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Toyota Highlander Maintenance and Repair



  • I have a 2001 HL. My temperature control "brain" in the dashboard went out (common problem in 2001 HL). Dealer estimate to replace the brain was $800. I found the part online from a Toyota dealer in Virginia for $400 and replaced it myself. Another possibility is servo switch at hot air/cold air door beneath dashboard in center of vehicle. May not be responding to hot/cold dial in temperature contol cluster in dashboard.

  • I would like to remove the firewall side V6 spark plugs. It looks as though the intake manifold and throttle assembly must be removed first unless there is a way to tip the engine forward or another approach. Can anyone give a clue?
  • tsotsitsotsi Posts: 98
    I am grateful for those of you who wrote in, describing the potential problem with the Highlander heat control. Today, the heat control knob started to feel loose so I removed the knob and tightened the nut holding the rheostat before the wires got stressed and broke. I also put a drop of Loctite on the threads, hoping it would keep the nut from working loose again.

    I would like to send a strong message to Toyota that this kind of lousy design and quality control is going to lose them customers. My Highlander is only three years old, with about 27,000 miles -- in other words, just past guarantee. If it hadn't been for this forum I might not have realized how serious a problem the loose knob could turn in to.

    For those of you who might have the same problem: if your heat control knob suddenly starts feeling shaky, just pull the plastic knob straight off. You will see the flat nut right behind the knob. I wouldn't tighten it too much for fear of breaking something . . . that is why I carefully put a little Loctite on the threads. The nut takes an 11 mm wrench, by the way.

    Thanks again for this forum and all the useful information on it.
  • phrosutphrosut Posts: 122
    This "auto-locking" feature was happening more frequently since my original post, typically every 2 or 3 days.

    I changed the fob battery per one answer to my original post. It's been almost 2 weeks and the car hasn't "auto-locked" since the battery change.

    I'll post if it comes back but it's appearing that a weak fob battery was the cause. Thanks all.

  • Has anyone purchased an updated DVD? Do you have to use Toyota's, or can you get them from 3rd party suppliers like Garmin, Tom-Tom or such?

  • Hello, I have a 2004 2WD 3.3 Highlander with 80K miles on it. Have been very happy, still have original brakes, put new tires on at 72K miles. No problems...until 2 weeks ago as going through a drive through and made a sharp turn got a whinning noise. Fisrt thought low PS fluid but checked and no. Also didn't change pitch with stop to stop steering wheel turn. 2 days later, battery light came on. and car wouldn't start. OK, time for a new battery. Installed new battery, checked for charging, only 12.2volts. Whining still there...suspect Alternator too. Ordered from Toyota,($330) installed (me), everything fine for almost 2 weeks. Yesterday on expressway all idiot lights lit up. Drove to destination about 1 hour. Checked charging, everything looked good. During local driving, idiot lights lites were normal (off) but when I got on the expressway they again came back on. Suspect internal regulator not doing its job and overcharging system? I saw this once before in Nov 2003 at 42K miles, but problem went away.
    Any alternator/regulator input would be helpful. BTW the bearing in the old Alternator felt "gritty" when spun, was probably the reason the battery took a crap. :confuse:
  • My Toyota just started intermitting blowing cold air when my heat is on. Sometimes it will blow hot for sometime and then just go cold and then warm back up again? Any Ideas what the problem could be.
  • meg3meg3 Posts: 3
    Hi There,
    I have an 04 Highlander....Underneath the front there is a plastic piece that covers the undercarriage of the car. At some point, I went up onto something and the plastic cracked. It is now interfering with my tire when I take a hard turn. I suppose I should take it to the dealership , but expect to be charged a mint...ideas???thanks
  • tsotsitsotsi Posts: 98
    I see a posting directing you to tundra solutions. Good idea, but I would guess your heat control rheostat was loose for a long time before the wires fatigued (if that is actually what happened). I strongly recommend that all Highlander owners check the heat control to see if it feels as solidly mounted as the other two switches. If it seems really loose, pull off the knob -- it just pulls straight off -- and tighten the nut underneath.

