Toyota Highlander Maintenance and Repair

Karen_SKaren_S Member Posts: 5,092
Please post any problems and possible solutions you have experienced with your Highlander.

Owner's Clubs


  • robsfhlrobsfhl Member Posts: 12
    Thanks to all fellow highlander owners for the informative postings which were very influential in making my decision to purchase our silver limited 6 cyl 4wd. After 2100 miles I have only one complaint - city mileage. We live in a residential neighbor hood in San Francisco with few hills but lots of stop. We have been getting between 14 and 15 mpg in town. Just curious to know how others are doing in this regard and if anyone has any suggestions.
  • spali1spali1 Member Posts: 11
    robsfhl - My V6 @wd is getting 18-19.2 MPG in the city and I have under 1500 miles on it
  • awchan13awchan13 Member Posts: 44
    We live in the Santa Clara area, and we've been getting 17.4 MPG with a little over 2k miles on the car.
  • robsfhlrobsfhl Member Posts: 12
    Thanks to spali1 and awchan13 for your responses. Still trying to figure out what I can do to get better mileage. I have been used 87 and 89 octane gas with no difference. I wonder if premium would make any difference.
  • hialeahmariahialeahmaria Member Posts: 45
    I'm in the Miami, FL area (heavy traffic) and I'm at 2200+ miles and still getting an average of 16-17 mpg. I was using regular and switched to premium the last two tanks, with no difference in performance, just more $ per tank (LOL). By the way: 2WD V6.

  • dean2sm1dean2sm1 Member Posts: 34
    See my post under Highlander. More to come.
  • srbosrbo Member Posts: 1
    I just purchased a limited toyota highlander and like it alot except for one thing; there is an annoying click from around the top of my rear doors near the roof. When it is bad, I can get three to four clicks in a period of about twenty seconds. Fortunately, they usually go away after a minute or two. These things are pretty loud and quite annoying. Anybody got this problem? Sounds funny but it's true.
  • gwkisergwkiser Member Posts: 326
    Srbo, I've got a slight and randomly occurring click coming from the back also. With the help of my brother-in-law, he was able to narrow it down to the rear wing. A slight push up or down on it to simulate a strong wind or air flow generates a minor clicking sound, almost like the two or three plastic inserts in the cargo area might be rattling (our first suspicion). Don't know if this IS the same noise you're speaking about but it IS the source of our "clickity-clack". I'm adding this to the list for the dealer to fix. Good luck. BTW, our HL is a V6 2wd Limited.
  • gwkisergwkiser Member Posts: 326
    Really....No difference in performance when going up to premium???? Maybe it's a difference in formulas between you there and me here, but I had been reading all the discussion on pros and cons of u/g to premium, so I "fed" our V6 2WD HL with a tank of premium and DEFINITELY sensed an improvement in performance. OK, OK, so it didn't magically turn into a Ferrari or anything, but it did seem peppier. Gas mileage held about the same.

    So I did some quick math. Making the assumptions that we would put 16,000 miles per year, ONLY get 16 mpg average (very conservative assumptions) and that the difference in $ between the regular 87 octane and premium 92 octane would remain at 20 cents or less per gallon, then we would be spending $200 more per year for the premium. That's less that $4.00 per week. For me, I enjoy the "pep" and am willing to try this test a little longer to make sure that what I THINK I feel is indeed reality. Just my "20 cents" worth.
  • gunga64gunga64 Member Posts: 271
    Don't waste your dough on premium gas, it doesnt matter
  • dean2sm1dean2sm1 Member Posts: 34
    See post #2672 under Highlander
  • lynnl999lynnl999 Member Posts: 1
    The owner's manual says you are supposed to be able to remove the radio antenna by turning it counterclockwise. I can't budge the thing! This is a problem as I'd like to take it to a car wash. Anyone had a similar experience, and any ideas?

