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Scared To Buy A Used 2001

6096 Views 17 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  iRt
Hey y'all; been wanting a more reliable vehicle and Sick of throwing parts at the two dodge dakotas i have so i'm saving towards something else. Here is a 2001 Sienna for $2500 (hope to get them way down from this). History report on it looks great but the man has no maintenance records for it. He's the 2nd owner and idk how well it was kept up. The van looks really great, white with very little blemish. 163,768 miles on it.

I knew about the corolla being able to go hundreds of thousand miles as well as the camry. So i'm researching and find out about the dreaded 'oil gel' issue. That's a huge deal for a company that's supposed to make long lasting cars, yeah. I doubt the seller will want me removing his valve cover gasket. If he has cleaned the engine (haven't looked at it yet) then it'd be hard to tell from the outside.
How do i verify the van has this issue or not? Think this van will go for 300000 miles easily? Look into my future and say for sure :) Thanks guys
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short answer: They're garbage but better than the rest

The car will go forever if you keep throwing money at it. My 2000 Sienna had the oil sludge issue and it took me days to correct it. If I had to do it over again I would never buy this vehicle. Compared to the GM RWD V* cars I've owned the Sienna takes 10 times as many parts to do everything 1/2 as well. It was not designed well in my opinion, but it may well be the better than any of the competition.

When I bought my Sienna there was no big cloud of white smoke until I drove it home and then it started using a quart of oil every 80 miles. I have no idea how you could ever tell in just checking a new vehicle since the smoke was intermittent.

My conclusion at this point is that these vehicles were designed by dishonest people. They designed, or at least looked the other way, things to take a long time to repair in order to boost their income. But none of this is isolated to Toyota, in order to stay alive all the automotive companies followed suit.

There are a number of major booby traps in these vehicles - the stupid slanting of the engine that cause the sludge, the idiotic coil in head design that wears out coils left and right, the door handles (all 5) that break off when you operate them (handy), the horribly written and incomplete shop manuals, the almost complete lack of people that actually know these vehicles... these vehicles are pathetic really.

But they are still probably better than anything made in the last 20 years.

About 20 years ago a guy offered me his pretty nice (had bad paint but no rust) '69 Rolls Royce for $6000 and I've often wondered if I'd bought it and just kept fixing it that it wouldn't have, in the end, been a more economical way to go.
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Thanks man; that settles it for me. I'll steer clear and stick to my dakotas. they are both running okay. i'll save my money and look for something else in a year or two. Aren't there some models of older toyotas we can trust? What about hondas?
I sold my 2001 Sienna at 239,000 miles, still didn't use oil, and had never needed anything beyond standard maintenance (of course, at that age, standard maintenance had involved a timing chain and the pulleys, but still...). Loved that van, and only got rid of it in order to get a newer one with more room (four smallish kids on long trips).

That said, I was the third owner, my dad had been the second, and he had talked to the original owner, who had been strictly by the book when it came to maintenance, so when I got it at 163,000 I knew exactly what I was getting. Without maintenance records, that's harder to gauge. If you do pursue it, and if it isn't too far from home, it'd be worthwhile to take it to a mechanic you trust and see what they have to say. A seller might be leery about you being gone too long, and it might take some kind of earnest money/offers to leave your vehicle there while you take the van for an inspection/hostages to reassure them, but if they're opposed to having it looked over I'd run.
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Ive had Toyodas since Toyopet 60's these vans are fine they generally go about 280 fore any of the work begins to 280 its all consumables takes my guy 6 hrs to do timing water pump, idlers ,plugs 300 labour about 200 in parts i order online.. these interiors stay nicer than any dodges ive seen my 01 is nicer than some 09 and i work out of mine. my rear seats inside my building/shop in perfect condition rarely installed for trips.. everything in vehicle works perfectly even the rear air . but i get no rear heat no one cares in NC USA
Hi. Appears that there are a lot of different experiences with Toyota Sienna. I have a 2000 with 202K Miles. I have never had a sludge problem, none at all. Between 100K and 200K there was a fair amount of maintenance but engine and transmission are still running well. Engine now uses about 1qt of oil every 1,000 miles. Have not done compression or leakdown test so not sure the diagnosis for the oil consumption. During life replaced timing belt (once), struts, rear shocks, oxygen sensors, steering rack, engine mounts, fuel injectors, consumables, of course (brake pads, rotors, tires, etc.). Some of the oxygen sensor and fuel injector replacements billed to me were from a dishonest mechanic's shop in Dobbs Ferry, NY. I knew too little at the time to realize I was being totally ripped off. Young owner later died in a motorcycle accident, but I get off track. In summary, no engine or transmission issues for 200K and no sludge; never heard from it in my engine. Driven Toyotas since 1976. I would say the complexity and repair frequency has increased since the earlier models; especially in the vans which are simply less reliable, more complicated, and have more issues. Maybe the weight is part of the issue. The 1st generation Siennas were built on a stretched Camray frame I believe.

