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Toyota Highlander Maintenance and Repair



  • mit1mit1 Posts: 18
    another major problem involving the highlander is the inability to roll down the back windows without damaging your ears.this is a major design flaw(other suv's have this problem but the highlander is the worst). structure body.and when you roll down just the front passenger window you get almost the same result.the car needed some type of pressure release valve in the rear.this problem is well known in toyota service dept. once again toyota buries it's head in the sand.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    But first, a fact.


    Cadillac installed an over-running clutch within the transmission of their FWD cars equipped with the high HP high torque Northstar engine as a result of too many loss of control incidents on curving downhill icy, slippery, roadbeds.


    When and if the driver happens to quickly get off the gas the engine would provide so much drag to the front wheels that they would lose traction with the roadbed.


    These are all FWD, or front biased AWD vehicles we are talking about here. Maybe the degree to which they are subject to teh Caddy problem is not as great, but they are most definitely subject to the problem!


    Now, if you asked me to stand up and truthfully testify before a court of law to the following I would have absolutely no reservations about doing so.


    "My 2001 AWD RX300 somehow puts the transmission in an engine "no-drag" mode during coastdown. It also puts the transmission in an engine no-drag mode just before coming to a full stop."


    "These incidents are either extremely rare, or if this activity is consistent, then my ability to take note of them is somehow lacking. I very rarely notice these effects."


    Now for the assumptions.


    Just suppose, instead of adding an over-running clutch, Toyota decided to eliminate the potential for loss of control in these circumstances by finding a different method.


    Most of us, or maybe not, have at one time or another driven a vehicle with a manual transmission. Out of absolute necessity just before coming to a stop you would always release the clutch. If you were traveling down an icy roadbed and decided to coastdown you would most likely depress the clutch. At least long enough to put the transmission into neutral.


    So suppose that's just what Toyota decided to do with my front torque biased AWD 2001 RX300, put the transmission in neutral to prevent loss of control incidents as a result of engine braking to the front wheels on an icy roadbed.


    My 2001 RX300 has the trailer towing package, extra transmission cooling radiator, which has NEVER been used. The owners manual indicates that the transmission fluid is good for the life of the transmission.


    At 38K miles my transmission fluid looks and smells burned and Lexus just told me that I should flush and replace the fluid every 15,000 miles.


    It can be pretty hard on the transmission clutches and bands if the transmission is not in first gear when I decide not to come to a full stop after all and go WOT instead. My gas pedal is mechanically coupled to the intake, if I say go, the engine RPM starts to climb.


    But most, if not all, of those complaining of hesitation have an e-throttle. So let's suppose the follow-on fix for my burned transmission fluid is to not allow the engine RPM to rise until the transmission is in the proper gear.


    So, you are coming to a full stop, and at some point the system decides to shift the transmission such that it eliminates engine drag. And now lets say that just about the time the mechanics of the transmission have started to move into this "non-engine-drag" mode, you go WOT.


    Does the transmission have to fully complete the initial shifting sequence into "non-engine-drag" mode before it's ECU will accept/begin another shift sequence?


    At just what point in the above scenario did you go WOT?


    One thousand one, one thousand two, etc....
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Traveling in wintertime on an icy roadbed and with a manual transmission I would NEVER downshift for slowing or coastdown. How does your automatic transmission know NOT to automatically downshift in these circumstances?


    Or does it?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    If you search for wwest and exhauster in the RX300 thread you will find at least a partial fix in that you can remove the reverse flow prevention flap of the cabin airflow exhauster port.
  • edhedh Posts: 246

    car salesman always claim to have never heard of any problem with any car they are selling
  • pilot130pilot130 Posts: 319
    Wwest, your thoughts on engine drag, 4WD characteristics, and auto tranny downshifting patterns have, at the very least, shown that you are open minded and not singularly predisposed to condemnation in this discussion. Nice to know that, as opposed to those "my way or the highway" postions being advocated by some--(and handed to yours truly in no uncertain terms by one or two of the participants here).

