Toyota Sienna Care & Maintenance

jeproxjeprox Member Posts: 466
try it and it's simply outstanding! wow!
i used it today on my van and the results were amazing! took me a total of 5hrs. to wash, dry, use the clay bar and then wax.

the product really works!


  • pjksrpjksr Member Posts: 111
    To summarize for this topic, I was looking for any input on routine brake care.

    I am due to check, clean, and lube my brakes. My plan is to disassemble my front pads, inspect and clean them, use disc brake grease on the backs and shims, and reassemble, bleeding a bit of fluid. For the rear, I will open and vacuum them, and possibly bleed a little.

    Does anyone have any additions? Any advice on "synthetic" brake fluid?
  • jeproxjeprox Member Posts: 466
    i dont normally remove the pads/shoes to clean. i just vacuum/blow or and spray brake cleaner.

    what i started to do recently was use a very fine sandpaper and lightly sand the shoes at the back to remove any dirt/junk on the shoes. i also lightly sand the drums. some brake shops do this to remove the glaze on the shoes.
  • rudy2000rudy2000 Member Posts: 32
    because it usually isn't compatible with most brake systems. Also, check your warranty. Here's a link, you can read all about it. Rudy

  • pjksrpjksr Member Posts: 111
    Thanks for the informative link, Rudy!

    By "synthetic," I meant Valvoline Synpower DOT 3/4 brake fluid. As the tirekingdom points out, DOT 5 is a synthetic-silicone formulation; I think the usage of the term synthetic is different here. Synpower fluid claims to be completely compatible w/ conventional fluids, and it does meet DOT 3, as required by my Sienna.
  • pjksrpjksr Member Posts: 111
    There's a general discussion on this in "Maintenance and Repair."

    Has anyone changed out their PS fluid on their Sienna, and what technique did you use?

    For newcomers, be aware that the owner manual and reservoir indicate Dexron II or III as a power steering fluid. Technicians at my dealer recommended using a power steering fluid.
  • jaybird44jaybird44 Member Posts: 8
    I have a 2000 Sienna with 41K miles on it. My wife usually drives it but I've noticed in the last month that I hear a light squeal just before the car comes to a complete stop. Also if I back up in the car (usually slowly) I hear the squeal when I put on the brakes. Is this an indication that the disc brake pads need replacing? I've replaced pads on other cars but I haven't tackled that chore yet on the Sienna. Can anyone give me some steps in removing the caliper and changing out the pads? Thanks! Also I read in another BRAKE section of Edmunds that squealing is sometimes due to vibration not wear, and you can put a piece of duct tape on the back of the pad to reduce vibration (& squeal). So even if it's not time to change the pads, I'll need to know how to remove them if I want to add something to reduce the vibration. If you want to send me some tips without posting them to the site, my email is jmcrae[email protected]. Thanks again. John. Durham NC.
  • deepandeepan Member Posts: 342
    post this on the sienna problems site and you might get a better response
    thewolverine "Toyota Sienna Problems" Aug 13, 2002 7:27am
  • chum05chum05 Member Posts: 4
    I have a 1999 Sienna XLE with lower side panels that I believe are not metal. Over the last few years they have accumulated some scuffing, marring and general abuse. What is the best way to make these begin to look better? After I wash, polish and wax the vehicle and it looks so good I want to take care of these panels and I don't think that polish and wax are the answer. Any help?
  • mekeelwmekeelw Member Posts: 3
    Does anyone know where the 'third' coolant drain plug is located. One is under the radiator, another is next to the oil filter, but I can't see the third one. Thanks.
  • pjksrpjksr Member Posts: 111
    According to the Repair Manual, the third plug is on the right "cylinder block side cover." Remember, the engine faces the passenger side, and its left side faces the front of the van.

    To drain, they say to loosen the plugs (not remove); use ethylene-glycol base coolant; and use distilled water, if diluting. Capacity is about 11 qts with a rear heater unit, 10 without.

    Torques: Left-Hand drain plug 13 [N-m]; RH plug 7 [N-m].
  • mekeelwmekeelw Member Posts: 3
    Ok, thanks for the LH/RH info. I have the manual too ($145!!) but I just don't see the RH drain plug. I guess I'll just have to raise the Sienna and crawl under it to have another look around.
  • jry1jry1 Member Posts: 1
    I'm getting close and want to do the brakes myself (I do them on my BMW without too much trouble). Anyone done a brake job. Can you summarize the steps and/or post some pictures. Also, where is the best place to by discounted OEM Toyota parts?

