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Toyota Highlander Maintenance and Repair



  • flboaterflboater Posts: 2
    My '03 Toyoya Highlander Limited V6 Automatic makes a humming sound in the engine compartment when the key is placed in the ignition but not turned on. Car has been at the dealer three times for a toal of 15 days. The dealer, on the advice of Toyota techs, replaced the ECM computer, then a solenoid in the transmission. After all this we were told "this is normal" !! I have listened to several other like vehicles and here no sound. Has anyone out there experienced this?
  • thoonthoon Posts: 74
    My car makes the same humming sound. Never had it checked out though.
  • mpgmpg Posts: 1
    My new 04, V6, 4WD, highlander is getting about 12 mpg and has a severe hesitation when accelerating from very slow speed. A dealer said this was normal. I disagree. What do you suggest?
  • wainwain Posts: 479
    do you live in san francisco?

    Mine in mixed driving gets 19.5 - 20.5
    26 at steady 65 with air on
  • flboaterflboater Posts: 2
    Thanks for the reply about the hum in the car. It may be normal, who knows? You would think that Toyota engineers would know if it is or isn't before they replaced all these parts. We were finally told that it's a small pump that circulates oil through the transmission so it won't start dry. I've talked to many mechanics and they have never heard of such a thing. It doesn't seem to affect the operation of the car.
  • dv8erdv8er Posts: 8
    I have one last question and I need some very honest opinions from those of you who drive your Highlanders on more than just blacktop and concrete.

    I'm curious to the true off-road capabilities of the Highlander. Granted, I do not expect this to be a rock-hopping Jeep Wrangler or Hummer H2 (If I needed that type of vehicle, I'd buy one), but I'm interested in it's ability to navigate on non-paved surfaces and muddy/gravel/remote roads and trails that are moderately-to-lightly demanding.
  • jrhjrh Posts: 6
    Close to purchasing a HL. Test drove the v6 and performance was fine. Just read that the v6 requires premium gas while 4 does not. Premium gas could add up over time.

    Are people using premium in the v6?

    Also, does anyone consider the 4 cylinder 4x4 to be under-powered?

    Was set on the v6, but the 4 cylinder may be less expensive in the long run. I do not plan on towing anything (just a wife and two growing boys.)
  • loucapriloucapri Posts: 214
    I have a 4 cyl FWD, usually me and my wife and the baby. I think it drives ok, just like a normal "car".

    I think some people who drive the v6 think the 4 cyl is under power. I really doubt that the v6 has that much power anyway. They are just numbers and in order to get to that number, we are talking about hitting 5000-6000rpm. How many people really drive their car like that?

    The best way for you to decide is to take the whole family to take a test drive. Test on both 4 and 6 on the same route and you can make your choice. Also, if you want to keep the car for long team, yes, gas price is a factor too.
  • ectrimmectrimm Posts: 2
    It's beyond me why you cannot let the back windows down without opening part of one of the front windows. Nor can I open the moon-roof fully without having a window open. This is obviously a design problem. The vibration is so bad that I cannot leave the back windows down!
  • bikeman3bikeman3 Posts: 85
    Most SUVs have this "Quirk", SUVs are not aerodynamic vehicles, what your feeling is wind drag, nothing to worry about, buy a car if you can't deal with it.
  • buckeye1buckeye1 Posts: 41
    Are common to most vehicles. Open a back window in a sedan...with front windows closed and air passing the back window at high rate will cause an irritating noise/vibration. To releive the noise, merely open a front window a few inches.

    This "noise" factor is similar to blowing air across a bottle and getting the humming sound.
  • typesixtypesix Posts: 320
    "Click and Clack" mentioned on their radio show about a month ago that many of the cars they have driven recently have the same wind noise problem with the back windows. They did not mention any names, however.
  • sdanderssdanders Posts: 37
    It is designed to, and satisfactorily does, run on 87 pump octane gas. It is possible to squeeze out about a 1 mpg increase in mileage by using premium over regular (I have tested this several times with different brands), it is NOT worth paying a premium of .40/gal. to gain this small increase in efficiency. I have no pinging or the owners manual regarding gas required
  • wainwain Posts: 479
    I use only regular gas
  • lvmyfarmlvmyfarm Posts: 1
    I just bought my 1st Toyota Highlander on 7/6/04. I have been driving a Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer for 6 years.
    I test drove the Pilot, Rainier and Highlander and chose the Highlander.
    1st - I love the quite smooth drive of all the vehicles. That Explorer (truck base) was about to rattle my guts out. Not smooth at all and very noisy.
    There are a couple things I'm disappointed in tho. Highlander seems to not to have enough power when you put on the gas, like it hesitates. I asked repair guy about it and they said nothing was wrong with it. But the Ford has power and TOOK off when I'd apply the gas. Once the Highlander gets going - it flies. But I hate that hesitation! 2nd, I was told the Highlander had Auto door locks and that the headlights stayed on 20 secs. at night after I get out. "NOT". I find this ridiculous! Something SO simple to add to this vehicle, but they didn't! I drove a Corolla for a day and it had auto door locks and no hesitation with take off. After 6 years of driving a really nice car with auto door locks and all the wonderful safety features, now I feel like I have backed up to a ghetto car! I have to NOW remember to lock my doors when I get inside and I'm having a very difficult time doing this. I will have traveled 10 miles before I realize I haven't locked my doors. For a woman, we NEED this safety feature. So I have to train myself to learn to do this as soon as I get in the car. It will take me some time after 6 years of not thinking about it. I chose the cloth seats over leather. My Explorer had the leather and in the summer it got so hot and winter it would freeze me to death until the seat heaters kicked in which took awhile. So sitting on cold leather is a shock and you’re very uncomfortable for awhile till the heater kicks in. So I love the cloth seats, this summer they are so comfortable to sit down and not have to worry about being burnt.

