Coolant leaks in 2005 Toyota Sienna

At 70K miles, the dealership found three coolant leaks: water pump, radiator & freeze plug (requiring replacing a head). I never saw the temp get in the red zone & there wasn’t any puddling below the engine. According to them, the only way I would’ve found the leak is to monitor the coolant level & look for the dried pink crust. Also, they said the three leaks could’ve happened fairly quickly. It had been in for another service a few weeks prior & no issues had been noted. Could it really have developed this fast with no symptoms? Is there anything I can do to detect a coolant leak before it turns into three expensive ones? (I have little mechanical inclination.)

You’re out of the warranty period.

Take the vehicle to an independent garage and ask that they inspect the vehicle. And show them the work order from the dealer. This way they know exactly what to look for and where. Then you’ll know for sure.


I would be very suspicious of this diagnosis at this age and mileage. I wouldn’t do any repairs unless I actually saw coolant leaking or experienced overheating or coolant loss. And I would certainly get a second opinion from an independent garage with a good reputation.

It would have been lovely to have a trusted independant garage to take the vehicle to, but I don’t & I didn’t. The repairs are done, rightly or wrongly. My past experience with independant garages has been such that I swore off of them years ago. I’ll start asking around & see if I can find one I can use the next time something goes wrong. Or, I may just drop-kick this car to the curb & try to find something more reliable. I’m pretty disgusted about the whole experience.

I’m really interested if anyone can answer the questions I posted above. Could the leaks really have developed this fast with no symptoms? Is there anything I can do to detect a coolant leak before it turns into three expensive ones?

The leaks could happen any time and could be minor, so I am not sure if you were taken or no. On a different note you say The head was changed, so did they change the radiator and waterpump too? Because if it was the rad, WP and freeze plug you didn’t need a head job as far as I know. I know that Toyota newer 4&6 cylinder engines have issues with the cylinder head bolts coming loose or braking and causing coolant leaks. Just google it. This what your engine could have had and while they were at it they changed the waterpump too. Toyota dealers aren’t known for great service. I only buy parts from them. Also it seems like their quality has taken a turn towards worse at least based on anecdotal evidence.

Radiator, waterpump, timing belt (as it would’ve been due at 90K miles anyway, and there was a pricing advantage to doing it with the waterpump), head were all replaced. There was a reason that they couldn’t just fix the freeze plug & they had to do the head. At that point I had my husband call them to check on their reasons, and they satisfied him. I don’t know enough to really follow those parts of the conversations very well, so I can’t provide much detail.

While I thought this dealership was pushy about maintenance & wanting me to do things more often than Toyota recommends, I hadn’t had problems with them before. I did contact Toyota corporate headquarters about my vehicle & my expectations of quality, but I don’t expect anything to come of it.

I know it’s a great idea to check all the things which are recommended before approving them, but it takes time (& money) to tell them to reassemble the car, do the research/find an independent dealer for corroboration, get time off of work (again) & do without my car (again). It’s $95/day to rent a handicapped van, if one is available. It gets very expensive very fast, and I get exhausted trying to make up all the missed time from work.

I believe the water pump & radiator leaks were minor from how they were describing them. The freeze plug one was worse.