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Toyota Sienna Maintenance and Repair (2003 earlier)



  • crv16crv16 Posts: 205
    I just checked an Toyota parts place on the internet, and Sienna rotors go for $80 each, with new pads being $42. For an automotive tech to

    a) Put your van on the lift
    b) Pop off the front wheels
    c) Remove the caliper bolts
    d) Pull off old rotors, put on new ones
    e) Compress brake cylinder, install new pads
    f) Put it all back together again
    g) Road test

    So your talking about $200 worth of parts, and 2 hours labor (being reaaaallly generous). Shouldn't cost more than $350 for all new front brakes.

    Anyway, I had a problem with warped brake rotors on my '01 Accord. The Honda dealer resurfaced the rotors, and it was covered under the warranty. I would think the same would apply for Toyotas as well.

    Brake rotor warpage is caused by three things:

    1) Auto repair shop monkeys overtightening your wheel lug nuts.

    2) Driving thru puddles with hot brakes

    3) Sustained aggressive braking.

    #1 is the most common cause of brake rotor warping. Whenever you have yout tires rotated, make sure the technician uses a torque wrench to tighten your lug nuts.
  • ajl1000ajl1000 Posts: 15
    I have a 2001 Toyota Sienna XLE. While everyone else is on the subject, I figured this would be the best time to ask my question about my brakes. Ever since around the 5000 mile service, we have noticed a squeal from the brakes when they are depressed and the vehicle is almost at a complete stop. The problem is still around and we have put on 30,000 miles now. We've taken it to the dealer several times and they keep reporting that everything is fine. I don't know that many owners with Siennas but the ones I do all have the same problem. Though the brakes seem to work fine and perfectly (brake-avoided an accident last week :-)), I expected better from a $30K+ car. Is this a common problem on Siennas? Or is it just my friends and I?

  • It's a common problem. Toyota is aware and hopefully working on a fix although it's not a safety issue. It is an annoyance.

    Seems to be present on the majority of 1999-2003 models.
  • jelhz43njelhz43n Posts: 44
    I like announcing my ARRIVAL !! :)

    But sometimes I also get dirty looks for it : ( and by the way the person just infront of me tries to keep more distance than me which is good for me ! : )
  • guest4254guest4254 Posts: 6
    I haven't read about this problem yet. You know when you change gears, each gear on the dashboard lights up ie. the "P" for park light, then "R" for reverse. Well, today I noticed that the "D" for drive doesn't light up anymore.

    Does anyone know what is involved with fixing this? Is it complicated, or is it something I can do myself? I also have something, like a loose screw, rolling around somewhere in my dash area, so I'd like to find it. Drives me crazy every time I make a turn.

    Is there an online manual, perhaps, that might aid me in removing the dashboard?
  • deepandeepan Posts: 342
    could it be that the van is always in Drive and the bulb got burnt!!!!

    sorry couldnt resist.
  • My wife just got back from a Girl Scout camping trip and I noticed that something hit the rear wiper and now the base is bent away from the rear of the van and doesn't work anymore. Has anyone replaced the rear wiper assembly? How much is it and can it be replaced easily or should the shop do it? Thanks.
  • pmoskalpmoskal Posts: 25
    Whenever I take the '98 Sienna on a long distance drive I experience the bottoming out in the rear suspension. Now I do not tow a trailer but have luggage and 4 passengers...certainly not at full load. When I drive over a bump it bottoms out.
    I can prevent this by having a set of rear air bags installed in between the springs. What other alternatives have Sienna owners done . I am open to replacing the spring or struts as an alternative to using an air-bag.
    Those that have done the 'air-bag' out here in the Rockies have said this has cured the problem, especially for swaying and bottoming out.
  • pmoskalpmoskal Posts: 25
    Having Break Squeal on the older model year Sienna(especially '98) is common. I thought they had fixed this for the 2000 model yr but I guess not.
    After every brake inspection my dealer adjusts them, or does whatever to prevent the squeal. It comes back however before the subsequent service. Sonow its become a line item on each of my service visits to stop the squeak.

