Toyota Highlander Driving Vibration

tlombardotlombardo Member Posts: 3
edited May 2014 in Toyota
I just bought an 2008 Highlander Base 2WD yesterday and have noticed a vibration while driving during certain instances. Unfortunately it is not constant and I haven't been able to make it happen on purpose. When it does happen, it occurs a second or two after I accelerate and take my foot off the pedal (when I'm not pushing the gas or slowing down). It's like the car is deciding which gear to be in...the whole thing just vibrates for 2-3 seconds. Has anyone else experienced this? If so, is it an easy fix or did I get a lemon? Thanks in advance!


  • other1other1 Member Posts: 7
    Perhaps you'd be better off taking your problem to your dealer instead of asking some unknown on the internet. Your dealer is also better able to deal with the problem.
  • nimrod99nimrod99 Member Posts: 343
    can you provide more details?
    what speed
    forward or reverse
    is it just a single 'thump" or a shudder?

    I have a AWD LTD, and I notice if I shift from reverse to forward while the car is still rolling backwards at 1 mph, it does have a very slight shudder.

    Trying to diagnose a problem over the internet is really tricky.

    Also, from what you are describing, it seems that when you try to accelerate, the tendency is to down shift, but if you back of the accelerator before the transmission has had time to downshift, of course theres going to be a situation as to which gear it wants to be in.
  • tlombardotlombardo Member Posts: 3
    It seems to happen in forward going 35mph or above. Also, I don't do any manual shifting. It's definitely a shudder, not a thump. I'll accelerate and then coast for a few seconds before it occurs. Of course this doesn't always happen, which makes the issue hard to pinpoint. I plan of taking it into the dealer, but was hoping someone else knew what this might be so that I could point them in a better direction. Thanks again.
  • mdhuttonmdhutton Member Posts: 195
    I'd shudder too if you shifted me from reverse to forward while I was still rolling backwards.
  • nimrod99nimrod99 Member Posts: 343
    It doesn't really shudder
    I know that shifting into D when the car is rolling back at 1 mph doesn't have any adverse affect on the tranny.

    I am just trying to help the person diagnose their problem
  • jmiyahirajmiyahira Member Posts: 1
    YOU are NOT alone!
    I just bought a 2008 Sport trim ( with leather and 3rd seat) a month ago and have the same problem. Vehicle vibrates ( fine vibration but annoying enough to notice/ it wasn't there when i first brought it home) while driving at sporadic times. Usually it is when accelerating but most often at 50 mph +. . It ALSO started vibrating ( sporadically) on START UP in the mornings, (after a week of ownership). This vibration is more pronounced than the one during movement-- it is a dull humming vibration as soon as you turn the key. I don't even put my foot on the accelerator.
    I am trying to decide whether or not to take it in to our dealer. I am very dissapointed with that prospect because I have heard so many bad things about Toyota's DECLINE in the service world. I spoke to my car rep. about it before I purchased and he said that they are making major changes and I should not have any problems with service- Toyota is working fast to rectify the issue because they have been taking huge losses with that issue- customers have gone to Honda. I hope he is not wrong. I did not think I'd have these problems so early.
    What makes it hard to assess is that it is sporadic. It does not do this every morning.
    Another issue that I am starting to notice ...The ride used to be quiet but there are times when it sounds like there someone left the back window down.

    Has anyone noticed 2-3 second acceleration lag when accelerating? It just started doing this.
  • yorfyorf Member Posts: 7
    We have only had our 08 Limited for a couple of weeks, but I too noticed a vibration coming through the steering wheel. Occurred around 100 kph and above to about 120 kph. Once again vibration may be not the most accurate way of describing the condition. More of a lower pulsating kind of high frequency shudder. I had the vehicle into the shop for another issue and informed them about the shudder. They reported back that a tire was slightly out of balance. They corrected the balancing issue and rotated the tires. I really don't think rotating the tires should have been necessary. They may have done that to make sure the problem front tire was moved back temporarily. Can't wait to it's rotated up front again. I won't be surprise if the shudder comes back. Just out of curiosity, what tires do you have on your Sport? I have the Toyo "Open Country" A20s and I don't think they are going to last very long.

