to be aware.
  • mojakomojako Posts: 7
    Thanks for the warning. Have a 03' Symphony with passenger sliding door. I use it everyday to drop my baby to my baby sitter. Did the dealer told you anything about the cause of the problem of your motor? Does this has something to do if I use it too often?
  • deg856deg856 Posts: 120
    2001 XLE with just over 20K mi. Back around 10K mi we had the same intermittent problem with the driver side sliding door (the one we use all the time to get in and out since we put the child seat on the passenger side) like you described over a two week period. It never happened at the dealership, so nothing was done. The sliding door mechanism seemed to have fixed itself after that, which made me think that it was a mix-up in the logic between the door position sensor and the computer. Occasionally the door button does work on first try to close (doesn't seem to have problem to open), and pressing the button in one corner or another seems to make the difference.

    San Jose, CA
  • deg856deg856 Posts: 120
    We got a weird dent at a weird location - the right rear corner, just below the tail lamp cluster, above the bumper, to the right of the hatch. Being right in the corner it was readily visible from both the rear and the side. It looked like a round, smooth and shallow impact crater, as if someone held a heavy and blunt broom handle and poked at it, or being hit by a golf ball at very high speed. The paint was hardly scratched.

    Fortunately the repair was simple. A mobile "Dent Pro" went to my wife’s work, performed the repair on the street side in about 20 minutes, and charged $99. It involved removing the tail lamp assembly and knocking out the dent from the inside, although my wife didn’t stay to watch exactly how it was done and what tools were used. The result is very satisfactory. There is now the faintest imperfection in the sheet metal when viewed against the light. The paint where the center of the dent was (roughly a 1/4 in diameter) looks slightly crinkled, and looks as thought it might crack and peel off in the future, but it’s still looks way better than the dent.

    San Jose, CA
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    watch that paint coz it's almost guaranteed that it will crack a few months from now. when you push out the sheet metal from the inside, it's almost always certain that the paint will crack.

    this is why sometimes it's better to leave dents and scratches alone and just use touch-up paints or wax.
  • Yep - once the integrity underneath the paint is gone it will either crack or bubble followed by rust.

    Fixing the dent is only half the solution - most people cheap out and don't bother to fix the paint. Not that hard if you're handy with an Orbital Sander and have the right pad. Did it all the time on my old Subaru.
  • I have put a convex lens to solve the blind spot problem on my side view mirrors.
    Problem is, from one of the convex mirror the glass has fallen and only plastic part is still stuck on the side view mirror.
    What is the safe way to remove this plastic piece which is still stuck? It has some type of strong gum on it. Is there any liquid/ agent which I can pour on it so that it comes out easily?


  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    use a hair dryer to heat up that small plastic piece and u should be able to remove it. be careful though coz the housing for the side mirror is also plastic.

    u can also try a fishing line. pull the line behind the plastic piece so that it will act as a blade and slice through the two sided tape. once the plastic comes off, just use your fingers to rub off the tape stuck on the mirror. avoid using any strong liquid cleaner coz it may melt the plastic casing of your mirror or cause some kind of damage to it.

  • Will try the hair dryer thing this weekend.

  • elticeeltice Posts: 1
    well, after reading most of the comments about the Toyota Sienna, I'd have to say I'm mortified! Just had a baby boy and my wife and I were getting ready to purchase a Used 1999 Sienna LE, 44350 miles on it....but now after all the comments on the oil sludge I admit I'm concerned. I called the owner and he reports no trouble except a recent leak in the valve cover gasket. He has used Mobil Synthetic oil (5W), and has changed it according to maintenance plan. This vehicle was manufactured in Ontario. Anyone have any suggestions/comments?? Thanks.
  • pilot130pilot130 Posts: 319
    Here's mine.
    The sludge issue is, and has been, a grossly overblown issue, fostered by a small group of chronic complainers who used the internet irresponsibly to vent frustrations at the world in general.
    Toyota has responded to this issue in an unprecedented manner by issueing what amounts to an 8 year warranty if sludge problems develop for any reason.
    You have absolutely nothing to be concerned about in purchasing that Sienna.
    Just an opinion.
  • steine13steine13 Posts: 2,561
    i bought a '98 Sienna w/ 54k miles on it earlier this year. the engine is touchier than others, apparently, and if the oil isn't changed, it'll sludge up. so will pretty much any other engine, if a little later.
    but if you buy one used and it's sludged, toyota will make it right for you... there isn't another deal like that out there, so i saw it as an opportunity rather than a problem.
    better yet, buy a new CE w/ the captain's chairs and the $900 rebate, and live happily ever after. you'll "save" about 15c/mile if you buy one used, and you'll be hard pressed to drive further miles for that kinda money ... if your credit's good, why not buy it new? i'm thinking about getting another one
    if you can have it checked out; the right way to check for sludge is to pull the valve cover and check... the cheap way is to yank the pcv valve out (with really long pliers) and see if it's clear... that's the first thing to sludge up when things get serious, and it's downhill from there. mine's okay, praise allah.
    good luck,
    East Lansing, MI
  • pjksrpjksr Posts: 111
    You'll be able to treat it right, from the start; and the new grille/headlights are much cooler!
  • In response to question about my post (#2090)...
    The dealer never mentioned the cause of the problem. At first they wanted to replace the motor, then opted for the computer and junction box.
    To Deg856: I would definately request to have your door fixed prior to 36K warranty.

    I have a thought to press my other door a hundred times a day until the that door breaks prior to the warranty wearing out!
  • rfp1ncrfp1nc Posts: 10
    Same problem as others like deg856. Door opens but won't close when I press the button on dash or remote. Intermittent at first. Followed the ecu reset procedure in the users manual requiring battery disconnect. Worked OK for 3-4 days then problem was back. Reset again several times but no luck. Took it to dealer and he said Toyota just came out with a new reset procedure but didn't know what it was. Apparently it didn't work... when I picked up the van, there was a back order for a new door ecu at $547.00!!!! (plus labor of course). Fortunately I'm at 31,500 and it's under warranty. Yikes, dodged a $800 tab. If you have a problem, get it into the dealer before 36,000 miles. Wonder why it's only a problem on the passenger side?
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