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Toyota Highlander Maintenance and Repair



  • I have a 06 Limited with about 70k. Car has been absolutely bulletproof to date. Tonight, about 4 miles back in the woods at dark thirty, I hear a fairly loud whining sound that seems to be comming from the engine bay. (V6). The sound varies with rpm and sounds the same in park, if I depress the gas. It is hard to hear at 50-60 mph, but is really obvious at low speed. Any ideas?
  • Being in the woods you might have kicked up a branch or twig and it is jammed up in the engine compartment. It might be rubbing on a pulley, belt or sticking in the generator rubbing on the commutator, AC compressor or power steering pump. Maybe something got stuck in one of the two cooling fans.

    If the sound came up all of a sudden it could be something that was kicked up, mechanically it is something with a bearing or gear. Power steering pumps will make a noise but it changes when the steering is moved around.
  • My 05 V6 makes a whirring noise when the radio is off and no wind noise. It is the fuel rail of the injector. Toyota replaced it, but to no avail. Just a design flaw. At idle is more like a fast ticking noise.
  • Crawled underneath today and found nothing obvious. The noise seems to be coming from the alternator, or belt, or pulleys. It is getting louder. Dealer will look at the car Thursday morning. I do have platinum coverage. I'm more than a bit suspicious concerning the alternator, because I had to replace the battery two weeks ago. No voltmeter or ampmeter on the Highlander. Same bs with my 08 Avalon Touring.
  • Power steering pump-line that follows the frame was cracked, probably from chafing or good old fashioned PA rust. Dealer has the car and is waiting on parts. Toyota platinum will cover all costs including car rental for up to five days.
  • I have a 2009 Highlander Ltd with dealer installed XM radio. I also have a 2005 Acura RL with factory installed XM.

    There is a noticable lag in changing XM stations on the Highlander - I usually change stations from the steering column. On the Acura it changes immediately - also from the steering column.

    Does anyone else notice this sluggishness?

  • 08 HL LTD w Nav & dealer installed Sirius. Yes, a noticable lag when changing with the dial, but not using the steering wheel for presets.
  • Six months ago, a service rep told me that my brakes were virtually metal-to-metal and needed immediate repair. I just returned from getting an oil change and inspection from the same dealer and today, 5,000 miles later, I was told that my brakes are in the "yellow zone" (I don't know what that means) but will last until the next service. It appears that my brakes magically healed themselves and added 10,000 miles to their useful life. What will I hear at the next service?

    Just to let me know that I still wasn't out of danger I was given a long list of various cleaning and flushing jobs that were urgently needed. None of them were due according to the Toyota service schedule.

    This is getting to be too much. Once again I was assured that my brakes do not have wear detectors (although my manual says they do). It is not relaxing to take my car in for routine service when I am lied to and told I am in danger. I did feel sympathy for the young lady who was writing up my oil change -- she seemed worried that if I didn't buy something extra her job was in peril.

    I expect sales pressure when I go shopping for a car . . . now I get salesmanship when what I really need is the truth about what my car needs be safe and reliable.
  • phrosutphrosut Posts: 122
    On my 2003 HL, I recently replaced the front brake pads at ~95,000 miles. There WERE small clips designed to squeal when they contacted the rotor. There was still about 1/16" before they would've contacted the rotor.

    I had to put those clips on the new pads. If your pads have ever been changed, those wear detectors COULD have been left off [easily]. If you are on your original pads, I'm betting there are wear indicators, as I doubt Toyota would design two different systems.

  • Thanks for the timely comment. My Highlander, an '05, is still on the original pads at 45,000 miles and I am betting the detectors are there. I will certainly replace them when I finally have to replace the pads. The service rep's story was that the foreman told her that they weren't fitted on this model . . . even though the manual says they were. I am 99% sure that all Toyotas have them.

    I am hoping that none of this sales pressure reaches the actual mechanics. A small paranoid part of me wonders is there will come a time when the dealer makes sure its dire predictions come true.
  • It shows that repair shops at dealers or private/franchise shops are so desperate for work that brakes are an easy target for any customer for more dollars. This is why I taught my two sons how to do a brake job. Not that they want to do it but so when someone tells them that they need work, they have some idea on how to separate the bull from the facts.

