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Toyota Highlander Transmission Problems



  • tomdtomd Posts: 87
    It does sound like a bad tranny. I get the occasional slight downshift delay but I have NEVER experienced the aforementioned scenario where the tranny leaves first gear and doesn't shift into second for a while.
  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    at some point i think you have to follow your gut feel. it's one thing to have one odd behavior, but multiple and unpredicatble ones?

    toyota should know when "enough is enough" and give a good customer a break.

    i'm not sure this person has had someone check the fluid level in the transmission. if it were grossly off, i could see how the inconsistent behavior could arise...

    possibly even some bad shift solenoids...

    but, otherwise, it doesn't seem like a transmission control computer programming/flash issue, or wiring problem. it also doesn't seem accelerator sensor or throttle position sensor related either.

    if they haven't done anything for the customer, you'd think they'd replace the transmission. they've been doing that for some of the owners of new camrys (at least).
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Is anyone with a Toyota or Lexus RWD or rear torque biased AWD/4WD having these kinds of problems, downshift delay or engine revving between upshifts?

    TSB for either RWD or..?

  • jamo22jamo22 Posts: 2
    I have a 2006 Toyota Highlander & the Transmission shifting pattern is so erratic and unpredictable that it causes me to continually tromping on the gas pedal and become an agressive driver.
    Too many times, I have stepped on the gas & the car just goes into a time lag before it finally shifts.
    I have taken it to Toyota & they tell me mall is well, and that it shifts, not on a preset pattern, but based on a sensor that determines your velocity & if you are trying to increase or decrease. It is a very poor explanation and even poorer transmission.
    My wife has a 2002 Highlander with electronic transmission & it learns your driving pattern & adjusts accordingly. It is great. What happened Toyota?
  • jamo22jamo22 Posts: 2
    Read my post, you are not alone & it is not limited to RWD.
  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    go to another dealership, and get their "it's operating normally" in writing.

    video tape what your car is doing and diplomatically, with the help of a lawyer, suggest to toyota that either they fix the vehicle, buy you out, or you post it.

    toyota needs to be shamed a whole lot more i guess into "moving forward" and taking care of it's owners with shifting problems in their brand new rides.

    your dealer is giving you the party line.

    you may need a TSB, and that might help some, but more likely, you have a defective part in one of these areas:

    torque convertor,
    throttle body assembly,
    accelerator pedal assembly
  • I have a 2003 HL with automatic transmission. Arriving home today, my shift surprisingly would not let me set to Park without extreme use of force on the shift button and lever both. It will not crank in Park anymore. I now have to force it back out of Park and put it in Neutral to crank the engine. Shifting works fine except for Park. Has anyone experienced anything similar and if so do you know what caused the problem?
  • I bought a Toyota Highlander from a Maryland Dealer on April 1, 2007 and this car has some serious problems. The entire throttling, shifting, and braking mechanism is out of whack. When you start the car it idles at 1500 RPM. Then when the car warms up the car's idle speed is so high that the car will go 25 mph on its own (on level ground). The car has a tendency to accelerate erratically going from first to third gear.

    Shortly after I purchased the car I took the car back to the Toyota Dealer and told them about this erratic throttling/shifting problem and they insist "its normal". This explanation is basically baloney and indicates to me that Toyota executives know they have a problem. The Toyota company have apparently instructed the dealers to use this standard line "Its normal". They even made me sign a statement when I picked up the car that the 3 problems I had complants about were "Normal". So the dealer refused to do anything about the problem. The salesman also indicated this is "Normal". Same lingo (how strange).

    The car is dangerous because the throttle speeed is set to high and I am very apprehensive regarding winter weather (approaching) with the car accelerating when I want to slow down.

    The car I purchased was masde in Newark, New Jersey and I bring up this point to warn any one who is contemplating purchasing a New Toyota Highlander should be extremely cautious if they discover the car was manufactured in Newark, NJ. Drive the car alone and test drive it at least twice because the problems aren't readily noticeable all the time.

    I have now had the car about 7 months and its a lemon and also very very dangerous. I pray I won't get into a terrible accident this winter when throttling and shifting problems could become a potential "death trap".

  • Sorry to hear about your troubles. One note, though: I don't think Toyota has a plant in Newark, NJ, do they?
  • Having the same problem here as well, also a 2003 Highlander. The problem started randomly about a year ago and has gotten progressively worse, now to the point where it is a real inconvenience. A friend told me that it is a linkage adjustment between the shifter and the transmission, but I think it may be the park safety interlock hanging up. Anyone with some answers please help us!!!
  • mdhuttonmdhutton Posts: 195
    Sure, I'll help. Take your 4 year-old cars' problems and visit a used car forum.
  • ft20ft20 Posts: 15
    As if there aren't enough issues with the transmission on this SUV, add one more to your list....

