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Toyota Highlander Maintenance and Repair



  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaPosts: 1,762

    80K miles in 11 years is low mileage, so I wonder whether you often get the chance to get the whole exhaust system up to full operating temperature, If not, maybe there is some coking up of the exhaust/catalyst.

    It might be worth using a top engine cleaner and running the engine hard for a bit, then trying a few tanks full of 98 Octane with a detergent to see if that clers things out.


  • I did the soldering fix and now the Heat/Cold problem is gone. But I have a related problem - only windshield vent is working. The lights on the radio and AC Button is not working. I have checked all the fuses - inside and outside, all is fine. Anybody know what the issue could be?

    Thank you!
  • One clue was a slight vibration on the steering wheel when turning the wheel. The power steering reservoir was dry but I couldn't tell because there was dried, black residue on the walls of the reservoir. I removed the lower hose to the PS reservoir and used a hand pump to get as much of the dirty fluid out as possible. Reconnected the hose and filled the reservoir with Dextron 3 AT fluid. Fluid was foamy and still a little dirty so I used the pump in the reservoir to pull out more fluid and replace it with fresh fluid. I repeated this several times. The whining noise is gone. Hopefully, I didn't do any permanent damage to the PS pump letting the fluid go low but seems to be fixed for now.
  • Hi All,

    I have a 2004 Highlander with a front driver's side fender that was "repaired" using bondo many years ago. Lately I've been thinking about either purchasing an aftermarket one or picking up at the salvage yard to give it a proper replacement.

    Can anyone point me towards instructions on how to replace the fender? A few videos on youtube make it look as if I'll have to remove among other things, the grill, bumper, and wheel. But those videos are all for other types of cars.

    Obviously, I'd like it keep this job as simple as possible for the sake of minimizing the possibility of causing any accidental damage, including breaking any plastic clips.

    I know the bodyshop would charge probably around $1k for this, so I'd like to tackle it myself. Can anyone point me in the right direction to any resources/instructions, online or otherwise?

  • gaseff54gaseff54 Posts: 1
    edited October 2013
    Hi Folks: I have a crack in my driver's side tail lamp. How do I remove it? I don't see any obvious screws.

    Thanks in advance!
  • just bought my first toyota. so far i love it. couple small things im getting worked out with the dealer, but nothing major. one question I have about the highlander sunroof though, if open, should it stop in the closed position before going to the tilted vent position/going from tilted vent position to the open position, should it stop in the closed position first between the two? my other vehicles I have had had sunroofs, and they all would stop in the closed position, so you knew it was basically in a tight, closed spot. with this, im left kind of guessing when it's closed, unless im doing something wrong?
    any hlep would be much appreciated!
  • bdymentbdyment Posts: 558
    The Highlander sunroof can be frustrating. You must normalize the operation. It is in the owner's manual. I had to do this a few times with our 04 Highlander.
  • great, thanks for the response! i'll give it a try
  • Hello Folks, Need help….
    Sham mechanic installed and messed up my 2008 Toyota highlander water pump. Took to dealership to check when coolant seemed low: Here is what the dealership is saying.
    Found drive belt soaked and coolant leaking from missing bolt. Also found 2 other aftermarket bolts in where water pump bolts into timing cover that are stripped out. The technician found that an attempt by other repair facility was made to repair one of the bolts by using tape. Three threads are now damaged.
    Correction is to replace timing cover. The total would be 3100.00
    Is this the only options for securing three bolts on a water pump? The price seems to be quite high.
    Analysis and suggested solution please.

  • herzogtum71herzogtum71 Posts: 470
    edited December 2013

    A/C light (manual system) in my 2004 4-cylinder Highlander started flashing two times on the drive back from Evansville to Bloomington. Has anyone else had this happen? Each time I was able to push the button to turn it off, and then I could turn A/C on and off as normal. The owner's manual says on page 242: "If the 'A/C' button indicator flashes, there is a problem in the air conditioning system and the air conditioning automatically shuts off. If this happens, take your vehicle to a Toyota dealer for service." This was a 120-mile trip entirely in heavy rain. The directional knob was set to half defog, half floor. So the heated air was coming through the A/C. I'll call the dealer on Monday next week, but I'd like to know in advance what the issue might be.

    Thanks. I tried to search the forum but I wasn't able to narrow it down to Highlander with the new format.

  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 46,438
    edited December 2013

    @herzogtum71 , this post may help.

    Moderator - Buying questions? Please include selling price (not OTD), zip code and trim you are shopping.

