Keep or Sell


OK - I know the matrix - if the car is paid for, then every day you drive it, it’s money in the bank - my 2002 Sienna is paid for -

at 10,000 miles, the valve seals, head set, oil strainer, and related parts were replaced (under warranty)

at 20,000 miles, the transmission was replaced with a rebuilt (warranty - car was shifting weird)

at 49,000 miles (last week), two wheel speed sensors and the vehicle speed sensor on the tranny blew, and the mechanic (indy) said remaining two sensors were spewing out odd data, and should be replaced

Along the way, very un-Toyota things have happened - windshield washer nozzle failed, sliding doors sticking, clock crapping out and then remerging - it seems (to me) that this car has had an unusual number of “big” repairs in a very short life - time to sell and move on, or ignore the “under warranty” work b/c it did not cost, and shrug the sensors off as the only extraordinary work I’ve paid for in the years I’ve owned the car?

Your thoughts, insight, experiences will be of assistance, and appreciated - thank you


Very strange indeed. Other than ths sliding door, which is a common Sienna problem, the rest are puzzling. I assume all these problems were with the Sienna, not the Matrix.

Don’t know what your driving environment is, but this type of thing usually only happens in extreme conditions; Alaska cold, tropical rainstorms, etc.

I would give it another 6 months, and if strange things keep happening, trade the vehicle.


Here’s an idea. Sell the car and buy something that has approximately the same milage for about what you get for the Sienna. This car sounds like what we used to call a “lemon”. That’s a car with an unusual number and often odd problems in a short period of time. In short, get rid of it while you can still get something for it and before it beed$ you dry.


Just to clarify, those sensors you describe are not what I would call “on the tranny”. They are parts that the transmission computer uses, but they’re not in the transmission per se, nor would they indicate any sort of chronic issue with the transmission. I wouldn’t go so far as to call those sensors going out normal, but there’s no reason that they would indicate any serious problems on the horizon.

The Toyota (and Honda) minivans do not quite live up the the reputation of the cars, though they are still quite good. If you did feel the need to trade this thing in, it’d likely be out of the frying pan and into the fire-- a different van would be just as likely to have problems later on. The one scenario you might consider, now that you know these vans aren’t the most reliable in the world, is to sell it and buy a similarly-aged domestic minivan, which are just as reliable as their Japanese counterparts but sell for significantly less used, allowing you to walk away with a profit.


Toyota’s are not infalliable like people think. All vehicles have problems.

The amount you just listed is abnormal. I would give it another 6 months too like other poster stated and see what transpires. You have nothing to loose but a repair cost which still will likely be less expensive of the depreciation hit of selling this vehicle.


Well the things that have been repaired are now OK. There is no specific reason to suspect there will be more than usual repairs needed in the future. I would say keep it. Unless your driving and maintenance habits have contributed to the problems, there is no reason to suspect you will get more than usual problems in the future.


I am surprised that the dealer replaced your transmission with a rebuilt one on a new car warranty. It seems to me it whould have been a new transmission. I had a transmission replacement under warranty on my 2003 Olds Silhouette, and the dealer got a new one from GM. I guess after 6 years it must be out of warranty. I think the newer transmission issues are because a rebuilt unit was used. Not all parts are replaced on a rebuilt unit. You should probably replace all the sensors recommended while the mechanic is in there. If you do it later, you will lose use of the car for a few days and there will be additional fees (an hour or two) to get at the sensors.


I think I’d replace all the sensors (both failed and funky) and see what happens. The small stuff is just that (sticky door, washer nozzle) and the big stuff is far enough back that I’d be inclined to not worry about it too much.

On the other hand, if you are nervous and don’t trust this vehicle, you may just want to trade it in for peace of mind reasons. Cost wise it’s almost certain you should fix it and keep it.


Frankly, I’d almost prefer a rebuilt one. A rebuilt one means someone has specifically been in there checking and replacing stuff. On an assembly line anything can happen (case in point, the first trans that only lasted 20k miles). A good rebuild is atleast as good as a new trans.


Thanks to all who responded - all four speed sensors were replaced, as well as the vehicle speed sensor that feeds info to the tranny = now waiting for the ABS, brake, and tire pressure light to tick off - mechanic said that the car will need a couple of days, depending on amount driven, for everything to recalibrate. We’ll see what happens.