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Toyota Highlander Hybrid Engine Questions

maverick777maverick777 Member Posts: 2
edited April 2014 in Toyota
Bought a limited version in March and on two occasions since, it just won't start. Turned the key, lights come on, then nothing. Waited a few minutes, then it started right up. Taking it to the dealer for a system check, but has anyone experienced this?


  • mroczkamroczka Member Posts: 11
    I,m wondering my dealer has a new highlander hybrid that came from Indiana with 245 miles on it and i,m assuming it was mostly highway miles, would this be a problem with this car because of breakin of new engine. Would I have problems down the line. Years ago there were certain steps that told you how to properly break in a new engine, and not drive it at certain speeds consistently. Does this apply to the highlander hybrid? Thank You in advance Frank
  • nomorebenznomorebenz Member Posts: 109
    I'm no pro on this but I think you don't need to worry about piston glazing. Especially with this dual engine system and only 245 miles. The manual says just to avoid harsh driving during the first 1000 miles, i.e. acceleration, braking & towing.
  • nomorebenznomorebenz Member Posts: 109
    I'm little unsure. Are you saying that the Gas engine is not coming on or that you can't engage the drive system?
  • maverick777maverick777 Member Posts: 2
    It's really strange: tried to unlock the doors using key fob-didn't work, Manually opened the door-interior light did not come on. Waited a-while, turned key in ignition-dash lights came on, then slowly faded. Got a ride home, came back, and it started right up. Has happended twice. Dealer check today showed nothing wrong.
  • nomorebenznomorebenz Member Posts: 109
    Definitely sounds like a problem with the 12 volt battery system as opposed to the hybrid battery.
    I'd check the connections and the battery indicator located on the battery itself. Look for any items that might be draining the battery such as open doors, lights etc.
    If you find nothing amiss then take it back to the dealership and have them focus on that system.
  • typesixtypesix Member Posts: 321
    Owner's manual will tell you how engine should be broken in.
  • terry92270terry92270 Member Posts: 1,247
    So-called "harsh" driving is how most people actually drive today. :sick:
  • ctillotctillot Member Posts: 1
    Could someone please help me find the location of the oil filter on a 2007 Toyota Highland Hybrid LTD, V6, 4wd-i. I have looked from underneath and above and cannot locate a filter at all. When looking for a replacement at the auto parts store, the filter appears to be a standard sized filter.
  • sale3sale3 Member Posts: 1
    hi! could anyone out there help me start my 06 highlander hybrid!
    This hh was bought with moderate front end damage, its all fixed now but it doesnt start!
    When i turn ignition on red triangle warning light is on and also it says check vsc system! no ready light what so ever! the electrical kw gauge doesnt move at all it sits at the bottom bellow #0! does anyone have any ideas what could this be?
  • erikperikp Member Posts: 3
    May be a fried inverter!
    My HH came to a complete stop on the highway on June 25. The message read "Check Hybrid system" and "Check VSC System" I had to have it towed 50 miles to my dealer. It took them three days to realize the inverter was cooked. If not for the warranty, it would have cost me $7000.00 to replace on top of the $208.00 tow charge. They were told by Toyota that only 1 other case of this had been reported. I am now a little leary of the future when the warranty runs out.
  • erikperikp Member Posts: 3
    If you turn on one of the Map lights on the mirror before getting out, it will stay on after the other lights fade out. The battery does not like this much and I don't recall this setting off one of the warning chimes, ie, "Moonroof Open", "Key in Ignition".
  • rodonnellrodonnell Member Posts: 37
    Ran into the same problem. The filter is underneath and behind the exhaust manifold in the front of the engine. Remove the plastic panel from the bottom of the front bumper to access the filter. You will also see that Toyota thoughtfully provided a unique drip catch basin below the filter.
  • sdo11sdo11 Member Posts: 2
    I'm having a similar problem. I go to start the car and it says "shift to park." The car is in park. I'll try several times and sometimes it starts. Sometimes I can start is hours later. I've taken it to the dealer and they say they can't find anything wrong. The last time I got it back from the dealer, it wouldn't start the next day. Had to get it towed in. Once again the dealer couldn't find a problem. The dealer said they called Toyota in California and no one else has had this problem. Either I'm getting told a line or other dealers aren't reporting the problem to corporate.
  • ldirienzoldirienzo Member Posts: 2
    sdo11, I'm having the exact same problem with the "shift to park" thing. (See my new post under "I think my HH is possessed.") It's happened three times in the last two months. So far, the dealer is equally unhelpful. Any updates? I am so frustrated.
  • sdo11sdo11 Member Posts: 2
    HH: Sorry to hear you are having the same problem. The service mgr gave us the Toyota national complaint line. They set us up with their dispute settlement program. We had an arbitration hearing. We heard back that from the independent arbitrator that Toyota has to buy the car back. (We were still under warranty.) We are now waiting on Toyota now. They have up to 30 days to buy it back.

