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Toyota Sienna Maintenance and Repair (2004+)



  • Ok.. this is our second Sienna. Our first was a 2000 which lasted for 4 years and 56k miles. The transmission went and 2 weeks later the engine went! We bought our 2004 on Easter Monday at 9pm when I had to have a working vehicle to transport 5 children on Tuesday. Now my 2004 is acting up. The transmission is slipping. My battery keeps dieing and with that there is no power to the van, obviosly. Did any of you notice there is no key hole on the hatch! I had to wade through 5 carseats and 10 legs to dig in the depths of the huge trunk (which I love) to get my jumper cables! I can't believe you can not get in the trunk from the outside with no power in the van. This is a huge oversight! I have an appt early in the am to have my transmission and battery checked. I hope it's all in my head! If I have spent yet another 25k+ on a LEMON I will TOTALLY LOSE IT!
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    I cannot understand the logic in having horrible experience with a 2000 Sienna with low mileage on it, then turning around and buying another one. Am I missing something here?
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    You could probably ask a large number of DC minivan repeat buyers the same thing. It probably stems from the feeling that the first one was just an aberration and was not necessarily endemic to the entire line.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    a minivan, where would you go except for Toyota?
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    Ah, maybe Chrysler, Dodge, or Honda?

    You've got your Toyota blinders on way too tight.

    If I had engine and transmission failures before four years and 56K miles, I would switch brands and never look back, no matter what the overall reputation of the company is.

    Once burned, I wouldn't touch the same flame again for quite a few years.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    That's so illogical.

    I haven't looked at a Volvo since driving a problematic one in 1974 :-)

    Steve, your illogical Host
  • ewtewt Posts: 127
    Funny, my family hasn't owned a Volvo since we unloaded the 1973 wagon my parents had the misfortune of owning. I'm guessing they must have improved since then or the company couldn't possibly still be in business.....
  • I have to agree here I had the GM headlights on too tight too at one point had a venture then a trailblazer hated both went to toyota on their reputation alone and the fact that everyone i knew that had one loved it. Only minor things bothering me here the paint i feel chips just looking at it too hard and we had to have the headlight fixed (faulty seal) other then that no other things except that recall on the power steering . i must say i love the van and will hopefully love it forever!! just knock on wood!! there are a few rattles here and there but nothing that with 3 kids i ever hear unless i am alone with no radio on (very rear) so that is not an issue.
  • I've read some other posts talking about a clicking or cluncking in their steering wheel. On my car, I feel it in the gas pedal. When backing up, after about a car length, I feel a click/clunk, as if there's a gnome under the car smacking the drive shaft with a hammer. It also happens when I am coasting, and then lightly apply the gas -- about a second later, I feel the clink/clunk.

    Does anyone have the same problem? What was your fix? Do you think I have the same problem as the ones who feel it through the steering wheel?

    I have gone to 2 dealers about this, but they say they couldn't feel the problem (in their defense, it doesn't happen 100% of the time...).

    Any help out there?
  • mcase2mcase2 Posts: 160
    Wow! Is there a lemon law in your state? If so read it carefully. There a little things that can make a big diffrence in some states. IN MA for instance the clock starts ticking on the repair date time the moment you physically bring the car to the dealer - if you merely call about the problem they get a five day grace period to address it. So read carefully and get things going. In the mean time consult an atttorney. If My Sienna had half your problems I would not hesitate for an instant.
  • A couple of days ago I went to start my brand new (purchased in August) 2004 Sienna XLE, but, when I turned the key, nothing happened -- nothing at all. No noise, no clicking sound, no nothing. To make matters worse, the van is all the way into my garage which makes it quite difficult to get a boost, if that's what I need.

    I hadn't driven the van in three or four days, so I'm wondering if I may have somehow left a light or lights on, though I really don't believe I did. I talked to a Toyota service person this morning and he told me that nothing more than a sudden change in the weather -- warm to cool -- may have caused the battery to go dead. In other words, he said that it may very well not be my fault. He asked if I wanted a tow truck sent over and I said no. At least not yet. He told my that my warranty would cover everything, including towing.