    I have a 2005 V6, AWD. I bought the car used with just 10000 miles on it. I have maintained it according to the owner's manual and have not abuse it in any shape or form. During an oil change at 62000 miles, the mechanic told me that there is a transmission fluid leak. I did some research on my own and found out that there is a TSB out for the transmission fluid leak on this model/vin. I can forward a copy of the TSB if anyone wishes to have it. If you read the bulletin, it becomes quite clear that the there is a faulty transmission seal that is prone to failure and Toyota has recently changed the seal in newer models. They are essentially hoping that no one will have this problem and even if they do, it would be outside the warranty period, as in my case! To make the long story short, took the car back to the dealer, they looked at it and sure enough is the seal that is mentioned in the TSB that has failed. The dealer quoted me a price of $1300 to have it fixed. The repair would have been covered under the 60K power train warranty but since my car now has 63K, I am basically SOL. I just called Toyota last night to ask for their assistance but not getting my hopes up. I think it is unfair for a company to know about a problem and not stand behind their product. I will keep you posted on what I hear back from Toyota.

    In the mean time, if your 2004-2006 highlander is under 60K, please check for this leak problem. Make sure you document it and have stupid Toyota pay for this. Otherwise, get ready to fork up some dough soon as the warranty expires. Toyota should be ashamed of their business practices.
  • ft20ft20 Posts: 15
    So a week after contacting the customer assistance line, I was informed that Toyota will NOT cover any of the expenses related to fixing this faulty transmission seal. I have contacted the corporate office by mail and am waiting to hear back. Any other suggestions?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706

    Just which seal are we talking about here..??

    And what is the severity of the leak?
  • ft20ft20 Posts: 15
    The official name for the seal is the trans-axle bearing retainer seal #2. Essentially it is the seal that seats between the transmission and the front differential. From what I understand, the seal itself cost only $20 or so but replacing it involves removing the entire transmission and the labor cost associated it! The leak is not terrible, just a few drops. However, I would like to replace it soon before it fails completely and the transmission seizes.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    If I understand correctly as to exactly which seal has failed then I wouldn't bother spending that much money. Check with the dealer but I'm pretty sure that seal isn't under any pressure other than that provided by gravity. A quart of ATF costs what, $4.00..??

    If you lose more than a quart between engine oil changes then maybe there is cause to worry, otherwise....

    Looked up the TSB and the seal involved has to do with the right front axle/halfshaft bearing within the PTO, Power Take-Off, for the rear driveline.

    With only 63,000 miles I would contact the Toyoat factory rep for a warranty repair.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706

    The TSB calls for the entire engine, transaxle, and PTO/transfer to be pulled from the vehicle as a unit and then the PTO separated for work on the bench.

    From looking at the TSB and then looking at the underside of my '01 AWD RX300 it's pretty obvious to me that this bearing seal can easily be replaced absent even removing the PTO.

    Your dealer may be looking for an easy $1300.00 for $200 in labor and a $10 part.

    My reading of the TSB leaves me with the implication that your leak is the result of improper assembly at the factory. In that case I would REALLY lean on the Toyota factory rep for full compensation.
  • ft20ft20 Posts: 15
    Thank you for your input.

    I wrote a letter to Toyota corporate after my attempts to address the issue over the phone failed. Any suggestions about getting in touch with factory reps?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    You can often make an appointment with a factory rep through the dealer.
  • Can you post a link or a copy of the actual TSB?
    The only ones I find are at and they charge a fee.

    I have a 2006 Highlander but seem to be having the same problem. Thanks for the info. posted but if you have a full TSB, that would be helpful. I'm almost at 60,000 miles and want to be ready if Toyota gives me trouble.

    Everyone have your transmission checked before 60K!!
  • ft20ft20 Posts: 15
    I am not sure how to forward the complete info to you. I have subscription to ALLDATA and can cut and paste the information to your email address.

    Drivetrain - Fluid Leaks From Transfer Case Vent


    '04 - '06 Highlander (AWD) & Sienna (AWD)

    June 11, 2007
    Some 2004 - 2006 model year AWD (4WD) Highlander or Sienna vehicles may display a transmission fluid or gear oil leak from a vent on the right side of the transfer case. The leak is from the transfer RH (right-hand) bearing retainer No. 2 oil seal. Production improvements have been implemented to prevent this condition from occurring. Follow the repair procedure below to replace the RH bearing retainer No. 2 oil seal assembly.

