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Toyota Highlander Accessories and Modifications

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  • Hi, this is my first post. I just bought a used 2001 Highlander 4cyl FWD a few months ago and I really like it. One thing that I don't like is the sound quality of the base stereo, very boomy and muddy. Yes, I know how to access the midrange tone to tweak the sound but it doesn't really improve the boominess. Not having a lot of money to completely upgrade the whole system, I would like to change either the speakers or the head unit. I always thought that the speakers were the most important part of the sound, but some salesman at the stereo store told me to change the head unit first, that will have a greater impact on the sound. Does anyone have any comments that will help me make a decision?

    Thanks,
    John
  • waltrdewaltrde Posts: 26
    Patrick,

    I've looked at what it takes to put together a Toyota harness from parts and aftermarket on various online hitch retailers and it looks like to do things right you need to know whether or not your '05 has a tow prep package. eTrailer.com actually refers you to the dealer for the harness if you have the tow prep package. The dealer's service department can tell you in about 10 seconds if yours has tow prep, as all they need to do is look at the radiator. This should be a free assessment all things considered. Definitely don't get anything that just plugs into the tail lights and doesn't provide electrical isolation. Everything that I've found online recommends and isolated wiring system.

    Walt
  • pphamppham Posts: 4
    HI waltrde,

    >Second, it comes with a mounted wiring harness that will plug into the 4 wire >connector that's waiting for it under the left rear floor compartment.

    I opened the driver side trunk compartment and see a 4 wire connector (male) but not sure it's the right one. It's by itself and connect to nothing. I do not know if my HL have a tow package. How can I know this is the right one.

    Do you have a part number for the wiring harness and the converter

    thanks

    Patrick
  • waltrdewaltrde Posts: 26
    Yeah, the wires from the 4 pin connector seems to go nowhere, but I believe the existence of the 4 wire connector might be a good indication of the presence of the tow prep package. The Converter part number is 08921-48860 and the harness from the 4 pin connector to the end of the hitch is 08942-48870-BB. Armed with those, you should be able to shop around for a price. My local dealer takes 10% off the asking price for parts at the slightest complaint.

    I found a link with a Toyota service document listing part numbers for all Toyota hitch wiring harnesses at http://tamg.sudjam.com/pant/PDF/04_48_Updated_TowingTrailer_WireHarness.pdf.

    I can email the Toyota instructions for installing the converter, which should help to verify if you have all the connections.
  • landdriverlanddriver Posts: 607
    I'm not an expert on car audio but upgrading the speakers is generally considered the most effective way to improve a stock audio system. However someone else on these boards said he upgraded his head unit and it did make a marked improvement. I myself upgraded the amplifier before the upgrading the speakers and it did seem to improve the sound. But based on my experience I'd probably tend to start with the speakers first.
  • pphamppham Posts: 4
    Hi Waltrde,

    Thank you for your help.

    My email is: patrickphm@yahoo.com .

    I located an online outfit that sell the harness that they say shall do for the 2005 HL. It includes a converter and a flat 4 wire plug. It has a picture. would you take a look for me to see if it look like the one that you bought from TOYO. Their instruction does not match with the plug that i ahve on my HL.

    their link: http://www.accessconnect.com/trailerwiring.htm

    I drop by the Toyo dealer tomorrow to let them see if my HL has a towing package.

    Thanks

    Patrick
  • waltrdewaltrde Posts: 26
    Patrick,

    Looks nothing like the Toyota parts. It appears to be the Plug-N-Tow Wiring Connector kit that eTrailer.com sells for 2004-2005 Highlanders without the tow prep package.

    http://www.etrailer.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=E&Product_Code=33425&- Category_Code=VWH

    The illustrations and part numbers match.

    I couldn't find any clear sources for aftermarket hitch wiring for the '04 and later Highlander. Too many sites are unclear as to the year and tow prep package compatibility. That was one of the reasons I had for going with the Toyota hitch, since it comes with everything but the dreaded converter, which is easy to come by if a little pricey.

    In researching this reply, I went back to the Toyota Highlander Club Yahoo Group and did find that the above harness works whether you have the tow prep package or not. It just ignores the Toyota tow prep wiring and goes straight to the tail lights. It's not very elegant, but it does include a converter to preserve the tail light circuits. Because it doesn't take advantage of the Toyota harness, you have to run a wire all the way to the battery to power it. That's the long coil of red wire in the illustration. vtxbobby provides details at http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/toyotahighlanderclub/message/3949. He also put up photos of his installation. You need join the group and the group owner has to approve you, which is a pain if you want to check them out.