    Incidentally, my battery indicator is displaying green, which according to my manual indicates that the battery should be okay. At least that's my interpretation. (The service person told me he didn't think my battery would have an indicator, so now I don't really know what to think.)

    After talking to the service employee, I called my salesperson for reassurance, and he said that the battery for sure would be under warranty, BUT that I may have to pay the towing bill if I didn't have ToyoGuard protection. I feel that under the circumstances I should pay nothing at all!!! I've been going through my papers and so far I've seen no specific reference to ToyoGuard, but I do see that I paid $1,295 for an extended warranty. Well, I bought the vehicle less than four months ago. We've made several lenthy trips and in the process have racked up slightly more than 10,000 miles, but if the problem is indeed the battery I believe that Toyota should cover any and all expenses incurred in clearing up this problem.

    I previously purchased a brand new 2003 Avalon from this same dealership and had MAJOR problems twice -- once with sales and once with service. The salesperson swore -- literally -- that she had given me all three keys and that I should look around until I found the one that was missing. She was really nasty over the phone. She was off work the following morning, so I went over to complain and within five minutes an employee, smiling broadly, brought me my key.

    The other problem occurred when I took my Avalon in -- for the fifth time!!! -- to try to correct a CHECK ENGINE light problem. They had gotten the light to go out four times previously, but it would invariably come back on after a couple of days. They kept my car for several days this time and finally were able to fix my light problem, BUT during this time someone, presumably a Toyota employee, had been driving my Avalon AFTER ELEVEN O'CLOCK AT NIGHT and was caught by a traffic camera running through a red light!!! When I picked up my car the woman in the service department informed me that "an employee" had driven my car through a "yellow light" and that as a result I might be getting a traffic ticket in the mail, and if I did to just send it the Toyota dealership and it would be taken care of. Well, I did get the ticket and was actually able to go online and watch my car run a RED light! I complained locally about both of these incidents, but now feel that I should have taken my gripes to a higher authority. At this point I feel Toyota owes me something, so if they should bill me for towing my Sienna I will absolutely refuse to pay it.
  • ceo1ceo1 Posts: 23
    If you accessory lights were on but the starter failed to make any movement or sound, your problem is probably not battery. You may want to try a few minutes longer. I had a similar situation. Sometimes, I had to turn the keys for three minutes before the starter would work. Toyota finally replaced the starter under the warranty.
  • ceo1ceo1 Posts: 23
    Recall? Impossible. This is not safety related problem. It is more likely Toyota will give you the prorated credits for a new set of tires. However, there are very few choices on the market today that are exact match for the spec. I am not sure what Toyota will replace it with.

    My oem tires were worn out at 20K miles. My local Discount Tires Co. helped me to file the warranty claim with Good Year (parent company of Dunlop). I got 50% credit toward a new set of Dunlop Winter Sport runflat. The size is not exact, but close enough. It is categorized as a winter tire but it behaves very well, much like a all weather tire. I don't know yet how many miles I can get out the set. My other user reviews were quite favorable.
  • My husband took our 2004 Sienna in on Friday for an oil change and the power steering recall. When I went to drive the vehicle a few hours later, I opened the door and was overwhelmed by the smell of gasoline or oil in the interior of the car. I could smell it from several feet away. We called the dealer, and they said it could be fumes sucked in from the engine because they may have had to clean the engine with a brake cleaner after doing the work. They suggested driving it around to burn off the smell. My husband has now driven it around for about 3-4 hours. The smell has diminished a lot, but it is still there. It is clearly not coming from the engine at this point as the interior smells even after the car has been sitting all night. This is extremely upseting to me as I am 8 months pregnant and will not get in a car that smells like that. At this point, we may be bringing the baby home in our Nissan Sentra.

