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Toyota Highlander Maintenance and Repair



  • I seemed to have stupid problem which I could not figure out. In 2008 HL air filter compartment is not closed using simple clips which I used to see in other cars, but 2 bolts. I was trying to unscrew them, but every possible force I was applying to them had no effect, so I started to think may be I just do not understand how it should be opened.

    Could anyone advise please?
  • Thanks, that is helpful. I intend to take it to another shop. I do not set the parking brake when left unattended. I think you are right that the stuck piston is what is responsible for the premature wear on the pads.
  • I know this thread is from several months ago,but if you're still reading it,I want to say that I am having similar problems with Toyota's unresponsiveness. I have a 2002 Highlander,V6 AWD,purchased new 6.5 years ago,which just turned over to 62K miles. Although the car is performing well,I am told it is leaking transmission fluid AND also slowly leaking P/S fluid,requiring a torque seal replacement,a new P/S pump,plus an alignment. The total cost for all this is over $2300! I had done every maintenance,lube,etc. on time,with the Toyota service people;the car had never been driven off-road or been in an accident,etc. I am really disappointed,because I had bought the big story that Toyotas are such solid,reliable cars.I've never had any car that just fell apart this way,when still at such low miles. I asked Toyota to assist with these repair charges,and they basically replied, "Awwwww....too bad. But we won't help you." Now I plan to write a letter to Jim Lentz's office,but doubt it will do any good,since the regional mgr.has already said no help is forthcoming. Their position is that I'm out of warranty,so it's my bad luck. I've told them that I had originally been so excited to be buying a Toyota because of its great reputation for being well-made,and believed that a well-cared-for Toyota would last a good many years without major problems. I guess this is my first AND last Toyota. Does anyone out there have any suggestions? :(
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    You can buy, and refill, a lot of ATF and PS fluid for even 10% of that $2300 invoice.
  • Next time buy a FWD instead of an AWD. That may help with the transmission leak problem. You said you were "told" that the fluids were leaking? They must not be too bad if you didn't see it yourself. Look for signs of leakage where you park your car. Add fluids as needed for now. If the leaks get severe, then consider repairs. You said you were also "told" you needed an alignment? How good or bad is your steering or does it drive OK? Is the steering wheel straight? Does it pull left or right? How are the tires wearing. Any excessive tire wear on the inside, outside or tire tread feathering? I would not believe what I was told without strong evidence to substantiate such repairs.
    Good Luck,
    E.D. in Sunny Florida
    I've got a 2004 HL Limited V6 Auto FWD with 110,000 miles, and it's almost perfect.
  • mikefm58mikefm58 Posts: 2,882
    I too was "told" by my Honda dealer that my '99 CRV with 135K miles was leaking anit-freeze, brake fluid from the master cylinder, and oil from the valve cover gasket. Yet when I check these fluids, which I have done religiously since owning it, I've NEVER had to put any of those fluids in and also have never seen any of those fluids in my drive way.

    Someone else explained it best to me. As a car ages, the seals do get "some" leakage. When I looked at my master cylinder, I did see what appeared like seapage around it, yet it was still full of brake fluid. Now, could it start leaking like a crazy? Maybe. But I wasn't about to sink a grand or more in to the vehicle.

    The others here have given good advice. Just check these fluids once or twice a week and fill as needed. I'd bet you won't put hardly anything at all in. Also if you park in a garage, put some card board under where you park and check this for any drips.

    And don't waste your time trying to get Toyota to ante up. The O2 sensor went on my son's Tacoma when it was 3K miles and one month off of warranty and they wouldn't help. They just referred it to the dealer who wouldn't return my calls. I currently have four Toyotas in my household and will NEVER own another one. Between the quality issues I've seen and the arrogant dealers being a royal pain in my [non-permissible content removed], they can go pound salt before I buy another one.
  • typesixtypesix Posts: 320
    The O2 sensor should have been covered under federal emissions warranty, which runs longer than basic warranty.
  • mikefm58mikefm58 Posts: 2,882
    I tried that, the emissions warranty is spelled out in my manual and confirmed by the dealer. It was out of warranty.
  • byumgrbyumgr Posts: 14
    I have always had the engine air filter checked/replaced by the service dept. But for the life of me when I look under the hood I can not find where the engine air filter is located. There is no way that it is behind the radiator. I do know how to change the cabin air filter. the owners manual does not show or tell me how to change the engine air filter. So can anyone please tell me or even supply a photo of where it is in the engine compartment? thank you.
  • I u/s the timing belt should be replaced around 90K. I have a V6 AWD w/ about 93K. I wondering if someone can tell me what I could expect to pay to have the timing belt replaced and are there other belts that are included in this. AND is there anything else that should be done at the same time as the timing belt because of convenience, for example the water pump. Any help would be much appreciated.
  • Thank you very much for your picture diary. I just changed the belt on my 2003 highlander, and your pictures were VERY helpful E.D.!

