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My Sienna seems to have entered a phase of perpetual issues. It started a few years ago when I had the clunking of stabilizer end links. I opted to replace struts at the time, since they were at 130k miles. When lifting the van, I saw that the ball joints were shot. In getting things back together, my passenger half shaft fell apart into pieces and goo. Shortly after that, I needed an inspection, which found a shot flex pipe in my exhaust. The shop welded in a new section, but it otherwise passed without issue. A few months later, a rear brake line blew out. It was winter, so I had a shop do the work and they ended up having to flare on a new end to the hard line because it was so corroded. While there, they welded in a new section of exhaust to fix ANOTHER hole. A few months after that, my rear speed sensor went out and I got sidewall damage from hitting a broken curb that was buried in some grass leaving a parking lot onto a blind curve. When I pulled the drum to replace the speed sensor, I discovered my shoes were worn down pretty significantly. I hadn't even gotten the chance to replace the shoes when my front left wheel bearing started making a bit of noise and I had some moderate vibration at highway speeds. I had another inspection (2 years state emissions/safety) and they welded in another new flex section, plus also fixed 3 other exhaust leaks. Interestingly enough, they didn't say anything about brakes or the wheel bearing. However, what they DID do was cross-thread the passenger side lug nuts, thereby making the wheel not fully seated. So a couple months after the inspection, it sounded like my passenger wheel bearing was making noise, so I opted to buy the complete Moog assembly. I don't know why I never noticed, but, at some point, someone pulled my backing plates off and, on removing the lug nuts, the two cross-threaded ones actually snapped off the lugs and two others were barely finger tight. No wonder why it was making noise! In any case, it was good that I opted for the assembly because it came pre-assembled with hub, bearing, knuckle, lugs, and backing plate. I sheared the ball joint bolt off thanks to rust, so I ended up with a new ball joint too. Basically, that whole corner was new, except the brakes. Well, as it turned out, I was nearly metal-on-metal on that side and the rotor was severely warped. So I threw on a new rotor and pads and figured I might as well refresh the other side to eliminate the noise and highway vibration. In any case, I had to replace the rotor and pads on the other side, which is like 30% of the job anyway. About the time my right wheel started making noise, I started losing 2-3 psi from that tire per day. However, a 2-hour each-way drive to the airport resulted in the tire being flat in the morning. Upon refilling it, it seemed to be back to the slow leak. I decided to deal with it, since I would need an alignment after doing the other side knuckle.

Unfortunately, life and other projects got in the way and a few days into almost 2 months to install the knuckle assembly on the other side. As it turns out, it was yesterday when I finally had the chance to do the job. Of course, I jinxed myself. I love DIY, but I wasn't looking forward to all the things which can (and, usually do) go wrong on any DIY. However, disassembly went surprisingly perfect. Everything came loose and literally nothing was going wrong. I had the thought of, "Wow, I can't believe everything is going right." Realizing what I had done, I quickly purged the thought from my mind, but it was too late. I started reassembly and it was going along fine. All the parts and pieces fit together and all the potential problem points were problem free. I even took a break, happy with my progress. Literally all I had left to do was install the brakes, which should be a 15-20 minute job. Well, the threads on the caliper bracket bolt were all screwed up, but it seemed like I was able to get it started by hand, so I figured it was fine. Except, it was NOT fine (narrated in his best Morgan Freeman voice). It totally stripped out the threads on the caliper bracket. In hindsight, the reason the bolt threads were screwed up was probably because the bolts have NEVER been removed and have faced 18 coastal New England years with salt from beaches and salt from snow. Had I tried to chase the threads, it might have saved me but I didn't. Well, I should have learned long ago (because it happens every single time), that I shouldn't do repairs on Sunday afternoons. Dealer parts department is closed on Sundays and the parts store that seems to have parts in stock closes at 3. The 2 other parts places had nothing, but there was a new bracket and bolts at a place 25 minutes away (over the border into the next State). I fortunately, had preemptively ordered a slide pin boot kit when I did the other side, because they didn't have one in-stock. So I installed new boots, lubed up the pins, installed and cleaned the rotor, slapped in the pads, and reinstalled the caliper. I start the car to seat the caliper. A couple pumps of the brakes to seat it and build some pressure and I hear a, "PSSSSS," sound. Now, no pressure will build at all. Turns out that the OTHER rear brake line blew out.

