Toyota Estima Problems: 3 Known Issues (Explained)

The Toyota Estima is one of Toyota’s minivan offerings, commonly known as the Toyota Previa in North America. It was in production between 1990 and 2019, with three generations within that time span.

The Estima is also Toyota’s second-largest minivan, sharing the honor with the Toyota Sienna. It is known for its power, efficiency, durability, and low running costs.

While it is a top-tier minivan, the Toyota Estima is not without faults, and we’ll be examining some of the commonly reported ones below.

1. Rattling Noise When Idle

One of the most common problems with the Toyota Estima is the rattling noise when the car goes idle. Owners who have directly experienced this have described the noise as distasteful.

Possible Causes and Solutions

Here are potential causes and solutions to this problem:

Faulty Catalytic Converter

It makes sense to assume that the rattling noise that follows an idle engine results from a problem with the engine, right? Well, as much as this is a logical assumption, it is not always the case, as we are about to see.

If your engine makes a rattling noise when idling, it could be because of a problem with the catalytic converter.

The catalytic converter is an integral component responsible for emissions control.

It features a core, and like most other components, this core may break down after some time. The core’s breakdown often involves tiny parts dropping off, leading to a rattle on the inside of the catalytic converter.

If this happens, it would be best if you got a replacement for the catalytic converter as soon as you can. Riding with a faulty CC almost certainly guarantees failure in a smog test.

Defective Exhaust System

The exhaust system of the Estima may deteriorate over time, often resulting from corrosion, which may eventually cause rattles. There are times when the heat shield loosens randomly, and this may cause a rattle.

In situations like this, you will likely have to replace the muffler or the tailpipe.

Interior Problem

Another reason your Estima may make rattling noises is because of items stowed in the door panel pocket or cup holder can. It could also be because of a loose center console cover or a damaged glove box.

This reason is often overlooked, and that’s exactly why we deemed it worthy of mention. If you have a rattling noise problem with your Estima, check around the interior of your car, including the trunk.

Low Oil Levels

A lack of sufficient engine oil is a possible reason for the rattling noise from the Toyota Estima. If you have low-quality oil or your car has a leak, the oil levels can deplete fast.

Lack of oil causes a lot of problems for a vehicle, and sometimes rattling noises tag along.

Weak Lifters

Vehicles often feature a component known as engine lifters which open and close valves. The lifters often collapse on old vehicles, and their collapse may cause a loud rattling noise from the engine.

If that is the case with your Toyota Estima, you will have to replace the lifters.

What to Do

Rattling noises are often a result of faults in the engine and other sensitive components; hence, we advise seeking a technician’s services.

Related: How Long Do Toyota Estimas Last? (9 Important Facts)

2. Car Engine Misfiring

Another commonly reported fault with the Toyota Estima is the car engine misfiring. Several owners have complained about this while lamenting the lack of a proper service action for the issue.

Possible Causes and Solutions

Below are some reasons the Toyota Estima engine misfires:

Damaged Spark Plugs

Spark plugs are crucial to every vehicle’s ignition system, and like most other components, they are vulnerable to damage.

The damage could result from an oil leak into the combustion chamber or abnormal carbon accumulation. It could also be because of an improper gap or overheating.

Point is, when the spark plug gets damaged, your Estima engine is likely to start misfiring.

The best way to deal with this problem is by simply replacing the spark plugs.

Imbalance In Fuel/Air Mixture

There is a fuel/air ratio engines have to maintain for proper combustion, and if this goes wrong, it can trigger an engine misfire. Imbalance could be a result of a blocked fuel pump or blocked fuel injectors, both of which will obstruct fuel flow into the combustion chamber.

Absence of Compression

The cylinder needs compression to work efficiently, and a lack of compression could precipitate a misfire.

Lack of compression is often occasioned by a blown head gasket or leaky exhaust valves. If it’s a problem with the head gasket, the engine will randomly run hot as the coolant depletes.

However, the exhaust valves are responsible for most of the cases involving loss of compression.

Faulty Fuel Pump Shut-Off Switch

The fuel pump shut-off switch is designed to shut off the fuel pump during accidents, collisions, or unusual stops. Like most other components, the shut-off switch may fail after some time, and one of its symptoms is an engine misfire.

What to Do

A misfire comes with many consequences, including worsened fuel efficiency and loss of power. The problem has to be handled with care, which is why we advise hiring a trusted auto mechanic for the job.

Related: How Long Do Toyota Sienna Last? (Solved & Explained!)

3. Problems With the Control Arm

There have been several complaints about the Toyota Estima’s suspension, particularly the rear control arm.

The control arms connect the vehicle’s frame to the suspension system, and like other components, they can develop faults.

Major symptoms of control arm damage include steering wheel vibration, vehicle instability, and clunking sounds.

