My 2000 Toyota Sienna minivan has generally been very trustworthy. But with a vehicle that old, it’s inevitable that the plastic parts start wearing out. The main issue has been outside door handles breaking. Here is my experience with replacing the following:
One day at around 140,000 miles, I went to open the rear hatch, and then I heard a SNAP. The plastic where the handle connects to the plastic “appendage” which pulls the cable to open the rear door broke.
I went to the Toyota dealer, and $65 and a week later, I had a replacement handle. There’s lots of sites online (easily Googled, here’s one) which tell you how to remove the rear door panel from the inside in order to get to the handle assembly and replace it. Definitely a do it yourself job.
But then recently at about 220,000 miles, I heard the familiar SNAP yet again! Rather than go back to the Toyota dealer for a $65 plastic part, I found a METAL handle on Ebay for only $20 shipped. Lesson learned, and I’m willing to bet that this one will last for the life of the minivan!
The right sliding door takes a lot of abuse in my household. Mainly because it took the kiddo a while to figure out that you first have to pull the handle towards you, THEN pull the door closed. So it was no surprise to me that one day, I would try to open the door and instead be holding the broken handle in my hand. I had no problem finding a replacement part on Ebay. No photos because removing the inside door panel and replacing the broken handle was fairly easy, as I recall.
Finally, the handle which gets used the most – the driver’s side front door – broke. Finding a replacement part on Ebay was easy. Though out of all three of the door handles, this was the hardest to replace. There are great instructions here showing how to remove the inside door panel and access the handle. The hard part is that there’s very little room inside the door to connect/disconnect the “rods” for the door lock and the opening mechanism, and there are no photos here or at that website due to the close quarters.
Still, there’s a couple of tricks which I found helpful. One is to know how the plastic clips are connected to the rods. The end of the rod goes through the “hole” in the plastic clip, and then the plastic clip is spun around until it snaps onto the rod. I wish I had taken a photo. Though the best way to figure out how they are supposed to be connected is to look at the old ones before you disconnect them.
The biggest time saving trick for me was to make the connections to the rods before the replacement handle was reattached to the door. In order to do this, I had a helper hold open the inside door latch. That gave me enough slack to make the connection outside the door.