At this point, I feel like I have the Van of Theseus. I have 2 new tires coming tomorrow and I'm on the fence with pulling the trigger to get a whole stainless cat-back exhaust, since it has gotten loud yet again since the last patch job. And I still don't know what the source of my high RPMs at cold idle is. And, of course, I also have some seepage around the trans cooler lines, so I need a new radiator. Oh, and I'll probably need a new battery (tests as failed because a 750 CCM only has 500ish CCM) before winter. I still have the other rear wheel hub (figuring, if one was bad, the other wasn't far behind) and I had gotten some rear shocks to do, at my leisure and I STILL haven't done the rear brakes yet. I'm not sure how many more fixes I can throw at this van.

I've probably put something like $3-4k into the van in the last 3 years, which is still better than a car payment. It's definitely starting to show its age though. My wife has 2 more years on her car payment. I'm hoping to keep the van running for another 3 years (1 year without a car loan), at least, but I don't know that she'll make it that long. Heading into the fall, I'm hoping I can get the other rear hub on, change the rear brakes and, if I can find the time, throw in the new rear shocks. If I can resolve the exhaust issues, that would be all the better. I may bite the bullet and take the van to the dealer to diagnose the high RPM at cold idle, but, if I take it in now, they'll just say it's normal. It needs to be COLD idle. If you're curious, in the Winter, first-start in the morning throws it to about 2000 RPM for 2-3 minutes and then it starts to drop, which takes another 2-3 minutes. I've replaced all vacuum lines, MAF, air filter, O2 sensors, and 1 of the two A/F sensors. In the last 5 years, the van also got a new fuel pump, spark plugs and timing belt. Fuel trims don't indicate any excessive lean or rich state. It's possible that, when I had plugs done a few years ago, they didn't replace the intake manifold gasket and I have a small air leak, but the starter spray check doesn't reveal that to be the case.

So, that's my story. It's a long tale of the life of a shade tree mechanic, full of rust and bloody knuckles, the occasional bruised ego and more than the occasional profanity-filled outburst. All I can do, though, is smile and wait for the next thing to break. Because it always will and, with any luck, I'll always be there to fix it.
 

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If you're curious, in the Winter, first-start in the morning throws it to about 2000 RPM for 2-3 minutes and then it starts to drop, which takes another 2-3 minutes.
Wow, what a writeup there BilliG! It is good that you can help yourself so keep the faith! Regarding the high revs upon starting this is how mine behaves in Miami , even in summer , except that after about a minute or so the idle drops to about 1000 rps and by that time I'm ready to drive off. I posted a while back about this and some folks says this is normal. I dunno if it is. None of my other vehicle rev up like this in the morning. From then on during the day the van does not behave like this . If the dealer finds out somthing I sure would like to know what the fix is.
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
In warm weather, mine will go to something like 1200-1300 RPM for 30-60 seconds and then drops down to around 750 RPM, but, if you're outside the van, it smells like it's running rich. That could be an exhaust issue in my case, except that I know I have the high-rpm in winter issue. You should head up to ski country in your van just to see what happens in the cold! 🥶
 