    My suggestion is the next time it happens to you, take pictures of the of the gearshift lever and the gauges. We took pictures with our cell phone. I think that helped. You may ask the service mgr if they want to send a mechanic to the car's location when you have the problem. That was one of the suggestions the district Toyota rep said at the hearing.
  • wildgoosechasewildgoosechase Member Posts: 3
    Check your OIL level!
    We have had the same non-starting problem with our '06 HH (55 K miles) for the last two months. We had previously noticed that the dealer who services both our HH and our Prius consistently overfilled the oil, not just a little, but over half a quart. When we last took the Prius in for service, and they overfilled it again, we insisted that they refill, and get it on the mark. The master mechanic agreed that this over-fill could be damaging, and said they would check their metering. He also said that this over fill could reduce mileage, and might cause starting problems, in addition to damaging the engine. The non starting took place when the vehicle had not been used, at least over-night, or after being driven 400 miles after being serviced, and parked on an up slope.
    Subsequently we took the HH in for service, and had the fill only to the mark. NO STARTING PROBLEMS IN THE WEEK SINCE. The absence of the problem does not prove the cause, but it is worth checking.
    We have experienced this overfill problem in Southern Nevada, Idaho, and Utah, at Toyota Dealerships with both Interminable Wait & Quick Lube operations.

    Speculations on overfilling:
    Inaccurate metering of new oil.
    Inaccurate meter dial setting by grease monkeys.
    Not following specifications.
    Not changing the oil filter (but charging for it?)
    Incomplete removal of old oil, too quick, oil hasn't settled.
    Oil viscosity may not be right for the ambient temperature.
    Cumulative slight over filling (unlikely as we've used three dealerships.)

    If non-start recurs, we'll get back to you. Also be sure the gas cap is TIGHT, but that hasn't been our problem. Computers rule, d a r n it!
  • jaskerjasker Member Posts: 3
    I am having the same problem with the shift to P when parking message. I have called the dealer who said on the phone he'd never heard of it. I tried to start it 5-6 times same problem. 30 minutes later it started up. I noticed after shifting to neutral and the back to park to see if that fixed it that the car rolled a little and then clicked back into gear. I am going to document it like you said with pictures before taking it in. What have you found out after the 30 days?
    Thanks for posting!!!
  • wildgoosechasewildgoosechase Member Posts: 3
    NOW STARTING AND RUNNING WELL since the engine oil level was corrected. MPG has improved too over the same terrain, but that may also be influenced by less heated use. -CW
  • jaskerjasker Member Posts: 3
    Update on my problem:
    Okay it's shift to P when starting not parking first off. I went back out and had my camera ready and it started of course. But 15 minutes later I had the shift to p message again. This time I took the picture of it. Also tried it once more right afterwards and then another problem occurred. The whole screen went blank with only the green bulb and the doors open light with no sound from the engine at all. It was like the battery was dead. Then I took the key out and the car started dinging like I still had the key in. The overhead lights were dimmed but stuck on and the parking lights in front of the car are stuck on. The dinging stayed on even when all doors were closed. I'm definitely taking it in now!
  • tony75tony75 Member Posts: 1
    Hi, I am having the exact same problem and took the car to the dealership. They could not find anything wrong, and also claimed that they had never heard of this problem before. They tried to tell me that I didn't drive the car enough or that I left the lights on. Thats when I got mad. Have you had any success in solving the problem?
  • jaskerjasker Member Posts: 3
    I did take it to the dealer. They said it was the battery and replaced under warranty. So far I have had no problems since. We have had this problem for almost 6 months and we remembered later that we called the dealer the first time it happened and they told us to check the gas tank and make sure to click it 3 times which is similar to another posting. The problem went away for a while after that but came back. Hopefully it's solved now. Did they replace your battery?
  • jldavisjldavis Member Posts: 8
    Out of the blue, my car would not start tonight. It's brand new - 2008, and 6000 miles. It's been working wonderfully, but is is dead as a doorknob. Would not even attempt starting. The door light was on, but extremly dim. Something under the hood was making a very meek pathethic sort of whirring noise.

    I did recently have an oil change, and have gotten the Shift to P message - both seem to have been mentioned in other forum postings where the HiHy does not start, but I did not see anyone posting about the weird noise too.

    Any ideas?
  • rodonnellrodonnell Member Posts: 37
    While I have not experienced this problem, (yet) I suspect it is related to the battery. The door light dim is a dead giveaway that the battery is low. Probably not related to the oil change, more likely a light was left on. The whirring noise is a normal sound, although it may be weak because of the battery as well. There are several systems that get powered up when you turn the key, the water pump and power steering to name two. I think the "Shift to P" is also a symptom of the battery charge state being low as well. Computers do not like to operate with a low voltage condition.

