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Toyota Sienna Maintenance and Repair (2003 earlier)



  • pjksrpjksr Posts: 111

    I am not sure if the engine flushes really work, but they are well touted, and lots of questions about oil are answered, on . It is cautioned there, though, that really dirty engines could have problems with clogged oil passages....!

    About "oil gel," if you are not aware, Toyota is backing their engines for 8 years if they do show this problem.

    If you try an Ody, make sure both of you sit in the passenger seat and decide if you have enough leg room. Although it's the biggest mini-van, the glove box protrudes toward your shins. We also found the Sienna quieter. But both are great vehicles.

    My boss and I really like our Sienna, having zero complaints over about 1 year and 18,000 miles. I use conventional oil and have been changing it at home about each 1700 miles (I am a home-Dad), but might be able to go double that on Mobil-1. )

    Just beware that many "synthetic" oils are not synthetic in the traditional definition. That's a long story...Mobil-1, Exxon Superflo, Amsoil, and Redline are, BTW (Valvoline Synpower too?).
  • deepandeepan Posts: 342
    I have a 2000 ce and after taking a look i dont see any adjustment wheel on the vents. What i did notice was that the vent under the drivers seat is partially closed (there are about 8-10 holes and 5 of them are closed permanently. Passenger side vents are fully open. This could attribute to the reduced air flow.
  • I bought it used in 2000 with 35,000 miles on it. It has had two major engine problems,it blew blue smoke in the morning, and numerous other relativley smaller problems, ie. it pulled to the left (or was it the right?), the brakes groaned upon hard braking, the sliding door lock malfunctioned, the tire pressure light stayed on. It is now currently getting a new engine installed as it falls under Toyota's Gel (sludge) extended warranty. My wife uses this van mostly. She drives like a Granny. No, make that a Great Granny. I change the oil very frequently, (I'm not anal about it though.) So I really can't say the problem was our fault. I do love Toys. This is my third one. I hate to say it but this one is a real dog. Don't get me wrong though. When the engine works it is real peppy, and it is a very comfortable van and rides nice, I really can't wait till it gets out of the shop to unload it. I will say this in closing. Toyota has been very good about fixing up this lemon. They do stand behind thier product, at least in my case.
  • steine13steine13 Posts: 2,561
    I bought a used '98 Sienna, too. It has none of the problems you mention above, but part of the reason i bought the silly thing was the toyota sludge policy. 1st owner no changee oil, they fixee for free. no other engine on the road with THAT feature.
    brake groan? maybe the abs at work?
    mine had serious electrical trouble (or so I thought), blew fuses left and right for a week. when the cause was determined, it turned out that a $1 light bulb had melted solder out the bottom, causing a short. coulda happened in any vehice.

    one thing, though: the instructions in the user's manual on removing the rr corner lamps are suicidal... it does NOT work like that, and i spent $160 proving it. had a tech at the dealership show me how to do it right...
    East Lansing, MI
  • I love our Sienna, but I think it's a stretch calling it peppy. Or even "real" peppy.
  • kw6kw6 Posts: 26
    Mine is peppier with the K&N air filter. It got rid of that nasty hesitation.
  • I guess I don't get it. I recall reading a review (here or C&D or wherever) comparing minivans. The reviewers really got into acceleration. They still do. Like this is an important feature or decision criteria in a front-wheel drive minivan. It's not - I want a "safe" acceleration in my family hauler, not a race car. I'll get the vette or Ferrari when the kids are all grown up. For now, just give me something that smoothly and safely gets me on the highway.
  • Just catching up here.

    Momo - I have two Sienna's (98 LE & a 2001 XLE) both using Mobil 1 - both run great - around 24 MPG with plenty of acceleration (for a Minivan) although I tend to keep it under 70 MPH.

    I do drains around 5K and could probably go higher but want to test with Blackstone first.

    I definitely recommend the Mobil 1 5w-30 for the Sienna as well as the Sythetic ATF.

    Also, I didn't start with Mobil 1 - went to it around 15K on both vans.

    Never had a sludge problem and expect you won't as long as the Sienna has been properly maintained.

    Good luck
  • You're changing the synthetic oil every 5,000 miles? I thought synthetic can go a lot longer than that?
  • Thanks for your personal experience.

    I'm buying the 98 (with 65k miles on it) from my sister-in-law and her husband. He is pretty thorough and by the book (Oil changes every 3k miles since 20k. Prior to 20k, every 5k) He said he spoke to the master mechanic at the dealer he had his last oil change at (2 weeks ago), and the person said that he saw no problem with the car right now. The mechanic didn't open up the valve covers, which doesn't make me feel warm and fuzzy about his opinion. But from what I'm hearing/reading, as long as the oil changes were done at 3k mile intervals with dino oil, it should be just fine.

