I have never had any major problems with my 2000 Toyota Sienna until now. My spark plug blew out and some of my gaskets need repairing/replacing. This is going to be a $985 job. Last summer I decided to have the timing belt replaced as a cautionary measure. We got new brakes, tires, and a serpentine belt put on as well a couple of months ago. So we have put quite a bit of money into the car. If I do not get this repair done we will have to junk the car. I hate to plug more money into it, but the prospect of buying a new car would be hard financially too. I’m also thinking if this the start of more expensive repairs. Advice anyone?
My philosophy is to keep older cars running as long as possible. You’ve already got new brakes and tires. Get this repair done too, but first get a second opinion about the “gaskets” that need replacing. Said who? The dealer? They often tell customers that new valve cover gaskets (for instance) are needed when they see a drop or two of oil on the engine. Most times recommendations from dealers for new valve cover gaskets are bogus.
Anyway, fix the spark plug, at least, and keep the van a while longer. When your repair bills start averaging $200 per month consistently (like for a year) is when I’d start to think about a new vehicle.
And, if this is a dealer quote for $985, find a trusted local mechanic instead. Independent mechanics will charge a lower labor rate, and if you find a good mechanic he won’t recommend bogus things like unnecessary gasket replacement. Check the “Mechanics Files” section of this site for a recommended mechanic near you.
The shop is local and we’ve gone to them before so I know they do good work. Plus they are AAA rated which is a plus.
If the car is clean and runs/drives out well then my opinion is fix it. Almost all of the repairs you mention are normal maintenance, wear and tear items which are the cost of driving.
The gaskets may not be but those are not identified as to which ones they are.
If the spark plug blew out which is necessitating a cylinder head thread repair then you need to consider who was the last one to change those plugs. Odds are it blew out because someone did not tighten it enough or overtightened it which then led to the threads being pulled and weakened.
I will add one thing. Do not assume because a shop has a AAA rating that they are competent or honest. It means they signed up and paid the membership fee.
I can name 2 shops in this area of OK that are AAA rated and have somewhat questionable ethics to put it politely.
“My philosophy is to keep older cars running as long as possible.”
Amen to that. If we don’t…what are we going to use for “rat rods” in the future?
Ok4450 is right, this is not a motor know for spark plug thread failures. The only time I have repaired threads on these is when human error was involved. Will they be installing a helicoil or a time-sert? I prefer time-serts and they can be done with the head on the car.
@missileman, I’ve never seen a Siena rat rod, but they say there’s a first time for everything.
What state are you in? If van is rust free, go for the repair. A rust bucket is worth much less.
Fix the spark plug and enjoy many more happy motoring years. Siennas are very durable machines
A Sienna rat rod is probably something that will happen in the future. I just saw a group of rat rods pulling out of a rest area a couple of days ago near Nashville. One of them had a '59 Plymouth rear end attached to a 30’s era Ford. It’s was odd but it was probably normal for the “rat rod” crowd. After watching them from the left lane for several minutes…they looked uncomfortable in the rain and all the driver’s were hunched over. I guess I will never be able to drive one (too tall) but I do enjoy looking at them.
It sounds like you’ve got most of the big expenses out of the way…after the plug is fixed., that is.
I’d then keep it.
If you junk it, you will throw all thast money already spent down the drain.
So fix the plug, and drive it a few more years to get your money’s worth.
Thanks everyone for the advice. The mechanic said that he thinks the plug blew because of a manufacturer defect. He said that he’s never seen this happen in a Sienna just on Fords. He said the threads were stripped but that they could fix it. IDK, I checked the shop out online and the got good reviews. Not that you can believe everything you read. They replaced my timing belt and I was really pleased with the results. I’ve never had any work done on my spark plugs. I can’t remember which gaskets he mentioned just that the car was a mess because of the blown plug.
Sounds like you have a good mechanic. Fix it and drive on.