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Toyota Sienna Maintenance and Repair (2004+)



  • woodytwowoodytwo Posts: 42
    Please see my message on Toyota 2004+.

    I have alot of experience towing: from utility trailers to small and large pop -ups and with travel trailers. I lost a bet years ago with a friend regarding trailer weights and tongue weights but the experience was most valuable and have won a lot of bets since then. Most people that tow trailers have little or no information about the subject 2 weights. They continually underestimate these weights. (I was out 150 lbs on my tongue weight and that is how I lost the bet.)

    First of all, your tongue weight should be around 12 to 15% of the total trailer weight or else you will get trailer sway and /or bottoming out. The only way to really find out what the weight is, would be to weigh the trailer and the tongue weight. You can do this with a bathroom scale but it is detailed and frustrating. Find a truck scale somewhere and probably for $10 they will weigh your van front and rear axle separately and the trailer wheels and then the tongue weight. For the last one you need to unhook the trailer and rest only the tongue weight on the scale. If they have the capacity, a separate weight of each side of the axle would be helpful as well ( ie left wheel vs right wheel of each axle).
    What you will probably find from this is some of the following.
    - rear of van is carrying significantly more weight than front of the van.
    - either side of van is carrying significant more weight than the other side.
    - van is overloaded
    - Tongue weight is not within the 12-15% of total weight of trailer.
    - trailer weight is over the maximum for the trailer
    - either side of trailer is carrying significant more weight than the other side.
    You will probably find that re arranging some of your stuff can help in all situations except the overload. For this you have to remove some stuff.

    You will quickly discover your problem for bottoming out and will not need to buy new shocks or springs. I use my 2004 AWD LE ( and 1998 LE in prior years) in maximum load conditions without bottoming out except on the rare stretches of hi way where you find the quick roller coaster uneven pavement. But my axle weights on the van are approximately 300lbs difference in weight front to back and the trailer is evenly loaded so that the tongue is within the 12-15%. ( No. I don't weigh it each time. You will find that with your pop-up you are taking almost the same items each trip.)

    For those rare quick roller coaster uneven pavement, I use an air bag inside the rear coil springs. Should cost less than $75 in the USA and can be installed in 30 minutes by your friendly mechanic. I set the air pressure to a minimum 10 to 12 lbs and the only time these come into play is for this bouncing effect. The rest of the time, they just sit there waiting for the next roller coaster situation. Doesn't effect handling or ride of
    the van.

    ps don't forget that the tongue weight is part of the weight in determining the total van weight and also the total trailer weight.

    Good luck.
  • jipsterjipster Louisville, KentuckyPosts: 5,441
    I have read on other boards (any question for a car dealer ....perhaps?) stories similar to yours.It sounds as if it was in a minor front bumper collision...the party responsible probably thought no one would notice....until delivery of course.
    They absolutely need to take the car back and give you a new one.Having a repainted hood lowers the value of the van. Good luck clover1.
  • shepasmshepasm Posts: 1
    Does anyone know how to turn off the Maintenance Rec'q light in a 2004 Sienna? There has to be a way to do it without making a trip to the dealership.
  • vgrinshpunvgrinshpun Posts: 36
    I have received Toyota recall notice back in February.

    My notice, among other things, states the following: "Please remove any personal belongings from the vehicle, especially in the door trim storage pockets, as the Toyota technician will need to DISASSEMBLE THE DOOR TRIM PANELS to install the protective tape."
  • vgrinshpunvgrinshpun Posts: 36
    I have one of early Sienna LE AWDs (bought in April of 2003) with 2" "Hidden Hitch" hitch which I bought on-line and installed myself. I was also puzzled by the reports about bottoming out, since I have never experienced such thing. After reading quite a few reports from mainly FWD Sienna's owners, I conclude that this is not a problem for AWD models as much as for FWD models. My observations are as follows:

    1. AWD has 225/60R17 tires (27.63" Diameter) vs. 215/65R16 (27.00" Diameter) for FWD models. If body geometry for AWD=geometry for FWD, that means that AWD ride 0.32" higher than FWDs.

