Toyota Sienna Towing/Trailer Hitch Questions

dohrmcdohrmc Member Posts: 14
I often carry a 1980 Honda 110 Trail motorcycle on the back of my 2002 Ford Expedition. I can't even tell the bike is back there. I am thinking of replacing the Expedition with a minivan in search of better mileage. Does anyone have any experience using a hitch carrier like this? I don't know if the Sienna can hack hauling an [approx.] 190-200# bike on a hitch. It will have to be a Class III hitch to fit my equipment. Any of you use a hitch on your Sienna like this?


  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Looks like 350 lbs tongue weight for class II, 525 for a class III hitch with weight distribution:
  • subewannabesubewannabe Member Posts: 403
    I had an after-market Class III hitch installed on my 2005 SLE AWD for my bike rack, but not the wiring harness. Thinking I might want to haul a small trailer, I picked up the OEM wiring harness from my dealer's parts department..YIKES! :surprise:

    Its a big bag of wires and parts with no instructions, and it looks like I have to pull off panels and hide wires all the way from the dash to the left rear interior panel
    Anybody attempt this on their own or should I let a pro do it, dealer or otherwise?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Search for instructions on-line. You'll probably find them in the forum I mentioned above.
  • odickmanodickman Member Posts: 1
    I installed a class III hitch from curt manufacturing and installed a 2" ball on a 4" drop hitch turned upside down (elevates 2 3/4") to prevent scraping the ground with my trailer. I works like a charm.

    I opted to not buy the ~$150 OEM wiring harness and decided to do it myself. I got a HOPPY #48845 Trailer Wiring Converter (cost ~$20) and watched the video on how to get to the brake and turn signal wiring on With that information, it was easy to wire the Sienna. FYI - on the 2007, the green with yellow stripe is right turn, green with black stripe is left turn, green with white stripe is brake light, and solid green is running/tail lights. Hope this helps someone out, as I couldn't find this info on the 'net before I installed it myself.
  • jimmibondijimmibondi Member Posts: 12
    I am planning to add a hitch mounted bike rack to my 00 Sienna. I am not planning to tow anything. What aftermarket hitch should I get? Is there someone who sells them cheap?

  • giffweavgiffweav Member Posts: 2
    We just picked up a new to us van. Have been towing our 2002 Coleman Sunvalley with our '99 Windstar previously. So on the new van which has the 3.3 engine, we have the class III hitch installed as well as the wiring harness. There have been differing opinions on transmission coolers. I have heard from a few that the Siennas already had an adequate tranny cooler on them?

    The rear end is a bit lower than the Windstar so we will probably opt to purchase a Wight Distributing Hitch as well to pull the rear end up.

    Anybody have any experience towing campers with the Sienna?

    Appreciate any thoughts and help!!
  • dnbqeednbqee Member Posts: 7
    This may help somewhat-we have towed our almost 4000lb 17' Starcraft all over the west with ..........a Honda Odyssey.....I know its not a Sienna but we used the weight distributing hitch with a very heavy 500 lb tounge weight and it worked like a dream. We also have a new to us 04 AWD Sienna but haven't installed the hitch/harness yet. I parked the Sienna side by side with Honda last night (both empty) and the rear of the Sienna is much higher so that helps a little. There are also aftermarket airbag suspension kits (installs fairly easily) available. Our experience with the Odyssey both with and without the weight distributing hitch: drives MUCH better, better traction and safer with weight dist. hitch. Hopes this helps a little. Let us know how it goes.
  • dnbqeednbqee Member Posts: 7
    Does any one know if the Siennas have transmission coolers already installed (going to be towing) or are they even required. I dont see any mention of them in the owners manual, so want to be sure. We will be towing a fairly heavy trailer. Had to install a cooler on our Odyssey. We have a 04 AWD Sienna. Wondering if the AWDs need more cooling etc. Any help appreciated. Thanks.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Yes, up until the 2007 model year, the tow prep package was standard.

