Due to the oil-leak problem described below, I plan to sell my 2000 Toyota Sienna (TS) for a song and buy a replacement minivan—ideally another TS or a Honda Odyssey. I’d rather pay cash and avoid taking out a loan, so I’m looking for something between $1.5K and $3K. I saw a 2002 TS XLE listed for $1800, but I’m leery since the seller stated the mileage is unknown due to cluster replacement. Per the Inter-webs, the mileage should’ve been entered on the replacement odometer. Sooo, how big of a red flag is this? Is it even worth checking out the vehicle?
I had a copacetic 2000 Toyota Sienna… until the oil-drain plug fell out while driving it following an oil change three months ago. A mechanic shop near where my vehicle stalled replaced the plug and said that the engine was fine; plus the gas station that did the oil change offered three free oil changes to compensate for replacement of the drain plug and part of my AAA membership fee (for the towing). My satisfaction with this outcome was short-lived, though, as I soon discovered my TS has been leaking oil since this incident.
I took it to my regular mechanic who said the engine was wearing out and somehow—can’t recall his explanation—this is pushing oil out. He stated it would cost $400 to repair the leak, but that it wouldn’t resolve the problem source and leaks would eventually reoccur. In lieu of the repairs, he stated that $400 could buy a lot of oil. However, it’s inconvenient to keep cardboard under my TS to keep oil from dripping onto the ground.
Now I am wondering if there really was damage caused to the engine from losing the drain plug/oil whilst driving on the highway, or if the engine’s “wearing out” forced out the plug. To clarify, there were no oil leaks beforehand, and my TS has about 220K miles on it—opinions? (Sheesh, it just occurred to me to run these questions by my mechanic, but I’d still appreciate community feedback.)
“…until the oil-drain plug fell out while driving it following an oil change three months ago.”
To clarify, the drain plug didn’t fall out three months after my oil change, as could be interpreted from my phrasing, but shortly afterward. The incident happened three months ago.
Two things: 1. If you think you can buy something to drive that’s dependable from Craigslist for $1800 your dreaming. 2. If a for sale vehicle even raises one red flag move on.
Whatever you buy for $2000 is likely to have more problems than your Sienna. If you want advice about your repair, get an estimate in writing, including an explanation of what is wrong with the van, and post it for us. No one can help you with that without a detailed explanation. You can always get a second opinion, too.
what would mechanic fix for 400 to fix oil leak? U did ask him? Oil pan gasket? Valve cover gasket? Oil pressure sender? Timing cover gasket?
A cluster replacement means the mileage on the vehicles is far higher than known or claimed.
If the drain plug fell out and the oil light was on then there is engine damage. I’m assuming from your comments about oil being pushed ou, the price quote and so on, that the engine has a blowby problem and that generally means a piston ring problem unless the stars are in alignment and the PCV valve is stuck.
Running an engine without or with little oil can damage piston rings; especially on a 220k miles vehicle.
I have to respectfully disagree that a good car can’t be had for 1800 dollars on Craigslist or anywhere else. They can be with some patience and knowing what you’re looking at. I.m a huge Mark VIII fan and bought this one in 2009 off of CL in Dallas for 1850. The shakedown run of 300 miles home was perfection.
The car gets driven daily, just rolled over 253k miles, and never needs oil added during the roughly 3500 miles oil change intervals. This one took me several months of footwork as a clean, straight Mark is not that easy to find. The only thing wrong with it was one plug well seal seeping oil into a plug well and that was knocked out PDQ.
That is a nice machine!
I thought the other photos . . . the ones of sludge . . . were pretty interesting
I'm assuming from your comments about oil being pushed ou, the price quote and so on, that the engine has a blowby problem and that generally means a piston ring problem unless the stars are in alignment and the PCV valve is stuck.
I'd prefer to think a professional mechanic would first replace the PCV valve prior to suggesting $400 worth of work, but stranger things have happened.
OP, it’s “the devil you know vs. the devil you don’t.” There are things wrong with your ride, but at least you know what they are and how they’re progressing. Buying a new-to-you ride for $2000 or so suggests a vehicle with problems–only you have yet to figure out what’s wrong with it!
If your Sienna is otherwise ok, consider driving it as far as you can, then pricing out a replacement engine. It’ll probably be only slightly more expensive than the 2002 you have your eye on. (P.S. have you considered why the cluster was replaced? A strong possibility is crash damage.)
I’d rather pay cash and avoid taking out a loan, so I’m looking for something between $1.5K and $3K.
That’s an aggressive price point unless you’re comfortable doing your own assessment. If you have to pay someone to perform an assessment, it’ll be relatively expensive compared to the cost of the vehicle. I say that because the chances of finding a gem are low and you may have to sort through quite a few before finding one.
. Sooo, how big of a red flag is this? Is it even worth checking out the vehicle?
Depends on your tolerance for risk. Personally, it wouldn’t matter much to me but I’d want to see some pictures of the body from every angle, interior and engine bay before I’d drive any significant distance to see it in person. It’s so easy to share pictures now, it would be a red flag if they balked at that…If pics looked good I would go there with some tools and a compression gauge…
He stated it would cost $400 to repair the leak, but that it wouldn’t resolve the problem source and leaks would eventually reoccur
It’s got leaking rings and a lot of blowby more than likely. Not inconceivable for a engine with that kind of mileage and pushed over the edge by the lack of oil pressure from the plug falling out.
Now I am wondering if there really was damage caused to the engine from losing the drain plug/oil whilst driving on the highway, or if the engine’s “wearing out” forced out the plug
Certainly damaged but you’d be unlikely to get any compensation. You’d have to prove the engine was in good shape prior and with 220k on it, that could be a tough sell. Likely, it was skirting the edge and just got pushed off the cliff by the plug incident.
Here’s what I would do- ask your mechanic what it might cost to install a used engine in your van. Use that information to gauge if you want to fix what you have or dive into the relative unknown…
It depends on what seal(s) is diagnosed leaking and if the PCV system has been checked. But w/220 K miles, and the car was driven more than just a few minutes with little to no oil, if you require a reliable drive going forward, I think it is a good idea to secure another vehicle.
I expect the oil plug falling out did in fact damage the engine, and it is likely that damage is related to the new oil leaks. Here’s the problem. A 2000 Sienna with 220K miles wouldn’t command much on the used car market. So even if you could prove the damage was due to the drain plug falling out and that it fell out b/c of an improper servicing, it seems to me it’s a losing deal to present this case in court. Even if you won, for the amount you’d get, it wouldn’t be worth your time. You’d be money ahead simply asking for some compensation from that shop, and hoping they might cough up a couple hundred dollars. Doesn’t hurt to ask. & maybe someone there would purchase the car from you, for spare parts, customer good will, etc.