Is my Sienna really a POS, or am I imagining things?

Our '05 Toyota Sienna has 92K miles on it, and is currently covered under the extended warranty, which is good, because I’ve used it, in my opinion, a lot. We’ve had following replaced: air sensor, the airbag/seat belt sensors, water pump & radiator (at the same time, conveniently enough), computer “reset” twice (really???), and, most recently, the throttle sensor and body replaced. Now, my favorite icon, the check engine light, is back on. I took it in and they went to look at it and the little icon went away. The warranty won’t pay for a diagnostic unless the light is on. So, on my way home I convinced myself that I hadn’t screwed the gas cap on tight enough, and just as I began to believe that, the car just stopped accelerating. I couldn’t get up the small hill at the bottom of my road at any faster than 20 mph, where I’m usually hitting 40 by the top. Once I crested the hill, the Sienna was able to catch up. The RPMs weren’t too high during the hiccup. The last three trips to the repairshop came about after we drove it on 700 mile trips, which we do 2x/year to visit family.

In addition to the check engine light issues - which is how I caught the above listed issues - the sliding doors (no power) freeze shut. I spend most of the winter dragging the kids in and out through the trunk hatch. I’ve tried wd-40 on the seals, and it doesnt help. I basically have to wait for the outside temp to rise above freezing and then go outside and bang on the edges of the door to break the ice seal.

I will bring it back in to the dealership again - but does anyone else think these are more issues than normal for a Toyota with 92k miles?

The warranty is almost up and we’re almost done paying for the van. In the past we’ve typically driven our cars until about 150 - 200k miles, but we’re beginning to think we’d be better off starting over since at this rate we think our soon to end payments will just go to repairs on a regular basis. Thoughts?

No, you’re not imagining things. The van has gremlins, and I’d ditch it ASAP.

There is a perception that all Toyota’s last forever (Honda too) and that just isn’t the case in some cars. Your van has had problems and will likely have problems in the future. I’d advise it is time to start shopping and to make a change before the extended warranty expires.

Perhaps you next car will be better. I have an '01 Toyota and an '03 Honda that have been super cars. You just got a bad example of a normally good van. Happy shopping.

I have owned 4 minivans: 1) 1990 Ford Aerostar; 2) 2000 Ford Windstar; 3) 2006 Chevrolet Uplander; 4) 2011 Toyota Sienna. So far, my Sienna has been trouble free–I have driven it about 12,000 miles. However, I had very little problems with my other minivans that wasn’t covered by the warranty. I really liked the Uplander, but sold it to my son (at a great family discount price) because he needed a better vehicle. I would have purchased another Uplander, but GM quit making minivans. My wife drives a 2003 Toyota 4Runner that has had no problems and our mechanic recommended the Toyota Sienna as being very reliable, so that influenced my purchase.

To me, if you have driven one minivan you have driven them all. If I weren’t always taking musicians and musical instruments to rehearsals, I wouldn’t drive a minivan.

As far as the door seals are concerned, I would think a rubber lubricant, a silicon spray, or even brake fluid would be better than WD-40.

If you have a vehicle with lots of unrelated problems, I think I would opt to give this vehicle a new home.

Toyotas break just like everything else but the PR machine is second to none.

That being said, and while not accusing the shop of any wrongdoing, the point could be made that maybe there has been some misdiagnosis involved, shotgunning of parts (meaning replace and pray), or possibly even some parts not being replaced at all.
With modern cars not everything is clear cut and the computer does not know all.
Resetting the computer could be a sign of someone not knowing and/or just giving up.

Regarding the frozen door, forget the WD-40 and use a silicone based grease or rub it down lightly with Vaseline and see what happens.

Take the car to a local AutoZone or similar big box auto parts house to get the codes pulled. They will do this for you free and it only takes a minute. Post the results for discussion.

On the surface it sounds like your car has had some problems that it should not have but reading between the lines could also point to the problems being misdiagnosed or overblown.
Is this a Toyota dealer and a Toyota backed extended warranty?

thanks… I do understand that this is a rarity in the Sienna world. I’ve taken to approaching random strangers in the grocery parking lot to ask if they “like” their van and, particularly, if they have the frozen door problem (I live in Maine so this is an issue for me 5 months a year, making it quite irksome).

Addmittedly, I’m a fairly incompetent car owner - I like to buy them, drive them, get their oil/tires/brakes/belts changed at the scheduled time and sell them before they start acting up. My Subarus ('87 wagon, '95 Impreza,'00 Outback), Toyotas ('00 Tundra/ '06 Prius), and Honda’s (??Civic, ran to 260k) have always allowed me to get away with this in the past, allowing us a few years between payments to save up for the next beast. This is the first “buggy” car I’ve owned. I should’ve known when I was stranded on the side of the road with 6k miles on it (air sensor) and had to replace my headlights every 6-8 weeks (it adds up!). I guess I’m out of luck this time!

I’ve always taken it to the Toy dealer since I bought it with the Toyota used extended warranty. We bought it with 5k miles and thought it was a great set-up with the extended warranty. If the warranty hadn’t been there, it would’ve been a very expensive car to this point (I added the bills and think it was around $9k in labor & parts so far, which have fortunately always been covered).

Just saw you said Autozone does the diagnostic for free. Wow. I’ve been living in a cave. Thanks!

Per you advice (thank you!!!), I took it to AutoZone and had it checked. It’s coming up with P2121, which leads me to believe the issue is tied somehow to the last issue (late November). At that point it was the Throttle Body and Sensor.
Thanks for helping!