    For 2008, they made this an option, but most vans in my region still got it.

    I know 07s had them standard, though.
  • whitewaternutwhitewaternut Member Posts: 40
    I purchased a Reese type hitch from NAPA and installed it myself on my 2006 Sienna AWD. Fairly easy to do since the nuts are already welded into the frame. Just a matter of bolting it on with four bolts. The right side is a bit of a pain because the exhaust pipe is in the way but it can be done with the proper tools. Bought the wiring harness through Ebay and it was a snap to install. Only had to remove both tail lights and the rear panel below the tail gate to connect the harness.

    Pulled a 1200 pound tent trailer to PEI and back last month. It was so easy I had to look back at times to make sure the trailer was still there. Great towing vehicle and I still got 18.5mpg on the trip while towing the trailer. :)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    That sounds good, I know towing kills mileage.

    I had a 1998 Forester that averaged 25.1mpg over its lifetime, and I got about 18mpg on one tank while towing the whole time.

    I'm sure the big V6 simply handles the load better.
  • giffweavgiffweav Member Posts: 2
    Thanks for the reply. Between you and the crowd, am definitely going to get the WDH (Looking at the Reese mini 400) and the air bags. We had our local hitch guy put a DrawTite on and with the bikes on the receiver hitch, it will drag on a steep driveway so definitely need a little lift there.

    Now if it will just cool down a little, it will camping around here a little more bearable.
  • sienna2009sienna2009 Member Posts: 1
    I recently bought a Sienna 2009 XLE Limited with the EVP-2 package. I was also understanding that the van came with the tow prep (engine cooler, transmission cooler and wiring harness). This was not the case. The vehicle does not have the tow prep and the dealer is now telling me that it cannot be put in after the fact. I have researched the web and cannot find any after market information for this van. Can this be done after market and will it void my warranty?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    It was standard in model year 2007, but in 08 they made it an option, a couple hundred dollars or so.

    I don't see why it could not be added, though, isn't is basically an oil cooler?
  • prs82prs82 Member Posts: 1
    I am looking at a 2009 Sienna. I am trying to decide if I need the towing package. Does anyone know if it is any more than the wiring harness and the hitch? For $220 it would seem no additional coolers, such as transmission, would be included but I have been unsuccessful in verifying.
  • mhierholmhierhol Member Posts: 4
    I have been looking at 2009 Sienna XLE's and LE and have had two dealers (Fred Anderson in Raleigh, NC and Mark Jacobsen in Durham, NC) both say the 2009's are not coming standard with the towing prep package. NEITHER DEALER could verify if you could put a hitch on the van. I guess it would be too much trouble to speak with the service manager to get the truth.

    I noticed when building a Sienna on the Toyota web site that it states the tow package is not allowed. I'm confused.

    Anyone know the truth on the 2009's? Do they have enough cooling to handle towing?

    It is looking like a Honda Ody for me.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Not so fast...Honda's towing kit includes and oil cooler (for the trans, I think?) and a power steering fluid cooler, plus a harness and the hitch itself, plus labor.

    I have the 2007 Sienna brochure, and here's what it says:

    Tow Prep Package - 3500 lb towing capacity with heavy-duty radiator, heavy-duty fan, 150-amp alternator and power steering oil cooler.

    I got it on my 2007, because I think those things are useful in other ways.
  • mhierholmhierhol Member Posts: 4
    You are right, the Ody requires those additions to be tow ready.

    According to the dealers, the 2009 Sienna's are not coming with the tow package option and therefore a hitch can not be added. This tow prep package was standard through 2008.

    Here is the response from the Fred Anderson Toyota
    "Unless it comes from factory with the tow prep package, it can't be added here unfortunately. So if you need one with the tranmission cooler and the ability to tow upto 3500lbs, then it might be out unfortunately. I still don't know why toyota removed it from the standard equipment back from 2006. My guess is that they put the 3.5L motor, stability control, etc in them and didn't raise the price, so something had to go."