    2. AWDs are equipped with RunFlat tires which because of their rigid construction, in response to road irregularities, deform significantly less than regular tires.

    3. AWDs weigh about 200 lbs more and therefore most likely have stiffer springs.

    There is one additional factor, which may be the culprit: unscrupulous installation. My hitch has total of six bolts (3 on each side), each of which require rather high 103 torquing, has lowest point about 9.75" off the level ground, and sits entirely under the bumper (I.e. does not protrude back from under the bumper).
  • heywood1heywood1 Posts: 850
    I called both Toyota and Dunlop regarding these tires for AWD Siennas. I indicated to the Toyota customer service agent that I was fully aware of the long list of internet complaints, and wondered if Toyota had issued some kind of service bulletin. The service agent immediately gave me a stock reply that Toyota does not warrant the tires, and I should contact Dunlop directly.

    I contacted my local Goodyear/Dunlop dealer, who told me that the Dunlop DSST tires have a limited warranty, because they are 'high-performance tires'-- and that Toyota salespeople don't know/haven't mentioned this minor detail to customers.

    He did tell me that I could bring in the van for evaluation, and If--and only if--the tires were worn prematurely (but NOT unevenly), there is a replacement warranty for tires with fewer then 30K miles.

    I'm not holding my breath, as I had winter treads on this van for half of the 25K on the odometer-- and this will be very difficult to prove. That being said, I'm glad my van isn't an Odyssey-- and my tires aren't PAX.
  • laneysmomlaneysmom Posts: 2
    We have been experiencing the exact same problem. We have a 2004 Sienna LE FWD with 23, 300 miles. It was taken to the dealership three times and of course "Could not duplicate the problem" hummmm...imagine that. So, I've now been dealing with the "Customer Experience" and I'm not sure that is helping. I believe Toyota needs to step up and back their product and correct this problem. It's a bit uncomfortable driving a new vehicle and it makes a clanky sound when accelerating. My husband says it is damaging the engine and Toyota indicates that on page 364 of the manual. So, if they know it's a problem...fix it. I bought a Mini Van not a Sports Car and it doesn't make any sense to purchase a new vehicle to buy HIGH octane for my grocery getter...especially with the fuel prices these days. OUCH! We are trying to get the problem fixed. Hopefully, Toyota will stand true and make good as a Company with integrity, but I will not hold my breathe. Otherwise, we are getting rid of the grocery getter. ;) :lemon:
  • laneysmomlaneysmom Posts: 2
    I couldn't have said it any better!
  • jamesgoonjamesgoon Posts: 1
    I have a 1999 Toyota Sienna LE. The engine light came on and I took it to Autozone and the diagonois was PO155 the Oxygen Sensor 1 in Bank 2. My two questions are:
    1. The OEM version of this Oxygen Sensor is ~$130.00. Are there any recommendations on which 3rd party brand is good and the best place to buy it at the best price?
    2. Where is this Oxygen sensor located for me to change it? Be explicit. Accessible from the top or bottom of the car? Will I need a special wrench to unscrew it?

    Thank you for you help
  • clover1clover1 Posts: 4
    Thank you Jipster for your response. I contacted Toyota headquarters yesterday, because I never heard back from the dealers auto body shop. I am not going to stop until they replace this car. I spent over $30K for it a month ago and they have the nerve to think I will accept their botch job. Once they knew the damage the dealer really should have taken it back.
  • ednovakednovak Posts: 55
    As per owner's manual:
    Turn the ignition key to ACC or LOCK with the odometer reading shown.
    Turn the ignition key to ON position while holding down the trip meter reset button.
    Hold down the button for at least 5 seconds until the odometer indicates "000000" and the light goes off.
    If the system fails to reset, the light will continue flashing.
  • shainshain Posts: 3
    What's up with the transmissions on the new Siennas? My new LE FWD seems really sluggish when it changes gears. It seems to slide slowly into each gear rather than shifting instantly like most other automatic tranmissions. It seems even worse around corners. I read that 04's had a similar transmission problem, but I assumed they corrected it. Anybody else out there experiencing the same thing? I still have a 1995 Grand Caravan with the same size engine as the Sienna and it is much more responsive than my new van. Is this normal? I would expect better than this from Toyota.
  • dog88dog88 Posts: 1
    Where is the engine air filter located on the 2004 Sienna? I can't find it and the owner's manual gives no help at all. I found the air conditioning filter (behind the glove box). It's odd that the owner's manual barely mentions the engine air filter but spends alot of time describing how to change the air conditioning filter (complete with diagrams).

