Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Toyota Highlander Maintenance and Repair



  • tsotsitsotsi Posts: 98
    edited March 2010
    Under fire on safety issues, I had hoped that Toyota would tell its dealers try to get back customer confidence by being open and telling the truth. If they are caught lying about maintenance needs, why should anyone believe what they say about safety?

    But I was disappointed. My local dealer, Delray Toyota, still insists on trying to con me about what my Highlander needs in the way of repairs and maintenance. At 40,000 miles I was told that my brakes were almost "metal to metal" and needed immediate repair. I passed and at 45,000 miles I was told (by another "service adviser") that I needed numerous flushes, but that my brakes were okay, but in the yellow zone -- meaning they were worn. I declined again and today, at 50,000 miles, I was told (by yet another adviser) that my brakes were paper thin and were absolutely dangerous. And oh yeah, my rotors were too bad to resurface and had to be replaced. He even offered me a loaner car if I left the Highlander for repair. He had a manner a lot like Bob Newhart's and I think he might do better as a comedian

    I have stopped telling the service advisers that the Highlander has brake wear indicators . . . they insist my particular model doesn't . . . and don't even bother asking how my brake pads went from metal to metal to okay in 5,000 miles. I find it personally insulting that they think I am so dumb. I even wore an Edmunds teeshirt today, thinking they might get some kind of hint.

    So . . . now I know at least three service advisers are liars and have to assume the service manager sanctions the lies. If the service manager advises me on a safety matter, should I believe him? Can't the Toyota company understand how dangerous it is to demonstrate again and again that they can't be trusted?

    To me it is now official. Toyota may build good cars, but they have no respect for their customers and, like Ford, GM and Chrysler, think a PR campaign can paper over serious problems. Instead of fixing what's wrong, they buy advertising, telling us that nothing is wrong. It didn't work for the old American car companies and it won't work for Toyota. I have to assume everything they say is a lie unless I have absolute proof that it isn't.

    Maybe a new company will come along and be like Toyota used to be.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    At 50,000 miles it would be unusual to NOT need the front brake pads replaced.

    And strange as it may seem as a DIY buying new rotors it often at least equal to the cost of having rotors turned. Not that I think your rotors need to be turned but that is the policy of most dealers.
  • tsotsitsotsi Posts: 98
    I don't disagree with you, but you are emphasizing my point. Who knows whether this third service advisor is telling the truth? I am sure that the first one was lying. When a service adviser tells me something, predicting dire consequences if I don't listen, I want to know if he is telling the truth.

    Also, their script about brake service is a little muddled. If the worst that can happen from rear brakes -- the ones they said were worn out, and less important than front brakes -- going metal to metal is damage to the rotors, what difference does it make since they say the rotors are shot anyway. Also, Highlanders do have brake wear indicators, whatever the service advisers said, so I am in no real danger of driving with completely worn out brakes.

    Bottom line is the story doesn't hold water and it makes he sad. Technical people I have worked with in the past have generally been honest. The automobile industry seems to have a corrupting influence.
  • phrosutphrosut Posts: 122
    "At 50,000 miles it would be unusual to NOT need the front brake pads replaced."

    I replaced our '03 HL front brakes a few months ago at about 95,000 miles only because of posts here. They weren't totally worn out, and hadn't even reached the wear sensors, but were only 1/8" or so away from making squealing sounds.

    The rotors were fine without turning. (And I spent a decade working in the business.)

    At least the '03 model HL HAS wear sensors, and I put them back on the new pads. If the pads have ever been changed they may no longer have wear sensors.

    Maybe our car is unusual to have gone that far on a set of pads.

  • wperryvtwperryvt Posts: 1
    my 2005, until recently was eating brakes. They would either crumble or split in half. My mechanic just told me that they need to be lubed on the posts that that pads go on in order to move freely. The rotors do get rusty though to the point where they just wont come off. My guy spent 20 minutes with a sledge hammer to get one off and the other crumbled in his hand. He told me that they make the rotors so tight that the least little rust makes them stick in place, but if you have the little posts on the pads lubed, he said we can easily get another 10 to 15K miles out of them.
  • moonlight293moonlight293 ILPosts: 23
    "At 50,000 miles it would be unusual to NOT need the front brake pads replaced."

    "I replaced our '03 HL front brakes a few months ago at about 95,000 miles only because of posts here. They weren't totally worn out, and hadn't even reached the wear sensors, but were only 1/8" or so away from making squealing sounds. "

    I think how long brakes last has to do with the driver. My Aunt Tillie and my brother have the same year and model vehicle and he seems to wear out tires and brakes a lot more than she does.
  • tsotsitsotsi Posts: 98
    "I replaced our '03 HL front brakes a few months ago at about 95,000 miles only because of posts here. They weren't totally worn out, and hadn't even reached the wear sensors, but were only 1/8" or so away from making squealing sounds."

    Actually, 1/8" on a brake pad is huge. The friction part of new front brake pads are only 12mm (slightly less than half an inch) thick so at your rate of wear, 1/8" should last another 25,000 miles. The friction part of new rear brake pads are only 10mm thick and a lot smaller in other dimensions since the rear brakes do less work than the fronts.

