2000 Toyota Sienna w 104k mi

Ok guys, I need help making a decision!

I’m a mom of two, a toddler and a newborn. I made the rookie mistake of purchasing a 2011 Subaru Tribeca with third row seating thinking that I could skip the lackluster minivan life. As soon as baby two came home and we went for a family ride I realized I made a mistake-it’s too small to fit anyone else in it and the third row isn’t accessible with car seats installed in the middle row, but I can’t get the baby’s seat in in the third. It’s a beautiful car but doesn’t meet our family’s needs and gets lousy gas mileage for not having the space we need. I’m selling the Tribeca and searching for a minivan.

We are a Toyota Honda Subaru fam so our options are a bit limited in terms of minivans with lower mileage AND we really really try to not finance cars so we need it to be accessible. I like simplicity-not a lot of bells and whistles, and I need a minivan that will drive my kiddos and around town and the occasional summer trip to MI from IN.

I’ve been looking at 2009-2011ish Siennas and Odysseys with anywhere from 82-130k mi under 11,500. We’d put some $ down and finance the remainder hoping for less than $100/mo payments. BUT THEN I found a private sale single owner 2000 Sienna w 104k mi asking 3,400. I pulled the Carfax and it seems it was well maintained by the dealership it was purchased from, but is not showing records for long periods of time. I wonder if this means oil changes happened at home? One hopes?

So here’s my question: we’re going to have a used car inspection on the 2000. I’m tempted to go for it if it checks out, but fear I should just focus my attention on a newer 2009-2011 model and accept a small monthly payment?

What would Car Talk fans do? Go for a 2000 sienna if it checks out, or focus on a 2009-2011 and take on a little car payment. I’m uncertain!

What am I missing? Putting the kids in the Tribeca should be no more difficult than in a minivan.

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First of all new vehicle payment of 300.00 might be unrealistic , expect higher plus full coverage insurance . Get the inspection then decide and Carfax puts on their web site that they only have what is reported to them . Not all places want to pay to belong or pay someone to enter the info for everything they do to a vehicle.

It to me depends if you plan on using it for long trips or around town. Long trips I am getting rid of my 03 vehicle. Don’t want to get stranded with wife dog and luggage, not that any car is immune to failure.

Of course have an independent inspection done, and calculate prices for brakes, fluid maintenance, tires, suspension parts that may be needed.

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I forgot to clarify: the Tribeca isn’t big enough. My husbands knees touch the dash with the car seat rear facing and the third row isn’t accessible with the seats installed, defeating the purpose of a third row and very bad gas mileage for a car that doesn’t meet our family’s needs.

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Thank you, that makes total sense. I have a small coupe, if someone is in the backseat, the front passenger is up against the dash.

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I have owned 2 Sienna minivans: a 2011 and a 2017. We sold the 2011 to our son. It now has about 140,000 miles and uses no oil. The only major repair was a water pump.at 90,000 miles. I bought the 2017 in September of 2017. It now has 28,000 miles and has no problems. I don’t have knowledge.about earlier Siennas. A 2000 Sienna is 20 years old.
My question is how you intend to use the minivan. Is this going to be an over-the-road long trip vehicle or a vehicle for local driving?
If this is your only vehicle and you anticipate driving all over the nation, you may want to think about a newer vehicle. If this is van is for local driving and shorter road trips, it may be fine. Be sure to have a mechanic check it out.
My personal vehicles have been minivans since 1991. I’ve gotten used to the size. Nothing compares with a minivan for a people hauler. I like the seating position in the minivan. I often have my fellow musicians with their instruments in the minivan. I have moved a set of 4 timpani with my minivans. For me, the minivan is a perfect compromise between a regular sedan and a full size van. I drive minivans because I don’t want to insure two vehicles–a sedan and a full size van.
I am not stuck on the make of the minivan I drive. I owned a 1991 Ford Aerostar, a 2000 Ford Windstar, a 2006 Chevrolet Uplander, a 2011 Toyota Sienna and now a 2017 Toyota Sienna. The new April automobile issue of Consumer Reports says that the Sienna “is not engaging to drive” whatever that means. Well, I don’t intend to get engaged and marry a minivan. If you have driven one minivan, you’ve driven them all. However, I have no intentions of ever going back to a traditional sedan.

