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Toyota Highlander Hybrid - Hybrid System Problems



  • marc1956marc1956 Posts: 2
    edited October 2011
    This is interesting! My 2006 HH is in the local Toyota dealership since my inverter and ECU failed pulling into my driveway on October 1. They still have it because they could not get all of the warning lights to go out. Today, they tell me that the lights are on because MY power steering ECU is bad and so is my 12 volt battery! The battery was installed by the same dealer in February of this year. So, how can your vehicle have the identical problems INCLUDING the power steering ECU and battery? My dealership has explained it this way: It was struck by lightning! Honestly, that is what they said must have happened. They want me to pay for the power steering ECU replacement but I am arguing that I am convinced that when the hybrid inverter and ECU failed, that sent a surge through the system that fried the power steering ECU and it should be covered under the hybrid warranty. Is it a coincidence that your 2006 HH with 89,000 miles and my 2006 HH with 92,000 miles have the identical repair issues? I may want to talk with you if you don't mind. Maybe we can BOTH get some satisfaction out of this! I have sent a voicemail and an email to the service manager so maybe he will consider my request. Very interesting. I should add that the vehicle is a Georgia vehicle, excellent shape and no corrosion for the power steering ECU.

    #138 of 228 On Our 3rd Inverter-Converter by dnvr_co_john May 12, 2011 (6:33 pm)

    Our 2006 HH Limited is now on its 3rd Inverter Converter assembly. The first one failed at 7200 miles as we were driving down from the mountains on I-70 into Denver. We were in the right lane & the Error stated flashing and the vehicle shut down with heavy traffic we had enough speed to get off at an exit. Three weeks ago we were headed up hill accelerating and at just over 40 MPH ther was a loud 'Bang" the Engine shut off and we got over to the shoulder. The VSC, Hybrid & AWD System Failures where all flashing. This time the Engine would restart but the throttle had no affect & shifting into Reverse or Drive did nothing. Luckily we only have 88,900 miles so the Warranty covered it again ($11000 here in CO).
    We also had a Power-steering ECU failure (due to corrosion ???) & a mysterious 12V battery failure that were not covered by Warranty. I am trying to convince my wife we need to dump this garbage before we have a failure that is not covered & the repairs are more than the trade-in value.
  • Hello All,

    Note: My HH is fully loaded, name the option and I have it, feel like a SUCKER. :(

    I'm new on this forum and I felt I have missed out on so much on Hybrid education after reading HH postings for about an hour this morning...

    My HH just crapped out on me on the highway @~55mph wabbling and then showing VSC and Brake Warning. Had it towed to dealer where they diagnose an HInverter replacement of ~$8500, found replacement part online for <$4000. I called Toyota, opened case#1111291497 and have a case manager (CM) look at my options but came back with no help. I believe Recall Number 11V342000 applied to my repair but CM claims that was only for inverter manufactured in US and mine was in Japan, my VIN is not included. My mileage of ~194250 is not helpful neither. I have logged a complaint with USDOT-NHTSA (My ODI Number is: 10437944
    ) and I hope all HH owner on this forum have done the same or should log complaints right a way to increase the NOISE to force Toyota to live up to a minimum expectation of accepting responsibility. I'm also looking into having a TV/Radio stations like NPR/CNN/FOX :) get involved. On a sad note, the dealer offered to give ~$3500 on the HH for another purchase. Your advice on my course of action to repair or JUNK the HH is welcome and appreciated, I'm in a tough financial position.

    Regards and good luck to all !!!
  • Don't let them screw with you over the VIN #.
    That problem should be covered by a recall.
    We have a 2007. It is a [non-permissible content removed] car!
    I love my 2004 Prius but the HH was and is still
    a looser.
  • Hey Steve,

    You and I in same boat, my 06 Prius with Package 5 is still going at 196k no issue except the water pump and pedal recals I fixed this past November.

    How do I stop them from screwing me with the HH? I'm about run out of options :(
  • I was at a stop light when it turned green and pressed on the accelerator. The car died, dash board cycles through a sequence of Check Hybrid System, Check AWD, Check VSC. The engine light is on, the VSC light is on (the one with the car followed by squiggly line), the circle with the exclamation point is on.