    We have called the dealer a second time because we noticed that the smell seemed to be concentrated around the pwr sliding door. They said that the door was probably lubricated. My husband has cleaned the door and door hinge and all the mats, but I still smell it. Does anyone have any idea what may have happened to my van, and what I can do about it? I am not interested in something to mask the smell because my concern is that this is a health issue and masking the smell will not solve that.
  • elizabelizab Posts: 10
    Our driver's side sliding door is not powered, and we only use it now and then. About 25% of the time it will not catch properly when it's opened and will just slide back closed if we're on a hill. I have to hold it open with my elbow. My husband sometimes uses a key to push open a hook at the bottom, and then it does latch. It seems that this little hook is not opening and catching like it should. Of course, most of the time it latches open properly and stays open until we close it. This makes it difficult to duplicate the concern at the dealer. They saw the problem once and just lubricated it, which didn't help at all. This last time, it worked fine and they did nothing.

    Does anyone else have this problem? Have you found a solution for it?
  • mcase2mcase2 Posts: 160
    Be more demanding of dealer. If they still won't fix it explore your lemon law options. This is arguably a safety issue. There is case in Massachusetts where a child was killed in a Ford Windstar when the door slammed forward (Windstar has no safety catch). Lemon laws commomly apply to safety features. Find out the details of your lemon laws (asking specifically if this issue would be covered). Your dealer will be less obstinate if they face the possiility of having to take the car back.
  • deepandeepan Posts: 342
    most likely from the oil change. when they take the oil filter out a little oil spills out. My regular dealership hoses this off after the change but the last time i changed the oil out of town and the dealership didnt hose it off. The smell was there for quite a while. As a temp measure turn on the recircle button and the smell should be less. You might have to open the window slighty though.
  • mcase2mcase2 Posts: 160
    After I read and responded to your post. I dropped my kids off at the bus stop and while waiting tried out my non-power drivers side (04 Sienna) door. I noticed that if I kept holding the handle lever out as I slid the door it would not catch. This happened half the time before I realized why it was not catching. If I released the handle it caught every time. I found this took some conscious effort. The intuitive thing seemed to be to pull the handle and slide the door back. What you need to do is to pull the handle, slide the door, and release the handle before the door reaches the catch point. Give it a try and see how it works for you. Let me know what happens.
  • I just waxed my '04 Sienna and noticed two 1/2" long cracks that are rusting and peeling. Both are on the rear door next to the inside corner of each reverse light where the metal bends. You won't see them unless you kneel down to about license plate level. Since they are in the exact same spot on each side, I'm suspecting this is a manufacturing defect and wondering if anyone else has this problem?
  • I have been having problems with my transmission. Funky acceleration and deceleration. I put my 04 Sienna, 21k miles, in the shop for the recalls and a noise coming from the front wheel.

        The noise was a wheel bearing. I had the trans flushed while it was in. The problem now seems to be fixed.

        A friend that owns a bodyshop told me that some manufacturers are reccomending tranny flushes every 20k instead of 50k.
  • mcase2mcase2 Posts: 160
    Perhaps, but not Toyota. The service sched for the Sienna calls for an "inspection" of the tranny fluid at 60,000 miles. You should not be having problems at 20,000. If this becomes an issue get to it before the warranty expires
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    When I inquired at Lexus the other day about why my transmission fluid was already looking burnt and smelling burned at only 38k miles the service manager said that Lexus is now recommending fluid flush and change every 15k.

    For a vehicle wherein the fluid is supposed to be good for the life of the vehicle.
  • Here is a quote from the Car And Driver Article on the Sienna. Comments.