  • gwkisergwkiser Member Posts: 326
    Srbo (and others), I was able to remove the rear wing and used a silicon based lubricant (NOT CEMENT) around all the rubber gaskets/washers and then reinstalled the wing. Bingo! No more rear noise. Hope this helps. Oh, btw, access to 3 mounting bolts is easy....just remove the 3 round rubber grommets on the underside of the gate near the hinge areas. You'll have to persuade (very carefully) the 4th mount upward on the left side. It's a tapered snap-in plasic plug and receptical. Don't forget to lubricate both halves of this also.
  • brad_22brad_22 Member Posts: 154
    I don't know about removing the antenna, but the car wash shouldn't hurt it. Most nowadays are touch-free, anyway. Usually I scrub my HL by hand, but there was no damage of any kind when I put it through an auto-wash. Except for dried soap streaks. : )
  • lie2davelie2dave Member Posts: 1
    We have a Silver 4 Cyl Highlander all wheel drive, with rear spoiler, floor and cargo mats, console, color matched mud guards, roof rack and preferred package, keyless entry, etc, purchased in Pasco, WA for a flat $25k. Window was $27,376.00.

    So far so good, but the roof rack for us is purely ornamental. Does anyone know how remove the cross bars on the roof rack?

    The Dealer we bought it from said they would "try" but I chose not to take that chance. They were installed at the factory, but there has to be way to remove them. We would like to remove them to reduce the wind noise.

    Our mileage is about 21 all around driving. Have not gone on an extended trip yet. Have not had any problems. We love the vehicle.
  • dan1555dan1555 Member Posts: 9
    yes I have also found that there is definetly an increase in performance when you use premium gas. Since I don't pay for my own gas, I have no problem using premium :)
  • robsfhlrobsfhl Member Posts: 12
    We have been experiencing problems with the AT release button (the button you press with your thumb to engage the automatic transmission). It occasionally has been locking up so that a great amount of pressure is needed to depress it. We brought it in to the dealer and it of course worked perfectly. The technician pushed it in about 50 times in row with no problem and said he couldn't find anything wrong. He told us that if the problem happens again to bring it back and that we would have to leave it in the shop for two days. Has anybody else had this problem or have an idea as to what could be causing this?
  • awchan13awchan13 Member Posts: 44
    I've noticed a clicking also, but it seems to be coming from the sunroof. It happens a lot with it tilted or closed. If I push on the sunroof, I can sometimes recreate the noise. Anybody have the same problem? Almost sounds like springs or wires snapping.
  • kmorgan7kmorgan7 Member Posts: 2
    I must say, premium gas is the way to go. Just this past weekend I drove from Sacramento to L.A. and made about 305 miles on a full tank of gas. But when I switch over to premium and the mileage increased to 340 miles on a full tank. That is impressive. Even during city driving there has been a significant increase. Performance....what can I say? Excellent!
  • gpaquettegpaquette Member Posts: 2
    On June 1st, we bought a 2001 Toyota Highlander Limited from Bernardi Toyota, Framingham, MA. Had the best experience with a car dealership that we have ever had. We got a wonderful deal on a great vehicle.

    I really have only one complaint at this point and hope someone has an answer before I have to visit the dealership. We are getting a plastic sounding clicking noise which seems to eminate from the passenger side, back seat area. At first I thought it was the sunroof because the first time I heard it was when I had the sunroof open for the first time. Then I thought it might be the seatbelts, but I've played with those and can't get the noise to occur when I'm fooling around. Help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated before I head to the dealership.

    Secondly, I am looking for a site for aftermarket conoles that will fit the Highlander. I am not interested in the Toyota one as it makes no sense to me to have to keep the lid open when I'm using the cupholders.
  • octothorpeoctothorpe Member Posts: 11
    gpaquette, I think I saw some earlier posts where people heard clicking noises that you described and diagnosed it as coming from the rear spoiler. Does your highlander have one per chance?

    BTW, thanks also for the reference about Bernadi Toyota in Framingham. I'm also shopping in Massachusetts and will look into them. Is there someone you can recommend over there?
  • gpaquettegpaquette Member Posts: 2
    octothorpe, thanks for the spoiler info, we'll give it a try.

