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Toyota Highlander Maintenance and Repair



  • kman49kman49 Posts: 2
    It's been awhile since you posted this message but I'm wondering if you ever found a fix. I have an 03 HL 2WD that has steering wheel vibration at 69-71mph and the puzzling part is it's only sporadic. Replaced the tires with high end Michelin's, found the dealer had the car off the lot with a mis matched wheel so they gave me 5 new wheels, it's been balanced and aligned but I still have vibration in the steering wheel. Never know when it's going to start nor how long it will last. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I love the vehicle and don't want to have to trade it to get rid of the vibration.
  • imjollymonimjollymon Posts: 1
    I know exactly what this is and is very easy to fix! It is mud built up inside your wheels. All you have to do is have your tire taken off the rim and the mud cleaned up. I need to do this about 3-4 times a year. It costs about $20 and takes care of it completely!
  • jenna1jenna1 Posts: 4
    I'm considering buying a 2001 Highlander Limited with 87,000 miles from a dealer. It's in excellent condition and a good price but the high miles scare me. Any suggestions?
  • goldstongoldston Posts: 110

    If it were me I'd ask for all the service records. Carefully look at dates and mileage to see how this vehicle was maintained. Look to see if they did the prescribed "color coded" maintenance

    Yellow is at 5k, 10k, 20k, 25k miles
    Green is at 15k, 45k, 75k miles
    Blue is at 30k, 60k miles

    Good luck, let us know what you found out and decided to do.

    Best regards,

  • jenna1jenna1 Posts: 4
    Good advice! Thanks, Phil
  • cmunizcmuniz Posts: 604
    This is an educated guess since this has not happened to me, but it probably means that the compass needs to be calibrated. There should be instructions in the manual. IIRC you need to drive in a tight circle in a parking lot or other open space until it displays the direction again.
  • tomjtomj Posts: 1
    My Camry and Corolla moon roofs have always work flawlessly so I knew something was amiss when my new Highlander moon roof would not automatically stop when it reached the closed position. Further, I had to hold my finger on the button to keep it moving. In doing so, It cycled through the tilt open, tilt close, slide open and slide close movements in a consecutive manner without stopping in the closed (or open) position. This became irritating because I had to precisely time the moment to let go of the button as it neared the closed position. The solution, thanks to this forum, was to "normalize" the moon roof. This simple procedure requires pressing and holding the "tilt open" switch until it cycles through a complete tilt open/close and slide open/close cycle. HOWEVER, despite repeated attempts, the roof would not normalize. The ultimate solution was to remove the MOON ROOF FUSE and reinstall it. Following another normalize cycle, my moon roof now works correctly. It opens or closes with a brief touch of the button. The moon roof fuse is located behind the tilt out compartment below and to the left of the steering wheel. Open the compartment and pull the compartment up and out (it will snap out) to gain access to the fuses behind. A label on the back of the (now removed) compartment has the location of the fuse. Hope this helps. :shades:

  • scott6840scott6840 Posts: 5
    The Highlander is my wife's car so I don't drive it all that much so perhaps I'm way off base. My current Infiniti G35 coupe as well as my two previous Lexus SC400's all had instrument lights that came on with the ignition. Maybe I'm just spoiled.
  • kman49kman49 Posts: 2
    Thanks for the suggestion, I hadn't thought of that one, but I don't think that is problem with this one. The wheels and tires are new (3 weeks) and have never been in the mud. I've been dealing with this problem about 8 months now, 2 alignments, 15 rebalances, 3 times the tires have been off the rims. Any other suggestions would be most welcome. I do a lot of highway driving so even though this vibration is minor it is very frustrating when you drive hours at a time.
  • junepugjunepug Posts: 161
    Guess that is only on the high priced autos. I have owned Chevys, VWs, Fords, Jeeps and Toyotas and none of them worked in that manner. The panel lights only came on when the parking lights or brights were turned on.
  • Have you every heard of this?? I have a '03 Highlander that I love and have never had a serious problem with it. Yesterday we went out to go to work and my son got in to the car and shut the passenger door. When he did this the rear right window on the drivers side (not the passenger one but the one back by the cargo area) BLEW OUT. The night before the car had been washed and I dried the windows and know for a fact that there was no defect in the window. No little cracks or holes etc.
    It was not that hot because this happened at about 0800. We called Toyota and of course they said it wasn't covered by warrantee and we got the impression that they thought we were lying.
    Swear to God I have never seen such a thing. There was a big hole in the center of the window and all the glass was on the OUTSIDE of the car.
    Has this ever happened to anyone else or have you heard about it happening?
  • jbolltjbollt Posts: 734
    YAY! I had my 05 Highlander Limited in to the dealer for its 5,000 mile service today, and they were able to access the "internal computer" via "scan tool" and change the function where the RECIRC comes on virtually every time the car is started to make it so I can choose it on not!
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Two weeks ago we were on our way to central MT from Seattle and just east of Snoqualmie pass I thought someone had fired a shotgun into our passenger side rear door window.