    "ll was not beer and skittles. The logbook contained sentiments of outrage over the electrically operated side doors—mostly because that's the only way they can be opened and closed. The rear hatch can be opened manually or electrically but can only be closed electrically. Art director Jeff Dworin put it best when he wrote, "Sliding side doors are painfully slow. Same for the rear hatch. Absolutely the worst operation from a key fob I've ever seen. I thought the battery in the fob was dead, but it turns out to be a poorly designed system instead." The need to close the rear hatch electrically became a problem whenever the space behind the last row was filled with stuff. As one user noted, "You aren't allowed to close it yourself, and it refuses to shut if it encounters the slightest resistance. More than once, we closed the hatch and walked toward a restaurant or hotel only to reach the door and realize the liftgate had touched our luggage and opened back up." Nov 04 C&D
  • ewtewt Posts: 127
    I don't understand the comment about the speed of the sliding doors at all. They operate quickly (as fast as any others I've used) and I've never felt like I was waiting a long time for them to open or close. I usually open the one on my side as I'm exiting the car via the button on the ceiling, and it's fully open by the time I get out and shut my door. If they moved any faster, they wouldn't be safe IMO.

    The rear door is a little slow because you have to hold the button down for a second or so before it starts to move, and doesn't raise that quickly once it starts moving. However, with the remote, you can hit it far enough in advance that it's open by the time you get there. I've had the door reverse once or twice on me as well. You have to be careful that nothing is in the way or it will go back up. The power closing feature is a nice feature I initially thought was a gimmick. I didn't really realize how nice it was until I had to shut the rear door on my dad's filthy Yukon and then had to clean my dirty hand off. Much nicer to just hit a button inside the van or on the remote.

    Car and Driver had a couple of other inaccuracies in that article as well. The Sienna does not have one of those annoying beepers that goes off when you back up and DVDs can be played over the speakers rather than just the headphones as stated in the article.
  • heywood1heywood1 Posts: 850
    Took my AWD Sienna to the dealer for the radiator and power steering hose replacements. I was given a new Highlander as a loaner. Work was done in half a day, including car wash. Other than license plate frame with dealer's name that they put on EVERY TIME they work on the vehicle (and I always remove as soon as I get home), I have no complaints.
  • mcase2mcase2 Posts: 160
    The misinformation and distortions in Car and Driver sound worthy of the New York Times. Guess what! there is an easily acessible manual override on the left lower dash. The slow closing comment on the doors makes me wonder if the author was on the take from Honda or Chrysler. Maybe he is..
  • joeb24joeb24 Posts: 111
    I just bought a 2005 Sienna XLE All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) and am concerned (as others are)about not having a spare tire on long trips in the middle of nowhere. I am still confused about possible solutions.
    1. Can I buy a doughnut spare from Toyota that will work with the AWD and the 17 inch wheels?

    2. I guess I can buy another 17 inch factory wheel and tire. The problem in this case would be where to store it (maybe in a car top carrier?). Also would the tire on the spare have to be a run flat?

    Thanks for any suggestions.
  • heywood1heywood1 Posts: 850
    Yes, Toyota sells a (non-run-flat) temporary spare for the XLE AWD. Problem is, you must keep it in the cargo compartment of the van, which prevents you from stowing the entire rear seat. If you put the entire rear seat down first(if your trip doesn't require the 3rd row), you still need to find a way to secure the loose tire.

    And a conventional spare would not need to be a run-flat, any more than the temporary spare would need to be.

    In general, I'm beginning to wonder if this whole RFT idea (PAX or conventional) is doomed. So many people are wanting to buy spare for systems that supposedly don't need them. Really, though: When was the last time you actually had a flat tire? I seem to be averaging about one per decade per vehicle.
  • joeb24joeb24 Posts: 111
    Thanks "hewood1". I'll check with a dealer to see the cost of both options: doughnut versus fullsize. Isn't it true that you can travel only so many miles on a temporary spare? If so, seems like you may be in the same boat as having a flat on a run-flat, and not having a spare.

    I can't remember the last time I had a flat (I am almost sorry I just said that!). I just feel insecure about being on a trip, getting a flat, trying to locate within a 100 miles a dealer or store that will repair the run flat!
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    you can use an undersized spare if you simply remove the ABS pumpmotor fuse.

    The Toyota/Lexus AWD series no longer uses a partially locking (VC) center differential but uses brake modulation instead. If the ABS pumpmotor cannot supply pressurized brake pressure fluid then you simply have an open differential 4WD.
This discussion has been closed.