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Toyota Sienna Maintenance and Repair (2003 earlier)



  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    Not a good day at all!

    If you can find an auto parts store open tomorrow, you might be able to get the code read - AutoZone and others will read the codes for free.

    Steve, Host
  • bmwx5bmwx5 Posts: 16
    cidaflying: It's unfortunate that the dealer or the Toyota refuse to honor your warranty. As STEVE mentioned check with the 'cosnumer protection agency'. Also before making any claims etc. be solid with the maintenance records, mileage when transmission changed, eveidence of refusal to oblige the warranty (while pursuing with the state - write a letter to your delaership reminding of warranty and requesting them to return your payment for transmission service under warranty with a copy to toyota corp and sent that CERTIFIED POST with signature verification for records) and I say this because oral refusal dosn't hold much weight..and if I remember correct you need to be quick on this with certain days..good luck..
  • deg856deg856 Posts: 120
    cidaflying did not explain WHY the dealer refused to honor transmission work under warranty. We're all clueless at this point so we cannot really take sides.

    When people have problems with a specific car dealership, it's important to realize that each dealership is an independant franchise. Dealership are not own nor operated by car manufacturers. Manufacturers do try to influence dealerships to project a positive image for the brand, but manufacturers do not have direct control of each deahership. (An analogy is a lot of people sell Coke products, but they do not represent Coca Cola.) In my case, I frequenly drive past a Toyota dealer next to my house and go to another Toyota dealer 10 miles away for service because I feel the dealer farther away provides better service.

    Finally, realize that there are both nice and rude people no matter where you are. That service manager may not like you because of where you come from. Who knows, maybe he doesn't like his own family and children. Maybe he doesn't like himself. Maybe he doesn't like the world around him. Nothing you can do about that. It's his problem, not yours.

    San Jose, CA
  • I am wonder ring if anyone has the 2000 Sienna has this problem. Every time I turn on the engine, it always start with a strange high "rewing" noice before the engine is on. If you do please let if it can be fixed.

  • pwlpwl Posts: 2
    Toyota has just issued an extended warranty for certain US sold Sienna's. 1998 thru early 2000 models have had the transmission warranty extended to 8 years or 100,000 miles. Unfortunately for us, we have already had our transmission repaired at a Cottman Transmission repair shop because the dealer wanted to charge us double for doing the same job (swapping in a rebuilt transmission). We are going to submit our repair bill to Toyota and see if we get a refund, however I suspect that they will only refund repairs done at a Toyota dealer. The offer is from Toyota Motor Sales, 19001 South Western Avenue,P.O. Box 2991, Torrance, CA, 90509-2991.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    I know Sienna owners are going to start asking, so I'll ask - where did you hear this news? Thanks,

    Steve, Host
  • Recently the brake light on my 99 XLE comes on and off whenever I made a fast turn ( not the one that is very fast ) It's O.K. with normal driving, is this indicating that the brake pads need replacing or I have to refill the brake fluid. Also, anyone has any idea on how to remove or adjust the running board , because on one side of my van the caps on the running board was not installed correctly. I don't really want to completely remove the board, but can I make adjustment by just loosen the board a little, please help....
  • Karen_SKaren_S Posts: 5,092
    This discussion has been moved and now resides in the Toyota Sienna Owners Club. If you have subscribed to this discussion, the move should not affect your subscriptions.

    If you have any questions/concerns, please direct them to me in email.

    Senior Host
    Owners Clubs

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  • sharks5sharks5 Posts: 4
    I have a 2001 Sienna XLE with 42,500 and after taking it to the dealer for a check engine light problem was told it would need a new air flow sensor for a total of $453 installed. This was before he said I needed new antifree which was done at Firestone at 37k miles, AT fluid, wipers, tires, engine cleaning, fuel injector, etc. I could not find any tech bulletins and appears it is not covered under any warranties, to include emissions. Has anybody else experienced this? Any advice?
  • nygregnygreg Posts: 1,936
    When your brakes wear your fluid level will drop to make up the displacement. At a certain level, the brake light will come on. Usually, you will see the light flicker during turns first. You most likely are getting close to needing new pads. I usually do not top off the fluid, just replace the pads.

