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Toyota Avalon 2004 and earlier



  • 5539655396 Posts: 529
    BTW, have you driven the 2010 Lacrosse? If or when you do, how about a comparison to the AV?

    "make payments into an auto savings account that would go towards these costs if a new car were purchased."

    This is a good method or alternative to expensive extended warranties too. Where that premium money is just plain gone, whether you use it or not, this money is there if you need it, but if you don't, it's yours. Apply it to your next purchase.
  • bwiabwia Boston Posts: 1,942
    55396, thanks for your very thoughtful response.

    In my above post I failed to mention that I had also replaced the timing belt and water pump on my 2000 Avalon.

    So here I am, with a car that looks impeccable inside and outside, with no scuff marks, dents or scratches but with a trade-in value of $7,500. To me my car is easily worth $12,000 so it is because of that hit I am hesitant to trade it in on the Lacrosse.

    Moreover, I read on another thread that the 2011 Avalon might be unveiled in the spring so maybe I should wait a little longer. Besides, the Lacrosse is in short supply so dealers are getting full MSRP and one local dealer even has the gall to ask for $2,000 over MSRP. I don't really blame them since the car is hot and in short supply.
  • roy41roy41 Posts: 1
    My Toyota Avalon 2004 XLS has been remarkably trouble free. It now has 112,000 miles. Recently I had the transmission flushed and now the tranny is slipping somewhat in reverse....forward is no problem....
    By the way, I was not having any issies with the transmission prior to the flush...just preventative maintenance.
    Is this a coincidence or are these issues related?
    Any ideas on what the problem could be and what it'll take to be repaired?
    Thanks, in advance, for your help.
  • on my 03 av the key is becoming almost impossible to turn in the ignition. Is anyone else having this problem or know how to fix. was told if get new ignition will have seperate keys for door and ignition. also suggested to call a locksmith to see if he can fix the tumblers. any suggestions?
  • My daughter had this problem in her 95 Avalon. Specifically, her problem was inserting the key, turning it and removing it from the ignition. It got worse and worse with time to the point that it was almost impossible to remove the key. Took it to a mechanic, who thought the ignition lockout cable might be stretched. Its a cable that runs from the gear shift to the ignition, preventing the key from being removed when the gearshift is not in park. Had a hard time embracing that diagnosis, so I took the car to a locksmith.

    He lubed the key/ignition with a silicone spray and saw what I was talking about. I had one of my original car keys that was only used to make copies. He made another copy in case my daughters key was the problem. The new copy also had problems. He sent me to a nearby Firestone. They removed the ignition and sent it back to the locksmith. He, in turn, reworked the ignition and replaced the pins/tumblers. Got it back two days later and it works perfectly. As its been a couple years, I don't recall the exact price. Its seems that Firestone charged around $80. The locksmith was a friend and didn't charge me but I would think that it would run around $50. The locksmith said that, with time, the lubrication in the ignition (or any of the locks) will dry out. At some point when you insert the key, it will start bending pins and it will become more and more difficult to use the ignition. Hope that helps. Good luck.
  • Many thanks for these entries. My 02 AVY has been having a relay hang up under the hood. The Service people were little help. Quite by chance, I found that the key entry stopped the hang up and with upward pressure when removing the key it stopped the hang up and noise. That process later failed. Service and other electrical consultations only established it wasn't electrical as they at first thought.
    Spray by Service seemed to help in shortfall, but problem returned shortly thereafter. It is there now! Service has said no harm in short run as system disengages and battery will not run down. Reinserting key and removal process may stop the hang up but not solve the problem.

