11 Most Common Toyota Sienna Problems (Explained)

The Toyota Sienna is an excellent family vehicle that offers lots of space and great reliability.

Aside from being very comfortable and loaded with lots of modern tech, it’s also very versatile for hauling around lots of cargo.

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the Sienna’s common problems and their solutions.

1. Sliding Door Issues

One of the Sienna’s Achilles heels is its powered sliding doors which it’s had since the first generation.

Although they’re extremely convenient, and make opening and closing the doors very easy even for small kids, they can suffer from many issues.

Common automatic sliding door issues include:

  • Door won’t close or open at all
  • Won’t slide at all
  • Only closes halfway
  • Door shakes and makes popping noise
  • Door goes out of alignment and drops
  • Gets frozen stuck during winter

Here’s how a few owners described their sliding door issues on SiennaChat.com:

“I’ve got a 2008 XLE AWD with 190K miles. The van has had issues with the power sliding doors multiple times and the actuators and cable assemblies have been replaced both by the dealer under warranty and myself. The issue I have now is that the driver side sliding door cable has snapped again where it runs along the rear side window and I can’t get the door open either using power or manually. The other end of the broken cable must be wrapped up in the spool.”

“I’m having a problem with my 2015 SE Sienna rear left sliding door: When hitting any buttons to open it (and on key remote) I hear the latch opening and the door starting to push outward but right after that, the motor push the door back in. It does that even if I try to open it manually (by moving the handle and the door to open it all the way). The door is really hard and I can’t move it manually.”

“The power driver’s side sliding door on my 2012 LE AWD is stuck closed. And I mean really stuck. Even with the auto door switch off, I can pull with my whole body weight and it doesn’t budge.”

“My cable broke (on my 2014, bought in 2016) in 2017. Had certified pre-owned that they tried to bill me $4k to fix the snapped cable.”

The cable that the door actuator/motor uses to open and close the sliding doors is the most common part that breaks.

The cable and spool assembly for the 2nd generation Sienna, which was sold from 2004 to 2010, is quite expensive at around $400 to $600 per side. There are also aftermarket replacements that cost around $300.

It’s much cheaper to replace the cable assembly for the 3rd generation Sienna, as it only costs around $30 to $40.

Due to the high number of reported failures, Toyota extended the warranty for the 3rd gen’s door cables to 10 years and an unlimited number of miles. The 2nd gen Sienna also had a warranty extension of 9 years and 120,000 miles.

Other things that can cause the sliding doors to malfunction include:

  • Front or rear latch 
  • Hinges
  • Lock release actuator
  • Wiring harness

You can always just turn off the automatic doors and manually open and close them if the electronics start giving you problems. 

In some cases, however, the cable can break and keep the door from sliding properly even if you open or close it manually.

Toyota also issued a recall for the 2011 to 2016 models because there was a possibility for the sliding doors to not properly latch closed and might open on their own while driving. 

2. Transmission Issues

Many owners have complained about the performance of the 3rd generation Sienna’s 8-speed transmission because it can be very jerky and laggy at low speeds.

It also has a tendency to ‘gear hunt’ and prefers to stay in the higher gears when it gets up to speed.

These issues are more common in the 2017 model years, which is when the 8-speed was first introduced; but complaints continued up until the 2020 model year.

A few owners on SiennaChat.com had this to say:

“I have a 2019… The slow speed rolling/lag to reengagement and desire for the transmission to stay in the highest gear possible is how I would describe the less than ideal behavior and my biggest complaints.”

“There are definitely a few quirks with post 2017 transmissions. 2020 here. The shift quality is actually pretty good, but there are a few low speed/neighborhood driving issues (not coming to a 100% stop with a pause before taking off again it will get caught in between 2-1 downshift, some low speed lugging between 40-60 kph, and funny torque converter pauses/dead spots every time you let off and re-apply throttle.”

“I have a 2018 LE and despise the way it drives… The hesitation is most noticeable during a rolling stop. If you pull out of a parking lot while riling it hesitates for 1-2 seconds and feels like it is hunting for a gear.”

Toyota eventually released a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) that recommended updating the transmission software to improve the shifting performance of early models equipped with the 8-speed. 

People with newer Siennas that were not included in the TSB were able to convince their dealers to update their transmission software or at least reset it so it could relearn their driving habits.

Updating the transmission software doesn’t completely eliminate the shuddering at low speeds, but many have reported that it can make a noticeable improvement.