    I do think if Highlander could add the auto door locks and auto head lights and give it a bit more power, they would almost have the perfect car. The front seats aren’t quite as comfortable as the Explorer, I’m having a hard time getting a comfortable adjustment and passenger seat doesn’t have the lumbar and not as comfortable as drivers seat, so I hope I don’t have to take a long trip in it. The arm rest needs to be a bit wider and longer. The door seems further from the seat, so if you are a very wide person – you have arm rest on both side, but if you are small – you have to lean to one side to rest an arm. I’m being so picky! LOL I wish I could design a car – it would be a woman’s car and have our storage we want, comfort and safety.

    Without the radio I noticed a loud wind sound coming around the car, but noticed someone posted about that and I may ask dealer about it to see if it can be fixed with something.

    The Rainier’s inside lay out was pitiful! Rainier had no storage room and the 2 drink holders - one was in front of the gear lever, so if you put it in Park - you have to move the cup! DUH!

    I love all the cup holders in the Highlander and Pilot.

    The Pilot needs to not be so cheap inside. I felt it was stripped down Highlander. I really wanted a luxury car like the Lexus, but couldn't afford paying over $40,000 for a car and Highlander came pretty close.
  • lisahlisah Posts: 2
    I am currently shopping for a new car. I bought an 03 trailblazer that had repetative problems and was actually turned in as a lemon. One I am looking at is the highlander. Can you give me more details on your likes and dislikes. Also have you ever driven a chevy or a trailblazer? Help!
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    The eardrum rupturing helicopter sound has been around for quite some time. It has to do with the standing pressure waves created by the airflow entering the windows and running headon into the airflow that entered a few milliseconds ago and has been REFLECTED from the rear of the vehicle from which it could not otherwise escape.

    In my 68 and then later my 72 Ford station wagons lowering the rear liftgate glass slightly would always solve the problem.

    This NOISE can get so loud in my 01 RX300 it becomes extremely painful to my eardrums.

    But I may, just may, have an answer soon about how to at least reduce the volume of this noise. Last week my RX had been setting out in the hot sun and the interior was like an oven. I started it up, turned on the A/C to max cool and the blower to high with "fresh" airflow enabled with the intention of letting it cool down somewhat before we got in.

    As I walked away I noticed that I could hear a very definite "fluttering" noise emanating from the drivers side rear quarter panel at approximately the same frequency as the helicopter type noise.

    For a very obtuse reason I happen to know that the cabin airflow exhauster port is located just inside that quarter panel just behind the rear bumper "bulge" as it wraps around toward the wheelwell.

    For much the same obtuse reason I happen to have a spare RX300 exhauster port laying here beside me as I type this. It has a total airflow opening of about 12 square inches but what seems to be more important it has a light and thin rubber "baffle" to prevent reverse airflow.

    Using a small fan as a test we discovered that the fluttering noise I heard is the result of some sort of mechanical resonance of the exhauster port assembly which causes the baffle to flutter from open to close at a fairly low frequency.

    So is this baffle the root cause of the helicopter sounds in Toyota and Lexus vehicles being so excruciatingly painful?

    Stay tuned.

    This coming weekend I will open the bumper bulge area and remove the baffle portion of the exhauster port and then run some tests up and down the road with only the rear windows lowered.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Approaching 40k miles now my 01 RX300 has never seem much more than 1 or 2 tanks of 91 octane, always used 87 octane.
  • jrhjrh Posts: 6
    Yes, I plan to test drive a 6 cyl and 4 cyl with all four of us in the car. Just searching for some input from people who have more experience than just the test drive.

    Just read in a Consumer Guide review that the Honda Pilot took regular gas, but it was "recommended" that premium be used in the v6 HL.

    Thanks for the replies.
  • kadskads Posts: 27
    See Karen's post below, 7/22/04, #1496, before buying. The hesitation problem is a safety hazard, and Toyota has no solution. The problem can actually get worse with mileage because the transmission is "adaptive", it reprograms as you drive. It's only in the 5 speed transmissions on highlander, camry, lexus rx, solara, etc.

