Slipping/Non-responsive Throttle in 2007 Sienna

drhsudrhsu Member Posts: 9
edited March 2014 in Toyota
I rented a Sienna this summer for a drive to Canada. It was very responsive to throttle changes. I love it so much I ended buying one. Unfortunately, my purchased vehicle has poor throttle response. The engine revs, but the van does not pick up speed right away. I experience a huge delay in response. Anyone else experience the same problems? Seems like the torque converter is not coupling properly.


  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I would take it back to the dealer, to see if a TSB covers this issue.

    Our 2007 is fine, no hesitation. Plus you feel a difference so this is not normal operation.
  • drhsudrhsu Member Posts: 9
    Thanks for the suggestion. I will take it back again and maybe ask them to compare it to another one.
  • prinesurfprinesurf Member Posts: 4
    I seem to have a very similar problem on my New 2008 Sienna. I waited until I had 1200 miles on it before bringing back to the dealer. Of course, the dealer said there was nothing wrong--ooh what a surprise! The problem I experience is the throttle not responding especially at around 6-8mph. I literally step on the gas for 2" or more and no response (like it is in neutral), then it will lurch up to the next gear. I will also get this reaction when I'm driving along and then coasting, and then I step on the gas with very little response until I press down at least 2 or more inches.
    2 experiences I had at the dealer... 1) they told me that since the gas pedal is not electronically controlled and nt by a cable, it has a slower response time (logically this makes no sense to me!) 2) I test drove another 2008 XLE sienna, and it had the exact same response as mine.
    I am extremely disappointed that a high-end van like this could have such POOR performance. Every time I get into my car, this is all I think about! I owned a 2001 sienna, which was peppy and responsive.
    I'd love to hear from others and their expereinces..........
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    There is an engine mod that opens a 2nd intake path for more immediate response from the engine (trade off is more noise).

    Here is a link:

    I did this and had no adverse effects, however my 2007 was not hesitating prior to this mod.
  • drhsudrhsu Member Posts: 9
    When you say no response, do you mean the engine rpm did not change, or the engine responds but the vehicle does not react immediately to the change in engine speed (do not feel any acceleration)?

    My experience is the engine picks up speed right away, but do not feel any acceleration for a second or so. This is especially so when:

    1. I go over speed bumps at a slow speed, and press on the throttle after going over the bump,

    2. When I lift off the throttle approaching a corner, and pressing on the throttle half way through the corner. Feels like the gear slipped into neutral (engine roars, but no acceleration.
  • drhsudrhsu Member Posts: 9
    Thanks for the info. I will give it a try. Given that in my case the engine rpm did respond immediately, I am not sure how much difference I would experience with this mod.

    I do not have much clue as to what the computer controls these days. Does anyone know if the computer also controls the torque converter in the 07 Sienna? To me, it feels more like the engine side of the torque converter spins but the torque takes a while to transfer to the drive shaft side of the converter. Wrong spacing? Wrong transmission fluid? Off-spec transmission fluid?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I'm going to guess that it's just choosing the gearing.

    They're set up for peak efficiency, not peak performance. When you let off the throttle before a speed bump, it might shift from, say, 2nd to 3rd, all to save on fuel.

    Then you hit the gas and the gear is too tall to accelerate like it would have prior to the speed bump.

    The "hesitation" is basically the time it takes for the transmission to shift back to 2nd gear.

    If you floor the throttle to compensate, what probably happens is it shifts not once, but twice, and ends up in FIRST gear. So basically the double-shift takes longer, and when it does get in to first gear you notice a sudden surge of acceleration.

    Top it off, I bet the ECU dials back the throttle a little to help preserve the transmission, for powertrain longevity. So it shifts, shifts again, then dials back the throttle-by-wire so it doesn't slam in to first gear.

    That excaberbates the feeling of hesistaion. You have nothing, nothing...then WOW you get a lot of acceleration.

    I would try rolling in to the throttle gradually, so it knows you only want 2nd gear, not 1st. I bet it takes less time to perform that one shift and 1/2 throttle vs. the two shifts at full throttle.

    This is pure speculation on my part, of course. :D
  • drhsudrhsu Member Posts: 9
    Most interesting theory. What I should try is to set the gear manually to '2' and see if any of the mis-behavior still occur. If your speculation is correct, I should bypass all the hesitation and gear shifting issues, correct?
  • wwestwwest Member Posts: 10,706
    You folks are discussing, seemingly, the latest iteration (Wow, 2008..??) of the infamous Toyota/Lexus 1-2 second transaxle downshift delay/hesitation.

