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2002 Sienna, 200,000 miles, what are likely future failures?

Someone recently asked for advice on buying a very high mileage car. He was told to be careful, because even if the motor and transmission are solid, there are other things that may go out soon on high mileage cars. By memory, I think one example was the wheel bearings.

My 2002 Sienna recently passed 200,000 miles while crossing the Zeta Zone in northern Mexico. I also live well into Mexico, and it is quite a distance to a Toyota dealer. So, I try to anticipate repairs when possible. If something like a wheel bearing goes out, it gets really messy and expensive.

So, what sort of things should I expect to have go bad in the next 25,000 miles (2.5 years at current drive rates)?

And, can they be inspected ahead of time?

For example, can my wheel bearings be inspected to see if they are in danger of going out? And, what other likely failures should I have checked out?

Motor and transmission seem to be solid. Cat has the intermittent Toyota syndrome, looks real good right now. Plugs due in a year or two. O sensors also looking good right now.

I well realize anything could fail without warning. All I can do is look at expected failures with this mileage. Thanks for any advice.

Parts expected to wear in predicted mileage are listed in your owners manual under scheduled maintenance.

Statistically, at this mileage (and assuming all the scheduled stiff is kept up to date), peripheral components like the alternator, starter, coil packs, and such will begin to fail. But it’s impossible for each component to predict which will go at 250K miles, which will go at 275K miles, and which will go at 300K miles. All you can do is accept that cars begin to lose predictability when you get that high. You might even hit 300,000 miles before the peripheral components start to go.

There are, however, things besides scheduled maintenance that you can do to prolong its life. Routinely monitor your fluids, have any problems that develop fixed, and “look around”. I routinely check everything under the hood and under the car visually to the extent possible, and numerous times over the years on old vehicles I’ve found green crusties on the radiator (a hole ready to blow), coolant weeping from a water pump drip hole (a pump on its way out), chafing on a coolant line, and various other things…and repaired them before they became a destroyed engine. If I see something that doesn’t look right, I investigate it. “Looking around” routinely is probably the second most effective way of prolonging the life of a vehicle, second only to routine maintenance.

Has your van spent its entire life south of the border? With some of the roads down there I’d be surprised if some ball joints, bushings, sway bar links, etc. won’t need some attention soon.

Other than items that you can probably think of (like door hinges, seats, windows, all things that move and wear with age), there really isn’t much maintenance or inspection you can do. Your power steering pump is fine today, but next week the seal may start to seep. You may notice a slight humming sound on your next highway run, coming from a worn out wheel bearing. Just keep in touch with your car. If you think something is out of the ordinary, it probably is. Then tend to it before it gets worse.

If your Sienna has power sliding doors, that feature is sure to break down in the next 25,000 miles. Several of my co-workers had this happen to their Siennas.

Your vehicles had “good genes” so to speak and careful monitoring will easily get you to 300,000 miles with only the alternator, starter, exhaust system, and a new radiator and water pump to name a few. None of these will break the bank.

Just drive on. Don’t expect anything your vehicle and you may be quite surprised. At that age you cannot predict it. Just be prepped to move on or fix.

I took the the do nothing but change oils at Walmart at 200k on a 95 Honda Civic(maintained wonderfully before at dealer) and sold running perfectly at 250k. Sienna I would also add change transmission fluid. Next owner(wife coworker) crashed at 300k+ miles running fine. The timing belt on the Civic never snapped even though due at 200k(next owner aware).

I agree with the comments above that anything could go. I would consider replacing any belts or hoses that are original at your convenience, though.

I can’t believe I did that. Sign of old age? I posted an important question, then forgot all about it. A thousand apologies. However, the answers are what I was looking for. A thousand thanks to go with the apologies.

To address them: I change the transmission fluid every so often, drain 3 quarts and add 3 quarts. Looks perfectly good. And, as far as I can tell it still shifts really well. Let us hope…

Yes, to the rough roads. Last set of tires I wore out, I hadn’t even rotated the tires at all, because Yokohama voids the warranty the minute I cross the border. And, when I bought the new tires, they said tire condition was so even all the way around they didn’t even recommend front end alignment. To me that was amazing! At one time I was wiping out a tire a year, but when they paved the road all the way to my driveway, that seems to have stopped. Which brings up the spectre of the damage being done near my home?