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Thanks so much for the insight @Triedaq. All my friends who have minivans are telling me that once you drive one you’ll not want to go back :smile:

I’d be using this as my around town car and maybe a trip to MI one time a year or so. A 20 year old car is a gamble no matter what, so I just wonder if I should skip trying to be thrifty and opt for a small car payment each month. Maybe I have more of a finance question than a car question :joy:

@Lauren_Hall_Bushman Our son now owns our previous two minivans–the 2006 Chevrolet Uplander minivan and the 2011 Toyota Sienna minivan. He and is wife only have one child-a 17 year old daughter. His wife has back problems and really likes the seating position in the minivans. My grand daughter either has to drive one of their minivans or walk. She doesn’t have any problem driving the minivan.
I do like the convenience of the power sliding doors on our Sienna.
If the 2000 Sienna gets an o.k. from your mechanic, give it a try. If you find you really like the minivan, you can trade for something newer later on. Minivans hold their value well–particularly Siennas

Put ( auto loan calculator ) in your search engine and that will give you an idea of what you can actually afford in payments . Your bank or credit union will have interest rates on their web site . Credit karma will give a decent estimate of your FICO score.

I’ve done all of this-and I know we can afford the car payment with relative ease on a newer Sienna, but I guess I’m just trying to decide if a 2000 with 104k mi at $3400 is preferable to a 2011 with 130k mi at $11,000 with a car payment!

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I am unclear on what we can do to help you decide. Old cars are very individual decisions because the condition is everything. If it has been maintained well, kept in a garage, oil changed and service performed as scheduled, it can be a fine choice. If a dealership has done the service, go there and ask the service writer what they know about the car. If it has been in one family, ask them what more they can tell you, and maybe even would they feel safe if their children or grandchildren were using it.

The photo shows a vehicle in very nice shape for its age. Since your driving is local, you are never too far from help you can trust. If everything is consistent and your mechanic says its good, I’d probably be inclined to but it.


If the 2000 check’s out with a mechanic you trust the difference in price would cover what ever repair’s might be needed.


Edmunds estimates the market value of a 2000 loaded XLE at about $1700 with the mileage you reported and in clean condition. That’s the best condition you can get from a private seller. It won’t be in outstanding condition, something a dealer might have if they reconditioned it. You could use $2600, not $3400, as a starting point for a car in perfect condition and subtract off everything it needs after your mechanic gives it a prepurchase inspection. My guess is the current owner will be insulted if you offer a reasonable price. Maybe you should just walk away before you spend $125 or so on the inspection.


I think a 2000 Sienna with such low miles is a great choice, but it’s not $3400 worth of “great” unless it is in near-mint condition, comes with nearly-new tires, and the seller has proof that the timing belt was changed. And of course, it needs to run properly, be free of fluid leaks or funny noises, and the interior accessories must all be functional. If any of these things are false, then $3400 isn’t just high for this vehicle–it’s “crack pipe” pricing!

A quick glance at kbb.com shows that this vehicle with 104,000 miles, and with the roof rack and towing package has a fair market value of $1813 to $3658, with a target value of about $2800 for one in “excellent” condition. While I might be willing to overpay by several hundred dollars for a vehicle that I want, which is in excellent condition, and has been properly maintained, I’m certainly not willing to pay “crack pipe” pricing for one that’s not.

Bottom line: If the vehicle otherwise checks out, but the seller has no proof of a timing belt replacement–which they probably don’t, hence why they’re selling it–then you need to negotiate the price down accordingly. I would figure about $1000 to have this done professionally.

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This is super helpful-thank you!

I would avoid buying any vehicle with a monthly payment at any time. It is never cheaper than buying an older model outright. Even if several expensive repairs are needed, it is still cheaper to own and drive an old car versus a new(er) one with a loan payment and the required full-coverage insurance, etc.


I understand your philosophy, but I am willing to pay 0% interest on a car loan, and understand there are many people that cannot pay cash, and a loan is the only way that can make it work. It is not about cheaper, but being able to pay the rent and buy groceries, as there is not the cash reserve to pay outright. There is not a one size fits all answer.

That works for you but not many other people . If having a vehicle payment means having transportation to get to work so you don’t lose your job then that what you do . Not everyone can or has the time to work on vehicles.

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I don’t think Mrs. Triedaq would approve of your getting engaged to a minivan.