Brakes, electrical system and powertrain issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners
The 2019 Toyota Highlander is one of the highlights of the company’s lineup. This mid-size SUV claims to “turn every outing into an adventure.” What owners find is that this vehicle sure does offer an adventure. From the faulty electrical system to the defective engine, this SUV faces a lot of trouble.
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Problems with the Electrical System
A vehicle’s electrical system consists of the alternator, starter and battery. While this is the heart of an electrical system, it is also comprised of all the tech features located inside of the cabin. If one part of this system begins to malfunction, it creates a lot of inconvenience and discomfort.
A perfect example of this is illustrated in an Edmunds review. “Navigation system and voice commands do not work properly. Purchased vehicle late October. No voice commands with navigation system. Every time the vehicle is turned off in route the voice commands are lost and you have to go thru special steps to reactivate the system with voice. The alternative is to continue with the map without voice commands and try to visually follow the map while driving, which is not a safe situation. Had vehicle back to dealer three times to supposedly fit. Fourth time they told me Toyota was aware of the problem, working on it and would get back to me as soon as they had a fix. Several months later and still no fix in sight.”
According to Service Bulletin #T-TT-0517-18_Rev, this only seems to occur on the Platinum vehicles. The trouble presents itself as non-operable navigation prompts and feedback beeps. Unfortunately, the bulletin doesn’t offer any advice for a fix, just as described by the owner above. Of all the vehicles this would happen on, it seems unusual to find it on the higher end trim. This has to be quite disappointing to the drivers that paid a premium price for their SUV. It sure allows for quite the adventure, as promised by Toyota.
Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2019 Toyota Highlander Electrical Problems:
TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2019 TOYOTA HIGHLANDER. WHEN THE CONTACT PUSHED THE IGNITION START BUTTON, THE VEHICLE FAILED TO START. THE FAILURE OCCURRED MULTIPLE TIMES. THE VEHICLE WAS TAKEN TO OXMOOR TOYOTA TO BE DIAGNOSED, BUT THE FAILURE COULD NOT BE DUPLICATED. THE VEHICLE WAS NOT REPAIRED. THE MANUFACTURER WAS NOTIFIED OF THE FAILURE. THE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS 3,300.
THE VOICE COMMANDS FOR THE VEHICLE DO NOT WORK WHICH REQUIRES THE DRIVER TO LOOK AT THE NAVIGATION SCREEN OR SCROLL THROUGH THEIR PHONE BOOK RATHER THAN USING THE BLUETOOTH FEATURES. THIS IS VERY DISTRACTING AND ILLEGAL IN SOME STATES WHICH REQUIRE HANDS FREE PHONE.
IN NAVIGATION, IT WILL NOT GIVE VOICE DIRECTIONS WHICH IS A SAFETY HAZARD CAUSING YOU TO LOOK AT THE SCREEN AND TAKING YOUR EYES OFF THE ROAD. I TOLD TOYOTA ABOUT THIS BUT NO FIX. THIS IS DANGEROUS AND NEEDS TO BE FIXED IMMEDIATELY. THIS OCCURS WHEN STATIONARY OR MOVING. THIS HAPPENS EVERY TIME YOU TRY TO USE NAVIGATION.
2019 Toyota Highlander Complaint Summary
|Number of Complaints
|Unknown Or Other
|Fuel System, Gasoline
Problems with the Engine
The engine is the heart of any vehicle. It provides power and ensures reliability when everything goes according to design. With the Highlander, the engine proves to be one of the most unreliable aspects.
Just take a look at what this NHTSA review has to say. “2019 Highlander XLE loses power, unable to accelerate & jerks and stalls in traffic. Bought at 200 miles, certified preowned. It is a nightmare vehicle. Accelerator has been touchy and jumpy at times, intermittently at slow speeds. First time it stalled, it started to lose power put-put and chug like jerking and all dash and electrical on dash went out. Unable to accelerate then stalled out in road, unable to steer or control vehicle. This occurrence was after a longer period of driving. Second time it stalled out began to lose power, putter and chug, unable to accelerate applying gas pedal, getting no gas, vehicle dies out, unable to steer or control vehicle. This occurrence was after a longer period of driving. Third time was yesterday 8-8/19. Left work and about 5-7 minutes into my drive, started hesitating, losing all dash and electrical power and will not accelerate when gas pedal applied, then stalls out, unable to control the steering wheel again! Almost got hit this time, man behind me coming fast and had to swerve into lane over to miss me. This car is going to kill me or someone by causing an accident if they do not get it fixed right. After the second stall, it was towed into dealership and they were not sure but said fuel pressure was reading 22 and was supposed t be in the mid to high 50s. They replaced the fuel pump and it drove ok for a little while but I noticed the average fuel mileage going down from an approx. in city 19.1-20 to 17.1-17.3. Has never been so low so obviously the stalling and the replacing of the fuel pump are not the real issue. Fuel economy going down since replacement of the fuel pump and now another dangerous stalling issue. Car is at Toyota dealer now. They need to dive much deeper and resolve this very dangerous safety issue! I bought this car to feel safe and have reliable transportation and have neither. It really scares me.”
It turns out that this complaint isn’t limited to a handful of owners, but is quite rampant. The Highlander continues to lose power or suffer from trouble with the vehicle speed control and nothing is being done about it. There are no recalls and no service bulletins related to the issue. Sadly, this guy bought a lemon. That’s probably why the vehicle was initially traded in with only 200 miles on it. That should have been the largest red flag that this was an adventure he didn’t want to take on.
Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2019 Toyota Highlander Engine Problems:
WHILE DRIVING, THE VEHICLE HAD A SLIGHT LAG WHEN I APPLIED GAS THEN STARTED BEEPING AND PROVIDED THE WARNINGS: CHECK ENGINE, HYBRID SYSTEM MALFUNCTION, PRE-COLLISION SYSTEM MALFUNCTION, CHECK AWD SYSTEM. I TURNED THE CAR OFF MULTIPLE TIMES, THE ERRORS WERE STILL ON THE CAR THE NEXT MORNING WHEN I STARTED THE CAR TO TAKE IT TO THE SERVICE APPT. WHEN I GOT TO THE DEALERSHIP I TURNED THE CAR OFF TO CHECK IT IN, WHEN I CAME BACK THE ERROR WAS GONE. THEY CHECKED OUT THE CAR THEY SAID THERE WAS NOTHING WRONG WITH IT AND THOUGHT IT WAS JUST AMBIENT CONDITIONS. TWO WEEKS LATER, I WAS DRIVING AND I HAD THE SAME LAG IN POWER THEN THE SAME ALARMS AND STARTED DRIVING TOWARD THE DEALERSHIP (ABOUT 3 MILES AWAY) AND THE HYBRID SYSTEM AND POWER STEERING SHUT DOWN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD LEAVING ME WITH NO POWER. I TURNED THE VEHICLE OFF AND BACK ON AND THE ERRORS WERE STILL THERE AND IT SHUT DOWN AGAIN ANOTHER HALF MILE DOWN THE ROAD. IT IS AT THE DEALERSHIP AGAIN. THE VEHICLE HAS 10,800 MILES AND SHOULD NOT BE HAVING THESE SIGNIFICANT ISSUES. I WAS DRIVING IN THE CITY DURING ALL THESE EVENTS.
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Problems with the Engine
2019 Toyota Highlanders have a well-known problem with their fuel pumps. The pumps were recalled. But a number of consumers continue to experience problems. Here are some of the complaints:
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