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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, I'm new here. I don't know if this is o.k. to post, but I'm an older lady who is trying to find a dependable van to possibly turn into a camper van to travel in for a year, and I don't know much about car maintenance. I'm looking at this car tomorrow. Can't post link to FB ad.

The car has about 182,000 miles. This is more about maintenance than the condition of the car otherwise. It seems well-maintained, and looks good. This is what he says about maintenance:

Water pump/timing belt, plugs and coils changed at 120k mi
Tires and brakes were done last spring.
New battery, intake cleaned this year.
Very reliable and runs great. Never had a breakdown. Doesn’t burn or leak oil
Only neg is a missing antenna.

So is it time to have all those things replaced again? I'm having a mechanic check it out, but it seems to me that the timing belt probably needs replacing about now, right? I don't want to buy it, then have to spend $1,000 replacing things. He voluntarily reduced the price from $4,000 to $3,500 before I've even seen the car. He's either being really nice because of my situation, or it's a red flag that there is a lot of work that needs to be done. I just want to know if it's going to cost me thousands in scheduled maintenance in the next year. If so, I will have to pass it up, and it looks like a nice van.

How much does it cost to replace an antenna? Can I replace a powered antenna with a regular antenna to save money?
 

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Get a 2007 or later Sienna. They came with a timing chain that doesn't need replacing.
First, I don't have enough money to buy a 2007 unless it has well over 200,000 miles, and I don't want that. Second, timing chains can break, and when they do, they can do insane damage.
 

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First, I don't have enough money to buy a 2007 unless it has well over 200,000 miles, and I don't want that. Second, timing chains can break, and when they do, they can do insane damage.
Didn't know what your financial situation was, but some people who are in the market for a Toyota minivan aren't aware that the engine was redesign to accomodate a timing chain in lieu of a timing belt. You did mention that you were concern about having to do a timing belt on the van that you were interested in buying. Timing chain can break, but not as often as a timing belt.
 

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Didn't know what your financial situation was, but some people who are in the market for a Toyota minivan aren't aware that the engine was redesign to accomodate a timing chain in lieu of a timing belt. You did mention that you were concern about having to do a timing belt on the van that you were interested in buying. Timing chain can break, but not as often as a timing belt.
I think that's great, but I just can't afford anything newer right now. I only have $3500 to spend.
 

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Timing belt interval is 90K miles so it would be good for a little longer. Newer tires is always a plus.

At that age and mileage you're getting into the territory where it's' going to need some tlc. Suspension is going to start wearing out if its original, electrical parts may develop intermittent problems. This is true of any car, my point being this is not the price point where you can expect bullet proof reliability and shoe string maintenance costs.

You should either expect to pay for a newer model up front or expect to pay for increasingly frequent repairs.
 

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I don't want to buy it, then have to spend $1,000 replacing things.
Then don't buy it. When looking at any vehicle with that age/mileage and given the mileage you intend to put on it, I would reserve at least $1000 for maintenance and repairs, probably more given you are self-admittedly not mechanically inclined. A good pre-purchase inspection will probably cost you a few hundred bucks each time. Probably need to save up a bit more before going on this endeavor.

-Mike



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First off, welcome!

As noted above, this is a tough call. On the plus side, it's a 2006 and not the more trouble prone 2004 (introductory year of this model). Negative as noted is that it's the end of the smaller engine and will be needing some work in the future.

There are plenty of member vans here that have achieved the 180 - 200k mark, but most folks have also had to sink at least $1-2k at this mileage to refresh them.

Big potential trouble spots to be looking at:
Power door cable and latch failures
Power steering boot leakage and rack issues
CV joints
Rear suspension bushings play that induces stability control intervention
Wheel bearings all around (if these are still original, you are likely on borrowed time!)
Transmission performance

What else team?

Do you have a code reader or can you borrow one? Make sure its in Readiness condition, or you'll have issues with many State Inspection programs. This also helps you see anything recently cleared that the seller is trying to hide. Make sure all the dash warning lights illuminate when starting up (common lights that DON'T light is another RED FLAG).
 

