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Toyota Avalon Basic Maintenance Questions

gregfockergregfocker Posts: 39
I just purchased a 1996 Toyota Avalon with only 30,000 miles. There were no maintenance records and the lady I bought it from was old and had no idea what he late husband had done service-wise with it.

I am planning on keeping this for the long haul (250K miles) and want to make sure it is in tip top shape. What type of engine/tranny/etc. maintenance should I do right now to get this in pristine condition? It has very low mileage but is over 6 years old. Thanks for your suggestions!


  • highlander7highlander7 Posts: 177
    Just completed the first oil change on our 03 Avalon at 970 miles.

    The number on the factory oil filter is 90915-20003, the stock number for filters sold by Toyota is 90915-YZZB1. The factory filter is slightly longer, gasket and interior color is red vs. black for the stock. And the factory filter has both Japanese and English written on it.

    Any reason why the number and other differences?
  • Just purchased an 03 Avalon...typically I do my own oil changes. With the angle of the oil filter and the location - above the motor mount, does anyone have any experience as to how messy changing the filter is or any tips (to save the garage floor and motor mount from getting trashed) on doing this??
  • I use an absorbant cotton rag placed immediately under the oil filter. Along with newspapers on the ground, this works pretty well. Hope this helps!
  • Changed from dino oil to synthetic on my 95 V-6 Camry at 60k miles. Car now has 74k miles and have noticed a gradul decrease in engine noise as I continued to use synthetic oil. Changed the oil recently in the 95 Camry. After 74K miles of mixed highway/in town driving, the Camry engine is as quiet as the engine on my 01 Solara which has seen only 13k of highway miles. Both cars have the same 3L V-6 engine.
  • nguyetnguyet Posts: 2
    1998 Toyota Avalon v6 mileage: 55k. Without warning, the air conditioner & fans quit working. This car has an outside air temp display & it suddenly does not show a temperature reading. I checked every fuse I could find. All OK. The car starts & runs fine & all other electrical works, i.e., lights, rear defroster, windows, door locks, seats. It is equipped with an auto mode for the air with a temperature adjustment that will control the blower speeds. This is not working, or if you try to punch manual blower speeds, (each button will light up) but will not turn fan on, or if you push the a/c button, will not work or light up. No engine service light either?
  • It's that time, and I need some advice dealing with the dealer. My 2000 Avalon XLS runs fine, I'm using a 7500-mile interval, and I live in south-central NJ near the the coast.

    My maintenance guide says to replace the following: engine air filter, coolant, a/c filter, oil&filter. Also rotate tires and inspect lots of stuff. On the other hand, my dealer says I should do a bunch of extra stuff, like replace spark plugs, clean disc brakes, adjust engine idle speed, clean throttle positioner system (do I have one?), and NOT change the a/c filter. They'll do all that for a mere $300!

    So should I tell them only to do what's in the maintenance schedule, plus the a/c filter? What's a good price for that? And why does the dealer discourage me from touching the a/c filter anyway? I've never had it replaced.
  • jc217jc217 Posts: 4
    What is the mileage of your car? 7500, 15000, 100,000? It's hard to answer your question without knowing the total miles.
  • Jim, I'm talking about my 30,000 mile service. Actually, I have 31,000 miles now.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    skip all that other junk - the plugs are made to go 60K, not 30, and they are very expensive to replace ahead of their time. The disc brakes don't need cleaning, unless you notice excessive squeak when you apply them. I can't recall if you have a TPS, but they certainly don't need to adjust the idle speed, the computer controls all that stuff nowadays. This makes me wonder: some of these things only apply to significantly older models than the car you have, and is it possible you are just reading their standard catch-all maintenance list? They use these lists on an "as applicable" basis to cover all models for all years.

    The cabin air filter is a tricky one - are you sure it is not supposed to be replaced at some odd maintenance interval like 22.5K or 37.5K? If you have never had it done, just ask them to tack it on to the service you are going to have them perform. And you are allowed to bring your manual with you to the dealership and go through it item by item to show them exactly what services you would like done.

