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Toyota Highlander Maintenance and Repair

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  • rmb26rmb26 Posts: 3
    Well, I just heard from the mechanic. my '02 HL had an oil pan leak and a water leak as well as the main engine seal leak. He also said my engine had a lot of "gunk" in it as well. He says that Toyota has had some problems with that V6 engine (same on as Camry?).

    What irks me is that I've changed the oil every 3,000 miles, first with the dealer and then with Jiffy Lube. I had everything done that was "recommended", as I had decided it was better to play it safe. Now I find it was all for nothing (well, I guess it could always be worse) since I still will have to pay what I'm sure will be upward of $2,000.

    Of course, I have to take the mechanic's word for it. Unless I take the engine apart for myself and have a look (which is outside of my capabilities), I'll never know for sure.
  • "my '02 HL had an oil pan leak and a water leak as well as the main engine seal leak. He also said my engine had a lot of "gunk" in it as well. I've changed the oil every 3,000 miles, first with the dealer and then with Jiffy Lube. I had everything done that was "recommended"

    The problem is the TYPE of engine oil that was used. If you want to keep the GUNK out of your engine, you need to use a top quality full synthetic motor oil, such as Mobil One or Valvoline or other top graded oil, AND a top quality synthetic motor oil filter, such as Mobil One or the Purolator Pure One.

    My 04 V6 FWD HL has over 110,000 GUNK free miles on it, and I only change oil and filter every 7,500 miles using either Mobile One or Valvoline full synthetic motor oils and Pure One motor oil filter. It always runs like brand new and doesn't leak a drop of anything.

    Also important to remember: Every 60,000 miles to Flush and change the Automatic Transmission fluid and to Flush and change the Brake Fluid. This will keep the GUNK out of these systems also.

    E.D. in Sunny Florida
  • "Regarding that aluminum engine mounting bracket right on top of the water pump, I removed the single bolt along the frame right in front of it holding a PS hose to the frame. After removing that, the bracket just slides off. No removing the studs nor jacking up the motor."

    Removing those studs was not a problem and was fairly easy, it is just a matter of having the right tool (torx socket). They were tight, but once they break loose, they screw right out fairly easily. Not a problem.

    E.D. in Sunny Florida
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,781
    My '99 Nissan has 129,000 gunk free miles on it buying whatever the lastest API designated oil is on sale at WallyWorld or NAPA.

    I'd be a bit dubious about a quickie lube doing my oil changes. I don't believe in tranny "flushes" either. But we digress. :shades:

    Since Toyota's have had "gel" problems, I'd contact Toyota and ask them to open a case. Maybe they'll fix all or part of it. The history is in the Toyota Engine Sludge discussion.

    Check out Understanding After Warranty Assistance too.

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  • So the message came up last night driving home after about 35 minutes into a 45 minute drive. It again happened this morning after about 35 minutes in the car and I took it directly to the dealer with the message still active, didn't turn the engine off which is the key.

    The code in the diagnostic computer said that the ECM, (I think that was it, if not I will repost the correct verbiage), airbag computer needed to be replaced. They are doing that now.

    I spoke to the lead mechanic and he told me that when this message appears the airbag system is definitely not functioning.

    I hope this solves this for good.

    Thanks
  • dar11dar11 Posts: 1
    I have a 2003 Highlander 2.4L with 168k, Intermitantly it will not start it will just crank over for maby 10-15 sec. FREE just like a timing belt is broken I know it has a chain. Then I touch the gas and it will start and run as if there was never any problem this happens 3-6 times a week hot or cold. No codes in computer and no other symptoms. I`v been told It may be a IAC or VVT how do I confirm this intermitant problem. Pls help Dave
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "MY '02 had...."

    My guess would be that over half of the '02 out there in the marketplace will fit that description.

    The question becomes, "how much of a leak..??"

    I would continue to drive the car for awhile and keep careful records of how often and how much water or oil needs to be replaced.
  • jrfierojrfiero Posts: 123
    I finally replaced my original 2001 Ltd AWD V6 battery today - March 2001 to November 2008, pretty darn good. ~72K miles.
    Last winter (in Northern VA, not too cold a climate) it seemed a little sluggish, so it was on my radar. Today it just wouldn't crank at all (click, click, click).
    Fortunately I had a old but only slightly used Diehard Weatherbeater sitting around, so we'll see how that goes.

    So far: Left front wheel bearing (warranty), driver's window motor (warranty), rear O2 sensor, clean ISC valve, tires, brakes, and battery. Not perfect, but fine with me coming up on eight years.

