Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Toyota Highlander Transmission Problems



  • mdhuttonmdhutton Posts: 195
    This sounds very much like a damaged or leaky transmission oil cooler line like others have suggested.
  • justrumjustrum Posts: 3
    And that is what it ended up being. The line that runs from the transmission to the cooler had a rusted clamp and that's where it was leaking. A guy that works where my wife works came over and fixed it.

    Now I find out that you can't get the transmission fluid at any of the local stores, you have to buy it through Toyota. So it will have to sit until tomorrow.

    Thanks for the help, it saved me a lot of money - I owe all of you a beer.
  • kenlwkenlw Posts: 190
    yes, you can get the fluid at a decent auto parts store, Toyotas are pretty popular! But if you want to wait to get it at the dealer, that will work fine.

    glad we can help. Pay it forward.
  • I have a 2003 Toyota Highlander 4WD and I have serious problems with the transmission. When I shift from Park to Revere it does not turn it on, it just goes to neutral. Also, when driving, it tries to shift but it just kicks out and the car won't accelerate. Please help. I tried everything, replaced the PCM, took apart and put back the transmission and found no problems with it. Anybody know what it might be?
  • Hey, I was wondering if you had received any resolution to your issue. I think I am experiencing similar problems but not completely the same. My issue is that when I put the car to R, there is no response, as if it's in neutral but you can't manually move the car. And in fact, it's the similar problem with N. It's almost as if the parking brake is on even tho it isn't. If you could let me know how you resolved your problem, I would appreciate it.
  • pete74pete74 Posts: 1
    Thanks guy's,

    Straight to the point. My wife's 04 Highlander, 64,000 miles. Transfer case leak.
    Dealer wanted full price to fix. I did my research just on a hunch, if you will, and found this forum on the subject. I took all the info and the ALL DATA post, wrote down and got on the phone. with my new ammo locked and loaded, I went to work on the dealer. A hour later got a call. We decided to pay for half the repair.

    There is a obvious design problem here. To all Highlander owners. Don't settle with the dealer with out a fight. The forum saved me a bunch of money !

    Thanks Guy's !

    Now my question is if or more likely when it will happen again ????????

  • I have a 2003 AWD V6 Limited Highlander with 115,000 miles. About 200 miles ago, the transmission started slipping during the third to fourth gear shift. HL goes into neutral, the revs go way up, then it shifts with a clunk. I can minimize the clunk from a stop by accelerating to 25 mph, taking my foot off the gas, letting the revs drop down to 1200 rpm (at which point the trans will shift to fourth gear), and then stepping on the gas. There are no problems in first, second, third or fourth gear. The car runs fine in fourth gear. It is only a problem with the third gear to fourth gear shift.
    Tried not using overdrive, but problem persists. This is my first problem with the HL. I always get my HL serviced at Toyota dealer at 5000 miles intervals.
    Dealer says the trans needs to be replaced. In California, the price is over $4500 for the "new" trans. Dealer will give me a 10% discount on parts and labor.
    Any thoughts?
  • carterkcarterk Posts: 4
    I have a 2003 Highlander 4 cyl, bought new. I had this same problem last fall (except I could only describe it as a "loud clunk" when I accelerated!!) Because I had purchased an extended warranty (7 year total, I think) the dealer replaced it, and gave me a rent-free Rav4 to drive while waiting for the trans. to arrive. Service rep said it was $5000 if I had paid for it. Funny thing, now there's a "thud-click" when I turn the steering wheel; the service rep drive it and said nothing is wrong..... Are they just wanting me to buy a new car?
  • pacocpacoc Posts: 7
    I own a HL 02, Limited, V6. 60K miles on it and never abused the vehicle.
    But new are having very serious heating problems on the AT.
    It occurs only on highway. Since I live in a country with so many mountains the car get the AT over temp. alarm.
    Yesterday I had to stop 4 times on the road in order to get it cold and remain driving, at only 2,000 rpm. Very slowly return to home.
    I have sent the car to the Toyota shop al least 4 times in the last year to have them service the transmissión.
    I´m planning to make the service in an independent shop using an equivalent ATF oil
    Any help from the experience you have had? .

