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Toyota Sienna Maintenance and Repair (2004+)



  • I noticed a week back that air recirculate doesn't work in defogger mode but it works in the next position (DOWN+DEFOG). In case where outside air is very cold and humid, as in your case, I guess it might help to use the DOWN+DEFOG mode along with A/C and air-recirculate on.

    I think it will be easier for A/C to remove humidity from warm cabin air than outside humid freezing air.

    Just a thought. I haven't experienced the problem yet in my 5 months old sienna.
  • Has anyone else had a problem with a rotten egg smell from time to time? My dealer says that Toyota fixed this problem for Forerunners but I guess that not enough Sienna owners have complained of this problem that it is not cover by warranty. I belive they replaced the cat convertor. If you have problems, please contatc Toyota. I am!
  • Thank you very much for your detailed info. :)
  • lastarlastar Posts: 30
    Just bought a new LE and plan to tow my 2,000 pound camper. I know it's well below the 3,500 limit, but want to get feedback from others who tow. Any problems at all, etc.?
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    The only thing I've heard (negatively) would be the possible sag on the rear of the van (of course, this all depends on the tongue weight for the camper).

    You may have to install some form of load-leveling system to keep the rear bumper/hitch from dragging (particularly going through dips).
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Keep in mind that a load at the extreme rear will "unweight" the front and thereby significantly lower the traction at the drive wheels that may be already being challenged with double duty.
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    That would have to be one heck of a load considering the length of the moment arm (center of rear hubs to rear hitch) compared to the naturally nose-heavy nature of the van.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    You may be forgetting that during braking the trailer load shifts forward onto the rear of the towing vehicle.
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    Yes, during braking there is weight transfer generally to the front. This applies not JUST to the trailer, it also applies to the van.

    Are you trying to insinuate that FWD vehicles should not be used for towing? You ARE aware that most FWD vehicles have around a 60/40 weight distribution; with FWD minivans it may even be closer to 65/35. Having a trailer with weight applied to the hitch probably changes that distribution, at most, to 55/45. I still fail to see what the problem is.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Well, all you have to do to understand is to see one of those huge dually pickups towing a 5th wheel with the front of the pickup already up in the air and then have them have to PANIC stop right beside you.
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    "Well, all you have to do to understand is to see one of those huge dually pickups towing a 5th wheel with the front of the pickup already up in the air..."

    Interesting. 5th wheel trailors put the trailor tongue weight directly over the rear axle. So, how does that bring the front of the pickup up in the air?

    And why are we suddenly comparing the tow charecteristics of dually pickups and 5th wheel trailors with FWD minivans and bumper hitch trailors?
  • hylynerhylyner Posts: 216
    There are several ways to better distribute trailer tongue weight when using a minivan as the towing vehicle.
    Better weight distribution in the trailer itself is one way. Shifting the trailer's load so that tongue weight is reduced. Be careful though, because too light a tongue weight can be dangerous-- poor handling problems are possible. Keep at least 75 to 100 pounds on the tongue for best results, and this won't cause the front of the towing vehicle to lift too much.
    The best idea is a "Load Equalizer" trailer hitch. This is attached to the frame of the towing vehicle, and a pair of equalizer bars (kind of like torque tubes) are fastened to the trailer and the hitch itself. Hitch load is then distributed equally on all four wheels of the towing vehicle.
    This type of trailer hitch is a bit more expensive than a standard frame hitch, but not an excessive amount.
    One manufacturer is "Draw Tite", out of Belleville Michigan. I've used theirs on a minivan and it worked fine.
    I would not recommend a simple bumper hitch under any circumstances. Not safe!! I would also recommend installing electricly operated booster brakes on your trailer if loads are in the 2000 pound or greater range. These braking systems aren't that expensive, and can certainly be a big help in many circumstances.
  • hylynerhylyner Posts: 216
    Here's the link for those Draw Tite equalizer hitches. Hope it's of some use for you.
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    I had heard of 'load equalizer' hitches but never really knew what they were. Certainly sounds like the way to go since it should make the towing platform more stable and help to reduce the rear-end sag (which I've heard could be a problem with Siennas and towing).

