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Toyota Highlander Transmission Problems



  • Well, I'm not sure. I have an 09 HL Sport with only 4k on it. When did the problem first occur? It seems that today with all the computer controlled functions on an auto these kind of weird situation happen more often.

    My guess would be that the Rev/RPM limiter is acting up. This prevents the vehicle from going faster then allowed. For example, if your vehicle is capable of going 130mph that does not mean you can go that fast. A rev limiter of governor would limit your top speed to say 112mph. In your case this device may be malfunctioning do to computer error. Just a guess but you may want to have your dealer check it.

    Good luck
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    That might be SOP if you can get to 60MPH within a short time from starting the engine COLD. The transaxle will not shift into OD until the catalytic converter is up to operational temperature.

    My RX300 is garaged and yet it will not shift into OD until I have driven about a mile.
  • miyahiramiyahira Posts: 2
    This site is wonderful! This is what you call consumer advocacy and protection! Information is power and safety!
    Got Toyota to address my hesitation problem because of the info i got here!

    I have a 2008 Highlander. A few months after purchasing my vehicle, I noticed a hesitation in the car auto shifting in lower gears..very dangerous when trying to get onto the highway. Got worse as the year went by.
    I took it into my dealer 5 times ( so that i could have a paper trail) in the last 2 years and got the same old story that there was nothing wrong. I knew they had no intention of addressing my problem till the recent fiasco Toyota car deaths has had to deal with. Toyota the company is responsible for this denial. (The dealership I bought my car from has wonderful staff and tries hard to accommodate.)

    I read what could be done here, took it into my dealer, told them what i read and that i would NOT take no for an answer on fixing this--re program the computer!!!!
    Last week the mechanic took me for a test drive with his laptop and reprogrammed the cars computer and my Highlander drives like new! Funny thing...He knew about this problem all along!
    THANK YOU to all of you GREAT PEOPLE out there that share info!!!!!

    Jessie on Maui
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Be careful Jessie...

    The reflash, firmware upgrade, only makes the re-acceleration downshift delay less likely to occur, it does not by any means eliminate it entirely.

    The new firmware simply "watches" your actions on/with the accelerator pedal. If you release the pedal quickly the system will assume your intent is to use engine compression braking to more rapidly slow the vehicle and reamin in the lower gear you were just using for acceleration. Lift the pedal slow/easy and it will upshift just as it did previously.

    So the danger from the re-acceleration downshift delay still lies there "quietly" waiting to cause you grief at a time when YOU do not foresee the need for a quick return to acceleration.
  • I just had my seal replaced this past Saturday, June 26 on my 2005 Highlander with less than 63,000 miles on it. What made me do a double take was the lady right in front of me with a 2004 Highlander had the exact same repair. I was Lucky (?) in that I had purchased the extended Toyota Warranty when I bought the vehicle and I only was required to pay $50.00 of the $1175.00 cost. I am not surprised to see how many of these vehicles are having this problem and it seems that Toyota s/b recalling all of these $25k -$30k + vehicles to correct an obvious problem in the original product.
    What I am afraid of, is this going to happen again in another 60,000 miles?
  • minnesnowta1minnesnowta1 Posts: 27
    edited June 2010
    Your not alone when it come to vehicle seal issues. And it's not just Toyota. We traded in a 2003 HONDA Pilot EXL with 83k when we bought our 09 Highlander. The problem we had with our Honda happened at 69k. The front steering rack decided to start leaking at the seal that connects the tie rods. Honda did not make this a replaceable seal. It's pressed into the rack sleeve. So, guess what, we had to fork out over $1500 for a brand new rack with installation. I think the rack itself was about $800 or so. Really made me mad that a $20 seal was not replaceable. The repair also called for new inner tie rods that were also shot. We also experienced a leak in one of the radiator block lines. Bad seal again. Another few hundred. Oh, and we also had the struts replaced with the rack. (Leaking). Total bill for all the above was almost 3k. This is a reputable dealer who always show me the problem before any work is done. I called Honda corporate on the rack issue and they offered nothing. We take great care of our cars and live in the suburbs. No off roading or towing. Just normal driving.
  • miyahiramiyahira Posts: 2
    WWEST...Thank you for the warning! I really appreciate all the information. I haven't been on this site since posting the probable fix...

    TRUE to your vehicle is going back to Hesitation again!!

