Preventive Maintenance

For preventive maintenance for a Toyota Sienna, is it better to go to the dealer or a local mechanic such as Pep Boys or Sears etc.

It’s better to find an independently owned and operated garage with a good reputation.

Be sure all the work is clearly documented on the shop orders and keep your copies on file. If you can prove that you’ve met the maintenance requirements the dealer will need to honor the warraty, even if the work was done elsewhere. The shop orders are your proof.

Yes, it is much better to go to the Toyota dealer, since they actually know what they are doing, have good diagnostic equipment and sell original Toyota parts. All three, however, will try to sell you services you don’t really need, so tell the Toyota shop you only want done what is in the OWNER’S MANUAL!!!

Having said that, I would go to a good independent mechanic who works with Toyotas (most do), and get the work done for much less. Make sure you keep all your receipts, especially if the car is under warranty.

I agree with both posts. A good independent mechanic is a good thing. Toyotas are straightforward and don’t have a lot of surprises like a lot of foreign vehicles. As stated earlier…keep your paperwork so that the dealer will honor the warranty.

I would AVOID Pep Boys and Sears for anything other than oil changes, tires and batteries.

Neither Pep Boys nor Sears are “local mechanics”.
Those places are chain operations, and they are to be avoided like the plague, along with places like Jiffy Lube, Midas, Meineke, Monro, and AAMCO.

I don’t think I would use them for even those functions. I do my one oil and battery changes, and I would not buy a tyre from Sears (I once worked there and I don’t think they have changed for the better.

I would put the quick oil change places at the bottom of the list with Sears just above them.

  Dealers are no better (or worse) than independent mechanics for almost anything you might need done on your car.  They will almost always charge more per hour and often more for parts and supplies.  They also tend to look at repairs a little different than the independent. 

A dealer may well recommend work that strictly may not be needed, but could be connected to the problem or maybe replace a part when a little repair would fix it ALMOST as good a new.  

There is no need to bring your car to the dealer for any service other than service that is going to be paid for by a recall or original warrantee.  During the warranty period be sure to have all required (as listed in the owner's manual) maintenance done and to document all maintenance work.

[b] I suggest that most people would be better off finding a good independent (Not working for a chain) mechanic. [/b]

Note: Never ever use a quick oil change place. They are fast cheap and very very bad.

BTW congratulations for asking and showing an interest in properly maintaining your car. People would have far fewer problems with their cars if they did as much.

Talk to friends, coworkers, relatives and neighbors to find a good mechanic. You’ll get more than one good reference for someone. When you find a lot of happy customers, give that shop a try.

My wife has an 06 Sienna. I would never take a car to Sears or Pep Boys for service. I’ve been using the same independent mechanic since 1993. Word of mouth is best, my neighbor referred me to him. The Sienna only went to the dealer for two warranty issues, a bad radio (1st week we had it) and a rattling side door (recall).

For routine maintenance, a trusted independent mechanic is your best bet.

Ed B.

After owning several Toyotas, I’ve found the following. Much of the routine oil changes for my dealer, as well as tire rotations, is very competitive, but avoid the traditional XXXXmile check ups and use an independent for designated routine service items from the manual suggestions.

They’re are definite advantages in some work by the dealer that does not involve too many OEM parts that are expensive, but find labor cost, though more per hour, done quicker. Bottom line…I try to use both, depending upon the work done, and play one against the other in areas I feel both can handle.

It’s worked for 30 years, building a good relationship with both entities; dealer and a good independent. Avoid the chains as they seem to offer the worse of both worlds with much less experienced personnel.

I’d say you should use one of the following:

  1. Dealer
  2. Independent with a good reputation who uses the proper fluids (you’d be amazed how often they use the wrong trans fluid, etc) and OEM parts or higher quality
  3. Chain repair shop that has a good warranty.

I know many people here don’t like chain shops, but here we have a AAA-owned facility (not AAA approved, but AAA owned) that tends to have some of the lowest prices around AND they give a lifetime warranty on parts AND labor. I’ve found their diagnostic ability and honesty better than the best independent mechanic I’ve found…

We have a 2003 Toyota 4Runner that we purchased new. After a warranty problem where the service department of the dealer showed how inept it was, once I got the problem corrected, the 4Runner never saw that service department again. The problem was a squeak from the serpentine belt. The dealer changed it three times. The second time, the belt was installed incorrectly and it pulled out the crankshaft oil seal. Finally, the service department found that the spring in the belt tensioner was defective. From then on, I took the 4Runner to my independent shop for servicing.

I recently sold my 2006 Chevrolet Uplander to my son. My independent shop has done the servicing on this vehicle as well. Since I needed another minivan, I talked to my independent shop and the head mechanic recommended the Toyota Sienna. We have a new Toyota dealership in my community and I was impressed with the agency, the price, and the Toyota Sienna, so I purchased a 2011 Sienna. Part of the deal is two years of free oil changes. I’ll see how things work out at this dealer’s service department. I wonder if my independent shop knows they are losing out on the oil changes. I was looking for a 2008 Uplander (the last year the Uplander was made) but my independent shop convinced me that maybe I ought to treat myself to a new vehicle.