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Highlander Hybrid Brake Problems



  • cdptrapcdptrap Posts: 485
    Hi hsalwen,

    It definitely is NOT a loose connection. Your description is the best and clearest I have read since 2006 because you included the charging-meter behavior.

    Our '06 HH behaves exactly the same as you described *except*, the braking "slip" happens even when it is not hitting bumps. It happens when weather is cold. Once the car has been traveling for a few miles and everything "heats" up, the slippage never happens again.

    I hope Toyota simple would acknowledge there is this "gap" and just fix up for all of us. We have been dealing with it since the 206 HH model year! Enough is already enough!
  • Hi cdptrap

    I am relieved to learn that I am not the only one with this problem. One would think that I was if one talked to the Lexus dealer!

    I will start looking for changes in braking behavior as the car warms up. I bet I will see the same thing you are seeing. I will let you know..
  • ed34ed34 Posts: 1
    We have had our 08 HH for two years now, and I've experienced the change in braking power/feel that others have described, particularly when the regen kicks off suddenly over bumps.

    Fwiw, my take on this has always been that its not an electronics 'problem' per se, but a more simple fact that the logic can't always predict the exact amount of friction/stopping power that your brake pads will provide at any given moment -- so when the regen kicks off, if the pads are particularly wet/hot/cold or whatever, and say you were near the limits of the regen's stopping power -- the transition to pads may be more or less noticable due to the change in stopping power provided.
  • I am doing this research tonight because of the news about the Prius brakes. I can't really pinpoint like most of you seem to be able to what causes the "jump" but my car definitely lurches sometimes when I step on the brake. I know for certain that it happens when I brake at the end of a street leaving my neighborhood in the morning. It has happened a few times lately so it could be the cold that causes it. I will pay more attention to the circumstances surrounding this event, but I will also lodge a complaint in the hopes that NHSTA will pay attention to this car too.
  • A braking system should never release or stop braking for even a split second when you are applying the brake, period. Highlander Hybs do not come with a warning that you will have to learn a new style of braking or to expect your brakes to let go sometimes when you are braking. I am mad at myself for accepting this. I went to the dealer and the service mechanic took it for a spin around a neighborhood nearby and said he didn't feel anything wrong with the brakes. I again told him about the slippage I experience and he said something about it being the way High Hybs brake, the regen system etc. I stupidly accepted his answer. When I asked him if other people were complaining about this he said no. I find it hard to believe that of all the High Hybs they have sold at that dealership, not one other person has complained about a problem that has been talked about in this and other High Hyb forums. I really hope that Toyota puts High Hybs on recall for this brake gap problem and stop telling people top accept that the brakes will stop working every once in a while. And as far as applying more pressure to make up for this slippage goes, it can result in jerky less smooth stops and in a 40K plus car I did not expect to have to deal with that.
  • Hello to everybody here who owns a Highlander Hybrid and has experienced the brake slippage or gap at low speeds. I have noticed that this is a pretty common complaint on High Hyb forums, this one included. I just filed a complaint with the National Highway Traffic Association about this problem. I bought my car this summer and have noticed that the problem has gotten worse. Maybe it is the cold weather as some people have said. I asked how many other people have complained so far about this problem and she told me seven. Now that may have been for my particular model High Hyb Ltd. 09. I have read posts on this from people with other models from other years. The woman from NHTSA told met that they haven't received enough complaints to look into this problem yet. If you are experiencing this problem and don't feel that you should have to learn a "New" way of breaking I recommend filing a complaint. My dealer did nothing. They took it for spin and said "Everything seems okay, that's the way Hybrids brake."

    Go to:

    Or call: (888) 327-4236 Expect to be on hold for a few minutes. I put my phone on speaker and went about my business until they picked up.

    Highlander Hybrid Drivers should not have to put up with brakes that slip,ever.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Sorry, but we have had a 1st gen Prius for many years and miles. While I am not the primary driver I had a long discussion yesterday with the person that is. He basically agreed that while the "lurch" is noticeable and he typically reacts by applying more pressure to the brake pedal it has not represented a problem otherwise.

    Personally I am currently a champion of using ONLY the rear brakes initially, for light to moderate braking, and then only transitioning to the inclusion of front braking if a preset brake fluid pressure threshold is reached or ABS detects impending lockup.

    My '01 F/awd RX300 gives me that same "lurch" feeling as I slowly brake to a stop below 10MPH and the transaxle upshifts in order to alleviate the potential danger of loss of directional control arising from engine compression braking should the roadbed be slippery.

    Noticed it back at the beginning but it faded into the background.

    And yes, there would most definitely be a transitional feel, in this case MORE braking coming online, but to the overall benefit of additional safety. Also make more use of those rear brake pads.
  • Brakes have to do their job always in any situation. Deer darting out in front of cars are a reality in many parts of the US. What about a child chasing a ball into the street? This slippage happens to me in all kinds of conditions, bumpy, smooth, all kinds of weather, though more often when cold. I can't understand Quality Control allowing a potentially hazardous braking condition like this to pass inspection. Okay, so maybe they can't inspect something like this easily because it is dependent on certain conditions. But I have read reports going back to 2006 of this phenomenon and I am sure that Toyota has heard about them too. So now the Prius have been recalled, for what sounds like this very problem and we Highlander Hybrid drivers are supposed to "adapt" our braking techniques? Where is our recall?