    Sounded like a cherry bomb went off inside the car.

    Huge jagged hole in the window and all the rest "spider" webbed, totally fragmented.

    I have since learned that it is not all that unusual an event.

    Undetectable manufacturing defect leaves the glass under severe internal stress and eventually it just lets go.
  • Hi , can you elaborate on removing the panel from the bottom .... thanks, anthony
  • hmurphyhmurphy Posts: 278
    For me, the problem is with the "auto" lights setting. In auto mode, the lights (inside and out) don't come on nearly soon enough for my liking. Even on very gray, dreary days (of which we have many in Chicago), the lights won't come on and the instrumentation is difficult to see. Also, the lights don't come on in tunnels until I'm nearly out of them.

    As a result, I typically just turn the lights on and leave them on. That's the only way I've found to get proper instrumentation lighting on gray days.

    I wonder if the auto setting is adjustable, so I could have it turn the lights on a bit sooner than it normally would?
  • jbb123jbb123 Posts: 1
    I have a brand new HL limited with 2500 miles. So far great car, but has stalled while driving twice. Once at a red light, once while cruising at 35mph. Toyota service cannot find problem, says computer did not detect any faulty codes, fuel lines clear and all wiring tight. Anyone have ideas?
  • shl72953shl72953 Posts: 53
    Take it back to your dealer. He can adjust the head lights to come on quite a bit earlier. My dealer did it in about ten minutes and didn't charge for the service.
  • vitbuzzvitbuzz Posts: 1
    I have a 2004 Highlander V6, AWD with 23,000 miles. The left turn lights often flash rapidly at a dimmer than normal light then will return to a more normal (slower and brighter) operation. The rapid flashing appears to be completely at random. Any ideas on what I can do to fix the problem? Thanks.
  • herzogtum71herzogtum71 Posts: 470
    The reason for rapid flashing may be that the light in the rear of the car is burned out. That's been the case with cars I have owned, and once the problem was intermittent and took a while to confirm. I don't know from your post if the dashboard light is dimmer or the light in the rear of the car. If it's the latter you may need to take it in for service so they can look for a wiring problem or some other cause.
  • hmurphyhmurphy Posts: 278
    Thanks. I'm glad to know I can have that adjusted.
  • loucapriloucapri Posts: 214
    similiar post can be found in the camry msg board. I also have the same kind of problem in my 97 camry. (when it is raining so bad)
    one solution is to take the bulb out and clean the connector (socket) with a little brush
  • retropiaretropia Posts: 41
    I haven't checked any of the Highlander forums for awhile, and I just happened back for a visit. I've had a vibration problem with my 2001 Highlander V6 AWD almost since it was new. It starts around 65 mph, and comes and goes while you're driving. Nobody knows what causes it or how to fix it. Of course, they balanced the tires and performed alignments at least a dozen times.

    Bridgestone replaced two of the original Dueller tires, a dealer claimed to replace a front half-shaft (although I later found out they didn't, because the tech claims he didn't have the right tool for the job), the dealer replaced all of the original tires with Michelin Cross Terrains, another dealer attempted to diagnose it by pulling a new Highlander off the lot, then switching parts with mine, including both front half-shafts plus the main driveshaft to the rear wheels, and nothing worked.

