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Toyota Avensis (1997–2002)

Last updated 26 March 2015

What's good

In June 2001 Toyota was rated by Motor Warranty Direct as Britain's 3rd most claim-free used marque.

Second most reliable car in 2001 Fleet News Survey of 620,000 fleet cars mostly under 3 years old.

BMW, Toyota and Ford jointly suffered the fewest breakdowns attended by German ADAC during 2001.

14th from top of 100 models for reliability in Auto Express 2002 survey.

Toyota had fourth lowest average cost in warranty claims for cars up to 10 years old in 2002 Warranty Direct index.

Joint 2nd top make in 2002 'Which?' reliability survey cars 2000 - 2002; 3rd for cars 1997 - 1999.

Third top family car, 16th overall in 2003 What Car? J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Survey.

Toyota generally 10th lowest average warranty repair costs in 2003 Warranty Direct Reliability index (index 74.95 v/s lowest 31.93) www.reliabilityindex.co.uk

1998-2000 models had fewest breakdowns, average problems and faults; 2001-2003 models had average breakdowns, problems and faults in 2003 Which survey.

Which? used best buy up to £5,000 2004.

Came 19th from top in 2005 JD Power/What Car Survey of 23,000 cars reg Sep 2002 to Aug 2003 with satisfaction score of 82.2%. 

Very Low 2 out of 9 point death rate from accidents in this model.

What to watch out for

Still Carina E-based, so it's not going to set your pants on fire with excitement. Lean-burn engines require same economy driving style of high revs with small throttle openings - not holding high gears and labouring the engine.

Pre-2000 MY diesels pointless. Lost its 'smiley face' for 2000 model year.

First owner may have been a rental fleet. Look for minor damage from rental car carelessness. May have been kerbed, so check for uneven tyre wear and damaged hubcaps.

Second owner may have been a mini cabber.

Some problems experienced with steering column; subject to TSB and replaced FOC if owners complain. Look for leaks at ends of steering racks of early build 1997 and 1998 cars as can be prone to leaks (Toyota has replaced these FOC at 4 years old). On later cars a clunk from the rack is easily cured by re-greasing.

Make sure clutch still has plenty of bite and feel carefully for any gear-change problems. By 2009, manual transmission bearing failures were becoming increasingly common.

In 1997s and 1998s check fuel tank for leaks.

Some reports of premature clutch and gearbox failures. Isolated report of problems with immobiliser.

Rear drum brake cylinders can also start to seep fluid.

Slipping alternator belt a known fault on diesel and easily cured. Replaced by new model late 2002.

Mk I VVTi engine engine appears to use lots of oil; so much that Toyota specifies in its handbook up to 1 litre every 1000miles. Reported to be the result of having built the engine with porous wet bore liners. Because of this problem Toyota increased the engine warranty to 5 years. If a dealer check over 1,000 miles showed oil consumption to be greater than 1 litre, the test results would be sent to Japan and the engine usually replaced FOC. The Mk2 VVTi engine also reported to have this problem.

Rear wiper of hatch may refuse to switch off. The relay for the wiper is incorporated in the motor and the motor is earth dependant for a feed. Best replaced with a 2nd hand wiper motor from a scrapper.


11-7-2002: 3,085 Avensis in VIN range SB153BB to SB172BB: possibility that excess residual stress remains on check valve of fuel pump during assembly leading it to leak fuel. Valve to be re-tightened and relevant pipe to be replaced to protect against stress.

30-9-2002: On 900 cars fitted with a spoiler the spoiler may become loose. Revised spoiler fixing to be used.

14-11-2012: Toyota GB registered recalls for certain Avensis and Corolla models (July 2001 to March 2009) and for Prius (July 2003 to April 2009) with the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA). All models are previous generation, i.e. not new models currently on sale.On certain Avensis, Corolla and Prius models (July 2001 to April 2009) there is a possibility of an issue with a component in the steering system, prompting a knocking or rattling and possibly a reduction in steering response. In such circumstances, the vehicle will remain safe to drive. There have been nine reported cases of this issue in Europe and no reports of any associated accidents. 1: Due to insufficient hardness treatment of some of the extension shafts, the splines that connect the extension shaft to the steering gearbox may deform if the steering wheel is frequently and forcefully turned to the full left or full right position while driving at slow speeds. This deformation may create increased internal clearance and the splines may eventually, over time, wear out. Toyota dealers will inspect the extension shaft to determine if it needs to be replaced and, if confirmed, will replace it. The inspection and repair will take approximately one hour.

What will be done? Customer satisfaction is of paramount importance to Toyota. Consequently,Toyota has decided to conduct recall activity to replace the hybrid system water pump and check steering shaft performance on the affected cars. In full compliance with VOSA requirements, Toyota GB will contact the owners of all affected vehicles within the next six weeks, asking them to make an appointment to bring their car to their nearest Toyota dealer. It is possible that some Prius will require attention for both issues. According to model, the dealer will replace the hybrid system water pump and/or inspect the steering shaft. If the steering shaft does not meet Toyota inspection criteria, it will be repaired. The water pump replacement should take no more than an hour-and-a-half. If required, the steering shaft repair should be completed in an hour. This work will be carried out free of charge.

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