Nothing But Name Brand Junk: Part 1 - #Toyota

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Our new Toyota Sienna in 2005

In 2005, after 11 years of marriage, we finally decided it was time to buy a brand new vehicle. Up until that point, everything we had purchased together had been used, so it was very important to us to do our research. We had 3 young kids at the time and their safety was first and foremost in our minds. The two top-ranking vehicles were the Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Sienna. We quickly discovered that a "brand new" Odyssey was out of our price range but found a Sienna that fit our budget and before we knew it, it was a welcome addition to our driveway. 

Prior to the Toyota Sienna, we owned this 1995 Ford Windstar. It had been a great van, but it was getting up there in miles and was just plain wore out from all the trips I had taken with the kids (TX, TN, GA, SC, NC, OK to name a few). Going from driving that vehicle to this brand new van was like driving a Cadillac (or what I imagine it would have been like).

Soon, the joy of driving it gave way to annoyance though. I'm not saying we got a "lemon", because we didn't. I'm saying our vehicle is not a quality product and for over $25K, it sure should be. There might be those of you who will say that we should have bought American and we wouldn't be having this problem. To that, I say, at the time, no totally American made vehicles met the safety standards we were looking for and this van actually WAS made in the U.S.A. in Kentucky. There have been more than a handful of recalls on it, and yes, Toyota is great about fixing the problem and taking care of the issue but when a person has 5 kids and the dealer is an hour away, it's not a pleasant ordeal to sit and wait for your vehicle to be fixed time and time again. I currently have 2 recalls right now to deal with.

About a year or so after our purchase, both hinges went out on the rear door and had to be replaced because the door wouldn't stay open and would slam down with great force unless somebody was holding it open (which was no easy feat because the door is very heavy). Now, they are going out again. The door is supposed to go automatically to a full open  position by itself once opened and this is now as far as it goes without pushing it up (again with force):

Not long after the warranty expired, the seals on the doors and windows started to fall off. Those that haven't are loose and leak. Our van is so noisy while driving that you can hardly hear yourself think. The very back side windows cannot be opened at all because every time they are, they cannot be closed without somebody on both sides of the window to help get the rubber seal back where it is supposed to be so the window can actually shut. The seal around the windshield is also falling off. We live in Ohio, which is not an extreme climate so I cannot understand why the rubber seals are faulty and deteriorating like this. They should last longer than the 2 1/2 to 3 years that it took for them to start falling off. 

Faulty seal on back window.

Sorry about the filthy windshield! This is a picture of part of the faulty seal.
As if the seals weren't enough of a problem, both of the side doors that slide open are very difficult to open. Sometimes we have to yank and pull at them for 30 seconds or more just to get them to slide open. That is not normal. Part of the door where it latches is broken (through no fault of our own) but I don't know if that is part of the problem or not. 

Not the greatest picture, but this is the piece on both sides that is cracked and  part of the plastic on the top and right hand side is broken off. 

Over the past couple of days, our interior lights randomly blink on and off when the door is open and I hope that isn't an indication of a major electrical problem yet to come. 

If you have a Toyota and love it, that's great! I just know that the next time we purchase a new vehicle, it will not be a Toyota. We have owned our Sienna for just over 6 years and I know it should be showing some wear and tear at this stage in the game, but in my book, this goes beyond that. Especially, since most of the problems started after it was only a few years old. 

Whatever happened to quality, well-made products?