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Sienna seems to have entered a phase of perpetual issues
Happens to all cars. I've been saying "just want two more years" for so long it's hard finding parts. There's two ways to reasonable reliability. Owning one new vehicle or two old ones. Odds of two old cars being broken at the same time is slim if leisurely repaired right away. Your not stranded. Downside is insurance cost more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Happens to all cars. I've been saying "just want two more years" for so long it's hard finding parts. There's two ways to reasonable reliability. Owning one new vehicle or two old ones. Odds of two old cars being broken at the same time is slim if leisurely repaired right away. Your not stranded. Downside is insurance cost more.
I knew a guy who was single and owned 3 old (8-15 year old) vehicles. He had one which he could ONLY drive in winter because it had no A/C and got terrible gas mileage, but it was AWD. Then, he had 2 others, but each one was nearing the maintenance cliff. Eventually, he sold one private-party and then traded the other two in on a brand new, fully loaded Kia sedan. The selling point was the air conditioned seats because, as he put it, he was a sweaty fat a$$.
 

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Back in 05 I had an 85 F150. I was parked beside my buddies 87 Mazda truck. His was rust free and mint. Mine was brutal, rust inside and out. Hell, the only reason my feet didnt go through the floor was because the rust and welded itself to the carpet. His truck actually had more miles on it than mine, 320 k to my 290 k. The difference, his was rustproofed from day one, mine never was.
Later that year I took the truck in to get a rusty fuel line fixed. On the way out of the lot a brake line let go so back I went. My mechanic said "look, I'm going to fix this brake line since I hit it changing the fuel line, but after this, I'm not touching this truck anymore. Every time I do, something else breaks".
The point of my long winded ramble is rustproofing works. It isnt just for the surface rust that looks like crap, its for the mechanicals just as much. Brake lines dont rot, bolts dont get seized into place etc. When you go to work on a rustproofed car, stuff comes apart just as easily as it did when it left the factory.
Bill- It sucks your van is in the shape its in, I feel your pain, and probably not much you can do about it now. But you said your wife has car payments and guessing what she drives is somewhat fairly new, and you sound like a guy who keeps his vehicles for a long time. You are a prime candidate to rust proof.
My suggestion to anyone who deals with rust is get it treated. DIY it or take it somewhere but if you want to make your car last longer, future repairs easier and come less often, I cant say it enough.
And by no means am I trying to rub salt in your wounds, just offering a suggestion from someone who can speak from personal experience on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Bill- It sucks your van is in the shape its in, I feel your pain, and probably not much you can do about it now. But you said your wife has car payments and guessing what she drives is somewhat fairly new, and you sound like a guy who keeps his vehicles for a long time. You are a prime candidate to rust proof.
My suggestion to anyone who deals with rust is get it treated. DIY it or take it somewhere but if you want to make your car last longer, future repairs easier and come less often, I cant say it enough.
And by no means am I trying to rub salt in your wounds, just offering a suggestion from someone who can speak from personal experience on it.
I totally get it! I always take the cost-benefit approach with things. My wife's car came with rust proofing coating that was $500 and needed to be reapplied every 2 years. If I do that, her car will likely last for 15-20 years before various mechanical things and/or "battle scars" on the body or other issues start to crop up while the book value goes down, tipping the scales in favor of replacement rather than repair. If I do absolutely nothing, the car will still last 15-20 years, but repairs might have increased labor costs and road-proximate parts like tie rod ends and control arms might wear out faster. It won't affect wear items which break down or age-based deterioration of plastic/rubber parts and it won't prevent the shopping-cart dings and gravel/sand pitting. Maybe, if I had a high-end sports car or some super-luxury vehicle, it would be worth it. I just don't see the payoff on a kid hauler/grocery getter though.

There's a guy I work with who is a BMW and Porsche enthusiast. He rust proofs everything and washes/waxes his vehicles weekly (more in the winter), details them often, pays hundreds of dollars to body shops multiple times per year to fix all those dings and nicks, preemptively replaces anything and everything with dealer-original parts at about 50% of their anticipated life, and does various upgrades and addons to make his cars really pop. He spends $10-15k per year on each of his cars (he is down to 3 now). I try to keep my car expenses down to less than $1k per year, but it usually ends up closer to $2k as the car nears the end of its life. The only downside is that I won't have a mint-condition, garage-find, all-original two-owner 2006 Toyota Sienna in Slate Metallic for my currently non-existent grandchild to inherit like I did with my grandparents' '38 Cadillac.
 