    Thanks in advance!
  • sk8ersk8er Posts: 1
    I have a 2004 Sienna LE FWD and tow a small pop up tent trailer. I installed a Hidden Hitch rear bumper hitch b/c is was significantly less expensive than the quote I got from the Toyota dealer for the Toyota Hitch. The hitch was easy to install myself, though I had a mechanic do the wiring. The Hidden Hitch hangs quite low under the vehicle and even in unloaded conditions scraped when leaving the driveway. (It also looks ugly and certainly isn't "hidden".) I've noticed on other Siennas that the Toyota hitch doesn't hang as low, maye an inch or two higher and is less obtrusive.

    When I hooked up the trailer with a 4 inch riser I had about 4 inches of clearance and the safety chains almost dragged on the road! This is with the proper tongue weight. It was discouraging because the Sienna is rated to tow/carry up to 3500 pounds but the suspension design doesn't allow you to tow anything that heavy.

    Earlier this month I found a reference on this forum for an airlift kit (air bags installed in the coils). I bought one from Summit Racing for about $85 (including 2nd day shipping). Installing the kit myself was easy. This kit solved my problem. The vehicle and trailer combo now rides level and I have adequate clearance for most road conditions. I just returned from a 750 mile tour of Yellowstone National Park and Northwest Wyoming and had no problems towing the trailer. The vehicle performed very well on mountain roads and passes and I averaged 20 mpg and in addition to the trailer I had 4 bicycles on the roof.

    I have been very pleased with my Sienna. This is the third mini van we've owned. The quality is apparent in the Sienna. It rides great (compared to the Plymouth Voyager and Chevy Astro we had). There is plenty of room for our family of 5 and 1 large dog. It is a very comfortable vehicle. With snow tires we have no problems handling the snowy roads of Wyoming with the front wheel drive. In normal highway driving at 75mph I've gotten 28 mpg! Personally I don't think the AWD model is worth the extra weight and expense especially now that I've solved my towing problem.
  • jb_shinjb_shin Posts: 357
    We bought 2004 XLE LTD in July of 2004 from Fitzgerald in MD. Reading through the posts here, I thought I'd just post my experience with the van.

    1. The second week, NAV died, took 3 or 4 visits for them to finally replace the computer but the trims around the screen has been rattleing since, but service technicians cannot "reproduce" so we are living with it for the moment.

    2. Ratles and squeaks from sliding doors (fixed) and the drivers side door (not fixed after 1 visit)

    3. No transmission problem noted, and I drive it fairly aggressively as my wife does, who is the primary driver. We often surprise small hatchbacks and sedans when we out acelerate them. Come to think of it, I think I drive more sedately in my M5.

    4. When steering is turned to right (close to the limit), it makes a fairly loud squealing noise, but again, service techs cannot "reproduce" after mentioning it during each and every visit (7 or so, so far for oil changes, fix rattles, etc.)

    5. Bought FWD after noticing rough ride on AWD model. First thing I did was to buy a set of winter tire and steel rim set from the Tirerack and have not looked back. I have not had problem in 4 to 6 inches of snow, and I rarely see the traction system kick in. Obviously, I don't floor it in the snow. With the poor ride, the price and availability, and the mileage from the runflats, I am more than happy with having to replace the tires twice a year. I think it only cost $500 or so for the set. The OEM tires are wearing ok, so far, with 16,000 miles.

    6. The seat heaters are so weak that it always goes to the "high" position so I have not noticed if it works on any other setting. BMWs we had heated up much faster and to higher temperature. Perhaps I will mention it the next time I go in.