    I have been really happy otherwise with the brakes on the vehicle. I had both the front rotors replaced as part of a Toyota Service bulletin for my '98 Sienna, years ago now. Since then the rotors have behaved themselves. The new rotors do not warp and when I brake hard it works as expected.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    I got Costco Michelins (X Radial Plus) for my Quest around 45,000 miles ago. They were great the first two years, but now I'm thinking I should have gone for a tad more performance and less treadwear. They are just all season tires, but the good snow traction they initially had pretty much disappeared after the second winter.

    This spring excepted, it usually doesn't rain much around here so that's not a big concern. I just have this niggling feeling that I could have spent a bit less and planned on new tires in ~3 years and enjoyed the ride a bit longer. The X-One clones are showing plenty of tread still so it's hard to justify dumping them just yet.

    Or maybe I've just been reading about "performance" tires too much over in Tires, tires, tires :-)

    Steve, Host
  • pmoskalpmoskal Posts: 25
    My '98 Sienna LE came with those soft Dunlops that I , and many others, had to replace at around the 20K mile mark.
    The Dunlops were a P215 tire, slightly too narrow for this vehicle and low in quality, but ideal for tire swings.
    Since then I'm running Michelin Alpins in the winter, enough said, and the bigger Michelin X Plus P225's the rest of the year. Even though its an all season tire, I do not use run the X in the winter and elect to do the seasonal change to the Alpin. When you drive in winter to Winter Park and to Vail you want the assurance of the Alpin's. Sure I may of lost a few mpgs , by going to a wider X tire, but this tire looks good on the vehicle, it is stable as a rock at highway speed, and with the tires square edges it handles better than those low quality Dunlops. I actually gained the mpgs back when I switched to a Valvoline oil w/ MOA along with the use of a premium fuel. 27000 miles so far on the X radials and no visible wear, but again the X tires have not been driven in winter. The warranty is 80K miles, incredible. Costco has them. I would recommend them for this vehicle. Definitely there viable alternatives out there. My choice however was the Michelin X Radial Plus, since I only use them in non winter months.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Hey, Pmoskal, I was responding to your post - how'd you get behind me?


    Steve, Host
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Yeah, that's what I figured Pmoskal. I almost deleted your repost thinking it was a duplicate ;-).

    Dedicated winter tires are great for snow country; I have a set for the Outback to use to go skiing next winter.

    Steve, Host
  • pmoskalpmoskal Posts: 25
    The Brake Squeal, or 'brake howl' as it's technically termed, has been now finally fixed on my 98 Sienna, hopefully. The remedy was the "Adding of Wheel Weights to the inner back of both rear wheel brake backing plates". When I look under my vehicle you can see on each side 4 weights attached to the round backing plate. Each weight is about 3/4 inch wide by 6 inches in length. Total cost was 16 dollars. The key for me going forward is to keep the rear drum brakes cleaned on each brake inspection.

    The Bottoming Out, has also been addressed without installing the so called 'air-bags' inside the springs. The solution was "to add Insulator Cushions under each of the rear coil springs". This raises the rear of the vehicle slightly but it's not noticeable. Its Toyota part number 48257-44010. Cost: each of the Insulator is around $17 dollar each plus the labor to install. You can notice the vehicle rides slightly better, The test will come this summer with my east coast trip.

    The Rotors, as I mentioned in my earlier posting , were replaced by Toyota, years ago, at no charge to me via a Toyota Service Bulletin.
  • scoti1scoti1 Posts: 676
    I have been reading on the internet that Toyota did something to the engine head on the new Siennas that reduces the temperatures that were causing the sludge problems in the 1997 - 2002 models. Does anyone know about this. Was this put in place on the 2003's or not until 2004?
  • dmmakoskidmmakoski Posts: 72
    It was mentioned in a previous post the use of bigger Michelin X Plus P225's on their Sienna.

    But what diameter are these? Most 225 are around 1/2 inch more in diameter than 215's.
  • jasdmwjasdmw Posts: 118
    Going up 1 size to the 225 will likely be a 60 series tire, meaning the height of the sidewall is slightly less. The diameter of the tire is then very close to the factory 215-65 (I believe). In effect you are changing both the tread width and the height of the tire sidewall by going up one size. I did that with my Bridgestone Turanza LS-Hs.
  • imoimo Posts: 16
    I tried to pull out the rear brake drum on the Sienna but it would't budge.
    I had no trouble with my Accord; the drum was pulled off easily
    Has anyone done this already, please give me advice. Thanks.
  • dmmakoskidmmakoski Posts: 72
    Looking at various specs for 225 vs. 215 shows they can increase the diameter of the tire up to an inch and a half depending on brand. For example my standard Firestones have a diameter of 26 inches. A tire bigger in diameter would cause a loss of torque I would think plus could cause the engine management computer to mis-read information due to different RPM vs. speed.