    I second the point about needing the right tools and experience, it's not a job for the faint hearted or inexperienced. I found I needed a number of different lengths of sockets - not just extensions, and I needed to use my wobblers to get at a few of the tougher bolts.

    I have a couple of tips to add:

    My haynes manual said to remove the steering pump. I found this too difficult - too hard to get at all the bolts through the pulley with the engine in the car. Instead I found I could move the bracket that tightens the belt to get it out of the way of the various bolts I needed to reach - the ones on the timing belt cover, and the belt tensioner. Bit of a fiddle to get the tensioner out with it there, but it did come out.

    For that annoying aluminum bracket bolted and held with studs onto the block, the one in the way of the timing belt. I didn't have to remove the studs to get it off (I didn't have that stud remover, what is that E.D.?). I found that by jacking up the engine from the pan, then using my body weight on the chassis, the engine would move up slightly. This gave just enough room around the frame to slip the bracket off the studs. Whew! Replacement is the reverse of disassembly :).

  • I have had my HLmtd since Memeorial Day. This past week is the first time that the SRS warning light and message has been coming on while driving. At first I was able to get it to not stay on by restraing the car. I guess the 'hard boot' worked for about 2 days. Now that soes not seem to do the trick.

    My search on the internet and other boards has uncovered this issue with past years Highlanders and past years other Toyos. So far the local service managers have not been helpful, I have an appointment on Tuesday, telling me anything about this.

    Can anyone shed some light on this for me.

    Thanks :sick:
  • Yes, the PS pump merely has to be loosened and pushed to the side, to allow enough room for the timing belt tensioner to come off. Pictures #08131, 08132 & 08133 shows me removing the PS bolt from above using a long extension on the rachet handle for leverage and being able to reach into the tight spot.

    The studs that hold that annoying aluminum bracket on are equally annoying. Picture #08120 shows the end of a still installed stud, and you can see the end of the stud is not plain, but has a male TORX head on it. Picture #08125 shows two studs removed, so that you can see the whole stud with the male TORX head end. Pictures #08121, 08122 & 08123 show me loosing the studs with a TORX socket on the end of a 1/4 inch drive breaker bar. Those things were very tight! I can't remember the TORX socket size I used, but if you have a set of them, you will have the one that you need. The studs are only turned enough until they are loose, and left in the bracket, because there is not enough room for them to slide out of the bracket. Once all of them are loose, you can then lift the bracket out with the studs in the bracket, as in photo #'s 08124 & 08126. These studs and their threads are subject to a lot of corrosion, so when I put them back in, I coated the studs with a liberal coating of never seize compound.

    Reference messege # 4335 for information on how to access the photos.

  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    I would suspect the "clockspring" electrical connection to the stearing wheel airbag.
  • rmb26rmb26 Posts: 3
    I was told by a mechanic that my 2002 2x4 V6 highlander is leaking oil via the main seal in the back of the engine. Another mechanic told me it would cost between $1600 and $1800 to fix because he has to remove the transmission and engine to get to it (about 18 hrs of labor). I called the dealer nearby and was told that the part was only about $80 but that the labor involved in removing the engine and transmission was about $2200 - $2400. I read a post that indicated that this leak can be caused by putting in too much oil. HAs anyone heard this? the reason I ask is because I took it to Jiffy Lube in late August. Shortly after that, the check engine light went on. It cost me about $190 to find out it was a loose hose, which probably occured at Jiffy Lube. If this new problem is due to overfilling it with oil, I may need to look elsewhere for my regular maintenance.
  • Ah, I didn't know there was such a thing as male torx heads, thanks E.D.

    I'm not sure you understood my tip - there's no need to loosen or remove the power steering pump at all, as long as you don't mind pushing it up and down on the belt adjuster to get it out of the way a few times. I used a piece of metal tube and a hammer. Only the adjustment bracket need be removed.

    Same with the aluminum bracket - there's no need to remove the studs from the block, it's possible to slip the bracket off the studs by pushing up on the engine/down on the chassis - there's just enough room. Of course it's important to remember to fit the bolts beforehand, they can be a fiddle otherwise!

  • Please add me to your email preferences in your mailbox under "my carspace".
  • I own a 2002 highlander with the intermittent heat problem. The problem started a couple weeks ago. I thought I'd read this forum before going to the dealer. Sure glad I did.