    I have reported this to the NHTSA and unfortunately, even though many people seem to be complaining about this problem for High Hybrids only seven have filed a complaint(I asked the woman who took my complaint). Now maybe she meant for my particular year and model the High HYb Ltd 09, but she still said they haven't gotten enough complaints for them to recommend a recall yet.

    If you want to file a complaint go to this site:
  • I have had ABS cars before and the ABS did not come very much for the most part unless the conditions needed it. This slippage thing with the High Hyb is a daily occurrence, especially now that it is colder.
  • I've posted before. I too am noticing it more often recently. I suspect the cold wheather connection has something to do with it. I live in Charlotte, NC where it is not generally very cold -- but the last few weeks have been. I don't think I have noticed this at high speeds, but I am paying closer attention now. I also filed a complaint today.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "Normal" cars with ABS have no need to switch from regen braking ONLY into frictional braking ONLY if the ABS controlling ECU detects impending wheel lockup. And of course you would encounter this event more often in cold weather.
  • I own a 2006 Hilander Hybrid and it is a great vehicle except for the occassional brake problem that we all seem to experience. When I brake and have my foot firmly and gradually depressing the brake pedal, the car slows but there are these one second instances when the car continues to coast/lunge forward as if it is not going to stop. These short instances are terrifying because you begin to feel that the car is no longer under control.

    I find that it occurs at about 25-30 mph speed and I have observed it during colder days. No, it is not ice or wet roads, it is an inherent braking problem in the car that Toyota dealers and Toyota continue to deny or plead innocence.

    I suggest that you file a compalint with NHTSA at

    Make sure you use Hilander Hybrid in the vehicle selection. If we all register our complaints, hopefully NHTSA will be able to get Toyota address the brake problem with Hilander Hybrid too.
  • cdptrapcdptrap Posts: 485
    I believe several of us had filed this way back in 2006, I cannot recall now.

    To be clear, the "skip", "lurch" or "slip" has not in anyway shortened or threatened our stopping distance. After the first few instances during Winter of 2005 (bought ours in July 2005), wife and I learned to just be decisive, keep up the pressure and ignore the "lurch". We have stopped on ice, snow, slush, sand (Death Valley), road, dirt trails, rain and ranch/farm mud and muck without problems since we have owned this car.

    We have driven through the Sierras at various speeds and in various conditions from summer heat to winter snowfall with 6 or more inches on the ground. We have towed all the way through the Shasta range on HWY5 all the way from Redding into OR.

    We have also towed Brenderup horse trailer and utility bed trailer onto slick grasses and dirt roads without stopping problems.

    While we all dislike this "lurch", it is most likely not the same problem as the current brake-failure fiasco. Like WWest, I do not believe this is brake disengaging or not catching. I believe braking is continuing but it is the switch from regen to mechanical that is causing this "sensation". If anything, our "stopping problems" have all been related to lousy tires.

    Anyway, if Toyota would use software or some other means to fix this, I would really appreciate it. It certainly would boost my confidence in Toyota a bit. As it is, Toyota's long drawn-out denial after the CHP officer crash has really soured my trust in the company. Especially given we have many friends in CA law enforcement. For our next purchase, I will be looking at alternatives. Ford is a good choice now if it offers any solid and reliable larger hybrids. We will keep our HH until it dies.
  • I still think we all should file a complaint with NHTSA now, since the timing of the complaint will be right to urge NHTSA to direct Toyota to look into the Hilander Hybrid problem as well.

    If you think about it, Toyota could install accelerometers in some test vehicles, sample data from the brake, regen and the computer systems and analyze the data to evaluate the problem.

    Since several of us are complaining about brake problems in HH, this should not be such an elusive problem as some reports have suggested.
  • cdptrapcdptrap Posts: 485
    I am not disagreeing with filing at all, I think it is a good move. Was just being clear about our experience in this whole mess.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "...file a complaint.."

    And while you're there why not file a complaint about the ICE shutting down unexpectedly in certain situations. Hey, you bought a hybrid, now learn and understand, and live with, its idiosynchronies.

    I have little doubt that many owners felt this same way when they first encountered ABS activation...hey, something is wrong with my car, its acting funny when I go to stop.
  • 400e400e Posts: 41
    I think that the driver of a car has a right to expect that when he/she applies the brakes, there is a certain relationship between the pressure applied to the pedal and the stopping power of the braking system. When that relationship changes, in the midst of a braking episode, and does so unpredictably, that is just not right. I call it a design flaw, not an idiosyncrasy.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Are you describing ABS, VSC, BA, EBD or e/LSD......??

    All of the above fits..."does so unpredictably".
  • 400e400e Posts: 41
    I should have added the term, "frequently" to "unpredictably."

    In every other car I've owned with ABS and VSC (haven't had the other acronyms on prior cars), these features would kick in only very infrequently.

    On my HH, at least, the braking gap happens on a daily basis, but not consistently.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    I wonder..

    With a FWD hybrid is it possible that the "gain" of the Anti-lock Braking System is increased as the climate grows colder..? ABS reacting much quicker to "impending wheel lockup" if the OAT is hovering near or around freezing...?

    An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure...??

    Regen braking applies ONLY to the front wheels, so if the rotation rate of those front wheels starts declining too far outside the "envelope", predictive target, ABS might disable regen as a pre-emptive measure.

    That certainly would account for your feeling that these events are more frequent with the HH vs non-hybirds.
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