  • I asked the service manager if there was a way to reprogram the transmission computer module on my 2003 Highlander. He checked and said that there was no way to re-program the module. Fortunately, this Toyota dealer participated in the Costco Executive Member 15% discount program and I replaced the transmission. I also received a loaner Prius.
    The transmission was replaced with a "rebuilt trans". The transmission case is a used case, but all of the internal parts are new. I think that this is a better solution than using AAMCO, which only replaces the worn parts and the price is about the same.
    Regarding your extender warranty, doesn't that end after 100,000 miles?
    I sent an e-mail to the local Toyota dealer to thank the service manager for customer service. I also asked them to forward the note about the transmission problem to the regional Toyota service representative.
  • nross718nross718 Posts: 3
    I have a 2002 V6 all wheel Drive Highlander,as I was driving last week I heard a large clunk sound in which my car would not move afterwards. It was inspected by an auto mechanic and my transmission is bad. I only have 69,000 miles on the car. My warrenty recently expired and the car will paid off this year. The quote that I received was 2400 for a used with 39,000 miles and 4000 for a rebuilt. Please help me on how should I handle this. Is it normal for a toyota transmission to go with 69,000 miles?
  • pacocpacoc Posts: 7
    Sorry to hear that, but I have same model of HL, 60,000 miles, never abused, and seems is too at the end of his life. Mine is getting hot on the road when climbing. I have made service to the tranny at the Toyota dealer and it works for a while but on about 1,000 miles return to the same condition.
    I have not received any logical explanation fro toyota. This week I will try by repalcing the oil with a Mobil oil compatible with the ATF Type IV. I hope tihis works because I am not in the mood to spend too much money on that car.
  • A similar problem for me. Our transmission gave out at 100,000 miles on a 2002 Highlander V6. Toyota wanted $4300 for a new one. I went to my mechanic who could do it for $3900, get a rebuilt one for $3600, or a used one for $2200.
    The used ones have a 90 day warranty, and apparently 90% of them work just fine.

    I went with the used.
  • I filed a complaint with the department of transportation at:

    I don't know if it will help, but maybe Toyota will read the complaint.

  • naldynaldy Posts: 1
    When hot transmission does not engage on reverse,It starts slipping and if you accelerate it vibrates.
    If there is a mechanic out there please reply.I have the transmission down in parts looking for torn parts, unit has less than 65000 miles.Mechanic is replacing parts but will not say exactly what is the problem. :lemon
  • nross718nross718 Posts: 3
    Well I took my car to Lee Myles Transmission and they said my planetary gears went which is very common in Highlanders. They are chargin me $4000.00 for a rebuilt! they did offer me a used but I am afraid of the same thing happening in a year or so.
  • Complain complain and complain. and complain somemore to get the toyota tranny fixed.

    I filed a complaint with the Department of Transportation at:

    I am sure that Toyota will read the complaint or if there are enough problems with the Toyota transmission, the Feds will force them to correct the problem. The complaints could also lead to class action law suits. This is a safety hazard that could lead to numerous car accidents due to slipping and poorly shifting automatic transmission.

    So don't :cry: get :mad:
  • nross718nross718 Posts: 3
    Well thank you very much ! I did just that. As soon as I read your reply I filed a complaint because this was unexpected and expensive. So hopefully I will receive a reply from them regarding this matter. And I stopped :cry: and became :mad: !!
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Lexus RX and Toyota HL transaxles have been failing prematurely, all for teh very same design flaw, since the RX was first introduced in '98.

    And you think Toyota might pay attention when..??
  • carterkcarterk Posts: 4
    "Regarding your extended warranty, doesn't that end after 100,000 miles?"

    Well, sacto, i'm not sure, but since I only have about 50,000 miles now, that won't be a problem!! The only problem is that I might have bought another Highlander, in a year or two, but now I'm not so sure. Is this tran problem continuing in recent and current models??
  • mclsmcls Posts: 1
    I have a 2005 Highlander 4WD with 70,000 miles. I was told that my gasket has a slight leak. Nothing that needs to be done now. However it will cost $250.00 to replace the gasket. I ask the representative why it cost so much money. He said they charge for the labor to remove the transmission (not sure). Its basically labor cost. He also said that if I was closer to 60,.000 miles, then they probably would cover it. Whos to say they did see it leaking back when I had my oil change around 60,000 miles. Anyways, did you hear back from Toyota Head quarters?
  • pacocpacoc Posts: 7
    This is what I have done, replaced oil completely, not only what goes to the pan, but what is inside tranny. For that we disconnected the hose that goes to the radiator and forced an flush, we refill again two times until the oil began to flow clear.
    What we found inside tranny was and burnt out oil, no viscosity and all blackened.
    I used Valvoline synthetic blend ATF which comlies with Type IV.
    Unit now no problem with tranny.
    I´m having VSC fault but that is related to ABS after replacing timing belt.
    Best regards and good luck.
  • csmoseleycsmoseley Posts: 1
    My '04 Highlander V6 4wd has 137,000 miles and lost it's transmission a few weeks ago, no warning. It is being replaced with a used for $2000. Had to go the cheap route and getting rid of it VERY soon. Also have had problems with the AC system. Toyota claims no problems with Highlander transmissions. Also, I was told that I had roadside assistance but when I called sitting with no transmission on the side of an interstate, I was told that they had no record of it. I am greatly disappointed with Toyota and will not buy another one.
  • Hmmm...regarding replacing the transmission oil, I know that Toyota had oil sludge problems with the 3.0 V6 engine. To cure this problem, Toyota and Lexus offered an extended warranty on some of the older engines. However, to correct the problem with the 2003 and newer models, Toyota insisted that the oil be changed every 5,000 miles.
    I wonder if Toyota has a similar problem with the transmission oil on HL? I've always had my HL served at a Toyota dealer, based upon the recommended maintenance schedules. Does anyone know when newer (than 2003) HL are supposed to have their transmission oil changed?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    According to the manual for my 2001 F/awd RX300 there is no recommeded servicing of the transaxle for the life of the vehicle. When I discovered my ATF dirty and burned at only 40,000 miles the dealer advised me, and the factory verified, that the ATF needed to be changed every 15,000 miles.