    Still, just not sure about the engine flush. I may just buy 2 bottles of the stuff and give it a whirl. Hopefully with 2 bottles of this stuff, I won't have any problems.

    Regarding 5k miles, between oil changes with synthetic, I figured that this would be a very reasonable mileage. I have been running all our cars in the past 8 years with Mobil 1 and never had a problem, changing at 7500 miles/6 mos. With this car, I'm reducing the mileage to 5k/6 mos, just to be on the safe side.
  • Yep, that is what I'm questioning and looking into. Some sites say that the engine flushes really work well and some say that they don't. I did go to and look around.

    From what I can find so far, the flushes have a lot of detergent/solvents in them. So, as long as there isn't much (if any) sludge in the engine since oil was changed every 3k, the flushes should not (I sure hope not!) cause something to clog an oil passage.

    I'm aware of the Toyota 8 year warranty, but their wording, paraphrasing here, "as long as an effort is made to do oil changes", makes me wonder what is an effort is in there eyes.

    As for the "synthetic oils", you're right in that the definition of "synthetic" subject to debate. However, I figure that as long as Mobil 1 is used in Porsche's, M-B's, it can't be that bad..

    Just waiting for the day to get that flush going.
  • fran0fran0 Posts: 1
    I recently purchased a 2003 Sienna. I was surprised that the van did not have an automatic door lock feature when the car is started or when it gets to a certain MPH. All of my recent cars have had this type of feature. I called the dealer and they said the feature is available but the door locks must be programed. They want to charge at least $30 to do it. The service rep stated that the process is listed in the owners manual and it is not listed anywhere. Does anyone know how to program the door locks to lock when the car is started or moving?
  • deepandeepan Posts: 342
    a word of warning. be sure not to program to lock the van by itself if it stays idle for a few minutes. a royal pain when the weather outside is -15c like today. I put an after market alarm that initailly did all sort of locking but have disabled everything "automatic"
  • pjksrpjksr Posts: 111
    Great to hear you're buying the van! You shouldn't have a problem with existing sludge, and your Mobil-1 5000-mile interval sounds reasonable (and more so if you use the 10W-30 grade, containing fewer VIIs to shear).

    In terms of your maintenance, Toyota recommends checking/adjusting valve clearance at 60,000 miles. This is one way to get that valve cover pulled. Note that checking valve lash on this engine is routine, but any adjustments are intricate and probably better done at a dealer or reputable shop.
  • jasdmwjasdmw Posts: 118
    I asked the same question when I bought mine. The response from the dealer service folks was that it was not possible to program them to lock automatically.

    Keep us posted as to your success in this regard.
  • pjksrpjksr Posts: 111
    As far as I know, all Siennas have power door locks. When you get into your vehicle, all you need to do is press a button, and all doors lock.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    the OEM locks will not lock automatically when you get in the van (close all doors, etc.) or start the van or when the van starts moving.
    i don't know of any toyota vehicle that have this feature.

    BUT, if you have an alarm system installed then it's a different story! :)
    you can program the alarm so that when you get in the vehicle, close all entry points (including trunk) and start the vehicle - all locks will lock automatically. you can also program it so that when you press to disarm the alarm, it will unlock the driver's door only. press one more time and it will unlock the rest of the doors.