    Thanks in advance...
  • mrk4mrk4 Member Posts: 9
    Dealer maintenance schedule suggests tranny fluid change at 30k...I could not find any mention of this in the owners manual.

    any help

  • gsafarzgsafarz Member Posts: 4
    I bought new plugs for my 2000 Sienna XLE, couldn't believe the cost. It looked like an easy job and I figured I save a few bucks by doing the job myself along with most of the other 60k maintenance. I replaced the first three in less than 10 minutes. The other three I am having a problem with. It looks like there is some kind of brace over them(under the black cover) but wasn't sure how to remove. Any one have any experience or suggestions with this? Any help is appreciated!
  • jeproxjeprox Member Posts: 466
    to you and anyone who thinks it's easy to replace plugs on the sienna - the answer is a big NO, not that easy! :) the 3 plugs on the front are easy but the 3 plugs in the rear bank needs a lot of work to get to them. the brace (black cover) you are referring to is the cowl, that big plastic piece needs to come off before you can get access to the plugs in the rear bank. you can try and see if you can reach the plugs but i doubt it with the cowl in place.

    give yourself about 30mins. to an hour to replace the rear plugs. :) this is mainly coz' you have to remove the cowl and put it back when you're done replacing the plugs.

    this is why dealers in my area want to charge over C$220 to replace the plugs on any sienna.
  • gsafarzgsafarz Member Posts: 4
    The cowl takes all of 10 secs to remove, but there seems to be something else in the way once the cowl is removed. It looks like a brace over the top of the plugs, but I am not sure enough to just remove it. Any thoughts?

    Thanks for the help.
  • jeproxjeprox Member Posts: 466
    hmmm... 10 seconds to remove. :) that sounds too easy. :)
    i have to check my service manual when i get home tonight. i wonder if you are talking about the fuel rail.
  • jeproxjeprox Member Posts: 466

    visit this link and look at all the engine pictures (11th picture to be exact) and tell me which part is in the way.

    on one of the pictures (11th picture), you will see the cowl with sticker on it, that whole piece needs to come off for u to get access to the rear bank. this is why i'm surprised it took you only 10 seconds to take that piece off! :)

  • gsafarzgsafarz Member Posts: 4
    We may be talking about different things. I was talking about (in your 11th picture) the piece directly on top of the engine with the toyota insignia and the engine size markings. Are you talking about the piece with stickers that runs the length of the engine compartment right under the wipers? If so, I must not even be finding the plugs. Once I remove that cover, it only has two odd size screws holding it down, there is a long rod at least 1/2 inch in diameter above all three of what I thought were the plugs. What i think are the plugs have green plastic covers with a wiring harness attached. At first I thought they could have been fuel injectors under the green covers, but I have never seen fuel injectors with wires going to it. The rod that is in the way can be seen in your 11th picture sticking out from under the cover I described. I will have to take a closer look this weekend and follow all the plug wires to make sure I am even finding the plugs. I didn't even really have time last night to put in the other three plugs, even if they were really easy.

    At least the air filter wasn't too difficult!

    My last three toyotas were so easy to do everything, I even replaced a water pump and radiator in a tercel.
  • pjksrpjksr Member Posts: 111
    The piece covering the engine, with "V6 Four CAM," etc, is the engine cover. In the 2002 model, which is different than jeprox's: To remove, you'll need a 5mm allen wrench for the 3 nuts, AND you need to unscrew the Toyota logo.

    The "cowl" is the black plastic that lines the rear of the engine compartment's top; where the wipers and brake reservior come thru. You will need to remove the cowl, along with, most likely, the intake manifold, to reach the right-side (rearward) plugs.

    I'd recommend a repair manual!