Easing up on the gas pedal when driving at lower speeds, as well as switching to different power modes using the ECT (Electronically Controlled Transmission) button, can also reduce the rough shifting.

3. Third Row Rattle

A lot of early third gen Siennas have issues with the third row seats constantly rattling or squeaking.

This issue affects pretty much all Siennas from 2011 to 2014.

The rattle typically only occurs when driving over bumps or road imperfections while the seats are up and are unoccupied. If they are folded down, there shouldn’t be any noise.

Some fourth generation Sienna owners have also had rattling issues with the second row captain’s chairs.

Here’s how two owners on the SiennaChat.com forum described their experience:

“I just recently purchased a 2014 XLE AWD with 30K miles on it. I noticed the crazy rattle noise with our first test drive and the used car dealer said they fixed it. Test drove a second time and the noise was gone. Bought the van and put the seat down and back up and now the noise is back. It is this same very irritating noise.”

“We have the same issue on our 2014 Sienna. The metal on metal noise is enough to make a person not want to drive the vehicle. Our noise comes from the third row seats when in the up position. Noise goes away when they are stowed or if someone is sitting on the seat. 3rd row has two sections so someone needs to sit on each section for noise to go away completely.” 

“I had the awful creaking/squeaking/clicking sound in my second row captains chair in my 2021 Sienna XSE AWD.”

Although Toyota released a TSB to fix the rattling by replacing the plastic bits and tightening the bolts, the rattle eventually comes back after a few months.

Many owners have resorted to wrapping the bottom parts of the seat with electrical tape or velcro, as well as adding grease or some other type of lubricant, to minimize the rattling.

“I bought a used 2014 XLE and it recently developed this issue. I got a roll of electrical tape and made two passes over each floor anchor. It was just enough cushion to silence the noise without interfering with the seat latch.”

“Lubricating all six latches with silicone grease fixed the issue for me. Haven’t had the issue for close to a couple years now. Frankly, don’t see a big deal. Just get there and cover the contact surfaces with grease. If the noise comes back, do it again. Took me a few tries.”

4. Steering Rack Leaks

The second generation Sienna’s power steering rack is quite notorious for developing leaks after only a couple of years.

In a lot of cases, when the steering rack boots look greasy and torn, it’s usually caused by power steering fluid leaking out of the rack’s seals.

Common symptoms of a faulty steering rack in a 2nd gen Sienna include:

  • Wet tie rod boots and steering rack boots
  • Heavy or notchy steering
  • Noise when turning the wheel
  • Play in steering wheel
  • Reservoir is always losing power steering fluid 

When the power steering fluid gets low, it will also wear out the power steering pump much faster.

Here’s how a few owners described their experience on SiennaChat.com:

“I’m looking at buying a ’05 XLE (157k miles), but one of the concerns is the steering. When turning, I can feel a dead spot when going left and right.” 

“2006 FWD. About 150K miles. This is the best vehicle I have ever owned in terms of reliability and repairs, but alas, the steering rack is leaking. I tried 2 new rubber boots and did drain and fill of the power steering fluid and replaced with the thicker Lucas Oil Power Steering Stop Leak fluid. It ‘helped’ but I think the days are numbered.”

“I replaced the original rack ( 2006 LE) back in April 2018 at about 160k miles with a rebuilt one.”

A new steering rack costs around $500 if you decide to go with the genuine Toyota part. Remanufactured and aftermarket replacements cost around $300.

Independent shops may charge approximately $500 for labor to replace the rack.

If you’re only seeing a small leak, but don’t really notice any other major symptoms, you could also just replace the fluid and add a Stop Leak additive like AT-205.

In some cases, you might just have to replace the rack mount bushings and the rubber boots to fix the steering problems. 

If you’re not constantly losing steering fluid and you’re not experiencing any steering issues after these fixes, you don’t really have to replace the steering rack.

Related: 23 Best & Worst Toyota Sienna Years (With Facts & Stats)

5. Fuel Door Hinges

A broken upper hinge on the fuel filler door in the third generation Sienna is a very common problem.

This makes the fuel filler door loose, so the switch or plunger responsible for detecting whether it’s closed or not constantly assumes that the fuel door is open. As a result, the automatic sliding door also refuses to open.

This issue affects all model years of the third gen Sienna from 2011 to 2020.

