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Toyota Highlander Maintenance and Repair



  • ajit1979ajit1979 Posts: 2
    I've 2012 highlander. With about 4500 miles and winter, when i start the car in the morning and change gear to rear or drive, the engine would rattle and the inside (dashboard, steering) would vibrate with noise. It would last for about a minute and they go away. Dealer said this is normal and should go away once weather starts to warm up. Now that temp is in 80's in the morning, I still have same behavior. Have anyone experienced this?
  • ryan99ryan99 Posts: 46
    Hi, I also have a 2012 Highlander. I don't have that problem with it, however for what it's worth I had the exact same problem with my old Jeep Cherokee. The problem was with ujoints locking up. I never fixed it. It went in for years and never got any worse. Good luck.
  • bdymentbdyment Posts: 549
    Regarding your two postings. The rear end thud and the engine rattle are not normal Highlander behavior. Do not let any service personnel try and convince you that it is normal. If your present dealer will not correct the issues, find another dealer that will.
  • jpfjpf Posts: 496
    It's standard procedure to replace the water pump when the timing belt is replaced for most interference engines. Toyota's I believe are interference engines. The water pump runs off the tiiming belt meaning if the water pump seizes then it will either cause the timing belt to skip or break. The timing belt can be brand new and a failed water pump can cause it to break. The result would be pistons crashing into valves and a new engine would be required. This is why dealers recommend changing the water pump at the same time as the timing belt.
  • takthekaktakthekak Posts: 6
    so, I have an 05 highlander. I asked what should be done, have not really done much to this point, they say new water pump and belt, differential fluids, fuel throttle injector flush, spark plugs, cleaning of brakes due to gravel, transmission fluids, etc. total of $2300. Question is, should do it all and hope for another 100K. I've checked and everything seems reasonable, ie the pump and belt kit 800 or 900. Im guessing labor is whats making the total high. I am really hating putting so much into it, but if it gets another 8 years then its worth it. $2300 would be like
    4-5 months of a new highlander payment. I'm I thinking clearly, just get all the stuff done at once?
  • mrs1964mrs1964 Posts: 8
    $2300 does not seem that bad. I am with you as I like to get things done at once because my time is money. I have an 01 Highlander with 88,000 miles. I've replace brakes at about 45k,oxygen sensors at around 80k. I also replaced the timing belt and water pump when I replaced my oxygen sensors. Not because they needed it but it seemed like a good time to do it. I looked at the water pump it was removed and it looked brand new. So, I doubt if I needed to do this. I've had no issues since this work and hope to keep it for another 8 years.
  • My wife drives a 2003 Highlander, which has 123K miles. Dealer says that at that mileage a tuneup is needed, for $1000, which includes replacing plugs, manifold gaskets and more. Plus an additional $ 500 for fluid flushes.

    Car is running great, so do we really need to replace plugs and gaskets now? I don't have a problem with flushes, although maybe not at the dealer's prices.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,010
    edited July 2013
    It's a bit of a concern to hear "tune-up" these days. Cars don't really get tune-ups anymore.

    Check out the Edmunds Car Maintenance Guide - it follows your manual and will tell you what needs to be done when, and will estimate what it should cost for your zip code.

    You kind of have to be careful of flushes too. Brake flushes are fine. "Power" flushes of the transmission have a bad reputation - they can stir gunk up and cause failure weeks later. I'd be especially leery of hooking the transmission up to a machine and pumping chemicals through it.

    Need help navigating? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • typesixtypesix Posts: 314
    Read the service portion of owner's manual for service required.
  • soco4soco4 Posts: 9
    On the way home from the eastern Sierras, our 2002 Highlander V 6 AWD with 80K mi. backfired three times on long downgrades (two happened on U S 50 east of Sacramento). The explosions sounded fairly sharp and powerful. Has anyone had a similar experience? Any ideas about what is malfunctioning? My guess is that the (original) oxygen sensor is permitting an overly rich mixture on closed or partly-open throttle, and a build-up of unburned gas is ignited by the hot catalytic converter. Thanks for any help.
  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaPosts: 1,583

    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: 549
    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.

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