Signing off, RV.
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Thanks man; that settles it for me. I'll steer clear and stick to my dakotas. they are both running okay. i'll save my money and look for something else in a year or two. Aren't there some models of older toyotas we can trust? What about hondas?

Toyota 1MZ-FE engine reliability, problems and repair
The 1MZ-FE type with a 3-liter displacement replaced the 3VZ in 1994 and was produced till 2007. The 1MZ is provided with 60° aluminium cylinder block, forged crankshaft, and lightweight pistons and connecting rods.
Moreover, the engine was provided with an EGR exhaust gas recirculation system, intake manifold with an ACIS variable intake system. The latest 1MZs were equipped with a VVTi variable valve timing system on the inlet camshaft, and also an electronic throttle body. The 1MZ is not provided with hydraulic lifters, so you need to adjust its valves each 60,000 miles (100,000 km) of mileage. The size of the 1MZ stock fuel injectors is 245 cc. Firing order in the 1MZ is 1-2-3-4-5-6.
The 1MZ was fitted with a toothed timing belt, which can be replaced each 90,000 miles (150,000 km) of mileage.
In general, the 3-liter 1MZFE is typical Toyota engine fitted for midsize and full-size vehicles.
Since 2003 the 1MZ engine was replaced with a new 3GR.

I quote from "MyWikiMotors" on the Internet. Do you have the VVTi valves in that model?


Toyota 1MZ engine problems and malfunctions
1.High oil consumption. Usually, 1MZ engines are quite out-dated with a long run. The problem associated with high oil consumption is a usual thing for them. Perhaps, your 1MZ-FE needs an overhaul.
2. Reduced engine power. Replace knock sensors. They often become disarranged in the 1MZ.
3. Rough idle. If any, you should cleanse the throttle body, injectors and check the VVTi valve. It may need a replacement. Moreover, a bad VVTi valve can result in 1MZ-FE jerking, misfire, vibrations and so on, and so forth.
The 1MZ tends to be carbonized, its VVTi system starts to leak in some period of time, the motor operates the way a diesel engine does. That can be repaired by repair the VVTi system.
If it is regularly maintained and smoothly run, the motor is quite safe and serves long. The 1MZ-FE engine lifespan is more than 200,000 miles (300,000 km) of mileage.
The 1MZ is officially considered to be irreparable like other latest Toyota engines. If you face the music, you need to buy a contract 1MZ-FE engine or look for another kind of service personnel who fix the kind of engines.
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A lot depends on what you had before a Sienna

Picture a guy who is taking the bus to work. It takes him hours to get anywhere, he can't stop and get milk on the way home and he has to wait in sub zero weather.

Now you give him a rustbucket 1976 Datsun B210 with wipers that don't work, won't go in reverse and mushrooms growing in the back carpet. But goes like a pissed off cat. The guy thinks he's won the lottery, it saves him hours every day and he gets to sleep in.