    Jeprox: is that engine cover a "mod," or is it pre-2001 OEM?
  • gsafarzgsafarz Member Posts: 4
    Thanks for all the help here. I should have done this before deciding to do the plugs myself. My s-10 pickup was so difficult I just returned the plugs.
  • jeproxjeprox Member Posts: 466
    yes we are talking about two different things. the plastice piece you referred to is just a cover - just like what pjksr mentioned. the 3 plugs for the rear bank are not under that cover! i wish they were though! :)

    yes the piece i'm talking about is the black plastic piece (cowl) that runs along one side to the other. (the one with the sticker). yes, that whole piece needs to come off! i seem to recall that the wipers needs to come off before that piece can be removed! so you can just imagine how much work is involved to replace the 3 plugs in the back! if you don't remove the cowl, you won't have enough room to get in the back and under the manifold. the rear bank is very close to the firewall. from what i remember, you need not remove the manifold to get access to the plugs.

    while you are back there working on the plugs, i recommend you to change your pcv valve as well since you're already back there! :)

    PJKSR: i painted the plastic cover myself along with the air filter box, battery terminal cover and a few other things. i used ford blue high heat paint. don't know if you can see on the pictures but i also installed an invisible bug screen behind the grill. :) works great in protecting my radiator.
  • jeproxjeprox Member Posts: 466
    my suggestion to you is start early on a saturday morning if you want to replace the last 3 plugs. i can guarantee you that you need at least 1hr for the job, if not more.
  • pjksrpjksr Member Posts: 111
    To all who are reading, you may know that you can't buy a Chilton's manual for your Sienna.

    However, I have found in my local public library, a "reference" Chilton's manual that has a section on the Sienna. Look for a large manual that covers Trucks and Vans; these manuals come out yearly and cover many auto-shop-type procedures.
  • jeproxjeprox Member Posts: 466
    yes there are no chilton manual for sale.
    the one i have is the oem repair manual for 1999 model.

    gsafarz: i just looked at my manual and yes you have to remove ventilator louver and then the cowl. after you remove the wipers of course! :)
    once everything is off - you will get good access to the plugs. u can try gaining access from the bottom, you may be able to get away with it.

  • 1846618466 Member Posts: 46
    Just replaced ours about a month ago from under the hood. Took some doing but I only removed the plastic engine cover (two allen bolts) and managed to reach behind the intake with a 3/8 inch rachet and extension and a couple of bruised knuckels. Do this when you have nothing to do for a few hours. You can reach the sparkplugs by reaching under the part of the intake that is connected to the throttle body. You won't see what you are doing but you can trace the wires. Remove them one at a time and then remove each plug. I did all 3 back plugs one at a time by reaching under the back of the intake by the throttle body (enough room to swing a rachet back there ). As for the sparkplugs Autozone has the same ND plugs that were in our van (double ground electrode platinum) for about $6.00 each. On a 2000 you don't need to remove any of the engine compartment cowl. I don't know about the later ones (2001+)with the VVT if there is enough room. Good Luck!
  • pjksrpjksr Member Posts: 111
    18466, What was the condition of your plugs?

    Does your 2000 require "Iridium" plugs like the 2002?
  • 1846618466 Member Posts: 46
    At about 62000 miles the plugs looked a little worn. The gap on the plugs seemed to be almost twice that of the new ones. There was no noticible change in performance or mileage between the old and new plugs (Van has always ran good). The insulators on the old plugs were a light brown. The plugs for the 2000 model are platinum with dual ground electrodes.
  • pjksrpjksr Member Posts: 111

    Well, I'm looking forward to changing my plugs in about 2 years. Like you said, it sounds like a job for a Saturday morning.

    BTW, 18466, and anyone else, have you checked or had checked your valve clearances? I'm wondering how common it is for them to be out of spec...
  • mrk4mrk4 Member Posts: 9
    Going in for another oil suggets tranny fluid change as well. Could not find this service mentioned in manual. Does anyone know when this service item should be changed? Sounds like dealer will be doing my plugs after reading this board. I believe 60k is recommended time frame?

  • pjksrpjksr Member Posts: 111
    mrk4: There's no interval for the change, unless you operate under "special conditions;" then, it's each 30,000 miles.

    Now, how much will they charge you, and will they just do a "drain and refill," or will they do a flush? IMO, a drain and refill is good enough; you can do it yourself for less than $10, using quality fluid (like Havoline) and a little effort; there's a discussion about this earlier. At any rate, changing ATF is cheap insurance for keeping that silky smooth tranny workin' right. And double-check your fluid level after anyone touches it.

    There are other obvious things to change too, as I'm sure you're aware, including the air filter and pcv valve...
  • 1846618466 Member Posts: 46
    I never checked the valve clearances. I was told by a mechanic at the Toyota dealer that they don't really need to be adjusted if they are not noisy. As far as changing the tranny fluid I open the drain plug (10mm Allen) and drain and add new fluid every 15000 miles. It's probably overkill but it only takes about 2 1/2 quarts to do this (Dextron III). You can't dump the fluid in the converter so I do this just to keep it fresh. I don't like tranny flushes because if there is some dirt you dont want to lodge it into somewhere where it could cause problems.
  • pjksrpjksr Member Posts: 111
    18, Thanks for the valve clearance info...