    Adjusting the weight distribution of the trailer is also a good idea (I've had to do that myself when towing construction material in various utility trailers) but I don't know how much this can be adjusted when towing pop-up campers.
  • hylynerhylyner Posts: 216
    Those equalizers work extremely well. If you look at pictures on the link I posted, you can see two "torsion bars" hanging down from the main body of the hitch, and chains connected to them. The way it works is: when you hook up the trailer, jack up the whole assembly until the towing vehicle sits level, then connect the chains with the closest chain link which will hold the vehicle at the desired level. Physics does the rest. There are also some good tips on that same site which you might find interesting.
    Good Luck.
  • I recently purchased a 2006 XLE LTD AWD. Very quickly the car developed these problems: the power outlets do not work, the passenger auto sliding door opens but does not close, the auto headlights do not turn off. Anyone else having these problems?
  • ajkalajkal Posts: 5
    When I cold start the engine on my 2005 Sienna LE, by cold I mean during a winter morning, there is a strong smell of gas fumes from the engine. I only smell this outside the van not inside. After driving, when the engine has warmed up, there is no smell. Is this normal? Has anyone else noticed this? I know the engine is going to rev at a high RPM when cold, but should there be gas fume smell? :confuse:
  • chan2chan2 Posts: 2
    Yes, the lights on my 2001 Sienna go out after 20 min if the door is open. However, the lights on my 2005 MDX stay on forever.
  • dudleyrdudleyr Posts: 3,469
    I have not noticed gas smell yet on the Sienna, but have with other vehicles. The mixture is richer on start up in the cold and the extra fuel injector (cold start valve) is also being used, so there will be more fuel smell. This is not unusuall unless the smell is excessive.

  • kentkkentk Posts: 1
    I've seen a few posts here regarding the power tailgate which tends to close on its own (without the warning beeps in our case). We have a 2004 XLE and now that winter is here, the problem is back just like it was last winter. It just about knocked my wife out cold today.

    Has anyone had any success with this issue? Any part(s) in particular to steer the dealer towards (since they weren't very motivated to look into it last winter when I took it in)?

    FWIW, I've also noticed in cold weather that the tailgate doesn't seem to raise up as far as it should-- I usually have to push it up the remaining foot or so. Related? Maybe, maybe not.
  • dudleyrdudleyr Posts: 3,469
    One or both of the struts are leaking or low on pressure. This is noticed more when it is cold and the pressure is further reduced. If the strut is not strong enough the door will start to drop a little on its own and this will in turn trigger the power door. I would have the dealer check the struts and replace them if they are not strong enough.

  • My van had that rotten egg smell twice last month while on the same tank of gas, which was from a station I had never used before. Research pointed out that in some cases it could be as simple as the gas that was used. I started going to a different brand of gas station and haven't had the problem since (over 1,000 miles later).
  • I live in Pittsburgh and have a 2004 LE FWD. I had the most harrowing driving experience of my life a few nights ago when I left a friend's for the 10-mile ride home just as it began to snow. The Sienna had NO traction on even the smallest incline! The traction control kicked in and did little or nothing. It was a miracle that I got within a mile of home, then abandoned the van and walked the rest of the way. :cry:

    I've lived in Syracuse and Ithaca, NY -- places with plenty of snow and hills -- and never had such a horrible experience with no traction. Has anyone else experienced this? Will snow tires correct the problem? Or do I need to get an AWD? PLEASE ADVISE!

  • jb_shinjb_shin Posts: 357
    I put very little, if any, faith in any all season tires. All season tires are compromises at best, that provides adequate traction in dry, rain, snow, and let's not even mention ice. Summer tires are the best in rain and dry, and winter tires in snow and ice. I have a 04 XLE LTD fwd, but bought a set of winter tires (Blizzak ws-50) mounted on steel rims for about $500 from the tirerack. My wife is the primary driver so went with the most aggressive winter tires just short of studded, but there are other options.

    We did just fine last winter in a few inches of snow and it feels like driving in rain. The traction control rarely comes on while driving in slushes and packed snows. Ice obviously is more challenging, but with a bit of common sense and good set of winter tires, we get around fine.

    By the way, I HATED the washboard surface-like ride quality in the AWD, especially in the back seats. One ride in it was enough for both of us and a friend who rode along. Try the winter tire route before spending thousands on a new car.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    that in the majority of cases the best solution is snow chains. Snow chains on the drive, front, wheels of FWD or front torque biased AWD vehicles can be VERY hazardous.