    Jonas
  • "I'd be a bit dubious about a quickie lube doing my oil changes. I don't believe in tranny "flushes" either. But we digress"

    Just a comment on the tranny "flushes":
    Changing transmission fluid is better than not changing it, but flushing the transmission fluid is better yet.
    What is important to remember is What a flush is, and Why you need it.
    There is some confusion on What a tranny flush is, so I will clear it up here. Many people think that a tranny flush is a special process and/or that it takes a special flushing machine to do the job. Both of those ideas are misconceptions. A tranny flush is like any other flush, compare it to when you flush a toilet. The new water rushes in and the old water rushes out. In the process there is some mixing of the old dirty water with the new clean water, but the new clean water pushes out all the old dirty water, and some of the new clean water goes down the drain in the process. The reason you need the flush is that you need to get rid of the old dirty water and replace it with the new clean water. Think of the trannny flush in the same way, but instead of water, it is tranny fluid. Some transmissions have replaceable filters that are recommended to be replaced, and some transmissions have screens that are not recommended to be replaced. I do this process to each of my vehicles at every 60,000 miles. Check your manufacturer's recommendations and owners manual to see how often to change/flush your transmission fluid.

    The following is intended as a general guide only. The routine or sequence may need to be altered, depending on the make, model and type of vehicle.

    The first step for flushing is to have the vehicle jacked up with all drive wheels off the ground and the wheels blocked, for clearance and safety so that the car won't move when the gears are engaged. Then loosen one end of the hose that returns the fluid from the external trans fluid cooler back to the transmission. Then the engine is started and run, the transmissions internal pump then pumps the tranny fluid through the external oil cooler and out the end of the loosened hose into the drain tub.
    Then the next step on trannys that have replaceable filters, is to remove the tranny pan, drain the oil from the pan, clean the pan, replace the filter, and replace the pan. Now all the fluid has been drained from the tranny, but there is still some residual amount of fluid left the the transmission passages and components, which is why you need to the flush to push out the old dirty fluid and replace it with new clean fluid.
    The next step is easier with an assistant behind the wheel to start and stop the engine and to change the selector lever positions. Start in the Park position. Position a large drain tub under the loosened cooler hose to catch all the fluid that comes out, the capacity of the transmission plus about 6 quarts. Usually a 6 gallon capacity tub or larger is enough. It helps if you slide a 2 foot piece of larger clear plastic hose over the end of the cooler hose. This helps to control the fluid and also to see the color of the fluid as it drains. Start by pouring 4 quarts of transmission fluid into the transmission filler tube, then have the assistant start the engine, let the engine idle, do not rev the engine, and the fluid will begin to come out the hose into the drain pan. Start pouring in the bottles of transmission fluid, watching the color of the fluid coming out into the tub. Have the assistant firmly hold the foot brake and slowly move the selector through all the gear positions a few times. The fluid will be dark at first and will lighten as the new fluid goes through the transmission. The fluid should be lighter after 4 quarts and should be light very light by six quarts. Stop pouring in fluid when the fluid comes out clean and light, usually by 4 to 6 quarts, then have the assistant shut off the engine and place the transmission in park.
    The tranny is now flushed. Reconnect and tighten the clamp on the oil cooler hose. Pour in 4 quarts of fluid, then have the assistant start the engine again, let it idle, then add one quart of fluid at a time, checking the fluid level when close to full. Be very careful to not overfill the tranny. If you happen to overfill the tranny, you can loosen the cooler hose and let a small amount of fluid out and recheck the fluid level. Be sure to retighten all hose clamps when you are done.
    The transmission is now flushed and refilled, the old fluid is out and the new fluid is in. Be sure to properly dispose of the old tranny fluid. I pour all my used oil based fluids into a 6 gallon plastic gas can that I keep just for this purpose. A really BIG funnel with your assistant holding it is a big help here. The container can be capped closed and then taken to an oil recycling facility and dumped out.

    E.D. in Sunny Florida
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,781
    Well, we both agree that using a transmission flush machine is of dubious value it seems.

    amigo_john, "Isuzu Trooper" #8070, 30 Jun 2003 6:46 am

    I had this discussion with my (now-ex) mechanic a few months back. They wanted to "flush" my transmission fluid using just the internal pump. I wouldn't let them - just got a drain and fill, told them I'd watch my fluid level and do another drain and fill in a year. (Mine has a dipstick; not sure about the Highlander). Transmission fluid really doesn't get dirty like oil unless you have some issues going on.