    Also noticed that on cooler mornings, as reported by other owners, the vehicle runs surprisingly rough when it is first started.

    I have not noticed any acceleration lag. I did notice it on the previous incarnation of Highlander. In 2005 I test drove a Highlander and the lag was very noticeable. For that reason, I did not get a Highlander. Instead went to a Pacifica. So far no acceleration lag in the 08 Highlander but there are some other handling issues that are disappointing compared to the Pacifica.
  • ccactaccacta Member Posts: 4
    Did you ever find out what was wrong with your Highlander? We just bought a 2009 and it is doing the same thing you described.
  • tlombardotlombardo Member Posts: 3
    Either its not doing it anymore or I just don't notice it anymore. You'll be very happy with your purchase.
  • shk_1shk_1 Member Posts: 1
    I bought a 2009 this weekend. I have been experiencing the pulsations/vibrations at ~45-50 MPH. Very similar to what has been described here - cannot reproduce, happens when I am cruising and stop if I accelerate of decelerate.

    While picking the car, the dealer kept telling me not to use cruise control for the first 500 miles - not sure if this is related. Will check with the dealer today.
  • ccactaccacta Member Posts: 4
    Sounds like we are having the same exact problem. We are pretty certain it is the transmission. Let me know what your dealer says. Ours is clueless since they cannot duplicate the problem.
  • typesixtypesix Member Posts: 321
    You are not supposed to use cruise control because you are supposed to vary engine speed to provide proper engine breakin period, and is stated in owner's manual.
  • ccactaccacta Member Posts: 4
    We have not been using the cruise control. We plan to take ours back to the shop tomorrow for the second time. It appears this is pretty common for highlanders but it is too bad they cannot pinoint the cause. I have done some research and found that it can be caused by a Mass Air? sensor or water in the transmission.
  • fernanfernan Member Posts: 1
    I just bought a 2009 HL. The car also does what everybody is describing here. Dealership is clueless. It seems that only people with brand new vehicles are describing this problem. I wonder if it goes away as the vehicle breaks in. Ours is not as bad as when whe bought it (245 miles now). It seems like the transmission likes to stay in one gear too high.
  • leolion9leolion9 Member Posts: 5
    I bought a new Highlander Limited with great expectations. The test drive was superb. After bringing home the vehicle, a feeble yet annoying vibration was felt and I brushed it aside as a figment of my imagination. But after a few days the vibrations are quite perceptible. I promptly took it to the dealer who checked the vehicle. The service adviser also told me he compared a similar highlander on the same roads and said they both drive the same. I drove the vehicle and it felt fine. This is happening sporadically and am not able to reproduce it at the dealer.

    The vehicle now has about 400 miles and the problem is still there - it occurs intermittently. Is this bad choice, should i have finalized a CX9 / Murano?

    Is anyone else having this kind of a problem?
  • ndl2napandl2napa Member Posts: 2
    leolion9, what are the weather conditions, is it cold? also is the vehicle garaged?
  • ccactaccacta Member Posts: 4
    I could not figure out the cause of the vibration on my 2009. It just stopped vibrating when I reached apx 500 miles. Some think it may have just been the transmission learning my driving habits or it had a breaking in period. I haven't had any issues since and have had it since Sept 2009. There is still a little worry in the back of my mind that it could happen again and possibly cause problems. Let me know if you find out anything on it.
  • leolion9leolion9 Member Posts: 5
    Thank you ndl2napa and ccacta for your response.

    The weather is getting cold here in Chicago and I thought it could be a reason. But as ccacta said, the vibrations have come down to a bare minimum as I crossed 500 miles. They gradually tapered off and are almost non-existent now. Hopefully this will not repeat.