    Late in the last century, to conserve fuel, and possibly more importantly, to reduce the heat loading of the ATF, Toyota adopted a sub-standard sized positive displacement gear type ATF pump.

    The lower capacity pump could not supply enough volume/pressure to support "HARSH" gear changes, mostly downshifts in this case, so the engineers sat out to eliminate those.

    Unsuccessfully so, as it turned out, drivers will do what drivers have always done, ask for GO power at the most inconvient times. So early models, '99 RX300, with/of this "experiment" had a few premature transaxle failures.

    So Toyota adopted DBW to "protect the drive train". DBW is being used to delay the onset of engine torque in response to foot pressure on the gas pedal until the downshift, starved for adequate ATF pressure, can be fully completed with the engine at or nearly idling.

    Ford, on the new Edge, has adopted a variable displacement ATF pump as a solution to this very same problem. Maybe Toyota will "listen"...??

    Ten years and Toyota is still "experimenting".....
  • lavrishevolavrishevo Member Posts: 312
    If I may make an observation. I have an 06 Mustang GT that is heavily modded and one of the biggest improvements was re flashing the ECU or computer to improve throttle response and with those who have auto's gain a lot of torque off the line. Not to mention advancing the timing and many other things. Now of course this is a bit much to do to a van but the same principle applies that the computer controls the throttle body and also the torque converter. It seems that most if not all new cars have these "smart" computers that learn your driving habits and adapt the vehicle to you needs. It seems that this "learning" killed throttle response on a lot of people who had stock Mustangs. The answer without modding was to disconnect the negative off of the battery and let the car sit for 20 min or so, enough time for the computer to forget all that "learned" info. Reconnect the negative and off you go. You would also know the computer has been reset by the idle being a lot higher for the first 5 or 10 min of operation and then it settles down. I think it would be a smart place to start, just don't forget you have to kill power to the ecu long enough for it to reset its memory.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Good responses, both of you.

    The drive-by-wire only support my theory, because it only means Toyota has even more control of what the engine will do (and the driver has less).

    I've advanced the timing on my Miata the way lavrishevo descrives, but those days may be behind us as newer cars retard/advance timing on their own, using input from knock sensors for instance.

    I'm not sure if you can manually set the timing on the 2GR V6, but I doubt it.
  • drhsudrhsu Member Posts: 9
    I tried setting the gear to '2' going over the bumps and going around the corners and the hesitation is mostly gone. This seems to bear out the theory that the transmission is trying to figure out what gear to use. Interesting that the rental one I had did not exhibit this behavior.

    Anyone has any program to flash the ECU of the Sienna to get improved throttle response? If the transmission can take it, the Sienna will be a great sleeper car - with 266 h.p. and a five speed transmission, it can out accelerate a lot of cars. Any tuners out there willing to try it? :)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I'm not sure, but I think if you're in 2 it will allow 1st or 2nd gear.

    Did you observe that? Or does it force a 2nd gear start, even from a dead stop?
  • drhsudrhsu Member Posts: 9
    I am sure it can go down to first gear. Since I did not come to a complete stop for the speed bumps or for the corner, I think it stuck to 2nd gear. The engine rpm stays above 1500 rpm the whole time and does not change much when I press on the throttle after the bump or while in the corner.

    When set to 'D', when I approach the corner or the speed bumps, the rpm drops down to close to idle. Pressing on the throttle result in the rpm going up to 2000 or so without instant change in acceleration.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    So manually selecting the gear does help.

    We should do that or at least roll in to the throttle gradually.
  • drhsudrhsu Member Posts: 9
    Going into a corner without lifting off the throttle completely helps to minimize any lag. What is interesting is the rental did not exhibit this lag. I hope someone can come up with a modified program to flash the ECU....
  • lavrishevolavrishevo Member Posts: 312
    Why don't you reset your ECU to see if this helps at all, very easy to do and can not hurt.

  • lavrishevolavrishevo Member Posts: 312
    Check out what I added just today to my Sedona, made a nice little difference. Nice sound as well. Just $40.00 at your local auto store.

  • drhsudrhsu Member Posts: 9
    Nice! I am upgrading my tires to General Tires Exclaim UHP 245/45ZR18s. Should help with the handling!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Looks kinda cool, too. Is it any noisier?
  • lavrishevolavrishevo Member Posts: 312
    Just a little under heavy acceleration. Kind of a deep tone. Under normal use I can not hear any difference. I can sure sure feel the difference. Was worth the money for sure. If driving to conserve fuel you are supposed to gain MPG by a few. We shall see. I usually get 18/25 with 90% city here in PR. Plus the A/C is ALWAYS in use. But of course with a lead foot adding an intake will decrease your MPG.
  • caravan2caravan2 Member Posts: 198
    What is this? Please explain how this work? What improvement you have seen by this device?
  • lavrishevolavrishevo Member Posts: 312
    All you are doing is freeing up the engine to breath easier. The easiest way to do this is replace your stock pierce of junk Fram or who ever air filter with a k&n lifetime air filter that flows air much much better. Plus you never throw them away, just clean them with one of their cleaning kits every 15,000 miles or so and your good to go.

