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Toyota Highlander Hybrid - Hybrid System Problems



  • Did you ever get the TSB. I have not yet had problem with my Highlander 2006 hybrid, I have 62,000 miles. I called the dealer they "suggested" I must be mistaken. There was no inverter problem. Clearly I am very concerned since I do mostly highway driving. The TSB would help when I go back to the dealer. Thanks
  • jhellisjhellis Posts: 2
    When did the NHTSA start an investigation on the inverter problem? On their website I only see accelerator/Prius issues. I am expecting a call from the regional manager of Toyota today and need all the information I can get to make my threat of serious cage rattling resonate.

    Thanks for the info!
  • irina2irina2 Posts: 23
    NHTSA started their investigation some time around March 1 2011 (+/- a few days)
  • irina2irina2 Posts: 23
    jtimharrington: If jim06 hasn't contacted you about your request, I can email you the TSB report. You have to email me directly. My email is set to public.
  • The more I read the messages about dead or dying Toyota Highlander Hybrids, the more I feel I bought a piece of junk for 45K. The last few weeks as the weather improved, I could not get the car to cool down and when I took it to the dealer Toyota of Pullman on May 19th 2011, I was told that the AC Compresor was faulty and needed replacement at $4200. This car has only 92.7K miles but I was told that the part was not covered by any warranty! Where do you find this kind of money to spend on an AC? So, I took the car home with a broken heart. Broken by the very hybrid car system I have so praised and exalted to my friends for so long that now I am embarrassed to meet them! Even my wife commented the other day...I thought you said Toyotas last for ever. From this blog, it appears that in the Toyota HH world, FOREVER is 5 or less years.
    To add salt into the already injured heart, 16 days later as I was driving to a graduation event, I heard a strange noise under the bonnet and suddenly all dashboard lights started flashing and 'Check Hybrid System', 'Check CSV System' appeared. Shortly thereafter, the engine died and the car drifted to a halt besides the road. It has been towed to the dealer and as I await the diagnosis on Monday, I can almost smell it in the air! I will update this soon.
  • irina2irina2 Posts: 23
    all i can say is that you're sooooo lucky your inverter (probably!) failed while your car is still under 100K miles so that your hybrid treasure didn't now cost you another $10K in it did for the rest of us suckers...and that you didn't get hurt.
  • bobbyg3bobbyg3 Posts: 2
    My 2006 Highlander Hybrid came to a dead halt last Friday agternoon going just over 40 MPH on a busy street in Austin, TX. The engine would run, but it would not move in any gear. I had it towed to the Toyota Dealer on I-35 and it was diagnosed with a failed power inverter - a $9,000 repair. It has 70k miles and I just purchased it for $18k a couple of months ago. The original owner purchased an extended warranty to 100k miles, so very fortunate that this very expensive repair was covered including a free rental car for the week it was in the shop. I will definitely purchase another warranty when this one expires as who can afford this type of repair on a used vehicle!
  • tx78746tx78746 Posts: 3
    You were lucky. Don't let the Highlander get over 100,000. I had the same experience in Austin on Loop 360 but had more mileage. I had to send it to an auction and got essentially a parts value for what otherwise would have been a premium automobile for its mileage.
  • Hi, I am new to this forum, my question to any one is...I have a 2011 highlander limited hybrid...I only have 4900 miles on it...and I have noticed that the MPG given on that little screen to the right does not match the fuel gauge in the center. In other words the little screen says that I am getting 28-30 mpg so about a crusing range of 415-525 miles but at 300 miles the main gauge goes to empty...has any one noticed this on their highlander?
  • I guess I haven't been so lucky to get an inverter problem. Mine turned out to be an AC Compressor Unit failure which shut down the whole system and the car had to be towed. After contacting the Dealer (Toyota of Pullman WA), the diagnosis turned out to be as stated above and the repairs were estimated at about $5500 and the parts were not covered by any warranty since as I was told I was on a 5 year/60K miles. My car had just turned 5 years and 1 week with 93K miles. No remedy was offered by the National Toyota Customer Support instead they suggested giving me $750 towards trading in the car (how insensitive!).
    So, here I am, with a 5 year old $45,00 fully paid piece of JUNK! And two weeks without transport!
    Anybody out there with experience with Toyota Highlander Hybrid AC Compressor problems or know of refurbished compressors I can buy and use?
    Suggestions are welcome.
  • Great news! Once our recall notice comes out, which sounds like when Toyota says they have replacement parts, we can be reimbursed for paying for the repair. I didn't have the heart to ask about people who were forced to scrap their cars? And also, we can submit for reimbursement "consideration" but my dealer said it should go through, just a long process. Thanks to everyone who complained and filed with the FEDS. This happened much quicker because of your action.