    Otherwise, I think the vehicle is good value for the money. Love the JBL sound system...
  • toyotacust1toyotacust1 Member Posts: 3
    I recently bought 2012 Highlander SE. I have 300 miles; I noticed that after starting car, when I push brake paddle to put it in the drive, I hear small rattle kind of noise coming from under the hood. It goes away when start driving but if I keep pressing brake paddle and car is in the P gear then it keeps producing rattle noise for minute or two and then it goes away. I read manual and it says noise due to ABS, VSC, TRAC, EBD etc. I hope that is the case.

    It is annoying to hear this in new 36K vehicle. Does anybody else have this experience?
  • leolion9leolion9 Member Posts: 5
    I hope your symptom is because of what is described in the manual and goes away. I can understand how bad it feels in a brand new vehicle.

    In my case - around 500 miles the car became super smooth - but the vibrations / grinding feel came back - more severe now. This roughness can be felt when the vehicle is parked or in motion. Unfortunately, I was not able to replicate the problem at the dealership - only a slight vibration was felt and the technician said it was normal and there is nothing that can be done. The complaint was documented.

    I noticed that there is humming / vibrations even with the engine off - in the accessory mode! I plan to take it to a different dealership and see if they can diagnose the problem.
  • wwestwwest Member Posts: 10,706
    Just think of it as an aircraft pre-flight inspection/test, check the overall functionality prior to "take-off". You don't need to discover those items are not functional "after the fact".
  • toyotacust1toyotacust1 Member Posts: 3
    It may be motor noise for gas leak check. Toyota manual says that you can hear this noise after five hours when car is parked and it is normal. May be such things are kicking off at various times.

    Yah, please take it to other dealer, you have 3 years to get this fixed.
  • wwestwwest Member Posts: 10,706
    The motor noise you are referring to is near the rear of the car and is only noticeable outside the car, car not running, in a quiet garage.
  • tototootototoo Member Posts: 1
    My 2005 which I owned without problems for 3 years has just started this vibration which I feel through the steering wheel. It's quite strong with a noise that sounds like a helicopter rotor. when I pull over and turn the wheel both ways all the way and start up again it stops. It does it sporadically at different times of day, at 25 mph up to 60 mph, all weather. We've had it to the dealer 3 times, the last time we left it for 2 days and they never felt it and have no idea what it is. At this point, I'm afraid to drive it and cannot sell it. Can anyone help?
  • roadrunner70roadrunner70 Member Posts: 241
    could be rotor run out. Or, a bad tire? a cord may have snapped in the tire. also, there might be something loose in the front suspension.

    since it goes away when you turn the wheel all the way to the right and left, has anyone considered that the steering rack is going bad, or that the power steering pump is broken? hope that helps. RR70
  • moonlight293moonlight293 Member Posts: 23

    I have a 2005 HL 40cyl that is not garaged. I recently hit the 141,00 mark and needed a complete brake job (new rotors, pads, caliers, hoses, etc. on all 4s). Now I am hearing/sensing the vibration that is being mentioned here. I've been told that the struts need to be replaced but was wondering if the strut wear is related to the noise, or if the vibration/noise is related to the new (ultra expensive brakes).

  • onejollyfriaronejollyfriar Member Posts: 0

    To all Highlander Owners there is a very simple and cheap fix to this issue... my car hasn't been this smooth since I bought it!! I was always complaining about engine noise, vibration, on and off and sometimes and then not other times.... here's the answer!! There is a graphite like gasket in the exhaust that wears out. You buy the gasket and the spring bolts from Amazon for $20 and you'll find that the gasket is gone and the vibration which will just get worse is due to the two pipes rubbing against each other., the bolt is part 36454

  • bsmitty81bsmitty81 Member Posts: 1
    Hey Onejollyfriar, can you possibly discribe or show a pic of where that gasket is before I order? I have a 2008 Toyota Highlander as well and I'm trying to rid it of the vibration. Thanks for the help!! 
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