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Water pump/timing belt, plugs and coils changed at 120k mi...
I'm having a mechanic check it out, but it seems to me that the timing belt probably needs replacing about now, right? I don't want to buy it, then have to spend $1,000 replacing things
Get a Carfax report and bring it to your mechanic along with the van. This year Sienna is know to be extremely reliable; many go 250K+ miles with few problems if maintained correctly. The Carfax should show how it's been maintained and your mechanic will look for obvious signs of trouble. My 2004 I bought two years ago with ~160K has needed a radiator and a right CV axle as the only major repairs. Oh, and a timing belt/water pump which had never been replaced. The key reason I bought it was that the 1st (original) owner did have the oil changed regularly even though he neglected all other maintenance. In addition to the timing belt/water pump having never been replaced, the automatic transmission fluid had never been changed.
I'm an older lady who is trying to find a dependable van to possibly turn into a camper van to travel in for a year
I'm an older man and I bought my van for the same reason. I usually fix my own vehicles but if you don't then spring for a AAA or similar service where they tow your car/jump your battery for $50 to $150 per year. It's worth the peace of mind.

This year van has the reliable 3MZ-FE engine, first introduced in the US as the 1MZ-FE in '94. It has few inherent problems. The 2007+ models have the 2GR-FE with a chain instead of a belt. It's also known to be very reliable but, like any other engine, has its share of known problems. I'd be comfortable driving either on long trips.

From my POV you've got another (182K – 120K) 60K left on that replaced timing belt, unless it was replaced more than seven years ago. (I'm not sure on the age replacement interval.)

Edit: body and electonics integrity on these vans seem to be good. If the auto sliding doors fail you can just have the cables cut and use them manually. The antenna problem can be trickier because the higher level vans have some fancy combination windwhield/side window antenna. If that failed my guess is that your mechanic could install a regular pole antenna pretty cheap.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks, everyone. This is the best van I've found in this area for the money. I'm going to use the van to make money before I take off on the road, so I guess I'll have to put some of that back into it. I don't mind investing in it, because I've seen these vans go for 300,000 miles with proper maintenance. We don't have vehicle inspections in FL, so I'm good there.

I'll take the list of things you mentioned and make sure the mechanic checks them out when I get the inspection. An inspection here is about $75, not a couple hundred. Well worth it not to be stuck with a lemon.

I was concerned that he said he just put $700 in to it to clean the intake. That sounded a bit high just for that, but I haven't had a car for 11 years, so prices have probably gone way up by now, and I remember that my Nissan Sentra was insanely expensive to repair, and the head gasket blew at 192,000 miles, so I got rid of it.

I'm going to be very careful, and maybe if the inspection doesn't come out well, I'll try to save up a bit more and get a later model, but for now, this is the best I could find in my budget.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Get a Carfax report and bring it to your mechanic along with the van. This year Sienna is know to be extremely reliable; many go 250K+ miles with few problems if maintained correctly. The Carfax should show how it's been maintained and your mechanic will look for obvious signs of trouble. My 2004 I bought two years ago with ~160K has needed a radiator and a right CV axle as the only major repairs. Oh, and a timing belt/water pump which had never been replaced. The key reason I bought it was that the 1st (original) owner did have the oil changed regularly even though he neglected all other maintenance. In addition to the timing belt/water pump having never been replaced, the automatic transmission fluid had never been changed.I'm an older man and I bought my van for the same reason. I usually fix my own vehicles but if you don't then spring for a AAA or similar service where they tow your car/jump your battery for $50 to $150 per year. It's worth the peace of mind.

This year van has the reliable 3MZ-FE engine, first introduced in the US as the 1MZ-FE in '94. It has few inherent problems. The 2007+ models have the 2GR-FE with a chain instead of a belt. It's also known to be very reliable but, like any other engine, has its share of known problems. I'd be comfortable driving either on long trips.

From my POV you've got another (182K – 120K) 60K left on that replaced timing belt, unless it was replaced more than seven years ago. (I'm not sure on the age replacement interval.)

Edit: body and electonics integrity on these vans seem to be good. If the auto sliding doors fail you can just have the cables cut and use them manually. The antenna problem can be trickier because the higher level vans have some fancy combination windwhield/side window antenna. If that failed my guess is that your mechanic could install a regular pole antenna pretty cheap.
Thank you so much. You made me feel a lot better. He's had the van for 8 years, so I'll ask when he changed that belt. I'll also ask about oil/fluid changes, because he hasn't mentioned that at all, which is a bit strange, since the first thing car sellers usually say is that they changed the oil/fluids regularly.

As for the power door, I was aware of that and that's exactly what I was going to do if it broke, just cut the cable and use it manually. I'm not spending $3,000 to fix a power door. I hate all the power stuff on cars these days. Just another thing to break. I feel like I could learn to replace electronic parts easier than I could the engine/mechanical parts.