    I can assure you, I'm not closed minded on the subject by any means. I don't have it on our HL, I know others who don't, and know no one who does, but that doesn't mean I believe it's non existent nor that some kind of fix (if it does it'll probably a TSB) will eventually be instituted by Toyota.

    Contrary to those who insist Toyota ignores customer concerns to customers, I truly believe Toyota is more sensitive to customer concerns that most other automakers--that's why they are consistently at the top of their game.

    Just to comment on your thoughts. There's a great deal more drag on a 4x4 driveline, hence more inertia, more cumulative slack within the system, and because of different geometry, more driver noticeable quirkiness. All of these factors can contribute significantly different characteristics to a 4x4 vehicle, and especially, first time 4x4 owners might be particularly sensitive to the differences. That concept might also be a factor in this issue, and has been noted, but isn't always included with the much touted Toyota quote (inferred to as an admission of culpability by those same advocates) in that Pittsburg Newspaper. I'm of the opinion (just an opinion--not a conclusion folks!!) that driver sensitivity may indeed be a big part of the puzzle. Having read through all of this forum, and other forums making reference to the problem, I think there's some merit there.

    Not wanting to further upset those who advocate I've got no business participating here, I'll just leave it at that for the time being.

    Besides, it's almost Christmas, and there are much more important concerns at this time of year.

    Too bad those truly important concerns don't continue throughout!!

    Happy Holidays Everyone!!
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Remember that I said that I'm absolutely sure of the symptoms in my 01 AWD RX300, "sling-shot" effect on coastdown, being "bumped" from behind just before coming to a full stop.


    I bought the vehicle in late 2000, and here it is late 2004, 4 years and 40k miles. And yet the number of times the effects have been noticeable enough to get my attention I'd bet I could count on my fingers.


    So, rather than attributing it to driver sensitivity, I would attribute it to the absolute rarity of the exacting circumstances wherein it is noticeable to the driver.


    As a for instance, I would be willing to bet that all 04 and later FWD Toyota/Lexus vehicles are subject to the effect.
  • mit1mit1 Posts: 18
    what do you mean partial fix?is this something that toyota has suggested?will exhaust fumes get into the car?thanks.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Removing the reverse flow flap will only reduce, fairly substantially, the volume of the standing wave.


    One fine day I was working around the car while the blower motor was running at a fairly high speed when I noticed a vibrational, fluttering, sound coming from the rear of the vehicle.


    It turned out to be the reverse flow flap fluttering in and out, open and shut, as a result of the cabin volume's cavity resonance effect.


    And yes, removing it will likely result in some level of exhaust fumes inside the car but only in specific circumsatnces. AS you travel down the road the aerodynamic effect will result in a somewhat higher air pressure on the underside of the vehicle than elsewhere, sometimes forcing reverse flow.


    Since the exhauster outflow is under the driver's side rear quarter panel (RX300) it is this very effect that helps to make the already too small exhauster port much less efficient than it should be.


    You can overcome the reverse flow problem by turning the blower motor up an extra notch.
  • mit1mit1 Posts: 18
    with all the computer simulation that is in use ,this just proves that their is no substitute for hands on experiance.their is no excuse for this problem other than incompetance and indifference.would i have purchaced this vehicle kowing this problem?no.why should we be their guinee pigs.other than this major problem the car has been flawless.unfortunatly i will probably trade it in.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    absolutely excellently!


    The problem was the simulation goal was increased fuel economy. If no "conditioned" air escapes the cabin, then the A/C compressor will run a lot less.
  • Mr Jaeger -


    What is this magical cure on page 34 of the Owner's Manual to which you refer? An Adjustment of some kind? Or is it just the slight opening of a rear window that I've used before?


    You seem to be the only Forum member that's got the handle on this. Please share...


    And, Happy Holidays, all!
  • bdymentbdyment Posts: 569
    I believe (jaegerlou) is referring to the normalization procedure for closing the sunroof. If the battery has been run down or disconnected, you have to go through this process to ensure the sunroof opens and closes properly.