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I pay $150 per year and thats taking it in to Krown, a rustproofing place that does the entire car. I dont baby it and I maybe wash it a few times per year.
When I do need to work on my vehicles, as they get older, I reap the benefit of the rustproofing every time so to me, yes, its cost is outweighed by its convenience. That and the higher resale.
Each to his own, I just think even a few cans of DIY spray for $20 a year in your driveway can save eliminate a ton of grief.
 

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I just think even a few cans of DIY spray for $20 a year in your driveway can save eliminate a ton of grief
I really don't have rust issues here in Miami as I am far inland from the ocean and our roads are not salted. 😀 .Still I do go under the van and apply a coat of marine anti corrosion spray every year!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Without all the rust, what do you guys use as an excuse to play with fire? 🔥 I suppose you guys don't even have an old 5-foot long stainless pipe from an old sailboat to use as a cheater bar? :ROFLMAO:
 

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During yesterday’s oil change I noticed crust and pitting on the transmission drain plug, and surface rust on the aftermarket intermediate drive shaft. The van is subject to more road wetness in a year in TN than the last 15 in CA plus it made a couple of winter trips to Cleveland. I rinse the underside after Cleveland trips. I’m tempted to drive it down a boat ramp to let it soak.

Sixto
‘04 LE FWD 200K miles
 

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Well.... I "invested" $8700 into a 2010 I paid $5500 for in... wait for it.... 15 months. After all that, it was STILL broken. And continued to do so. I finally called "uncle" and sold it. I then bought a 2022 Hybrid Sienna. Yeah, I've got a payment of $685 (but I pay $1000/mo. I put $5000 down, so this March will be 15 months and $20,000 paid for new van) but over that same 15 months, the old one would have cost me $10,000 in fuel (at current prices), whereas my new one will cost $4,170 assuming a $3/gallon fuel cost over the 57,000 miles that I had the old one. Add in the $8700 in repairs and $5500 purchase price = $24,200 for the old van and $24,170 for new van. Costs would equalize even quicker if I just made the minimum payment every month.

Verdict?

It makes sense to keep your old vehicle provided it is reliable. The old van met it's waterloo on constant and perpetual breakdowns. Had it lived up to the Toyota badge, rather than be a BMW 7 series with a T on the front, I'd use it until Uber and Lyft deactivated it due to age. I have a 2012 Volvo XC60 with 227,000 miles. I never bought a replacement car because it never broke badly or consistently enough to make me think about it. When your old vehicle's costs mount and grow wildly out of control, it's time to say goodbye. In a fleet manager's perspective, any vehicle or piece of equipment which maintenance/repairs exceeds 30% of residual value gets evaluated/considered for replacement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
In a fleet manager's perspective, any vehicle or piece of equipment which maintenance/repairs exceeds 30% of residual value gets evaluated/considered for replacement.
I often disregard certain rational cost items that are normal wear items. I have a sister-in-law who, many years ago, took her 4 year-old vehicle into the dealer for an oil change and state inspection and they told her it needed 4 new tires and some standard service-interval items and she decided that it was "unreliable" and traded it in on the spot for a new car that was $20k more than the previous vehicle's purchase price. My van is currently getting 2 new tires installed and an alignment. $300 for tires, $33 for installation and balance and $50(ish) for an alignment. As long as the value exceeds $1275, I should be safe. Van is currently worth $4845 according to Kelly Blue Book. Except that I ALSO need to do a cat-back exhaust and radiator and the rear brakes are still on the list to be done before Winter sets in. Exhaust is $600 and the rear brakes will probably be around $250. Radiator, if I DIY, will be $250. That would put my total at $1482, which would exceed 30% of value by $100. But tires and brakes are natural wear items, so I don't count those. The exhaust is only a cat-back replacement because I'm sick of paying a shop $150-200 for a patch job just because they happen to have it in the shop for something else. I could easily only spend a few hundred bucks every 2 years rather than 2-3 times per year, if I wanted to just live with a loud exhaust. As such, I'm looking at it more along the lines of just a few hundred dollars towards the "is it more expensive to own this van vs. another vehicle question.
 