Now I have a friend with a new Tesla. Give him the Datsun and he won't even open the door.

People judge things by what came before. If your band plays classic rock, don't go on after the Stones.

Cars are like that. Before this Sienna I had a Buick Roadmaster wagon. Weighed about the same as the Sienna but drove way better, had near double the power and oddly got better gas mileage with the V8.

There's no way that isn't a superior vehicle to the Sienna. There's no timing belt, never replaced anything except brakes, batteries and air cleaners. None of the driveshaft nonsense. No sludge. Nothing. Metal doorhandles. W-A-Y safer!!! Light years less maintenance. Better ac. Better radio. Just better in every single way.

That's why I think the Sienna is junk. The design is nuts. So many unneeded parts that could fail and do. More than triple the amount of parts to run worse.

So if your previous vehicle was an Accord, a Nissan Quest, a Dodge anything, a Chevy Venture, a new VW bug, a Ford Windstar... you will love the Sienna.

If you had any of the cars I've had you will think it was made by hacks.

That's all it is. In the winter in Canada when I was a kid it would be 8˚F and then next day it would go up to 58˚F and we'd all be running around in short sleeves.

Compared to near anything else out there, the Sienna is probably the best. (translation: all vehicle made today are crap). They've conned people into believing that a vehicle is better, safer and more economical if you add on thousands of parts, which is the direct opposite of good design where you would be using less and less parts.
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I am an original owner of a 98 XLE and it has been outstanding.
The body has held up well for life in Michigan, Toyota's starting with the 92 Camry, have had best in class body corrosion protection.
I now have 175k miles, requiring minimal repairs that were mostly easy and inexpensive (rear hatch handle, passenger door release adjustment, and rear exhaust assembly). The most I have spent was replacing wheels and rims (due to rim corrosion) was ~$750 delivered from tire rack. I also found replacing the spark plugs was quite easy with plenty of clearance for the rear bank and have done it twice. I also have cleaned the throttle body and used fuel system cleaner as PM.

The only difficult repair was replacing the front valve cover gasket and plug seals. It was more involved than I anticipated and needed a torx socket along with a difficult plug seal insertion without a specific tool. If I could do over I would skip the seals since they were not leaking. Slug was not an issue though I always used quality oil with changes 5k or longer with synthetic. Never add oil and down no more than a quart at changes.

Only previous non-maintenance part replacement was the rear brake backer plates that due to its two piece welded construction had started to corrode and distort the shield due to the two part construction. The replacement part was a single heavy gauge part.

I have original struts/shocks (no issue) and timing belt, since manual does not list a replacement time for normal service. Water pump wear out will likely determine the full timing kit repair.

I do have a air conditioning leak that I need to sort out and a front exhaust leak to repair.
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... I have original struts/shocks (no issue) and timing belt, since manual does not list a replacement time for normal service...
I think the manual says to replace the timing belt ievery 90k mi. A lot of manufacturers stated that originally and later changed to 105k. That gives you 5k miles to blow up your engine after the 100k mi warranty runs out.

Since you have a pre 2001,non-VVTi engine, your Sienna does not have an interference engine.

But since the engine is aluminum and doesn't handle overheating well, if you wait until the water pump fails there's a chance the repair cost will be more than the vehicle's value. But I'm not saying that that isn't the way to go. I would listen to the belt with a rubber hose to your ear, often it's the idler wheels and other parts that fail and the belt still has some life. If it doesn't rattle it would be hard for me to suggest doing the belt especially if you are not going to do it yourself.
The owners manual supplement that details warranty and maintenance, page 31 says under Timing Belt "If the vehicle is operated under extensive idling or low speed driving for long distances as in heavy commercial use such as delivery, taxi, or patrol car, replace the timing belt every 90,000 miles". Apparently the belt quality improved to the point that routine replacement was no longer needed, though service departments reference an earlier time when this was not the case.
FYI, the manual does give 90,000 or 72 month replacement guideline for the non-turbo Supra.