    Many new Highlanders are not setup correctly by the dealer and often the owner will have to refer to page 34 to normalize the sunroof. I know I did.


    I am not sure whether you are referring to excess noise with the roof open or closed. If you mean with the roof open, then cracking a rear window will definitely help. If you mean with the roof closed then try the normalization procedure.
  • I am talking about the normalization procedure that was to have been done as part of the pre-delivery service at the dealership. The main problem it created for me was when the moonroof was fully open it left a horrible fluttering sound to the ears. After the normalization was done the sound was gone. The service rep at the dealership didn't have a clue as to what the problem was until he called the Toyota technical center.
  • In my partcular vehicle (04 HL V6)after 6500 miles the problems are still there. The hesitation happens in mine not at just "wide open throttle", but in normal driving conditions. The hesitation times vary. This is not (in my case) a consistent problem under all driving conditions (in terms of the timing of the hesitation). The transmission has not "learned" anything yet. The other problems are also still there: the "slingshot" affect (engine downshift drag disappears while slowing through about 10 mph). The abrupt downshifting from what appears to be third to second, and second to first. The combination of the above in all driving conditions accounts for hard, awkward shifting at times which makes me wonder how much this transmission can take before breaking down. The dealer service and PR guys say they all operate like this (apparently not). I've opened a case with the regional office and they also claim they all operate in this manner (apparently not). This is the 17th car I've owned in my life and from a transmission point of view, by far the worst. For those who don't have it, I don't know why but I hope you never get it. Putting up that kind of dough just to be frustrated is no fun. For those who (seemingly) single mindedly defend, or make excuses for Toyota it makes me wonder why (not really, I think I know why). I recently purchased a 15 year old beater so my son wouldn't have to drive the HL and the transmission works normally, as they all should. I also drive many rentals and in my opinion, this car needs to be fixed. I think Toyota finally "improved" this car to the point that a lot of them don't work so good. I think a lot of them got pushed out into the field prematurely. It's a little scary that Toyotas first attempt to repair the problem didn't work. That may mean it's going to be more complex to correct this design flaw than originally thought. At least it's clear they acknowledge a fix is required. I hope it happens soon.
  • early 2004 HL v6 13000 miles awd and agree with most of what you said. The tranny is inconsistant with its shifts, especially 1st to 2nd, sometime it shifts like I think it should, other times delays are in the >.5 second times.This is under normal acceleration. I never WOT. Does it shift like a quality tranny (absolutely not). I have never owned a car with shifting so slow. I also own 2003 Avalon(shifts great, crisp and quick) Also Avalon brakes are high and hard.

    Going from the Avalon to the HL the tranny and brakes are like night and day. In general I like the HL very much, but wish Toyota would address these 2 issues. The Avalon tranny does do one thing, when coming almost to a stop it seems to hesitate long enough to downshift that if you accelerate before it downshifts you get a sudden slam and acceleration. If you come to a full stop this does not happen. This same effect is in the HL tranny. It makes you want to come to a full stop. I believe that the trannys are educating the drivers how to use it.Maybe thats what adaptive trannys do. I for one would like to have the trannys do what I tell it to.
  • wbaywbay Posts: 34
    I almost never apply WOT, except in extreme situations, but the hesitation doesn't depend on WOT conditions. Most annoying is coming up to a yield sign and accelerating without coming to a full stop...hesitation occurs every time.


    I agree that Toyota has gone and fixed something that wasn't broken. Too bad we have to depend on Toyota for a solution to a problem they created.


    By the way, has anyone noticed the hesitation in a 4runner? Can't find any mention of it in the 4runner forum.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    That's exactly the way my 01 AWD RX300 acts, except for the hesitation. As I slow to a stop, just before coming to a full stop, I feel like the transmission drops out of gear. I am fairly certain it quickly goes into 1st gear if I accelerate instead of coming to a full stop.


    But then mine has a mechanical throttle coupling.


    I'm placing my bet on Toyota using the e-throttle to prevent the engine from responding until the transmission "settles" into the proper gear.