    Replacing the whole intake does the same thing plus 20% more.. When it comes to power. But understand one thing more HP means more fuel so an intake can work in both ways. Baby the engine you will get better MPG. Stomp on it and you will have more power but worse MPG then before. Personally I think they are well worth the money.

    You can always do the same thing for your exhaust system and you will not loose any MPG. Such as high flow cats, larger exhaust pipes, high flow muffler, dual exhaust, headers. Though I doubt they make them for mini-vans.

    Full intake could get you 15+ HP, probably at least 10 on a good exhaust setup. 25 horse power is a good gain believe me. Hope this helps, let ne know if you have any other questions.
  • caravan2caravan2 Member Posts: 198
    I was at Autozone yesterday and they had K&N flyer. He was claiming that you'll get 4-5 Gallon savings on each fill-up. I don't buy that..... that is way too much!

    Have you seen any improvement in the mileage? I think HP is fairly good on Siennas.

    2nd Q: Does this voids your warranty?

    How much does this cost? Is it DIY yourself job?

    FYI... K&N does not make filters for SIenna :mad: Maybe someone else made it.
  • caravan2caravan2 Member Posts: 198
    Is this K & N filter?
  • lavrishevolavrishevo Member Posts: 312
    First off adding an intake does not void any warranty. If the intake failed and a piece of it came off and got sucked into the engine and they could prove this then this would void a warranty.

    Second: Babying an engine with an intake should get you 1-2 MPG. How many gallons that is at the end of a tank you will have to calculate. Go to their site and check them out and yes they do make filters for the Sienna.

    I would suggest for your needs just get a replacement filter not a whole intake.

    Third: It has only been half a tank of gas since I added my intake and right now I am noticing between 1-2 MPG increase.

    This is what your filter will look like.

  • caravan2caravan2 Member Posts: 198

    This filter is expensive $54. I don't know how much regular Sienna filter would cast.

    I seem to recall that someone in the forum said it costs $40 at your local auto shop for intake replacement?
  • lavrishevolavrishevo Member Posts: 312
    Well, consider you will never have to buy another air filter again. Also, look around you should be able to find it for upwards of 35 - 40 bucks. On the K&N site it will list dealers in your area and you can call them for quotes.

    Understand I am in Puerto Rico so prices here can be wacky. The K&N cone filter at pep boys here was 79 bucks. I was not going to pay over 80 with taxes for a filter. They had a another filter there, cone style, that was even bigger and rated just as good as K&N that I purchased for a little over 40 bucks. It was called Power Adder. I had never heard of them before but these type of filters, performance that is, are really all the same. I made the intake myself for my Sedona since no one makes an intake. I did not replace my intake tubing I just removed my airbox and retrofitted the air filter to the end in the stock intake tubing right after the MAF. (mass airflow sensor)

    I know sounds a little scary but it took me like 15 min to do and is working great. By the way what year and make is your van?
  • caravan2caravan2 Member Posts: 198

    You're correct that they claim that it lasts longer BUT they say, it has to be cleaned with oil that is sold by them. I'm not sure how much that oil costs.. but is not cheap, I'm sure...

    Mine is 2007 Sienna.

    Is your OEM filter is also cone?
  • lavrishevolavrishevo Member Posts: 312
    The cleaning process is really easy, just spray the cleaner on the filter and let soak for a bit. Use a hose and you hose the filter from the INSIDE OUT!! Not opposite! Let dry for an 1/2 hour in the sun and spray the oil on the filter and let dry for a bit and your good to go. Take hour and half to do with dry time in the sun. Don't dry the filter any other way cause it could cause the material to shrink. K&N is just superior technology for airflow and cleaning then cheapo filters. Cleaning kit was under $10 bucks when I purchased it.

    No mine came with a cheapo fram type air filter and my original K&N filter looked just like yours. Flat and about the same size. The cone was an addition of my own since it is more flowing you just have to retrofit it on your intake tube or get a full intake.
  • rivkagrivkag Member Posts: 1
    How about the 2008? I have this problem- took it back to the dealer twice, and they say the same-- no big deal- the computer is trying to decide which gear, etc etc.