    May I suggest you perform a test of the battery charge. Should be fully charged and between 12 and 12.5 volts.

    If you cannot start the engine, try a jump start like you would with any other vehicle. Once running measure the battery voltage again, should be more than 12.5 volts, between 13 and 15 would be normal.

    If this fails, it seems a trip to the dealer is in order.

    I am beginning to think there is a systematic failure in the charging systems for HH based on what I have been reading in these posts. I have a hard time believing all the people experiencing problems with the battery running down and failing is because the owners have left a light on.
  • stevedebistevedebi Member Posts: 4,098
    " I have a hard time believing all the people experiencing problems with the battery running down and failing is because the owners have left a light on. "

    You would think that Toyota would have sprung the 50 cents or so for a circuit to shut off the interior lights after 10 minutes. My last three cars have had this feature.
  • greegree Member Posts: 1
    We've accumulated 85,000 miles on our 2006 Highlander Hybrid, and I'm wondering what Toyota recommends as the timing belt change interval. Does anyone know?

    BTW, so for our only failure has been a window lift motor, under warrantee.
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Member Posts: 1,405
    It would be in the owners manual if it's a recommended change. Check there.
  • colcbpcolcbp Member Posts: 9
    Interesting issue. One day a few weeks ago when temp reached 115 in parking lot at work. Drove in to work at 8AM, HH 2006 Limited 2WD, 60,440 mi. Parked in parking lot all day cam out at 4PM to go home thermo in dash said outside ground temp 115.

    Car started like dream. Drove out of PL made a couple of stops to merge. couple of L&R Turns. Then enroute to freeway entrance accelerated and moved to center lane to pass city bus disgorging passengers. All of sudden warning displays all over, but no bells, saying "hybrid failure, go to service" of words to that effect.

    Luckily work only 10mins from Toyota Dealer and was able to avoid getting onto freeway and take back road to dealership. Left car running with failure displayed on dash for all to see. Grabbed my serivce writer and then sat down for what turned out to be 2hr wait.

    End result was diagnosed as ECU failure but part out of stock. Dealer was able to reset/overcome failure mode and let me drive off, thinking part was coming from CA and I could come back in three days to get fix (covered under Hybrid warranty.)

    Had two appointments canx as part remained out of stock, and then magically delivered.

    After two hours of work I have had car back now nearly two weeks. Runs like a dream and even the problem I had when travelling at 70mph and feeling car hunt as it tried to maintain steady speed has gone away (even though dealer had "reprogrammed" ECU firmware about three months ago -- and complaint still remained.)

    Was wondering if others had this problem, especially since ECU was so hard to come by. Either this ECU (failed little so no need for stocks in USA) or (failed a lot and spares across USA were being depleted as a result.)

    Thoughts, comments?

  • rodonnellrodonnell Member Posts: 37
    Your recommended interval is at 90,000 miles. I had the timing belt replaced in my 07 HH last month at 94,000 miles.

    By the way, I had it changed at Priority Toyota in Petersburg VA. I was quoted $290.00 for the job over the telephone. When I took it in for the appointment, was questioned by the service writer who thought I had a chain. After verifying it indeed has a belt, was called an hour later by the writer who mentioned the price was quoted wrong because the Hybrid requires much more work. Seems funny to me because there is no serpentine belt or other parts to remove from the front of the engine. The dealer honored the price as quoted.

    Got a call two hours later informing me the work was completed. Interesting, the Toyota Website and All Data quote 2.7 hours for the belt replacement on the HH.

    Dealer gave me back the old belt and reported there was no leakage in the seals or in the water pump.
  • 400e400e Member Posts: 41
    Am nearing 30K miles on my 2008 HH and asked the dealer for info on that service. They gave me a brochure which lists all the usual inspections, oil change, air filter replacement, etc. but in addition replaces differential oil and does a "fuel induction service." All to the tune of $469!

    I am very tempted to do the oil change and air filter replacement myself, then go to an independent mechanic to do the visual inspections called for. I don't see the need for the other services the dealer wants to do as they are not specified in Toyota's literature.

    What have others done? What do you think about these added services, like "induction service" and differential oil change? (Not even sure that's relevant as no rear differential on the hybrid.)
  • rodonnellrodonnell Member Posts: 37
    You are a smart guy 400e. What you experienced from that dealer is the typical marketing ploy used in the automotive repair/service industry.