  • I just started having trouble with my seat belt light last week. I am the original owner of a 1997 LE with just under 40,000 miles on it. The seat belt light will not come on if I'm not buckled but will come on when I buckle up. If I pull the seatbelt away from my body the light goes out but then turns on as soon as it tightens up. It will lock if I yank on it so I'm hoping it's still safe. After reading toyoguy's recent posting I tried sitting in the passenger seat (it hardly gets used) and no light appears (belted or unbelted). Anyway, I'm interested in whether anyone else has had the same or similar problem and what the dealer did.


  • Karen_SKaren_S Posts: 5,092
    This has been mentioned previously and others have had it fixed. However, they were still under warranty. Enter "seat belt light" in the Search This Discussion box to read those posts.

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  • steine13steine13 Posts: 2,561
    My 2003 Sienna is nagging me with its incessant chimes, and I'd like to disable them. Just spent a week in Germany and realized how much I enjoyed the quiet in those un-nannified cars.

    SO: Without doing anything hokey w/ the electrical system, I would love to just remove the actual "bonger" and put it in a ziplock baggie until resale time... has anyone done this and can help me out? I asked the same question on, but no luck...

    East Lansing, MI
  • pwlpwl Posts: 2
    I heard about the extended warranty on the tranmission from Toyota Motor Sales USA. They sent me a direct mailing with my name and VIN. It is titled "1998 through Early 2000 Model Year Sienna Automatic Transaxle Warranty Enhancement notice." Its for 8 yrs/100,000 miles. It refers to a "no movement" or slipping problem in the transaxle.
  • Thanks, Karen, I did do a search and saw there were a couple of others. Mine apparently is not under warrenty. I dropped off my van yesterday morning, had heard nothing by 3 - called and was told I had to talk to so and so who was on another line and he'd call me back. By 4 I still hadn't heard and had my husband call and he was put through to the guy's voice mail. I'm stuck with three kids in a tiny rental in the pouring rain, trying to keep them busy waiting and worrying we won't make it back to our own town for their class at 5:15. At 4:30 they call to say the whole seatbelt assembly has to be replaced and they have to keep the car for another day. They charged $92 to diagnose the problem and then he said it would be $375 for the new seatbelt. Now it's after 2 pm and I still haven't received a call about whether it will be ready today, but at least my kids are safe and happy at home. WIth my luck though by the time they call we will arrive at the loaner car facility in the pouring rain and I'll have to transfer everyone to the shuttle and into my van in the pouring rain - wanna take bets?

  • shuedshued Posts: 107
    1):The rear top A/C outlet at left second row is warmer, compared with other three rear top A/C outlets at second row and third row. It not only take longer to become cooler (other three take 1 minutes to be cooler, but this one take about 3 minutes to be cooler), but also feels warmer. I have mentioned this to the dealer, but they say it is normal because Sun shine at that side, (then why not the top outlet at third row?), or the pipe distance is longer. Do any you have similar case?
    2) I have BI package, thus, there have side airbag. My wife hope to use seat cover, but I worry that seat cover will prevent the side airbag from explosion. What comments do you have?
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    The AC problem will correct itself once you are driving. This has always been an issue on the Siennas and the hotter it is, the more it will be noticed. It is much worse when stopped and almost goes away when moving.

    The air bags should NEVER be covered. The factory seat covers have stitching that is designed to break away during deployment. Anything aftermarket is not.
  • I picked up my van. They replaced the seatbelt but not the buckle. The official diagnosis on the ticket was "open circuit in left front seat belt assembly." Anyway, it's working properly and they decided sometime between last night and today that it was covered under warranty so there was no charge. No explanation given, but I happily just took the keys and left. I did notice later, though, that the new seatbelt is slightly darker than the old ones. Could the others have faded or does the XLE or new Sienna have a darker color and they used one of those?