The belts and hoses are mostly new, replaced at recommendation of mechanic not long ago. I didn’t worry if he was pulling a fast one to generate work, because of my preventive maintenance attitude. Replace when it is in the range for failure.

Coolant maybe 15 or 20,000 miles ago. Looks good, too.

Car does not have power doors. Last year, one of the regular sliding doors would not open, out of the blue, one day. My builder, a very clever man, helped me get the upholstery off the door, and I discovered there is an adjustment in there. If someone finds this important, I will supply a link with foto on the Sienna Chat page. A lot of people were having problems with those doors that either would not open or stay shut, so when I found the solution I took extra time to post all I had, including really good photos. That fixed that and he helped me put the upholstery back on it. All this as a couple hours out of a day for which he normally receives around $25 for an 8 hour day. I have no idea what I would have had to pay at the mechanic in the US or in Mexico.

He only has one eye, and has allegedly developed a vision loss in the remaining eye. Not sure if he will be able to build any more or not. When I get back next week, I will see if he can help me access the window mechanism that opens the rear windows that pivot out. He seems to know how to get hidden upholstery fasteners out.

the alternator, starter, exhaust system, and a new radiator and water pump to name a few.

Water pump replaced at second timing belt replacement. Radiator looks solid so far, knock on wood. But, thanks for tip, I will check it regularly now that I know it is on the list of possible problems. Exhaust seems to be still solid, I will also examine it soon as I can. Alternator and starter, I will have to wait until they fail. I know the starter I can get at AutoZone in Tehuacan, assume also the alternator. So, thanks on that list as well.

Also thanks for tip on the hum if wheel bearing starts to wear out. I wondered how I would know.

I think in general the answer is to give it a really good inspection at least once a month, for any leaks or other visual signs of failures.

What can I say, but thanks for essentially setting up an inspection plan!. Even if I did clumsily forget to check back until now. Blush.

Other than having a mechanic look things over every time you change the oil and when something doesn’t feel or sound right with the vehicle. Some things can be predicted others just happen but the better care the vehicle receives the more miles you can pile on.

As mentioned, pop the hood once in a while and listen. You would be amazed how you can pick up a bearing go bad much earlier. By know you should know all the “normal” noises.
Also, always have a “plan B”, cell phone and rental/tow truck etc; I guess it all depends on the locality.

Old cars are like old people. You never know what will go next. All you can do is take good care and hope for the best. If you stick with basic maintenance and a good visual inspection every few months you should be able to anticipate most troubles. It helps to have a good ear for hearing any new or unusual noises that might signal a developing problem.

I took the car today for yearly safety inspection, which it passed, of course.

I asked them to check the wheel bearings, because if there is a problem it is much cheaper and easier to fix here then several hours from the nearest dealer in Mexico.

They reported only the left rear bearing had any hum, and it was not bad enough to need to be replaced.

As far as having a cell phone, tow truck, etcetera, that is the reason I work hard when I am here to find anything bad that needs work. it will be a major hassle if I need repairs. I live in a Third World village in the mountains of Mexico. it is at least two hours to a Toyota dealer, and parts might well have to be air freighted in. (I am not sure and don’t want to find out, heh, heh.)

Not to mention what it takes to get the car to a dealer. (Non-dealers in Mexico seldom have parts for less common vehicles, such as Toyota. AutoZone can order the starter, so I assume they can also order things like alternators. Battery is available in the village, at top dollar, of course.

But, again, thanks for tips. This is my own perhaps clumsy attempt to keep it running. Every tip was considered and when relevant, will be implemented in inspection. Which I do more often than every few months.

Next year, when I come back, I will probably replace the sensors, since they have a limited life, and it has been nearly 100,000 miles.

Thanks a zillion. I will keep you posted as things occur.


" . . . only the left rear bearing had any hum . . . "

Sounds like a sign that the bearing is clearly on the downslope

Maybe time to start planning on replacing that bearing . . .

When a bearing starts making noise it’s time to replace it. Waiting much longer can really start to damage things.

It’s a great van with the best repair record. But, at that mileage, it’s still a crap shoot. Great advice from everyone. Soldier on as you have indicated. Best of luck.

Alex did say explicitly it did not need to be replaced. But, assuming I make it back next year, maybe 6,000 miles total, I will go ahead and have it replaced since Mike think it’s a good idea. Thanks for advice. This is what I need, and I never had a really high mileage car before, so this is new ground to me. I have never minded replacing things that MIGHT go bad soon.