    You may want to check early in this thread, because there's a procedure for draining the ATF, kindly posted by an owner who called Toyota on it. Upshot is that if you drain the differential and tranny drain, you'll get out much more than 2 1/2 qts; more like 5 1/5 or more. At any rate, even 2.5 @ 15k would freshen the fluid pretty well.
  • 1846618466 Member Posts: 46
    I researched it and found that if you drain the differential with the tranny you can drain only 3.7 quarts of fluid. Which is what some dealers normally drain when they service the transmission. More than the 2.5 quarts I get when draining the tranny only. Toyota service manual describes servicing the tranny only. You are right this gives it a fresh recharge when I service it every 15k. It takes about 5 minutes to do on the Sienna.
  • 32valveuser32valveuser Member Posts: 31
    I have a question on removing these plugs. This is a coil on plug type designed engine. Don't you have to remove each of the coils to gain access to the plug?
  • 1846618466 Member Posts: 46
    There are only three coils. They are above the front spark plugs. These coils have to to be removed to remove the front plugs. Each coil supplies spark to two cylinders one front and one rear. If you look closely at each coil you will also see a spark plug wire going to each of the rear plugs. These coils fire twice for each cycle of the engine, once for the power stroke and then again on the exhaust stroke Because of this only three coils are needed for a six cylinder engine. This is why the type of plug is so important. They fire twice as often and wear twice as fast. This is the major reason that Toyota only recommends the dual ground electrode platinum or iridium plugs for the Sienna.
  • bthibodeaubthibodeau Member Posts: 5
    Guys, I am a do it your selfer. I no longer want to pay to have the dealership change the transmission fluid. I also have never performed this task. Can you give me just some basic things to look for and follow. ie drain bolt, fluid refill point, and or any thing else that would be really handy. I know i wont have a problem with this, and as everyone knows there are no generic service manuals for siennas. I know just after a conversation or two with you guys i will know all i need to know.
  • lsaclsac Member Posts: 22
    Remove drain plug and drain the ATF.
    Reinstall the drain plug securely(NO TORQUE MENTIONED)
    With engine OFF add new ATF thru the filler pipe. (3.7 qts)
    Start engine and shift the shift leveler into all positions from P to L and back to P.
    With engine idling, check the ATF. Add ATF up to the COOL level on the dipstick.
    Check the fluid level at normal operating temperature, 158-176F and add as necessary.

  • jtlanejrjtlanejr Member Posts: 35
    You can change the fluid by way of just draining the fluid. Or you can drop the pan and clean the filter/screen as well as the pan and magnets I would suggest you drop the pan every 30,000 miles and then drain in 15,000 miles. This is not specified anywhere by Toyota - they just say change it at 15 if you are a severe user, etc. In my mind it is cheap insurance to follow this schedule. You won't end up posting one of these "my Sienna only has 65,000 miles on it and the transmission failed... the manual never said anything about changing the fluid....

    I got a Mitchell repair manual ( on CD. So, there is a "generic service manual for Siennas...." My only note is that for my 1999 LE, there is not much info on the CD - I refer back to the 98 model year.

    The drain bold is on the pan. You will also see a differential drain plug right near the pan, but I cannot remember its size. Mine took the 3.7 quarts of fluid as specified in the owner's manual to refill.

    In regards to rear plug changing, you can get a tool from Snap-on that will get to the back plugs without removing the Cowl. I would not invest the $50 for the socket/u-joint combo since you only have to change these plugs every 60,000 miles. The Cowl and plenum takes about 15 minutes to remove. (The guy who said 10 seconds has obviously never removed each piece... and I have an air wrench to remove the screws quickly...)

    Hope this is of help.
  • bthibodeaubthibodeau Member Posts: 5
    1. when i refill with new atf fluid, does this get added thru the aft dip stick shaft?

    2. obviously, just draining thru the drain plug sounds easy. it has been about 25k miles since the last atf fluid change(it was at the dealer ship where they flushed thru the torque converter). so with the info you guys gave me i am thinking about dropping the pan since its been 25k miles. Now, when i drop the pan, do i need to replace the gasket??