Here’s how a few owners described their experience on SiennaChat.com:

“I just picked a 2014 Sienna SE and the top of the hinge on the fuel filler door is broken, causing the door to stick out slightly.”

“The top hinge broke on the fuel tank door on my 2015 Toyota Sienna causing the door to stick out and the sliding door to not open.”

“My 2014 sienna fuel door hinge has also broke. The safety button/plunger is extremely difficult to depress, which obviously puts too much pressure on the upper left portion of the fuel door and hinge. This is also a safety issue as the sliding door will not open when the plunger is out.”

“I purchased a 2014 Sienna – Sport model in October 2017, with approximately 60k miles on it. The upper fuel filler door hinge failed last month at around 80k miles. I took it to my local Toyota dealer/service, and was told the cost to repair would be $380.”

Due to the number of reported failures and how it affects the functionality of the sliding doors, Toyota announced a 10-year unlimited mile warranty extension for the fuel door. 

A new fuel door only costs around $40. However, it also needs to be painted to match the bodywork, so many owners who had to have their fuel doors replaced out of warranty had to pay up to $400 in total for the repair.

You can prolong the life of your fuel filler door by lubing it with some multi-purpose oil or silicone spray. Even after replacing the fuel door, it can still break after some time because Toyota never really updated the part.

7. Excessive Tire Wear

Many Sienna owners have complained about experiencing excessive tire wear no matter what brand of tires they use.

This issue has been reported from the 2nd to the 4th generation models, with the 3rd generation Sienna receiving the bulk of the complaints.

The Sienna is a relatively heavy vehicle so the tires are subjected to more stress when accelerating and braking. 

Most owners only get about 20,000 to 30,000 miles per set, which is about half of the rated tread wear of most tires.

Here’s what a few owners on SiennaChat.com had to say:

“My experience with a 2011 Sienna SE is the tires last 30k but the tire warranty is 70k. I think the weight of the vehicle causes this. Often loaded with kids dogs gear etc. Firestone warranties it out though.”

“I have a 2018 Toyota Sienna with 50k miles on it and I am already about to put on my third set of all season tires. Just wondering if anyone has any luck with a tire brand lasting more than 15k miles. I rotate my tires religiously and it doesn’t matter, they wear out fast.” 

“I found premium tires don’t last any longer. My local tire store started refusing to honor the tire warranties because my van was going through tires so fast. I started using cheap tires to keep the costs down.’

I have a 2010 Sienna, and put about 22K miles on per annum. I run Bridgestone RFT’s which wear at about the same rate; therefore, I purchase a new set of tires about the same time every year. I bought the van in 2017, and I am currently on my sixth set of tires.

“Our ’22 AWD Sienna just hit 21,000 miles and at my dealership, they told me my OEM tires are at 5/32″ and they’re at ‘advisory’ level. This surprised me – as I expect a set of tires to be able to get 40 or 50k miles.”

Aside from being quite heavy, the Sienna’s factory alignment specs tend to result in uneven tire wear. It’s not unusual for the outer edges of the tire to wear out faster.

To get the most life out of your tires, make sure you get them rotated every 5,000 miles. This helps spread out the tire wear more evenly across all four tires.

Running higher tire pressures also helps the tires deal with the vehicle’s weight much better. 

Although Toyota recommends running the tires at 35 PSI, many owners say that pumping it up to 38 or even 40 PSI results in slightly longer lasting tires. 

8. Coolant Leaks

The 2nd and 3rd generation Toyota Sienna have a few common issues when it comes to coolant loss and leaks.

Issues are particularly common with the 3.5-liter V6 engine, known as the 2GR-FE, which was shared between the 2nd and 3rd generation Sienna from 2007 to 2016.

Common sources of coolant leaks in these models include:

  • Water pump
  • Radiator
  • Coolant valley plate
  • Head gasket

Here’s how a few owners described their coolant issues on SiennaChat.com:

“My water pump started making noise at 105K on my 14MY. Took to the Stealership and they wanted $1700 to replace the pump.”

“2009 Sienna with 155K miles with a very bad Internal head gasket leak. The estimated cost to repair the head gaskets is almost $10,000 and the cost of a replacement engine(used) is almost $12,000.”

“I have owned a 2006 Sienna in the past and, in 2021, I had a major issue with my radiator. I believe this is becoming more and more common (based on my mechanic’s statement); the bottom fitting from the transmission oil cooler broke and coolant mixed with transmission oil in the transmission, and there was also oil in my coolant in the engine.”

