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Toyota Highlander Maintenance and Repair



  • Well, Things have worsened...and then got better.
    About 2 weeks after replacing Alternator and Battery, All my idiot lights would come on when I got on the expressway. All dash lights (MIL malfunction indicator lights) would come on, VSC,tire press, anti skid, brakes lites). But during around town driving, lights would go off. Next day, went to dinner, lites came on during expressway ride. After dinner was driving in parking lot and lites came on, and VSC started locking up brakes, and limiting power to engine?? Pulled ABS fuse, and drove home, took to dealer next day. They diagnosed as a bad stereing wheel position switch ($340 part $300 labor=$700) Talked and confirmed with mechanic, he said definetly is the problem. Had it R&R'd, next day, lights came on again. Took mechanic for drive and showed him problem. He used scan tool, found small metal piece in right wheel ABS pick-up. Problem resolved. 2 weeks no issue. They claim steering position switch was bad. I think I bought a $340 part that I didn't need. Thought I'd share my experience...Still pretty happy with vehicle, only $1000 total in repairs in 80K miles...not bad. Note when ECM gets a fault, all MIL lites come on... :confuse:
  • ft20ft20 Posts: 15
    Just wanted to give an update on my dealings with Toyota regarding this Transmission Leak. After being denied any assistance by the reps from the customer assistance center, I wrote a letter to Jim Lentz's (Toyota North America CEO) office. It's funny bcs I also forwarded the letter to the customer assistance center. They first called me to tell me that there is no way to appeal the decision. Than within 2 hours of that, I received a second call from the corporate office promising me to investigate the issue and later informing that they would cover 50% of the cost of repair. I thought it was still unfair that I had to pay $600 for a faulty part that Toyota had installed in the care in the first place. However, under the circumstances, that was the best I could do. I have had the repair work done by the dealer and sent in the receipts for reimbursement. Then they called me to tell me that they would not cover the cost of wheel alignment or shop supplies that are on the invoice. Essentially, they are paying about 40% of the expenses! So for anyone else dealing with this problem, this may offer some help!

    Also, when I dropped off the car at the dealer, I asked them to look into the heating issue that a lot of you here have been mentioning. I have had this problem too and after reading the posts here noticed that the nut under the temp control knob was loose. I did not tighten it, wanted to see what the dealer would do. No surprise, they told me that the whole heating module would need to be replace! I have since then spent 2 minutes to tighten the nut and the heater is working just fine.

    This is my second Toyota, and this whole experience has left a bitter taste in my mouth. I would have to think twice before buying Toyota again.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    That sounds as if you are low on coolant to me....that would be my first thing to check.
  • lucky_777lucky_777 Posts: 205
    Looks like $560 I paid for extended Toyota warranty on my 08HL is much better investment then I thought.
  • toyotagaltoyotagal Posts: 215
    I have had my 07 Highlander 9 months now and not a single problem. It in fact is the best vehicle I have ever owned. I elected to not get the Extended Warranty, at least until the warranty that comes with the HL is about to expire. And only then "possibly" if I have had some trouble.
  • Someone out there must have removed the spark plugs from the firewall side of the V6 engine.
    I would like to know how its done
  • I have an 06 Highlander limited with all the toys. The radio has the in-glass diversity antennae and is an absolute POS. Will a fender mounted unit improve radio performance?
  • tsotsitsotsi Posts: 98
    I sympathize with the trouble you are having with your Toyota dealer. It seems to me that in trying to overtake GM in sales, Toyota is making many of the same mistakes that are causing GM to lose out in the marketplace. They ignore individual owners, apparently forgetting that we are the ones, when added together, that give them their sales success.

    On the heat control issue, I hope your problem is solved but would like to point out that most of the postings have indicated that this is a two-part problem.

    First: The nut works loose and the heat control rheostat slops around on its mounting. This alone is not enough to immediately cause a problem, but if left loose it puts stress on the wire connections and they eventually break. That is when the heat control becomes intermittent. It seems that in your case, just tightening the nut moved the control back into contact with the wires. I hope they continue to make contact.

