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2002 Sienna, For the record only

I have written about my 2002 Sienna, probably since it was new. It hasn’t had a lot of repairs, and now has over 172,000 miles.

I live in Mexico, and try to anticipate failures, because repairs here involve some distance, and perhaps delays getting parts.

Last year, total failures were 2 year old Delco battery failed, and a screw fell out of rear “flapper” window. Well, three nails in the same right rear tire, the latest today, but I don’t count this as a car failure.

Yesterday, the handle which opens the rear hatch broke. So far I haven’t figured out how to open it, will be looking at some sort of hand tool. I can feel the piece which is still connected, my hands simply aren’t strong enough to pull it.

No other help or advice needed. It is obvious parts must be obtained, and door taken apart and new parts installed. It remains to be seen if I can live with it until March when I expect to visit the States for document renewal. I can put stuff in and out through the side doors, and here people are used to “getting by” when something breaks.

I mention this only for the record to supply honest reports on failures I experience with my much loved Toyota.

Thanks, aren’t you the one who wanted to do preventative lamp changes? What did you finally decide.

Quite a long time ago, I asked on this URL about lamp failures, and the general consensus was it was foolish to worry about failed lamps, like they fail so seldom it should not be on my list. At that time, my car had around 74,000 miles, I forget exactly. Since everyone was so confident they don’t fail that often, I let them go. At around 85,000 miles I came in from a cross-country trip and found the high stop light dead. Fortunately, I found it before the cops did. So, I started replacing them all. Overkill? Maybe; maybe not.

About that time, an attorney from California said the CA cops had started treating a bad lamp as a full fledged moving violation. No more free fix-it tickets.

The ones on the rear and the front corner are hard to access, and even the dealer’s mechanic did not get one of them on the front re-installed correctly.

The ones in the rear hatch are harder to get at. I could not figure it out at the time, and Haynes made no sense to me, but it seems one must take the inner liner of that door out to do it. I had it done. When they take it apart to fix this latch handle thing, I will ask them to put new bulbs in, at that time.

This isn’t just preventative lamp changes. I am far out in the mountains of Mexico and repairs are not easily obtained, neither parts nor experienced labor. So, anything I can identify that is known to fail at a certain mileage, or better said, has a probability of failing within a certain age or mileage range, I simply have it done.

An example is the oxygen sensors. Again, a lot of people here were totally convinced they virtually never fail, but on Sienna Club, they did have failures on high mile cars. My first one fortunately went out in McAllen, close to repairs. So, at around 150,000 miles, I had the other two put in new. Maybe they would have failed; maybe not. But, my guess (more on guesses later) is the new ones may last as long as I drive the car, which is all I ask.

Someone asked me, probably sarcastically, why I didn’t have the transmission and alternator replaced as well. The answer of course is if I had a predicted failure range for them I would have them put on new. A service writer for the McAllen area dealer is a friend of my SIL and he says they get very few transmission failures. So, I keep the fluid clean as new, and so far no problems.

I am going to write on guessing in follow-up.

I had a rear liftgate handle break on an '01 Sequoia. Likely it is the same plastic piece you have that is now broken on your Sienna. I had just purchased the Sequoia used and the dealer (not a Toyota dealer) fixed it in their shop. I think this a fairly common problem and not too bad to repair.

You have to get access to the latch from the inside, but part of the process is removing the housing for the rear license plate bracket. Once you get the rear license plate housing off you should be able to work the latch mechanism to release the latch and open the back liftgate. You might be able to order the part and install it yourself if you are handy with tools.

Hi Irlandes:
I just fixed this same problem in my 1999 Toyota Sienna. If you do a google search on this, you’ll see many Toyota tailgate latches of that vintage rust out.

The part at the dealer is close to $100. I ordered it from for about $35 and it worked perfectly.

To install the new latch, you need to:
1: Open the tailgate. I did this with a coat hanger reaching up into the cavity left behind by the rusted latch parts.

2: With the tailgate open, remove the inner plastic panel, remove the old latch, and install the new one.

The whole job took about an hour.

I went out and looked at it. Before the sun was too bright to see up in there so I took an umbrella rather than start the car. This is not rusted out. It looks like plastic parts, in any case it justs broke off the handle. Remember, I do not live in the Rust Belt. The only rust seems to be bolts, such as on the fuel protector which got wiped out on a mountain rock a few months ago. The part of the bolts which sticks up out of the ‘nut’ were rusted enough they twisted off.

If I could get hold of the remaining part, I can pull it open. My fingers are just not strong enough with no leverage.

Cool on the details! I may stop in Tehuacan and try to order that part. They only started here in 2003, but I’d think they can still order parts for 2002, they might even be the same. Thanks for the tip. Or, maybe next month when my wife goes back, she can order the part and bring it with her.

Is it a big part? Would it snuggle in her large suitcase?

I think I’ll wait on the guessing posting. This has turned out to be a profitable thread, and I don’t want to hijack it. Thanks.

You’re correct that the piece that commonly breaks is the plastic part of the latch. Mine just happened to be rusted as well.

The part is about 6" x 2.5" x 1.5" in size.

UT, the words handy with tools are important words. In all modesty, my mechanical comprehension is very high. Where I worked part of our test for advancement involved just that.

So, if all screws unscrew and all bolts unbolt, I can probably fix almost anything.

But, if a bolt snaps off which is common on older cars, I am whipped before I start. I can tell you exactly how to extract a broken bolt. Drill a small hole right up the center, then perhaps a larger hole, until the hole is near the threads. Then, unscrew the remainder with the correct extraction tool. Simple, right?

Well, over my younger years, I snapped off several extraction tools in the hole in the broken bolt. Then, you have a real problem because extraction tools are virtually impossible to drill. So, when it looks like a bolt will be snapping off, I leave it to the pros.

Or, in most cases, the attempt to drill a hole in the center of the broken bolt results in an off-center hole. Grrr!

In this case, my guess is the things inside the door are not going to be rusted, and are not going to break, so I may take a stab at it. I had not intended to do so, but the responses here make me think I can do it.

I bumped into this old posting. I ordered a metal latch from the Internet, around $50, and had my wife bring it back on the bus. I also read a page linked from the Sienna Chat page, which told how to do it. But, with all those plastic thingies holding it in, I couldn’t figure out how to get the hatch liner off. A cousin came down, he has had a lot of experience with older cars, since that is all they can afford here.

He looked at that, looked at the picture in my computer, grabbed it, gave a mighty Herculean tug, and it came off. It was not really hard to replace the latch, unless I get water leakage from the seal when I replaced the license plate assembly.

However, I wanted to replace the bulbs before I reassembled it… I went to Autozone in Puebla, and they didn’t have 7743 bulbs, their computer specified 7443. When I put them in, they were made a bit weird and on both of them, a small piece of the socket broke out at the edge. I will have to keep an eye on them, in case they work loose.

Note that I have replaced many of those bulbs, with no problem before, so I am pretty sure the bulbs had an irregularity on the glass part. If the bulbs start coming loose, I will have to put in new sockets.

Anyway, the door opens and shuts very well now.