“I have a 2006 Sienna LE. 195k miles. The radiator has developed a small, slow leak. No overheating or anything like that.”

Water pumps are notoriously hard to replace because you’ll have to remove or at least get one of the engine mounts out of the way.

Considering water pumps are usually considered as wear items, it’s not a question of if they will fail, but when they will fail.

The 2006 Sienna also had a lot of radiator failures usually related to coolant leaking from the plastic parts on the top or the fitting for the transmission cooler line brakes off.

Fixing leaks from the coolant valley plate or from a blown head gasket can end up getting pretty expensive. 

More than a handful have already reported head gasket problems with the Toyota Highlander which uses the same 3.5-liter V6. 

In a lot of cases, replacing the engine with a lightly used one is more cost-effective compared to having the head gasket problems repaired.

9. Oil Leaks

Another potential issue to watch out for in the 2nd and 3rd generation Sienna models equipped with the 3.5-liter V6 engine is excessive oil leaks.

Common oil leaks with this engine include: 

  • Valve cover gasket
  • Oil cooler pipe
  • Timing cover
  • Camshaft seal
  • Rear main seal

If you see oil dripping on the ground, you need to make sure the oil levels don’t fall below at least the halfway point.

Luckily, most oil leaks in the Toyota Sienna start out slow at first.

A couple of owners on SiennaChat.com shared their oil leak problems:

“My local Toyota dealer quoted me a $3500 timing gasket repair on my 2014 sienna xle with 120,000 miles. Stated I needed to have it done since there is a leak, but the leak isn’t bad or in the ‘red.’” 

“It’s the timing cover leak. I have the same leak. At first I thought it was the Vvti oil line right above the power steering pump but it still leaked after replacing the washers. I first noticed it at 120k miles. I’ve learned to just live with it, at 236k miles now. No noticeable loss of oil or drips on the garage floor. It is a common leak for the Toyota V6 engines.”

“We bought our 2018 Toyota Sienna used coming up on three years ago, with around 68,000 miles. It now has about 90,000 miles. When we took it in for an oil change recently, the dealer indicated the timing cover is leaking oil and needs replacing – to the tune of $3,500!”

“My 2011 Sienna with the 3.5 engine recently ruptured a rubber oil cooler line while I was driving in heavy traffic with road construction. I was fortunate that the oil light did not come on or the temperature did not increase before I got it shut down. It was towed to my local garage where the problem was diagnosed and repaired by installing the updated stainless steel lines.”

The 2007 to 2011 model years of the Sienna used rubber hoses for the oil cooler line. This was eventually replaced in the 2012 model with a metal line.

Due to the high chances of failure, Toyota extended the warranty of the oil cooler line to 10 years/150,000 miles. 

Dealers might also charge up to $3,000 to resealing the timing cover because they have to take the front of the engine off and the labor involved is similar to a timing chain replacement.

The rear main seal may also need replacement after several hundred thousand miles, which requires detaching the transmission from the engine.

10. Engine Sludge

The first and early second generation Sienna have had a few cases of engine sludge problem.

Engine sludge, which is a buildup of remnant motor oil, has been known to affect the 3.0-liter V6 of the 1st gen Sienna, as well as the 3.3-liter of the 2nd gen from 2004 to 2006.

This built up sludge can eventually block important oil passages and prevent other internal engine components from moving freely, which can result in major engine damage.

Common symptoms of engine sludge issues in the Toyota Sienna include:

  • Loss of power
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Excess smoke from tailpipe
  • Louder engine noise
  • Low oil pressure

Here’s how a few owners described their experience on SiennaChat.com:

“I bought my 2000 Sienna 2 1/2 years ago. It had been parked on a steep hill with the front higher than the back, which I don’t doubt made the sludge worse. On the way home from buying it there was hardly any power. Later that day I started it up and thought the head gasket was blown, so much white smoke. In the next week it was using 1 qt of oil in 80 miles.”

“2005 Sienna XLE Engine Died.  I bought this vehicle in 2007 with about 36,000 miles. It’s been an everyday driver until about 2014 at which point it was an extra vehicle used for family road trips. Nearly all maintenance has been done at the dealer, to include synthetic oil changes at an average of every 6500 miles. At just under 190,000, the engine is dead and they’re telling me there’s excessive sludge in the motor, typically indicative of a motor that was neglected.”

