Pawlik Automotive How Reliable Are Toyota Sienna Vans?

Pawlik Automotive How Reliable Are Toyota Sienna Vans?

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local over here
with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive and we’re talking cars. How you doing this morning Bernie? Bernie: I’m doing very well. Mark: Toyota Sienna vans, pretty long running
mark. How reliable are Toyota Sienna vans? Bernie: Very, I like these vans a lot, I think
they’re super reliable. The other thing that’s good about them their
crash test ratings are also really good, which is a good thing to have in any vehicle, but
especially if you’re hauling your family around which is why a lot of people buy them. That’s another bonus when you’re buying a
vehicle, you know it’s not just a nice vehicle and it’s reliable but it’s also safe. Mark: The Sienna maybe seems a little conventional
compared to it’s predecessors. Bernie: It does, Toyota had some very quirky
vans before the Sienna. The Previa was a very odd looking vehicle
and the LE van, which was the predecessor to that one probably looked a little more
conventional but again was odd. Both of those vehicles were mid-engine, the
engine was actually kind of in between the passenger and driver seat underneath. Pretty neat use of space, but they were only
limited to a four cylinder so they really lacked power. Some of the Previas like the LE models I mean
they were really nice, they were really well equipped. One of the neat distinctions about that vehicle
is it had a little cooling compartment, it was like a beer fridge in a car, of course
it’s not for beer but for pop but a little fridge in the car that worked off the air
conditioning system so it was kind of cool. They were neat designs but really kind of
odd ball vehicles, but very reliable. I mean we still work on Previas and they still
keep on going, they’re very good. Mark: What are some of the issues you see with Siennas? Bernie: Well really there’s not a lot of continuous
issues with these vehicles. I mean I find some of the older ones the valve
covered gaskets will leak and so they need to be repaired. The only real concern over the years with
these engines, if you don’t maintain them properly, is sludging and the oil sludging
in the engine which is not uncommon on Toyota’s. You’ve got to do your oil changes regularly
which we talk about all the time, but that’ll prevent that but that is an issue if you start
neglecting the engine, oil sludging will happen, it’ll destroy the engine. Mark: Do Sienna engines use timing belts and
how often is it changed? If so, how often do you have to change them? Bernie: Yes they do use timing belts. From 1998 up to 2006 there’s a timing belt
in the 3 litre and the 3.3 engines. The recommended interval is 144,000 kilometres
or 90,000 miles, so that’s an important service to do. You don’t want it to break, but yes they do
have timing belts up to the 2006 model year. Mark: What engine options are available for
Siennas? Bernie: Siennas are basically all V6’s except
interestingly enough for two model years, 2011 and 2012 they use a 2.7 litre 4 cylinder. It’s also, by the way, a timing chain engine
so there’s no belt to replace in that engine. As far as engine, so everything else is V6,
the early years, the 3 litre, then they went up to a 3.3, and then finally this newest
generation uses a 3.5 litre engine which is timing chain driven, has variable valve time
and all of Toyota’s nice modern technology. Mark: Are these vehicles available with manual
transmissions? Bernie: No Mark: Why would you want manual? Bernie: No, they’re strictly automatic in
all the years, so you’re stuck with an automatic but easy to drive. I got a couple pictures to share actually
if we just want to have a look at a couple of photos. This is a dashboard of a 2012 Sienna LE so
this is a top of the line edition. Beautiful vehicle but you can see it’s got
a backup camera, it’s got navigation system, nice radio, climate control A/C, and it’s
got stow and go fold away seats in the back, nice fitted interior with fake wood steering
wheel. I know that doesn’t sound very complimentary
but it looks nice. The interior is absolutely awesome. When we get to the engine compartment not
so interesting to look at. This just a good reliable engine, but it’s
got your big plastic cover over the top of the engine, that’s the engine underneath there. This one it’s a little dirty, it’s got a few
years of life on it but it’s really not the most exciting engine to look at, it’s just
reliable and it works well. It’s the best thing you can expect out of
a Toyota. Mark: Any other issues with these vehicles? Bernie: You know I’d say personally from our
mechanics point of view no, but I do read a lot of things on vehicles just to keep up
to date. There’s some complaints of paint peeling and
fading on some of the models and some dashboard cracking issues, but other than that that’s
really all I see. They’re really just overall a really good
van. Mark: Overall this seems like, in your experience
so far, this is probably a good, maybe even the best minivan? Bernie: I would say so. I mean you can’t go wrong with buying one,
there’s really not much that goes wrong with it. I mean if you buy an older one of course you’re
faced with a little more maintenance like timing belt and just an aged vehicle will
have more problems and more things to go wrong, maybe some valve cover gasket leaks and other
issues. I mean really overall they’re just a fantastic
van. I’d say really the only downside is probably
the price you have to pay for one because people know they’re good, they command a pretty
high dollar. The good news is if you buy one they don’t
depreciate as fast too. You buy something like a Caravan it’s cheap
but the price will just go, yeah a great van, I can’t say enough about them. Mark: There you go, if you have a Toyota Sienna
in Vancouver and you’re looking to get it serviced the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive
in Vancouver. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book
your appointment, or check out their website Thanks Bernie. Bernie: Thanks Mark

