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hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
111,486 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2004 Toyota Highlander engine problems

engine problem

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2004 Toyota Highlander Owner Comments

problem #14

Sep 022016


  • miles


The outer ring of the crank shaft pulley has pulled away from the inner ring causing damage to all system and can affect steering. This already has a recall for my make, model and year, but not for my VIN number. It seems strange that this exact same thing that has the recall affects my car, but repair is not covered. Should recall be expanded to include other VIN numbers??

- Portland, OR, USA

problem #13

Sep 182015


  • 150,000 miles
We have a vehicle with a 2.4liter/4 cylinger engine that is loosing oil at a rate of 1qrt per 1000 miles and now there is a coolant leak coming from the gasket seal between the engine block and head. There is no guage that tells you how much oil is missing until it's too late and the engine starts to over heat. Both the oil and coolant is leaking on roads, parking lots and driveways, what we have found is that the bolts that are nearest the leak are stripped, they either stripped in assembly or flailed do to overheating of the block do to the engine block not having sufficient cooling because of a heavy foam pad that restricts air floe around the engine causing the head to flex and leak at the gasket seal based on online complaints there are hundreds, if not thousands of owners with this same problem. Seems that some of these engines are having success by drilling, tapping and inserting new coils into the aluminum block, which may or may not be a permanent solution. It seems that Toyota is aware of the problem and refuses to repair the damage. The most common suggested repair is to replace the motor and we assume that they problem will happen again since they have redesigned the problem.. replacement is at the owners cost for materials and labor at approx $6,000-$8,000.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #12

Apr 202013


  • 108,000 miles
Was driving on the highway about 60-65 mph when engine began over heating. Pull over radiator was low. Put antifreeze in drove home check was allow again. The next called Toyota dealer, with out even looking they said you probably have a blown head gasket. But when we tear it down and if the head bolts are stripped out it will cost upwards of $2000. So now I have the car in an independent shop. I'am out almost $800 now, and the cars still not fixed. I believe Toyota knew about this problem long before I bought this car. I went on the internet and found the has been happening in 2001-2006 models.I think they should be held responsible.

- Maplewood, MO, USA

problem #11

Jan 212015

Highlander 4-cyl

  • 140,000 miles


My car began overheating at 140K miles. Took it to a mechanic and had the water pump and thermostat replaced. The car overheated again a week later. Took it back to the mechanic and he told me the head gasket was blown and had to be replaced. When he went to replace the gasket he found that three head bolts were stripped on the block. The cylinder head bolts separating from lower part of engine block caused a coolant leak. This is obviously a manufacturing error. This car was bought brand new and has been driven by the sole owner. Had oil changes every 3,000 miles and never had an issue before now. Please place a recall for this defect. This is not the owners fault, nor should it be their responsibility.

- Nashville, TN, USA

problem #10

Oct 062014

Highlander 4-cyl

  • 225,100 miles
As shown on your complaint section I among many many others have been sold a defective 2.4 liter engine 4 cylinder. The head bolts become stripped and migrate loose over time and there is no repair solution. You have to scrap the engine and maybe the whole vehicle no matter how good of condition its in. This problem causes a blown head gasket and resulting major leakage of antifreeze which is a life threatening chemical babies and pets drink and die from. I first found this pool of antifreeze on my garage floor and I have 2 dogs! not to mention getting stranded out in traffic or a desolate area when engine overheating occurs putting your own life in danger from becoming a stranded motorist.

- Clarkston, MI, USA

problem #9

Mar 182014

Highlander 4-cyl

  • 103,000 miles
Vehicle had lost some water/coolant and began to get hot. Replaced fluid and drove home. Kept loosing fluid, so I took it to the shop. They thought it had a blown head gasket. Took it to another shop which discovered that 3-4 of the head bolts are stripped; they are steel and the block is aluminum. Repair kit exists and has been ordered. So, Toyota must know about this problem and could have issued an advisory to all owners. Expected this motor to last 150-250 thou miles, but this is a built in problem that could have been avoided. Toyota should cover the repair costs.