AAA is a given. No way I'm hitting the road without it, especially since I'll be heading into some pretty remote areas on my way from FL to Utah to see my son.

Thanks again. Once I get the van and am able to use it to make some money, I'll be able to put that money aside to cover maintenance and repairs. I want to have at least a $3,000 cushion before I head out to be safe, because if I break down in the boonies, mechanics are liable to try to take advantage and jack up the prices to fix it. One of the downsides of being a woman.
 

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Hasn't been mentioned yet... you can see the dealer service records for free by signing up for a Toyota dot com account and entering the VIN number. I;ve found some interesting notes from Techs that way.
 

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Hasn't been mentioned yet... you can see the dealer service records for free by signing up for a Toyota dot com account and entering the VIN number. I;ve found some interesting notes from Techs that way.
Good to know, I'll check it out, but I don't think this guy took it to a dealership to have it worked on. He told me the name of the last mechanic he took it to here, and it's definitely not a dealer.
 

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my 2006 van money light came on a few months ago, around 160k miles, P0430, and then later P0420, cost me $300 on denso parts from rockauto, 2 air fuel ratio sensor and 2 oxygen sensors, i almost lost van last year when an 70+ years old lady ran the stop sign at 25 mph zone t-bone the driver side door, the old lady's insurance adjuster wanted me to surrender my keys and title and cut me a check around $6000.
 

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my 2006 van money light came on a few months ago, around 160k miles, P0430, and then later P0420, cost me $300 on denso parts from rockauto, 2 air fuel ratio sensor and 2 oxygen sensors, i almost lost van last year when an 70+ years old lady ran the stop sign at 25 mph zone t-bone the driver side door, the old lady's insurance adjuster wanted me to surrender my keys and title and cut me a check around $6000.
So what happened? I take it you kept the van. I wish I could work on cars, but I can't, so your $300 in parts would probably cost me more than twice that.
 

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my 2006 van money light came on a few months ago, around 160k miles, P0430, and then later P0420, cost me $300 on denso parts from rockauto, 2 air fuel ratio sensor and 2 oxygen sensors, i almost lost van last year when an 70+ years old lady ran the stop sign at 25 mph zone t-bone the driver side door, the old lady's insurance adjuster wanted me to surrender my keys and title and cut me a check around $6000.
Can yu expand and post link to those sensors.. I also have both those codes currently and smog inspection coming up..
Did the codes go away or came back.. How many miles till repair and codes gone.. I was thinking catalytic converter repair, no???

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the money light cam on, and then a few seconds later the VSC and trac off came on as well
upon scanning code, it read P0430, and i read there could be many things, from loose fuel cap, to clogged PCV, dirty engine air filter, o2 sensor and cat.
i tackled the issue immediately, trying to find the cheap way out, cleaned the PCV and changed engine air filter, put a little grease on gas cap gasket then reset the code, but the same code P0430 came back after a week or 300 to 400 miles of driving, i guess those free labor didn't fix the code for me

i was looking at techstream on a/f and o2 sensor graphs, the o2 sensor indeed a little lazy,
unsure if bad cat or sensor, i took the cheaper route first and went to rockauto and bought denso sensor,
there are 5 sensors from denso on rockauto, which would be same material as you would walk into local stealership, but without the stealership logo,
my denso sensors were direct plug in into existing harness, fit first time.
between FWD and AWD configuration, the rear downstream for AWD i guess have an extra drive shaft to rear differential.

DENSO 2349042 Upstream Front
DENSO 2344168 Downstream Front

DENSO 2349012 Upstream Rear
DENSO 2344516 Downstream Rear (FWD)
DENSO 2344512 Downstream Rear (AWD)

i picked the low hanging fruit first, replaced the 3 easy one, tried the hardest bank1 sensor1, and backed out
check engine was reset and remain off and the p0430 never came back.
drove another 5 or 6 months, check engine light turn on, this time, P0420, so i bit the bullet and changed bank1 sensor1,
reset code, and saw immediate fuel improvement, from average 330 mile DTE to 400 miles DTE every time fill up on the overhead console.
has been 3 months now, and NO code and pending code.

i was lucky, in my case, i acted immediately and no damage to cat yet.
 

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Thanks for update.. Unfortunately I kept driving for like 1yr..till now it's smog time test.. Sucks for me.. Will have to try or go for broke.

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