Writing about the Toyota Sienna is almost a weekly ritual on this blog. We’ve written extensively about the features and capabilities of this car. However, we have yet to answer the question of what model year you can best buy on the second-hand market. Let’s start with a quick answer and then dive into more detail:
The 2013 and 2016 Toyota Sienna are the best second-hand models you can buy. Both models have no engine or transmission problems. Also, they’ve been recalled fewer times than other model years and have less severe problems. Finally, they’re both cheap in maintenance, with the 2013 model costing $544 per year and the 2016 model costing $553 per year.
However, that certainly doesn’t tell the whole story. Below we’ll dive into extensive detail about the Sienna and the different model years. We’ll look at what model year has the most and most minor problems, and we’ll do the same for the recalls it has had. Furthermore, we’ll discuss the maintenance cost for each generation so you can get a feeling of how much each model year costs. Read on!
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What Year Has The Least Problems?
Five different problems are common with varying generations of the Toyota Sienna. We created the table below to give you an overview of what model years have the most problems. As you can see immediately, the most recent models don’t have that many reported structural issues. That’s because many new cars still have their warranty, or the car hasn’t driven enough mileage to have serious problems.
Below the table, we’ll discuss the most common problems and how severe these problems are. After that, we’ll look at the number of recalls for each generation. We do this because newer generations do indeed have recalls which give us a more precise overview of the build quality of the more recent generations.
As you can see in the table above, there are sure generations that perform better in terms of the number of problems that have been reported. Every year of the Sienna can last deep into the 200k mile range but the 2013, 2014, and 2016 model years seem to have the most minor issues, whereas the 2007 – 2011 model years have quite a few.
Car and Driver did an excellent video highlighting common issues in a 40,000-mile Seinna which goes to show just how reliable this vehicle can be (especially the transmission):
Deactivation Of Stability Control
The most recent generation of the Sienna has only been around since 2021. However, there´s one recall we do want to share with you. This is related to the Skid Control ECU software, which may not turn on the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system when the vehicle is restarted after the driver has disabled the VSC system. The recall involved updating the software, so the problem wasn´t severe in the end.
Unable To Open/Close Sliding Doors
The sliding doors on the Toyota Sienna are a notorious problem for all generations manufactured in 2015 or earlier. On repairpal.com, we see that 800+ owners have reported this problem which involves the cable in the door malfunctioning, which, in turn, damages the electric motor.
On average, this problem occurs after 106,000 miles. Replacing the electric motor of the sliding doors will cost around $1,500 and is, therefore, something that needs to be inspected carefully before buying.
Cracks In The Dashboard
Models manufactured in 2008, before that, or in 2010, have problems with the cracking of the dashboard. This problem occurs typically after 83,000 miles, and 279 owners have stated they have this problem. The only solution is to replace the dashboard, which will cost $200 for the parts, excluding labor.
Failing Oxygen Sensor
Models manufactured pre-2013 or 2015 have problems with a failing oxygen sensor which 195 Sienna owners report. The problem occurs after an average mileage of 118,000 miles. The symptom of a failing oxygen sensor is the check engine light illuminating and very high fuel consumption which can rapidly increase fuel costs. The cost of replacing the oxygen sensor is around $350.
Oil Leaks And Loss Of Oil Pressure
Toyota Sienna manufactured between 2007 – 2016 can have considerable oil leaks, which is a problem that 68 owners report. The problem occurs when the VVT-oil line bursts, which will leave a considerable oil spill on the ground. Continuing to drive with this problem will result in complete engine failure.
The problem typically occurs after 112,000 miles, and the only solution is to replace the cable completely. Replacing the cable will cost around $300 – $400, including labor costs.
EVAP System Fault
2007, 2008, and 2015 Toyota Sienna have a problem with the evaporative emission system, which usually occurs after 129,000 miles. Symptoms of this problem are a check engine light, a loose or worn gas cap, or a failing charcoal canister. Replacing the canister would be the most significant problem, with a replacement costing around $550 – $600.
Which Year Has The Least Recalls?
Besides the number of problems, it’s also essential to look at the number of recalls that the cars have had. The reason for this is that this tells us something about the build quality of a particular model year. Furthermore, it gives us a glimpse into the reliability of newer model years that haven’t yet had time to develop problems discussed in the subheading above.
What becomes clear from the table below is that there are specific model years that, at first glimpse, don’t look all that reliable. Any Toyota Sienna that has been manufactured before 2012 has had at least six recalls, and the 2011 model even had twelve.