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Since I am an avid and capable diy guy ( capable for the most part) my thinking is different in that I see the value in my 16 year Sienna for what it does for me. Yes, with 205k miles , the monetary value maybe in todays market , $5-$6k , perhaps,. Still , that would not prevent me for dropping a remanufactured transmission worth 2600 bucks and maybe 10 hours of labor , into it. I maintain my Sienna rather well and I don't need something new to get me from point A to B. The testimonies are there with Siennas lasting up to 300k miles. Now , if I were not a diy person then my thinking would be different and maybe gotten rid of this van years ago. Thanks to forums like this and as I said earlier being capable , there is justification for me to hold on to it much longer. Knowledge is power , having some skill and to top it all off, my labor is free.
 
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Agreed. I don’t account for the cost of my labor.

It’s also very different also when downtime isn’t a factor. We have other vehicles to use if the Sienna is down for a couple of months or abducted by aliens. I can take my time replacing it. A single parent with one vehicle can’t put a dollar value on uptime, 30% or otherwise.

Sixto
‘04 LE FWD 200K miles
 

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Spending 80 hours a month in a van, how depressing. How much did you get for the old van?
Seeing weekly payouts of $1000+ helps a lot. Besides, the Sienna drives far better than the GMC Savana I'm stuck in at my day job (delivery driver).

Yes, it occurs to me now that I didn't put that number in there. It was late at night and I have not felt good for the last few days. Funny story. I asked $4500, got offered $3800, countered $4000 but ended up taking $3800. The new owner backed over my mailbox as he left. I took full advantage "Oh dear! That looks like it'll cost around $200." So technically I got $4000.
 

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I often disregard certain rational cost items that are normal wear items. I have a sister-in-law who, many years ago, took her 4 year-old vehicle into the dealer for an oil change and state inspection and they told her it needed 4 new tires and some standard service-interval items and she decided that it was "unreliable" and traded it in on the spot for a new car that was $20k more than the previous vehicle's purchase price. My van is currently getting 2 new tires installed and an alignment. $300 for tires, $33 for installation and balance and $50(ish) for an alignment. As long as the value exceeds $1275, I should be safe. Van is currently worth $4845 according to Kelly Blue Book. Except that I ALSO need to do a cat-back exhaust and radiator and the rear brakes are still on the list to be done before Winter sets in. Exhaust is $600 and the rear brakes will probably be around $250. Radiator, if I DIY, will be $250. That would put my total at $1482, which would exceed 30% of value by $100. But tires and brakes are natural wear items, so I don't count those. The exhaust is only a cat-back replacement because I'm sick of paying a shop $150-200 for a patch job just because they happen to have it in the shop for something else. I could easily only spend a few hundred bucks every 2 years rather than 2-3 times per year, if I wanted to just live with a loud exhaust. As such, I'm looking at it more along the lines of just a few hundred dollars towards the "is it more expensive to own this van vs. another vehicle question.
The 30% figure is based on repairs over the course of a year. And just because something is evaluated for replacement doesn't mean it gets replaced. A really reliable vehicle might just happen to need brakes on all 4 corners, tires, and all fluids serviced at the same time; but be immaculately kept and very nice overall. This would not warrant replacement.

It all depends on the owner and what he/she is willing to put up with. If you're tired of issues and just want a car that works, replace the vehicle. The cost won't matter to you. If you have time to tinker with stuff and you don't mind it being down for a while, then keep it around and put as much time and money as you want into it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Boy was I wrong! Alignment has suffered dramatic inflation. $129!!! On a plus note, it needed it. Guy said the passenger side was so far off, the machine couldn't read it.
 
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