    Then, the dealer took off the factory steel wheels and put on a set of factory alloys. That made the vibration go away . . . for awhile. Now it's coming back. This tells me all they did was mask the symptoms; they didn't really solve the problem.

    Toyota did try to fix it, so I have to give them credit for that. However, they haven't been able to do so, so I've decided to dump it. It's a shame, because it only has 38K miles, and it's been an exemplary vehicle otherwise. This has not been a happy ownership experience.

    For me, I notice the vibration first in the steering wheel. If you lift your hands off the wheel, you see it shake from left to right. Then you can begin to feel it through your feet, in the floorboards, and finally, the seats start to shake. This comes and goes as you're driving on the highway. Eventually, the CD cases start rattling in their holder, which is what it was doing before they installed the factory alloys. The only way to make it stop was to slow down to below 55. Now, the steering wheel is starting to shake again, so I know it's coming back.

    Anyway, my suggestion to you, if you want, is start an arbitration process. When Toyota officials start calling you, asking if you'd like to give them a chance to "fix" it, say "no." Once your vehicle is past the 3-year, 36K warranty period, you are no longer eligible for arbitration, which is where I'm at. I suppose I could go to court, but that would be on my dime, whereas Toyota pays for the arbitration process.

    I phoned Toyota today, and they say there is no service bulletin regarding this problem on this vehicle. So, if they in fact know that a problem exists, they still don't know how to fix it.

    Good luck to you.
  • jrfierojrfiero Posts: 123
    What have the dealers done with the brakes? My humble opinion is that this is a brake rotor issue, gets worse as the rotors heat up, changes a little each time they remove and replace a wheel because of the new torque from the lug nuts. Why are your rotors heating just driving along? Faulty caliper(s) causing the pads to keep in contact with the rotors. Why does it go away? Once the rotors 'wobble' enough they push the pads back into the calipers (just a little tiny bit) and the rotors cool down.
    'Course, maybe the dealer who swapped parts swapped these brake parts, too.
    Driveshaft vibration wouldn't come and go, or get worse the longer you drive.
    There have been many posts about warped rotors on this forum, and my 2001 will exhibit signs of warped rotors if I get the brakes hot.
    I'll bet yours is an extreme case, and that new rotors and calipers would fix it.
    And beware the often stated advice to properly and evenly torque the lug nuts.
  • retropiaretropia Posts: 41
    No dealership mechanics have said anything about the brake rotors, about a possible problem with them or having tested brake parts from the donor Highlander. It's going in tomorrow for a final service, so I'll ask the service mgr. However, unless there's a factory bulletin on the issue, I'm not sure I want them to do any further experimenting. They might inadvertently make the vibration worse, which would make it difficult to sell, and since it's past the original warranty period, I'd likely be the one paying for the new rotors and calipers, which might or might not resolve the vibration.

    After four years of diagnosis experimentation, with nothing better than a temporary cessation of symptoms, I'm tired. I want out of this relationship.

    But thanks for the suggestions . . . it might help someone else. If there is some miracle epiphany at the dealership tomorrow, I'll come back here to report.
  • landdriverlanddriver Posts: 607
    Isn't the drivetrain warranted for 5 years? I can't remember if the rotors are included in the drivetrain, but a quick check of the warranty should delineate what constitutes the drivetrain for warranty purposes.

    jrfiero, excellent deduction on possible cause -- I was trying to theorize the cause myself but wasn't able to come up with anything that would explain why replacing the wheels would only temporarily resolve the problem until I read your post!
  • retropiaretropia Posts: 41
    It's the standard 3-year/36,000 mile warranty, which I'm now past. Supposedly my vehicle is covered under the extended 8-yr/100,000 mile warranty due to oil sludge problems, but only problems related specifically to oil sludge. If I remember right, the only parts covered to 5-years/50,000 miles are things related to polution control, like the catalytic converter.