  • Karen_SKaren_S Posts: 5,092
    Glad you finally got it back with no out of pocket!

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  • chadsmchadsm Posts: 1
    Does any one know the range of VIN numbers covered by the 1998 through Early 2000 Model Year Sienna Automatic Transaxle Warranty Enhancement notice?
  • I also have to replace the liftgate handle. I've taken interior door panels off in other cars, but not the Sienna. Where should I start?
  • 4 months ago I purchased a demo (10,000 kms)2003 Sienna to replace my '98 Mercury Villager. I'd owned a '93 Camry wagon and had been very happy with it, and as I wasn't happy with Ford's dealer service on my Villager, decided to go back to Toyota. Last week I took the van in for warranty service for several annoying but not critical problems. Most of them have been mentioned on this board already. 1)Rear brake squeal at low speeds (like at a drive-through window)The service guy told me it's a common problem with these cars, hoping I guess I'd forget it. I persisted and they've ordered a "backplate" I believe. My power driver's seat also rocks back and forth during acceleration and deceleration. The service guy said they all do it to some degree but since mine seemed worse than usual, he's ordered a new seat base for me. Also, one of the positions on my rear airconditioning switch is dead. He ordered a resister for that. I also have an intermittent high pitched rattle eminating from the right dash area. Unfortunately, they couldn't find it but said they'd look again when I bring the vehicle back. So far at least, I'm very pleased with the service I'm getting.

    The sludge problem I've been reading about here concerns me however, so I will be taking my van back to Toyota on a regular basis for oil changes. Besides, they only seem a few dollars more expensive than any of the quick-lube places out there who tend to use inferior oil filters. I'm also aware that boards like this one, while extremely helpful, often accentuate the negatives of a product (because people will go out of their way to complain)and could possibly turn prospective buyers off with an exaggerated negative perspective. If you check out any bulletin board on any vehicle, you will find enough bad press to turn you off almost anything. Funny enough, the other car I was considering before deciding on the Toyota was a Passat Wagon. I checked out a bulleting board on Passats and there were many complaints about rocking power seats. The Sienna has been praised by Lemon-Aid and Consumers Reports, and that's good enough for me.
  • steine13steine13 Posts: 2,561
    "The sludge problem I've been reading about here concerns me however, so I will be taking my van back to Toyota on a regular basis for oil changes"
    Indeed. Problem solved.
    Sludge is an issue if the van isn't maintained correctly. If you buy it (nearly) new, don't worry about a thing. I believe these engines are more prone to sludging than, say, a GM 350 V8, but it's really not a problem for people who take care of their cars. Old cast-iron pushrod engines just stand up to abuse better.
    And I'm not even a big fan of Toyota; too boring. But, since I've got no time for "interesting" cars right now, I did put some money where my mouth is:
    1998 Sienna LE, 86k miles
    2003 Sienna CE, 7k miles
    No sludge, and 3-5k oil changes, depending. My dealer does them for <$20, but in the 20 minutes it takes me to drive there, I've done it myself... I DO keep all my receipts, though.
    Good luck, and worry about something else, like the environment or the economy (Thank you, George!),
    East Lansing, MI
  • We've got a 99 Sienna with 91,000 miles. Meticulously maintained according to the maintenance schedule with all work done by the dealer. We're beginning to see transmission fluid leaking. Was wondering if anyone who has had transmission problems saw this symptom.
  • 2 years ago I purchased my 2001 sienna and have been driving around quite uneventfully until this morning. You see after having 2 oil changes in the last 6 weeks my car was running funny again, checked the oil and lo and behold - none. I immediately took the car to Toyota where they told me I had sludge. I had heard of this before and some of the awful things that have been said could happen to the engine because of it. I bought this minivan because I have 3 children who are always in it, and I figured with it's safety record and just being a Toyota (I have had 2 other Toyotas)that my family would be safe. the dealer said that they would clean the engine, at no expense to me, but that it was not covered under warranty, which begs the question why do it?. I am half afraid to take this vehicle back as the problem has not been fixed just bandaged. I also wanted to state very strongly that this car has had oil changes every 3-5k so to say that this problem occurs only in vehicles that are not well maintained is unfair and untrue - future buyers beware this is a real problem.
  • scoti1scoti1 Posts: 676
    Your vehicle may not have been covered under warranty, but it should have been covered under the sludge policy that Toyota started last year. It is for several models of Toyotas, including the Sienna. It is for 8 years from original purchase date and is for unlimited miles. It is to repair your engine should you develop sludge if you have provided a reasonable level of maintenance. I heard that Toyota was looking for proof of one oil change per year before fixing for sludge.