    John (an early victim)
  • irina2irina2 Posts: 23
    Double yeah!! Thanks karen80 for notifying us all. I just called the Toyota custormer service 800 number and after a rather long wait was able to confirm that my car falls into the recall group. I asked if we would be reimbursed (since we already shelled out $8K for the fix) and her reply was 'absolutely'...but to wait until the notification comes in the mail. She also said the recall applies to models made between Feb 2005 and Aug 2006. I'm not holding my breath until I see the check, but this is definitely very good news. Not sure how the poor folks who sold their cars for scrap, before this option was announced, could be "made whole"...but I would sure be calling Toyota ( or other options?) to discuss their cases. I feel really horrible for those of you in that category...please contact me if there's any way to help you...
  • monte8monte8 Posts: 75
    " I have noticed that the MPG given on that little screen to the right does not match the fuel gauge in the center."

    I have a 2008 HiHy. This is the nature of the electronic gas milage function. It is an estimate. Mine is usually overstating gas milage by 1.5 mpg, but every once in a while it understates the mpg. The computer is using an algorithm to estimate milage based on various readings, it does not measure fuel flow directly.

    I believe this is true of all such reading, no matter the make and model.
  • My AC on my 2006 Hybrid Highlander just went out... OMG I could not beleive this is almost a $5000 repair... $2558.86 is my wholesale on-line price just for the Compressor. I'm shocked and will never buy another Toyota again. Has anyone had any luck with the after markets ?...I found one on EBay for $190 , made in Texas, with a warranty.
  • Hey guys - thanks for the head's up. We paid for the labor portion of the repairs, but then traded our car in last November. I called Toyota and they had me fax in all of the information - service invoice, proof of payment, and proof of past ownership and they said I should hear something in about 6 weeks. They won't guarantee reimbursement, but we'll see! I'm so happy to see a recall and pray that this issue won't happen to anyone else now. :surprise:
  • kdegrukdegru Posts: 2
    1)Many thanks for Karen for alerting me to this recall. I just purchased a high mileage used 2006 HiHY and at my first service they did the electric power steering unit recall which would have cost me around $1600 if not covered. It was covered even though I have 120K miles on the car. I hope this new safety recall for the inverter is will also be covered.
    2) Can anyone share with me what real world mileage I can expect with this car? I am only getting around 22MPG with mixed driving and I am driving very deliberately to economize on fuel.
  • kebec53kebec53 Posts: 1
    2006 4wd HiHy 81 000 km: It happened yesterday at only 40 kph (canada) in a usually very busy intersection in town: it was as if someone had thrown a big steel bar in the front wheel spokes, it just made the car jerk very hard (without any braking lights in the back of course: nobody was too near my back). I almost hit the front windshield with my head but my belt was well adjusted (no air bags came out as I did not hit anything). I dont want to imagine that situation happening at 90+ kph in a tightturn narrow road (this is the case here) after loosing all stability driving safeguards. I would probably not be here to tell the story today!! After that shock (±3s), it just went into a free wheeling mode (like in neutral) and I had chance to run slowly to the side of the road and clear myself out of the way. The message center said AWD failure, check HYBRID system and check CSV (I think). Almost the full XMAS tree. No way to get back on track. Had the vehicule towed. I am still frightened today. One important note is that the dealer said the present recall for emergency lights in the dash IS NOT the same as an inverter recall (i believe it is a disguised one though). It will probably be covered by canadian 8yr hybrid parts coverage or by a secret TSB. Waiting for the parts to arrive end of next week. Good luck to all as I think people could get really hurt in another situation.
  • kdegrukdegru Posts: 2
    I have read to this point and am I sad. I recently bought a clean but high milage (120K) 2006 HiVi LTD and although I thought this was a dream come true own such a luxury car as this I am now thinking this may be the beginning of a nightmare. With only less than 1K miles since owning the care pefrorms great for me. For my first service and checkup the dealer called my attention to the Toyota campaign to replace the electric steering gear unit and they did it for free. I am really shocked that Toyota left all these good folks out to dry with the Inverter power control units. If Toyota wanted to actually encourage the development and public acceptance of their Hybrid Synergy Drive technology you would think they would quietly fix these flaws whenever found and the less said the better. The bad word of mouth just may be more devastating than just biting the bullet and making the repairs to the faulty Inverter Controllers. Great to hear on June 29, 2011 Toyota has officially admitted their shame in this matter.
  • stevegoldstevegold Posts: 185
    You are correct. We have a 2007 HH and I lost some sleep over all the inverter problem reports UNTIL Toyota announced the recall. While it doesn't eliminate the danger, at least they will pay for any repairs so we have been much more relaxed since June. Be sure to get the recall applied as soon as possible. They might give you a hassle over the mileage but probably not.