    Don’t get me wrong I like the idea of the 225’s I just don’t like increasing the diameter of the tire.

    What model did you install?
  • paulychinpaulychin Posts: 3
    Hello everyone,

    Don't you wish there was a Haynes repair manual for the Sienna's?
    These manuals have been an excellent resource for troubleshooting
    and repairing my other cars, but Haynes has yet to publish one for
    the Sienna. Now there's a new model (2004), and the first Sienna's
    are almost out of their 5 year warrenty, perhaps there is a market
    for the manuals?

    I wrote to Haynes when I first acquired our '99 CE van in 2001 (it
    had 310,000 km on it!!!) and asked if they were planning to publish
    one. They wrote back and said "not yet", but keep checking our web-

    Why don't we all write to Haynes and ask them about the repair
    manual...maybe they'll realise there's a market for it? Write to

    Or visit: and click on Ask Haynes about our manuals


    '99 Sienna CE
    323,000 km (no problems)
  • steine13steine13 Posts: 2,562
    "'99 Sienna CE;323,000 km (no problems)"

    So whatchoo need a manual for?

    '98 LE
    '03 CE
    I'm in a rut
  • bmwx5bmwx5 Posts: 16
    We currently have a 1999 (5/1999) Sienna van XLE with 60600 miles. The van has been problem free until 2 weeks ago when we had a check engine light ON while driving and as we had an appointment for 60K service it was dropped at the dealership. Initially the diagnosis indicated celluloid failure, then we were told torque failure and then yesterday the transmission itself. Now this would be a big dent on the budget as the transmission ($4200) and torque ($1600) etc. and as it is just 600 miles over the warranty I am trying to see what the dealership can do apart from the 'goodwill compensation' as this is our 3rd toyota.
    But reading thru few forums here as well as it appears that there are many owners who have experienced identical problems at or near 60K miles some even earlier. I had been maintaining the van thru the same dealership (e.g. 15K,30K,45K service) and I donot tow boats etc. so there is no abuse as claimed occasionally. I think there is a real issue here with the transmission. How come so many have the identical issues at or near 60K miles.

    Thru the forums I gathered that few cases were reported at NHTSA site as so many cannot be wrong.

    We are disappointed too in the premature failure of the transmission as we believe this transmission problem is either a manufacturing or design defect.

    Does any one had similar experience and could they get any results from the toyota national office.
  • yamanyaman Posts: 113
    bmwx5-I am starting to think that transmission problems seem to occur on most if not all minivans.We had a windstar which was well known for transmission problems.Chryslers problems are well known as well plus I understand Honda was having a lot of issues with the Odyssey.I am no car maven but I wonder if it is just that these things are bigger and heavier than cars and the transmissions are just prone to fail because of that.
    We have 50k on our Sienna and have had the transmission fluid replaced every 15k miles as insurance.If that will be effective down the road who knows.Hopefully Toyota will step up in your case-seems insane that right after your warranty expires your transmission goes.Good Luck.
  • bmwx5bmwx5 Posts: 16
    reply to Yaman: Thanx and I agree but this is so un-usual (i think) well for now I got a split on the total cost (as they claim warranty expired), but still has to pay the half. My suggestion would be to take an extended warranty if possible to 100K if you plan to drive for few more years - as you never know.
  • 6sense6sense Posts: 2
    I got a 2002xle and experiencing this type of noise(woobling/humming)started @7000mi.This is noticeably at the speed of 28 to 25 upon releasing gas pedal w/out steeping on brake.The dealer checked the vehicle but cant fix it,ive already spend three days without result.first,they said of cleaning the brake.Second time the master mechanic said about the bearing.Third time said it is the tire so they changed it, still same brand (affinity)
  • bobbya2bobbya2 Posts: 35
    in USA. I presently have 4 vehicles with transmission problems: 1) '89 caravan, 2) '90 Honda Accord, 3)'93 saturn SL2 4)'95 Windstar.
    I also had '84 Astro & '82 Dodge Ram cargo Van with Transmission & Engine problems plus many other problems.
    Up until recently I would consider buying domestics because of their bigger size & it supported Local Work force.
    Whenever I went to Transmission shops, I would find chryslers, Fords and very few GMs and don't recall imports.
    But based on my 1990 Honda Accord transmission problem which dealer incredibly replaced in 30 days & below 500 miles, I have come to
    Conclusion that transmission problem is Design & Manufacturing Defect because my present car which was exchanged has transmission problem too.
    And I am sorry to say that even IMPORT Brands which use Transmissions & Engines Made in USA,
    hence have problems.
    Even on this Forum, I am sure we all will agree that Automibiles Made in Japan are better than USA. Although Honda, Toyota & others are making vehicles here for quota restrictions & many other reasons, the quality of Japan build is better and is why they still make their expensive Models in Japan.
    Unfortunately, like others have mentioned that Dealers call their problems Normal because they don't want to admit the problem exists and they cannot fix it either because they cannot fix it UNLESS company fixes the problem in transmission design & manufacturing.
    In my experience, the aftermarket transmission was better than the factory but even re-conditioned transmissions don't last long and are never same in driving as original & problem free transmissions.
    The main reason I still have those vehicles is I have a mechanic friend for past 10 years and I have never taken any vehicle to Authorized Dealers for service because as per my experience all have been like LEGAL LIARS & RIP-OFF SHOPS.