  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 38,867

    If you click on "Forums" at the top left of this page (or any page), that will take you to the forums home page, and there are make/model buttons, to get you to all the discussions for your make/model.



    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • herzogtum71herzogtum71 Posts: 470
    edited December 2013

    Thanks, Stever. That's the same issue exactly. I hope it's an easy fix that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

    Regarding searching, I couldn't figure out yesterday how to search within "Toyota Highlander Maintenance and Repair" as I had done in the old format. Today I discovered that you do this via the magnifyig glass to the right of the discussion's page numbers.

  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 46,438
    edited December 2013

    Exactly right, I should have mentioned that. :(

    The magnifying glass shows up in a lot of places so you aren't just limited to searching this discussion.

    And if you go to the Forum link at the top left of the page, there's a search box with a down arrow in it. Clicking the down arrow lets you search by post title, date, author, etc.

    Good luck with the fix!

    Moderator - Buying questions? Please include selling price (not OTD), zip code and trim you are shopping.

  • The key here is "HEAVY RAIN". If the belt gets wet, like if you drive through a puddle, or water splashes up on the belt somehow, the belt can slip, which can make the light flash. My 2004 does it once in a while, no problem for me because I know what it is. I just reset it. If it happens often, you need to get a new serpentine belt put on.
    E.D. in Sunny Florida

  • lennon2 The threads in the timing cover are easily fixed by using a heli-coil repair kit. It amazes me how they try to screw you over with such simple stuff! This is one of the most basic of all mechanical things that every mechanic knows.
    E.D. in Sunny Florida