My experience on water pumps is they start leaking when the bearing wears out and is typically gradual.

Thanks for the belt idler diagnostic suggestion. Would an old washer hose work?
My Sienna is a 2000... in that manual, if yours is the same as mine, check out page 29, that's the Sienna page where it says 90k mi.

Yes, any hose will work, cut a say 3' or so length and hold one end to your ear and with the engine running hold the other end against the timing belt cover. You can also use it to check the bearings on anything that moves like your ac compressor, alternator etc... it's handy when you hear a weird sound you can't locate, and for finding vacuum leaks.

There was a thread somewhere (here?) where people were posting about the highest mileage on the original belt and some people had way, way over the specified interval. There's people that live to 101 and still smoke cigarettes, doesn't mean you should start smoking! But it's not always prudent to try and return everything back to the state it was in when it was new.
page 29 in 1998 is the schedule maintenance Introduction and oil change intervals.
It sounds like your manual is a little different than mine.

I've attached some pics, maybe you can find the same pages in your manual.

Since the Haynes manual and my 2000 manual both say 90k mi replace it would seem unlikely that the 1998 was different since it is the same engine.

The Sienna's are the Toyotas using the 1mz-fe engine that had the most sludge problems, more than the Camry's or Avalons, from what I've read. I think it was because they slanted the engine in the Sienna's and not the others. I also have a hunch that the reason mine had the sludge issue and others didn't, other than not using synthetic oil, was that it sat on a steep hill with the front higher than the back and I can imagine that making a huge pond of Dinopoop© in the back valve cover.


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98 is quite different and has a maintenance log for every one up to 120,000 which at the 90,000 detail (page 45) repeats the note on timing belt for special operating condition referenced to page 30. Below is a link to Toyota owners manuals that has the exact pages I received at time of purchase. Your maintenance table though looks familiar, possibly from an earlier Toyota manual (had a 96 Camry with a timing belt) since it isn't in my 3 manuals no the online manuals. Maybe they changed belt suppliers or just changed their minds. Looking online at other manuals; the 97 Camry manual has similar for special condition though at 60,000. FYI online the 1999 and 2000 supplement has a different format than your images, though has the 90k replacement.
That is odd. According to that attached pdf your vehicle never needs the timing belt replaced. My guess is that it's just goofiness on Toyota's part, them changing what they think they should recommend. If you go on O'Reilly's website and search for "timing belt component kit" the same two results come up for a 1998 and a 2000. And in your manual it makes no mention of inspecting the valve clearances... like anybody ever really did that as a normal maintenance routine.
The documentation on these vehicles is poor. The manuals lack the detail, diagrams and accuracy of good shop manuals. A lot of the procedures are vague and they will just say things "remove unit" and you have to figure out the 14 screws, nuts and bolts needed to do it.
I would think if they changed their opinion that they would have issued a TSD, but never saw one, accessed via alldata. Maybe dealerships protested the lost of a $1000 repair opportunity, so they brought it back.
I find the whole thing of how engines worked fine for 70+ years with timing chains then Toyota and Honda and most everybody for some reason has to add this expensive maintenance routine to "economy" cars and then Toyota in 2008 goes back to the design GM was using in the 1940's that requires no routine replacement. It's beyond suspicious. It's stealing. My manual says to do the belt at 90k mi or 72 months, well that would mean that my 155k mi Sienna, if you went by months would have had the timing belt done 3 times so far. That's a lot of gas money. If you figure that into the cost of fuel it's would be like the thing getting something like 15 mpg considering the local Toyota dealership charged my neighbor $2500 a pop to do his timing belt/water pump (well to be fair $800 of that was to change the 6 spark plugs).

I found that thread on high mileage timing belts:
There's somebody on there waited til over 160k.

With the pre 2001 non interference engine it's a safer gamble although there was someone on here awhile back who said it could still possibly do some damage
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