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Toyota Highlander Hybrid - Hybrid System Problems



  • Nice job. I printed all your work and gave to the Toyota dealer today. They will let me know tomorrow. They said this was new to them and they are in California .. :lemon:
  • just heard from Toyota that the HH is not covered under this law, it does not fit the PZEV Certified Vehicles. it has to make an 9 or higher on the drive clean scale, it is an 8 (I checked this with the state agency, its true) bad news for all HH owners, the 8 years 80k is all you got...sell, sell , sell... :lemon: :lemon: :lemon: :lemon: :lemon:
  • Hi, all...

    First of all, the pressure is on Toyota...according to today's NY Times, Toyota has 5 days to come up with a plan for fixing these cars...pressure on Toyota makes negotiating for us owners easier. Source: Toyota Recalls 82,000 Highlander and Lexus RX 400 Hybrids for Stalling Problem. Link: exus-rx-400-hybrids-for-stalling-problem/
    **Note to the member asking about purchasing a Toyota HiHy 2007- some of the cars recalled are from 2007. The one you are thinking of purchasing could have the bad inverter.
    According to, the 2006 Toyota Highlander Hy is SULEV. (The sticker telling you for sure the rating, the Vehicle Emissions Control Information sticker, by law must be under the hood of your vehicle, and may also be on one of the two rear windows. Source:
    This gives you a minimum of 8 years/80k miles. I suggest everyone whose vehicle is NOT part of the recall, but whose inverter blew, get the rating information of your emissions rating from under the hood, A copy of the applicable CA warranty code, sourced in my most recent post, or distilled here:
    and request free replacement, based on the 8 yr, 80k mile warranty.
    If your vehicle is one of the recalled VINs, just print out the now formal recall news, and march yourselves down to the dealer.
    Alert: Toyota is sending owners of recalled 06s super-disingenous letters offering to buy back your Toyota 06 HyHi, and sell you another Toyota car, not because the lemon is a deathtrap, which has been recalled. No, no, no. if they told you that, you'd demand they fix it for free, which will cost them mega bucks. Instead, they ate trying to buy back your vehicle and sell you another Toyota. It's cheaper for them to buy it back than to fix it, PLUS, they get the added bonus of a NEW sale. Since they dont want to notify some who may not know about the recall, they are claiming they want your 06 because they are in desperate need of Toyota 2006 cars. Really? It's 2011. All of a sudden, we are to believe that there is increased demand for 2006 models? Toyota blames this, most shamefully, on a shortage of 2006 models created by a production lapse caused by - wait for it - the earthquake in Japan. Yup. Now, I'm no mathemetician, but the earthquake was in March, 2011. If I subtract 2006 from 2011, I will get 5 years. Sooo, they stopped producing 2006 cars 5 years before the earthquake supposedly halted their production of them. But we are to believe they were STILL producing them up until the earthquake, and now have a shortfall? I love my Toyota, but their shoddy inverter caused deaths. And now they want to avoid the responsibility of making good on this recall? Where are the ethics in business? Before I get off my soapbox, if the corporate greed were not shameful enough, to cart into this that devastating earthquake? And to insult our intelligence....everyone's clamoring for 2006 vehicles right now, and they had to stop producing new ones in March 2011? I won't buy another Toyota on the basis of this letter. Shame on them.
  • For Kenduff - you may have a late 2007 vehicle, but if you haven't already just cheked your VIN against the recall might want to give it a try. Maybe it's included.
  • The NY Times article was dated June, not September...their 5 day plan was to tell us to drive more slowly until they figure a way out for themselves...but keep watching that NHTSA info...they cannot stall much longer. Oh! pun intended! :)
  • i did and it is not..... :lemon:
  • New information....

    My HiHy is a 2006 SULEV II (level II). This info is found on the sticker under the hood. My vehicle was covered under the 150k CARB warranty, regardless of recalled VIN num. I have been trying to find out why some of yours was not covered. This is what I found.

    The warranty was updated 12/8/2010. If your service ppl are referring to your original warranty, it has been ammended. According to the amount, vehicles meeting the SULEV II requirements fall into 2 dif categories (depending on emission specs). The category determines whether it is warrantied for 120 or 150k. Because my own vehicle was manufactured to the specs granting it the higher 150k warranty, I assume all the same year make and models would be (they are massed produced, of course).