    Every dealership has a different idea of what they think is the absolutely perfect maintenance schedule for your car, and how can they all be right??!! With Toyotas, doing what is asked for in the manual will not only ensure you meet the warranty requirements, but it will keep the car running for a long time as well. There is no need for extra stuff.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • armtdmarmtdm Posts: 2,057
    The dealer is adding on his maintenance items to make a boat payment. Not needed. The only thing I would question that you are doing is the 7500 oil change intervals. If you are using synthetic fine if not the Toyota V6 scares me the way they beat up oil and unless it is highway miles you may be creating a sludge monster out there using dino and 7500.
  • My inlaws Avalon have the direct ignition system. How do you remove the ignition coil/wire to access the spark plugs. Is this a simple project? I have changed the old distributor system wires and plugs on all my other cars. This is the first distributorless vehicle I have attempted. Can you give me step by step instructions? Also, Is there a good online toyota parts distributor where I can pick up the platinum plugs at a price cheaper than the dealer? Do they use NGk or Nippondenso? Thank you for your assistance. Dan
  • wmmunnwmmunn Posts: 18
    I just had the pleasure (or displeasure) of dealing with the 60,000 major maintenance items. I started off with a fuel system cleaning using the techron concentrate. Followed up by a pcv valve, and changing out of the plugs. I had originally taken the car in to the dealer, and was more than a little bit shocked by their profit motives. Lets just say they were a bit excessive in their pricing structure. I picked up a copy of the haynes manual in hopes that it would be helpful during the tuneup. While it did have good information, it was not very throrough. For instance it did show the basics of the plug change procedure, it did NOT indicate what needed to be removed to change the rear bank of plugs. The front 3 were very simple to get to, just remove the v-galley cover, which was 3 5mm hex nuts, and spinning the toyota logo to remove it. Then remove the coil hold-down bolts, pull the coil module out, and remove and replace the plugs. once I had removed the front plugs and changed them out, I got a good look at the old plugs. This is when I discovered I was replacing irridium plugs with platinum. Right away alarm bells went off in my head. Weren't the irridium plugs good for 120,000 miles? So why was my toyota dealer insisting my platinum plugs needed to be changed? I had already invested the money to purchase the correct tools, supplies and manuals, and was halfway done with the repairs. So I decided I would forge onward, since the new plugs were of the correct range and type. I am going to hang on to the original iridium plugs and have them cleaned and inspected. If they are still good after this, I will hang onto them and reinstall them at 120,000 miles. Now I continued on the rear bank of plugs. Number 3 cylinder was reasonably easy to get to. I used a standard ratchet and plug socket. I had to reach down between the intake plenum and the throttle body. Number 2 cylinder was just as easy, albeit, I was removing and replacing bolts I could only feel, not see while I was turning them. The real fun ocurred on everybodies favorite, cylinder number 1. I looked at this, and looked at it, in sort of disbelief. I am guess either the dealer techs are very skinny, or they remove the intake plenum. or possibly get at them from underneath on a lift. I certainly didnt have these options available to me in a suburban garage. I tried several times to remove the coil holddown bolt from the same hole I used for 2 and 3. I did manage to get it out, and dropped it into the lower a-arm on the passenger side. This created a 15 minute diversion to retrieve the bolt. It was then I tried to pull the coil off the plug that I discover there was a hose blocking it from moving back enough to remove completely. I then discovered that this was the pcv valve hose. I made a note of this, and then had to remove a nut holding some wires to the end of the intake plenum. Once I removed the wires and bracket, I was able to gain access to cylinder number 1 from the passenger side of the engine compartment. Once I had access I removed the pcv valve and moved the hose out of the way so I could remove the coil and replace the last spark plug. I then removed the original pcv valve, which was encrusted with a black gritty oily substance, I would guess might be oil. if the pcv valve looked like this, what does my engine look like inside? that scares me. I purchased the car at 44,000 former lease miles. Lets say the early ownership of the car lacked regular maintenance. Once I replaced the pcv valve and reattached the hose, clamps and the electrical wires. I then put the galley cover on and checked to be sure I had removed any tools etc... from the engine compartment. I then fired it up and took it for a test drive. Ran just great. I can say pretty confidently that anyone reasonably familiar with a ratchet and tight places can accomplish the plug replacement and pcv valve replacements with ease. While not a totally pleasant experience, you can certainly save a couple of hundred bucks. I know its not nearly as awful as a couple of chevy beretta 3.8 litre v-6 plug jobs I was involved with, those were truly evil jobs to do, involving multiple extension bars and universal joints, ramps and laying underneath the car. Anyone else have some input on this topic? have I done right to continue replacing my iridium plugs with bosch platinums? Feedback is welcomed.
  • My vehicles get the filters changed per schedule and same with fluids/oil at "severe" rate. As to spark plugs...I monitor gas mileage closely and when "highway" mileage drops (5% to 10% range)...and plugs have been in engine more than 60K...then I have plugs changed.

    This, of course, doesn't apply to the 120K plugs.
  • Wmmunn, Thank you very much for your detailed description of the plug change. I also bought a haynes manual but was disappointed in the lack of detail. I have owned a 1987 Beretta V-6 and hated changing the plugs on that car. As far as the plugs, I like NGK or Denso plugs. They seem to work well with most Toyota and Hondas. Any idea of a good website to purchase plugs and Toyota parts online? Thanks again. Dan
  • wmmunnwmmunn Posts: 18
    One note I forgot to mention in my post about the spark plug change. It is very dark inside the engine compartment, so you should use a trouble light or a nice strong flashlight. I performed the change at night in the dark using a mini mag light. Actually I prefer to do work like this in the dark, as bright daylight tends to wash out the darker recesses of the engine compartment, and makes it difficult to see the bolts and such on the back bank of plugs.
  • wmmunnwmmunn Posts: 18