    Transmission & Engine is like a Heart & Soul of any Vehicle, and if they have a problem then the experience of Owning & Driving is completely Disastrous.
    I will continue on this topic next time.....Sorry gotta go
  • bmwx5bmwx5 Posts: 16
    I agree as said by bobbya2 "Transmission & Engine is like a Heart & Soul of any Vehicle, and if they have a problem then the experience of Owning & Driving is completely Disastrous."
    In fact we pay a premium to own these vehicles over others because of their reliability and safety. We needed the mobility and had to pick the van from shop with a new transmission but we are seriously debating whether to keep the sienna
  • storm11storm11 Posts: 38
    My brother in law has a 2001 XLE. Our families took a trip to the Smokey Mtns. in NC two months ago. On the way back, his XLE's xmission went out doing 75 mph. The van had 55K miles on it, so he was lucky for it to go before the 60K warranty. The tranny did need replacement. He got a remanufactured unit vs. a new one. Stranded him in S.C. for three days.
    Now, I'm not a proponent of Chrysler products, but my '95 Voyager with a 3.0 and 102K miles on it has been one of the most reliable vehicles I've ever owned. That 3.0 is a Mitsubishi motor, which I'm sure is why I've had such good luck. Most of Chryler van engine problems are with the 3.3 and the 3.8 which are manufactured, I believe, by Chrysler.
    So, there appears to be an obvious design flaw here that's disappointing a lot of Sienna owners that are out of warranty. It'll be interesting to see if the new 5-speed auto on the '04 will have similar problems.
    Hopefully, you will have luck getting relief from Toyota on this obvious flaw.
  • pmoskalpmoskal Posts: 25
    I am no plans in 'not keeping' my Sienna around for years to come. With all the experiences noted above about the Sienna's tranny problems, I think one solution folks is to protect yourself from the high expense of having to posibly replace it , especially once out of warranty. My current warranty is for 6 yrs/60 miles, whichever comes first. My 98 Sienna w/48K miles on it will hit the 6 year expiry next Feb. I am considering looking into a 'Used Car extended warranty' to cover myself, not just in case the dreaded 'Check Engline' light comes on , while in SC, but for other items such as power window motors.... I plan on keeping this vehicle for another 5 years so it may be in fact feasible to consider such as a warranty as 'piece-of-mind' protection.
    What is it with all these tranny problems on the Siennas...just the fact its a moving part...driving habits...too much towing...or does the darn fluid need more frequent changing...
  • My '98 75k Sienna had the engine sludge problem and Toyota fixed it for free in a one-time "Goodwill" gesture without any hassels. While I'm very grateful for this, has anyone else had their engine fixed? Has the repair lasted, or could the same thing crop up anytime, even if you change the oil every 3,000 miles?
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