    We first dealt with David Khan, Internet Guide for Bernardi, as I contacted them first through an email. His response was very quick. The next person was John Vanella in sales who helped us through the process, which was quick,and to the point. My husband & I agonized over the the decision to go to the Limited version. John was patient and allowed us space with no pressure. We didn't get any pressure when we walked into Finance to complete the transaction! We purchased our vehicle at 8:30PM on a Thurs. evening and picked it up at 5:30 the next day. They even had to complete an emblem 'gold package' we wanted installed when we picked up the car. They were amazing. Good luck, as I stated before we love the choice we made and it happened to start on our list at #3 of potential purchases. Right now we're getting 21 on highway and about 19 around for gas mileage. Now if I could get rid of that clicking.......
  • anthony921anthony921 Member Posts: 40
    I just picked up my HL on June 13th. I love it!! The ride and sheer feeling of quality are very apparent. I traded in a 1998 Sienna for the HL and my wife has a 2001 Rav 4. My question is this; on the HL I notice it takes considerably more pressure on the brake pedal to stop it unlike the Sienna or the RAV. Has anyone else found this to be true on their HL? Even when applying the parking brake, it goes down very far. I realize that the HL has four wheel disc but not sure if this normal. Any help in this area would be welcome!
  • gwkisergwkiser Member Posts: 326
    gpaquette, please scroll up and look at posts #9 and #14 on this board. I was able to solve my "clicking noise". Good luck.
  • vikoovikoo Member Posts: 4
    I bought a new HL V6 4x4 recently. I noticed that after driving for a couple of miles when the engine heats up, the temperature gauge needle goes up to the middle marking (between the min and max.) I previously owned a Honda Accord (4 cyl) and the temp. meter needle would be always below the half marking no matter how long I drove non-stop.
    Is my HL getting overheated or is it typical for all V6s? Any comments?
  • alsopalsop Member Posts: 38
    I also recently switched from a Honda Accord 4 cyl to my HL V-6, although mine is FWD; and, I have noticed the same thing you have, Vikoo - my Accord temp gauge would always be way low no matter what, and my HL goes up to about half. Hopefully, either someone can answer your question inquiring if this is typical or not for all the V-6s, or at least others will hopefully do a posting saying their's also goes to about half. But, so far I am surmising the gauge just goes a little higher in the Highlander verses the Accord and other cars. Hopefully, we'll see other postings saying the same thing!
  • shl72953shl72953 Member Posts: 53
    Ditto the comments by alsop.
  • brad_22brad_22 Member Posts: 154
    Nothing is wrong with the engines. The temp reading is normal around the middle.
  • toyotawalttoyotawalt Member Posts: 15
    An old Toyota hand here. All three of the Toyotas I've owned have had similar gauges. They go up halfway at normal temps, and then they stay there. It startled me too, at first.

  • goldstongoldston Member Posts: 110
    Has anyone else had problems setting the home link garage door opener?

    We have a "genie" door opener with a rolling code and is about 5 years old. I know the "learn" button works due to that I had to replace a lost remote opener. I followed the instructions from both manuals (genie & highlander) and had got zip....

    Just wondering if anyone else had a simular problem before I ask the dealership to check the home link to see if it's functioning and feel like an idiot when they tell me it must just me... :-))

    Thanks for any thoughts or ideas.
  • alsopalsop Member Posts: 38
    Like goldston (Philip), I could not AT FIRST get the Homelink to work with my garage door opener, and I had a thought on why not, but it turned out to be wrong, so I am revising my posting! Philip, or others, I don't know if the following info will help or is even correct, but it is a thought. My garage door opener is is not a Genie, but it is another popular brand with a "learn" a quick background, last fall I went to a Home Depot and bought a key pad remote garage door opener. Once I got it home, I discovered by trying to set it up that my model of the garage door system operates on an uncommon remote control/radio frequency, even though it is a popular brand garage door opener. For example, I think a common frequency is 310 MHz for some garage door openers, but mine is a few frequencies up from that, so I ended up taking the key pad opener back to Home Depot for a refund. To get a remote for my system, I would have to special order one from somewhere, such as my garage door dealer. Fast forward to the Highlander - could it be, POSSIBLY, that not every possible frequency garage doors work on be programmed into the HL Homelinks? Just a thought, I do not know. I followed my HL and garage door opener instructions a couple of times...I finally got it programmed, on the left hand button, although which button probably does not matter. Also, just FYI, on the back of my garage door opener (the opener itself, the motor housing), by the learn light, the frequency it operates on is shown...that is how I found out it was not compatible with remotes using the more common frequencies (the remote I tried last fall had the freqs listed on it, too, which is when I began to learn about all this). If there was someway we could find out what freqs the Homelink system in the HL is programmed to use, we would know for sure this is the problem. Just a thought, and perhaps the Home Link Web site might have some info. /Ron
  • stratamarrstratamarr Member Posts: 2
    I just programmed the Homelink on my HL. Took some fooling with the opener but I got it to work on a "rolling code" with the buttons. BTW, according to, the frequencies it works with is "288-399 mH" which I believe is MHz. Check your owners manual for the frequency. There's also a nifty Adobe Acrobat file on "Getting Started with Homelink". I'm just happy mind worked because I enherited the door opener when I bought my house.
  • goldstongoldston Member Posts: 110
    I'm going to check out the Homelink web site, print the adobe acrobat file, look at the back of my opener for the operating frequency and head out to the garage before it gets to hot out there.
    The garage temps. here in Phoenix are brutal in the summer time.