    That's good enough for me; others may think it's beneficial or it may be recommended in your owner's manual. I don't have access to a manual, but the Edmunds Maintenance Guide says to inspect the fluid every 30k for the '08 Highlander. I assume that's for normal service and the manual probably says something about changing the fluid if you tow or drive a lot in the mountains perhaps.

    (my mechanic ripped me off on some other stuff btw; the tranny discussion didn't factor into it).

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  • I think that doing a drain and fill once a year would probably be as good as a flush and fill every 60k, since the average driver drives about 15k per year and the 60k flush would occur about every 4 years. At 60k the fluid will be darker, but not dirty. The light color of the new fluid is a noticable big difference when flushing. I think waiting until the fluid is dirty is too long to wait, because the damage would aready be done. The "damage" I speak of is hardening and deterioration of the seals (innner and outer), and mechanical wear on the friction linings, gears and bushings.
    The secret to making a transmission last a long time is to keep it COOL and to keep it CLEAN.
    E.D.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,781
    I guess you need to define long time too. My minivan had a partial fluid change about six months ago and it's 10 years old and has 129,000 miles on it. Normal service and never towed.

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  • A long time is a relative term, the most important thing is to follow the manufacturer's recommendations. Sometimes there are exceptions though. All engines and transmissions are not created equal, and some have good service historys and some have bad service historys. I bought my Toyota because of their record of good service history and high reliabilty. Some transmissions, like the early model Explorers with A4LD automatic trannsmission were very problematic, I had a 91 and a 93 and had to replace the transmisions in both of them. Those particular transmissions would contaminate themselves, and if the contamination was left in the tranny for long it would cause the tranny to fail, so those trannys got a complete flush and filter change every year, just to try to keep them alive. I later owned 97 and 2000 V8 Explorers with the 4R70W transmissions which were very reliable and trouble free. I flushed those trannys every 60K. Todays trannys have gotten better, and also the fluids have gotten better. The fluid will get dark over time and miles due to normal wear and tear, some lining wear, and heat. The manufacturer's recommendations are good enough to go by unless there is a problem or reason to do otherwise. It is always a good thing to check the tranny fluid level regularly and at the same time observe the color and notice the smell of the fluid. Fluid that appears dark or smells burnt should be investigated. A burnt smell usually means trouble. Do not let the radiator run hot, as it will cause the tranny to run hot, and damage it also. I think nowadays that every 60K is a good rule of thumb mileage to do a trannny service, to maintain good clean fluid and tranny health. Some trannys could probably go a long time without servicing them, but I feel more comfortable taking care of mine regularly. I also believe it contributes to longer life of the seals and longer life of the transmission. This is important to me because I usually buy my cars with 100,000 miles on them and drive them for 6 years or until they get about 200,000 miles on them. So I strive for long life and reliablity. Fluid that looks dirty actually has microscopic particles floating in it, and I don't like microscopic particles rubbing on my bushings and seals, possibly wearing them out sooner. So that's my humble opinion on tranny flushes, changes and service time intervals.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,781
    It's interesting (to me anyway) that you can't tell much of anything by looking at or smelling engine oil, but it's a pretty good way to inspect transmission fluid.

    Hey, you should buy my Quest - great VQ drivetrain and it meets your mileage criteria. :D

    Ok, back to Highlanders.

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  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Why do you say "looking" at engine oil isn't a good way to tell if it needs to be changed..??

    Engine lubricating oil is EXPECTED to become dirty due to byproducts of the combustion process getting past the piston rings and valve seals. Engine oil is formulated to hold these particles in suspension whereas ATF is formulated otherwise. Absent the ATF having been overheated, drop the sump pan on your transmission and you will undoubtedly find a layer of debris from the wear of the frictional clutch surfaces, but a reasonably clean and clear ATF.

    I always run my engines long enough to get up to normal operating temperature just before draining the engine oil. That way I drain off most of the contamination that might otherwise have settled to the bottom of the sump.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,781
    Right, it's supposed to get dirty with everything held in suspension or trapped by the filter, unlike transmission fluid. You can't tell by looking at your oil if it needs to be changed. So you should either follow the maintenance interval in the owner's manual or get an oil analysis.

    How do keep from burning your hands btw? I can't crawl under my van until it cools down a bit to change my oil.

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  • tsotsitsotsi Posts: 98
    It's too bad there is not more research on helping high-mileage cars reach even higher mileages. One school of thought about flushing is that after many years and miles there is a lot of crud built up on internal parts, in places where there isn't any kind of natural cleaning action. The result is that if you flush an engine or gearbox you had better flush it really well because the first result of a violent flush is that some of that crud will be washed into suspension where it will do real damage. So, if you are going to flush, make sure you keep flushing until all the crud you have knocked into suspension is truly gone from the inside. Anybody who has worked on old cars knows that even with flushing, a lot of nasty stuff will still be stuck inside the engine and transmission until they are taken apart and really cleaned.

