November 8

2004 Toyota Sienna Power Sliding Door Repair



Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 18 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: I’m doing very well.

Mark: So, we’re going to talk about a Toyota Sienna, a little bit of an older one, a 2004 and you had to do a sliding door repair. What was going on with this van.

Bernie: Well, this is a full featured Toyota Sienna van with all the nice power operated sliding doors. So there’s a button inside, if you’re sitting in the seats, of course, not while you’re driving, it won’t operate but when you’re stopped and it’s in park or your vehicle is off, you can push a button and the door goes gheee and it opens up and you can push the button again and the door closes. You can also do the doors with the key fob which is very handy when you’ve got a child in one arm ad a bag of groceries in the other, well I’m not sure about the other hand, but if you got a kid in one arm you can hit a button, door pops open and you can plunk him in the car seat, which is absolutely fantastic. So the passenger side door would not operate in the push button mode, you could manually pull a handle and the door would open and with the power operation still worked it would power close but with the button it would not operate. 

Mark: So how do you diagnose a concern like this?

Bernie: Well we’d start with connecting a scan tool. There are electronics inside the door and as you’ll see in a video I’m going to show in a few minutes, it’s actually extremely complex inside this door but there are electronics associated with it so we can get some diagnostic trouble codes and information. But what it really came down to with this particular vehicle is actually opening the door, taking the door panel off, looking at the mechanism and just getting familiar with what it operates the vehicle and what components actually control that power operation and then testing individual components.

Mark: And what did you find was wrong with the door?

Bernie: What was wrong with this door is that there’s an actuator motor that actually pulls the door latch open, much like, it basically attaches to the same section of the door latch as your door handle would do, but instead this is an electric motor. So that motor was dead and that’s what’s causing issues. So I’m just going to share a video here of the inside of the door and how it works. I apologize the video is a little on the dark side but it kind of gives you an idea of what’s inside this door and what moves and how it works. So here we go. No talking comments…so that’s the door latch, the actual actuator motor that was problematic was this piece here and in a little while you’ll see this is actually the door panel installed with a new motor in. So that’s the problem right there. This is panning through the door so there’s another motor back there that actually moves the door back and forth, here’s the control unit for the door you can see there is a lot of wiring involved in this piece. And just to put it in perspective, this is only the passenger door, there’s a drivers door as well. So this is the door in operation and see the latch move there, door opening, a little view of our dirty wall of our shop, and the door closing. There’s a lot of cables, rods, actuators, there’s a lot of pieces here, as you can see it’s extremely complex. And I’m back.

Mark: So it looks awfully complicated, did this turn out to be a pretty expensive repair?

Bernie: It did actually, it was a very expensive repair. I like this example because, typically we tend to think that when you own a high end European car like a Mercedes or BMW, you’re spending an awful lot of money to repair it whereas, if you own a Toyota you’re not spending so much but in the case of this vehicle this repair came up to about, I think it was somewhere, it was well over a $1000 to repair this. Now the motor was a few hundred dollars but what made the repair so expensive, there was some diagnostic costs involved, but what made the repair so expensive was actually the way it was built. That motor, stupidly is actually bolted in from the back side of that, there’s a big panel about a foot and a half long with all the actuators and rods and they actually bolt that panel on, but the motor that we replaced was actually bolted from the backside of the panel, so you have to take the window out of the door, you have to pull the panel off and then from there you have to undo the screws, but the screws are tiny and they’re basically locked tight into the bolts, so we had to cut the screws off. Just like way too much work involved. They could of bolted the piece to the outside of the panel, really simple repair but I mean it would of saved the customer four or five hundred dollars in labour if was done that way. So anyways, it was an expensive repair and as I say, it’s an example of people ask me, well you know, what kind of car should I buy, what’s the cheapest to fix? Well you know generally if you’re avoiding a luxury European car, you’re saving on cost but it’s not always true. Sometimes the Japanese car could end up being far more expensive than the more expensive European car. And you know the thing about this vehicle, this again is the complexity of having those luxury features of you know, you hit a button and the door opens, well if you didn’t have that feature, if you just had a manual slide open door, you wouldn’t have this problem. So if you can avoid the power options, it’ll save you a lot of money in the long run but I mean I agree, I like the power options, they’re nice to have. There’s a price to be paid for them.

Mark: So is this is fairly typical for power doors?

Bernie: Yeah, they’re all basically like that. They all have those extra mechanisms in there to operate and I’d say this one seems a little extra complicated compared to some. But yeah, I mean typically these are the components that need to be in there. There’s motors to move the doors, there’s a motor of course to open the door, and so yeah, this is pretty typical on any vehicle with a power sliding door. 

Mark: Sure, so you’ve spoken very highly over a number of videos about Toyota’s and their reliability, does this change your opinion of Toyota?

Bernie: No, not at all, I mean this is you know, this is a 2004 as you mentioned earlier, it’s a 13 year old vehicle at this point, you know things are bound to break down and wear out, you know, my only opinion as I mentioned a few minutes ago, is it’s kind of stupidly built the way they put this together, a little less thoughtful than usual for something like a Toyota I find. But you know, but overall they’re still great vehicles and you know again, 13 years, very reliable, I’m sure this door has been opened and closed hundred or thousands of times in that lifespan. So it’s pretty good.

Mark: So there you go, if you need service for your Toyota Sienna in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment, you have to book ahead, they’re busy or check out their website, our YouTube channel search for Pawlik Automotive repair or our new Car Truth Show channel where we talk about cars and what kind of cars you should be buying. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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