    But then there remains the question of why do this, why "drop out of gear" in the first place.


    And my bet here is on prevention of loss of control due to engine drag on an icy roadbed.


    If you were driving a high torque FWD (or maybe even a RWD) vehicle on an icy street or on black ice and with a manual transmission wouldn't "this" be just about the right point you would be releasing the clutch?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    The hesitation is to extend the life of the automatic transmission bands and clutches.


    The reason for the need to extend the life of the bands and clutches is because the transmission is dropping out of gear during coastdown and/or when coming to a stop in order to prevent loss of directional control due to engine drag at the driven, front, wheels of a FWD vehicle.


    Once the transmission has dropped out of gear in these instances, or by pure happenstance is in the process of dropping out of gear, the bands and clutches would be quickly worn down if the engine were allowed to build torque before the transmission can be "put" into the proper gear.


    The 4runner will never exhibit this symptom

    because it is RWD or rear biased AWD/4WD. And yes, the driven wheels of a RWD, or a rear torque biased AWD might also "lock" due to engine drag torque, but you would still have directional control so the hazard there would not be nearly as great.
  • If that is so then Toyota is at odds with Nissan, my Maxima does not exhibit this phenomenon. It has always downshifted at a near stop with no hesitation or clunking into gear no matter what throttle position. When I bought my Toyotas this was the first thing I did not like and was immediately aware of it. Your conclusion doesn't take into account that sometimes the tranny shifts fine. There may be something wrong with the mechanics of the downshifts, since my Avalon does exactly the same thing. The HLs algorithm for the shifting process is also flawed. This should be addressed and corrected. We are talking about a vehicle which is highly rated, MSRPs $38000 fully loaded and my previous Blazer tranny makes it look like a slush bucket. Come on Toyota

    get real.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    the tranny shifts fine....


    How often, just before coming to a full stop, do you change your mind and decide to accelerate quite rapidly instead? During coastdown how often do you go quickly from coastdown to hard acceleration?


    These are both rare circumstances, at least for me, so unless these circumstances occur, the "tranny" appears to shift just fine.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    There has been some indication that left foot brakers are at fault with the hesitation problem.


    Suppose, for just a moment in time, that I am correct and the transmission is actually being shifted out of gear just before coming to a full stop. And let's further suppose that it will now be left out of gear as long as the brake is applied and/or the vehicle has come to a full stop.


    Under this scenerio if I quickly get off the brake and quickly onto the gas (not necessarily WOT) just before coming to a full stop I may catch the transmission "out of gear".


    Certainly then, the hesitation symptom would be more pronounced for left foot brakers. Absolutely no "fore warning", NONE, to the transmission ECU that I have changed my mind about coming to a full stop.
  • rugby65rugby65 Posts: 81
    My 03 HL sometimes stumbles from 1st to 2nd. most of the time I don't notice it. It only stumbles when I'm driving with a light foot, if I get on it, it shifts right through the gears.

    If this transmission is electronically controlled there should be a remedy for this.
  • All kind of scenarios can be presented but the bottom line should be the tranny should never leave you in an between gear limbo, and then take a long time (sic) to react to driver inputs, and then slam you into gear. When one drives passengers in this vehicle I feel I have to explain why the harsh shifts at near stops, thats ridiculous.

    Since I dont left foot brake, your scenario doesn't apply to me. There is most definitely a shifting problem with these trannys.

    And its not all the 5 speed. The very fact that people are on these forums tells me that they are more informed, more aware, more conscious of their vehicles performance. Toyota may be playing percentages. and this small minority doesn't count.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    I don't think I implied, and if I did I certainly didn't mean to, that the symptom was unique to left foot brakers.


    What I was implying is that the symptom, assuming my theory is correct, would certainly be more prevalent for left foot brakers. With the specific circumstance, not quite coming to a complete stop, the shorter the time between brake lift and throttle application the more likely the symptom would be encountered.


    And again, assume for just a moment that my theory is correct and this unique shift pattern was implemented intentionally to prevent loss of control of FWD vehicles on an icy, slippery, roadbed.