    There was extensive discussion of this issue on this site. Do a search for Toyota Sludge using the search feature of this forum and find one that is for Toyota Engine Sludge Customer Response (or similar title). BTW, you should have received a letter about this policy because Toyota said that they mailed it to 3.3 million owners with the subject engines over a year ago.
  • steine13steine13 Posts: 2,561
    I don't understand.

    You write:
    "[..] been driving around quite uneventfully until this morning."


    "You see after having 2 oil changes in the last 6 weeks my car was running funny again."

    So it wasn't uneventful; the car had been "running funny", and a guess was that two oil changes might help.

    "[..] checked the oil and lo and behold - none."

    I'm assuming that it's being burned, not leaking out. Is that one of the symptoms of sludge? Doesn't it have to be pretty bad before it gets to the state of losing ~2 qt in a few weeks?

    "I also wanted to state very strongly that this car has had oil changes every 3-5k"

    Where do you get you oil changes done? Toyota dealership? Jiffy lube? Home? I have heard many people talk about how they changed the oil and then developed sludge, but I have NEVER seen anybody who could pony up receipts. I read posts from 2 people over the years whom I chose to believe, because of what they wrote and how they wrote it. I believe this to be exceedingly rare.

    So let me ask you this: Did you keep receipts? Could you scan them for us to see? Just so we have one case of sludge AND proper, proven maintenance? I mean no disrespect, but I would really like to see just one person with proof of maintenance.

    FWIW, I do think these engines are much more sensitive than pushrod GM V-6s, but that's just an opinion... I change at 3-5k, depending, I change the PCV every 30k, I do it myself, and I sure keep all receipts...

    '03 Sienna 7k
    '98 Sienna 86k
    no sludge.
  • I was wondering if anyone has experienced a squeak noise in the engine at start-up after the the motor has stayed off for about 5 hours?
    The van only has 2,000 miles. The dealer has replaced both belts, but the noise is still there. I wonder if it could be one or more of the idler pulleys or starter. The dealer wants to keep the van overnight and hear the noise, in order to better diagnose. The approach makes sense and is usually logical, but the noise is so short lasting that I'm not sure that the approach will help. Does anyone know of a diagnostic method for pinpointing problems with these support pulleys or starter?
  • We bought a used 2000 Sienna LE. We thought it was a good thing that it had a power door.

    After 3 months with it we are having problems. We took it to the dealer today. They gave us an $1800 estimate. Motor, cables, and computer unit need to be replaced. We have no warranty and the dealer is not willing to be responsible for fixing it at their cost.

    I am wondering what our next steps are. Has anybody had any luck taking something like this up with Toyota (maybe a district rep or something.) This problem is a known one and there have been several service bulletins on these doors. (If only I had known.)If so what are the steps for doing this request.

    Just looking for advice and experience.

    P.S. If you reference other post please include the name of the discussion. I can't seem to find some of the posts people are referencing.
  • Karen_SKaren_S Posts: 5,092
    You can search an individual discussion by entering key words in "Search this Discussion". That may be helpful for you.

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