    My own idea -- not proven by any actual research (so take it with a grain of salt) -- is that it is better to just change the oil and let the crud rest in peace . . . where it isn't doing any damage. The only exceptions may be engines that are prone to sludge build-up.
  • The small light for the shifter is on and off regularly. I wanting to access under the plastic cover. Any suggestion how to remove console?
  • budhbudh Posts: 109
    I filled my tank yesterday evening in my 153,000 mile 2002 Highlander Limited AWD V6. Then went through an automatic car wash before driving five miles home. When I got out of the Highlander I saw the gas cap was off and was off during the car wash!

    No issue with my five mile drive home.

    What would you do to make sure it keeps running right after this error?

    And now that I have reinstalled the gas cap properly, can I prevent the check engine light from coming on?

    (I live in a fairly cold climate near the Indiana/Michigan state line.)

    Bud H
  • It depends on how much water got into the gas tank. You can add some gas tank additives that claim to dry the moisture out of the gas, but they only work for very small amounts of water, like condensation. You did not notice any problen yet because the gas floats on top of the water, the water rolls around on the bottom of the tank, it moves due to the motion of the car, until it happens to get sucked up by the pickup tube. You don't know how much is in there, but it is best to get it out, the most sure way is to have the gas tank removed and drained.
  • mikefm58mikefm58 Posts: 2,882
    I've got an 04 Highalnder with 41K miles, not much in the owners manual on when it's recommended to change the anti-freeze. What are the opinions here on when it should be changed? Also, is it as easy as simply draining what's in the radiator by loosening the drain plug? My old Honda CRV also had a large bolt on the engine block to remove that would drain whatever was still in the engine block. Are Toyotas like that as well?
  • On my '04 there is a little spring-release flap underneath the gas cap that is always closed unless it is depressed by the nozzle at the gas station. I suspect your '02 is the same. If so, there is little chance that enough water got into the tank to do damage.
  • lmacmillmacmil Posts: 1,756
    Here's what the manual says for a 2004 Highlander coolant:

    Initial replacement at 100,000 miles/120 months. Replace every 50,000 miles/60 months thereafter. Refer to "Engine Coolant" in the "Explanation of Maintenance Items" section in the back of this guide for more information.

    Pretty amazing if you remember the "good old days" when you changed coolant every couple of years.
  • mikefm58mikefm58 Posts: 2,882
    Yeah I did eventually find that after going through the maint. and owner's manuals better. I changed the anti-freeze anyway, but never did find the bolt on the engine block so I didn't get all of the old stuff drained, but pretty close as the specs say a little over 7 quart capacity and I ended up using 5 quarts.
  • did you find a solution for your F to C ????
  • 2005 Highlander
    43,000 miles

    I opened my hood today to add some windshield washer fluid and I noticed that my coolant level was exactly on the "L" level. I also noticed some dried up coolant at the end of the hose that goes towards the radiator. The coolant level seems to stay the same when I checked it this morning and when I checked it when I came home. When I look in the coolant reservoir it is yellow on the top. Other than filling up the reservoir a bit does anyone have any other suggestions, should I be worried?

    Here is a link to the pics:
    http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/sredir?uname=draganplavsic&target=ALBUM&id=528357- 4488921410145&authkey=S2JOcBVaJx0&feat=email
  • soco4soco4 Posts: 9
    The original battery in our 2002 Highlander V-6 (50K, mild-climate use) seems fine, but I'm wondering if delaying replacement much longer would be a poor risk. 2001-2003 H/L owners who have replaced the original battery: how many months did you get out of your factory battery? Thanks for your information.
  • phrosutphrosut Posts: 122
    Our '03 (purchased 10/02) battery died last October. I was satisfied with that lifespan.

    Phil
  • tixtix Posts: 27
    Just replaced my battery on a 2004 Highlander, with 90,000 miles. They had told me for a couple of years that it was getting low, but finally at 57% they replaced it. I know my car is younger, but......thought I would share.
  • tsotsitsotsi Posts: 98
    I kind of admire people brave enough to keep a battery until it completely quits. Batteries are so cheap, I just get a new one for my car every 3 years. It would seem to be $80 well spent -- less than $30 a year to be (almost) sure my car will start when I want it to.
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