Our 2005 AWD Sienna (navy blue) has developed an intermittent problem with the steering, starting last winter. Seems to be getting worse. I did have the steering wheel fluid replaced and that seemed to work a good while, but the problem has returned. It appears to act up the most under cold or wet conditions - the car is parked outside and this problem seems to act up after we’ve had a lot of rain. What happens is that it feels like the power steering does not work throughout the whole wheel turn. It almost feels like the steering wheel spins easily for about 45 degrees, then “goes out” for the next 45 degrees, then kicks back in, etc. You know how in a healthy car if you go around a corner and let go of the steering wheel midway through the turn the wheel automatically spins back to go straight? In our situation, when the problem is acting up, you could let go of the wheel and it would hold its position. Also, sometimes there is a sort of clicking noise coming from around the steering column, but I haven’t necessarily correlated with the funky steering. The noise is intermittent too. Car speed does not seem to affect the problem.
I don’t know what your problem is but I would:
- Check level of power steering fluid.
- Check tension of power steering belt.
- With engine running, have someone crank wheels from far left to right, right to left, etc…
- Watch power steering belt and power steering pump. What happens? What do you hear?
Sue, You May Be Describing A Known Toyota Sienna Fault In The Intermediate Steering Shaft, Particularly If You Live Where Road Salt Is Used.
A Toyota TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) written for Toyota technicians outlines the problem and solution that involves 2004 through 2006 Siennas. It even indicates that the problem may gradually become more noticeable over time.
It would have been taken care of for free while the Toyota was under the 36 /36 warranty period. If your AWD Sienna’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) shows that it was produced before #5TDBA2#C56S074092 then there is “revised” part available for it. The new part appears to have the number 45220-08052 and replaces the original part and number. Please have the dealer verify this information. Don’t rely on my information, please. Toyota has the information for your vehicle. Be advised that your AWD takes a different part than the 2WD.
I’ll bet if you stop by the dealer, they can sit in the van and diagnose the problem for you and give an estimate. Labor is shown as just under one hour. I don’t have a part price.
Bingo! (which happens to be the name of the van, interesting…) Finally got Bingo to the dealer and he confirmed your hypothesis. Unfortunately we’re at 90K so this one’s on us. Do appreciate your suggestion; we dropped the van off the night before service with a note in it referencing the TSB and the mechanics were impressed with our research. Wanted to pass the kudos on to you who deserve it. Thank you.