The Toyota Highlander has become a popular midsize three-row SUV option for families, thanks to its roomy interior, good fuel economy, an abundance of safety features, and high resale value. However, even though the overall reception of the Highlander is consistently positive, there are a few problems to watch out for, especially in older models.
If you're considering buying a used Highlander, schedule a pre-purchase inspection and tests with a mechanic to make sure the vehicle is in good condition before you buy.
Here’s a master list of the most common issues experienced by Toyota Highlander owners.
The fourth generation is the latest generation of the highlanders and is considered one of the top family cars with all the modern futures. There are still some issues that users have reported which are listed below.
Cargo space is significantly less in the fourth generation as compared with the old generation. The total cargo space is 84.3 cubic feet which are enough for highland lovers.
A transmission problem is also very common in the highlanders fourth generation. When you shift gears or accelerate, the car gives a burning smell.
The third generation of highlanders was considered the best generation as all the major issues were resolved. There were very small issues faced by the users, but it goes under the carpet due to the efficiency of the engine. The issue that was commonly faced is enlisted below.
Uncomfortable seats are an issue for the highlander lovers in the third generation. Then the seat issue was resolved by the company in the later variants. So before buying the third generation, always check whether the variant has comfortable seats or not.
Bluetooth Echo is also seen in the third generation highlanders as when you connect the phone through Bluetooth, the sound starts echoing, and it causes headache while listening to calls.
Musty and moldy AC was also an issue that was later identified by the company and was resolved in the later variants.
The second generation of the Toyota Highlander was launched in 2008 and disbanded in 2013. Many of the first-generation users' problems were corrected in the second generation, but many problems remained. In addition, some new problems appeared as well. The common problems that the second generation faced are listed below.
Dots on the paints show up with the growing age of the second generation. The dots get big and look like scratches. The only solution to this problem is to get your car painted again. So always check the car whether it has a paint problem or not.
The door locking problem also showed up in the second generation as when you lock the gate, sometimes it will get locked, and sometimes it remains unlocked. This is a common issue faced by users of the second generation.
Leaking coolant was a new problem that was first experienced in the second generation of highlanders. The coolant loses all its fluid and stops working. This caused headaches for many users. So before getting a second-generation car, always check its coolant.
1First-generation Highlander Problems (2001-2007)
The first generation of the Highlander just showed in 2001 and lasted up to 2007. There were many issues in the first generation as it was the first car of its type and it could do everything efficiently. There are some common problems faced by different people, which are enlisted below.
Heat dissipation problems in the engine were a recurring problem faced by first-generation users. As with time, the car used to heat more, and it caused the head bolts to get stripped. So if you are thinking of buying a first-generation, then always check the heat problem and check if the bolts are stripped or not.
Replacing spark plugs is also a concern that after some usage of the car, the car wants the spark plugs replaced. You must think that replacing plugs is very easy, but that's not the case with first-generation highlanders. It's a complex and hard task to change the plugs as it requires opening the whole engine. So before buying a 1st generation, always check the plugs.
Inverter problems were also a major problem in the first generation as most of the units were sold, which had faulty transistors in the inverter. The company also replaced the inverters, but the problem still lasted. So before buying the first generation of highlanders, also check the inverters, or you will have to replace inverters, and it's very costly.
Battery failure is a common issue in old hybrid highlanders. They have used it for a very long time, and their battery needs to be replaced, so before buying an old first-generation highlander, always check the battery.
Ignition coil failure is also a point of concern in highlanders as it is faced mostly by first-generation highland users. Before buying a first-generation Highlander, check its coils because changing them can be very expensive since there are six in total. Three of the coils are located upfront and three at the back.
Advice for Buyers
If you're considering buying a used Highlander, the best choice is probably the 3rd Generation Highlander (2014-2019 version). This generation gives you more interior space, more features, and better fuel economy, plus better safety and crash test scores. And they don't need much maintenance compared to older Highlanders.