    Turned the vehicle off and then on, engine seems to start for about 3 seconds then cuts off and never comes back on. Light sequence starts again. Nothing to do but get it towed. I'm at 74,000 miles, so out of the drive train warranty, but still in the Hybrid warranty. Service tech at local shop put it on a battery check for the start battery and it said it was too low to hold a charge. Lights are very low in the cabine, headlights still seem to show some juice though.

    He put another device on the terminals to act as a battery to see if it would start. Engine seems like it wants to kick in, but makes a rather loud rattling sound, then dies. He put the diagnostic leads on the car and it shows multiple failures, including the Hybrid system, but it also shows other failures, so he's thinking it's something other than the Hybrid batteries failing.

    Is the above indicative of the inverter failure?


  • My 2006 died with an inverter failure a few months ago and your experience sounds like mine. Beware of multiple failures as a result of this event! Once Toyota replaced my inverter and Hybrid ECU, there were still multiple error messages. They told me that my power steering ECU had also died and needed to be replaced for $1,000! I told them that I felt the Hybrid failure had cause this and they told me, with a straight face, that my vehicle must have been struck by lightning and that is why I had multiple failures. They replace the power steering ECU and then discovered that the ECU for my climate control was ALSO bad! Another $1,000 repair at that! I did not have it repaired and traded it for a non-hybrid Highlander at a different dealer. The service writer at my Toyota dealer actually told me that I should get rid of it, after he told me that it had been struck by lightning! No evidence of a lightning strike, but they stuck to their version.

    I would say that you need to get your vehicle to a Toyota dealer and have them replace the inverter and likely the Hybrid ECU. Any other problems are likely caused by a lightning strike! No kidding! Good luck.
  • Depending upon the VIN number, it might fall into the recall batch. Even if it doesn't it's the same problem and they should fix it at no cost. I believe, the printed circuit board that controls the inverter fails due to improper soldering.
    When that happens the entire inverter is ruined. You might be able to find out on the internet. There definatley was a TSB that you should be able to find.
  • Had the same problems as you, read past posts....Toyota will not help you, we tried everything with them. They told us the reason the inverter went out was because we did not maintain good service, we did, and have the records to show...Only thing left to do was to file a class action law suit, which we did, Thalberg v Toyota. Might take a while but hang in there... :lemon:
  • Thanks for those that replied. Reputable mechanic (D&K Automotive Repair) in Leander, TX towed the car for me, tested the engine start battery and found it to be bad (would not hold a charge). They replaced it with the 3-year replacement battery for only $85, but said the remainder of the issues appeared to be related to the Hybrid system, which they could fix, but recommended I have the vehicle towed to Toyota instead, as they should fix this under warranty, cover the towing charge, and pay for a rental vehicle.

    First and foremost is finding a shop like D&K that will be honest with you. They could have taken me to the cleaners, but did the right thing.

    Vehicle is now at Champion Toyota in South Austin. Looking forward to tomorrow's diagnosis and a serious discussion with the head of the service department. Doesn't hurt that one of their master Hybrid technician's was the coach of my son's soccer team. Will fill y'all in once I talk with them.

  • Had the same set of circumstances as most of the other posts. We were stranded at night in a rural area with no street lights around. While we were standing away from the car (because we couldn't get it totally off the road) someone who couldn't see us in the dark actually tried to break into my car. Dealership says that the diagnostic indicated failure in all 6 ignition coils, but they offered to try to fix it by replacing one coil??? They also indicated that they had "checked" the inverter and it was fine. Anyone else hear this?
  • schnabeljsschnabeljs Posts: 3
    edited December 2011
    As it turns out, my circumstances ended up with the exact same result. They said the the ignition coil on one cylinder needed to be replaced, but they didn't have any in stock. Had to order and wait a day. When they replaced the ignition coil and told me the car was fixed and ready for pickup, it then ran like the engine was miss firing. Took it back and they told me that coincidentally, on a different cylinder, a fuel injector had debris in it and that I must have gotten bad gas. Curious huh? After everything was working totally fine before the incident, now all of a sudden after replacing a coil, a fuel injector starts acting up. Total bill was just under $600 including a $140 towing charge, and $90 for a rental car.

    They admitted that they have started to see coils go bad around 90K miles, but not this early (around 75K miles). So are the coils all going to go bad at 90K miles?
    Fingers crossed this doesn't happen again!!!!
  • My car as 56K, not near 90K yet. At this rate, it'll never make 90! It is still at the dealer so I have no resolution yet. I would be happy if changing one coil fixes the problem, but I'm certainly not confident that it will. I'm still wondering the explanation for ALL coils failing at the same time if it's NOT the inverter???
  • Hi All,

    I just registered on this site and am trying to catch up on this thread.

