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Discussion Starter #1
I have owned 3 Toyota pickups. We are looking for a clean used 2004 or new van.

any advice appreciated. It will be our daily driver and camping van. I plan on adding a 3” lift for National Forest road camping

I heard that in 2007 Toyota introduced a timing chain and larger motor.

what issues do I need to be aware of? What do major service repairs cost such as strut replacement and water pump/timing belt replac

I currently drive an extended Ford E350 van for camping. We need a daily driver as our 91 Honda blew the tranny. The E350 is not a good daily driver.

is the Sienna a good Daily driver?
 

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The Sienna is an excellent daily driver. I have a 2004 XLE Limited AWD that has just over 220,000 miles that has been both my daily driver and used for vacations.

I am not sure it would be a good daily driver with a 3" lift.

A few items to consider in the 2nd Generation (2004-2010) Sienna Models:
  • You are correct, if you get a 2007+ the engine will not require a timing belt replacement as a part of regular service.
  • A common issue is the driver's side door check. Make sure you can open/close the door without hearing a "pop" noise. There are a few tactical fixes noted, I fixed mine, but then the fix no longer worked. I ended up just removing the door check (now I need to hold onto the door so it does not swing wide in parking spaces).
  • Another common issue can be problems with the sliding doors. Make sure they open and close smoothly.
  • In some climates, you might notice the dash is cracking (just a cosmetic issue, but one to be aware of).
  • Other service is the same as any other vehicle, oil changes, brakes, tires, suspension, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
@adksienna, thanks for the quick response. The 3" lift not much on low riding vehicle. We have a 1999 Subaru Outback and by the time we finished packing the rig, it looks like a low rider.

Here's 2004 lifted AWD Sienna. Journey Offroad sells bolt-in kits.

45618


Do you do your own timing belt and water pump replacement?

What's the calculated fuel economy on your 2004 with the AWD? The dashboard computers are not as accurate unless you input the gallons of gasoline on each fill.
 

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I had the timing belt and water pump replaced by a local dealer. The total was around $900.

I get around 18 mpg around town and can reach around 23.5 if I am on a long highway trip (average speed around 70 mph).
 

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Discussion Starter #5
@adksienna. $900 is decent for a local dealer. I watched a Sienna timing belt replacement video on YouTube and compared to the DIY repairs that I have done on my Ford 6.0 diesel E350 van, it looks simple. I was thinking about buying a new Sienna with the timing chain. However, what I have found over the years doing automotive repairs, there is always going to be something that's expensive or time-consuming. I am seeing well maintained 2004-2006 vans selling for under $5k. People tend to ask more than the van is worth based on looking at other sales ads. KBB checks the actual sales price for the valuations. Since I have 3 good running vehicles, I will take my time making low ball offers to sellers.
 

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A few years ago, I paid about $1200 for water pump, timing belt, plugs on my '04 Sienna at about 90K. Repairs to watch out for: steering boots (buy the rubber Moogs), lower control arms, sliding door cables, replacement of audio unit. Some vans have needed a steering rack replacement. The Sienna also eats tires (every 35K?). Get an alignment after each tire change. Watch out for the plastic pipe by upper radiator hose. Some have literally self destructed (mine is okay but I will change it soon). OEM front brakes and rotors are utter garbage but rears lasted 100K+. I changed my rotors to carbon fiber and ceramic pads from Autozone (under $150, iirc) and they are an amazing upgrade with very little fade under heavy braking. Bleed the brakes every time you change pads. Rear sags with 4 bike rack hitch and cargo. Install Airlift airbags - easy DIY for under $100. Some have had radiators leak at about 150K, so I will change mine out if I keep the van till second timing belt change.

My '04 is a 2WD and has 150K and while it needs attention occasionally, it has been pretty reliable. We get about 21 or 22 mpg, mostly highway. I'm a big believer in preventative maintenance though. However, if I were buying a used Sienna, I would consider the 2016. It has a timing chain and a proven 6spd transmission+engine combo. 2017 had the (then) problematic newer transmission.
 

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People tend to ask more than the van is worth based on looking at other sales ads.
If you can fix, you can save thousands. Often folks are frighten by a large repair estimate and just want to get out from under. Specially if you can fix it for pocket change. As long as it's basically sound. You have to be quick. Dealerships constantly comb for ads that ask $500 for $3000 cars. 90% of the ads left are asking $3000 for $500 cars.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
After owning 3 Ford Econoline vans in 8 years, I have become good at replacing and rebuilding parts outside of the engine. Simple $2000 front end work can be done with Moog replacement parts for a fraction of what repair shop charges. I am confident that I can handle timing belt installation too.

I will be combing Craigslist and Offerup for $500 vans. I can use repair estimates for bargaining. Since I don't need the vehicle, I plan on looking at many vehicles with fair low-ball offers.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I am looking at a 2004 Sienna XLE. One owner.

"2004 Toyota Sienna XLE van. Original owner.
137,800 miles.
Good condition
Scheduled maintenance performed for the entire life of the car
....
 
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