Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety.

9.7

really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
$3,269.00
Average Mileage:
123,445 miles
Total Complaints:
30 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace the engine (16 reports)
  2. mechanic has ordered kit to try to fix bolts or new motor (12 reports)
  3. mechanic drilled new bolt holes (1 reports)
  4. not sure (1 reports)
2003 Toyota Highlander engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Toyota Highlander Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #10

Oct 062011

Highlander

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,419 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

We live on Vancouver Island and were on our way to Everett, Wa. when the engine light came on and temp gauge shot up. Pulled over, opened hood and that's when our nightmare

began. Managed to drive it to a Toyota dealer in Everett.Right off the bat they told us we needed a new engine. We had to have it trailered back to Canada where mechanics found stripped engine bolts. We bought our Highlander new and religiously kept up our maintenance and were stunned to find out that the problem with our Highlander is not unique..in fact is typical to this year yet Toyota has not issued a recall.This is a vehicle I bought because I've always driven a Toyota and trusted that this model would be a safe choice for my family...I'm not sure I'll ever trust a Toyota again!!

- , Duncan, BC, Canada

problem #9

Apr 242011

Highlander 2.4L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,800 miles

I have not too much to say. The only thing is that I am shock of reading what I being written before about the Highlander 2003. I have the same problem. First, my wife told me the Highlander was leaking and getting hot. I took the car to the mechanic and he tried to fix the leaking. Then, What a surprise! The mechanic found that the threads for engine bolts were stripped. That is exactly the same thing that happened with you guys. I haven't done yet, but as you suggested, I am going to call to the NTSB and submit a complaint against Toyota.

Let me thank previous writers about their comments. Thanks to you guys I have a better idea of what to do and that I am not the only one with this problem.

- , Bayonne, NJ, USA

problem #8

Dec 022010

Highlander 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles

Bought this 2003 Toyota Highlander with less than 18,000 miles on it and have been extremely happy with it until the head separated from the block due to the stripped out bolts. I had the vehicle taken to the dealership (Nissan) managed by my brother. The warranty has, of course, expired, as well as the extended warranty (never used). The service department obtained a head and brand new head bolts. When they attempted to re-assemble the engine, the rest of the threads pulled out of the holes. They then (very reasonably) installed thread helicoil inserts. These pulled out of the block before the torque value was reached. I have been informed that the engine must be replaced as the head cannot be properly bolted to this block. The estimate is in the order of $3,000 - $3,500. THIS IS THE BROTHER OF THE GENERAL MANAGER PRICE. I just got off the phone with Toyota Consumer Affairs. They were no help, of course. "We are not aware of any issues as you have described." "Keep your receipts, just in case."

I have owned several Toyotas of various models, Celicas (2), Corolla, this Highlander, a Scion tC. So, I have probably purchased my last Toyota...

- , Bedford, TX, USA

problem #7

Aug 172010

Highlander

  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,171 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Driving on the freeway, the AC started to get hot. Then noticed the temperature gauge was rising. Immediately pulled off to the nearest gas station to let it cool. Added coolant to the reservoir and made it to our closest family member's house without it overheating again and called Toyota service center. They were able to see it the next morning and performed a pressure test. Results were: vehicle has external leak from the head gasket, recommend remove and repair head for inspection, possibly bolt threads need repair, also water pump leaking. Water pump had been replaced before thankfully during warranty, but this new problem's estimated cost to repair was $3000 to send it out to machinist to have resurfaced and holes re-bored. If that didn't work, the cost would be $6000 for a new block. Could not spend the money or the time for the repairs, so we continued back home, made it without overheating, and made an appointment with local mechanic. After getting the cylinder head off, they discover sure enough block bolt threads are stripped and the car needs a new engine. Quoted $9600 to send to machinist or $8200 for a re-manufactured engine from Jasper which offered a 100,000 mile/3 yr warranty which won't do me any good if the engine will fail just after 100,000 miles!! Nor do I have $8200 to spend on a vehicle that was supposed to last me a good 300,000 + miles right? That is what Toyota is known for!!

I am so shocked about this problem and feel very taken by Toyota who said that because it is passed 100,000 miles and because I have not had Toyota do all the servicing, the "good faith" repair is out of the question. I have changed the oil every 3000 miles and I have had Toyota do the so many miles servicing. Totally bummed and disappointed in Toyota. Filed a complaint with National Transportation and Safety Board just as one of the writers suggested and hopefully this will be investigated. The number is 1-888-327-4236.