    Your tumbler acknowledgement problem confirms my analysis. I'll keep you informed of solution. Thanks again.
  • My wife had a similar problem with our 1998 Sienna. With 222K miles it got to the point where she couldn't get the key out of the ignition all the time and had a hard time starting the car. The problem was a worn out key. Had a new key made by using the VIN (not copying the actual key) and everything works normal again.
  • thanks for all your suggestions. I really appreciate this board. We called a locksmith and he came to the house and found one of the tumblers was bent so he took a couple of them out, he said that wouldn't hurt anything. Only thing was that when he had it out he said the ignition had to be in accessory position while he did it and the car wouldn't start when he was done, but we got a good battery so he just had to jump it for a second. It's working great now. And the best thing was he was with AAA and it was charged as an emergency road service and it didn't cost us anything!
  • chev3chev3 Posts: 5
    Mark Rechtin, Automotive News / January 8, 2007

    LOS ANGELES -- Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. has quietly settled a
    class-action lawsuit that covers about 3.5 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles
    that may have been damaged by engine oil sludge. Details of the settlement,
    which allows for third-party mediation of sludge claims rejected by Toyota,
    have been mailed to 7.5 million current and previous owners.

    Critics contend Toyota has told customers and dealers too little about
    sludge issues. They say some customers took vehicles with dead engines to
    dealers who had little or no knowledge of the problem and often assumed it
    was the owners' fault. Unhappy customers had no remedy other than hiring a
    lawyer to go after Toyota.
    Under the agreement, owners whose claims have been denied by Toyota may
    submit them to a third-party mediator at no cost for binding arbitration.
    "This settlement breathes life into claims that have been dead for years,"
    said Gary Gambel, a lawyer for plaintiffs who sued Toyota. "This is not a
    settlement that gives a few dollars to everyone. The relief is exactly tied
    to the problems and damages that someone might have." The lawsuit, filed in
    a Louisiana district court, is expected to be approved by the court in early
    February. Toyotas at risk

    About 3.3 million Toyota vehicles are susceptible to oil sludge, which can
    cause thousands of dollars in damage and require replacement of the engine.
    Here are the vehicles included in the settlement.

    Camry 4 cyl. 1997-2001
    Camry 6 cyl. 1997-2002
    Camry Solara 4 cyl. 1999-2001
    Camry Solara 6 cyl. 1999-2002
    Sienna 6 cyl. 1998-2002
    Avalon 6 cyl. 1997-2002
    Celica 4 cyl. 1997-1999
    Highlander 6 cyl. 2001-2002
    Lexus ES 300 1997-2002
    Lexus RX 300 1999-2002

    Chink in the armor?
    Sludge is gelled oil that fails to lubricate engine parts. It can lead to
    damage, often requiring a new engine at a cost that can exceed $10,000.
    Complaints about sludged engines have plagued several carmakers, but
    Toyota's troubles have been especially controversial in light of its
    reputation for vehicle quality.

    The issue highlights a possible chink in the company's armor. Executives
    fear Toyota is growing too fast for its engineering resources. That could
    lead to quality snags and a tarnished reputation.

    When a customer takes a sludge-caked engine to a dealership, there is
    usually a "clean-out" procedure. The head is pulled and a service technician
    tries try to steam out the sludge. If that doesn't work, the engine must be

    Sludge can result from poor engine design; overly tight tolerances between
    moving parts; improper cooling; and poor maintenance by consumers. Toyota
    insists the problem arises mainly when owners fail to change their oil
    frequently enough.

    The agreement does not find Toyota at fault.
    "The settlement doesn't mean that Toyota or Lexus vehicles are predisposed
    to develop oil gel," according to the notice. "The court did not decide
    which side was right."

    After Toyota had received 3,400 sludge complaints by 2002 it extended its
    vehicle warranty to eight years and unlimited miles. The program was offered
    to owners of 1997-2002 Toyota and Lexus vehicles equipped with 3.0-liter V-6
    or 2.2-liter four-cylinder engines. The company declined to give an updated
    number of complaints.

    The terms
    Under terms of the settlement:
    * Owners of damaged vehicles have eight years plus 120 days from the
    original purchase date to file a complaint.
    * If Toyota denies the claim, owners can appeal to a judge-appointed
    third-party administrator: J. Robert Ates, a New Orleans lawyer.
    * Customers who have already made repairs may be able to recover the costs.
    * Only those who elect not to participate in the settlement can sue Toyota
    individually. The deadline for that choice was Dec. 31, 2006.
    * The settlement is transferable to future vehicle owners.
    * The car only needs to show evidence of oil sludge. It is not necessary for
    the owner to have made repairs during the claim period.
    * Damages that can be recovered include loss in value of the vehicle and
    incidental costs, such as rental cars. Past lawyers' fees, mental anguish
    and bodily injuries are not covered.
    A Toyota spokesman said the agreement is not a defeat for the automaker.