    not all sienna's have power windows/locks (for canadian version anyways). the very first model 1998 have the power windows/locks as option. i'm not sure if this is still the case for current models. i know mine (1999 model) was an option as well.
  • My owners manual says to change oil at 5000 or 7500 mile interval with 5W-30 dino oil (API SL grade). I would expect Mobil-1 to last much longer if not contaminated. Mobil-1 has traditionally not recomended extended change interval, but that may have changed. So check the label.
  • Seem to remember a string of entries ref: the driver seat "rocking" very slightly at acceleration/decel. When I did a search could not come up with the entries. We have a 2003 Symphany, and while the rock is slight it is getting to be disconcerting. Is this fixable. Also to board/Town Hall administrator (this is not a gripe!!!): While I may have been using the wrong terms in my search string, could this Town Hall be modified to have a better search capability?
  • pj15pj15 Posts: 1
    Beware. My 1998 Sienna XLE transmission has to be replaced at 56,000 miles.I bought the vehicle from River Oaks Toyota with 33,000 miles. Toyota is charging me $1200 to install a remanufactured transmission with only a 1 year warranty because the vehicle is 10 days beyond the 5 year Toyota powertain warranty based on original placed in service date.I an sure the Sienna spent more than 10 days on the re- selling dealers lot.The Sienna was making a fluttering noise in 20-30 mph range which prompted me to take it into the dealership. Apparently 10 days too late. Repairing dealership(Oak Lawn toyota) said the decision to not honor the warranty is a decision of the District Service Manager who will not discuss the decision directly with a customer. Toyota's customer assistance 800 number says decision of District Service Manager is not subject to review or customer input.
    I have purchased two other Toyotas from the repairing dealership (one a 99 Camry) but they tell me while I am a "valued toyota customer" it is not their decision to make regarding the warranty and no one from Toyota is willing to discuss directly with me.
    I've learned the Toyota quality and service I thought I was buying is only marketing hype. The transmission warranty did not get me 5 years of service nor 60,000 miles. It's all a matter of chance.
  • Sienna 2000 le, 53k miles, dealer tells us the ABS actuator pump needs replacing....$1779.00!! I am a very cautious driver, have never had an instance where ABS came into play. I think the dealer is trying to rip me off,anybody ever have a similar problem??
  • smfransmfran Posts: 432
    Brought my 2000 Sienna LE to my dealer for an oil change and sticking driver's side slider. Sometimes the slider would be so stuck it would not open, then it would work after some time passed; other times it would work fine for days only to get stuck again. After they found remnants of an orange soda spill under the cup holder with seepage into the door track, they cleaned and lubricated the tracks and mechanism and it now it opens and slides like brand new. They thanked me for being such a good loyal customer and sent me on my way; only charging me for the oil change.
  • Just checking out the thread and I must have missed your inquiry the first time.

    Yes, you can go longer than 5K with M1 oil but I just want to have an analysis done by Blackstone before moving beyond 5K - just being cautious although if I went a little long I wouldn't be sweating bullets.
  • deepandeepan Posts: 342
    I infact took it to the dealer nearly couple of yrs ago and they said it was design intent. Go figure. This is the only vehicle that i have driven with this "feature". I have chked a few other sienna's and its there. I hardly notice it now but it was a spot of bother initially.
  • I tend to agree with "Thewolverine". Any good Synthetic should last more than 5k miles. I've been running anywhere from 5k-8k per half year on my family's cars with Mobil 1 (5 cars in the past 8 years).

    However, with the Sienna allegedly having higher running temps and people complaining about sludge (in the past), 5k miles is just a conservative figure that I chose. Between spending $4-$5 per quart of oil or going through the aggrevation of having to prove that the oil changes were done and then having to wait for an engine replacement or rebuild, it is just cheap insurance.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    Since youwere only 10 days over pj15, I would make a call to the district or regional manager and explain the situation to them. $1200 is a good bit of change and it is only 10 days over. Also was this a certifeid used vehicle? If it was then the powertrain is covered for a longer period of time. I wouldn't pay this bill so easily. It's aworth a shot to make some more phone calls. The news can't get any worst.
  • I have a 2003 Sienna LE and am encountering interference when using a store bought OEM TV/VCR combo. I get a high pitched whine from my 12 volt plugged in device that increases with engine RPM's when the device is being used. I do not get this interference when using the same device in my Tacoma or Camry. I have tried all three power outlets in the Sienna.
  • jp123jp123 Posts: 1
    The power passenger door warning light shows that the door is open and beeps when I go from Park to Drive. The door is shut. I have taken the van in 3 times for this. The warning light will come on for a few days and then go away. The door will also open and close all on its own when I have just started the car. I have to turn the power door off to get it to stop. They told me nothing is wrong. They clean the connectors and it works ok then it starts up again. Has anyone else had this problem?
  • deg856deg856 Posts: 120
    Not a real problem - just an FYI: Got a lemon-sized dent and some associated scratches in the right corner of the front bumper. Replacing (parts and labor) the bumper took 3 days (only 2 days were needed if the bodyshop had gotten the right bumper from the dealer the first time around) and cost $900. The bodyshop writeup guys said the cost for rear bumper (painted) replacement would be similar.

    San Jose, CA
  • lsaclsac Posts: 22
    I had installed OEM RS3000 on my 98 Sienna. The manual tells how to turn on/off Piezo, auto lock/unlock, passive mode, valet and etc. I assume most OEM alarms do have both active and passiave modes. When I bought my 95 Maxima in 94, besides OEM alarm, dealer had insisted to install a passive alarm.
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