    The dealer service rep said that if the rotors were warped, I'd feel a vibration on braking, and I don't. He said the calipers wouldn't be contributing to the problem. He said they have a test they can perform, where they place a micrometer on the rotor, then spin it, to see if it's warped. The test costs $75, which would come out of my pocket, and he said he wouldn't recommend it if I'm not feeling any vibration on braking.

    The service rep said the technician drove it, and he claimed it felt like a wheel was out of balance. (Every technician always says that.) They wanted to perform a $63 wheel balance, which they said was the only thing they could do. Of course, the wheels have been balanced dozens of times before without eliminating the vibration, so why bother.

    I just wanted to confirm that there were no factory bulletins on the problem, and the rep said there are not. I didn't want a dealer technician continuing to experiment, especially since I would now have to pay for it, and the odds of anyone ever figuring out the problem are slim.

    It's time to get rid of it; good luck to any of the rest of you experiencing similar symptoms.
  • landdriverlanddriver Posts: 607
    Not to belabor the point, but I checked the warranty booklet for my '01 while out driving today and the drivetrain is warranted for 5 years or 60,000 miles, so my take is the warranty should cover your problem since its obviously a drivetrain issue and your HL only has 38K miles.
  • skutflutskutflut Posts: 3
    I have a 2001 Highlander 3.0 litre V6 4WD. This car has been great except for one problem that I am about to go to the dealer with for the second time. At highway speeds, (above 2700 RPM on the tach) it uses oil like I owned an oil well.

    Back in Sept 2004, after a year of "monitoring" the situation, the dealer replaced the piston rings and valve seals on the engine. They told me that the oil rings were seized. I accepted that explanation since it sounded reasonable.

    I don't do all that much highway long distance driving so it was not until this last week during my family vacation trip that I found out that the problem is not solved. A 1200KM trip required 6 quarts of oil.

    I found it down 2 quarts at the first fuel stop, which was after about 300 miles at 65-70 mph (2700-3000 rpm). One more quart went in at about 450 miles.

    I then experimented a bit on a side trip one day and kept the speed down around 55-60 for 180 miles and it did not use a drop of oil. On the return leg of that trip, I let the speed move up again to my normal cruising range of 65-70 and sure enough, another quart of oil disappeared. It took 3 more quarts to get home. Right now, its down at least one quart, since I wanted the dealer to see that there is oil missing since they did oil and filter about 1800 miles ago.

    Can anybody comment on what is going on with this engine? I don't know enough about the internals to make an informed argument with the dealer who I will be visiting tomorrow. I still have warranty (60000 mile/ 5 year power train) and Im pretty sure they will have to do something, but since they have already DONE a partial rebuild and not fixed the problem, what should I suggest they look at since its obviously more than rings and valve seals. Having the car laid up for a week or more at a time with no loaner is a PItA.

    Any advise or insight would be greatly appreciated.


  • jrfierojrfiero Posts: 123
    Re the warranty, anything you requested be fixed during the warranty period that Toyota has been unable to fix is covered forever, in my humble opinion.
    Example: I had a driver's door power window noise which was different than the other windows, but it still worked. I noted it every time I went to the dealer, and they always said it was fine. Warranty ran out, noise got worse, dealer said I needed a new regulator assembly, I pointed out my previous complaints, and Toyota paid for fixing it.
    Also, a front wheel bearing replacement was covered under the 5yr/60,000 mile warranty, which isn't to say calipers and rotors are, but it's close.

    You don't have vibration under braking? Does it go away under braking? Curious.
  • Here are a few more reasons for high oil consumption:

    Worn or damaged main bearings,connecting rod bearings,camshaft bearings and crank shaft journals.

    Distorted cylinders, clogged PCV valve, worn valve stems and guides, dirty cooling system and worn timing gear chain.

    You are a good candidate for a new engine. Toyota cannot check these possibilities without a complete engine tear down.

    Hope you kept good service records, especially the oil changes. Take your records with you and demand a new engine. good luck.
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