    "The settlement validates the customer support program we implemented four
    years ago," Xavier Dominicis said. "The terms of the program remain
    unchanged. There always was a way for customers to appeal our decision."

    Plaintiff lawyers disagree. They say Toyota failed to communicate the extent
    of the problem to its dealers and customers. Toyota's appeal process also
    meant hiring a lawyer, which many consumers could not afford. It costs
    nothing to file an appeal with Ates. "The consumer only needs to show
    reasonable maintenance in terms of oil changes," Gambel said. "You don't
    need to prove where the sludge came from, or explain your driving habits. If
    you have oil sludge, Toyota pays" the consumer.

    Consumers can get more information by calling 888-279-4405 or at
    It all sounds great but here in Australia it means nothing whatever happens
    in the rest of the world seems not to apply in Australia, even if an owner of a Toyota Avalon Grande 2000
    comes so close to death, by a Engine blowing up due to Sludge, some people may not understand
    the sheer terror and panic I felt.
    So all I can say to the people that have accelerator problems is, GOD help you.
  • i have a 97 avalon with 230,000 and runs today like the day it was new.
    it is the responsibility of the owner to know ALL about motoring. Use
    synthetic oil! Cost $50 more for oil change but i will run the car to 350,000 miles.
    A person cannot expect to get in listento their favorite rock station day in and day out with not regard to mechanics without repercussions! I had an 02 which I put
    225,000 and traded in when my wife wrecked the second car. I got the old 97 and
    she got the 05 Highlander. if you buy the cheapest tires, oil, and parts you will get the least performance. Sorry for the tone.
  • finfin atlantaPosts: 591
    Interesting post.. but this is all old news to the forum. The oil gel or sludge problems were endlessly debated here and blame was distributed all around - to lazy/cheap owners and to Toyota engineers alike. For me, we had both a '99 and an '03 Avalon. At least one had the subject oil gel prone engines, I always thought they both did. Put near 100k on each and both performed flawlessly, two of the best cars we ever owned. We now have an '07 Limited.

    If your post is right the warranty repair period is running out on all but the last of these cars. The 8 years is up. To that extent, buyer beware, your post is a reminder. But the gel related failure rate was only 1 engine per 5000 cars, approx, so the odds are good you will not own one.

    FYI: The specific conditions required for the formation of oil gel are truly unknown. It cannot be reproduced in the lab and the best minds in engineering have tried. The thermodynamic stress on ordinary oil as it lubricates is a complex study, synthetics have a distinct advantage in chemical composition as pointed out in another post above.
    Enjoy the Avalons - great cars... :)
  • Can't locate info on which fuse it is under dash.
    Can anyone help?
  • mcclearyflmcclearyfl Posts: 149
    It is clearly shown (on the inside of the fuse panel under the steering wheel) as being a 15 amp fuse. It is on the bottom row, and counting from right to left, is the third fuse (blue).

    Of course, your problem could also be a burned out lighter element.
  • 5539655396 Posts: 529
    Try giving it a good shot of WD-40 and immediately run your key in and out multiple times to exercise the tumblers. If that works, you could follow it up with a few drops of household oil or silicone spray.
  • edonedon Posts: 1
    edited April 2010
    During the winter my 2004 Toyota Avalon directional signals and 4-way flashers stopped working on the coldest days - below freezing.
    After heating up they would work properly. The temperature that they stopped working has slowly gone up, so now they won't work below 70 degF.
    My mechanic changed the flasher relay, but that did not fix the problem.
    Anyone experience this problem and how did you fix it?
    I have not been able to find a schematic - suggestions appreciated.
  • jesch1jesch1 Posts: 9
    After much trouble and conferences with outside garage, I asked that they look carefully for contact corrosions. They then found evidence of corrosions and cleaned it up. Relays were not the problem. Electrical shorts were caused by moisture! Shorts even drained new battery!

