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Toyota Highlander Transmission Problems



  • Very disappointed in my Toyota Highlander. My Toyota 2006 Highlander Transmission has totally crashed. The replacement cost is $5300. I bought it brand new and it only has 45K miles. I have kept up with all the maintenance (oil changes and 30K mile maintenance has been done). Any suggestions for me, when I call the Toyota complaint line?

  • Greetings, I thought I would let others know that my 2002 AWD with 171,000 miles had to have the transmission rebuilt. Total cost $2,800. with a one year warranty. The last day the trans would not shift into reverse. I had it towed to get it repaired. Looking back, there were signs of a problem. For example, When you coast, there was a flutter in the front of the car. I thought it was the engine. another thing was when I would accelerate, the car would heavy shift. I have changed the fluid regularly. Hope it helps.
  • rutrut Posts: 5
    Interesting. My 02 has 196000. Sometimes when I put mine in reverse it kinda skips like it isn't all the way gear. Other times it works fine. So I'm suspecting the solenoid isn't putting it all the way into gear but since it is inside the transmission I don't see a cheap way to repair it. Forward goes fine.

    Hope it lasts.
  • wipptawippta Posts: 1
    My 2009 HL downshifts when I hit the gently hit the brakes to slow my descent from 65mph to 55 mph. The engine RPMs jump from 1500 to 2500 and the back end gets thrown out quite hard if this is done on a bend in the road. In wet conditions, this seems extremely dangerous. The transmission wont shift when coasting up to speed again and at 70 mph the engine is screaming. I have to hit the accelerator firmly before it will shift.
  • sevenseassevenseas Posts: 44
    edited June 2012
    Own a 2006 2wd v6 Highlander with 21,000 miles. Used 1-2 times a week to run errands for my aunt and uncle as well as 2 road trips a year. Have a Lexus as my main transportation.

    Upon having intermediate service done the dealer advised the transmission seals were starting to leak. The powertrain warranty had expired. I was quoted $1275 to reseal the transmission. I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around this failure with so few miles.

    I contacted Toyota Customer Support and was advised there was no TSB for transmission seal leaking for 2wd models. The rep was able to track my records and made a comment that he saw I owned two Toyota vehicles (Highlander and Lexus IS300). I was instructed to give the rep 1 day to investigate this matter and see if the repair can be done at 50% off (I would need to pay the full cost of the repair then submit a reimbursement claim).

    I hope Toyota addresses this matter in my favor.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    You should ask the dealer what are the repercussions for ignoring the "problem". Might mean spending $8 for a quart of ATF once a year.
  • sevenseassevenseas Posts: 44
    edited June 2012
    Toyota Customer Relations was able to get a reduced repair charge of $1275 to $1052 from the Toyota dealership to reseal the transmission for my 2006 2wd v6 Highlander.

    I decided to get a second opinion at another Toyota Dealership to check the transmission seals. I was advised the transmission seals were not leaking but the transmission pan gasket was seeping and needed to be replaced with repairs costing $250.

    It appears the initial dealership was quoting charges for unnecessary repairs.

    I sent a letter to Toyota Customer Relations advising them that I saw the dealership as an extension of Toyota and that they have accomplished a great disservice to me as well as damaging the reputation of Toyota.
  • tdivertdiver MinnesotaPosts: 18
    Way to go sevenseas, good job. If only more people would stand up and not let the bad dealerships get away with things like that. I for one Thank You.
  • moonlight293moonlight293 ILPosts: 23
    Sevenseas, I hope you didn't specifically name the second dealership. The dealership worked for YOU but could face some kind of 'punishment' from Toyota corporate; and thereby reducing service with integrity in the future.
  • sevenseassevenseas Posts: 44
    edited June 2012
    I mentioned both dealerships in my letter to Toyota which included their paperwork quote for repair work. How else would I support my case that the initial dealership was damaging the reputation of Toyota as well as trying to take advantage of a customer.

    I don't believe the second dealership that provided me an accurate description of the problem (the mechanic showed me the cracked gasket and seeping transmission fluid around the gasket seal) as well as providing the correct quote for repairs will be punished by Toyota.

    I suspect Toyota is more interested in the dealerships meeting their sales quota then responding to my letter. In fact I would be very surprised if Toyota took this matter seriously.