    Second: If the wires are no longer making proper contact, they can easily be repaired, as described in Tundrasolutions. It should not be necessary to replace the entire panel. It is really a DIY job, but if you lack basic mechanical skills, it wouldn't hurt to get some help. Once you see how the bezel pops off and the screws are exposed it is pretty straightforward if you have a screw driver and soldering iron.

    In my opinion this problem should have been solved by Toyota a long time ago. At least dealers should be checking the heat control during routine maintenance. I hate it when companies look at me as a "profit center" and forget that I can easily take my business elsewhere. A really good dealer -- are there any of those left? -- would follow forums like this one and learn from them. The idea that thousands of Highlander customers know about annoying problems that the dealers and mechanics are oblivious to is astounding.

    Is there at least one dealer out there who will respond and tell us why you are ignoring these problems?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Would you be so kind as to let us know when/if you find a dealer who doesn't consider you a "profit center", I've been looking for one of those for a long time now.
  • phrosutphrosut Posts: 122
    I sure agree with you about the in-glass antenna! Our '01 is the same. We took a trip in it with people from the area we were travelling and they were suggesting particular radio stations and we couldn't pull them in. They drive that rural road daily and had no problems getting good reception in their Suburu Outback.

    Be sure and post your results here if you try the fender mount.

  • tsotsitsotsi Posts: 98
    It occurred to me that none of the postings on this forum say anything about how to remove the climate control panel. Trying to figure out how to remove items when you can't see any screws or bolts always drives me crazy. On the Highlander you have to remove the climate control panel bezel (or surround) to see the bolts that hold it in place. The best instructions I have seen on removing the bezel are on this website:
  • I own a 2002 Highlander V6 4x2.
    A minor but annoying problem started recently. When turning a steering wheel, especially when a vehicle is moving slowly, I hear this
    very annoying squeaking noise from steering wheel area. It's hard to
    describe the actual sound, but to me it's very annoying!

    I've searched Highlander Maintenance & Repair Archive and found a
    solution! And it's very easy!

    Go to any auto parts store and buy a SILICONE SPRAY. I was able to
    find one for less than $4.00 for 12oz. can. If you look under dash near
    steering wheel is located, you will find a shaft joining to the floor of a
    vehicle. All you have to do is spray around the shaft and rubber area,
    where shaft is joining the floor. You might need a flashlight for a easier
    view. This chemical-smell is kind of strong, by the way.

    There are thousands of these Highlanders out there and I am sure this
    problem must have occured to many of them.

    Now, my wife is very happy and annoying noise is gone! :)
  • That squeaking noise is the front brake pad indicator telling you your brake pads need to be replaced :surprise:
  • keymastr,

    I am not a mechanic, but I know what brake pad indicator sounds like,
    when brake pads need to be replaced.

    This noise I described is From Inside The Vehicle-Around Steering
    Wheel. Trust me.

    Thanks for trying to help. :)
  • ocq35man,
    Thanks for the idea. I know EXACTLY what noise you are talking about. Drives me nuts! I will give it a shot. I alredy have the spray...
  • byumgrbyumgr Posts: 14
    On the 2005 Highlander Limited, is there a serviceable differential and if so, how often should it be serviced?
  • lmacmillmacmil Posts: 1,758
    Had the oil changed in my 2004 4WD V6 yesterday. When I paid, the service writer noted that the tranny fluid is starting to discolor and suggested I have it replaced at my next oil change. The vehicle is 4 years old but only had 31,000 miles on it. It did see a lot of short trips in the years my wife was working less than 3 miles from home.

    I believe the owner's manual service interval for transmission service is 100,000 miles. I would have probably done it at 50K. Could the fluid need replacing at 30K miles or is this just the typical service department trying to drum up business?
  • lmacmillmacmil Posts: 1,758
    The owner's manual should tell you.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    The owner's manual should tell you.

