Brakes, fuel system, engine and steering issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners
The 2019 Toyota Sienna received a lot of acclaim for being one of the only AWD minivans on the market. Plus, it has room to hold seven passengers and the automaker claims that it is where “life meets style,” yet customers need more than just good looks with a family-friendly vehicle. Instead, this van suffers from a defective engine, a malfunctioning fuel system, a dangerous steering system and service brakes that have a mind of their own.
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Problems with the Engine
The engine is the heart of any vehicle and must be powerful enough for owners to feel safe on the road. That’s precisely where the Sienna goes wrong.
Just look at this NHTSA comment. “Pulled out into oncoming traffic and vehicle hesitated and would not accelerate. Dash lights came on and car stalled. Attempted to crank van and it restarted but would barely move with the accelerator pressed fully. Had to call a tow truck to have it delivered to the dealer. I called Toyota Roadside Assistance number and 2.5 hours later, no one showed up. Called again and demanded a different tow company respond and 30 minutes later someone was at the scene. This episode started at 2:30 pm and van was picked up at 6:37 pm.”
Toyota has been quiet about engine issues, probably because the company has six other recalls on the Sienna for the other defective systems. To acknowledge one more fault might just throw people over the edge and prove that the Sienna is truly a lemon dressed up in a pretty package.
2019 Toyota Sienna Complaint Summary
|Number of Complaints
|Unknown Or Other
|Fuel System, Gasoline
Problems with the Fuel System
A vehicle’s engine will only run as good as the fuel system does since this is what supplies the power. Yet, the Sienna has some major malfunctions when it comes to transferring fuel correctly.
Here’s another NHTSA complaint worth reading. “I pulled onto a highway and reaching about 25 mph the Sienna hesitated for at least 10 seconds as if it was not getting gas. I pressed the gas wanting to get out of the way of traffic and it jumped slightly but would not go. Then it kicked in with a few hesitations and took off. Another 100’ or so, it did it again. Prior to this I had already brought it to Toyota complaining that there is a hesitation when the van is not warmed up yet between 20-40 mph. It is only slight, but noticeable and fells like it is not getting gas. The van does this every time after it has been sitting long enough to cool down. The long hesitation only happened twice so far (Dangerous Enough!), there have been a few shorter ones, and then there is the every time slight hesitation. Toyota has told me nothing shows in their diagnostics and they do not know what is wrong. They tried cutting the power to the power to the computer to reset the memory, but this did not change anything.”
It turns out that there is a dangerous fuel system issue with the Sienna. NHTSA Campaign Number 20V012000 states that the fuel pump can fail on nearly 700,000 vehicles. If this occurs, the engine will stall and the minivan could be involved in an accident. This goes beyond the hesitation discussed earlier but takes the level of danger to new heights. But hey, the Sienna has good “style” so who cares if it runs or not?
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Problems with the Steering
One of the main concerns for most drivers is how well the vehicle steers. With the Sienna, this isn’t just a source of contention but also shows how poorly this vehicle was built.
One review on Cars.com discusses some of the rideability concerns. “Bought a 2019 Sienna XLE in December. It’s been in for service 7 times already for a severe vibration. Toyota is saying it’s caused by snow/dirt compacting in the wheels and ‘resolve’ it by pressure washing the wheels. By the time I get home 50 miles away (freeway driving) the vibration is back. Toyota headquarters says it is not a vehicle defect and not warrantable and I need to pressure wash my wheels at least twice a week. This is my third Sienna, never had a single issue wIth the other two (driven in much severer weather in Alaska, Colorado, eastern WA, etc.) NEVER again!!!”
There’s yet another recall, this time related to the steering system. NHTSA Campaign Number 19V532000 says that the steering shaft extensions weren’t manufactured correctly, leading to fractures, which can cause a complete loss of steering ability. Driving the Sienna is like being in a cartoon when the steering wheel suddenly comes off and drivers aren’t sure what to do. While the wheels aren’t falling off into the owner’s hands, the defects create the same panic and concern.
Problems with the Brakes
With all of these other malfunctions, it would be reassuring to know that the braking system works as it should, but that would be too hopeful.
Another Cars.com review states, “Bought a brand new 2019 Sienna for its Technology improvements. Every time taking to highway causes sudden brake applies and engine & TRAC lights are ON. Called Toyota and they certified the vehicle is safe but the problem still exists. It is risky to drive when electromechanical malfunction applies breaks in the middle of highway. Escaped accidents three times so far with the van.”
Just when consumers thought that the Sienna couldn’t become any more of a lemon, NHTSA Campaign Number 19V410000 was released. This recall states that some brake lines might have the incorrect tube nut fittings on the braking system, which can cause the pressure to drop and power to be reduced. Without properly working brakes, steering system, engine and fuel system, this Sienna is more likely to end up stranded on the side of the road than it is to make it to the next destination.
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