    I am not sure what to recommend as far as places online to get spark plugs. I tend to make use of the local auto parts discounters. They have good cross-references for applications, and tend to stock a large quantity of useful late model parts. The best part of local discounters would be local accountability. Who wants to wait on shipping to get needed materials, and even worse, what happens when something goes wrong?
    Besides, the Bosch platinums I used for my avalon were only $1.99 each over the counter. Thats about as inexpensive as you could desire.
  • armtdmarmtdm Posts: 2,057
    Genuine Toyota parts on line at wholesale prices. Been using these guys a few years and the shipping is usually less then tax but depends on the order. Much cheaper then dealer prices and Genuine toyota Metro toytoa
  • Thank you one and all for your help and assistance. I will check out This is a very informative board. Dan
  • highlander7highlander7 Posts: 177
    Does anyone have a suggestion on how to minimize the oil spill when changing and spinning off the oil filter on the Avalon. I have a 2003 XLS and after 2 changes have yet to figure how to pack enough rags and paper towels under the filter to minimize the mess. If this cannot be done without the spill, then this is a bad design.

    Everything else about this Avalon XLS has been flawless, outstanding car.
  • rwallenrwallen Posts: 1
    I find that if you wait a while before changing oil, like a couple of hours or more the oil will drain out of the filter and you will have no mess.The only drawback is the oil is not hot.
  • gslevegsleve Posts: 183
    at the bottom of the filter this would facilitate drainage and become less messy after the filter drains
  • dylan383dylan383 Posts: 20
    Toyota both in their booklet that came with my avalon and the dealership both recommend oil changes every 5,000 miles. I'm used to doing it every 3,000 miles. Any problem with going every 5,000? Any reason for the change in recommendation?
  • but anyone who insists on using conventional dino oil, I would surely not go past 3000 miles before a filter AND oil change. I can't tell you how against regular oil I've become, but that's my soap box. I'm stricktly a MobilOne Synthetic kind of guy and have been over the lives of the last 7 new cars I've owned. The seals remain dry and intact for the typical 250,000+ mile life of the vehicle before I sell them. To ME it's worth it, to those that prefer cheap oil I guess they just won't ever learn........
  • pmoskalpmoskal Posts: 25
    travelr, I guess if synthetic is your soap box. After doing research and through experience, synthetic is for those who do not change their oil frequently and for those who want to give $$ to the oil companies.
  • travelerjbtravelerjb Posts: 46
    I'm NOT into extended oil change intervals, and typically do them somewhere between 3-5000 miles (or whenever my business trip happens to end) and as for the giving of money to the oil companies, not at all. I'm into the "next to NO wear" camp and it's THAT simple. If you don't get it, well then you just never will, without seeing various engines torn apart at various intervals having been run with various oils vs. synthetics. (which I have). Some people are like that horse being led to the water to drink. They just NEVER get it.........(P.S. It's not a soapbox, and if you prefer I'm done preaching to a hearing impaired audience). I'll just lurk and watch the plethora of problems that will arise over the coming months with ya'll.
  • bwiabwia Boston Posts: 1,944
    On my Y2K Avalon XLS I just had my 30,000 miles major service at a total cost of $382 less a 10% service discount. What did I get for almost $400?

    Replaced air conditioning cabin filter

    Drain and refill cooling system

    Drain and replace transmission fluid

    Rotate all four tires

    Oil and filter change

    Air filter replacement.

    Everything else was inspect or check. For that they charged me 3.5 hours of labor time. But I must say after the service the car sounds and feels great, just as if it was brand new. I am looking forward to many more trouble-free miles and hope the next major scheduled maintenance is not as expensive.
  • matthew525matthew525 Posts: 52
    Have you asked what the hourly rate is? Probably in the $55-65 range. So it looks like you got about $110 in parts (filters, and lubes). May have been able to save a few dollars purchasing the part separate (e.g. off the web) and having them install them or maybe doing the A/C cabin and air filter yourself. Might want to call another local Toyota dealer and get a comparison cost. Assume you got the 10% discount because of your previous service record so sticking with them may garner another 5-10% in the future.
  • bwiabwia Boston Posts: 1,944
    Yes, I agree the service was expensive. The cost breakdown is as follows:
    Disposal fee.... $ 10.50

    Tax....................$ 6.09

    So I guess 3.5 hours labor time works out to be $72.32 an hour
  • dfurnierdfurnier Posts: 26
    Is there an advantage in purchasing genuine Toyota engine oil and filters?

    Also, the dealer wants to change the oil at 3000 mile intervals. After lots of research, I'm basically convinced every 5000 miles is more than sufficient (the shorter interval recomended by Toyota).

    Expert opinions?
  • matthew525matthew525 Posts: 52
    I would be interested in knowing if Toyota manufactured their own oil - - wouldn't think so; filters maybe. Whether oil & filters are better or not could be a national debate. I use Mobile 1 and NAPA Gold filters for years and have not had any problems at all in any of my vehicles. Conclusive - nope. Dealers want more frequent changes because more visit = more dollars in their pockets. Simply follow the manual to keep your warranty in place.
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