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Toyota Highlander Check Engine Light

kenabrkenabr Posts: 9
My check engine light came on at 102,000 miles.
The dealer service dept. says that the diagnostic showed no clear cause(?)but I need new spark plugs ($240),ejectors cleaned, and of course the cost of the diagnostic ($130) The total was around $475. Am I being ripped?? My big question is what will they do to get the light out?? Should I disconnect the battery abnd reset the clock and radio buttons to see if it goes out? Then I can worry again if it comes back on.


  • What year is your Highlander and is it AWD?
  • kenabrkenabr Posts: 9
    My Highlander is a 2002 V6 AWD.
  • I had the same problem on my 4 cylinder TH. After about 6 months, the check engine light would come on, typically after either a gas fill-up or if I made a sharp sudden turn. To get it off I had to open up the gas cap, blow on it once, re-close, and after 3-4 startups it would go away. Eventually I had it in for service one day and they said a diagnostic setting was malfunctioning, and they replaced it for free.

    net net, try the gas cap for now; ask your dealer next time you are in for service.
  • budhbudh Posts: 109
    Two months ago I had the exact same issue as the original poster.

    Fast forward to today.....

    Having brought my 2002 Toyota V6 AWD with 140,000 miles to my Toyota dealership to check out a simultaneous check engine light and vehicle stability control light, I learned that I would need an oxygen sensor replaced which would cost about $400.

    I passed on this repair - especially considering I'm looking at possibly not having this vehicle a year from now.

    The two diagnostic codes received from an OBDII scan tool were:

    P0125 (Insufficient Coolant Temperature For Closed Loop Fuel Control)


    P0136 (Oxygen Sensor Circuit Malfunction - Bank #1 Sensor #2)

    Any ideas on what short and long term issues I might have not replacing this oxygen sensor?

    Bud H
  • mcmmcm Posts: 11
    I had to have my Oxygen sensor replaced on my 2001 V6 AWD at 55k miles. If you dont replace it, you risk engine stall at red light and other rapid changes in fuel/oxygen mix such as decelerating off a highway ramp etc
  • andrew17andrew17 Posts: 26
    Dear Budh!
    Please remember, that the feedback from the O2 sensor will impact your programmed combustion pattern. It could happen that under normal driving conditions the computer can "balance" the faulty (lack of) signal, but under a slow-down or up-hill acceleration it could shut-off the engine. If I were in your situation, I would replace it and drive it for an other 50,000 miles. You have a reliable V-6 AWD SUV - don't give it up so easily! =Andrew
  • 2003 HL V6 28,000 miles:40 miles into a trip the "check engine light" came on, I turned around and came home. HL ran great all the way home. Today is sunday and the dealership's service is closed. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    The check engine light can come on for hundreds of reasons. The first thing to check is whether your gas cap is tight!!! But you can drive for weeks with it on, months perhaps and it won't do you any harm. Just make an appointment to stop in and see what caused the issue. Don't change your life.
  • gasman1gasman1 Posts: 321
    Agree with kdhspider - also, has it been 4,500 to 5,000 miles since your last oil change? Could be the reminder.
  • Thanks for the reply, only 2800 mi since last oil change. Since I read reply from kdhspider I re tightened fuel cap, checked and pushed air filter vacuum hose as far as it would go on. After that I disconnected both battery cables and restarted the HL. CEL went off. Took HL for a 40 mile drive and CEL stayed off. Thanks a lot for both of your help.
  • Another thought, yesterday I gassed up and when the hand nozzle clicked off I tried to squeeze in a few more drops. I know that's a no no and maybe caused the problem.
  • My HL is a 2003 v6 2wd.
  • I have a 01 4Runner V6 90K and had the check engine light and VSC lights came on. First the dealer diagnosed it as Vacuum Switching Valve,(not covered by warranty) cost 170$. Two days later light was back on. I told the service dept. that the engine seemed to idle different and was having trouble accelerating. They advised me the mechanic forgot to reset the error code and didn't tighten the gas cap. A week later the lights are back on. Any other ideas?
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Try asking in the Toyota 4Runner Maintenance and Repair discussion, and check out the "Check Engine" light board as well.