    I'll post my results... hopefully in a few minutes... :-))

  • goldstongoldston Member Posts: 110
    Well, I've still not been able to get the Home Link and my Genie opener to talk to each other yet, but I haven't given up.

    I've already sent a email to Home Link customer service and well as one to Genie. Let's see what they have to tell me.

    I believe it may be as Ron suggested above that the 1996 Genie frequency may not be in the Home Link range, but we'll see what both Home Link and Genie have to say. I'll post there responses here as soon as I get them. Untill then (and maybe after) I'll continue to use my "clip on the visor" type opener.

    Thanks again for all the help,
  • goldstongoldston Member Posts: 110
    I finally got through to Genie customer service and was told they were aware of the problem with pre-1997 Genie openers and Home Link, but gave me the 800 number to Home Link to call and resolve the problem. (Home Link 800-355-3515)

    If you have a pre-1997 Genie Intellicode opener you have to combine both programming instructions from the Toyota manual.

    Step 1. Push both outside buttons until you clear all programming in the Home Link opener. This takes about 20 seconds and you a rapid flashing LED.

    Step 2. With your "clip on the visor" opener in one hand and your other hand on the Home Link button (your choice of the three) press both opener & Home Link button simultaneously until you get a rapid flashing LED. Mine took about 7 seconds.

    Step 3. Now go to you garage door opener housing and find and press the "learn" or "training" button. The LED will start flashing and you have 30 seconds to program from you Home Link button in the Highlander.

    Step 4. Firmly press the same button you programmed in step 2 above for two seconds (release), then again for two seconds (release) and finally a third time for two seconds for a total of three times holding the button for 2 seconds each time you push it.

    At this time my garage door opener activated with the onboard Home Link in the Highlander.

    I hope this is helpful.

  • goldstongoldston Member Posts: 110
    I agree that a search engine here at Edmunds to look for "key" words through out the various topics would/could have prevented me from re-inventing the wheel.

    And of course I would have welcomed your help and direction that you provided in your post.

    But, it was a great learning experance and now this information is the Toyota/Owner' Club/Toyota Highlander Owners thread to help those Highlander owners out there.

    Best Regards,
  • alsopalsop Member Posts: 38
    Wow, Philip, this is a true case of a bit of persistence paying off! I am glad to hear you got the HomeLink working with the garage door opener, and perhaps others will indeed benefit from your experience and info. Quite a sequence to go through...again, glad it worked out. Thanks for sharing the results. /Ron
  • oma6oma6 Member Posts: 1
    We bought a 2001 Highlander Limited in April from Bob Thomas Motors in The Dalles and just love it. Our experience with the dealer was first rate and we could not have asked for better service.

    At about 2000 miles, I noticed a very faint whine in the transmission which was audible at only about 5 mph or less. Now, at 4100 miles, it has begun a chirping and whining sound that is quite noticeable at the same speed. Having always had a 5 speed before, I'm unfamiliar with automatic transmission sounds, but this doesn't seem like it should be normal. I will probably end up taking it to our Toyota service department and have it checked out. Has anyone else had this problem?

    Lastly, we have had nothing but headaches trying to get a center console for it. We purchased the car with the expectation that it had one in it. When it arrived from a dealer in Roseburg, it did not. The folks at Thomas Motors said they would order one and would contact us when it arrived. Well, Toyota Mfg. informed them that it cannot be purchased as an "optional item"... it only comes installed when the car is ordered from the factory with one requested. This makes no sense to us, because there is no place to put things like cell phones, cd's, etc. except in the glove box which is on the opposite side of the car or in the doors which are not "user friendly" for small items. Anyway, if anyone knows where I might find a good after market console I would appreciate it. Bob Thomas Motors is continuing to try to locate one for us.
  • dichelledichelle Member Posts: 25
    I did have a problem with my button sticking, or thought I did--sometimes it just wouldn't push. I read the manual and learned that one must apply the brakes before shifting out of park. I have found that I must step on the brake pretty hard or the button will not depress. When I am careful to apply the brakes firmly, I don't have a problem with the transmission button. Don't know if this is your problem or not.
  • gunga64gunga64 Member Posts: 271
    fits perfectly between the seats of my highlander at pepboys.It is made by rubber
    queen number 0-71897-51371 cost $19.99 and has two cupholders.The base is a little over 8 inches,but narrower at the top,push it in from the rear seat floor and it fits perfect.