    Also said- no one is complaining about it.... :mad:

    To me, it feels like my old chevy van did before the transmission failed.

    What's a girl to do?

    Please keep me posted!

  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Go ahead and complain to NHTSA, click here:

    If enough people complain that they find a pattern, they can force Toyota to fix it.
  • hewhohesitateshewhohesitates Member Posts: 2
    Hi there - I've experience the exact same issue with my 2008 Toyota Sienna. The hesitation in shifting at low speeds when accellerating after slowing down to turn a corner occurs intermittently but is quite noticeable. According to those in the know, this issue is absolutely linked to the "drive by wire' system, or as the service manager likes to say "it's a characteristic of the vehicle" . My mechanic friend Jamie put it best when I was expalining the issue to him the fact that Toyota Canada was unable - or unwilling - to find a fix for the problem - he said " I've got a solution - it's called a throttle cable". Nicely put.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    My theory is just a tad different:

    wwest was saying something about the trans waiting for revs for pressure to build up in order to shift, and there being a longer-than-usual delay when it has to downshift two gears (i.e. 4th to 2nd after a right angle turn).
  • wwestwwest Member Posts: 10,706
    "..linked to the "drive by wire".."

    Well, sorta.

    Due to a transaxle design change beginning back in '98 your transaxle is NOT able to complete, QUICKLY complete, a downshift that immediately follows an upshift.

    DBW has many positive aspects but in the instance is used as a "cover-up" for the design flaw. In instances when the downshift cannot be quickly completed DBW is used to delay the onset of rising engine torque even though you have re-applied pressure to the gas pedal.
  • wwestwwest Member Posts: 10,706
    Your ABS pumpmotor assembly includes a pressurized accumulator, holding a few ounces of pressurized brake fluid in "reserve". When ABS activates then this reserve pressure is used, INSTANTLY used, to replenish the pressurized brake fluid just previously "bled" off by the anti-lock system. The resulting sudden reduction in reserve pressure triggers the "on" cycling of the ABS pumpmotor to reactively replenish the accumulator fluid pressure.

    Prior to ~'98 Toyota (all marques..??) automatic transaxles had this same "feature". ATF line pressure was always sustained at a fairly high level using the ATF gear type pump, a fixed relief valve (3000PSI..??) and an accumulator to provide a reserve source of ATF line pressure in situations, brief situations, wherein the ATF pump could not replenish (engine idling) the fluid pressure as fast as it was being "used".

    Like your "old" hydraulic power stearing pump the parasitic losses of this technique are a substantial detriment to FE. The PS pressure pump must be sized to provide full functionality even in the worse case. For the power stearing pump this happens to be with the engine idling during parking, say parallel parking. Now, drive straight down the road at 70 MPH and just imagine the volume of hydraulic fluid be pumped only to be bypassed directly back into the sump having reached ~3000PSI.

    Same for yesterday's ATF gear pump.

    The pressure relief spring/valve has been replaced by a solenoid PWM control system such that the ATF line pressure is now under constant, "real-time", control by the engine/transaxle ECU. "On demand" ATF line pressure, no accumulator needed, nor desired.

    So the ATF line pressure can be dropped to some minimum level, maybe even ZERO, when conditions warrant. No detriment to FE when driving along, cruising, constant speed cruising, at 70MPH....2200 RPM. No un-necessary level of ATF pump loading as you climb, accelerate, through the gears, engine ROARING to 5,000 RPM at WOT.


    Require a quick downshift immediately after an upshift, an upshift having resulted from a lift throttle, FULL lift throttle event.....Engine RPM has dropped to idle and there is NO reserve ATF line pressure.

    (***1) '99 or early '00 F/awd RX300..expect transaxle failure within 50,000 miles.

    (***2) Late '00 F/awd out for BURNED ATF.

    (***3) '01 and later F/awd RX300..burned and dirty ATF in as little as 40,000 miles. Either drain/flush ATF each 15,000 miles or check ATF condition at each engine oil/filter change.

    (***4) RX330...DBW adopted to delay rising engine torque until transaxle shifting can be fully completed. Driver's begin complaining of HAZARDOUS situations when acceleration is unexpectedly, inadvertently, delayed for 1-2 seconds.

    (***5) RX350...Firmware revised, driver now being "watched".
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Require a quick downshift immediately after an upshift, an upshift having resulted from a lift throttle, FULL lift throttle event.....Engine RPM has dropped to idle and there is NO reserve ATF line pressure.

    Like in my speed bump scenario.

    You let off the gas to slow down for a speed bump, then hit the gas after going over it, and you sense that hesitation.
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