    And maybe do a chargeback on the dealer's bill! :P
  • ticadooticadoo Posts: 40
    I down-graded from a 2004 Tahoe to a 2001 Highlander last year and boy, what a difference!! I have replaced the tires, replaced the brakes, etc., but I am having problems with the check engine light. It has been in the shop three times for replacement of 02 sensors (different ones) and I have taken it in for a recall on the check engine light, and it continues to stay on. The closest dealership is an hour away from where I live. Will it hurt to drive it with the light on? Every time I take it to the shop to be checked they find something else wrong with it. Is it because I am a female? Another question, what's up with the cheap cup holders? One is already broken and the other is about to break. Can I order replacement ones somewhere?
  • webgoodwebgood Posts: 95
    Just a you ever have the engine running when fueling or any other time when the gas cap is off? Is the cap tight? Is the whole fuel tank vapor recovery system intact (hoses connected) and properly functioning and maintained?
  • ticadooticadoo Posts: 40
    Thanks for the thought. I never have the engine running when I fuel up..cap is always tight.
  • Yes there's a correlation between being a female Highlander driver and the Check Engine Light :)

    Yes you can drive with the check engine light on. The planet won't like you much but it will do no harm to your Highlander.
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Well....actually sometimes it is okay.

    However, there are check light engine error conditions, which if you don't take care of the condition can further ruin other parts. Engine running too lean can damage heads and pistons. Wrong mixture getting dumped into exhaust can ruin catalytic converter. A number of these problems would be VERY expensive to ultimately repair.

    Unless you have had the error codes read, I personally wouldn't be driving around ignoring the check engine light. Even if you definitively know what the problem is now, and choose legitimately to ignore it for a could have a 2nd problem show up in a couple weeks, which is a very serious problem. You might still think it's the first problem, and totally miss the 2nd problem.
  • ticadooticadoo Posts: 40
    I have had my Highlander in the shop three times to have the error codes read and supposedly fixed, costing over $500.00 and the light is still on. The last time I had in in the shop they could not get an error code and told me to drive it a while longer, hoping a code would eventually show up. They still can't get it to read a code. Is this possible or are they just telling me this because I am a female?? How is a female supposed to trust a male mechanic? What do I do if the mechanic can't find a code? :confuse:
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    I can't speak to the female/male issue, I have no idea where you are taking it or where you live. I think in one of your earlier posts, you indicated that the Toyota dealer was an hour away. Is that really the closest Toyota dealer?

    I can't speak specifically to your year Highlander, but I've had an error code on one (non-Toyota) vehicle I own, where after the fix it required a certain number of successful warm up cycles before it would turn the light off, but that was all documented as part of that particular error condition. In those cases it is not possible to get thru state inspection until the code clears.

    It's not clear to me whether your situation is one where the mechanic doesn't know how to fix and reset your error condition....or an error condition which really does take a couple of cycles to clear (after it was fixed).