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. I am in the market for a Sienna since my 03 4 Runner V8 sport was unfortunately totaled recently. Looking for more space with a growing family and in a commuter format (150miles a day min, highway). I am just looking around for a nicely priced, low mileage unit. I ran across a 2002 with 53K Miles on the clock, looks garage kept and clean its not fully loaded but would get the job done, listed at 6k. But newer more fully loaded low mileage vans are available for good prices as well. What are your thoughts on a 2002 and other years? You mentioned belt timing up to 2006, are they chain driven after '06? Thanks.

  2. This is a great video for giving someone like me a good overview. I am looking to buy a used Sienna and found this incredibly useful. I don't live in Vancouver, but if I did, I would visit Pawlik in a heartbeat. Thank you gentlemen.

  3. Issue I'm seeing on our 2011 Limited and looks to be many other 3.5L AWD, and as I research seems to be common, are the water pump bearings going out which is fairly substantial repair. also the viscous coupler in the rear end going out.

    Oh and that is on a van that just now has 70k miles

  4. I saw this and just had to comment…. I have a 2003 Sienna XLE. 223000 miles which has been running great 'till now. I bought it 2003 with 3000 miles on it. The oil is clean even after 5K miles when it's time to get it changed. No Leaks. No transmission problems. Everything works EXEPT now I'm dealing with what I think is an ECM issue. About a year ago I started to notice that after having started the engine and driving about 5 miles then shutting the engine off for maybe 5 to 15 minutes, when I start it again it would only idle at around 300-400 RPM until I would put it in gear and give it some gas and then it would kick in and idle normal again at around 900 rpm. Last week it seems to have gotten worse. On 2 occasions with the engine cold I would start it but it would immediately shut off if I did not give it gas to keep running. It's like the choke isn't working. If I give it gas for it to warm a little it will keep running but at 300-or so RPM. I drove 12 miles before it went back to normal idle of around 900 RPM. I've been reading up and I think the ECM is bad. The problem I'm facing is one can't just put another used ECM into the car because the ECM has the VIN number and the key registry programmed in. Also I'm in CA and they are nuts with their smog checking every two yrs which is coming up next year. How can I fix this? This car is definitely worth fixing.

  5. I have a 2004 Sienna XLE Limited AWD that has been fantastic. I'm about to hit 200000 miles with the only MAF and Throttle Body being cleaned. It still has very little road noise, uses NO oil, and averages 24 MPG which beats the MPG ratings.

  6. If the timing belt in a Honda breaks, it could destroy the engine. If the timing belt breaks in a Toyota, it doesn't ruin the engine because Toyota's use non interference engine. Honda is more a name than anything else. I have owned plenty of them both and Toyota is a superior vehicle. The Odysseys are plagued with transmission issues. If you buy a sienna, just do as he said and keep up the oil changes to avoid the engine sludge issues. The engine sludge problems were usually in the 1998 through 2003 4 and 6 cylinder engines.

  7. I have 2008 sienna le bought with 91k the van broke down at 114k it’s not reliable i lose a lot of repair on to fix the check engine VSC and track off lights bad experience.

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