2020 Toyota Highlander Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Suspension and engine issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

SUVs continue to grow in popularity, including the 2020 Toyota Highlander. The automaker claims owners can “discover more quality for family time,” with this model. However, owners are spending the majority of their time at the service center because of the engine, exploding sunroofs, seat belt and suspension issues.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019   2021   2022

Problems with the Engine

Most importantly, the engine needs to be durable and powerful. Otherwise, the ride is unenjoyable and can lead to trouble.

That’s what is seen with this NHTSA complaint. “After leaving a shopping center on February 29, 2020, we pulled out onto a road to head towards home. We were driving about 45 miles per hour in traffic and received a notification on the screen that said the engine was off, put car in Park. There was also a warning light that came on for the electronic steering assist with an exclamation point. We were able to coast to the side of the road trying to maneuver through traffic of 4 lanes. We put the car in Park and attempted to start the vehicle. It would turn over, but not start. We called Toyota Roadside Assistance and told them what happened and they said it would take about an hour to get to us and tow the vehicle. After about 15 minutes we decided to attempt to start the vehicle again. It started, and the vehicle steering warning light came on, but then went off. We called roadside assistance and told them we were going to attempt to drive to the dealership where we purchased the vehicle which was only a few miles away. We left the vehicle there to be checked and so far they say nothing has been found but are checking further and testing the vehicle, but so far have been unable to duplicate the occurrence. It only has 300 miles on the odometer.”

There is, in fact, an engine-related recall to pay attention to as well. NHTSA Campaign Number 20V162000 states that 38,000 vehicles might have an ECU programming error. Because of this defect, the incorrect amount of fuel is being supplied to the engine, resulting in a stalling situation. If the owner of the Highlander can’t get the vehicle off of the road like the commenter above, it could lead to an accident. Unless owners enjoy spending “family time” on the side of the road waiting for a tow, it might be best to choose a different SUV.

2020 Toyota Highlander Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Service Brakes
Fuel/propulsion System
Unknown Or Other
Electrical System
Power Train
Vehicle Speed Control
Seat Belts

Problems with the Seat Belts

To fully secure the occupants in the vehicle, it’s essential that the seat belts are working correctly. Yet, this system isn’t working right at all.

Here’s another NHTSA to look at. “Vehicle is equipped with seat belt sensors and alerts for all seats, yet fails to accurately report which seats are buckled or not when occupied. This alert is supposed to occur when turning on the vehicle and before shifting out of Park. Many times, with just the driver sitting and no passengers in the car, it reports that there are people seated with an unbuckled seat belt. Other times when there are people seated and unbuckled, the system does not recognize it and no alert appears. This is a safety feature that is advertised for sales but does not work. Ensuring that these advertised safety features function correctly should be of high importance especially when people like I do, depend on them for the safety of their children.”

This is one concern that hasn’t been addressed by Toyota. Instead, the company is allowing customers to deal with the problem on their own. Sadly, there are probably lots of kids and rebellious teens trying to trick the system so they can drive without their seat belts. After a deadly accident as a result, most people will see that the Highlander isn’t attempting to promote family time at all.

Don’t be stuck with a lemon. You have legal rights to cash, return or buyback.

The law makes Toyota pay legal fees.

We've fixed thousands of lemon problems. Message or call 877-795-3666 today.

Problems with the Suspension

The suspension of a vehicle runs from the wheels, through the shocks and springs. There are many components that help the ride remain smooth. Yet, the Highlander is struggling to keep it under control.

One NHTSA complaint states, “Suspension is very loud and tight, the cabin noise is very noisy. It can hit 95 decibels on sound pressure level meter. The noise is so bad that I do not want to drive the vehicles any more unless I turn the radio volume up and I cannot hear emergency vehicles. The service people said that is normal. The vehicle noise can be unbearable at times. I wonder what it is doing to my hearing. The vehicle was like this since bought new.”

Again, Toyota hasn’t issued any communication about the excessive noise. However, there is a notable comment on the wheels. Service Bulletin #T-TT-0528-19 states that some of the chrome wheels are experiencing peeling and bubbling, which only further proves that Toyota hasn’t put a lot of thought into this SUV. Additionally, how is it possible to have that much-needed “family time” if the occupants can’t even hear one another? Furthermore, how does a parent tell their kid to put on a seat belt when they can simply claim they didn’t hear them?

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Toyota pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.


Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones

Leave a Reply or Comment

Write a comment below to share online. Or, instead you can to our legal team.

Please select your star rating.

Briefly describe your experience Briefly describe your experience

What’s your name? What’s your name?

What’s your phone number? Please enter a valid phone number

Want to know if you could sue? Get a free legal evaluation Lemberg Law?

Get Your No-Obligation
Case Evaluation

Send a secure message to our legal team.

What’s your name? What’s your name?
What’s your email address? What’s your email address?
What’s your phone number? What’s your phone number?
Briefly describe the problem Briefly describe the problem
Confidentiality Guarantee: We keep your information completely confidential and will not send you spam or sell your information.
By submitting above, I agree to the privacy policy and terms and consent to be contacted by an agent via phone call or text message at the phone number(s) listed above, including wireless number(s).