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Toyota Highlander Transmission Problems

My '05 Highlander transmission seems to be geared wrong. When I slow down the car seems to slip into a higher gear and speed up. It is worse when the air conditioning is on. Anyone else have this problem?


  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    As you slow to a stop at about 10 MPH or below the Transaxle upshifts by design. Instead of speeding up what I suspect you "feel" is the loss of engine compression braking. In the past that has been referred to "as if being bumped lightly from behind".

    Read some of the transaxle hesitations posts for more info.
  • izzo233izzo233 Posts: 7
    My '06 does the same thing so I hope they are right about the whole engine compression thing.
  • Thanks this engine compression thing is beyond me. I still dont understand why it speeds up! But good to know mine isnt the only one doing it.
  • lugo_189lugo_189 Posts: 5
    I need help from some Ford Explorere Sport O/D ligth sudenly start blinking, what is this means? :confuse:
  • ladyjj3ladyjj3 Posts: 1
    I need help. I have a 94 Jeep Grand Charekee Laredo, which required rebuilding of the transmission. However, after the transmission was swapped out with another rebuild transmission vibration occurred at 1500 to 1700 rpm's. The mechanic has changed out the motor mounts, fly wheel and harmonic balancer; however, the vibration has not gone away. I didn't have this problem prior to the transmission being worked on. Please provide some advise on if the problem is with the transmission or something else.
  • my 88 accord is sliping sometimes when you take off from a dead stop but not all the time .fluid is good i was wondering if it could be something going out or maybe a clog filter or some simple i,m hoping. please let me here from somebody about problem thanks jim
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Try the Honda Accord (1976-1989) Maintenance & Repair discussion or Transmission Traumas?. This tranny discussion focuses on the Highlander and Honda owners aren't likely to see your post.

    Steve, Host
  • i have a 93 4runner manual and it will not shift un till i cut the truck off then i can shift i have put a new clutch slave cylinder in it but still nothing plz help
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Try the Toyota 4Runner: Problems and Solutions discussion or the Trauma discussion linked above.

    Steve, Host
  • karen18karen18 Posts: 2
    2006 brand new automatic 4 wheel drive. Transmission is rough, erratic.Over-revs, shifts too soon, hesitates, double shifts. Dealer says everything tests fine. Drives like someone driving a standard who doesn't know how, but of course, it doesn't do it all the time. Wish I had bought another Ford Escape
  • froggfrogg Posts: 16
    I have an '05 Highlander, and I am in the same fix as karen18... Two Toyota dealers have tried to help me, but we're down to chasing ghosts: Last time I took the car in, the service manager spent probably 1/2 hour with me, driving around. It was if the car knew to be on good behavior! But my problem is just as Karen18 describes. It could be said this way: Sometimes the computer/transmission makes really bad decisions about selecting gears. Transmission "clunks". Car lurches. I'm at a loss to know what to do...
  • ceamunkyceamunky Posts: 1
    I just bought a 2001 highlander limited with78k on it. It's in mint cond. Paid 15,999. I had trouble finding one on a lot. Is there anything I should know about this vehicle since this is my first toyota. Did I get a good deal?
  • scoti1scoti1 Posts: 676
    Edmunds has closed down the sites that specifically addressed this hesitation problem in all Toyota models, but there has been recent interesting discussion regarding hesitation related to the gas pedal and foot position on the "Toyota Avalon 2005+" and the "Transmission Problems with Lexus ES300?" forums. I am not sold on this being "THE" problem, but the discussion is very interesting. You may want to see if adjusting your foot position on the pedal as described in these forums remedies/lessens you hesitation problems. Let me know what you find out.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    Edmunds has closed down the sites...

    Discussions that are inactive for a period of time are automatically archived. Normally, we would reactivate a discussion when demand warrants but that capability is temporarily unavailable while we continue upgrading our system. Check back down the road a bit!

    tidester, host
  • karmatykarmaty Posts: 1
    I have a 2004 Sienna, which I am very anxious to get rid of - for the same reasons posted for the Highlander transmission problems. I love all of the features on my Sienna XLE - except one - driving it! It intermittently hesitates when rounding corners, pulling away from a stop, or accelerating onto the freeway. It is quite annoying - and not what I would expect from a $32,000 vehicle. I was (stupidly) considering getting a Highlander, but will not after reading that it has the same problems. Thanks for the info.
  • billranbillran Posts: 113
    I have owned a 2005 Highlander for over a year and have 16000 miles on it now. It drives perfectly and I have never once experienced any hesitation in any circumstance. I have two coworkers who also own Highlander V6s (2004 and 2005) as well as a neighbor who just bought a 2006 and they all love their cars. We have all discussed this issue and none of us has ever experienced any problems at all.