    Think of the adverse PR that would be the result of an admission of the purpose of the modification to the shift pattern. Basically it would amount to indicting ALL FWD vehicles with a reasonably higher torque engine to be subject to loss of control.


    What would the competitors, Ford, GM, Accura etc, etc, do and say? And keep in mind that it was Ford's stupidity in deflating the Exploders tires that actually caused those blowouts and rollovers, but in the end it was the tire company that took the "fall".


    Something Toyota and Lexus have actually been saying/stating in their owners manuals for many years.


    "higher traction on the front versus the rear can potentially lead to loss of control of a FWD vehicle."


    Paraphrased and out of context but technically correct. The actual context is/was winter tires on the front but not the rear. But keep in mind that FWD vehicles ALWAYS have more traction on the front than the rear.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Put an indicator on the dash that the transmission is not in gear, with an aural indicator if a serious level of throttle is applied before the transmission can be returned to the proper, appropriate gear.


    I don't think that it is purely an accident that at about this same time the AAA starting recommending that FWD owners with automatic transmissions practice and become comfortable shifting the automatic into neutral during these exact circumstances, an icy roadbed.


    I have long argued that all road-going passenger vehicles follow the practice of most european manufacturer insofar as how the defog/demist system operates. When YOU activate the defog/demist function ONLY you know how serious the matter is, the windshield could be completely opaque, severely limiting your forward vision, or you might have only a light wisp of condensation on the bottom outside corners of your windshield.


    In a European manufacturered vehicle, mostly BOSCH controls, when you activate defog/demist that will result in an extremely high volume of HOT airflow to the interior surface of the windshield, be it the hottest day of summer or the coldest night of winter.


    In a vehicle with NipponDenso, Denso US, controls, your personal comfort is considered above, far above, your safety, so what you will get is a light flow of coolish, possibly dehumidified (not likely, but possible) air to the interior surface of the windshield.


    So Toyota, not having any idea just what the roadbed surface might really be like at any given time, but knowing with absolute certainty that this circumstance is potentially the worse safety aspect of FWD vehicles, takes the best action with the mechanicals that is possible considering.


    Of course they could have added an over-running clutch within the transmission as Cadillac did. This clutch prevents loss of control due to engine drag on their FWDs equipped with the HIGH torque Northstar engine, but that would have added weight and mechanical complexity to a transaxle already over-designed for low weight and compactness.
  • junepugjunepug Posts: 161
    Who uses their left foot to brake a car?? Neither myself or my wife have ever used our left foot. We were taught in high school driving class to use the right foot for both the gas and brakes.


    Is is because people have become lazy since there are not many manual trans out there??


    I personally feel it is dangerous to use the left foot to brake while having the right foot near the accelerator pedal.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Mostly people that wear out their brakes too soon and then wonder why. Watch as you drive down the road how many brake lights are on and the vehicle is clearly just cruising along.
  • Thank you, spencer327 and junepug, for stating that right-foot brakers also have the hesitation. I've been wondering about that.


    As to who uses the left foot to brake, wwest is right that it's not all that uncommon. My father, for example, has been left-foot braking for decades. He argues that it makes him a safer driver because, by keeping his left foot perched just above the brake pedal, he can brake more quickly. But if you follow him down the road, you will see that the brake lights flicker off and on.
  • bdymentbdyment Posts: 569
    I agree that left foot braking is not uncommon. I learned to drive on three on the tree Mercury Meteor and drove manual transmissions for a few years. I think that the idea of left foot braking comes from the fact my left foot had nothing to do and the theory, which I subscribe to, that it can be faster. The main thing you have to remember is not to rest your foot on the brake. I have no trouble doing this as I never rested my foot on a clutch, unless I was going to use it.


    Also I owned a few mid sixties Chrysler products with automatics. The only way to keep them running when it was damp was to keep your foot lightly on the gas, and brake with your left foot. Kind of funny when I think back. Fuel injection and electronics has certainly made cars more driveable.
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