    The best medicine is if you drive in a non-hilly area, front brakes at 50K - check them, by 75K change them weather you need them or not. Play it safe and there is nothing better than a new set of pads for assurance.

    Three things my father always said, never mess around with brakes, steering and tires.
  • mikefm58mikefm58 Posts: 2,882
    I am hoping that none of this sales pressure reaches the actual mechanics

    Not sure if the mechanics are paid on commission but I'm sure the service advisors at my local Toyota shop are.

    True story here on my friend's 4-runner just out of warranty, brought in for oil & filter change and tire rotation:

    SA: The transmission fluid looks brown, I recommend a complete flush, cost $120.

    My friend (who was female): Gee I don't have a clue, let me call my friend. I told her to have them recheck the fluid in front of her. If it's bright pink, it's OK.

    The SA and my friend walk back, check the fluid and it's bright pink.

    SA: Gee, I was just relaying information from the tech.
  • My brother-in-law is a service tech.....If the tech recommends work and the SA then sells that work to the customer, both the tech and SA get a cut. It's legalized racketeering.
  • I wonder if your brother-in-law knows if service techs ever sabotage customer cars to prove that work is needed. Toyota is one of the more reputable brands, but giving SAs and techs money for deceptive practices sounds like the first step down a very slippery slope.
  • mikefm58mikefm58 Posts: 2,882
    Toyota is one of the more reputable brands

    Maybe in your neck of the woods it is, but here in Orlando, from the sales guys to the F&I guys, to the service guys, I'd watch my back. I even tried a couple of times calling Toyota's 1-800 number to help me with dealer issues and got nothing but lip service.
  • My brake pads were replaced at a Toyota dealership last Nov. for the first time. No mention on the work order of turning the rotors. Just went to get an inspection sticker last week and different service center said pads looked new but rotors were below depth allowed.
    So are you telling me that it is possible for the rotors to be worn when the pads were good? I do have high mileage now....over 100K and can't find any work orders where the brakes were replaced prior to last Nov.

    My thought was that the dealership turned the rotors and trimmed off too much...or that the other service center was not telling me the truth to get the business. Just wanting to know whether to push the issue with the dealership. I have an appt with them to re-measure the rotors.
  • In my experience, I've never been able to get a "pro" to change disc brake pads without also insisting that the rotors be turned. It's possible that the dealer turned the rotors and just didn't itemize it or break out the separate cost for that service on the bill.

    It does seem odd, though, that the rotors being turned once would make them too thin to pass inspection. I suppose it's possible if the technician didn't know what he was doing.

    So you're not the original owner? It's possible a previous owner had the brakes done at an independent shop, and that work order wouldn't show up in Toyota's system of past repairs performed.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Insofar as I know there is no real minimum rotor thickness insofar as a safety issue is concerned, maybe there should be but....

    There is, HOWEVER, a minimum thickness to be checked BEFORE turning the rotors to see if enough "meat" is left for turning. IMMHO it is entirely possible that the rotors were turned "legally" but ended up below the minimum for the "next" time.

    As a result of FE issues most modern day rotors are so light/thin that only one turning is possible.
  • Here is a good site that explains brake rotors. It references GM specs but it's a common application for all rotors.

    Click here for web site" "
  • Thanks for the great website info. This answers almost all of my questions. Rotors should not be resurfaced with every pad change -- it is bad for the car but good for the dealer's bank account. There are exceptions, like when there is runout. Here is a little excerpt:

    Should rotors be turned every time the pads are replaced? Many shops resurface rotors every time the pads are replaced whether they really need it or not. Why? Because they want to avoid comebacks. Besides, many customers might think they are not getting their money's worth if the rotors are not resurfaced as part of a brake job.

    General Motors has a different opinion. In technical bulletin #00-05-22-002 to its dealers, GM says, "Brake rotors should only be turned when one of the following rotor surface conditions exist: severe scoring with depth in excess of 1.5 mm or 0.060 inch, pulsation from excessive lateral runout of more than .080 mm or .003 inch, thickness variation in excess of 0.025 mm or 0.001 inch, or excessive corrosion on rotor braking surfaces."

    GM also says "Rotors are not to be resurfaced in an attempt to correct the following conditions: noise/squeal, cosmetic corrosion, routine pad replacement or discoloration/hard spots."

