really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
70,158 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

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problem #9

Apr 132017


  • miles
The ac likes to blow hot air when in the max ac setting and the temp knob being in the coldest position. Nut being the temp setting gauge comes loose causing the ac to blow hot air. Happens anytime if parked or driving.

- Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #8

Nov 062012


  • 120,000 miles
My passenger side brake light is intermittent at best. Replaced bulbs many times, cleaned contacts, etc...but no help.on-going problem. Was rear-ended due to this exact problem. Driver side brake light fine...it is always passenger side. Many complaints about this same exact issue on-line.

- Columbia, SC, USA

problem #7

Jul 052012


  • 39,050 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Highlander. The contact stated that the security system failed and caused all of the doors to lock. The doors could not be opened manually, causing the contact to be trapped in the vehicle during extreme heat. The police department broke the rear window to release the contact. The contact felt constant weakness in the head due to the extreme heat exposure. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer to have a diagnostic test performed. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 39,050 and the current mileage was 39,106.

- Dodgeville, WI, USA

problem #6

Feb 092012


  • 118,000 miles
The heater would not provide hot air. I pushed in on the switch and the heat would work as long as I held the switch pushed in (not designed to be pushed - rotary selector). Eventually, even pressing the switch in would not work. I went on line and found a discussion blog that discussed my exact issue. I followed the recommendation and pulled the face cover off, removed the control panel and discovered exactly what had been described - a broken single strand wire that ran to the back of the switch. I attempted to make the repair using a multi-strand wire as recommended because the dealer repair option was $1,000. The heater appears to work -slightly, but now I have no ac. I think the circuit board was damaged by the soldering iron heat. Because we live in the seattle area, this causes issues with the window defogger as well as having no ac.

- Bonney Lake, WA, USA

problem #5

Dec 012007


  • 58,000 miles
Air conditioner thermostat does not work properly. It swings back and forth between cold and hot without touching dial. This is very dangerous during winter where you could die if not able to get heat.

- Olather, KS, USA

problem #4

Mar 012007


  • 110,000 miles
My 2002 Toyota Highlander had approximately 110,000 miles on it at the time when I started hearing a noise around the distributor. I took it to my mechanic (not Toyota for other reasons) and he said the bearings in the distributor were going out. I called Toyota (Toyota of Texas - grapevine) to order the part. They didn't have any in stock, so had to order from the DC. They said it would be in 4 days and to call back. Called back in 5 days and they said they had to order from hq in California and it would be in next week (ha!). called next week. Still no distributor!! had to order it from Japan!! at that point, the regional parts manager called me and said that a Highlander distributor has never gone out. I discussed my disgust with the fact that there was no distributors for a 6 year old Highlander in the United States!! my mechanic was able to get with a local distributor rebuilder to try to fix it even without having the manual on the Toyota distributor. He was able to rebuild it before the distributor I ordered came in 3 weeks after the initial order. In the end, my Highlander sat at my mechanic's shop for 3 weeks and I was stuck renting a the whole time.

- Bedford, TX, USA

problem #3

Nov 132008

Highlander 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Highlander. When the contact opened the door to her vehicle, she discovered the passenger compartment filled with smoke. The passenger seat was burned. There were no occupants in the vehicle at the time of the failure. The police and fire departments arrived at the scene and extinguished the fire. The investigator informed her that there was an electrical fire underneath the passenger seat. The contact stated that the seat was a manual seat, not electric. The vehicle was destroyed. A police and fire report was filed. The failure mileage was 97,000. Updated 1/6/09 updated 01/14/09.

- Fayetteville, GA, USA

problem #2

Nov 152008


  • 89,374 miles
The interior heating/ac system and fan repeatedly fails to operate properly. In the spring summer when the ac would fail to blow cold and blow heat that wasn't so bad. I got the control knob fixed and all seemed to work fine. However the knob has failed again and when I needed the heat/defrost fan to work at night the frost got worse because the knob failed and the heater/fan would only blow cold air. Depending on the season and the position of the knob when it fails this should be construed as a safety issue when it affects the visual clarity of the windshield.

- Kent, WA, USA

problem #1

May 142003


  • miles
While parked, the vehicle caught on fire in the dash board panel.

- San Francisco, CA, USA