    I bought a '06 Toyota HH a couple months ago with 113k on it. The inverter had been replaced under warranty in 08/10 (83k). Everything was well until the "Check VSC System" and "Check Hybrid System" popped up last w/e. The dealer said that there is no remaining warranty and wanted $550 to diagnose the HV battery. It appears that hybrid system is covered under a 8/100 but the battery is 10/150, maybe. It is a CA car. I spoke to Toyota directly and was told the battery was 10/150 and they were going to FAX me the documentation. She then called me back and said that she had made a mistake and it is not covered (Prius and Camry are, but not the HH). She apologized and said that she would open a case, esculate it, and assist however possible. I am awaiting a call from the case manager.

    Anyone have any suggestions?

    Thank in advance.

    Henry in Santa Barbara
  • Paid over $500 last year to have one ignition coil replaced - just had another go out while driving. Have now paid over $1000 to replace all coils since both went out while driving and could cause a fatal crash. GM of dealership told me I should have bought an extended warranty - what a crock - split the cost of replacing all coils with me. I am reporting this to Nat. Trans. Safety Board as this is a dangerous defect. Of course, my car was just out of warranty when the first coil went out-go figure.
  • I have a 2006 model. We received the recall notice in June stating that the inverter would need replaced once they had enough parts to do a full recall. Sure enough the car died last night. The dealer says that although the VIN matches the recall, the serial number on the inverter is not within the recall. Was advised to call Toyota and was referred to case management team. Waiting for a call back. Dealer said replacement cost is $9,000! Toyota needs to replace this for us! This is my first toyota and may be my last.
  • Would love to know what happened!?
  • Our 2012 HiHy has stalled 3 times at stop lights. Brought it in today, awaiting diagnostics; anyone else have this happen recently? We only have 16k miles on it, and otherwise has been a fantastic vehicle... :confuse:
  • Of course, our car didn't stall out at the dealership, so they wanted us to take it home. I asked for the manager, who then got involved, but all the data had been lost from the stall on Sunday, so they are keeping for one more day, then want me to bring it in asap when it stalls again - aarghhh!! Go news is that they started a case with Toyota. They said I am the only one to report a newer model with the same problem that has been reported here, so would love to hear from anyone else who might have had this. BTW, I meant 2011, not 12; just seems way too new to have a problem like this!! Thanks for any info...
  • Thursday, on my way back to the office, I had to swerve to avoid someone coming into my road thinking he really didn't have to stop at the stop sign. I slammed on the brake. My car's dash lit up and I couldn't move the car at all. There I was in the middle of a two lane road. Once I was towed to the dealership, they said the brake accuator was stuck open, continuously sending brake fluid into the wheels. Thursday night I did some research online and found on the NTSB website that the inverter had been recalled and that the customer letters were supposed to be sent out beginning 1/5/12. I hadn't gotten a letter. I mentioned this to the asst. service manager assisting me and she said that she was going to mention this. Well, the accuator costs over $1700 and with labor the cost will be just over $2000. The inverter is being replaced at Toyot's cost because of the recall. I asked if the inverter problem was related to the accuator because there was a note on my estimate saying the problem was also electrical, and they said no, that the two were unrelated. Anyone know about this? I was given the regional rep. number for my area (NC). Thanks!
  • I've been considering buying a used Highlander Hybrid with the intention of getting a low mileage unit, save a few bucks off new, and keeping it for the long haul. I have a young son, and another one on the way. Wife will stop working for Maternity leave, and with a single income, I can't afford to have something like what's been described in these posts happen to me. I live in Calgary, Alberta, so it gets cold here, which probably makes it even harder on Hybrids. (I'm guessing)

    After reading what many of you people have gone through, (and I feel very bad for many of you) I'm definitely going to have to stay away from these Highlander Hybrids. I usually do all my own tooling, but if I have to replace a $10,000 part, it won't matter how much of the labor I do on my own. I won't be able to afford the parts. BTW, I have an 07 Tundra, and an 09 Matrix, and both have been very reliable. Tundra is awful on gas even with the 4.7, but their reliability has been great. Its a shame the Highlander Hybrids have these problems. I appreciate people taking the time to post about their problems. Thank you all for probably saving me some money and time!
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