    In other words, GM frowns on rotor resurfacing during what it calls "normal" pad replacement. But is any brake job ever normal? Every job is different and every rotor needs to be carefully inspected and evaluated to determine its condition when brake work is done.

    GM says resurfacing rotors unnecessarily shortens rotor life. They also say resurfacing is "ineffective at correcting brake squeal and/or premature lining wear and should not be used to address these conditions, unless specifically directed to do so in a service bulletin." Yet, how many service bulletins have we seen over the years from GM and other auto makers who say the fix for a particular brake squeal condition on a certain make or model is to replace the pads and resurface the rotors? It can be rather confusing.
  • Interestingly when the Toyota dealership measured the rotors, they all measured the standard thickness. The Goodyear garage had measured them below allowable but when I told them I'd take it back to Toyota, they still put my inspection sticker on with a note on the work order I knew they were defective and would address it with dealership.
    So either someone can't measure or someone is lying and I'll never know which it is.....
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Goodyear mechanics get a portion of the price for UPSELLING needless additional work.
  • A car novice here. I read through the GM Brake rotor service website but did not find my specific issue.
    I have a 05 V6 Highlander with 70k miles. The dealer has been telling me to change brakes and resurface rotors since it had 55k. No squealing noise. However the brakes hesitate when pressed. I get the feeling that something uneven causes the brake pedal gives a different feedback when pressed. The car does brake as expected (except for the wierd feedback the brake pedal gives).
    Is the issue brake pads, rotors, both or something else? I recently got fresh tires and the problem hasnt changed.
  • How do you get to the top bolt on the power steering pump to loosen it?
  • Let me clear up this brake rotor measuring business.
    1. New rotors are smooth on each side and straight with no runout (wobble). Each disk has the minimum thickness stamped on it, usually near the outer edge. This is the thinnest the disk is allowed to be at it's thinnest point.
    2. Used rotors wear thinnner from friction. They also wear unevenly due to slight differences in the rotor metal and road conditions that throws dirt and splashes water on the disk. If water splashes on disks that are hot from heavy braking, it can cause them to warp or cause hard spots to form on the surface of the rotor. Wear on the rotor appears as circular lands and groves on each side of the rotor. Since the surface of the rotor is no longer flat and is inconsistant, the special measuring caliper used to measure the thickness of the rotor must have pointed measuring ends, the points fit into the bottom of the grooves to measure the true thickness of the rotor. The rotor should be measured at several points, and the thinnest point found is used as the measurement. This is the same system as used to measure thread thinkness on a tire, the tire tread thickness is measured in several places, and the thinnest measurment is used at the thread thickness.
    3. Turning (machining) rotors - Do not turn brake rotors unless they need to be turned. Do not turn rotors just because you are putting on new pads. If the rotors appear fairly smooth with minor circular land and groves, measure at least the minumium thickness, and the brake pedal did not pulsate (stopped smoothly), you can reuse the brake rotors as they are. If their is runout (wobble) or deep lands and grooves, AND is at least the minimum thickness, you can take a light cut to clean up the disk, but DO NOT cut below the minimum thickness. Most rotors are now made with very little "extra meat" on them, and may only be able to be turned only once, and not even that if the rotor has deep grooves. These are practically "throw away" rotors, once they are bad, toss them out and get new ones.
    4. Summary - If someone is measuring your rotors, make sure that they are measuring them correctly, using a measuring caliper that measures into the bottom of the grooves to obtain the true minimum thickness measurment. >><< Look at the edge of the rotor and read the minumum thickness and make a note of it in your notes or owners manual.
    Good Luck,
    E. D. in Sunny Florida
  • Great explanation, thanks!

    It would seem that since both places I took the car are well known (dealership and Goodyear), both should know how to do the measurements. At this point, I have been told that I am in the standard range by the dealership so therefore, I do not feel that I need to take further action to replace the rotors. However, the next time someone addresses rotor thickness with me, I should now be able to ask enough questions to ascertain how they are doing the measurements.
  • That's good to know then. Sounds like I might be going to Goodyear for tire rotation only from now on.
  • When does the transmission fluid have to be changed?
  • I have been searching for months, and I cannot find a 2009 Toyota Highlander equipped with a tow package. I live in Texas and the dealers here tell me that there are none available anywhere. It's no surprise that Toyota sales are down. If you don't build them, they won't come.
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