Possible Causes and Solutions

Below are some reasons the Toyota Estima’s control arms fail:

Worn Bushings

The bushings on the lower control arm is a very fragile part that’s prone to damage. The chances of damage are even higher if the bushing is old and worn. A common symptom of bushing damage is a clunking sound.

Also, if the bushing is new, and it is not properly tightened, it is as good as having an old, worn bushing.

Driving on Rough Terrain

One other thing that could pose a threat to the control arm is when you drive on uneven terrains. Such terrains often put the vehicle in an erratic motion, which may loosen the control arm’s bushings over time.

Excessive Heat

The control arms are in locations that expose them to extreme temperatures. Extreme temperatures, particularly heat, can crack and harden the bushing’s rubber material.

Overly Fast Driving

Hitting the gas pedal and pulling away very fast is certainly enjoyable and sometimes necessary. However, this action, especially when it happens repeatedly, may put a strain on your control arm and eventually loosen the bushings.

What to Do

Driving with problematic control arms is unsafe and, sometimes, may cause you to lose control of the vehicle. So, it is important to fix the problem as soon as you notice it.

In many cases, you might just have to replace the bushing instead of the entire unit. However, it is much better and cost-effective to replace the entire control arms unit. We advise letting a certified mechanic do the work for you, given its delicateness.

Related: 11 Toyota Sienna Statistics You Should Know (Facts & Numbers)

General Pros and Cons

Here are some pros and cons of the Estima:


The following are advantages of the Toyota Estima:

1. Reliability

Reliability is one of the most important things to look out for when choosing a car. Thankfully, it is one of the qualities of the Toyota Estima, and critics and owners alike lend credence to this.

With a Toyota Estima, running costs are very low, and parts aren’t scarce. Also, the Toyota Estima is less likely to develop faults than most other vehicles in its class.

2. Elegant Look

Looks usually aren’t listed as one of the strengths of MPVs, but we simply cannot overlook the Toyota Estima’s gorgeous exterior. It boasts features you’d think are exclusive to sports cars, such as xenon lights and blacked-out moon roofs.

It’ll be hard to come up with a handful of family vehicles that are as attractive as the Toyota Estima.

3. Variety of Options

If you are looking to get a Toyota Estima, there is a wide, almost overwhelming range of options for you. Whether you want eight instead of the standard seven seats or you prefer the 3.5 L V6 engine to the 2.4L, the Estima has got it covered.

4. Plush and Adjustable Seats

Toyota Estima models have seats that aren’t just plush and durable but also adjustable to suit your family’s needs. You could either have them folded toward the floor, put them in a walkthrough mode, or do a 60/40 split. How cool is that?

5. Proven Durability

The Toyota Estima has a track record of incredible durability that most vehicles can’t beat. A well-maintained Toyota Estima can go beyond 300,000 miles easily, and many critics agree.

While browsing through Toyota Estima forums, we found several testimonies of people who have gotten past 250,000-300,000 miles. It’s just like they say- numbers don’t lie.

6. Thoughtful and Sophisticated Safety Features

It goes without saying that a family vehicle like the Toyota Estima has to have safety atop the list of its priorities. The manufacturer understood this and furnished it with excellent safety features.

The safety features include:

  • Up to 9 airbags, including SRS Curtain Shield airbags
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Dual Power Door
  • Daytime Running Lights
  • Traction Control
  • Lane Departure Alert
  • Intelligent Parking Assist


  1. Rattling Noise When Engine Is Idle
  2. Car Engine Misfiring
  3. Problems With the Control Arm

What Do the Reviews Say?

The Toyota Previa(Estima) offers a beguiling combination of design flair and engineering reliability. Both engines are excellent units, and it’s difficult to point out many key flaws. Find one that hasn’t been too abused by the demands of family life, and you’ll have an MPV to be proud of”. 

Source: RAC UK

It’s great for school drop-offs and pick-ups. You can enjoy it on the long road trips and the short weekend drives. Perfect for Bunnings and Ikea shopping frenzies. Car-pooling with friends? No problem! Wherever your life takes you, Toyota Estima delivers in spades”.

Source: BestPeopleMovers

Vans are generally boring things. Oh, you can spray paint sexy, psychedelic valkryies on the side or buy some right-hand-steer Japanese import with a name like Sambar Try Dias, but by and large, they’re boring.

That goes triple for the minivan variety, but since their invention in the early 1980s, one minivan has been the obvious exception. There was and continues to be absolutely nothing boring about the Toyota Previa. In fact, it’s one of the most interesting vehicles Toyota has sold in this country in the past 30 years”.

Source: AutoBlog

What Is the Resale Value of the Toyota Estima?

Model Year Mileage Price
2010 Toyota Estima 72,000 miles £8,495
2013 Toyota Estima 68,000 miles £11,495
2016 Toyota Estima 60,300 miles £12,995

Go Back: Problems for each Toyota model.

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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.