- Woodbridge, VA, USA

problem #8

Mar 262013


  • 103,500 miles


Vehicle was driven normally and parked. While parked, owner noticed small leak under front axle, investigated and leak appeared to be transmission fluid or antifreeze. Owner drove vehicle next day, parked and noticed leak was larger. Owner took vehicle to dealer next morning and was told the head gasket was failing. Dealer said alternatives were to repair head gasket ($3200+), replace engine or buy another vehicle. Owner declined repair and took vehicle to independent mechanic, who confirmed head gasket leak and recommended either sealant ($250) or head gasket repair ($1200). Owner chose sealant. About four days after sealant fix, owner was driving vehicle and stopped at a starbucks drive-through. Minutes into the wait, the vehicles temp gauge began to climb rapidly. Owner revved engine and temp declined. Owner drove vehicle home and inspected engine, discovered coolant had begun to spray from overflow reservoir. Owner let vehicle cool. Next day, owner drove vehicle at modest speed across town, watching the temp gauge. Temp would increase incrementally, then decline, but no overheating appeared. Third day, owner did same, but this time, as owner approached his home, the temp gauge shot to red. Owner parked in driveway, opened hood and found overflow reservoir bubbling, coolant spray and overflow on frame. Prior to these incidents, about one year ago the owner had been told by Toyota dealer that a few engine mounts were cracked and needed replacement, which was done. No other major repairs or issues have existed with vehicle. Vehicle is not 10 years old, its 103,500 miles has been generally light highway and short-distance city driving. Oil and other maintenance has been routinely performed.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #7

Mar 092013

Highlander 4-cyl

  • 86,000 miles
The engine overheated despite the no indication of high temperatures from the temperature gauge. We had it towed to the dealer who misdiagnosed it initially. We then drove it back from dealer (7 miles) to our home and it overheated again. Now the dealer says at a bare minimum the head gasket needs replacement ($3200) and it could new an entirely new engine. I don't know how this is possible at 86,000 miles. After doing some research I have found others with this problem especially 4 cylinders but it is not recall. Please help, I am unemployed and need this car!

- Weston, CT, USA

problem #6

Feb 192013

Highlander 4-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
The threads in the engine block became striped leaking coolant into the engine/pistons. Recommendation was to replace the engine.

- Lexington, KY, USA

problem #5

Feb 072013

Highlander 4-cyl

  • 205,205 miles
Vehicle began leaking coolant from the center of the engine. No warning lights or sensors have gone off period. Called Toyota dealership and manufacture line and both told me they have never heard of the problem, which is untrue I found hundreds of individuals with the same issue.

- Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #4

Jun 012012

Highlander 4-cyl

  • 117,000 miles


The threads in the engine block became striped leaking coolant into the engine/pistons, blowing the head gasket.

- Aurora, IL, USA

problem #3

Oct 252012


  • 113,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota Highlander. The contact stated that while at the dealer for routine maintenance, the technician noticed that the front differential was leaking fluid onto the exhaust. The technician advised the contact that the seal and the gaskets for the front differential would have to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 113,000.

- Feeding Hills, MA, USA

problem #2

Jul 062012

Highlander 4-cyl

  • miles
Engine was leaking coolant. Car was brought to repair shop where it was discovered that the engine cylinder's head bolts were stripped causing the leak. Later was informed damage was due to the placement of the insulation foam rubber piece between the intake manifold and the engine block that created an uneven dispersion of heat, creating fatigue in the aluminum block allowing the headbolt to strip. Contacted Toyota who refused to acknowledge manufacturing defect. Repairs totaled $2,000 due to this manufacturing error.

- Walpole, MA, USA

problem #1

Jul 022012


  • 90,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota Highlander. The contact started the vehicle and the check engine and voc warning lights illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who inspected the vehicle and advised that the crankshaft pulley needed to be replaced. The dealer advised that there was a crack in the pulley that could cause the power steering pump to become compromised. The contact referenced NHTSA campaign id number: 11V539000, (engine and engine cooling) but the VIN was not included. The vehicle was taken to a mechanic who also informed her that the crankshaft pulley needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was notified of the issue who confirmed that the vehicle was not under recall. The contact filed a complaint with the manufacturer who offered no further assistant. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 90,000.

- Arlington, VA, USA

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