- , Atascadero, CA, USA

problem #6

Aug 082010

Highlander 2.4L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

The dealer gave me an open ended repair bill. $1500-$4000. They never discussed replacing the motor or that this was a common problem with these head bolts on this 2.4L motor. I decided not to have the repair's done with the dealership & when they pressure tested the system they left me with no coolant in the radiator (2 gallons low) & allowed me to drive it from there to a private repair shop for me to get the straight scoop on how to proceed. Using a Jasper Kit to repair the head bolts or replace the motor with a lower milage motor which I will decide this weekend.

Toyota sucks with this problem that they have not addressed. Maybe a class action lawsuit should be in order. The dealer just try's to put you into a new vehicle but I will never purchase a Toyota again. Also taking money from you to pressure test the system & let you drive the vehicle out of their dealership with the radiator being 2 gallons low is insane.

- , Center Valley, PA, USA

problem #5

Jul 042010

Highlander Limited 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

I was driving the car the A/C started getting warm. Looked down and the temp gage was RISING! I turned on the heater to cool the car down 1 mile from my destination. I waited for the radiator to cool and checked the fluid. NADA We added coolant and it ran fine. A/C was great. We checked it again after we got home to try to find the leak. couldn't find it anywhere. Just a small drip at the back of the motor. I figured a hose was leaking. NOT. I took the car to a garage he told me the head gasket was leaking. Got a call a couple days later telling me it was not my head gasket,but the head bolts would not tighten up. I did not know this shop so I took it an hour away to the mechanic that serviced it after the warranty went out. He told me I needed a new motor.

I started doing research on the internet and found the solution to the problem. By this time I had my car home and went to the shop close to home afraid to drive it an hour again and explained what the issue was. He found a machine shop in Houston that had the proper machine and tools to fix it. It cost me $2185.00 23 hours to strip the motor down to the block, machine work,and parts. I am finding I got one helluva deal. I called Toyota and told them what had happened,and was told basically it sucks to be you!!

I then called the NTSB and filed a complaint..People this is an awsome site,but if enough people call the national transportation and safety board they will MAKE toyota fix the problem. Their number is 1-888-327-4236

The issue with these engine is this......Toyota, in order to make the cars lighter put plastic intake manifolds on these motors. To keep the plastic from melting,they out a piece of foam rubber to insulate it. The problem with this is the aluminum head and block cannot have this foam touching them because the heat has to be evenly dispursed. The foam rubber causes that not to happen. The only real fix for this is to have an aluminum intake put on the car (they don't make them by the way). I spoke to a NASA engineer and this is what I was told. I think they may know something about heat working on shuttles and rockets.

I am going to every website like this I can find and posting this so maybe toyota will HAVE to fix this. PLEASE call NTSB and maybe it will suck to be toyota and not me for a change!!!!

- , Prosper, TX, USA

problem #4

Apr 142010

Highlander STD 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Toyota know of the problem of stripped engine bolts on the 2.4L enigne. they refused to help with the repair. When my car overheated the mechanic went to replace the head gasket and two of the head bolts came right out. the threads in the engine block came out with threads. Either these engine blocks were defective, or the metal became fatigued from heat, or the threads were not deep enough, or bolts were over tourqued, or the engine threads were not sufficent to handle the 80# necessary. Toyota you suck - You should be ashamed of youself.

Update from Jun 22, 2010: IF ANYONE EVER BUYS A TOYOTA THEY HAVE TO BE OUT OF THEIR F'''KING MIND. GOING THROUGH TIS STRIPPED ENGINE BLOCK THREADS WITH THE REMANTS OF THE THREADS COMING RIGHT OUT WITH 2 OF THE HEAD BOLTS IS BEYHOND COMPREHENSION. THIS IS A MANUFACTURERS DEFECT AND TOYOTA WON'T EVEN ACKNOWLEDGE THE PROBLEM EXISTS. I'VE SENT ABOUT 4 E-MAILS AND THEY HAVE STOPPED REPLYING TO ME. I WOULD BE GLAD TO PARTICIPATE IN A CLASS ACTION SUIT AGAINST TOYOTA. EVERYONE MUST CALL AND COMPLAIN TO EVERY CONSUMER OUTLET THEY CAN FIND.

- , Hendersonville, NC, USA

problem #3

Jun 222009

Highlander 2.4L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

I have found several instances of this problem with other people, a couple of which reported that Toyota participated in the repair. The factory declined to help me, though my situation appears to be identical to other people. Overheating, loss of coolant, diagnosed as blown head gasket, stripped bolts found during head removal.

- , Gobles, MI, USA

problem #2

Jun 022008

Highlander

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

My mechanic says this happened in the factory! I've been driving the car for 5 years. How can this be?

- , King, NC, USA

problem #1

Sep 282007

(reported on)

Highlander 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles

Well maintained Highlander suddenly overheated and found to have two engine bolts loose due to threads in the block failing. Only solution from my very reliable mechanic after checking thoroughly is engine replacement.

- , Austin, TX, USA

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