  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    It was a $220 option for 2008.

    On my 2007 it was standard on the model I got, LE with package 3. Not an option listed seperately, but part of that model.
  • tomn3tomn3 Member Posts: 5
    Go over to There is extensive discussion on this very topic. Don't know about the 09's but the 08 has everything needed(less hitch and wiring) except the oil cooler. It can be added after the fact. Many on that forum are doing it.
    I'm adding the hitch myself for hauling bikes and will ad a cooler if I decide to tow.
  • jhschiffjhschiff Member Posts: 1
    My dealer had trouble finding what the package included. So they compared a Sienna with package to sienna without on adjacent lifts. The conclusion was that the package include an extra engine oil cooler ( not xmissin cooler), and that everything else was the same. In lieu of having the oil cooler, he suggested using synthetic oil which doesn't beak down at high temp.
  • airmanmj2001airmanmj2001 Member Posts: 15
    I'm thinking about install a hitch on my 2010 Sienna. When I look under, the exhaust pipe is in the way on the right side. Will the frame slide in there, or I have to detach the pipe first? The pipe seems to be welded in place. No idea how to detach it.
  • diesel_powerdiesel_power Member Posts: 16
    Hi Airmanmj2001

    Did you find solution ??????

    I am in the same situation i just bought 2010 sienna LE and i need to add towing Hitch.

    Not for towing purpose, i need it to protect my car from stupid drivers when they try to park/leave behind my car.

    I had to repaint my BMW 325i bumper 2 times.
    the good thing that my insurance cover that.
    the bad thing, it will be registered in car carfax history.

    Thank you for reading and advices

  • airmanmj2001airmanmj2001 Member Posts: 15
    No... But it looks to me there might be just enough room to just pull the pipe away to squeeze the frame in. At least from the hitch picture I was looking at, it seems so.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I installed one on my 98 Forester and had to remove an exhaust hook to do it (I put a jack under the muffler and lowered it slowly).

    Just a thought but be very careful not to damage the exhaust.
  • airmanmj2001airmanmj2001 Member Posts: 15
    I got a U-Haul 78270 installed myself today in 20 minutes or so. The predrilled holes line up pretty well. I slided the right side flank in first from above the tail end of the exhuast pipe without any problem, and then the left side. After that, all I had to do was to tighten up 6 bolts. That's a snap!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    How much did that cost you? I may do the same thing. Been debating it for a while.

    How much ground clearance did you lose at the rear? Departure angle I mean.

    Found it for $150 on-line, did that price include the wiring harness? Was that plug-n-play or did you have to splice wires?
  • airmanmj2001airmanmj2001 Member Posts: 15
    You can buy it on eBay for $135 shipped. I didn't get the wiring harness, since for now I only got bikes to put on a hitchrack. I heard some folks had hard time installing other hitches (curt, etc.) because of the small margin of error for the predrilled holes, and uhaul one is the easiest to install. You don't lose much ground clearance either, since it won't be the lowest point of the undercarriage. I would admit though it certainly doesn't look as good as an OEM hitch, but that's what you expect from aftermarkets.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Good price, though I'd want the wiring also. Did you ever find out how much extra that would cost?
  • aguerinaguerin Member Posts: 1
    Thanks for your info- I'm looking at purchasing the uhaul hitch you noted (78720)- what size bike rack can be used with it- the one I'm looking at says it converts from 2" to ! 1/4" easily. Haven't ordered anything yet- hoping to make sure sure the bike rack and trailer hitch work together first. Thanks to anyone who knows. Artie
  • palstringpalstring Member Posts: 2
    Hello. This information is probably already on here somewhere, but here I go anyway.

    I have a 98 Sienna and would like to know if it will handle towing a two horse trailer. I don't have a specific one in mind because I don't know if it will work.

