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Toyota Highlander Transmission Problems



  • mclsmcls Posts: 1
    I have a 2005 Highlander 4WD with 70,000 miles. I was told that my gasket has a slight leak. Nothing that needs to be done now. However it will cost $250.00 to replace the gasket. I ask the representative why it cost so much money. He said they charge for the labor to remove the transmission (not sure). Its basically labor cost. He also said that if I was closer to 60,.000 miles, then they probably would cover it. Whos to say they did see it leaking back when I had my oil change around 60,000 miles. Anyways, did you hear back from Toyota Head quarters?
  • pacocpacoc Posts: 7
    This is what I have done, replaced oil completely, not only what goes to the pan, but what is inside tranny. For that we disconnected the hose that goes to the radiator and forced an flush, we refill again two times until the oil began to flow clear.
    What we found inside tranny was and burnt out oil, no viscosity and all blackened.
    I used Valvoline synthetic blend ATF which comlies with Type IV.
    Unit now no problem with tranny.
    I´m having VSC fault but that is related to ABS after replacing timing belt.
    Best regards and good luck.
  • csmoseleycsmoseley Posts: 1
    My '04 Highlander V6 4wd has 137,000 miles and lost it's transmission a few weeks ago, no warning. It is being replaced with a used for $2000. Had to go the cheap route and getting rid of it VERY soon. Also have had problems with the AC system. Toyota claims no problems with Highlander transmissions. Also, I was told that I had roadside assistance but when I called sitting with no transmission on the side of an interstate, I was told that they had no record of it. I am greatly disappointed with Toyota and will not buy another one.
  • Hmmm...regarding replacing the transmission oil, I know that Toyota had oil sludge problems with the 3.0 V6 engine. To cure this problem, Toyota and Lexus offered an extended warranty on some of the older engines. However, to correct the problem with the 2003 and newer models, Toyota insisted that the oil be changed every 5,000 miles.
    I wonder if Toyota has a similar problem with the transmission oil on HL? I've always had my HL served at a Toyota dealer, based upon the recommended maintenance schedules. Does anyone know when newer (than 2003) HL are supposed to have their transmission oil changed?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    According to the manual for my 2001 F/awd RX300 there is no recommeded servicing of the transaxle for the life of the vehicle. When I discovered my ATF dirty and burned at only 40,000 miles the dealer advised me, and the factory verified, that the ATF needed to be changed every 15,000 miles.

    I have heard that this was later revised to say that the ATF condition should be checked at every oil change and only drained and flushed if required.

    The HL uses the same transaxle.
  • pacocpacoc Posts: 7
    Sorry to hear that. Mine is a 02, 4wd, 3.0l and have suffered with tranny oil high temp since it was about 30K miles. Finally this month I found a car shop where the owner involved himself in my car ande recomended to chage oil, it was burnt, black, and replace it with Valvoline synthetic blend ATF.
    As always now I have a VSC light on on the dashboard. It´s suppose to be a calibration procedure what is missing.
    I´ll let you all know when we perform it.

    Best regards
  • rpanaitrpanait Posts: 4
    I have a 2002 V6 Highlander, 3.0L and for the last 6 months I have a strange problem with my SUV.
    When decelerating from over 60Km\h to ~10Km\h, around 20Km\h I feel a shift shock. It seems to happen when it tries to downshift from 2nd gear to the first one. But this happens only when driving over 60Km\h and it's not all the time.
    We checked the brakes, calipers, but it wasn't that.
    Reading this thread someone was mentioning about a TSB mentioning a re-programing of the ECM.

    Before taking my Highlander to the nearest dealer I test drove it again and came up with these conclusions:
    - it happens only when I am over 60Km\h, in the 4th gear;
    - it does not happen every single time I decelerate;
    - if am in the 4th gear and I kill the over-drive before or when starting to slow down, so I manually force the transmission into the 3rd gear it won't give me this shift shock when reaching 20Km\h (when downshifting from 2nd to 1st gear);
    - it does not happen if I put in Neutral any time before reaching 20Km\h.

    Yesterday I took the car to Toyota dealer and I told them about the issue and that re-programing the ECM might fix the problem. They could not reproduce the noise and at the end they scanned the Engine Control Module and the Transmission Control Module.
    They reprogrammed the ECM only and, weird, the service manager told me "it takes one week for the computer to relearn what it has to do". If I program a computer, I teach the computer what to do.
    I did not understand his explanation. Can anyone confirm these words to me, please?