    There are over two million Toyotas on the road with the V6 5 speed drivetrain and you will be hard pressed to find enough complaints anywhere to add up to even one tenth of one percent of those vehicles. It is by no means the serious widespread issue that some in these forums would like for you to believe.

    There are some people who report a problem, but beware, there are others in these forums with the clear and obvious intent to amplify this issue and use it to smear Toyota for personal reasons. Test drive the cars and decide for yourself.
  • karen18karen18 Posts: 2
    I have no personal reasons to smear Toyota.As a matter of fact I happily owned a 4runner several years ago. I think what angers people is that Toyota, from the dealer to the company to the reps, all say that this is all within specs, "it's the nature of the beast" and that there's nothing they can do.
    Seems that you're a little too invested in hyping Toyota. These are just vehicles. For the amount of money we pay for them, they should drive properly. The problems we have experienced do not necessarily show up in a test drive. They are sporadic and unpredictable.
  • billranbillran Posts: 113
    Karen, Sorry, my comments were in no way directed toward you. The cars should drive properly and I am sorry to hear yours does not. There is a TSB available that has been reported as very successful by some people who have reported a problem similar to yours. You might ask your dealer about it.

    I have watched during that last year and these forums have become a mix of sincere owners like yourself looking for a fix, and others with the motivations I mentioned above. The latter group has often posted distortions, exaggerations and flat out untruths in their continuing quest to use this issue to their advantage. I am not at all invested it hyping any brand, but I feel it only fair to post both sides of the equation.

    Good luck, and hopefully the TSB will help your situation.
  • junepugjunepug Posts: 161
    The hesitation issue seems to be related to some drivers who use the left foot to brake and the right foot for acceleration. Seems like this could confuse the computer.
  • scoti1scoti1 Posts: 676
    This has been discussed in the Avalon and Lexus forums I mentioned above as possibly contributing to the problem, but there are plenty of people experiencing this who aren't left-foot brakers. One poster, wwest, has stated that applying the brake and accelerator at the same time could confuse the computer controls and aggravate the problem.
  • izzo233izzo233 Posts: 7
    I am experiencing the same conditions with my transmission in my 3 month old 2006 Highlander. I am going to the dealer next week. Has anyone had a problem with their brakes. I am not able to brake smoothly even at very slow speeds. The brakes just seem to grab on and off.
  • toinnytoinny Posts: 2
    I have an '04 Highlander V6 AWD. I too have experienced the intermittent issues with the transmission making really bad decisions. I noticed it about 2 months after purchasing the vehicle and tracked it for another 2 months before having the dealer look at it. They found nothing. One week later on a routine drive to work the transmission would not shift beyond 2nd gear. The transmission was replaced and has been good for the most part, however, the old behavior is slowly coming back once again. I notice it on the shift between 2nd and 3rd. Sometimes it seems like it slips into gear other times it attempts to go to 3rd and cannot decide so it lurches\hesitates.
  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaPosts: 1,785

    When I dropped my Kluger in for a service last week, I mentioned that it had been rough shifting from second to third a few times. This was cured in short term by three hard acceleration runs from stopped to 100kmh (60mph).

    Dealer flashed the Transmission Memory with a revised mapping and transmission is now behaving markedly differently. Change points have been modified and tends to downshift as you slow below 10kmh.