    I also would like to know whether it will be a job my husband would be able to do himself. He's handy, but not a Toyota tech.

    Thanks for any information.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Usually folks who tow that much get airbags to support the rear suspension. How heavy is it?
  • palstringpalstring Member Posts: 2
    I don't know how much it weighs. I haven't decided on a trailer yet. We won't be hauling horses though. We raise Alpine Dairy goats. There would only be 4 or 5 in it at a time. I guess it would be up to 650 lbs. of goat. :)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Doesn't sound like too big a load. Unless it's a big covered trailer or something.
  • muskiemanmuskieman Member Posts: 2
    I'm thinking of buying a 20' Lund fishing boat that has its own surge brakes on the trailer. Empty Boat & motor weigh 2180 lbs; add in 40 gallons of gas, trolling motor, 3 batteries, fishing equipment; it will probably be around 2500-2800 lbs. My hitch is rated for 3500 lbs with tongue weight of 350 lbs.

    It's a Toyota 2004 Sienna AWD with factory installed Towing package. Can I pull this boat/motor/trailer without long-term damage to the van (48,000 miles) described above? It pulls the boat okay but it sure seems to work hard up and down hills.

    Will additional items (air bags, etc.) help? Can they be added at home or what?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I've heard air bags do help, but I haven't actually put on a hitch yet.

    You're not at the limit so you may do fine without them. Plus you know they exist if you do end up needing them.
  • pwillinghampwillingham Member Posts: 2
    I need to hang a wheelchair lift on the rear of my 2010 Sienna. It DOES NOT have a towing package. Total weigth of lift and chair will be in 300-325 lb range. The manual states max tongue weight of 120 lbs without the tow package. Any ideas?Load levelers? Weight distribution hitch? The dealer seems clueless, and can't say if any change (hitch, levelers, WDH) will effect warranty.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    The tow package has oil coolers, I'm not sure if it'll matter if you're just adding 300 lbs to the tongue and not towing any trailer.

    Just do this - subtract 300 lbs from your max payload capacity. If you do not exceed that, it should do just fine.

    People who tow very heavy loads get air bags to keep the rear suspension level, but I'm not sure you'd even need those.
  • shelltracker55shelltracker55 Member Posts: 1
    Looking to buy an ultra light travel trailer to pull with my 2002 V-6 Sienna. Am I being real? How heavy a trailer can I tow in safety?
  • muskiemanmuskieman Member Posts: 2
    I have a 2004 Sienna AWD with the towing package and just today I bought an 18' boat with a 150 hp Merc on it. I pulled it from near Des Moines to Mpls and everything went fine. The boat package would probably weigh in the neighborhood of 2300-2400 lbs. My towing specs are 3500 # tow weight and 350# tongue weight. Hope this helps.
  • hogan773hogan773 Member Posts: 255
    Hi all - anyone know if the 2011s will take the same hitches as the 2009/2010s (ie the current Sienna hitches being sold in aftermarket)? I thought I read that the platform for the "new" Sienna is exactly the same as the last model - same exact wheelbase, etc - just the upper sheetmetal and stuff is different?
  • pwillinghampwillingham Member Posts: 2
    I've been doing quite a bit of research re the Sienna van/towing'hitch, etc as I
    wanted to hang a wheel chair lift on my 2010. The short answer to your question
    is "Yes", in my opinion. It seem Toyota routinely equipped the vans with the
    capability to haul anything up to 350 lb TONGUE weight until about 2008 or so,
    at which time they degreed 120 lbs. was the max tongue weight without the towing package installed. Two Toyota dealers and a pro mechanic have advised me the only difference in the with/without is the radiator and oil cooling upgrade, and the suspension is the same either way. I'd think your two restrictions would be the 350 lb tongue weight and the hitch capability. I'd install a Class III
    hitch as they cost about the same as a Class II. The Weight towing rating for
    the Class III is a total of 3500 lbs.. Class III has a 2" receiver and the II
    is 1.75", I believe. U-Haul installed my III for about $200, without the
    lighting connections. You can buy a custom connection kit (plug in connectors
    wit no cutting and splicing) online for about $35-40 from E Trailer and do the
    lights yourself. I think they even have a video you can watch of a guy doing
    the installation. U Haul wanted about $70 more to installation for the lights.
    An ultra light trailer should give you no problem.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    To add to that...

