Power steering hose leaked onto alternator, shorting it out. This problem is so common that the new alternator had a tag attached to it reading: "WARNING: Check power steering pump and hoses for leaks before installing."
Right-front brake caliper began dragging after I slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting a child who ran out in front of me. Cost for replacement with after-market parts: $450 (US).
Battery cable corroded at battery post. New harness would have cost $260 plus labor to replace, but mechanic was able to splice a new connector onto it. Mechanic said corrosion due to cheap battery installed by previous owner.
Replaced plugs, ignition wires, distributor cap and rotor (all original parts) at 160,000 miles. Took two hours. (Engine is located under front seats.)
While replacing plugs, accidentally broke wires off a plug attached to a sensor unit on the water pump. Check engine light came on. Searched wrecking yards for a week before finding replacement plug. (Toyota only sells the complete wiring harness.) Check engine light went off.
Toyota dealer replaced EGR valve the week after I replaced the plugs. This is a job that I strongly recommend you leave to Toyota. Cost: $271. After that, it passed California smog check at 153,000 miles. Smog technician said it was one of the cleanest tests he'd done on a car of that mileage.
Brake light fuse blew on a regular basis, starting at 140000 miles. Replaced with over-sized fuse and no more problems. (Brake lights only item on that circuit.)
Replaced driver's side manual window regulator (roll-down mechanism). Cost $50 from wrecking yard. The man there said it would take over an hour to install. Took 20 minutes. Passenger side regulator is stiff. Hope WD-40 fixes it.
Side door rear slider broke. Part cost $95 from Toyota. It takes two people to lift the door into place (one to align the top slider, one to align the rear slider), but one can easily adjust the door when it's in place. Just close the door, making sure it seals tight, and tighten the bolts.
Rear door latch must be opened carefully and gently. Previous owner yanked the door open a lot, causing wear to the latch mechanism. Handle has metal finger inside door which presses against another metal finger connected to the latch. If the handle is squeezed too quickly, the handle finger will go behind the latch finger. The door must then be opened from the inside, the latch mechanism unbolted from the door frame, and the fingers realigned. Also, if the door is not slammed shut, it will sometimes pop ajar. It doesn't actually unlatch or pop open, but it isn't completely closed, either.
Radio antenna contacts corroded where the antenna rod bolts to the connector. I have to give the antenna a little nudge now and again to take the crackle out of the radio. New part: over $200, not including labor. (The door frame has to be removed.)
Automatic transmission fluid needs flush and refill. Price: $135.
Air conditioning pump clutch has a low-level chatter when A/C is off. Not enough to worry about now.
Although that sounds like a lot of work in two years, this has actually been a much more reliable car than other used cars I have had.
The B2000 I had before it had several system failures between 135000 and 143000 miles: Transmission and clutch; brake master cylinder; phantom coolant leak that would drain the radiator in 24 hours without putting any of it onto the ground; failure of the headlight/turn signal/windshield wiper switch assembly that would turn on the high beams at 1 a.m. and drain my battery, but wouldn't turn on some of those items when you wanted them. Also, it had a timing belt that drove the water pump. (Never saw that before in any other engine.) That shredded once at 88000 miles, ripping apart the water pump. It did it again at 143000 miles, and that was that.
The first time the Mazda's timing belt shredded, I learned that Mazdas and many other cars have "interference engines." This means that if the timing belt brakes, the pistons will slam against any open valves before the engine stalls. This causes major damage to the engine, requiring a valve job and maybe piston replacement. Toyota, however, does not use interference engines in their trucks or vans. Also, they use metal timing chains rather than rubber timing belts, so they can go up to 250000 miles before replacement.
The radiator/coolant/heater hoses in the Toyota Van can also last up to 250000 miles before replacement. They are specially designed by Toyota to do so, so you shouldn't use after-market hoses in the cooling system. Considering that some of the hoses go to heaters in the back of the van, it's a good thing that they used these hoses.
Ergonomically, most of this car is only average. The cup holder blocks the radio, ashtray and heater controls. You need gorilla arms to reach the radio without leaning over. The rear seats are definitely not for adults. (I removed the rear seats to make the back more like a pick-up truck. If you want to do this, you'll need a 19 mm crescent wrench, skinny wrists, about 3 hours of your life that you'll never get back, and a lot of patience.) Also, if you're a big guy like me, the front door is a little close, but not so much that you can't get used to it. And I swear that the steering wheel is just slightly off-center.
I've dealt with Toyota dealership service departments in California, Arizona, Washington and Oregon. All were courteous, friendly, knowledgeable, helpful, and only about 15 percent more expensive on their labor costs than independent mechanics. Many will even call back within 48 hours to see if I was satisfied with their service. (If you don't think this is important, go to the Kia listings.)
Other things you should know:
1. This van has the tightest turning radius of just about any van or truck you'll ever drive. That's because it has a short wheel base, which leads to...
2. Don't follow too closely behind any semi trucks when going over 45 mph. The wind turbulence will make you think the van is about to flip over.
3. The power steering pump takes Dexron automatic transmission fluid, not power steering fluid. Don't mix them up.
4. This is the third Toyota I've had, and all of their key locks are garbage. On all three the key could be removed from the ignition switch while the engine was running. On one, a 1976 Corolla, you could unlock the doors and start the engine with a screwdriver. It was stolen five time. Invest in a good alarm and anti-theft devices. And while I'm at it: TOYOTA, FIX YOU KEY LOCKS!!!
5. This engine has two oil sensors: A pressure sending unit on the oil pump (common to all cars) and a level sending unit on the oil pan. The pressure unit is available as an after-market part. The level unit is only available from Toyota and is not shown on any after-market databases that I know of.