Common causes of engine sludge issues include:

  • Infrequent oil changes
  • Using low quality oil
  • Only using the van for short trips
  • Blocked PCV system

Some owners were able to clear up the excess sludge issues by using additives like Sea Foam or an engine flush product.

In a lot of cases, it can be more cost effective to just drop in a used engine instead of having to tear down the engine and scrape off the sludge manually.

11. VVTi Rattle

In 2007, the Sienna started using a timing chain instead of a belt, and many of these newer engines suffered from startup rattles coming from the VVTi system.

Both the 3.5-liter V6 and the 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine can suffer from VVTi rattles.

The VVTi cam gears usually become noisy when there’s not enough lubrication during startup.

This issue is sometimes known as the ‘Death Rattle’ in Toyota circles because getting it fixed can cost several thousand dollars.

The V6 from 2007 to 2008 also had an issue with a faulty rubber VVTi oil line that had a tendency to rupture and cause lots of damage.

This was eventually addressed by Toyota and dealers replaced the line with an improved part that’s properly rated.  

A few owners on SiennaChat.com shared their experience:

“I have a 2008 Sienna LE AWD and I recently experienced an oil line failure to the VTT-i cam gear. Apparently this was a known problem, but unfortunately it wasn’t known to me. I had the oil line repaired by my general mechanic (not the dealer). We noticed an engine rattle upon start-up, that would go away. Then progressively over the next few weeks, the engine rattle would become more prominent at low idle, but would disappear at highway speeds.”

“Based on everything I can tell from an exhaustive internet search, it appears I may have damaged one or both of the VVT-i cam gears when I lost the oil line earlier this month.”

“On our 2009 Limited we have the dreaded VVT Rattle when starting the engine. Of course this happens randomly. We have 130K miles and have had this since new. This rattle has been occurring since 50K miles but of course the dealer couldn’t duplicate the issue and blew us off until the warranty expired.”

“I am hearing the exact same noise on my car right now. It’s a 2007 Limited. I took it to the dealer and they said it was the VVT. They charged me $900 to diagnose it and wanted $6500 to fix the problem.”

At this point, the valvetrain chatter is already considered a normal noise for these engines and is often dismissed as a design defect.

If you really want to get rid of the rattle, you’ll have to rebuild the top of the engine and replace many expensive parts like the VVTi actuators, camshafts, and camshaft housings.

Many Sienna owners recommend just continuing to drive the vehicle if the rattle goes away after a few seconds and the engine has warmed up a bit.

Even if you swap in a used working engine, it’s likely to make the same sound.

Related: How Long Do Toyota Sienna Hybrids Last? (12 Important Facts)

Toyota Sienna Pros & Cons


  • Spacious and comfortable
  • Captain’s chairs
  • Modern creature comforts
  • Great reliability
  • Hybrid option
  • Available all-wheel drive
  • Excellent safety ratings


  • Sliding door issues in older models
  • Large and heavy
  • Hybrid lacks power

What Do The Reviews Say?

“There’s a lot to like with this latest 2024 Sienna. It’s ideal for family use thanks to an abundance of room for passengers in all three rows, and its sliding rear doors will always win out in convenience compared to an SUV. The Sienna also comes well equipped with Toyota’s latest technology and driver assistance features.”

“The Sienna got a major redesign in 2021, and Toyota made a bold call to offer it exclusively with a hybrid powertrain. The Sienna gets much better fuel economy than most of its rivals. The EPA estimates that the Sienna gets up to 36 mpg in combined driving, versus 26 mpg combined for its main rival, the Honda Odyssey.” 

“The Sienna’s hybrid-only powertrain means it’s ultra smooth to accelerate but also a lot slower than its peers, taking an extra second to reach 60 mph compared to most other vans (including the outgoing Sienna with a V6). This slower acceleration isn’t evident when you’re just cruising around town. But you’ll notice it when you’re merging onto the highway or going up grades.”

“It sits at a height that makes it easy to slide in and out of. The driving position is excellent and versatile. We’re fans of the large central touchscreen with two exceptions: the glare that it throws off in midday sun and some far-side buttons that feel a bit out of reach. All other primary controls are placed logically and function as expected.”

“Oh, and we’ve seen this hybrid get well over 40 mpg. That’s a wild card if we’ve ever seen one.”

2024 Toyota Sienna | Edmunds

What’s the Resale Value of a Toyota Sienna?

Here’s a quick look at used car pricing for the Sienna on Edmunds at the time of writing.



  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...

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