    Applicable Vehicles
    ^ 2004 - 2006 model year Highlander (AWD) and Sienna (AWD) vehicles produced BEFORE the Production Change Effective VINs shown below.

    Production Change Information

    Warranty Information
    Applicable Warranty*:
    This repair is covered under the Toyota Powertrain Warranty. This warranty is in effect for 60 months or 60,000 miles, whichever occurs first, from the vehicle's in-service date.

    * Warranty application is limited to correction of a problem based upon a customer's specific complaint.

    Parts Information

    Required Tools & Material

    Required SSTs

    Copyright © 2008 ALLDATA LLC
    Terms of Use
  • rviradiarviradia Posts: 44
    does the rx330 have the same tranny issues?
  • Would you please send copy of TSB for the 2004 Toy. HL Trans. leak. Thanks, Steve
  • jmyongjmyong Posts: 3
    I do have the EXACTLY the same problem on 2004 Highlander. I have also found my leaking problem during oil change. I'm also out of luck at 70K only for 3.5 years. Do you have any resolutions on this?
  • jmyongjmyong Posts: 3
    I got in touch with Toyota customer assistance center and miserably failed to get supported on transmission leaking issue on my Highlander with 70K. I bet we are some of the few with that much of mileages start experiencing the problem. I bet this faulty part will be an issue to all eventually as they add more mileages. Following ft20's step, I also have written to Toyota head quarter and no response. I had to leave my car to the mechanics because they initially have charged for $250 for replacing the gasket and now claiming it's the faulty issue asking for $980 to fix. I'm frustrated the situation for both the mechanics as well as warranty situation with Toyota. I'll keep you posted the progress.
  • jmyongjmyong Posts: 3

    I ended up paying 50%, $695.95 at the dealer to fix the issue. It was a poor fit of the sealer. I believe Toyota is well aware of the issue and applied the fix for a newer model. I have 70K miles on it, ad may be the one of the few got into the trouble earlier. Toyota flat denied to pay in full, nor process the recall. If you have 2004-2006 Highlander, please be aware. They will get you for $2000 price tag that should been a recall item.
  • justrumjustrum Posts: 3
    I have a 2004 highlander (FWD). I noticed a fluid leak that was below the drivers side below the headlight. When I first looked under the hood it appeared to be coming from a small diameter hose that leads from the radiator, travels along the front of the car to a small cooler housing.

    Today I took a closer look and the fluid is transmission fluid, the leak only appears to be coming from the noted hose, but is most likely leaking onto that hose.

    Anyway, it's a tight working area and impossible for me to see for sure where the leak is coming from, but it appears to be in the area of the cooler box (if that's what that is). This box I am referring to is about 1 foot or a little longer below the drivers side headlights.

    A few questions:

    1) Is anyone familiar with this area of the car and the problem?

    2) Am I looking at major repair? I would attempt to do it, but I can't get to the area to see what I am doing. I did consider taking out the wheel well cover, but not sure if that will give me access.

    3) Is there a free repair manual around here so I can see what exactly is this box?

    I took the battery out and the battery tray to get a better look today and it's either coming from the tube/hose that connects the cooler to the transmission or coming from somewhere on the box.

    After I reinstalled the battery and added some fluid I started up the car and ran it for a few minutes. When I turned it off there were large drops of fluid dripping down at a rate of a sizable drop every 3 to 5 seconds.

    I'm puzzled.
  • kenlwkenlw Posts: 190
    if it is transmission fluid (reddish and oily to the touch), this is probably the cooler line from the transmission to the cooler (either within the main radiator or a separate radiator-looking cooler). It may that just tightening the connection at one end would fix it, or it may be (more likely) that the hose/tube is damaged, in which case it will need to be replaced. You'll need to locate the EXACT point of leakage. Clean the entire hose and see if can find the origination. Remember, things drip down, not up.

    Depending on your comfort level, replacing the hose may be simple. Or not.
  • justrumjustrum Posts: 3
    It's difficult to tell where it's coming from. It is in such a tight area that viewing it from below would be difficult since it would result in fluid in the eyes (not a good thing) and from above you can't see the underside. It also appears that it is dripping onto one of the hoses, so that doesn't help to pinpoint the location.

    I thought about removing the wheel well shield and accessing it from there, but I have to make sure that it actually can be seen and reached from that approach. It appears that two lines are going to this "mini cooler", one from the transmission and one from the radiator.

    I would attempt to do it myself, but it is a timing thing since my wife needs the car for work. Tomorrow she will use my son's car, but I don't have the time to fix it. So now my concern is getting ripped off by a mechanic.

    Anyway, thanks for your input. I wish I could locate a diagram of this part of the car, but I've come up empty.
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