    Much more aggressive feel to transmission and seems to have solved the issues that many posters have complained of. However fuel consumption is up a bit. I won't have a definite fix on fuel economy until I drive a standard route but seems to be about 5% worse


  • froggfrogg Posts: 16
    I posted recently under the more general "Problems and Solutions" heading, but will add a note here: With help from Toyota, I fixed my Highlander shift delay problem as follows: Began using high octane fuel (92 or 93). After 1 1/2 tanks, do the following: Open the fuse panel (next to the battery). There is a fuse removal tool in the lid. Remove the fuse identified as "ECU-B" for at least 5 minutes. Reinstall it. This will reset the computer to original settings. You won't believe the difference in the way the car shifts! And my evidence suggests that the higher cost of the fuel is offset all/part by the better mileage. No surprise: the car doesn't spend so much time in neutral.
  • webgoodwebgood Posts: 95
    I've owned a '04 Highlander V6 4X4 for 2 years, now with 15,000 mi., and have always run mid-grade, name-brand 89 octane gas. I've monitored the discussions over the Highlander "hesitation" and "transmission shift delay" complaints on Edmunds forums for quite some time now(thank you Edmunds for this great service!). I noticed the phenomenon develop with my HL and pretty-much just altered my driving habits and techniques to "accomodate" it. Yesterday, I took it in for regular service at my favorite local dealer, mentioned it to the service writer and asked about a TSB on the engine. He said he'd look into it. Twenty minutes later he said it would take about 1 hour for their tech to "re-program" the transmission shift computer, that there wasn't a "TSB" per se, but I gathered there apparently was some kind of "alert" from Toyota that there's been complaints and this might be the fix.
    Long-story short, it took 45 minutes, no charge (always nice), and it now runs, accelerates, and shifts so differently I'd swear it's not the same vehicle! Smooth, quick, correctly-timed shifts, no "hunting" for gears or "bogging" when I stomp on it at low speed or when de-accelerating. Thank you folks at one fabulous dealership service center (I supposed I can't plug their name here, but I'd like to)!
  • 1bythesea1bythesea Posts: 52
    Just wanted to thank you for your post. I am going through the same experience with my 2005 Highlander Limited. When I first contacted the dealer I was blown off by the same tactics as other owners. (This is the way the fly-by-wiring works, the vehicle needs to get used to your driving style, there was no TSB.) Anyway I took in the article from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette from April 2005 stating Toyota had updated computer software to help alleviate the hesitation along with a copy of your post. I specifically pointed out your last paragraph and said that's how I wanted to feel about my dealership.
    After a 15 minute wait I was shown there WAS a TSB on this and my Highlander will be going in June 1st to be checked. Supposedly there are vehicles with certain numbers (of what I don't really know) but if mine has one of these numbers it would take approximately 2 hours for the service. Keep your fingers crossed. Thanks again!
  • webgoodwebgood Posts: 95're very welcome. Hope it works out for you; please post the results. The HL's still running great and I made sure I called the service manager. I told the gal who answered first, "I want to file a compliment with your service department." Took her rather aback. Then heartily thanked the service mgr. and his crew for a job well-done and I'll send every bit of business their way. It really gets their attention. But it also depends on the dealership...we've got another one in the area that I wouldn't recommend to do anything beyond simply changing the oil.
  • 1bythesea1bythesea Posts: 52
    You'll be happy to know that after receiving my HL from the performed hesitation TSB the problem was 90% alleviated. YEAH! However, I need to take it back tomorrow morning because now it's as if the HL goes into cruise control with any speed lower than 33-34 mph. It performs fine with de-accelerating, as it's supposed to, from higher speeds until it hits the magic numbers above. Where ever I break or accelerate between 0-33 or 34 mph is where the HL will remain. Craziest thing I've ever experienced on a vehicle. The service writer also thought that was very strange. The other issue is a very noticeable downshift just before coming to a dead stop. Never did that before the TSB was performed. We'll see what service dept. says tomorrow. Will keep you "posted".
  • cagogirlcagogirl Posts: 2
    I have a 2005 HL with 12K. The transmission problem didn't appear until after the 10K mark, and will not go away. I have had it in the dealership twice for reprogramming and asked for a new chip to be installed. The service department told me the only thing they could suggest is to use 92 octane. My previous SUVs were a GMC Jimmy and Mercury Mountaineer and although this vehicle has a superior ride and MPG, I am quite unhappy with this problem and the total lack of concern on the part of Toyota.
  • froggfrogg Posts: 16
    Simply switching to 92 octane won't help: The computer has a loooong memory on some things, and fuel is one of those things. You will have to pull the ECU-B fuse for 5 minutes as I described earlier. This resets the computer to original settings. Your problem will be gone - instantly.
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