    But I learned a valuable lesson on trusting my instincts, saving money on a unnecessary repair job and identifying a dishonest dealership.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    edited June 2012
    Probably wouldn't have mattered anyway, since Toyota can pull your service records from your VIN if they care. I'd want to give the "competent" dealer props too.

    In fact, you can compliment them in our Dealer Ratings and Reviews section.
  • izzo233izzo233 Posts: 7
    I bought my 2006 2wd Highlander 1/06/06 and 9,500 miles later it needed a new transmission.. it was shifting erratically, no leaks . Whatever the reasons it would seem that Highlanders have transmission issues just not enough for SB's or recalls...
  • luckysevenluckyseven Posts: 134
    Looking at low number of posts in this thread since 2006 we can safely assume that transmission problem is not a widespread issue requiring a recall.
  • I noticed this a few oil changes ago,a very small oil leak coming out of casing seal on driver side tranny,it has red sealant in that very spot where someone tried to repair,I was able to get a few torqe flats on the bolts that can be reached,I will monitor but this is a very small drops more annoying than anything.I agree just keep an eye on level don't add unless you take some out ,replace a quart or so to replentish additives,if there aren't tranny issues don't give dealer a chance to screw somwthing else up!These trannies are very touchy,I have the hesitation also but I can live with it for fear of more issues.I also had to have two rear windows reclamped for like 700$,that was not covered under ext warrenty ,the window just fell in the door,I later found bodyshops repair these for like 100$ ,nice Toyota. This is my last Toyota,I will buy American if there are any left.
  • My son and daughter-in-law have a 2007 Toyota Highlander with over 100,000 miles. About 6 months ago it developed a leak in the transmission/transfer case area. They took it to a reputable transmission shop and the technician replaced a couple seals in transfer case. Last month a noise started coming from the transmission area almost like metal on metal. This was in forward and reverse. The sound was kind of like the noise you get when a brake is hanging up. They hauled the car back to the transmission shop and yesterday the technician said the transfer case was shot. He said when he removed the plug he was able to feel metal shavings inside the case. He is now saying it will be about $2000 to replace the transfer case if he gets a used one. Any suggestions/comments/ideas appreciated. Thanks in advance.
  • have you ever changed transfer case and differential oil?
  • I believe it was only changed when the seals were replaced. Right after my son got the car back after the seals were replaced he said he could smell burnt fluid. The technician said it was the residue burning off. My son said the tech told him there are two reservoirs for fluid but you can only check one. It now has me wondering if the tech forgot to put fluid back in one of the reservoirs. After the tech said the transfer case was shot I asked if the work he did before on the seals could have anything to do with it and he said it didn't. The reason we took it in the first time was to fix the leak. Now the transfer case needs replaced. How tough a job is it to replace? We have replaced transmissions on older cars before but not on newer ones.
  • luckysevenluckyseven Posts: 134
    edited November 2012
    Hard to tell now but sounds like your mechanic botched your transfer case. I don't know if there a way to prove it. Besides the leak you transmission/transfer case were fine before the repair. Transmission replacement is not an easy DIY project but anything is doable as long as you have the skills and equipment.
  • Any update on cause? My 2007 highlander on cold start is fine while in park. Once placed in gear, there is a rattle (sounds like chain rattle) while cold, but disappears when warm.
  • Update: We just got the Highlander back from second mechanic this week. He replaced the transfer case, we went thru the Y-Yard in Effingham, Il which is a salvage yard. They found one in Virginia that only had 40,000 miles ($795). Cost another $800 to have it put in. The second mechanic put in new seals before he installed it. First off I am not that familiar with Highlanders so someone that is may be able to add more. Not sure on different changes between years. So now to the cause. Apparently Highlanders from the 2005-2007 era had an issue with their transfer cases but not enough to warrant Toyota tell the owners(and this were someone more knowledgeable can help out) (and could be other years involved). Supposedly the vent system on those transfer cases are a poor design and get clogged easily, say for instance if you do alot of travel on gravel roads or live in the country. The first mechanic said he sees this a lot in trucks used in the coal mines. When the vent gets clogged the transfer case has no place to breathe when it gets hot. What happens is when enough pressure builds up in the case it will seek the weakest point which is the seal to escape. Apparently this is what happened, all the fluid leaked out and the transfer case of course was ruined. To check the fluid in the transfer case you have to get under the car and pull the plug. The transmission dipstick in the engine compartment only checks the transmission fluid in transmission it self. In our specific case I believe the first mechanic may have forgot to fill the transfer case because there was no evidence where the Highlander was parked each night that there was a leak. It lasted less than 6 months after we got it back from getting the seals replaced the first time. As far as the Highlander now, I have put about 100 miles on it since we got it back this past Tuesday and have had no issues or leaks. The second mechanic said he redesigned the vent someway to help it breathe easier. Hopefully this helps someone else.
  • My situation is not one of leaks. When the engine is started (cold), all is well. No clatter. As soon as you place the transmission in gear, there's a clatter coming from the lower engine (somewhere). The clatter goes away shortly after - seems when engine is slightly warmed. Anyone have ideas as to cause?
  • I have been driving this vehicle since I bought it new in 2002. Just over the last month it seemed as though I was running higher rpm's at highway cruising speed than normal (e.g. 2000rpm at 60mph vs 2500rpm). It also did not feel the "shift" from 4th OD to lockup. Had it looked at 1 by a dealership and 1 by a Toyota field tech. They both say the "computer" doesn't detect any problems. I said "can't you just listen/feel what the problem is? maybe the fault codes are not working properly". They said "no, the computer says its going into lockup so it is" but it's not!. any help is greatly appreciated.
  • edward_001edward_001 Posts: 2
    edited March 2013
    Really need help on a very basic question. Could I get some responses on what people are observing as the RPM at 60mph cruising. My vehicle is a 2002 Highlander, V6, AWD.
  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaPosts: 1,785