    Assuming normal traffic conditions, people who get lots of miles from a set of brakes often get better gas mileage too. They probably take their foot off the gas when they see a stop ahead and coast for a while instead of accelerating right up to the last moment and slamming on the brakes.

    Here in Florida I try to time my driving with the lights so when I see a red light ahead I take my foot off the gas at the point where I think I will reach the light just when it changes to green. Most of the time somebody in another lane will accelerate past me, foot on the gas, and slam his brakes. If I have timed it right, I go cruising past him at the light since I didn't have to stop at all.

    Okay I apologize. Before I get lots of hate emails, let me explain that I know my style of driving irritates a lot of people in a hurry. My defense is that I don't carry it to the extreme -- I don't coast along way slower than the speed limit for long distances and my timing is normally good. And if I do stop at a light I accelerate away faster than 90% of the other cars even though my Highlander is a 4 cylinder. Drivers in Florida are like cattle in a herd -- very slow to get started, way too fast once they get running and irrational about slowing down.
  • phrosutphrosut Posts: 122
    "Actually, 1/8" on a brake pad is huge."

    I realized I could've gone farther but I thought 95K miles was acceptable and I already had the first side apart with a box of pads at the ready.

    I guess I drive like moonlight's aunt.

  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaPosts: 1,783

    I am about to replace pads on my 2004 Kluger (Highlander) with 130,000km on it. That is 80,000 miles. IT is currently doing mostly city driving so I am pleasantly surprised but your point about driving to minimise braking reflects the fact that I also get about 10% better economy than government tests would suggest.


  • jrfierojrfiero Posts: 123
    edited March 2010
    I cleaned the headlights of my 2001 HL yesterday, and the results were great. I've attempted to include pictures, but they appear as red Xs to me.

    Try going to my CarSpace album . The actual headlight looked worse than the before picture, in my memory.

    The covers had fogged enough that I was worried I wouldn’t pass safety inspection, due this month. I used a 3M headlight cleaning kit, ~$15 on sale at Advance Auto. It consists of a drill attachment with 500 and 800 grit sandpaper, a reusable pad with 3000 in its name so I assume it’s 3000 grit, a buffing pad, and rubbing compound.

    The user needs to supply a drill with a speed setting of 1000-1600 (more on that later), masking tape, rags/paper towels, and water, best in a sprayer.

    The instructions are good, the process is straightforward, it’s an easy job for a DIYer. After the 3rd of 4 steps, I stood back and said “wow.” Even if you did a lousy job, it would still be better than all fogged up.

    The basic steps are: Remove the yellowing and discoloration with the 500 grit (kind scary), remove the 500 grit scratches with the 800 grit; remove the 800 scratches with the wet 3000 pad; polish with the buffing wheel and rubbing compound. Then wash the car.

    I took me about an hour and a half, including looking all around for a water sprayer that actually sprayed, going in to get a beer, and not rushing anything.
    Inspection sticker ON!

    A few tips and comments.

    The instructions tell the user to put two layers of 3M masking tape all around the headlight. This is really important – if you sand through the paint while trying to fix your headlights, you’ve just wasted all the money you were trying to save cleaning your headlights, IMHO. I just used blue masking tape. If you try to clean the headlight all the way out to its edges, you WILL hit that tape. Probably best to just come close to the edges.
    Also, just open the hood rather than tape its edge – throw a towel over the engine compartment or you’ll get dust and sanding slurry in there.

    The instructions say a drill speed less than 1000 rpm won’t work well, and that over 1600 risks burning the plastic headlight cover. Take heed – you CAN burn the plastic. I used a cordless Milwaukee with a range of 1000-1800, and on my second lens I was using the max speed with the 500 grit, and it started to melt little sections and redeposit them as brownish streaks. Easily removed with slower speed, but it’s fair warning.

    The instructions also say, “More sanding at this step will make the next step easier.” Good advice, as any woodworker or refinisher will recognize. If you don’t get all the discoloration off with the 500 grit, it’ll be more difficult with the 800; if you don’t get all the 500 grit scratches out with the 800, it’s real hard with the 3000. Once you think, “that looks pretty good,” go over it again.

    I suspect you could find some better polish than what’s in the little blister pac in the kit, but it works. They say to use a dime-sized amount, and don’t let the pad run dry. Go ahead, use a quarter size, these are big headlights. You’ll need to reapply it, also.

    There is plenty of material in the kit – at least it was for me, your mileage may vary. Eight 500 grit discs, I used two; six 800 grit discs, I used two; I probably have more than half of the rubbing compound left. The 3000 grit pad is reusable, you use it with water, and it apparently stays sharp.

    Don’t be fooled by reflections coming out of the light looking like scratches. If you do the work in sun, which I was doing, enjoying a beautiful 70 degree Virginia day after our really lousy winter, the reflections on the inside of the cover look like scratches – funny, you can’t polish ‘em out! Check your work without direct light.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    edited March 2010
    Trying the links:



    Anyone else having trouble seeing the pics?

    Now, someone try the gel toothpaste trick and see which works better. :)

    Healing Hazy Headlamps
  • jrfierojrfiero Posts: 123
    Thanks for getting those links right, Steve. I'll figure it out next time.