    My 2001 AWD RX300, definite front biasing, runs year 'round on nice quiet and comfortable summer tires and gets rear chains first and then fronts are added if/when necessary.

    Remember that on non-adverse roadbed conditions, dry or just wet, winter tires will have much lower roadbed traction than summer tires. So if in your area adverse roadbed conditions are the exception rather than the rule winter tires will be putting your life at more risk than just using summer tires continually.

    But be quick, NEVER hesitate, to install those snow chains the instant you encounter adverse roadbed conditions. And with FWD, chains or no, be extra careful when slowing or braking, especially downhill.

    And remember AAA's recommendation, shift quickly into neutral when slowing or braking if traction is low or threatened. ABS can prevent the front brakes from resulting in loss of directional control but can do NOTHING to reduce front braking due to engine compression.
  • Hi,
    Not sure what stock tires you have.
    Solutions - From easy to hard.
    1. Best all seasons with good snow traction.
    1a) GY assurance Triple Tread.
    1b) Yokohoma AVID TRZ.
    2. Nokian WR - all season with "winter tires ratings"
    3. Winter only tires on a new set of rims.
    4. AWD with winter tires.
    5. Snow chains will be my very last option.
  • jb_shinjb_shin Posts: 357
    Hmmm, I am pretty certain that driving with chains is illegal in most areas unless there's so much snow on the ground, etc. as it will chew up the road surface. Also, on the icy road, snow chain will not do much good, or anything else for that matter, short of studded tires. I do agree that chain is great in deep/packed snow.

    The soft compound summer tire will harden and have a consistency of brick near freezing temp. Tires like Blizzak WS-50 has tread design that help on surface with water (water over ice) according to's description. I'd personally feel more comfortable in a good set of winter tires than summers in the cold weather.

    I used to not bother with dedicated winter tires, but living in Germany for a few years forced (required from Nov to March) me to use them on my 5-series and have not looked back once I saw how much better it was.
  • dudleyrdudleyr Posts: 3,469
    I would consider 4 winter tires for Pittsburg - kinda hilly, and AWD will not help you going down those hills. About $650 at tire rack mounted and balanced on 4 new steel rims with 4 hubcaps and delivered to your door. Just bought mine a couple of weeks ago for my new Sienna. I drove through a blizzard with these (40 mph winds and heavy snow) and while I had to go slowly because of visablity I never felt like the car was anything but planted to the road.

    With 4 snows you save wear and tear on your alloy wheels and your summer tires last longer. Getting through 1 harrowing experience can be worth the price. Your vehicle will be able to stop and turn (assuming you don't stand on the gas around the corner) better than an AWD that has the standard tires.

    I was sold years ago when I test drove an Outback in a snowstorm after driving there in my Integra (with 4 snows). The Integra felt much better in the snow.

    I have two year old all seasons on my Odyssey and got caught before changing the tires this year. It took me 4 tries to find a hill I could make it up to get accross town. Changed the tires that afternoon (this was to snow tires that are on their 6th season) and had no problems getting around at all - even though more snow had fallen.

  • heywood1heywood1 Posts: 850
    I live in the Pittsburgh area also, and I highly recommend an extra set of winter tires (with rims for convenience). I have four Blizzak WS-50's on my 2004 Sienna. Not only do they dramatically improve traction, but braking ability as well. Your only problem may be finding a set this time of year. Winter tires--Blizzaks in particular--have become increasingly popular, and can be hard to find after Thanksgiving. Try the TireRack first.

    (IMO, 'All-Season Tires' are inappropriately named, unless you live in the sun belt).
  • zebra5zebra5 Posts: 45
    My wife has concerns with some cars' proximity to the steering wheel and the airbag. Does the telescoping wheel on the Sienna help distance the air bag from the driver, particularly shorter drivers? Also, would buying the optional 6 way power driver seat give the driver the ability to further distance themselves from the steering wheel and air bag?

    Also, doesn't it stand to reason that for 2nd row passengers, a 7 passenger LE model gives them a inch or so more distance from a side impact collision than the 8 passenger model? I don't think the crash tests have spoken to different data on those two models, have they?
This discussion has been closed.