    I have a Garmin SatNav with Ecoroute HD so can monitor speed and engine speed very precisely. I have a 2004 Kluger V6 AWD with well worn tyres.

    At 2,000rpm, speed is 110km/hour (68mph) in locked overdrive. With overdrive off, it rises to about 3,000rpm.

    That suggests that 60mph should be about 1,750 to 1,800rpm with overdrive on.


  • I have the same problem and people seem to think it has to do with the catalytic converter. IV been watching YouTube videos of people's cars that make the same rattleing noise as my 2005 toyota highlander all wheel V6 but there is never a clear answer.
  • I have a 2003 4cyl FWD Toyota highlander automatic transmission. When I start there is no rattle but once I move off and come to to a stop about 200 yards away I have a rattle when slowing down, but once the car has come to a full stop it disappears unless i shift the gear lever from park to reverse, then i can replicate it, again very briefly. The rattle will be there for less then 5 minutes then may appear briefly at times but more so when engine is cold. I have check all heat shield and removed some and its not it. I also feel the rattle is possibly from the transmission and not the engine. I don't think it's the timing chain, I have replaced these on other cars and this noise is different, almost like tinny rattle or a lever trying to engage while a something is spinning? Would like to hear from anyone that may have had a similar experience, I have 180000 miles on mine. Cheers, Hyder
  • I have the same issue. I found an exhaust clamp loose on section from header to exhaust pipe.
  • I have an 01 Highlander with 165K on clock. Recently a condition began that has me puzzled. When starting cold the transmissions works fime. After about 3 or 4 miles if I come to a stop light or stop sign, when starting off again the transmission does not upshift into overdrive.This condition will continue on until I shut off the engine. At restart the transmission shifts normally again until I come to a complete stop, then again the failure to upshift into O/D. Fluid is clean and at proper levels.. Any clues??Thanks
  • dfridleyjrdfridleyjr Posts: 1
    edited November 2013
    Hello Edward,

    I am experiencing the exact same issue now. However mine is periodic and can be corrected if I turn the car off and back on. Were you ever able to get this issue corrected? I am anticipating a shift solenoid on the valve body. AT 4000 dollars to repair it is not worth it.
  • I have a 2002 Toyota Highlander with 107,500 miles. I noticed the other day that after driving for 5- 6 minutes, and the engine warms up, that when I come to a stop and drive off again the gears stick going into 3rd or 4th. I didn't notice it at first, but noticed my RPMs where around 3K and not coming back down. I parked the car and it sat for 4 hours and when I drove it, it worked fine, until the engine warmed up again. The check engine light also came on a few days ago when I noticed this problem. Does anyone know if this is a big problem or expensive to fix?
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