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Do Toyota Siennas Have Transmission Problems?

The transmission of a vehicle is a necessary and essential part of all vehicles. The transmission is responsible for transferring power from the engine to the tires of the car. 

Without it, you’re not going to get very far. Ok, you’re not going to get anywhere at all.

If you are considering purchasing a Sienna but have seen some people reporting issues with the transmission you might be wondering whether that is a common issue or a one off. 

The transmission on a Toyota Sienna will last up to an average of 180,000 miles. The 2007 – 2008 Toyota Sienna’s had common transmission issues but today transmission issues in a Sienna are uncommon. 

According to there were only two transmission complaints about a Sienna in 2019.

We all want a reliable vehicle and it’s hard to know how long each individual car will last on the road. One thing for sure is that transmission issues are frustrating, inconvenient, and costly. 

In the past, Toyota Siennas had numerous issues with transmission problems. Read on below to find out more about the Sienna’s transmission problems and other Sienna concerns to note.

Toyota Sienna Transmission Problems

The worst years by far for the Toyota Sienna models was 2007 – 2008 due to the number of transmission problems with this specific vehicle.

Transmission issues are costly to fix and shouldn’t be expected until the vehicle has been on the road for at least 10-15 years or anywhere between 150,000 – 200,000 miles.

For a Sienna, the average lifespan of a transmission is typically 180,000 miles.

Here are some of the general Toyota Sienna transmission problems noted by owners:

  • Gears slipping
  • Strange noises
  • Low or leaking fluid
  • Lack of response
  • Dragging clutch
  • Loss of gear control or use
  • Torque converter issues

While these are some of the general issues noted over time, there have been three major issues in the past that have not produced a fault since the release of newer models.

Here were the main concerns for Toyota Sienna Transmission issues recorded in 2007 – 2008:

  • Loss of power

Unfortunately, the average mileage of the 2007 Sienna before the recorded loss of power from transmission issues kicked in was only 37,000 miles which is about the same as two and a half years of driving.

The average cost for this problem in 2007 was around $3,000. If it were happening today, due to inflation you could expect it to cost anywhere up to $5,000. 

No one should have to spend that amount of money repairing a two and half year-old car unless there’s been a major accident not covered by insurance.

  • Transmission Failure as advised by engine diagnostic light on the dashboard

The average price to get this issue sorted is $3,400 and the average mileage for this issue was 85,000 miles or six and a half years. Although it is reasonable to expect wear and tear issues in a car after 6 years, the transmission should be running smoothly for well over 100,000 miles.

  • Seized gears while driving

This was a common issue in the 2010 Sienna and was happening around the 68,000-mile mark on the odometer. Again, after only five years of driving a vehicle you should not expect to have major transmission issues that cost upwards of $5,000 to have repaired.

Common Toyota Sienna Problems

All vehicles will eventually need to go through maintenance for common wear and tear concerns. The mechanisms in our vehicles are always working hard when we’re behind the wheel and eventually they start to wear down.

Although transmission problems in the Toyota Sienna were the main concern in the early 2000s and pre 2010 models, they are no longer a common concern for the hardworking and sturdy Siennas.

Here are the most common concerns noted in the newer Toyota Sienna vehicles:

  • Electrical sliding door mechanisms stop working

The most common issue by far in the Sienna is that the motorized sliding doors stop working.

This issue can be caused by things like the motor wearing out, frayed wires, wires destroyed by pests, and water getting into the wiring. It can be a costly issue to fix, some Sienna owners have stated it has cost them above $2,000.

In some cases, the door will still open manually but in other cases, the door has not opened at all. So this definitely becomes a bit of an issue when you can’t get the kids in the car.

  • Oil leak and loss of pressure

Worn-out seals and degraded engine gaskets can cause oil leaks in your engine. This becomes a concern because if you don’t notice in time, you risk running your engine out of oil and overheating it which results in further issues that sometimes aren’t worth repairing.

The Sienna has been around since 1998 so this issue has been reported in numerous older Sienna’s still on our roads. Oil leaks are common in older vehicles because of the general wear and tear.

  • Oxygen sensors failing

The oxygen sensor in a vehicle measures the amount of exhaust gasses that exit the engine.

If an oxygen sensor starts failing you may notice the vehicle stalling or struggling to accelerate the way it should because fuel delivery and combustion will be thrown out of whack.

Your oxygen sensor can impact various other parts of the car if it is faulty and will need to be replaced as soon as possible to avoid any further damage.

The best way to tell your oxygen sensor is faulty is by the engine check light and knowing your vehicle well.

This common issue in the Sienna has been reported at under 25,000 miles of having driven the car although it is more common around the 60,000-mile mark on the odometer. 

How To Prevent Transmission Problems In Your Toyota Sienna

To help you avoid potential transmission and breakdown inconveniences, there are a few ways you can look after your transmission to keep it healthier for longer.

Every vehicle is different and depending on how you drive, and where you drive, you may experience different results when maintaining and looking after your vehicle.

Here are some handy tips to help you prevent any future transmission problems with your Sienna:

  • Regularly check your fluid levels and top up when necessary

It’s common practice to check under the hood for any signs of aging or bits and pieces that need replacing. The easiest thing to check to keep your car healthy is the fluids.

If the fluids are looking a little but low, top them up when needed and remember to use the correct fluids for each substance. If you’re not sure, check with your mechanic.

  • When topping up fluids be careful not to overfill them

You don’t want to overfill your fluid levels because they can cause unwarranted issues inside and around the engine with erratic shifting and loss of lubrication. This will only lead to extensive and costly damages.

  • Don’t tow more than you can handle or don’t tow at all

Transmissions can be greatly affected by towing and hauling too much weight that the vehicle can’t handle. Limit the load and always check your towing and payload capacity.

  • Avoid short drives

Your vehicle works better if it has the chance to heat up properly. Engines go through a whole process and when the process is cut short it can greatly affect their health and longevity.

 Longer drives are much better for your car’s engine to run through its proper cycle and heat up accordingly.

Final Thoughts

Driving with a transmission problem is extremely unsafe and certainly not recommended. Vehicles go through common wear and tear problems that you don’t have to replace straight away but transmission problems should be dealt with immediately for your own safety and the safety of others.

Have your Toyota Sienna serviced regularly to avoid any of the above mentioned issues and to prolong the life of your Sienna’s transmission which should last at least 180,000 miles without having any major troubles.