Transmission Repair Questions on a Toyota Sienna

05 Toyota Sienna, Auto, 153k.

After some neglect I got the 120k tune up in April. They did a transmission serv and flush with it and they informed me how dirty and bad it was that they had to flush 4-5 times. Right after, it started jerking a little when I came to a stop. Then after driving it about 3k miles. I was driving and when I went to press on the gas it acted like it was in neutral. I pulled over, turned car off and after 15min, started it and it drove fine for a few miles but then started acting up again. I kept having to turn off the car and restart to get it home.

It’s now at a repair shop that I trust but doesn’t specialize in transmissions. He quoted me 2700.00 for a used trans that has less the 60k on it with a 6m warranty. He did inform me the torque converter was burnt up.

My other option is taking to a tran specialist place and having them rebuild mine. Up front cost is around 1200-1600 (labor + soft kit) but price doesn’t include any hard parts that might be needed and they wont know till they take it apart of course.

Any ideas of which way I should go? Any advice is appreciated.

153,000 miles on a minivan? Sounds like it’s time for a new minivan. These vehicles take a beating because of their size and weight. While it may run for a long time yet my guess would be that other items will be needing repair and replacement soon. Brakes and suspension items, such as struts, springs, and control arms, can really empty your wallet. I own a 2004 Sienna and have vowed to ditch it when the transmission dies. So far it has been great and has 140,000 miles but I am a realist.

As an aside, Toyota does NOT recommend flushing the transmission. A service is normally a drain and fill every 30,000 miles. !20,000 miles of neglect followed by several flushes is a recipe for disaster!!!

Thats classic of a stopped up filter. When the shop flushed the trans did they change the filter??


I was told the sienna has a mesh steel filter and isn’t something the manufacture of the filter requires changing. Not sure if he cleaned it out or not. He said he did.

@bloody: You’re right. I know in 20k miles or so I could have engine problems or something else so I was debating about how long to put off buying another car. I was thinking repair would be cheaper then buying a car but than again not if I keep having problems. I cannot afford / don’t want a car loan now. I had no idea about the flushing. I didn’t understand the difference between a flush and a service. I needed this car to last another 150k so I went in and did the 120k not realizing the tran service would mess it up.

Toyota still calls their filters “strainers”. Each time I walk into the parts dept. and ask for a trans filter they tell me that I don’t need one, “just rinse is out”. It is a real filter and it’ll be mucked-up after 150,000 miles.

It’s possible the tranny “service” you got somehow contributed to this. Either they forgot to do something, or did something they shouldn’t, or put in the wrong kind of fluid. But it’s hard to tell.

I guess if it were my car I’d go to a different shop and have them change the fluid again and clean/ replace or do whatever service the filter requires. Ask them to verify the type of fluid in the transmission (as it is now) is the correct type if they can. If all that doesn’t fix it, then you must have just had bad luck, and it’s a rebuilt transmission.

I just had my fluid changed/pan dropped, and we had the same conversation on flushing. I held off longer than I should have because two dealers both told me that with no dipstick, they just flush the system and no pan drop. I didn’t like that idea so went back to a shop that has done a few transmissions for me before. He concurred that flushing can needlessly loosen up the coating on the parts and then you have fine particles mixed with the fluid. Plus its usually just kids doing the work with the machine. I’m sold on dropping the pan.

I’ve never put a used transmission in and would much prefer to have it rebuilt. I think they’ll warranty the part but not the labor to install another one.

153,000 miles on a minivan? Sounds like it’s time for a new minivan.

I rather heartily disagree, if you are talking about a Sienna. They run out a long time. If you were talking about a Dodge, that is a different matter. All cars at that mileage apparently run maybe a thousand dollars a year over a long term for repairs, or so we are told on this forum.

I had before this 2002 Sienna (185,000 miles next week) a 1989 Dodge Caravan from 120,000 to 180,000 miles. I liked it as a car, but I would leave McAllen, drive to Amarillo, and make an appointment with a mechanic.

In a few days, I would leave Amarillo and drive 900 miles to the Midwest, and make an appointment with a mechanic.

In a few days, I would drive back to Amarillo, and make an appointment with a mechanic.

In a few days, I would drive back to McAllen and make an appointment with a mechanic.

My Sienna has finally needed a major repair, the brake computer. But in general it runs and runs.

@irlandes - Not withstanding the fact that you like your Sienna (and I like mine too), a minivan with major driveline issues and over 150,000 miles is a MAJOR gamble. This is especially true in light of the OP’s comments of how the vehicle was neglected for a long time. I take care of my vehicles and expect my Sienna to give me over 200,000 miles but the OP has a difference situation. Frankly, mini-vans take a beating due to their size and weight. Most mechanics on this board would probably agree that cars hold up longer than mini-vans (in general).