    This link is the ammended CARB emissins regulations. df
    On page 46 there is a chart. The top of the chart is for SULEV II light duty trucks (as is the toyota hihy). The vehicles emissions specs will cause it to land in either the 150 or 120k warranty plan. MY vehicle fell in the 150k plan. So it must be that anyone else's 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid was manufactured to the same emissins specs and must also meet the same standards for the 150k warramty.

    If any of you are still not getting covered for this, I would print out this (mandatory) warranty regulation (just page 47 is necessary), bring it to my service tech, and show him that this part is covered under the ammended warranty. If he says it is not, I would then ask him to show me the mfr specs showing it to conform to the lower emissions warranty. If he shows you specs showing it conforms to the 150k warranty, you are done. And again, it simply must conform, because my vehicle was not produced individually. It is a 2096 toy hi hy, and they were all mass produced.

    Good luck.
  • Same story as most of the others on this forum. My 2006 Highlander Hybrid with 83,000 miles died earlier this week when I was driving my kids around. We just left a parking lot and started in to traffic on a major road and then *POP* there was no power and the warning lights kick on, including the Check Hyrbrid system, check VCS system, ABS, etc. It was the worst time of day, right after 5pm so thing congested rush hour conditions... I managed to coast the car over and was just short of a bus stop, so with a little pushing we made it off the road. Called my wife to pick up the kids and I got to wait for the tow truck to pick me up.

    Once we got the car in to the dealer, they confirmed that the inverter had blown and would need to be replaced. They replaced it under warranty saying that this was covered under a recall for the Highlander Hybrid. My VIN doesn't end within the previously mentioned range so not sure if we had the earlier inverter or later inverter, either way it was bad. I'm glad it was covered because when I came in to pick it up the bill (to Toyota) said $7329, I'm guessing they'd mark that up further if it was to be billed to a customer.

    The new inverter drives great, but I think it's time to look at getting a new vehicle and not a Toyota. I've never been much of a domestic guy (outside of trucks) but the new Ford's are really looking good...
  • kenduffkenduff Posts: 19
    did as you said and Toyota tech said "no way". it is not covered under the amended law....he actually did not even read what I printed out...nasty bunch them Toyota boys....writing a letter to NHTSA today.... :lemon:
  • If I were you, assuming you live in one of the states which has adopted the California clean air regulation (the list of states which did is posted in onee of my earlier posts), I would get that sticker info from the underside of my hood (the SULEV II warranty info), my registration, and any emissions info I had on this car, set aside a block of time and call carb. Their num is on their website. Some Sulev IIs are covered for 150k, some are not, as you saw on Page 47 of the amended regulation. I would ask carb to let me know for sure, and if it is, I would then ask for documentation. Then I would take that documentation to the Regional Manager or Regional VP to whom this tech reports. I would let him know that the part was a safety recall, and that you have been in touch with the NHTSA regarding the policy toyota is required to follow on this. (that policy info is a link on the NHTSA website. And I would also call NHTSA and advise them of the situation and ask for their assistance. The steps manufacturer's must take in a recall are not negotiable. They are mandated by NHTSA. Likewise, if the amended regulation governing emissions warranties is not something the tech can choose to go along with or not. It is a binding agreement between mfr's of low emission vehicles and carb, which mfr's must (must) honor in exchange for incentives. I have a strong suspicion this tech does not even know the reg was updated. I would write letters for sure, but I'd be on the phone with NHTSA, Carb, getting my info crystal clear, and then on the phone with the senior exec to whom this tech, or this tech's boss, or boss's boss, reports. Toyota can get in huge, huge trouble for not honoring the regulatory agreement or the NHTSA recall mandates. Make sure you let this exec know exactly what is required of them, and the penalties from nhtsa and carb for noncompliance. Assuming, of course, you gave carb your info and they attested your model vehicle went w the 150k plan (mine did, and it is SULEV II). If they took the carb benefits, they honor warranty. I would also make sure that the exec you speak to for help in getting the tech to follow Toyota's policies and mandates knows the name of this tech. That's what I would do if I were you...
  • kenduffkenduff Posts: 19
    Hi rescue is the reply I received from the CARB and the HH is a later 07 model that was not recalled, my VIN# is a few hundred beyond the recall numbers.... I think Toyota chose not to certify as a PZEV is because they knew the inverters were faulty..time will tell.. :) Ken :lemon:

    The certification Executive Order for your vehicle, 2007 Toyota Highlander hybrid, shows that the vehicle was indeed certified as a SULEV. Unfortunately, SULEV certification alone does not qualify for the 15 year/150,000 mile emission warranty. Only vehicles certified as partial zero emission vehicles (PZEV) qualify for the extended emission warranty. In order to qualify as a PZEV, a vehicles must have SULEV tailpipe emissions and zero fuel evaporative emissions. For some reason, Toyota chose not to certify the Highlander as a PZEV, as you will note in the attached certification Executive Order.