    Sounds like it beats paying 100+ for orginal
  • dean2sm1dean2sm1 Member Posts: 34
    Have read with interest posts about Homelink. These inspired me to try again to program garage lights so they could be turned on and off with Homelink. If any of you are interested, I'll post method I worked out that works great, using a couple of cheap Radioshack items.
  • gunga64gunga64 Member Posts: 271
    Is the toyota financing a good deal or is it some trick. We went and looked at a toyota last saturday the sales guy said that it was the last day you could get .9% financing. We still decided to wait. He calls me up today(weds) and says they still have the .9% financing, are these guys trustworthy at all. I have found them in a ton of lies now.
  • robsfhlrobsfhl Member Posts: 12
    Thanks Dichelle, I have made a conscious effort to step on the brake firmly before shifting out of park and have not experienced the problem since. I guess I should read the owners manual more carefully.
  • dichelledichelle Member Posts: 25
    Glad it helped. I know it upset the heck out of me when my button stuck--I had gotten into my beautiful new vehicle to drive it for about the third time ever, and I couldn't even get it backed out of the garage!
  • dmicheldmichel Member Posts: 6
    I have the alarm with the glass breakage sensor, but I cannot seem to set it off or locate the microphone. It makes me wonder if I really got what I paid for. Any thoughts?
  • b717b717 Member Posts: 38
    The sensor is plugged into a pre-existing part of the wiring harness. You can access it by removing the right hand cover panel at the bottom of the center area of the dash lower extension. This cover is adjacent to where a passengers left foot would be when seated. Two fasteners are all you need to loosen and then remove the cover. The sensor is mounted on a plastic disc the size of a quarter. The back has some foam double stick tape that as several of us have previously reported, does not hold well to the back of the access cover , and can come loose and allow the sensor to fall to the floor.
    The sensor is not as sensitive as the one in my Camry, in the Camry, I can tap on the glass and get a trigger to occurr, not so in the Highlander. I did find that if the sensor was "exposed" or in view, I could get a trigger to occurr. With it mounted back in the "proper" location, it does not seem to not "hear" as well as when exposed. Hope this is of some help.
  • maulanamaulana Member Posts: 55
    dear folks...

    We got our HL about two weeks ago, and have taken it on a 1700 mile trip so far. Rides like a dream...

    one small annoying factor, which I was wondering if anyone has any solutions for: when we first start driving, there is a loud "clicking" sound which comes from the roof. I have read the previous posts (#9, #14, etc.) where people talk about clicking sounds associated with the rear spoiler, but our does not have one. It definitely seems to come from the sunroof.

    Does anyone else hear something like this? any solutions?

    otherwise, a great great family car.

    many thanks,

  • 1122334411223344 Member Posts: 13
    I have also heard the clicking noise from the roof you refer to. When I heard it I had the air conditioner going full blast and figured maybe the sunroof was contracting or expanding causes the pop noise, but that is probably totally wrong. So I don't know what that noise is!?
  • drivingisgooddrivingisgood Member Posts: 1
    I have a annoying problem. My alarm seems to be acting up quite alot. I never lock it using anything but the remote, but then when I try to unlock it with the remote it doesn't. The lights flash twice and the doors don't unlock (I check everytime). Then, I press it again and I hear the doors presumably unlock, only when I go to open the doors it's locked. Then I try to unlock the door with my key and it opens only to greet me with the blaring alarm. And one other thing, this never happens to my wife so she thinks I'm crazy. In fact I had her try it and it didn't work so she's convinced that I lock the doors with the button on the door everytime I leave the car (her only feasible explanation but sadly untrue). Can someone please help me!!!!
  • andrec8513andrec8513 Member Posts: 16
    Try reprogramming your remote. I bet that will fix it.
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