    I just looked at the kit that eTrailer has for the 2001-2003 with tow prep (they included the converter with those model year's tow prep) and it does have a 4 pin connector that looks like it could work with the tow prep 4 pin connector. vtxbobby tried that first last year, but without a Toyota converter it was worthless. I just asked him in that group if it plugged into the tow prep 4 pin connector.

    http://www.etrailer.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=E&Product_Code=18245&- Category_Code=

    Good luck!
  • spuffspuff Posts: 1
    I am deep in a speaker upgrade right now. The speakers are the best place to start. It does not help w/ distortion native to the head unit, but you'll see a very big improvement. I bought a pair of blaupunkts at crutchfield...70% off the original price. Unfortunately they don't fit as promised, so i'm doing some adjusting to make it work. The "premium" jbl speakers are paper and foam crap and I totally agree about booming base. I can't even listen to it. If you're just looking for a better sound experience and not trying to build a "soundsystem" in your car, you should be satisfied with a speaker upgrade.
  • pphamppham Posts: 4
    Walt,

    Thank you very much.

    I shall join the Yahoo group to see the posted pictures of vtxbobby.

    >In researching this reply, I went back to the Toyota Highlander Club Yahoo Group and did find that the above harness works whether you have the tow prep package or not. It just ignores the Toyota tow prep wiring .

    In your message the above harness : Do you mean the Toyo harness or the Etrailer package .

    Thanks,

    Patrick
  • Thanks for the info. Both you and landdriver say that speakers are the first thing to replace, so maybe that's where I'll start. I've heard good things about Infinity and also JL speakers, but I'll have to put in some overtime at work first.
  • dodgedodge Posts: 25
    Hello,

    Is there any peformance upgrades that can be done to the highlander V6, I tested the 0 to 60, with a timmer and clocked it at 8.2.... which is just as fast as a ford escape and explorer :mad: and want to at least get it down to 6.5, so when I am a light I can blow past an escape. :P I live in michigan and go to work in detroit so alot of them like to try and beat me from a light and they come close.

    So if there is some one is out there that can help I would love the feedback

    David
  • waltrdewaltrde Posts: 26
    The Etrailer package appears to work with either. It just doesn't take advantage of the existing Toyota tow prep wiring.
  • juniejunie Posts: 2
    I just purchased a Highlander Hybrid and would like to add a navigation system. My dealership recommended Car Toys. Any experience with Car Toys or any suggestions on adding a navigation system?
  • I need to get new tires for my '03 Highlander. I have 43,000 miles on the original tires and the tires have sucked since Day 1. I always felt some skidding every time it rained. Does anyone have a recommendation on new all-weather tires? I'm looking for a reasonably priced, reliable all-weather tire. And if you could recommend a good tire shop in the Ellicott City/Columbia, MD area, that would be great. Thanks!
  • gklatvgklatv Posts: 35
    Michelin Cross Terrain tires have been often recommended. Michelin LTX MS is mentioned a lot, too, and has a bit more aggressive thread. Expect to pay around $150/tire installed for either of those. I've seen these tires sold in Costco in the midwest.
  • phrosutphrosut Posts: 122
    We recently replaced our poor Bridgestone's on our '03 w/36000 miles with Michelin Cross Terrains. I made the choice after following posts here for the last 3 years. Those stock tires were poor in every respect. These new tires seem to handle better and are quiet. I fully expect to get almost double the mileage out of them. After some rebates I think the bill was about $500 (been about 3 months now).

    Phil
  • tourguidetourguide Posts: 188
    Michelin tires are often recommended here, but honestly, if you are willing to pay $150 per tire, then you really should check out Nokian tires. Our local Cooper dealer sells them and they simly can't be beat for winter traction. As I understand it, they should go for 60,000 miles and are superior to the Michelin tires in most aspects, except price. The last I heard, they went for $110-$120 per tire installed.

    You should check out their website, it will show your size options. Nokian was formerly a Europe only brand - Switzerland specifically I think, but they have partnered with Cooper to manufacture and distribute tires in North America.
  • Hi ...

    Has anyone installed something to interface with their iPOD? I'm interested in adding the iPOD, but don't want to lose the steering wheel and on-screen capabilities. I've tried the FM type and they stink! I'd really like to add something directly into my existing stereo system.

    I'm really bummed that Toyota didn't have it already IN my new HH'06 LTD and no bluetooth and no 110v outlet too! Three huge stubbed toe awards for these oversights!

    Let me know about your iPod ideas please,
    Thanks!
    DJ
  • mcnosemcnose Posts: 6
    My iPod dilemma ended a few months ago when I actually found a solution after months of annoying issues. I do have a solution for you (assuming the radio in your 06HH has the same radio as my 05H (non-limited) (if not the same radio, the same CD Changer port on the back- which I assume it would be), but first, my story...

    I got the cheap radio because I was gonna replace it with the Clarion I had purchased only a few months earlier for my "99 4Runner. It had RCA jacks in the back and worked exactly as designed (1 wire to 3rd Gen iPod, iPod controls work, sounds great).