    To illustrate the difference, I’ve attached the certification Executive Orders for your vehicle and the 2007 Toyota Camry hybrid which is a PZEV.

    I fully sympathize with your position, this is not a trivial repair cost. For your information, I noted during a search on Ebay that the Highlander inverter is available for considerably less than $10,000.

    I’ve cc’ed John Urkov, branch chief overseeing the section dealing with warranty concerns for confirmation on the Highlander status.

  • That phone num is the toyota, westport num. Also, maybe ask Paul, who wrote you from CARB to explain page 46 of the ammended warranty wherein it lists the SULEV II twice, one with the lower mileage warranty, and one with the 150k warranty, citing it as optional. That is the only reason i can think of why mine would have been covered without the recall
  • irina2irina2 Posts: 23
    edited October 2011
    Kenduff, I'm wondering what your immediate plans are. I really feel for you. Are you going to pay the money to fix your car? And hope for some reimbursement later? If so, how much are they quoting you? I know your car doesn't seem to fit into any of the categories with much hope for reimbursement by big Toyota. We paid $8500 and are hoping for reimbursement through the recall and/or the lawsuit against Toyota. But our VIN also fits within the magic range. Sorry to see your hopes raised with the Federal emissions idea. I went through that for weeks, only to have my hopes crushed when I learned about how it doesn't apply because of the whole SULEV and PZEV business. We also hope to replace our replaced inverter (for which we paid, but hope to be reimbursed) with the new re-engineered one that the recall promises. Unless I hear from anyone on this forum any good reason NOT to demand replacing my 'new' inverter (which is only warrantied for 1 year, thank you Toyota).
  • Hi, Irinan2,

    If you read the actual amendment to the emissions law, page 46 or 47, you will see that some Sulev IIs have the150k warranty option. This doc comes straight from CARB. My own Sulev II was covered for 150k according to my Toyota dealer. I posted the link in an earlier message. Check it out.
  • It appears my earlier message didnt post...

    As my car is a SulevII and it was covered, according to my toyota dealer, for 150k, regardless of vin num, and because the graph on page 46 of that amended CARB reg shows two boxes for Sulev II, and states 150k warranty optional, I cam only think that the higher optional warranty had to have been applied to my vehicle. At this point, before I gave up, I would call back Paul from CARB, refer him to that graph, and ask him why it states in the Sulev II box "optional 150k" when it is nit a PZEV, and you had been told it applies only to PZEV. If that doesn't help, I might ask his advice on getting Toyota to replace it anyway, as it did fail, and your vin is only a few hundred off. I'm sure it's too exp for Toyota to want to do a "goodwill" replacement, but if there were some way to make them aware of the bad will generated by not replacing all failed inverters (a huge safety issue!) in the general time period. It's not likely that the inverters were faulty on the recalled vins, but yours, only a couple hundred out, failed due to "pilot" error.

    I had put the number of my Toyota dealer down in that post so you could call and ask them about the 150k "option" on Sulev II, but apparently, that's not ok on here. I myself am now so curious as to why my Sulev II was covered when yours wasn't, I am going to simply call myself and ask them. Perhaps there is an answer there, ornat the very least an explanation. I do not believe they made a mistake in covering mine, because ppl generally check their info before shelling out big money. I will post the result of that phone call.
  • irina2irina2 Posts: 23
    I've been following this whole discussion about the federal/state low emissions warranty issue with some interest (though it is a somewhat nostalgic, detached interest--having already paid for my fix myself, given that we had over 100K miles). What keeps coming to mind is that your car, after all, had 75K miles on it, right? I can't help but to think your car WAS still within the regular Toyota warranty on hybrid parts (the 8 year/100K)...and all this discussion appears academic about the federal/state emissions warranty. I remember I hit the same roadblock about the PZEV... I think you got lucky that your car cloncked out at the 75K miles and Toyota had to fix it...just like others on this forum with such low mileage. Whatever your technicians are saying was the reason they fixed it doesn't discount the fact that they HAD to fix it due to the fact that it was within 8 years/100K miles. Am I missing something?
  • Yes, Irina2, you are missing something. The pertinent information is in my posts. You must not have read them. The mileage did not matter on my car bc my VIN num was recalled. But that was never the point. The point was that the service tech told me that even if my VIN had NOT been recalled, and even if my car had 149,999 miles, they were obligated to make the repair anyway. Surely, I would not have missed something so obvious as the mileage difference in my posts about why my car was covered and why some others aren't. Why don't you go ahead and re-read the posts, should you have any other questions.
  • kenduffkenduff Posts: 19
    your right irina2.....rescue131 was misinformed. ...the tech did not know his facts. the repair was covered on the 80k closed... :lemon:
  • Noooo, as I said a million times, MY car was covered bc the Vin num was one of the ones recalled. If the tech was misinformed about the 150k issue, that had nothing to do with my repair. My Vin was recalled. I did post the ammended regulations, which state that some Sulev IIs (not just Pzev's) had the 150k, and perhaps my tech knew how that is applied.