P2121 points toward a problem with either the Throttle Position Sensor or the circuitry for that sensor.
More than likely, this is not related to the previous Throttle Body problem, but is surely does sound like that Sienna is cursed with an unusually large number of problems.

In view of the vehicle’s history, the soon-to-expire extended warranty, and the probability of transmission problems with these vehicles, I think that your instincts–to get rid of it soon–are probably telling you the correct course of action.

Definitely not brake fluid. There’s paint in that area. I’d do silicon spray or graphite.

My wife’s 06 Sienna (bought new) radio display failed less than a week after we bought it. The radio was replaced and the sliding doors were adjusted for a rattle within the first month.

It’s coming up on 40k miles and other than a few rattles there have been no further issues. I take it to an independent mechanic, it hasn’t been back to the dealership since the first oil change.

Sorry for the troubles with your van. The fact it was traded in with only 5k miles has me wondering if it was a dog to start with. For the icing on the cake, the timing belt has a 7yr/90k change interval. Unless it was done with the water pump/radiator replacement, it is due. I would be inclined to pay it off and get rid of it.

Ed B.

A quick look shows this vehicle appears to have an electronic throttle body with TPS and IAC all rolled into one unit.
You state the throttle body/sensor was recently replaced and this was likely done on the basis of that code.

Many people, including an annoyingly large number of mechanics, may assume that Code XXXX automatically means that the part mentioned is also the part that is faulty but that may not be the case. The fault could lie in the wiring and connectors, the ECM, etc.
I’m not saying the shop is incompetent at all because not all issues are clear cut on modern cars.
They simply replaced what they thought the likely culprit was and with some electronic items testing these is beyond the capabilities of any shop or mechanic. This is what leads to the Replace and Pray method, as distasteful as it may be. Sometimes there is no other option.

What I would do is approach the dealer service manager about this problem. Keep it polite and express your concern about this issue and the recurrent code that is present. Ask if corporate Toyota could get involved in this if they cannot resolve it. I think you will find that the SM will be cordial and helpful.

Just curious, but do you have copies of the paperwork on all of these repairs listing both labor operations and parts used, etc.?

Someone said that some waxes used in addition to WD-40 work well. I would not use WD-40. I like the Turtle Wax spray wax. Don’t forget to wax the inside portion of the door where it contacts the seal. I forgot about silicone lubricant too. Apply and wipe off. Yes it could be the greasy kind.

You Are Imagining Things. You Claim You’ve Had More Problems With This Vehicle Than I’ve Had With Our Last Several Cars, All Put Together.

That’s not reality based. Consumer Reports indicates the only weak spots on these vehicles are body hardware and integrity. That covers the door problem, but the other problems are imaginary.

All other areas of this vehicle are either “better than average” or “much better than average”.

It makes no sense that a vehicle that was rated “Best Of The Best” has had more problems than all of our “Not Recommended” American Cars, combined.

[b]“Is my Sienna really a POS, or am I imagining things?”



So the OP is “imagining” that he had to replace: “air sensor, the airbag/seat belt sensors, water pump & radiator…and, most recently, the throttle sensor and body” in addition to the current lack of acceleration problem?

I’m not a Toyota basher; I think they’re good vehicles, and I had a Tacoma that was great. But sometimes a 3-sigma bad vehicle rolls off an assembly line…even Toyota’s…

They aren’t imagining it.
I have a Toyota Sienna minivan. It’s given us nothing but expensive problems. We’ve had the engine rebuilt, the doors rewired (and they still freeze from time to time). The radiators been replaced. The computers been redone. The engine light comes on, goes off, comes on. The shop can’t figure it out.
Also, we bought the warranty from the nj toyta dealer, when we bought the car. The same dealer refused to honor the warranty because they said we didn’t have the right sparkplugs; even though they were the ones to put them in at time of sale.
I am done with Toyota, based on the numerous expensive problems, and the way the dealer screwed us over with the worthless warranty. I’m looking at Jeeps or Subarus now.

I Have An Opinion On That !

Sorry to hear those problems. Most of us have such good performance and reliability, it is sad when someone gets a bad one.

Toyota reliability is a statistical things. Out of X number of cars sold, a much smaller number fail than the average car, though many other cars have improved in recent years.

But that never has meant no Toyota ever breaks nor that Toyota never sends out a lemon.

OK said something like Toyotas break like any other car. I don’t know what that means. If it means, it is possible for Toyota to break, that is absolutely true. If it means they break as OFTEN as other cars, that is not true.

Some people over the years have said in plain English that Toyotas are not better than any other car, gullible people foolishly imagine they are better and toss away good money.

In my observation, people who talk that way often have never owned a Toyota, and don’t want to, but they want to impress people with their superior knowledge. (I am not talking OK here, I have great respect for him, right behind Docnick.) Or, they bought an old beater Toyota, perhaps poorly maintained, and half beat to death, because they didn’t want to pay top dollar for a late model one, and they needed a lot of repairs. So, they concluded the Toyota reliability is a hoax

The only reason the American cars are so good now is they had to improve or they were going to be out of business. I am glad they did improve.

But, we Toyota owners are not just stupid and gullible, or think something with a Japanese label is magically better. Toyota and Honda surged ahead because they were much more reliable, period.

The worst thing is when some dummy hears Toyotas go and go without repair, so they buy a nice new Toyota, and don’t do anything to it. 20,000 or 30,000 miles, no oil changes or any other maintenance, then scream when it dies.