    In my case, I feel faulty windshield seal was the originating source of moisture. Passenger floor mat moisture was not melted snow from shoes! Electrical signal controls are in area in front of passenger and gave us fits before chance soluton was found!
    I did not need Service's expensive new computer solution to hanging relay and lighted icons!
  • ronkroronkro Posts: 1
    I have a 2004 Avalon XLS. Had problem, at 20,000 miles with stiff steering and steering wheel wouldn't return to center after a turn. Diagnosis was lower steering shaft joint binding. Part was replaced. Toyota Corp. paid for part and I paid dealer for labor. I now have 35,000 miles on vehicle and the problem returned. Is anyone else having similar steering problems with their Avalon or is this an isolated case?
  • 2000 Avalon XLS, (135,000 mi) had to replace same joint, steering was stiff and popping upon turning. Is OK now some 20,000 mi later.
  • 54gradsteds54gradsteds Posts: 102
    Hi !
    My '95 Avalon's sound system has begun to make scratching, popping noises. At first, I thought I had a problem with the radio, but since it does the same thing in CD (12 disc trunk-mounted changer) mode, I believe the problem is with the amplifier. If so, is the amplifier mounted somewhere in the trunk space? Can it be easily removed ? Could I pick up a used one somewhere if a new one or repairs to existing unit prove to be too expensive ? I really LOVE my CD changer, and for the life of me still can't understand why Toyota changed from the magazine-loaded system to a dash mount unit.... Thanks, guys...

    p.s. Car now has 193,000 miles on the clock, and runs just like a new one...
  • deanoavalondeanoavalon Posts: 2
    edited April 2010
    I am surprised this topic is not on this board. Unless I missed it, this problem seems to be a common problem with these cars and other Toyotas. I have received a 'check engine light' on my dash. I took the 2002 Avalon XLS to Auto Zone and was told the code is P1135. The printout also staes Air/Fuel sensor heater circuit response (bank 1/sensor 1). Other possible causes are #1 'open or short circuit condition' and possiblity #2 'poor electrical connection'.

    My guess is that I need to replace the O2 sensor on the exhaust manifold next to the firewall. I will also check to see if the wire connector has come loose. I took it to my mechanic, and he reset the code. He did not have time to repair or research the problem, but he said it is possible the fuel intake experienced a slight trash issue. Anyway, he cleared the code, and by the time I got a block away, the light came back on.

    I am curious if anyone else has had this issue. I would love to just be able to repair the problem, but I am a little leery about replacing the one O2 sensor and the problem is elsewhere.

  • jesch1jesch1 Posts: 9
    Hopefully you are in luck. I have over $550 invested to fix it and they didn't, including toyota and outside garage. At lunch , I lucked out and business owner had had the problem with his truck. His service garage mechanic told him to reset the computer. Wow! I have done that too many times on this thing on the modem, so I shut off the power by disconnecting the battery terminals for a long delay. reconnect had effect of resetting the car computer. problem solved. He said you might have to do it again.I believe him as this has happened on this computer before! You get to reset the clock area but what a pleasure! Cost, zero! Good luck. Incidentally, garages both said no problems as indicated on dash warning lights.
  • jah_avalonjah_avalon Posts: 1
    I just purchased a 1998 Avalon XLS. It had only 87,900 miles. I took it to Meineke for pre-purchase inspection (PPI). The car is SOLID!!! It drives like magic. I noticed though that when braking from high speed (60mph and above) the steering kinda wiggle. What do you guys think the issue is?