    I just went outside and tightened the nut. It was indeed loose. A simple 5 minute job. Tested and works great now. I just made $900 bucks!
  • I have an 01 Highlander I just paid $773 plus sales tax to change both the timing belt and water pump on. I later found out that just down the street another garage was having a special and I could have had the same work done for $465 plus sales tax.
  • Loomis2, thanks you your response.
  • I don't know if overfilling would cause the specific leak you describe, but I know many people who think it is a good idea to avoid Jiffy Lube. Last time I used Jiffy Lube was in 1992 when we had just moved to Massachusetts. They saw the Colorado license plate and figured that they wouldn't really change the oil and filter but that they could get away with charging me for an oil change anyway.
  • "I have an 01 Highlander I just paid $773 plus sales tax to change both the timing belt and water pump on. I later found out that just down the street another garage was having a special and I could have had the same work done for $465 plus sales tax."

    From messege #4294: I changed the belts and water pump myself on my 04 Highlander V6, and the job only cost me about $150.00 for the parts, water pump, timing belt, alternator/AC belt, power steering pump belt & 1 gallon of Toyota red long life coolant. It was a fulls days work and a lot of tools though.

    I think about from $600 to $700 would be an average price, but depends on your location. The $465 sounds like a very good deal, if they warranty and stand behind their work.

    Also see messeges #4331 and #4335 for more information and how to view photos of the work being done.

    Good Luck,
    E.D. in Sunny Florida
  • rmb26rmb26 Posts: 3
    Thanks for the response. I think I will avoid Jiffy Lube from now on, just in case. My HL is now in the shop. I should get it back Wednesday or Thursday. The mechanic said that with the few miles I have on it (49,000 for a 2002 HL) the seal should not have been leaking. He says that there is a spring that holds the seal against the shaft and, if the spring broke and scratched the shaft, it will continue to leak due to the tight tolerances required. He says he can try to move the replacement seal forward or back a little, but if it doesn't work, I'll just have to live with it, as it is certainly not worth replacing the engine!

    We'll see what he finds.
  • Can you explain a little further the "Clockspring" electrical connection.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Think retracting extension cord.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    I stopped using Bellevue Lexus for oil changes in my '92 LS because I once got it back with the new oil added on top of the old and no filter change. Its NEVER been back.

    A friend with a PRISTINE garage floor got his '95 LS back from the same dealer with a leaking rear engine seal after an oil/filter change. $1100 later and all they would do was offer a free oil change.
  • I understand 'retracking extension cord' but I would like to understand:

    1) What the clockspring does?
    2) How does it work?
    3) What is its purpose, as it relates to the SRS system, or any other system?

    Any hints.....
  • I've done this on several cars/trucks and am about to replace timing belt on our 05 highlander with 101K. It's a good idea when replacing the timing belt to also replace the water pump and other belts if applicable along with applicable tensioner pulleys. Usually at least with our Hondas you can buy a kit that comes with the timing belt, pulleys etc. Water pump is extra. expect to spend anywhere from 600-1K depending on what all you're replacing and your shops rates. Many of the parts are cheap, it's the labor that is expensive, so keep that in mind.
  • Okay, So if the connection at any point is "loose" it could cause the warning message. Am I correct in that? The fact that it does not happen all the time would fit in this case.

    In your experience is there another possible source of the intermittent message.

    Also, if the message comes up should it leave a code in the diagnostic computer.
    In what cases would a code not be saved?
    The message is "Check SRS Airbag System Have your vehicle checked by a dealer immediately"
  • mckeownmckeown Posts: 165
    My wife also has an 04 V6 AWD. I did the timing belt a few months ago.

    Regarding that aluminum engine mounting bracket right on top of the water pump, I removed the single bolt along the frame right in front of it holding a PS hose to the frame. After removing that, the bracket just slides off. No removing the studs nor jacking up the motor.

    A few things make this difficult .....
    no room to work. My hands were sore, scraped and cut for days.
    The alternator bolts were VERY difficult to get to even for normal belt replacement
    After removing the bolts, getting the upper belt cover out/ back in properly was difficult.
    Glad I still have an electric impact wrench. rated at 340 ft lbs. Still had to stay on the crank bolt for about 5 minutes before it would budge. I don't know HOW I would have removed it if I didn't have an impact wrench.

    As already stated, not a job for the feign of heart. Too easy to strip a bolt head of worse if one is not careful.

    Mikey ( name sounds young but I remember servicing engines before PCV systems ... breather pipes .. and it was an 'old' motor at 60K let alone 100+K today )
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