    I bought my '05H and attempted to find an adapter, as I didn't want the aftermarket look, nor have to remove and replace the faceplate all the time. Well, I couldn't find one, so I bought a American Installation dash kit to fill in the 2DIN space left by the 1DIN Clarion. It looked horrible, but I lived with it for a while. Until....

    I found an adapter for the Toyota radio. Made by USA Spec, from Crutchfield. I hooked it up, and it worked. Problem solved... for 4 days. At which point it stopped working. I took apart the dash (at which I was pretty adept at, as I've done it about a dozen times in 2 months) and reseated all the cables and it worked. Problem solved... for a day. Same procedure, same outcome, it worked for another day. I called Crutchfield and had them replace it. They did.

    Got the new one, now reread the previous paragraph to find out what happened with the replacement. Yup, 4 days, 1 day, 1 day, returned.

    Put the Clarion back in.

    Now, for the part you were waiting for, I found another adapter, by P.I.E. (model TOY03-AUX) for $70 at MyRadioStore.com. (the '04H is listed, but not the '05H- trust me, it works in my '05H)

    My Setup:
    -Added an additional cig lighter plug behind the dash (near the passenger side footwell)
    -Have a Belkin cig adapter with an audio plug in the cig part (with volume control) ~$40
    -Plug an RCA to 1/8" audio plug from the Belkin to the PIE adapter (hidden behind the radio, attached to the underside of the top of the dash with velcro (above the dash vents))
    -Push "Disc" on the radio to listen to the iPod
    -Hide my iPod in the glove compartment when not in use- the Belkin plug stays attached as I have the cable running to the back of the glove compartment
    -The only thing visible from the car is the mount (which is also the only permanent fixture- I took apart the radio (you read that right), drilled a small hole in the face of it and attached a small recepticle for a button type clip stuck to the back of the iPod (like the cellphone-button-clip-things)

    The iPod is off when the car is off, and charges when it's on. It can be played from the glove box, if needed to be. Volume is controlled by the radio. My friend has one of those Monster Cable things that lets you use the factory radio controls instead of the iPod controls for fast foward/reverse... 2 words- Hate it. I think you loose the ability to scroll or use the list. It's only good to skip when using shuffle.

    Hope you made it through the story (or did the sensible thing and skipped ahead) and that my trials and tribulations help you.

    brian
  • mcnosemcnose Posts: 6
    I want to replace my mast antenna (non-electric, always up) with the up/down type. Can anyone give me some clue as to how to do it, and what to buy (or look for when buying). Also, is it easy?

    Thanks,
    brian
  • gazguzlergazguzler Posts: 137
    I have the full one peice console that goes from the shifter to the back seat.
    image
    image

    I'd prefer just the plastic pod that wraps around the shifter
    image

    Anyone interested in an xchange?
  • jrfierojrfiero Posts: 123
    What colors do you have, and where are you?
    I have the plastic pod, as you describe it, and the separate optional 2001 console behind it. Limited (meaning the really bad fake woodgrain) & beige.
  • gazguzlergazguzler Posts: 137
    Mine's just like in the photo. Ivory from a 06 Highlander. I'm in DC/Baltimore
  • hutchghutchg Posts: 2
    I am going to take my stereo out of my truck and put just the mono amp and sub in the Highlander (when I get it). I'll live with the stock head unit and speakers for now. From what I understand, there is no readily-available adapter to easily tap into the stock wiring. How did you tie into the stock system?

    Thanks,
    Hutch
  • The HL spoilers really do work to cut down on dust, etc off the rear window. We have to drive 10 miles/day on a gravel road and our base model HL w/o spoiler accumulated a LOT of dust, about 1/8" or more just on top of the wiper. We installed the spoiler and there is no more accumulation of dust. It doesn't keep the window clean, mind you, but it does keep piles of dust from accumulating. There is still a thin layer of dust on the window but at least we can see through it now.
  • r19578r19578 Posts: 1
    :confuse: Toyota seems removed fender flares from their catalog since '05, but some ebay seller told me I can put them on my Highlander '05, but I can't install the fender flare and running board at the same time since they are conflicting. Has anybody tried this? Appreciate your comments.
  • landdriverlanddriver Posts: 607
    I don't know about the running boards but it wouldn't surprise me as I know the Toyota fender flares cannot coexist with the mud guards.
  • desertguydesertguy Posts: 730
    I have the factory running boards on my '04 and the attachment to the front fender forms the mud guard and holds up the running board on the front end. It actually runs up the outside of the front fender at least 8 inches. This would preclude the installation of fender flares IMO.
  • Anyone know what style of pillar mount gauge pod would work on a Highlander? I am adding locomotive horns and would like a PSI guage on the drivers side pillar. Can't seem to find anyone that makes a gauge pod for the Highlander. Found some Tacomas, but I'm not sure if they have similar shaped pillars.

    Thanks
  • Did you ever figure out how to disable the the speed signal? I have a 2005 coming and I don't think I am going to like this feature.
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