    I will greatly appreciate comments.
  • finfin atlantaPosts: 591
    Most likely warped front brake rotors and worn front brake pads... common on this first series Avalon. Front rotors were a weak point in an otherwise great car, had a '99 XL that went 90k and was near perfect... Enjoy the car..
  • 5539655396 Posts: 529
    I agree. We installed ceramic brake pads on our 03 and love the sporty feel. Love em.
  • mcclearyflmcclearyfl Posts: 149
    Our 2003 XLS has passed 90K. The maintenance schedule calls for the drive belt to be replaced, which is labor-intensive and therefore expensive. It is also recommended that the water pump be changed, since the same disassembly is necessary anyway.

    Have owners experienced problems from not changing the belt, or at least delaying it for 25K miles?
  • njavalonguynjavalonguy Posts: 35
    I presume you are referring to the Timing Belt change here.

    I experienced the same dilemma when my 2000 XLS reached 90K and I referred it to my trusted mechanic to help me arrive at a decision . However, it was his opinion that the car could easily go another 10 or 20 K miles based on his experience of working with similar cars where the timing belt was almost new even when it was replaced at 120K miles.

    My car has crossed 107K now without replacement and touchwood there are no issues till now.

    He also informed me that the Avalons have a non-interference engines - what that means is that the timing belts cause very little damage even if they break in operation.

    Hope this helps

  • tjc78tjc78 JerseyPosts: 6,666
    edited May 2010
    IMO if you are planning on keeping the car for a good bit longer (either miles or time) just go ahead and do it. If you do it now and drive the even for a another 100K you won't have to do it again. Its just piece of mind. OTOH if you are planning on dumping it in a year, then you will probably be safe and let the next owner worry about it.

    2017 Buick Enclave / 2017 Hyundai Elantra

  • 5539655396 Posts: 529
    edited May 2010
    Key words: non-interference engines

    Don't gamble with an interference engine.

    We are also pushing 90k on our 03, but we travel to Arizona. Would hate to snap it enroute. On the other hand, ours is in a nice garage most of the time and not out in a hot parking lot or -20 below. Pampered little thing in that regard, but I have heard a rumor that it may run at 90-100 mph on some open stretches in the SW. I may try to sneak one more trip in.

    The other question is, how long do we keep it. With the suspension upgrade, we love the way this car drives, yet the value will now drop off a cliff, so to keep it means to run it til it drops. Here again. those trips must be considered. On the positive side though, I have the potential to drop 5-6k in value. Guess what the hit would be with a new/newer car. Not to mention the higher license, insurance depreciation etc. I keep trying out new models of various brands but fortunately, we still prefer to drive the Avalon - mostly due to the suspension upgrade, KYB GR2 struts and Energy sway bar bushings. Lucky duckies. Makes the choice much easier.

    The new BMW 5 series in on the radar after it depreciates a few years. Would like to drive the new LaCrosse, but will depreciation still be an issue? The new Av is too much of a barge for me. Now if they would come out with an Avalon Sport by getting rid of those seldom used (Never for us) adjustable rear seats, and cut out that much space, then put our suspension under it with more aggressive body kit, they would be back in the game for us and have another new product with almost no development cost. Ya hearing me Toyota? What do the rest of you think? Of course, those most interested are probably not in this forum. Another reason to do it - another pool of prospective buyers that would not normally buy a Toyota.

    OK, that's enough food for thought to chew on.

    But wait - there's more. Look what I just found on a new owner review of the 2011 AV.

    "Suggested Improvements

    Love the car but would like to see a sport package as an available option for the Limited. Sportier suspension, better bolstered front seats & more road feel in the steering would be nice."

    "Suggested Improvements

    Could use a little of the Buick Lacrosse 'ambient' lighting to add a little 'pizazz' to a bland interior lighting scheme"
  • tjc78tjc78 JerseyPosts: 6,666
    edited May 2010
    They tried a "Touring" edition for a few years after the intro of the 05. Obviously sales were weak because they dropped it. I test drove it, it was just a little firmer than an XLS/Limited. Think the difference between a regular Camry and an SE.

    2017 Buick Enclave / 2017 Hyundai Elantra

  • 5539655396 Posts: 529
    Yup. Still a tank though. I just don't want something that big, but don't want a Camry either. Would like a more agressive appearance too. I think it would bring in younger buyers.
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