Last post on Jul 18, 2007 at 10:32 AM
You are in the Toyota Sienna
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Toyota Sienna, Van
#2430 of 3687 Sienna - Premature transmission failure
Mar 31, 2003 (11:04 am)
We currently have a 2000 Sienna van with 68K miles on it (manufacture date 07/1999). The van has been problem free until six weeks ago when we had a catastrophic failure of the transmission. While driving on the Interstate at 65 MPH there was a sudden jolt in the drive train and then a sudden loss of drive train power. We were fortunate that no one was close behind us at the time, which is often the case in heavy Atlanta traffic.
We had the van towed to our local Toyota dealer who has been servicing the van for the last two years. Their diagnosis on the work order is "internal failure in gears, metal chunks in pan". They quoted us $3,500 for the replacement of the transmission ($1K labor and $2.5K for the part). We expressed our disappointment in a Toyota transmission going out so prematurely and asked for some kind of break on the price since we were only 8K miles out of warranty on a transmission that should go well over 100K miles. They offered us "goodwill customer assistance" for the labor if we paid for the part. They said that if we wanted to get more compensation that we would have to call the national 800-customer assistance number. At this point we authorized the repairs because we needed the vehicle back on the road.
The 800 number representative told us that all decisions were made and finalized at the regional level and we had to go through the local dealer. They said it was up to the local dealer to request assistance from the region. We asked for information on how to contact someone at the regional level but they refused to give it to us. We felt like they were giving us the run around.
When we went in to pick up the vehicle we met with the service manager. Although he had a number of years in the business it was his first week on the job at this dealership. He stated that the region would not authorize any more compensation since the vehicle was out of warranty and we did not have an extended warranty. Another thing he stated was that if we had given more service to the dealership perhaps he could have done more for us. The dealership has only been open two years and we have had the van 3½ years. Since they opened we have had the 60K Max recommended service ($550) and all but one oil change done at their dealership. This included transmission service (drain & fill at 59K). Other than one oil change that's 100% of our service.
We have seen a number of complaints on Sienna transmission problems on several Internet sites including this one and the NHTSA site. Some of these were very recent and with mileage close to ours. There are 17 complaints on the NHTSA site that happened at highway speeds like ours.
This is the first time we experienced something like this with Toyota. We realize that no automobile is perfect but had every reason to expect the transmission on our van to last well beyond 68K miles. We paid a premium for our Sienna based on Toyotas reliability record and our previous experience with 3 other Toyota vehicles. We were disappointed in the premature failure of our transmission but even more disappointed in the lack of customer service we have experienced so far. We believe that this transmission problem is either a manufacturing or design defect and that Toyota should have taken care of the problem without charge. At the very least they should have met us half way with the repairs since the transmission failed about halfway through its excepted life.
Does anyone have any additional information on how Toyota has been handling customers with 2000 Sienna transmission failures? Is additional compensation from the national office a possibility? Does it make any difference if you live in the Southeastern US since Southeast Toyota is not a part of Toyota Motor Corporation?
We would appreciate any information from anyone with experience in this matter.
Mar 31, 2003 (12:32 pm)
If memory serves me, there was a bad production run on a batch of 2000 Siennas manufactured back in the summer of 2000?? It involved the transmission, but that's all I remember from postings on this board sometime last year and before. It only involved a short run in 2000.
I think it was being covered by Toyota. You might want to see if your problem is applicable.
Does anyone else remember the problem?
Mar 31, 2003 (3:02 pm)
The previous problems had to do with the torque converter. That problem would have shown up long ago.
You service writer is an idiot for saying some of the things he did. Sorry, but he has no business implying that you should have spent more money with them if you want any more help. The people at the 800 number were correct that requests go through the dealership. Your dealership has just told you that you didn't spend enough money with them for them to go to bat for you.
Were I you, I would have a chat with the service director of the dealership. Explain to him everything you just posted here. If you don't get a warm fuzzy that he will make a good faith attempt, talk to the General Manager of the dealership. Be patient, persistent and courteous. That is the only way to make progress.
The fact that they did offer the break on the labor is a good sign. Even if you can't get further help, this was a good step.
#2433 of 3687 Will I need chains in the snow with the XLE AWD Sienna
Mar 31, 2003 (9:58 pm)
I am planning to buy the XLE AWD Sienna Van and was curious to know if I would still need to put on chains if I decided to go skiing in the winter?. Would the Highway Patrol know that I have the AWD van (since I do not believe it says AWD o the van itself) and would the AWD system be sufficient to avoid putting on chains. I am assuming that I will be driving on the road and not taking the van off-road. Anyone with experience with this regard, please reply. I appreciate it.
#2434 of 3687 Terry5353
Apr 01, 2003 (8:36 am)
Seems like all the minivans have problems with their transmissions.How often did you get your transmission fluid changed?
We've been changing ours every 15k miles in the hope that perhaps such frequent changes will preclude a problem down the road (we have 48k on our 2000 Sienna).
Anyway good luck in getting the situation resolved.Over the years we've had 3 transmissions go on us-it can be very aggravating
Apr 01, 2003 (9:18 am)
The comments about not giving them enough service came form the service manager (director), not the service writer. We did not get a “warm & fuzzy” feeling from him.
We were told that the labor compensation came from the region. The dealership has not made any concessions at all. We were also told by the service manager that any further compensation would have to come from national. From what we have read this does not appear to be a likely outcome.
If the service manager has taken this position how likely is the General Manager going to be interested in assisting us?
Apr 01, 2003 (9:32 am)
We were unaware of any Sienna transmission problems until ours failed. We had the fluid changed at 59K per the Toyota scheduled maintenance guide that we were given when we purchased the van.
We have never owned a vehicle that required/recommended the transmission fluid be changed more frequently than 60K miles.
The transmission was performing fine until the sudden failure. I don’t think a more frequent fluid change schedule would have changed the outcome. This appears to be a manufacturing or design defect.
Apr 01, 2003 (10:50 am)
The GM is more interested in keeping you happy. The service guy only looks at you as potential profit on the servicing of your vehicle. The GM is also looking at potential future sales and referrals. Give it a shot. I'll admit it is a long shot at this point but it is a shot.
#2438 of 3687 Now I have brake squeal
Apr 02, 2003 (3:54 pm)
Brought my 2002 Sienna in for 15K service and now I have the brake squeal problem. It had to come from them adjusting the brakes. Trying to figure out if the fron and/or rears are squealing, sounds like the fronts.
Apr 02, 2003 (5:05 pm)
As a Sienna owner (we've got two), it is very reassuring to see so much concern over brake noise and the like... it's annoying for sure, and ought to be fixed, but it beats the kinds of things one reads about in the DC minivan forum.
Tranny failure is really bad... Terry's sounds like a fluke, though, esp. since it was internal gears, not torque converter. Just simply bad luck, to the tune of $3k or so. Ouch.
Is this a good place or time to suggest a MANUAL TRANSMISSION OPTION ??? Pretty please??? That V6 would love a good 5-speed, I just know it... And, they don't fail...
Feeling much better now, I remain