    Note on the "after" shot - see those vertical white marks under and in front of the main headlight? They are reflections of the same stair railings which are reflected in the blue paint to the right of the headlight.

    I need to bone up on my photography.

    Check out Steve's link to Healing Hazy Headlights. Lots of alternatives.
  • shagnatshagnat Posts: 78
    Great job and a tremendous tip!! Thanks for all your help and little tips to make things go better.
  • ohmygoshohmygosh Posts: 66
    I recently purchased a 2010 AWD Limited. I just completed my first tank of gas and registered about 13 mpg. All city stop and start. I haven't had it out on the highway yet. My 2004 highlander averaged 18 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. I am just a little concerned about the low mpg on this first tank, :cry: especially with rising gas prices. The car is rated at 17 and 22. Any feedback would be appreciated.
  • edhedh Posts: 246
    2wd gets 19 in around town mixed driving, with a/c on
  • mdhuttonmdhutton Posts: 195
    First tank, city driving, stop/start, and what's sure to still be a winter blend of gasoline... 13 mpg is nothing to worry about. Once you're fully broken in and getting out more, you'll be pleased. My '08 AWD Limited will regularly get about 19/25.
  • I have heard a humming sound, or some kind of sound from the back end of the highlander near the fuel door. The engine is off and the vehicle had not been driven for a couple of hours. What would be running back there? , making that noise. I have never heard this from my camry. Would it be the fuel pump making this noise? ,and if so is this normal?
    Thanks for any help you can give.
  • mrs1964mrs1964 Posts: 8
    Is the key out of the ignition and do you still hear the sound? For how long do you hear the sound?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Fuel tank evaporative/vapor pump will (rarely) run 24/7.
  • tsotsitsotsi Posts: 98
    My '05 Highlander came with a warning sticker to expect those sounds about an hour after shutting off the engine. I can't remember the exact words, but I think it was something about pumping evaporated fuel.
  • tsotsitsotsi Posts: 98
    My earlier post was not accurate and complete. I went back to the owners manual and it says, for the 2AZ-FE engine (which I guess is the '05 4 cylinder since that is what I have):

    "Leak detection pump (2AZ-FE engine). This pump performs fuel evaporation leakage check. This check is done approximately five hours after the engine is turned off. So you may hear sound coming from underneath the luggage compartment for several minutes. It does not indicate a malfunction."
  • lmacmillmacmil Posts: 1,758
    Does the air go from top to bottom or the other way? I ask because the fan is underneath and when I pulled out mine today (2004 Highlander), the underside was dirtier than the top side. I have it installed assuming it went top to bottom but now I'm not sure.
  • edhedh Posts: 246
    top to bottom
  • keithw2keithw2 Posts: 3
    My dealer tells me my L/R wheel bearing is bad and wants about $750 to repair. They say the cost of the bearing is about $650 which of course is ridiculous. Has anyone ever changed one on their own? Do I need to buy both inner and outer bearings? Would left be drivers side or passenger side?
  • shagnatshagnat Posts: 78
    I've never heard of such. How many miles do you have one it and what year is it?

    I've got an '03 and have ZERO issues.
  • keithw2keithw2 Posts: 3
    This is a 2004 Highlander, 6 cyl, 70840 miles. This is the first time I've had anything go wrong with this car. It's been great with great mileage. I'm wondering if the repair cost is so high because the axle has to be replaced. I.E. The bearing is not available by itself?????
  • shagnatshagnat Posts: 78
    I think you answered your own question. Manufacturers have been doing things like this for a few decades. It lowers their manufacturing costs and cost the customer way more $$ than it should.

    Sorry to hear about your troubles. My '03 is as your '04, totally trouble free (so far).
  • keithw2keithw2 Posts: 3
    I've found a wheel hub for $254.74. Does anyone know how difficult this installation would be. The car has abs. Any recommendations to find a diagram or manual showing the part? Thanks, Keith
  • ualdepualdep Posts: 3
    edited April 2010
    2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid- 80,000mi. Where is the pcv valve located & what steps are required to get to it? I am fairly good at car repair.
  • jrfierojrfiero Posts: 123
    2001 V6 AWD, 82,000 miles, Mobil 1 since broken in.
    I know these subjects have come up before, and I searched for "oil consumption" and "pcv valve," but no definitive answers.
    I was SHOCKED when my oil light briefly came on when braking to a stop, after a 1300+ mile trip at mostly 79mph. Two quarts of (very expensive) Mobil 1 from the convenience store got it up to a comfortable level.
    So, there have been discussions of high speed oil consumption, and suggestions that the PCV valve was the culprit, but I couldn't find a conclusion that was the case. Anyone have a definitive answer?
    I was going to ask, like ualdep did in 4857, where the pcv valve is, but in 8673, 8684, and 8687 of the generic Highlander discussion there is the answer. Supposed to be threaded into the block at the left rear (after Jan 2001). Since I bought mine in March 2001 it could easily be the earlier design, pushed into a grommet. I have the shop manual, I suppose I could look it up!

Sign In or Register to comment.