    I'm suspecting your mechanic may not have the detail knolwedge that a Toyota dealership would have in figuring out what your problem really is. I don't know how many miles you put on your vehicle in a week or two, but I'd plan to get it to a dealership in a reasonable timeframe, assuming you aren't putting on a ton of daily mileage.
  • ticadooticadoo Posts: 40
    Thanks. I have taken it to my Toyota dealer..and yes, the closest dealership is an hour away. Not sure dealership knows what they are doing..I just took it in to have timing belt changed and guess what??? I don't even have a belt, I have a chain. :confuse:
  • We have a 2001 Highlander V4 that I bought new from the dealership. Check engine light came on after about 30,000 miles. Dealership replaced the catalytic converter system for no charge because we were still in warranty. About 100 miles down the road, the check engine light came back on. Dealership reset everything, light went off. About 50 miles down the road, light came back on. Dealership said don't worry about it. After we went out of warranty and were at same dealership for routine service, I asked about the check engine light and was told it would cost $300 for full diagnostics and then additional for whatever repairs were needed. Took Highlander in for recall of the valve thing. Check engine light off. About 15 miles down the road, the light came back on. Took car to dealership because of silver-gray smoke coming out of exhaust on startup every morning. Mechanic started up the engine, observed the smoke and said I needed an engine overhaul -- $5,000. I took the Highlander to a small shop mechanic who said don't worry about it. I've switched to a higher grade of gasoline and am still driving the vehicle -- 140,000 miles. But my experience with this vehicle and dealership have turned me against Toyota forever. It's a shame because I used to have a 1978 Toyota Corolla that I could probably still be driving. It was a great little car -- no problems. From a lot of the posts I've read on this site and others, it seems that Toyota's famous quality reputation is being tarnished by shoddy systems and uncaring, incompetent dealership service departments.
  • kent17kent17 Posts: 3
    I have to say that I feel like I'm reading about our car and our experience. It seems to run fine, but the check engine light will come on, then go off, then come on again. The dealership said they THOUGHT it might be the catalytic converter (before the warrenty ran out), but elected to replace both oxygen sensors instead, which killed the light for a while. The light stayed out for a time, but it's on and off again now, and the dealership is back to the catalytic converter theory. Unfortunately, the car's out of warranty now and I'm not too sure I want to push that much money into it now. We've got the smoke at start-up going on as well. Guess we'll just drive it until it stops and put electrical tape of the check-engine light!

    Anything new going on with your Highlander?
  • ticadooticadoo Posts: 40
    Yep, all problems sound alike. I too was told that it might be the catalytic conveter, but since I had alreadyspent so much money on it, decided not to replace it. I was really disappointed with this vehicle and have recently traded it in.
  • ashleydeeashleydee Posts: 9
    i have a 2003 4cyl, my check engine light kept coming on and going off as well. i used a home diagnostic machine and it said both bays in my catalytic converter. i took my HL in after it coming on & going off several times and found out there was a recall. apparently something to do with my computer needing to be fixed. any of you that hasn't had your recall done needs to. the dealership can figure look up your vin and tell you if it has been.

    my HL has been just fine without any scary check engine lights... until this morning :( hopefully it's nothing :::crossing fingers:::.
  • ronnronn Posts: 398
    Hello everyone,
    please post what year your Highlander is when posting a problem or comment. It would be very helpful in trying to give an answer. Different years make a difference.
  • rusterruster Posts: 1
    I have a 2003 Toyota Highlander which I recently had a 60000 mile service. A few days later my check engine light came on. I took it to an auto parts store which performed a simple diagnostics test and told me it was something with the emissions. He suggested my gas cap was not tight, he reset it, that lasted 2 days and it came on again. Someone else suggested a bad EPR valve?? Any suggestions and could it have something to do with the recent major service at 60000 miles??
  • rodonnellrodonnell Posts: 37
    Do you know what code the computer is throwing? The simple reader should display it along with the system affected.

    I generally don't trust the minimum wage employees at the parts store to give me an accurate assessment of the problem so I bought an ACTRON Scan Tool from the auto parts store, about $150, works for every vehicle manufactured beginning in 1996. The tool will give you a code(s) readout plus give a status rundown of all the systems the vehicle computer monitors. You should be able to cross the code to the charts in the maintenance manual, (I use Haynes supplemented by a subscription to All Data). This should point you in the necessary direction.
  • bikeman3bikeman3 Posts: 85
    Make sure vacuum hoses are attached Mine comes on after oiL changes at jiffy lube each time something was amiss I now get oil changed at reputable shops taht dont try to sell me something I have an 03 highlander 100K
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