Toyota Sienna Forum - banner

Buying a 2008 LE w/ 86k. Are blown headgaskets common?

5221 Views 10 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  fibber2
Having a 2008 LE checked out at a local mechanic before I buy it tomorrow. Coming from a 2003 Subaru Outback that had 2 headgaskets performed I am a bit concerned about major known issues like on the Subaru's. I understand all cars will have various issues across a forum like this but are 2008 Sienna's known for major issues like HG's? The coolant tank smelled like coolant, I didn't see sludge under the oil cap. Many receipts for oil changes. Van is in good condition visually. I am paying 11k for it which is better than what I have been finding for the last month. Opinions?
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Head gaskets aren't an issue on the 3.5 litre engine. Major issue is the vvti oil line being replaced to the all metal line. As well as the oil cooler line if the van has the oil cooler install.

Google "vvti oil line failures" and you'll find plenty of information.
Thank you. Any specific check I should inform the auto shop about? Is the 3.5L better then the older 3.3 in reliability? Besides the timing chain vs belt.
As long as the fluids have been changed with some regularity, which you imply, the transmission and 3.5 v6 are basically tried and true bullet proof, with the one exception of the oil line already mentioned in a prior post. The only other quirks you may look into are the front door hinges, and power sliding doors if equipped. You can google those for more info. With basic maintenance you can expect at minimum another 150k largely prob free miles. I personally know shuttle owners who have gotten 300k+ out of their 2008-2010 Siennas, with little more than routine fluid changes and replacing consumables like tires and brakes. Shhh... Some of those shuttles are still in service, and you would never know they have so many miles from their smooth ride and drive.

As as for if that is a good price for an 2008, I might try to talk em down into the 8-9k range.
I have 2008 Sienna as well, 3.5L engine very strong 270 HP very reliable, one thing I don't like because it was noisy every cold morning start, ticking noise like diesel sound, also drone noise at 2.5K RPM or higher, sounds like sport car with after market exhaust, many owners have complaints water pump early failures, mine car WP failed at 130K miles, check out this link to learn more WP, because they are not cheap (parts & labor) I did it by myself took me 4 hours,
I wouldn't say that the 3.5 engine is bulletproof. There can be other issues with the VVti. I knew Fibber had two issues with his Sienna.

Read that link for details.
3rd Generation Toyota Sienna 2011-present updated VVTi metal line, I replaced VVTi line after a week I bought a car , I am 2nd owner, its simple and easy took me 45 minutes to do it, metal line cost $25 .
Welcome Backwards1. What? You don't like Subi HG issues? Just part of the character of the brand! My 2002 OBW has had the drivers rear external HG leak twice, yet I still love and drive the old beast daily. My new 2014 OBW has become a garage queen while I still enjoy the old one.

2008: Variable valve timing has been a low level issue with the 2GR-FE, along with water pumps. Steering rack boot & seal fails, front door stops, sliding door internals, rear liftgate struts - these were big issues on 2004-2006 vans, but have diminished (although not to zero) with running redesigns over the model run. Homelink overhead panel buttons / control boards break. Some have had AC compressor and HVAC underdash actuator issues.

Honestly, I feel the Sienna (Gen II & Gen III) has more issues overall than it should - a sort of unToyota-like experience in IMHO. But overall they are pretty nice vehicles.
I've had two issues with mine. First, water pump failure around 84k or so. Replaced myself. Second issue is steering rack leak on passenger side. Currently researching that one, will probably be posting a couple of questions shortly.
I wouldn't say that the 3.5 engine is bulletproof. There can be other issues with the VVti. I knew Fibber had two issues with his Sienna.

Read that link for details.
Yes, I stand by my statement that the 3.5 is "bulletproof." of course there are some very rare posts of a magic bullet defeating the VVti, or some abnormality, but by far the 3.5 is an excellently reliable, engine with good power and decent economy. I read your linked posts, and it sounds like an incompetent dealer / service dept.--surely not the norm or even close.

Yes, its a machine produced en mass, so by nature it will have a hiccup here and there that will be experienced / reported, but for the most part, and relation to comparables (and the unique quirks of each) The sienna is a best buy, and most reliable.

Don't believe it? Try a used Dodge, Honda Ody with VCM (class action anyone?), or KIA.
Dealer issues with the reassembly aside, VVTi actuator issues with this engine in it's various installations across the Toyota & Lexus line show up more often than I think they should. Piston slap is also an annoyance, on par with my old Subi - but it's probably more noise than real wear. But overall, it's a decent mill.
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.