    The whole trouble and expense of repairing the problem can be avoided by just tightening that nut, a 5 minute job. Even after reading the postings on this forum I was surprised to find mine was loose. Believe me -- it is worth checking.
  • Well, Things have worsened...and then got better.
    About 2 weeks after replacing Alternator and Battery, All my idiot lights would come on when I got on the expressway. All dash lights (MIL malfunction indicator lights) would come on, VSC,tire press, anti skid, brakes lites). But during around town driving, lights would go off. Next day, went to dinner, lites came on during expressway ride. After dinner was driving in parking lot and lites came on, and VSC started locking up brakes, and limiting power to engine?? Pulled ABS fuse, and drove home, took to dealer next day. They diagnosed as a bad stereing wheel position switch ($340 part $300 labor=$700) Talked and confirmed with mechanic, he said definetly is the problem. Had it R&R'd, next day, lights came on again. Took mechanic for drive and showed him problem. He used scan tool, found small metal piece in right wheel ABS pick-up. Problem resolved. 2 weeks no issue. They claim steering position switch was bad. I think I bought a $340 part that I didn't need. Thought I'd share my experience...Still pretty happy with vehicle, only $1000 total in repairs in 80K miles...not bad. Note when ECM gets a fault, all MIL lites come on... :confuse:
  • ft20ft20 Posts: 15
    Just wanted to give an update on my dealings with Toyota regarding this Transmission Leak. After being denied any assistance by the reps from the customer assistance center, I wrote a letter to Jim Lentz's (Toyota North America CEO) office. It's funny bcs I also forwarded the letter to the customer assistance center. They first called me to tell me that there is no way to appeal the decision. Than within 2 hours of that, I received a second call from the corporate office promising me to investigate the issue and later informing that they would cover 50% of the cost of repair. I thought it was still unfair that I had to pay $600 for a faulty part that Toyota had installed in the care in the first place. However, under the circumstances, that was the best I could do. I have had the repair work done by the dealer and sent in the receipts for reimbursement. Then they called me to tell me that they would not cover the cost of wheel alignment or shop supplies that are on the invoice. Essentially, they are paying about 40% of the expenses! So for anyone else dealing with this problem, this may offer some help!

    Also, when I dropped off the car at the dealer, I asked them to look into the heating issue that a lot of you here have been mentioning. I have had this problem too and after reading the posts here noticed that the nut under the temp control knob was loose. I did not tighten it, wanted to see what the dealer would do. No surprise, they told me that the whole heating module would need to be replace! I have since then spent 2 minutes to tighten the nut and the heater is working just fine.

    This is my second Toyota, and this whole experience has left a bitter taste in my mouth. I would have to think twice before buying Toyota again.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    That sounds as if you are low on coolant to me....that would be my first thing to check.
  • lucky_777lucky_777 Posts: 205
    Looks like $560 I paid for extended Toyota warranty on my 08HL is much better investment then I thought.
  • toyotagaltoyotagal Posts: 215
    I have had my 07 Highlander 9 months now and not a single problem. It in fact is the best vehicle I have ever owned. I elected to not get the Extended Warranty, at least until the warranty that comes with the HL is about to expire. And only then "possibly" if I have had some trouble.
  • Someone out there must have removed the spark plugs from the firewall side of the V6 engine.
    I would like to know how its done
  • I have an 06 Highlander limited with all the toys. The radio has the in-glass diversity antennae and is an absolute POS. Will a fender mounted unit improve radio performance?
  • tsotsitsotsi Posts: 98
    I sympathize with the trouble you are having with your Toyota dealer. It seems to me that in trying to overtake GM in sales, Toyota is making many of the same mistakes that are causing GM to lose out in the marketplace. They ignore individual owners, apparently forgetting that we are the ones, when added together, that give them their sales success.

    On the heat control issue, I hope your problem is solved but would like to point out that most of the postings have indicated that this is a two-part problem.

    First: The nut works loose and the heat control rheostat slops around on its mounting. This alone is not enough to immediately cause a problem, but if left loose it puts stress on the wire connections and they eventually break. That is when the heat control becomes intermittent. It seems that in your case, just tightening the nut moved the control back into contact with the wires. I hope they continue to make contact.

    Second: If the wires are no longer making proper contact, they can easily be repaired, as described in Tundrasolutions. It should not be necessary to replace the entire panel. It is really a DIY job, but if you lack basic mechanical skills, it wouldn't hurt to get some help. Once you see how the bezel pops off and the screws are exposed it is pretty straightforward if you have a screw driver and soldering iron.

    In my opinion this problem should have been solved by Toyota a long time ago. At least dealers should be checking the heat control during routine maintenance. I hate it when companies look at me as a "profit center" and forget that I can easily take my business elsewhere. A really good dealer -- are there any of those left? -- would follow forums like this one and learn from them. The idea that thousands of Highlander customers know about annoying problems that the dealers and mechanics are oblivious to is astounding.

    Is there at least one dealer out there who will respond and tell us why you are ignoring these problems?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Would you be so kind as to let us know when/if you find a dealer who doesn't consider you a "profit center", I've been looking for one of those for a long time now.
  • phrosutphrosut Posts: 122
    I sure agree with you about the in-glass antenna! Our '01 is the same. We took a trip in it with people from the area we were travelling and they were suggesting particular radio stations and we couldn't pull them in. They drive that rural road daily and had no problems getting good reception in their Suburu Outback.

    Be sure and post your results here if you try the fender mount.

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