    In fact, it now noticeably jumps ahead as it shifts from 2nd to 3rd gear!!!!
    This is dangerous trying to get on to the highway!!!!!!!! I just put a call into my Toyota dealer.
    I'd appreciate any advice.
    On top of that my steering column started making a " ga-runging " noise every time I turned about 3 months ago. When i took it in to have them look at it, Toyota ordered parts to fix it and will do so free.
    This is horrible! I have a like brand new 2 year old Highlander that started having hesitation problems from the day i drove it off the lot and now steering column defect problems.
    I am so sad. I have been a Honda owner all of my life...This is my first Toyota.
  • My 2006 Highlander also had the transmission seal leak that the Technical Services Bulletin was issued about. I have 90,000 miles on mine. I contacted Toyota and asked them to meet me halfway on the cost of repair, which was quoted at $1600.00. Didn't hear back when the Toyota rep said they would call, so I called them again and was told there would be no assistance. When I asked how they determined who would be assisted, they replied that it is based on customer service records. "Loyal" customers, those who bring the vehicle to a Toyota dealership for every oil change/mileage preventive maintenance, etc, are considered for assistance. Doesn't matter how many Toyotas have been purchased~~one "loyal" customer in the service dept. trumps someone who has bought a fleet of Toyotas, but had them serviced elsewhere. Bottom line is, they get your service $$ one way or the other. I shopped various Toyota dealers and went with one that did it for $1400 plus gave me a free rental car for two days. It's done, but has left a bad taste in my mouth for a company that is spending thousands of dollars trying to repair it's reputation. Here's a novel idea for Toyota~~do the RIGHT THING and the customers and revenue will follow.
  • FYI, expect the same from Honda. Rack seal went out on our 04 Honda Pilot last year at 76K. Did the same as you and called customer care. Same result as you. 2k repair I had to eat. Always took my car to the dealer for repairs. So my point is it's not just Toyota that does this sort of thing, they all do.
  • It sounds like these decisions were made at the local level. Playing the devil's advocate here . . . one vehicle is a 4-yr old with 90K miles and the other is a 6-yr old with 76K miles. One dealer looked at the mileage and the other looked at the age. IMO.
  • mta116mta116 Posts: 2
    edited September 2010
    I believe I'm experiencing this re-acceleration issue as well. Below is what I addressed to my dealer. My car is a 2010 highlander 2wd and I've had it into the dealer once already to try to have this fixed; they could not repeat the problem. Do you have any suggestions about what I should instruct my dealer to do to either repeat the problem, or what 'known' fix they should be applying? Description of my problem:

    My Highlander continues to have periodic issues where it will not down shift. This happened to me again this morning on my way to work. While it is not a consistent problem, I'm finding it to be extremely dangerous. I cannot safely merge with traffic on the highway because it WILL NOT DOWNSHIFT. Today's circumstance: I was slowly accelerating in 5th gear at about 55 miles an hour having just merged from the ramp onto Southbound US 202. I wanted to move into left lane of faster moving traffic, and when I tried to accelerate as I moved into the next lane, nothing happened. I stomped the pedal to the floor, and nothing happened. I released the pedal and stomped it to the floor again, and nothing happened. I moved the transmission stick into tiptronic and pushed back to downshift, and nothing happened. I did it 4 more times and nothing happened all with the pedal all the way on the floor. Then finally, after 10 seconds or so, the car decided to downshift. This is ridiculous and dangerous. It has repeated this at least once per month since I bought the car.

    I appreciate any input forum members can provide. Thanks.
  • At 28,000 miles our 2009 Highlander (Limited, 6 cyl., FWD) transmission began making a vibration noise when the engine is cold and shifted from Park to Drive or Reverse. The noise is not evident in either Park or Neutral. When the engine is warm, the noise and vibration disappear.
    Dealer checked for leaks, etc., and said things are okay. I plan to take it back to the dealer, but I would appreciate suggestions and input, etc.
  • ariesvariesv Posts: 1
    i have exactly the same issue, and since this problem is so random, my dealer cannot replicate the issue, dont know what else I can do.
  • mta116mta116 Posts: 2
    I'm putting my car in for inspection this month and will be discussing again with my dealer, but I've already been told nothing can be done if the problem can't be duplicated. I have had some success forcing a shift by holding the shifter in the downshift position. The response is still slower than it should be, but the two times I've done it now, it has prompted faster shifting than anything else I've tried. If I work anything else out, I'll be sure to post it.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Many of today's FWD and F/awd vehicles, especially those of over 200HP, will automatically "detune" the engine, as a pre-emptive safety measure, using DBW "sensitivity"/gain when you first start out in the lower gears. You might fully depress the gas pedal but the throttle opening doesn't necessarily "follow".

    "Pre-emptively" disabling downshifting into those first two lower gears with high engine output, or even while turning somewhat tightly is now also a part of the modern day FWD and/or F/awd vehicular design "mix".

    I don't often drive our 92 Lexus LS400 but when I do I immediately notice a big difference in the shift pattern between it and our '01 RX300. In the LS as I brake to a stop the transmission will downshift just prior to coming to a full stop requiring a bit more pressure on the brake pedal.

    Our F/awd RX300 gives the impression of an upshift, discontinues fuel cut coastdown mode, at just about the same point when braking to stop and then only downshifts into 1st once the RX has come to a full and complete stop.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    '01 F/awd RX300.