    7. The only TSB/recall I received was for the protected tape to prevent the rust on the doors.

    8. Have not checked the brakes, but they seem to be fine, though it is very soft, compared to my Integra or the BMW.

    9. Paint chip is a fact of life these days no matter what you drive. Most factories switched to water-based paint in the last a few years from oil-based paint due to environmental issues. Water-based paint is MUCH softer and chip/scratch easily.

    10. With so many power/electric components, I purchased Toyota Care (0 deductible,
    7/100,000 miles) for $800. Had to haggle a few minutes to get it down from $1500, using info. from this board.

    11. Gas mileage since the purchase has been about 19.8 avg. We do about 60% highway and 40% city, I think.

    Overall, I had about the same amount of problem with my 95 Integra (thank goodness for the extended warranty) but am disappointed with Sienna build quality. What is more disappointing is the dealer service. They seem to not care a whole lot one way or the other, which is surprising since there is more profit in service and parts these days. I go to Ourisman Chantilly (Northern VA) and used Fitz (MD) when I am up that way and they are both ok, but nothing to write home about. They pushed me to do 7500 and 15,000 mile services, but I declined as what they actually do is oil change, rotate tires (which I do at home) and "inspect" number of things, which one can easily do. I told them I just don't see the value in that, and not a peep after that. I will probably do 30,000/60,000 services at the dealer, even though it adds only a few more "replaced parts" than 15,000 mile service. My primary concern is that IF I have a power train warranty claim, they won't deny me on the basis of "not following" the recommended maintenance schedule. I do change the oil every 5,000 miles. FWIW would have bought a Lexus minivan if they had one, just for better service and attention to the customers.

    I had far less problem and issues, actually none, with 2002 BMW 530 I just sold after 3 years, and I had no out-of-pocket expenses other than winter tire set, and the maintenance is covered for 4/50,000, brake job, oil change, even wiper refills. For $40,000, my wife and I would have been a lot happier with a 5-series wagon, but since we do drive my kids and parents together time to time, extra sitting was needed.

    I'd have to seriously consider buying another Toyota. General perception is that Japanese cars in general, Honda and Toyota in particular, are less prone to major issues and economical, but I am hesitant to take my parents to look at any Toyota for their next car.

  • ageezerageezer Posts: 7
    My Sienna with 9,100 miles developed a gear whine at approximately 6,500 miles and is very noticeable at 60-65 mph. The dealership's Service Manager took their normal stance and and said they don't have a problem and used those detestable GM and Toyota phrases, "Factory Normal" and "Performing as Designed". I demanded that their transmission Tech take a ride with me, which he did, and upon return, advised the service mgr. that the vehicle did indeed have a very pronounced whine. I was told that they would "research" this on their Tech Line and get back to me the next day. Five days later, I called the Tech and he said that he didn't find anything but the Field Service Rep was at the dealership and he would talk to him about the problem. The Field Rep was very aware of the problem and said that Toyota has replaced many transmissions but that did not solve the problem. Supposedly, the engineers are now looking at design flaws in the final drive components and will issue a TSB when they figure it out(?).
    In the meantime, folks, turn down your JBL's and drive at 60-65 on level ground and listen. The whine will stop on deceleration and come right back upon acceleration. If you hear the noise, report it to your dealership and put some pressure on the factory before you scatter your transaxle all over the interstate.
  • katie8katie8 Posts: 2
    This is my first time on here and I don't now what I'm doing. My problem is that the brakes squeak when coming to a stop....not when you hit the brake, but as you slow down to a stop. They tell me they are OK, but the noise is driving me batty....Anyone know what I can do to fix it? Thanks
  • tkaztkaz Posts: 69
    My wife has a 2005 Sienna XLE Limited AWD. She loves it except for one problem - shifitng when using cruise control. The problem occurs when going up inclines (does not have to be steep). The transmission downshifts from overdrive to third gear - it seems to skip 4th gear. Then it just sits there at 4K RPM for a while then upshifts to overdrive. Then it downshift again.
    This problem does not happen when not using cruise control. It will stay in overdrive unless the thew incline increases. Then it will downshift to 3rd gear - RPM is about 3K.
    Is this a common problem? Going to ask the dealer to check it out when she takes it in for first oil change at 5K miles.
  • jb_shinjb_shin Posts: 357
    I'm no expert, but it sounds like a normal operation. I am pretty sure our Sienna does the same, when I actually have a chance to use the cruise control. The computer is compensating for the loss of speed due to the incline and wants to select the right gear to get the speed back up. Once desired speed is reached, it should then decrease the throttle applied, but most cars seem to just upshift, and then back down again in a long incline. This is the reason I just hate automatics and take it out of cruise control in those situations.