    My daughter in law has a 2006. She hasn't lost any sleep over it.
  • eriweneriwen Posts: 15
    My 2006 HH, 87,000 miles, went from driving perfectly to sounding like a cement mixer with the check engine light flashing. Then the Check CVS System warning came on and a few seconds later started flipping to Check Hybrid System - these warnings flipped back and forth while the check engine light continued to flash. I was seconds from home (and, thankfully, not going very fast) so practically coasted into the driveway. I had it towed to my mechanic who hooked it to the computer -- one of the error messages stated Fuel Low even though the tank was full. They had to finish another car so mine sat. The next day, I started looking for issues with the car and found this forum. The inverter problem sounded exactly like what happened to me -- I phoned NHTSA and got a claim # and was given the # to Toyota national. While waiting to connect to someone there, I found the post stating there is a recall effective June 29. Toyota also gave me a case # and sent the info to the dealer, so I had my car towed to Toyota.
    The service guy immediately said it did not have to be the inverter since the check engine light came on.
    Yesterday they call to tell me it is not a hybrid problem; it is an engine problem: problem with the short block at the bottom of the engine, engine won't spin, crank shaft is being blocked, & -- get this-- pieces of the engine are OUT OF PLACE. They want me to agree to pay 1100 to start to diagnose and it could cost up to 6K to repair! He suggests I trade it in since it is a five year old car -- heck, I always keep my cars about 10 years!
    I flip out and tell them with a 5 year old TOYOTA at 87,000 miles, this should not happen. I call the on-site customer service manager to complain (who I had met the day before). How would engine pieces of a TOYOTA just start breaking off? I call NHTSA and file a complaint. I call Toyota National to complain. I go back in and show the records of the maintenance on the car (like clockwork). The service manager called some "higher up" and they are proceeding this morning by taking off a pan (not that I know what pan) to see why the crank shaft turns one way and stops and turns back and stops, but won't go around. Once they see if they can determine problem, the regional person will be called again.
    I again reiterated how ridiculous it is that this is not covered by Toyota and the reason I bought the brand is because the vehicles are supposed to last for well over 100K! (No, I did not have an extended warranty -- too expensive at the time; in hindsight probably something I should have done.)
    They are well aware I filed a complaint with NHTSA. I told them if I keep the car, I want the inverter replaced immediately!
    Sorry for the length of the post, but if anyone is told pieces of the engine are "out of place" they should contact NHTSA (1-888-327-4236).
    I will keep you apprised of what Toyota does -- or does not -- do for me.
  • eriweneriwen Posts: 15
    Toyota dropped the oil pan and saw internal damage, finding a lot of metal chunks. It seems something let loose in the engine and now I needed to authorize them to take the engine out of the car ($500) to see if there is any damage to main bearings or oil starvation. THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE. The service mgr said it does not seem that anything I could have done would have caused this damage. They need to see if my mechanic did anything wrong through these years or if it just happened. He told me that if Toyota DECIDES to help, I need to participate in paying for part of this - replacing the short block -- $4500 or so - and perhaps Toyota would pay 50%. I asked why I had to pay any part of it since it seems this is a a failure on Toyota's part, and he told me they would expect me to "participate" since it is out of warranty, over 60,000 miles - a five year old car with 87000 miles.
    There has to be something wrong with an engine if parts of it start loosening! I am going to contact NHTSA tomorrow to give them an update on my case. I don't know if I can ever buy another Toyota again.
    Has anyone ever heard of this happening with an engine?
  • eriweneriwen Posts: 15
    When I spoke to Toyota customer care - national - and asked the same question - what if I trade in the car and don't fix it but then there is a recall on the problem I had, the person told me that if I can prove I owned the car with the problem then they sometimes pay -- not sure what they would base the payment calculation on? But he said there have been times Toyota has paid a person who got rid of a car because of an expensive repair before the recall went into effect.
    This may be a complete lie, but it is still something to pursue.
  • eriweneriwen Posts: 15
    Oops, I typed CVS System in my post -- must have drugstores on my mind! It is CSV or something like that!
    Still waiting for the engine to be examined and to be told the status/diagnosis. At this point, all I know is they are giving me a rental car. Even with the 50% offer from Toyota, if the engine just fell apart on its own, why isn't Toyota willing to stand behind their product? The 50% I have to "participate" in is based on the retail price, while the 50% they are "participating" in is probably based on wholesale -- not quite even here.

    I am nervous about keeping the car after 100,000 miles after reading all of the posts. Possible major A/C problems? OMG. Only 13,000 miles to go.