  • eenglish99eenglish99 Posts: 24
    Update on excess oil consumption on my 6 cyl 2002 Highlander. I have used synthetic oil since breakin and changed the oil often. After about 70,000 I started using a lot of oil but only on highway driving. No smoke, not a drop on the driveway. Local driving uses not a drop. I have heard some saying that a very expensive update of the valve covers may fix this. I finally decided to make this my Florida Snowbird vehicle and drove from Massachusetts to Florida and used 9 quarts of high-mileage oil on the trip. However the Highlander ran fine. When I drive locally I don't use a drop. I recently made a longish trip from the West to East coast of Florida and almost broke down on Alligator Alley. The engine started losing power and running rough. I couldn't get it above 50 in overdrive. I stopped and added 1.5 quarts (after 200 miles) and it started running well again. Here in Florida you can easily drive 80 on the highways and I was driving with the traffic (fast). On the way back I consciously limited my speed to 65 from then on and have driven several thousand highway miles since then with no oil consumption. My check engine light also came on with the near breakdown and Autozone said it was my bank 2 O2 sensor. My guess is that the leaking oil is clogging up the sensor which then tells the computer to do the wrong things with the fuel mixture making it run crappy. I'm guessing that once the excess oil burned off the sensor it ran OK. The check engine light goes on and off but there are no inspections in Florida so I'm not concerned. I only have 105,000 on the Highlander.
    The bottom line is that if you are running into this (I have seen several posts with this problem) that my "fix" is just to always drive a little slower at 65 max. This should not be a problem in most of the country with speed limits of 65. Too bad that my Highlander has this problem but for a Florida Snowbird vehicle the workaround seems to be working. I have had luck with several Toyotas but this problem as well as a driveshaft failure (another oddball problem) has prompted me to try Honda and a CRV replaced the Highlander for my winter vehicle.
    P.S. The Edmunds Forums are much more difficult to search and post than it used to be. I couldn't figure how to do this directly and used a Google search to get here.
  • Some old issues with 2002 Highlander:
    It looks like 2002 was not a good year for Highlanders. I waited one year after they started making them but I guess I should have waited longer.
    It is still running strong as a snowbird Florida car with only 105,000.
    Problem #1 Excess oil consumption. I used 9 quarts of oil driving from Mass to Florida. No smoke no leaks. See my other detailed post but the FIX is just don't drive over 65; no oil consumption; drive 75 or 80, massive oil consumption.
    Problem #2 Drive shaft u-joint failure. This shouldn't happen and cost me $1,200 to fix it as the u-joints are not replaceable and you need to replace the whole drive shaft. No fix here but $$$$.
    Problem #3 Sun visor keeps falling down which is at least irritating and potentially dangerous. I had the driver side replaced under warranty after 2 years. It would have cost $500+ to fix because of the homelink electronics. The passenger side failed a couple of years ago. It didn't get much use. One "fix" I saw was to jam in screws parallel to the shaft to cause friction but this didn't last long. Some tried velcro but these didn't seem to work because it is difficult to keep attached, especially with the heat in Florida. The driver side failed again and I made another attack. I give credit to someone on another message board who recommended using magnets attached to the visor that would stick to the metal in the roof. This won't work for a Highlander because they have an 'attic' with insulation. If you place even a strong magnet on the head liner it just falls off.
    Get some heavy magnets. The ones I got a Home Depot worked well and were a perfect size (095421070442 Block Ceramic Magnets). I needed 2 sets (of 2 magnets) per visor. I needed 3 magnets per side so 3 sets will do both sides.About $2.50 per set.
    Get some good epoxy glue.I used Locktite marine also from Home Depot
    Remove the vanity mirror and light from the sun visor. It is mostly friction fit but you need to remove the light lense (just pop it off with a screw driver) and remove the two screws. The assembly will then pull out with some prying with a screw driver.
    I placed the bottom magnet directly to the right of the light/mirror opening; the logic being that it was readily accessible and when the mirror assembly was put back the trim edge would help hold it in place. Mark the height of the magnet on the side with a sharpie. You need to dig out some of the foam padding. I placed the magnets long side up to make the dig out easier. I used a utility knife but what worked best was a grapefruit knife. You just need to dig out enough foam so as to be about even with the mirror assembly. Bottom line, dig out enough so the magnet will be flush with the top of the sun visor. Glue this in with epoxy glue. Don't be cheap. Any messes won't show when the visor is up.
    Reattach the mirror assembly.
    Now you need to do the upper magnet. This is a bit of a problem because you can't get in to mark it when the visor is up. What I did was place the as yet unattached upper magnet in place over the attached magnet which will stick. Try to make sure it is right over the glued in magnet. For these magnets the polarity is only on the edges so it doesn't appear to make a difference which side. I slathered all around the rim of the temporary magnet with a fat sharpie and then closed the visor tightly. This left an outline in sharpie ink around where the upper magnet should go.
    Remove the marker magnet. It may not be necessary but I removed it by sliding sideways so as to not disturb the drying glue.
    Use a utility knife to cut out a flap to insert the magnet. Only go 2/3 of the way around which will make a flap. Pull down the flap and confirm that the magnet fits. Because the magnets are pretty thick it will be necessary to make two small cuts in the opposite side to pull down a mini-flap so the thick magnet will clear when you close the big flap.
    Slather epoxy on one side of the magnet and on the inside of the flap and stick the magnet to the flap. Depending on how fast the epoxy sets you may need to hold it in place a while so it will not slide when the flap is closed. When it seems like the epoxy has set a bit pull down the mini-flap for clearance and close the big flap with the magnet attached. Close down the mini-flap and try to get a pretty smooth seal. I used the extra epoxy to go all around the cut places.
    Let the glue dry as per the directions.
    I tried it out the next day and voila... Nothing. Perhaps the top magnet moved a bit or the magnet wasn't strong enough to pull through the liner.
    I had another magnet set to do the other side so I just stuck one on the outside which stuck to the magnet, closed it and Bingo. It worked. The magnet is sticking to the sun visor and not moving probably because there is just thin vinyl between the magnets. It even looks better when down (just the magnet showing) because the roof visor cut is a bit messy.
    I'm optimistic that this will last since the gluing is on the inside and the visor and headliner trim are holding them in and not just stuck on the outside.
  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaPosts: 1,762

    Some old issues with 2002 Highlander:

    Problem #1 Excess oil consumption. I used 9 quarts of oil driving from Mass to Florida. No smoke no leaks. See my other detailed post but the FIX is just don't drive over 65; no oil consumption; drive 75 or 80, massive oil consumption.


    What you are describing sounds like a failed PCV Valve as the oil consumption is only occurring under high engine loads. Hence oil mist is being blown from the crankcase into the inlet manifold. Have it checked and replaced as needed



  • Thanks, Graham. I had seen the PCV valve reference before and had it changed. I thought this helped but my 9 quarts in in 1800 miles didn't show an improvement. With this much oil getting into the exhaust I would think there would be smoke and I don't get it. Keeping at or below 65 seems to do the trick
  • An update on my magnet visor fix. It does appear that the magnets are polarized on the flat side so make sure the 'sticky' side is the right way when you put the second one in. I have seen this on ToyotaNation as well and people with 2013's are still having the problems. Crazy. Mine is a 2002 and they knew about this shortly after 2002.
  • Another update on the visor fix. Someone asked for pictures which I don't think you can do here but I attached them at ToyotaNation. Here's the link to the posting with pictures.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 46,438

    Moderator - Buying questions? Please include selling price (not OTD), zip code and trim you are shopping.

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