    Even if you really have a problem, I bet your service advisor will simply dismiss it as a "normal operation" unless you can take him for a ride and really show him a serious problem.

    Next time you are going up a hill, try manually ptting the gear into 4th and see if the car can adequately maintain the speed. If you have to give more than a small amount of throttle to do so, then under cruise control, it will likely try to jump 4th and go to 3rd. I am pretty sure ours does it when I am using Laser cruise as well, when there is a car in front of us and it slows down, and then when it tries to catch up.
  • toyotakentoyotaken Posts: 897
    The other thing you can try is to take the transmission out of overdrive manually while the cruise control is still engaged to see if that works.

  • cray19cray19 Posts: 1
    My '05 Sienna LE also has gear whine at 60-65 mph and at 70 mph. It sounds kind of serious since my van only has 3200 miles. I will have it checked next week when I am in for the first oil change. Thanks for the heads up, ageezer, I will post my findings.
  • mcase2mcase2 Posts: 160
    I do not believe you could solve this by shifting to 4th as has been suggested . The owners manual (p.192) states that this will not cancel cruise control. Evidently the control will seek the gear it feels is correct regardless. The manual also states that "on steeper hills" there will be a dramatic change in speed and "so it is better to drive without cruise control" (p.190). I have a front wheel LE and often use the cruise control on Interstate 90 in Mass. which is easily graded. I have never noticed any of the gear shifting you describe. Also the control will not really function properly under 40mph
  • katie8katie8 Posts: 2
    Still waiting for someone knowledgeable to tell me if they know what causes my brakes to screech when coming to a stop. I've had them checked and they tell me the brakes are fine. I have a 2002 Sienna. When checking them we told them to clean them, so it shouldn't be dust and grime causing it. Would new brakes pads help? Anybody know?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    if you lightly chamfer the leading and trailing edges of new brake pads before installation that often prevents brake squeal. Also most new pads come with an anti-squeal dampening plate, backinmg pad/plate, and you can buy rubber "gue", red color plastic bottle, at an auto store to apply to the backing pad, squeal dampener, that will help.
  • thegagethegage Posts: 13
    Sounds like normal operation to me, too. The Cruise Control's job is to maintain a steady speed. And while the engine is relatively powerful, the Siena weighs in at over two tons, so it's not going to take much of an incline to slow it down significantly. I've seen the same behavior with my cruise control.

    John K.
  • toyotakentoyotaken Posts: 897
    I would strongly recommend for those who are having this happen on certain hills, move the shift lever into the "4" position to take it out of overdrive. The Cruise will continue to function, keeping the vehicle going the same speed, but it will stay out of overdrive, so you shouldn't have the continuious shifting. I've tried this on several of the new Sienna's here, and it works.

  • piratemanpirateman Posts: 18
    Clover...just out of curiosity, where did you purchase your Sienna? It wasn't Boch or Weymouth Toyota was it? E-mail me.
  • bcj0q0bcj0q0 Posts: 1
    I have owned my 2004 Sienna since April 2004 and have had the full bra on ever since with no problems of any kind. Purchased from the Dealer.
  • Hey Sienna Fans

    Has anyone had an issue with their vans hesitating a bit to accelerate when stepping on the gas? We bought our 04 with 12k miles and this issue was the first thing I noticed about it. I've just assumed it was a normal feature, but now Im not so sure. Any suggestions?

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