    At least they are going to replace the inverter issue because of the recall. However, I am still nervous about it and going to consider getting rid of it at the 100,000 mark. It is a bit late for me to get an extended warranty for a year, and it is probably too expensive!
  • eriweneriwen Posts: 15
    edited July 2011
    I heard from customer service at Toyota today. They determined that the valve spring broke in the engine! My local mechanic got my hopes up saying that should be covered under the Power Train warranty - possibly up to 100,000 miles -- but I just did an on-line search and called a different Toyota service and was told the Power Train warranty is still 60 months/60,000 miles. That is quite lousy. Not very happy with that kind of warranty on the engine.
    I am waiting for the manager of the service department to call me with a quote. My local mechanic told me to call him once I get the estimate. I doubt he can help if Toyota was willing to pay half, but I will see.
    I keep thinking, "What if I had been on the interstate doing 70 mph? Would my daughter and I be okay?"
  • crtnupcrtnup Posts: 1
    ugh - it seems it is our turn... no previous problems with 2006 H which I love - regular maintenance (and new tires last week, btw) and it just shut down on a busy road yesterday CSV message and then the check hybrid system msg). Thankfully I was able to coast to the shoulder, but the potential for disaster was there (in the right lane, no traffic in my way at the moment, etc.)... lights not dimming and tank full of gas... 106,000 miles on it... awaiting the service report and truthfully, sick to my stomach. I have loved this car... regardless of what the outcome is, should we consider selling (cut and run response)?
  • I just got my recall statement in the Mail. We all are so lucky that our cars didn't kill or injury us. I drove by the spot on the highway taking my wife to jury duty this morning. I still sweat when I get close to where there could have been a serious accident. They did fix my car and it has not had any problems since but this was a very serious fault and reading all thes comments just makes me think that Toyota was just going to not respond to the seriousness of this problem that people could die or get injuried. Thank you all for making this happen. These cars are out there and when I see another Highlander I try not to get in back of it.
    Thank you all and there is resolve coming.
  • socallrsocallr Posts: 2
    I think the plan to not get behind a Highlander is a good one.

    I have been an enthusiastic fan of my "06 Highlander Hybrid from the beginning. I loved my car so much that when, last July, I suddenly and completely lost power (read: inverter assembly failure to the--covered under warranty still--tune of $8K) I believed the dealership when they said, "Wow, this is so weird. We never see this."

    Fast forward to this July, one year after they replaced the inverter assembly, when I was driving home to southern California and my car failed again! This time I was going about 75mph on I-40. Fortunately, I could pull over safely and not cause an accident. Fortunately, I have about 1200 miles left on my warranty, so the repair would be covered even if they hadn't issued the recall. Unfortunately, I have really lost faith in Toyota--at least as far as the Highlanders go. My husband and I are likely to replace the car, that is once we get it back from the dealership. (Two and a half weeks and counting!)
  • eriweneriwen Posts: 15
    I am still waiting for my repaired car. Toyota told me they practically have to replace the entire engine since the weakened valve spring came off and did a lot of damage -- to the tune of $11,000! No extended warranty, 87,000 miles, 5 years old. They "asked" me to "participate" in the repair for the amount of $2500. Then the dealership will pay some and Toyota will take care of the rest. They will only warranty the new parts for one year/unlimited mileage. I think they should warranty for 3 years/36000, and I am going to start my letter writing today. I have updated NHTSA about the defective engine (I think if a valve spring weakens and breaks off, the engine is defective.) and copied Toyota national and the dealership. Today I am going to write everyone I can think of to complain.
    I, too, have lost faith in Toyota. I don't know what I am going to do yet, but once I can handle a monthly payment I am getting rid of this car. This car that I have loved and talked glowingly about since I got it. Toyota is not standing behind their product.
    Today I am going into the third week without the car; it took them about 8 days to pull it all apart and figure out the problem, as I have posted. The service people at the dealer could not be nicer, but I want a better warranty, a smaller amount - or zero - to participate, and Toyota national to "step up" and admit there was something wrong.
  • n3tel3n3tel3 Posts: 4
    Dealer says $10K to replace inverter, BUT only after that is done can they see if the transmission is OK. He was kind of hinting that sometimes the inverter damages the transmission. I've not heard that one before. That may bring the total bill to $15,000.

    Not a lick of trouble until now. Dead on the side of the road at 119,500.

    Just a sudden loss of power under moderate acceleration. There may have been a small noise, not sure?

    Called NHTSA and filed a report. This IS most certainly a safety issue. I recall a few years ago a minivan ( I think ) stalled on Route 50 a few miles East of DC, and all (4?) occupants were killed when they were rear ended. Same situation can occur with this problem.

    Where is Toyota on this?
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