    Since yesterday I had 4 milder shift shocks so I am not sure if reprogramming the ECM helped or not.
    Any previous experience?
  • tcp2tcp2 Posts: 66
    I have a 2005 Sienna with the same drivetrain. This engine/transmission combo does do the hesitation, but driving "style" can mitigate the problem a great deal. Try rolling on and off of the throttle instead of stabbing it to the level you want it to be at. A smooth application of throttle works better than quick changes. Also, if you know a hesitation is occuring, hold the throttle steady for a second and let the transmission's brain catch up. It's not perfect, but honestly, I have zero problems with the engine and transmission. I must be trained to drive in this manner and it's not an issue for me.
  • pacocpacoc Posts: 7
    My HL is the same model as yours, it had the same simptoms but with some diferent causes. Mine was due to an overheating in the tranny. After taking it three times to the Toyota dealer I took it to an independent shop. We discovered that the ATF was blackened, with no viscosity.
    I replaced the ATF with Valvoline semi sinth ATF and the over heating and all their simptoms dissapeared.
    Now I have a VSC alarm and is what I´m working on. As soon as I have the solution, I will share with you all.

  • laps71laps71 Posts: 2
    I also have an 2002 HL. I have however a major problem now. Besides the black ATF, I now have grinding in the tranny. I am down completely.
  • pacocpacoc Posts: 7
    Sorry to hear that, it seem as if you didn´t have an alarm on the dashboard and the tranny wrecked herself.
    Why don´t you make a flushing on the oil and replaced that with a new and clean one.
    Maybe is still posibble to have it running again?


  • laps71laps71 Posts: 2
    sounds like the gears are not where they should be, 1st gear.
  • I have 170,000 kilometers, aka about 100,000 miles.

    Had transmission fluid flushed, cleaner and additives at dealer. They heard noise and indicate its bearings noisy when in reverse. recommend replace propellor shaft. In Canadian dollars its estimates as approx. $2000 for parts and labor plus tax installed.

    I only hear it in reverse once and while. Could keep driving until its a real issue.

    not very mechanical savy. Looking for advice if I plan on keeping car till I run it into ground is it worth replacing now? What is impact of waiting till it wears more. Is it going to cause other damage.
  • mcpaxmcpax Posts: 1
    How difficult is it to replace the tranny bearings on a 05 Highlander. The Dealer wants to charge me 2800.00. The car just makes a small growling noise, how long could I go without changing them?
  • Anyone know if Highlanders (6cyl) with a transmission cooler / tow package are less likely to have transmission problems ? Alot of folks have not indicated if theirs is FWD or AWD. Sounds like both have problems (except the tranfer case leaks)correct ?
    Also besides the tranfer case leak issues Sounds like both F & AWD have problems correct ?
    Mine = FWD with tow package is at 59k miles and seems fine.
  • I have an 09 Highlander (4WD) w/towing package, 2 weeks old. When accelerating and speed gets to about 35 (RPM 1500) the car begins to shutter slightly. This continues to about 55 MPH, but only when accelerating on a hill or on the level. It is a 5 speed automatic. Is this normal? Any ideas?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    It is entirely possible that there was a period of time when ALL RXes and HL's were shipped with the towing package. Toyota seems to have been well aware of the problem caused by the design change, abolition of the ATF accumulator, made back in ~'98.

    Prior to the somewhat "final" solution of using E-throttle, introduced with the RX330, to "protect the drive train" they seem to have come up with a interim solution that resulted in localized (most likely "local" to the gear type ATF pump) heating of the fluid. In order to alleviate at least some of the degradation of the ATF from overheating the external cooler was made "standard".
  • Hey there, I have an 04 Highlander that is leaking transmission fluid from a faulty seal at the right side of the transfer case. Apparently this is a known issue with the 04-06 Highlander and Sienna. I feel like I am getting screwed as the production date of my vehicle was June 24 and it is now October 8 and therefore my power train warranty has expired (by a whole 3 months). I only have 53k in miles and all service has been kept up to date. Any suggestions on what to do or am I going to have to eat this one (about $1500)? :mad:
  • I recently had my engine replaced in my 2003 HL and within 10 miles, the lower gears would start "jerking." It is fine when engine is cold (which isn't long). Tranny fluid replaced. Toyota service (not where I had work done) says that I should drive the car for awhile (months) to "reprogram the transmission to my driving patterns." What kind of "driving patterns" have to be programmed for a car to "learn" how to go from 1st gear to 4th gear? Any thoughts?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Your driving habits, in this instance, have NOTHING to do with the engine/transaxle ECU's "learning" process.

    But the newly restored engine POWER/TORQUE might.

    So Toyota might be correct.

    OUCH, that HURT...!!
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