    3. when i clean the pan, what do you use to clean the pan? parts cleaner? brake cleaner? non residue spray?

    4. Is there any filter that i should change?

    5. is there a torque specification for the pan bolts?
    I will check out the web site on the sienna manual!
    Thank you for your input, it is a great help!!!
  • dtagliafdtagliaf Member Posts: 6
    I'm about to purchase a used Sienna and I'm curious to know when Toyota recommends changing the timing belt, at what mileage? This van has 58000.

  • lsaclsac Member Posts: 22
    At 33000 mi, my dealer did 30k service including ATF change. Now, at 45000 mi, my rear half pan looks greasy. ATF is a bit low. Do I just retorque all 17 bolts or I have to get a new pan gasket?
  • jtlanejrjtlanejr Member Posts: 35
    #42 - Refilling the transmission is done through the dipstick.

    In your case, I would drop the pan. You will need a new gasket - around $8 I think. I think the torque spec for the pan is 70 ft. lbs, for the pan drain bolt is 36, and for the torque converter it is 30. I would have to check the manual to be sure, but I am 95% sure on that figure. Once you drop the pan, you will see a screen that has 3 screws. Remove each of these - be prepared for a pint of fluid to come out. Clean this screen with parts cleaner and then blow dry with air compressor or the like. You will want to check the fluid several times (over a few days) to make sure you have the fluid level correct. Mine did take the 3.7 quarts as specified in the manual. On another note, this transmission is not designed to have the fluid back flushed. I am really surprised the dealership provides this service. I know it is easy and a good moneymaker, but I would not have this done to my transmission.... Also, I bought the manual (on CD) off of Ebay for $30.

    For Dana - the books says to change the timing belt at 90,000 miles. My guess is that you would be looking at a $600 repair item, but I have never had to have this done (yet).

    For Isac, I would torque the bolts down to 70 ft. lbs. to see if that takes care of the leaking gasket. Otherwise, it is not a big job to replace the gasket. ATF fluid is something to check monthly.

    Hope this is of help to each of you.

  • dtagliafdtagliaf Member Posts: 6
    Thanks for the advice. I'm having my mechanic take a look today, but how worried should I be that the dealer doesn't have maintenance records?
  • jeproxjeprox Member Posts: 466
    90,000 miles to change timing belt? wow, that's pretty high. my 1999 model recommends it a change at 96,000kms. which would be around 60,000 miles.
  • lsaclsac Member Posts: 22
    When I filled ATF and power steering fluid, I used a magazine cover (any clean hard paper) and wrapped it like a cone. Job is very clean and no mess afterwards. Next time, I will do the same to add fluid to any container with small opening.

    For jtlanejr, thanks for your advice.
  • jtlanejrjtlanejr Member Posts: 35
    I have a '96 T100 and it requires the belt at 60,000 miles. For the Sienna my owner's manual calls for 90,000. Of course, the belt on the truck is $210 to have the dealer to the service. I bet for the van it will be over $500.
  • jtlanejrjtlanejr Member Posts: 35

    You are smart in having the van inspected. My only concern would be the previous owner's lack of oil changes, etc. We all know of the "sludge" problem these engines develop with lack of maintenance. The mechanic that is inspecting it could pull a valve cover and check for signs of poor maintenance. I am convinced that if you regularly change your oil and keep up with scheduled maintenance you will not have any problems with this van. Mine has 66,000 miles on it and I have a T100 with 125,000. I have only put a starter on the truck. OEM parts and scheduled service will yield good results (at least that is what I am betting on...)
  • 32valveuser32valveuser Member Posts: 31
    Just did the trans and diff fluid change (drop and drain) on my 2001 LE. First I had to go to the Auto parts store for torx head wrenches $10.49. Then I drained the trans after that I drained the diff. The diff has its own drain plug that has to be removed. After the trans was done I took the drain plug out for the diff and drained it. At least a quart came out. Now I was not expecting any fluid to be left in the diff because I had already drained the trans I thought in general terms these two parts shared the same fluid. I refiled by the ATF pipe. I checked the diff by slowly removing the plug until the fluid began to drip. So I new I had fluid as there is not filler hole on the diff right? I drained out a little more the three quarts and thats what I put back in.

    My road test was ok. I bought 4 qt Sears brand Dextron II/III fluid for $1.19 each. Sound good.
  • sbelfieldsbelfield Member Posts: 41
    Now that I'm a new Sienna owner... Are there any good sites to buy accessories?

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