    If you read other posts here, and on MSN auto, Toyota has known about the problem since December,03, and refuses to correct it. The dealers can't fix it because it's a design or manufacturing problem. We've been complaining for two months to no avail. I'm about ready to turn it over to our attorney.
  • wainwain Posts: 479
    keep at it
    "For a very obtuse reason I happen to know that the cabin airflow exhauster port is located just inside that quarter panel just behind the rear bumper "bulge" as it wraps around toward the wheelwell."

    where is this? post a pix?
    more detail?
    are you saying its like a check valve that flutters?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    that flutters....

    Yes, exactly. There is a light rubber membrane covering the outlet flow, exhauster, port. If the cabin interior air pressure it greater than the atmospheric pressure near this outlet then the membrane will "open". If the atmospheric pressure is equal or above the vehicles cabin pressure the membrane will remain closed due to the force of gravity and/or reverse pressure.

    At this point I'm guessing that the distance between the exhauster port opening and the directly facing exterior body panel, maybe 3 to 4 inches, is causing a low frequency resonance which results in an air pressure standing wave and thereby the membrane flutters "open and shut, open and..." at the low frequency you hear with just the rear window(s) down.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Toyota/Lexus cabin air outflow exhauster port oriented as in vehicle such that gravity holds the membrane shut.

    Membrane shown removed
  • wainwain Posts: 479
    where exactly is it????????????

    maybe it needs a hole in it just big enought to soften its closing effect and reduce its effectiveness.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Drove home to remove the membrane and on the way home I lowered the right rear window. At 40MPH (max on city streets) the pressure waves were painful on my eardrums. On the way back to the office after removing the membranes the pressure waves were practically non-existant.

    Will do more trials at higher speeds over the weekend but it's hard to believe that Toyota and Lexus would screw up this seriously and then simply let it ride for so long.

    On the other hand some of the fault for that is likely mine since I have been saying that these pressure waves are somewhat normal historically.

    How many of you have actually lodged a complaint with Toyota or Lexus about this?

    Since I happen to have a "spare" exhauster port and if the pressure waves persist at higher speeds I may add another exhauster port on the opposite side. After removing the reverse flow blocking membrane, of course.

    I know from my experience with the Ford station wagons that it didn't take much of an opening of the rear liftgate glass to completely eliminate the pressure waves.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    On my 01 RX300...

    Directly behind the red "street/parking" lamp that's mounted on the rear bumper wraparound "bulge" on the driver's side rear quarter panel. If you put the fan on high and flow on fresh with the vehicle closed up completely you can feel the air outflow behind the rear wheel at the bottom of the driver's side rear quarter panel.

    On the RX300 you will also likely hear the fluttering that first called my attention to this.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Posted on the Toyota LC and Lexus LX forums.

    LC & LX owners, HL and RX owners need your help. Many of these owners have posted complaints about the eardrum busting helicopter noise generated within the vehicle with a single rear window down and clipping along at hwy speeds.

    From my own experience I know historically of this problem. My 68 and 72 Ford station wagons were subject to this effect but by simply lowering the rear liftgate glass slightly I could eliminate the effect.

    I notice that the LC, and maybe the LX, have cabin airflow exhauster ports which are mounted above the "beltline", one on each side of your vehicles.

    Do those exhauster ports and their "high mount" location allow enough cabin air outflow to prevent the helicopter sound in the LC and LX? Or are have you seen the same type of complaint?

    For reference read:

    Toyota Highlander Owners: Problems and solutions at post 1490 on...
  • 02hl02hl Posts: 8
    Although I would love to drive with the sunroof wide open, I can deal with the wind noise knowing the car has such an excellent seal throughout. As for your project, you may want to reconsider if you plan on keeping it permanent. Humid conditions could cause musty odors in your vehicle.
  • wainwain Posts: 479
    is the original purpose of these vents.

    still ask for a better description of where it is.

    1. is it in the wheel well somewhere near the tire? yes no?

    2. connected to the vent on the left when you open the rear hatch. there is a vent inside the car which has open slots - on the other (passenger side) the vent looks the same but is sealed up?

    3. can you see it from outside the car or do you have to pull the lower fender edge out on the drivers side at the back?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Except on the LC and LX the exhauster port(s) is not visible from inside or outside. On my 01 RX you get to the outside of the exhauster port the same way you would do to change the bulb in the street/parking light at the bottom of the driver's side rear quarter panel.


    I don't comprehend your meaning. If anything freer outflow, a more open exhauster port, would lend itself to lowering the interior humidity.

    Purpose of vents...

    These vehicles are so well sealed and insulated the "fresh" mode of the climate control would have no functionality absent a method for exhausting some of the cabin atmosphere to "make room" for fresh incoming airflow.
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