Toyota Highlander Repairs & Maintenance

Last Updated: January 25, 2018

Toyota Highlander Problems and Repairs

The Toyota Highlander has become a popular SUV option for families, thanks to its roomy interior, good gas mileage, and abundance of safety features. A reputation for solid reliability doesn't hurt either. Nonetheless, all vehicles have their issues. If you're considering a used Highlander, schedule a pre-purchase inspection with a mechanic to make sure the vehicle is in good condition before you buy. You may also want to consider a certified pre-owned Highlander, which is a used model that has undergone an inspection from Toyota and comes with additional powertrain warranty coverage.

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Here are some common problems and complaints about the Highlander as reported by owners to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Toyota Highlander Common Problems

The current Toyota Highlander generation began with the 2014 model year. Owners have filed relatively few complaints about this Highlander generation. However, some owners note a moldy smell coming from the air conditioning system, issues with the power tailgate becoming stuck in the open or closed positions, and excessive wind noise at highway speeds.

Toyota advises turning off the air recirculation setting to reduce cabin odors, as this forces the vehicle to draw in fresh air from outside. Toyota also identified the power back door actuators as the source of the tailgate problem. The company replaces them under warranty if they are found to be faulty. The wind noise appears to be caused by a gap between trim pieces on the passenger-side front door (behind the side mirror). Some owners have been able to eliminate the noise by simply applying clear tape over this gap.

The previous Toyota Highlander generation (2008 to 2013) has experienced similar issues with its power tailgate and air conditioning system. A few owners have also filed complaints regarding engine oil leaks and a clunking noise heard when turning the steering wheel. Toyota developed a new intermediate steering shaft to remedy this clunking. The engine oil leaks stem from a faulty variable valve timing (VVT-i) oil supply hose and an oil cooler pipe. Toyota is offering free replacement of the VVT-i hose for 2008 models until December 2021. The company will replace the leaking oil cooler pipe of 2008 through 2011 models for free within 10 years of the original purchase date or 150,000 miles - whichever comes first.

Toyota recalled certain 2008 through 2010 Highlander Hybrid models because of an electrical fault within the hybrid inverter assembly, which could cause the vehicle to stall while driving. Toyota replaces the inverter's Intelligent Power Module (IPM) free of charge.

Notably, the 2008 through 2010 Highlander models were part of the Toyota unintended acceleration recalls. After numerous Toyota and Lexus cars accelerated on their own, it was found that design flaws in the floor mat allowed it to slide forward, trapping the accelerator. Toyota replaced the mats and offered additional repairs to prevent the gas pedal from sticking in place. If you're considering a used Highlander, check that it has the appropriate mats.

Toyota Highlander Recalls

Use the links below to find recalls for each Toyota Highlander model year. Notably, the airbags in the Highlander are not affected by the Takata airbag recalls.

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2019 Toyota Highlander Pictures