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Hello. I've seen some posts asking about higher mileage experiences with the Sienna, and types of costs/repairs encountered. Thought I would share my experience at 203,000 miles including the (few) areas where I've been disappointed.

We bought the vehicle in 2012 on Autotrader w/ 11,000 miles. It was out of Miami, so it's a black vehicle and has super dark tint on all windows (and a thick dark strip across the top of the windshield). A swaggerwagon for sure. The tint is so dark one time an inspector wouldn't pass state inspection on it unless we brought it in with the front windows down! Also for context, we were coming off a 2002 Chrysler Town and Country when we acquired the Sienna. The Town & Country disappointed me in having to replace the transmission at 120,000 miles, and having rust issues in front of the rear wheel wells (and the vehicle was driven only in Missouri and Texas, not really the "rust belt"). So those were big ticket items / aggravations.

In general, the 2011 Sienna has been terrific. Original transmission and engine, still going strong. I do the full synthetic oil at 7500 mile intervals, although am going to do one of those oil test kits next time around after going 10,000 miles (as the owners manual suggests) to confirm the synthetic oil really does protect that long. I do the coolant and transmission fluids at 60,000, following a recommendation from a guy I know who is a Toyota tech. He says that's what he does with his personal vehicles. We did the spark plugs at 120K and plan to do again at 240K.

We really like the SE with the bigger wheels/tires, it has a very 'planted' feel when driving on the highway. We had almost bought a 2011 LE but I'm glad we spent a bit more to get the good looks and more solid driving feel of the SE. We have had difficulties once or twice with tires, where the 19" tire is not always in stock/has to be ordered. We have had multiple people comment on the good looks of the van, e.g., "I wouldn't own a minivan, but if I did, it would be this one". :)

The big ticket problems we had with the Town & Country, have not been issues with the Sienna. The Sienna has been bullet proof reliability and I am going to try for another 100,000 miles since this may be our last minivan for a while (our boys are getting older, less family trips in future years as they get out of school and start working). I think the Sienna will make it. I detail it once a year with a clay bar treatment, orbital polisher, etc. which keeps the paint looking like new. The van really is perfect for our family of 5, which includes 3 six-foot plus boys (2 in college, 1 in high school), our dog, and all our stuff when we travel. It holds a lot of stuff.

To the few complaints I have. These are not complaints where I would say I wish I hadn't bought the vehicle. I really like my Sienna SE and would buy it again. It was our first Toyota, and I have been very impressed. But there are a few areas where we've had problems, that I haven't experienced in other vehicles. As you will see, these are items that are not big ticket (like the transmission or body rust in the Chrysler Town & Country we had).

1. Drivers seat materials are not of appropriate quality/durability. Seat cracked/split on the SE model's 'pleather' side bolsters extremely fast. First time, it was covered under factory warranty which shows how fast it wore out. Had to repair it 2x subsequent to that.
2. Interior bits have broken over time. The dashboard and roof vents are jacked up, broken, etc. in a few places. Had to WD40 the glove box to get it to close. Plastic parts falling off/breaking as the vehicle ages. None of these are show stoppers, we just live with them, but my impression is that Toyota doesn't put the attention into the interiors that they do their powertrains.
3. The stock bluetooth radio was a joke, impossible to operate in a consistent way hands free calling. One of the most frustrating user interfaces I have ever experienced. Finally just bought a pioneer apple car play unit and had Geek Squad install. Very glad we did that.
4. The heavier weight of the vehicle (including when we travel as a family, where it's weighted down) tends to wear the tires out fast at 30-35k miles. We buy the 70-80k mile warranty tires at Firestone, so the mileage gap is covered under the tire warranty which helps. We also bought the Firestone lifetime alignment so each oil change, we do the alignment, rotate and balance at no cost. My guess is this item could be the case with any heavier vehicle (e.g., van, SUV, etc.) and actually some sedans too, not sure.
5. Again probably due to the heavier weight of the overall platform, it has needed suspension parts that I haven't been used to repairing in my other vehicles. E.g., Control Arms, CV Axle & Boot, drive axle/CV shaft, strut mount, etc. My experience with my other vehicles is more just shocks and struts at 100K to 120K. Not requiring the additional suspension work.

Other than these items, it's been terrific. The alternator went out at around 200K miles, on a long trip we were taking, and the vehicle didn't actually break down/stop running until 2 blocks from our destination. That's a good vehicle, didn't strand us! Any vehicle that goes 200k will need various repairs, etc. over time and in general, I think the Sienna shines. I would buy it again and have really enjoyed having this SE model and that we're getting our money's worth out of it.
 

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Do you flush the coolant and transmission or just drain and fill? I’m uncertain on which is actually better. I know they are two different schools of thoughts.
Also did you go to the dealer, DIY, or a shop?
 

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Thanks for the write-up! I love reading about people's ownership history and what work has been done on their cars. Yours is a great example since you bought the car at 11K (when all the parts were probably original) and kept it to over 200K miles.

These sealed transmissions are rather difficult to change the transmission fluid on, since there's no dipstick. Did you take it to an independent garage to get done, or the dealership?
 
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Interesting write up. I just turned 164,000 on my 2014, however I’ve only been it for 5,000 miles and I am the second owner. It was the first time buying a high mileage Toyota and no regrets so far. Bluetooth sucks in pretty much every car Imo. Your complaints about a mopar product are warranted. My brother has one and has had problems with it. It’s going to hurt you to get rid of that van. Lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Do you flush the coolant and transmission or just drain and fill? I’m uncertain on which is actually better. I know they are two different schools of thoughts.
Also did you go to the dealer, DIY, or a shop?
Good question. I take it to a transmission shop for the transmission fluid service. I know the topic you’re highlighting that there are different approaches. I can’t recall which approach they use. I think it’s not the full flush approach. But it’s such a critical component and I spent $2k when my previous van’s transmission went out so I take it to a highly rated transmission shop in our area every 3 years for this particular service.
 

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From what I've read, the Gen3 transmission fluid change is exactly like that of a VW Eurovan, with a standpipe in the drain and you remove the pan to change the filter and more of the oil. It's really not that big a deal but OK, it's not like an engine oil change.
 

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Nice to hear that the Sienna is bulletproof. NOW, "E.g., Control Arms, CV Axle & Boot, drive axle/CV shaft, strut mount, etc." I take this with a grain of salt. Do you really trust where you take the van? If it's a Stealership ... well that's all I'm going to say. My daughter had her last free oil change on her KIA. They told her the air and cabin filter needed to be changed. I had just installed new WIX filters two weeks before. I will say SHTF on this one.
 

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Shops follow a schedule. If you're going to pick away at some service items and then take the vehicle to a shop for others, they're not going to know what you've done. Filters are changed based on mileage, not visual appearance. For items like air filters, you can write the replacement date and mileage on them to get everyone on the same page.
 
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