    Just as I should have expected, just as it was at 40,000 miles, my RX's ATF was dark brown and smelled burned. I have checked it at every oil and filter change, on the average twice a year, and up until now it appeared to be okay.

    Drained 4.5 qts inclusive of the diff'l drain, and re-filled with 4.5 qts of factory specified ATF. As I did before at 40,000 miles I will repeat the drain and refill in a week or so.


    As I drained the ATF it was not so hot dripping on my hands and fingers as to be really discomforting. I had just driven it about 25 miles and then directly into the garage to drain. I have the practice of draining engine oil this quickly so that any particulates will remain in suspension and be drained along with the oil.

    The engine oil is always HOT and quite discomforting so given that the ATF is clearly showing signs of being over-heated, burned, I find this somewhat surprising.

    My conclusion is now more firm in that I believe the heating, OVER-heating, of the ATF is localized, most likely ATF pump, and so the extra external cooler, tow package, my RX came with is probably useless since I don't tow.

    I remain fully expectant that my transaxle will fail before reaching 120,000 miles at which point I will repair and the RX will become a R/awd vehicle. SOLID drive coupling to the rear and an early VC, '99-'00, for coupling in the front drive.
  • fcogfcog Posts: 1
    you might check a website: dollar engines and transmissions. they sell for 995.95. beats the dealer at 1400.00 to 2000.00. to replace the seal.
  • donglindonglin Posts: 2
    I have a 2006 Highlander (AWD, 6-cylinder, about 73k miles. Purchased brandnew in Nov. 2006). Just two days ago I found there is transmission oil leaking. I wonder if some body can tell me what's wrong about it, how much cost to fix the problem.

    Thanks for your input!
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706

    From where...?
  • donglindonglin Posts: 2
    I sent the SUV to Pepboy and took them about 10 hours to figure out: Leaking is caused by differencial seal and they can not fix it and let me take to Toyota dealer.

    The Toyota dealer will charge me ove $1300 to fix ($128 Parts, $1,200 labor).

    Thansk though.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    10 hours...?

    Depending on the leak "rate" it might be a lot cheaper to just refill it once in awhile.
  • darneldarnel Posts: 2
    edited June 2011
    Bought my car brand spanking new it now has 64000 miles on it and I just found out it has a transmission seal leak. Repair cost estimate is $1300.00. Seems unreasonable to me this would happen with such few miles on it. Any others having this problem and could it be a faulty seal?
    Any success with Toyota repairing under warranty since it is just past the 60000 miles?
  • amym2amym2 Posts: 1

    I have a 2005 Toyota Highlander awd v6, and am having problems. Went to start car, and battery seemed dead. Didn't respond to a jump, and had the battery replaced. I can now start the car and get it to move, but can't get the rpms to go over 2 (essentially, won't accelerate). The radio, windows, thermometer all work, but can't get the car to really "go."

    Any thoughts?
  • skolbskolb Posts: 2
    I have a 2006 highlander limited (6 cyl) with the SAME problem at 69K miles. I have a call into toyota corporate customer service (1-800-331-4331) to get reimbursement on the repairs. They opened a ticket and are supposed to call me back today or tomorrow to tell me if they will pick up some of the cost. I agree, this is unacceptable! I bought Toyota (and paid a premium price) based on the quality but this is NOT the quality I intended to buy. I am beyond the warrantee so I'm not hopeful. I suggest at a minimum calling the customer service number and reporting it... the more they hear the more likely it will be to get some action... this must be a defect situation... very dissapointed!
  • Our 2002 has a draing plug, but we are considering a 2011 or 12.

    Does the 2011 HL 6 cyl have a transmission dipstick and tranny drain plug? I was told that the 2011 camry 4 cy has no dipstick and the salesmen said there was no drain plug.

    thanks, rr70
  • What was done to fix this? I have the same situation on our Highlander 2002 with the slow drip of transmission fluid. They want to do the expensive fix and I am wondering what you did.
  • I had mine fixed at Toyota. I went through all the corporate channels to see if they would pick up some of the cost, and they would not. I did shop the repair cost first at every Toyota dealer within a reasonable distance, and they do vary in cost and will negotiate a few hundred dollars. Went with a dealer that offered the best price and a free loaner SUV for the several days my Highlander was in the shop. The repair work is guaranteed for one year, so the problem could reoccur. The whole thing was disappointing and tarnished my loyalty to Toyota.
  • darneldarnel Posts: 2
    I was successful after calling Toyota Corporate office in Los Angeles, they agreed to pay for half the repair cost. I still feel they should of paid for all of it and after seeing post 276 this confirms it is a common problem, Toyota is aware of and has since addressed on later models. I am with you as far as loyalty to Toyota, I am now shopping for a new vehicle and it won't be a Toyota!
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