    That may be inconvenient if one does not actually possess an owner's manual. Perhaps you could tell us what yours' says about it? :)

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Actually, it could be either. If in fact, the fluid is changing color substantially, there could be an internal problem that needs looking at. If the fluid smells burned, you definitely have a problem, the fluid should be changed, but you may have early failure in your future. If in fact, the service interval is 100,000 on it, then the only way you should need to service it sooner, is if it's under severe operating conditions, stop- & go driving, excessive shifting due to mountainous driving daily, or towing.

    Now, the service advisor could be trying to drum up business - certainly not unheard of, and the fluid will naturally change color as it gets dirty anyway. There is the possibility though, that he's got your best interests at heart, and is trying to prevent early failure. Get another opinion, or service it. It NEVER hurts to change oil or fluids.
  • lmacmillmacmil Posts: 1,758
    "That may be inconvenient if one does not actually possess an owner's manual. Perhaps you could tell us what yours' says about it?"

    The manual/maintenance schedule is also available online at The only thing it says about differential oil is to inspect it every 12,000 miles or so. There is no scheduled change in the first 100,000 miles. I didn't go beyond that. :P
  • I looked at my Maintenance Manual for my 07 Highlander. And this correct. There is no maintenance other than a "check" for the first 100K. In fact I coud not see any scheduled maintenance for changing the differential oil ever. Unless you had a tow vehicle or drove in sand etc.
  • tsotsitsotsi Posts: 98
    Actually, the owner's manual doesn't tell you. Toyota has, for some unfathomable reason, not put maintenance intervals in the Highlander owner's manual. They provided a separate book called a "Scheduled Maintenance Guide." And it is not specific for Highlanders -- it is for "SUVs and Trucks."

    Considering the number of Highlanders Toyota sells, I don't think it is asking too much for a vehicle-specific maintenance guide. Much as I like my Highlander I have to say that Honda does (or at least used to do) a much better job on manuals. A Honda station wagon I bought in '94 was specific not only for the Accord, but for the wagon.

    To me, this is just another example of the poor management that seems to pervade most manufacturers. Now that low-volume publishing is so easy and cheap -- supermarkets produce store-specific advertising in color -- it is had to understand why car makers, along with appliance manufacturers, refuse to provide their customers with item-specific manuals.
  • lmacmillmacmil Posts: 1,758
    The maintenance guide is pretty clear to me. The schedule applies to all SUVs/trucks and exceptions for specific vehicles are noted at each mileage interval plus for severe service or towing applications.

    There's a reason Toyota is the most profitable automaker and it's because they economize where it makes sense. A "one size fits all" maintenance schedule is one place it does.
  • just got a 2005 w/ 29K miles. Anyone know if there is a requirement for any scheduled maintenance to keep warranty in force. no manuals came with it, but dealer said it was under warrnty for 60k miles. tnx
  • tsotsitsotsi Posts: 98
    Toyota has a good website that gives the maintenance schedule for Highlanders. It is:
  • I have a 2004 Toyota Highlander AWD. At 44,000 miles I had some kind of electrical problem where the tire gauge light and SRL light came on, and I could not use the automatic door lock switch. I took it to the dealership and there was some kind of short in the wires. After much debate they fixed the problem. I had the extended warranty, and there was no charge. I am now at 50,000 miles and the problem is back. The service department is telling me that water is getting in at a junction box on the left panel and there is evidence of corrosion.They keep asking me if the car was in a flood or accident. I assured them it was not. They were able to connect and reconnect the wires and eliminate the problem for now. They also applied a sealer. They told me if it happens again they would replace the junction box under warranty. Does anyone else have this problem? Any comments ?
  • lgjavalgjava Posts: 48
    They asked YOU if the car was in a flood?! That's a hot one! Well, anyway they repaired it. I can't understand how you'd get corrosion, but still the gaskets aren't all that great on the windows and such. No electrical stuff here, but then how many colors is my car? Or better still, how many cars is my car??
  • I have a 08 HL Limited 4WD with only 200 miles on it so far. I have been getting 14-15 MPG as well. I am hoping that the mileage will go up as well. I got rid of a gorgeous Lexus GX 470 that guzzled gas, but this vehicle doesn't seen to do that much better so far.
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