    Good luck.
  • irina2irina2 Posts: 23
    Actually, I'm very grateful, rescue131, that you did all that footwork and looked into the emssions issue again. You may have something there, and only time will tell how the experts and Toyota decide to interpret/apply these regs. I am looking forward to your report here on the forum about your phone call to the tech and why he says the emissions issue applied to you and not others. Please follow through with your kind offer to aprise us.
  • marc1956marc1956 Posts: 2
    edited October 2011
    This is interesting! My 2006 HH is in the local Toyota dealership since my inverter and ECU failed pulling into my driveway on October 1. They still have it because they could not get all of the warning lights to go out. Today, they tell me that the lights are on because MY power steering ECU is bad and so is my 12 volt battery! The battery was installed by the same dealer in February of this year. So, how can your vehicle have the identical problems INCLUDING the power steering ECU and battery? My dealership has explained it this way: It was struck by lightning! Honestly, that is what they said must have happened. They want me to pay for the power steering ECU replacement but I am arguing that I am convinced that when the hybrid inverter and ECU failed, that sent a surge through the system that fried the power steering ECU and it should be covered under the hybrid warranty. Is it a coincidence that your 2006 HH with 89,000 miles and my 2006 HH with 92,000 miles have the identical repair issues? I may want to talk with you if you don't mind. Maybe we can BOTH get some satisfaction out of this! I have sent a voicemail and an email to the service manager so maybe he will consider my request. Very interesting. I should add that the vehicle is a Georgia vehicle, excellent shape and no corrosion for the power steering ECU.

    #138 of 228 On Our 3rd Inverter-Converter by dnvr_co_john May 12, 2011 (6:33 pm)

    Our 2006 HH Limited is now on its 3rd Inverter Converter assembly. The first one failed at 7200 miles as we were driving down from the mountains on I-70 into Denver. We were in the right lane & the Error stated flashing and the vehicle shut down with heavy traffic we had enough speed to get off at an exit. Three weeks ago we were headed up hill accelerating and at just over 40 MPH ther was a loud 'Bang" the Engine shut off and we got over to the shoulder. The VSC, Hybrid & AWD System Failures where all flashing. This time the Engine would restart but the throttle had no affect & shifting into Reverse or Drive did nothing. Luckily we only have 88,900 miles so the Warranty covered it again ($11000 here in CO).
    We also had a Power-steering ECU failure (due to corrosion ???) & a mysterious 12V battery failure that were not covered by Warranty. I am trying to convince my wife we need to dump this garbage before we have a failure that is not covered & the repairs are more than the trade-in value.
  • Hello All,

    Note: My HH is fully loaded, name the option and I have it, feel like a SUCKER. :(

    I'm new on this forum and I felt I have missed out on so much on Hybrid education after reading HH postings for about an hour this morning...

    My HH just crapped out on me on the highway @~55mph wabbling and then showing VSC and Brake Warning. Had it towed to dealer where they diagnose an HInverter replacement of ~$8500, found replacement part online for <$4000. I called Toyota, opened case#1111291497 and have a case manager (CM) look at my options but came back with no help. I believe Recall Number 11V342000 applied to my repair but CM claims that was only for inverter manufactured in US and mine was in Japan, my VIN is not included. My mileage of ~194250 is not helpful neither. I have logged a complaint with USDOT-NHTSA (My ODI Number is: 10437944
    ) and I hope all HH owner on this forum have done the same or should log complaints right a way to increase the NOISE to force Toyota to live up to a minimum expectation of accepting responsibility. I'm also looking into having a TV/Radio stations like NPR/CNN/FOX :) get involved. On a sad note, the dealer offered to give ~$3500 on the HH for another purchase. Your advice on my course of action to repair or JUNK the HH is welcome and appreciated, I'm in a tough financial position.