    The reason for the change in 2008 is that the Tow Prep Package was standard on the 2007s. That was a little cost cutting they did.

    Mine came ready to go, 350 lbs tongue weight straight from the factory.
  • maxwell10maxwell10 Member Posts: 29
    i had a 2002 van, pulled a 16 ft double axle trailer (1500#) with about 500# load.
    300 miles,

    Van pulled the trailer fine, I believe the 2002 models came with the tow package even if they did not come with a factory hitch.

    the new model 08 etc: std models do not come with the tow package, it must be ordered when vehicle is ordered new.

    you should have no problem but do get the trans oil flushed, I did it at 60k then again at 110k just look at oil and if it starts looking dirty get it flushed.
  • johnnytoyodajohnnytoyoda Member Posts: 1
    edited May 2010
    i have a 2004 tow package

    i already have a reciever installed and not have the tow package IE:larger radiator, fans and HD alternator.

    these are all to tow 3500 lbs...i am only going to tow about 1200-1500 lbs loaded...the popup is about 900lbs

    do i need to install all this?

    has anybody towed with a sienna that was not tow equiped?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    You're out of warranty, so there's nothing to fear as far as voiding any powertrain warranty (unless you got an extended one?).

    I think you'll be fine. The normal payload of a Sienna is 1200 lbs, so that's just a normal full load, basically.

    The tow prep package was standard on my 2007 (happily).
  • retired_texanretired_texan Member Posts: 1
    I am shopping for a new 2013 Sienna to pull an open motorcycle trailer, GW about 1000 lbs.
    We are leaning toward XLE 8 passenger to get a power passenger seat for grandma, and occasionally haul the grandkids.

    Salesman says the LE model requires a "Towing Prep" option, but that the XLE has it standard. Can anyone confirm this?

    The Toyota website does not list the Towing Prep as standard on the XLE. It kind-of implys it by listing the Towing Prep as an option on the LE but not on the XLE.

    etrailer shows a wiring harness that requires removing panels, running a wire all the way to the front for a battery connection, and then hanging the plug out under the rear hatch door. Is all that necessary if you have the Factory "Towing Prep".

    My dealer does not have the Toyota receiver hitch in stock, and cannot supply good pictures of it installed. Anyone know how it looks hanging below the bumper cover?

    And lastly, why have a tow prep option that does not include the receiver hitch?

  • carlcs3carlcs3 Member Posts: 1
    How could I verify that our 2004 Sienna has the towing package?
  • raymeeraymee Member Posts: 1
    just signed on. 04 sienna, 18ft. rpod travel trailer, empty weight 2,300 lbs. towed in the mountains. As expected - lots of 3rd gear hills and a couple of second gears as well. Keep the revs to max 3800 or so and no problem. Sucked it out coming across the prairie and bucking a big wind. 3rd gear most of the way from Alberta to Manitoba - - 90k/hr, 3700 rpm Used no oil and tranny seems ok (has an after market cooler)
  • sbpceap1sbpceap1 Member Posts: 5
    I have watched videos on hooking up a tow hitch wiring harness to a 2012 Sienna. It is one of the most complicated and archaic setups I have seen. My 2003 Odyssey had a simple plug-in jack behind a body panel, and did not necessitate running a power wire under the vehicle from the tail lights all the way up to the battery. I notice that the 2013 Sienna has an electrical receptacle wrapped up at the bottom of the jack storage compartment. Did Toyota smarten up and finally add a simple receptacle for a tow harness?
    That would sure simplify things!!!
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