    I have heard that this was later revised to say that the ATF condition should be checked at every oil change and only drained and flushed if required.

    The HL uses the same transaxle.
  • pacocpacoc Posts: 7
    Sorry to hear that. Mine is a 02, 4wd, 3.0l and have suffered with tranny oil high temp since it was about 30K miles. Finally this month I found a car shop where the owner involved himself in my car ande recomended to chage oil, it was burnt, black, and replace it with Valvoline synthetic blend ATF.
    As always now I have a VSC light on on the dashboard. It´s suppose to be a calibration procedure what is missing.
    I´ll let you all know when we perform it.

    Best regards
  • rpanaitrpanait Posts: 4
    I have a 2002 V6 Highlander, 3.0L and for the last 6 months I have a strange problem with my SUV.
    When decelerating from over 60Km\h to ~10Km\h, around 20Km\h I feel a shift shock. It seems to happen when it tries to downshift from 2nd gear to the first one. But this happens only when driving over 60Km\h and it's not all the time.
    We checked the brakes, calipers, but it wasn't that.
    Reading this thread someone was mentioning about a TSB mentioning a re-programing of the ECM.

    Before taking my Highlander to the nearest dealer I test drove it again and came up with these conclusions:
    - it happens only when I am over 60Km\h, in the 4th gear;
    - it does not happen every single time I decelerate;
    - if am in the 4th gear and I kill the over-drive before or when starting to slow down, so I manually force the transmission into the 3rd gear it won't give me this shift shock when reaching 20Km\h (when downshifting from 2nd to 1st gear);
    - it does not happen if I put in Neutral any time before reaching 20Km\h.

    Yesterday I took the car to Toyota dealer and I told them about the issue and that re-programing the ECM might fix the problem. They could not reproduce the noise and at the end they scanned the Engine Control Module and the Transmission Control Module.
    They reprogrammed the ECM only and, weird, the service manager told me "it takes one week for the computer to relearn what it has to do". If I program a computer, I teach the computer what to do.
    I did not understand his explanation. Can anyone confirm these words to me, please?

    Since yesterday I had 4 milder shift shocks so I am not sure if reprogramming the ECM helped or not.
    Any previous experience?
  • tcp2tcp2 Posts: 66
    I have a 2005 Sienna with the same drivetrain. This engine/transmission combo does do the hesitation, but driving "style" can mitigate the problem a great deal. Try rolling on and off of the throttle instead of stabbing it to the level you want it to be at. A smooth application of throttle works better than quick changes. Also, if you know a hesitation is occuring, hold the throttle steady for a second and let the transmission's brain catch up. It's not perfect, but honestly, I have zero problems with the engine and transmission. I must be trained to drive in this manner and it's not an issue for me.
  • pacocpacoc Posts: 7
    My HL is the same model as yours, it had the same simptoms but with some diferent causes. Mine was due to an overheating in the tranny. After taking it three times to the Toyota dealer I took it to an independent shop. We discovered that the ATF was blackened, with no viscosity.
    I replaced the ATF with Valvoline semi sinth ATF and the over heating and all their simptoms dissapeared.
    Now I have a VSC alarm and is what I´m working on. As soon as I have the solution, I will share with you all.

  • laps71laps71 Posts: 2
    I also have an 2002 HL. I have however a major problem now. Besides the black ATF, I now have grinding in the tranny. I am down completely.
Sign In or Register to comment.