    Regards and good luck to all !!!
  • Don't let them screw with you over the VIN #.
    That problem should be covered by a recall.
    We have a 2007. It is a [non-permissible content removed] car!
    I love my 2004 Prius but the HH was and is still
    a looser.
  • Hey Steve,

    You and I in same boat, my 06 Prius with Package 5 is still going at 196k no issue except the water pump and pedal recals I fixed this past November.

    How do I stop them from screwing me with the HH? I'm about run out of options :(
  • I was at a stop light when it turned green and pressed on the accelerator. The car died, dash board cycles through a sequence of Check Hybrid System, Check AWD, Check VSC. The engine light is on, the VSC light is on (the one with the car followed by squiggly line), the circle with the exclamation point is on.

    Turned the vehicle off and then on, engine seems to start for about 3 seconds then cuts off and never comes back on. Light sequence starts again. Nothing to do but get it towed. I'm at 74,000 miles, so out of the drive train warranty, but still in the Hybrid warranty. Service tech at local shop put it on a battery check for the start battery and it said it was too low to hold a charge. Lights are very low in the cabine, headlights still seem to show some juice though.

    He put another device on the terminals to act as a battery to see if it would start. Engine seems like it wants to kick in, but makes a rather loud rattling sound, then dies. He put the diagnostic leads on the car and it shows multiple failures, including the Hybrid system, but it also shows other failures, so he's thinking it's something other than the Hybrid batteries failing.

    Is the above indicative of the inverter failure?


  • My 2006 died with an inverter failure a few months ago and your experience sounds like mine. Beware of multiple failures as a result of this event! Once Toyota replaced my inverter and Hybrid ECU, there were still multiple error messages. They told me that my power steering ECU had also died and needed to be replaced for $1,000! I told them that I felt the Hybrid failure had cause this and they told me, with a straight face, that my vehicle must have been struck by lightning and that is why I had multiple failures. They replace the power steering ECU and then discovered that the ECU for my climate control was ALSO bad! Another $1,000 repair at that! I did not have it repaired and traded it for a non-hybrid Highlander at a different dealer. The service writer at my Toyota dealer actually told me that I should get rid of it, after he told me that it had been struck by lightning! No evidence of a lightning strike, but they stuck to their version.

    I would say that you need to get your vehicle to a Toyota dealer and have them replace the inverter and likely the Hybrid ECU. Any other problems are likely caused by a lightning strike! No kidding! Good luck.
  • Depending upon the VIN number, it might fall into the recall batch. Even if it doesn't it's the same problem and they should fix it at no cost. I believe, the printed circuit board that controls the inverter fails due to improper soldering.
    When that happens the entire inverter is ruined. You might be able to find out on the internet. There definatley was a TSB that you should be able to find.
  • Had the same problems as you, read past posts....Toyota will not help you, we tried everything with them. They told us the reason the inverter went out was because we did not maintain good service, we did, and have the records to show...Only thing left to do was to file a class action law suit, which we did, Thalberg v Toyota. Might take a while but hang in there... :lemon:
  • Thanks for those that replied. Reputable mechanic (D&K Automotive Repair) in Leander, TX towed the car for me, tested the engine start battery and found it to be bad (would not hold a charge). They replaced it with the 3-year replacement battery for only $85, but said the remainder of the issues appeared to be related to the Hybrid system, which they could fix, but recommended I have the vehicle towed to Toyota instead, as they should fix this under warranty, cover the towing charge, and pay for a rental vehicle.

    First and foremost is finding a shop like D&K that will be honest with you. They could have taken me to the cleaners, but did the right thing.

    Vehicle is now at Champion Toyota in South Austin. Looking forward to tomorrow's diagnosis and a serious discussion with the head of the service department. Doesn't hurt that one of their master Hybrid technician's was the coach of my son's soccer team. Will fill y'all in once I talk with them.

  • Had the same set of circumstances as most of the other posts. We were stranded at night in a rural area with no street lights around. While we were standing away from the car (because we couldn't get it totally off the road) someone who couldn't see us in the dark actually tried to break into my car. Dealership says that the diagnostic indicated failure in all 6 ignition coils, but they offered to try to fix it by replacing one coil??? They also indicated that they had "checked" the inverter and it was fine. Anyone else hear this?
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