On the other hand, there are also specific model years that have had very few recalls. Of course, there’s the 2020 model year, but this is unfair given that this car is almost new and hasn’t had time to show all its’ potential defects. On the other hand, the 2013 and 2016 model year have had very few recalls. Given that these cars also have very few problems (as mentioned previously), it’s worth looking into these model years to see the severity of the recalls. Please scroll past the table below.
The 2013 model had a total of three recalls. All of these recalls had to do with the integrity of the airbags. The first recall (18V024000) happened on the 9th of January 2018 and was related to certain car airbags that could have caused metal fragments flying everywhere when deploying. Both the second (19V005000) and third (19V741000) recall have to do with an unexpected explosion of the inflator of the airbags due to high humidity or temperature cycling.
This all looks very promising for the 2013 model since all these issues were easily fixable, and they don’t have to do with any mechanical parts of the car. This shows that the car’s internals is correctly built and diminish the risk of expensive repairs.
For the 2016 model, we see that this car had a total of four recalls. However, two of those have to do with conversions of the van made by other suppliers and are therefore not applicable to the regular Sienna. The first recall (16V197000) happened on the 6th of April 2016 and had to do with the front seat belts. Incorrect front seat belt height adjusters were installed that, during a crash, may contact the B-pillar and tear or separate.
The other recall (16V858000) had problems with the sliding door, which would refuse to open. This applies to models built between the 4th of January 2010 to the 12th of August 2016. Toyota also fixed this problem by installing two sub wire harnesses. Having issues with the door is something you want to avoid so, if you’re in the market for the 2016 model, make sure the harnesses are installed, or the car is manufactured after the 12th of August 2016.
Which Year Costs The Least In Maintenance?
Finally, it’s essential to see how much each model year will generally cost in maintenance and if this is higher or lower than the average cost you would typically spend on a minivan.
On average, the maintenance of a minivan will cost $647 per year. As you can see in the table below, none of the model years of the Toyota Sienna reach this number. This seems to indicate that all model years of the Sienna are cheap cars to maintain. As you can see, the 2007 – 2008 model years are much more affordable in maintenance, but this is because they’re older cars and the maintenance cost reduce significantly after ten years of use.
Furthermore, with the data from Repairpal.com, we found that the Sienna has to go to the garage for unexpected maintenance around 0.41 times per year (the average for minivans is 0.4), and there’s a 15% chance of having severe problems (higher than the 12% average for minivans).
This tells us that the Sienna seems cheap to maintain but is slightly less reliable than other minivans. With the research we did above, we think it’s safe to conclude that this is mainly because the sliding doors of the Sienna are its weak points. This is counted as a severe problem.
Therefore, we recommend you go with the 2013 model year or select a 2016 model year that has been recalled or manufactured after the 12th of August 2016. Other model years have a higher risk of problems, prevalent issues with the sliding doors.
|Year Of Manufacturing||Toyota Sienna Maintenance Cost|
What To Expect From A Second-Hand Sienna In Terms Of Price?
Suppose you’re seriously interested in buying a second-hand Sienna from 2013 or 2016. What can you expect in terms of price?
A 2013 Sienna will have a residual value of 35.75%, a resale value of $13.765, and mileage of around 108,000. Assuming an average mileage of 12,000 per year, this would mean the Sienna most likely still has a little more than eight years left. This would mean the car would cost you around $1,686 per year in depreciation. Considering the high reliability of this model year, we would consider this a great deal.
A 2016 Sienna will have a residual value of 49.91%, a resale value of $19,286, and mileage of around 72,000. Assuming an average mileage of 12,000 per year, this would mean the Sienna has 10,6 years left. In terms of depreciation, this model year would cost around $1,819 per year in depreciation. If you want a slightly newer Sienna and you can find a 2016 model without sliding door problems, this can also be a great pick.
Wrapping things up, the choice of the best second-hand Toyota Sienna ultimately comes down to the 2013 and 2016 models, based on their stellar reliability, minimal recall history, and affordable maintenance costs.
However, each model year offers its unique characteristics and challenges, so understanding these details is vital. Through this in-depth exploration, we hope we’ve illuminated the path for you to make an informed decision when considering a pre-owned Sienna. Regardless of the model year you choose, the Toyota Sienna promises a fantastic driving experience. Safe and happy travels!
Hi! My name is Stefan; I’m the owner and lead writer at TheDriverAdviser.com.
I’m an active writer on this blog myself, as well as a novice car mechanic. For the really technical stuff, I find writers with experience as a mechanic or who have studied mechanical engineering.
Read more about our fantastic team on our about page!