    I have followed the manufacture's recommendations for maintenance on my '07 HH and have had ZERO problems in 117,000 miles. When you replace your air filter, dont forget the cabin air filter behind the glove box.
  • stevegoldstevegold Member Posts: 185
    It is difficult to find and get to the oil filter in the HH. On the '07 you must remove the full width plastic shield by removing 8-10 plastic screws/bolts. Once the shield is removed, finding and changing the oil filter is a snap. Then you have to replace the damn shield. My last Subaru had a sliding hatch in the shield which made it really easy.
  • 400e400e Member Posts: 41
    Thanks, Ray! Very helpful comments. Glad to hear you've had good success, and I wish you many more trouble-free miles.
  • 400e400e Member Posts: 41
    stevegold -

    thanks for that tip, too. One weekend I did take off that plastic shield to see how accessible the filter is, and just as you say, there it is.

    Do you use an oil filter wrench that fits snugly on the end of the filter (50 mm or something like that, if I recall)? I will need to get one of those.

    I used to have an old Mercedes - one of the best features of that car was that the engineers designed the engine so that you could do oil changes from above, using a dipstick tube that sucked oil out that way, and the oil filter was reached from above too.
  • stevegoldstevegold Member Posts: 185
    Toyota and most auto stores sell a rigid, cup like oil filter wrench that requires a socket handle to operate. Do not use a fabric wrench as it will crush the oil filter if it is on too tight. My guess is that most mechanics that do oil changes do NOT bother to replace the filter because it's too much work and you'll never know. That actually happened to me, by me. This was the third oil change on my wife's '07 HH and the very first time I actually changed the filter. I would have remembered had I ever taken off the shield.
  • 400e400e Member Posts: 41
    Great point.
    Would be an interesting "experiment" - to mark the filter inconspicuously, take the car to have an oil and filter change, and see if the filter was actually replaced...
  • wwestwwest Member Posts: 10,706
    There may be some differences that prevent this but I have always changed the oil filter on my '01 F/awd RX300 from the top, even after warming the engine to operating temperature for easier oil flow and particle/debris suspension.

    My RX gets oil, oil filter, and air filter every 5-7000 miles and the pollen filter inspected and changed "as needed", now at ~80,000 miles. The ATF was drained and refilled, twice, days apart, at ~40,000 miles due to the transaxle design flaw and hasn't been changed since. But just to be on the safe side I do check the ATF condition, odor and appearance, at each oil change.
  • wtfjrwtfjr Member Posts: 4
    We have read the owners book F to B & have not found out how often we are supposed to change the engine oil ?
    How often are you doing this ?
    Bill in FL
  • rodonnellrodonnell Member Posts: 37
    Oil Change frequency should be listed in the maintenance schedule book, separate from the actual owners manual.

    Depending on the year of your HH, the computer should be maintaining this for you. On my '07, the Maintenance Reminder alert comes up every 5,000 miles.
  • saber40saber40 Member Posts: 6
    I have a Highlander-2005 which needs 70K service.
    beside general inspection, I was told that they will change oil, rotate tires, change cabin filter and do fuel injuction services. Cost $300-$350.
    Is this sound right? Can I service it somewhere else cheaper?

    your input is appreciated.
  • rbrown911rbrown911 Member Posts: 1
    I've heard differing feedback re: what will happen on a hybrid vehicle such as the Toyota Highlander if the timing belt cracks/wears out before it is replaced. Can you provide feedback as to what, if any, damage will occur to the vehicle if it is not replaced in a timely manner?

  • fmdog44fmdog44 Member Posts: 1
    I do it every 3,000 but on MSNBC thismorning 09-06-10 there is a story saying 12,000 is ok because the oils are so much better now!! I could never agree with this. Has anyone else heard this?
  • monte8monte8 Member Posts: 75
    "12,000 is ok because the oils are so much better now" Even if the oil is "better", you still need to change the oil per the manufacturing specs. to keep the warrantee valid. The synthetics are able to go longer between changes, but are not worth getting your warrantee work denied because you went longer than recommended between oil changes.
  • lelaughlelaugh Member Posts: 1
    My toyota hybrid highlander won't turn the ready on to get it started it. it says hybrid system check,
    vsc check. pls help. i have to get to work on tuesday or i am dead...
  • wildgoosechasewildgoosechase Member Posts: 3
    I had a similar problem, in wet weather. I could get it started with a jump to the 12 volt battery, and eventually replaced it. The dealership (under warrenty) replaced the computer, andeventually found a current leak - on the 12 volt side.
  • myrafmyraf Member Posts: 32
  • ualdepualdep Member Posts: 3
    2006 HH has intermittant engine rattle near firewall; the noise is not rythmic: fairly loud; it is easily heard outside by the left wheelwell. It does it after the engine is warm; would not do it while mechanic was listening :)
  • jimbobferleyjimbobferley Member Posts: 1
    Once I crank the ignition, everything works: dash, nav, sound, seats, moon roof...everything works fine. Except the engine won't turn over. In fact, the blinking red security light indicating the theft deterrent system is on, won't turn off. I checked all the fuses and they're all fine. I'm trying to avoid a huge dealership repair bill. Any ideas?
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