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Scared To Buy A Used 2001

6082 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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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 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.
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.
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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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 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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