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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
16 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
7 / 2
Average Mileage:
43,718 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 (Page 1 of 2)

problem #31

Jul 202010


  • miles


The contact owned a 2004 Toyota Highlander. While driving 20 mph and making a right turn, the vehicle accelerated to approximately 75 mph. The vehicle crashed into an oak tree. The contact was knocked unconscious and taken to the hospital. The contact sustained knee, back, shoulder, and chest injuries that required medical attention. The air bags deployed. A police report was filed. The vehicle was towed and later deemed destroyed. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was unknown.

- Baldosta, GA, USA

problem #30

May 122014


  • 96,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota Highlander. The contact stated that the vehicle accelerated without warning. The contact crashed into another vehicle as a result. A police report was not filed and no injuries were reported. The vehicle was not taken to a dealer or an independent mechanic. The contact also received notification of NHTSA campaign number: 11V112000 (vehicle speed control) however, the manufacture was not notified of the failure. The failure and current mileage was 96,000.

- Hallandale, FL, USA

problem #29

Jul 202010

Highlander 6-cyl

  • miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota Highlander. The contact stated that while entering the highway, the vehicle accelerated without manual force and the contact crashed into a tree. The contact sustained knee, chest and arm injuries. A police report was filed and the vehicle was destroyed. The manufacturer was notified. The approximate failure mileage was unknown. Updated 12-05-13

- Baldosta, GA, USA

problem #28

Jun 302013

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 141,000 miles


As I exited the freeway I took my foot off the accelerator and applied the brake. The car accelerated and did not slow down. I crossed both lanes of the street and I turned the car to the right. The wheels of the left side of the car hit the curb and the front and rear wheels on the left side of the car broke off. Then, the car went over the curb and hit the state sign with the left front of the car. The car got stuck in deep mulch from recent landscaping and came to a stop.

- Alamo, CA, USA

problem #27

Jan 102013

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 111,922 miles
While parallel parking and slowly backing into the parking space, my vehicle suddenly accelerated backward crashing into the vehicle parked behind me. My vehicle continued accelerating backward into the other vehicle and pushed it back even though I was applying the brakes as hard as I could. I then put my vehicle into drive while applying the brakes, and it immediately lunged forward crashing into the vehicle in front of me. While continuing to accelerate forward, with the brakes applied, my vehicle pushed that vehicle into the vehicle in front of it. I then turned off the ignition and my vehicle stopped moving. All four vehicles sustained damage. There were no occupants in the other parked vehicles. Repairs to my vehicle totaled $4,076, plus $1,444 for a rental car. I also received a summons for careless driving. I believe the accident was the result of sudden unintended acceleration due to a defect in the electronic throttle control system.

- Lawrenceville, NJ, USA

problem #26

Jul 152012


  • 86,000 miles
I was pulling into a parking space in a parking lot, going less than 5 miles per hour. As I turned into the spot, the car lurched ahead, so quickly, that slamming on the brakes still caused me to slide a bit. I ended up hitting a car parked in the spot in front of me, and causing $1400 worth of damage (to my front bumper and the other cars rear bumper). I had a friend in the car with me who vouched for this. I have never had an accident before, and was completely baffled by what happened. After googling this, I see that this car has had several similar incidents, and I am now worried about the safety of my car. I am unsure how to proceed, as I have read that mechanics seem unable to duplicate the event that occurs where it seems to accelerate rapidly. Very embarrassing- I have never had a car accident before!

- Lakeville, MN, USA

problem #25

Nov 142011

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 125,360 miles


On November 14, 2011, I was parking my Toyota Highlander in a very familiar parking space and suddenly my car took on a life of its own and accelerated, veered left, jumped low sidewalk car barrier, jumped curb, and hit a decorative pole; brakes could not stop car. It went from gently entering a parking spot which I have often used to full throttle speed. The car did not accelerate straight forward it veered to left.

- Rotonda West, FL, USA

problem #24

Jan 262011

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 78,000 miles
I took my 2004 Toyota Highlander V6 to longo Toyota for brake booster recall in November 2010. They kept my car nearly 7 weeks before repair was completed. A few days after picking up my vehicle, while I was parked dropping off my passenger, most of the control panel lights illuminated (brakes, ABS, trac off, vsc, check engine). I reported this to the dealer. They said to bring the car back. I took the car back and diagnostic tests were run and concluded that a code was stored but it was nothing specific that had failed. Brake system was bled. In June 2011, the light cluster ("christmas tree" is how the dealer refers to it) illuminated again while I was attempting to pick up my car from my local Toyota dealer (bob smith Toyota). Again, the car was left. Again it was reported to me that the system had stored a code but no specific component was in failure and the brakes were bled. Approximately, July 20, 2011 and July 23, 2011, the lights illuminated again, only four of them (trac off, vsc, ABS, brakes). I contacted the Toyota dealer on Tuesday, July 26 and was forcing the issue on July 29, 2011 and made an appointment for August 1, 2011. On July 31, 2011, the same four lights illuminated while driving and stayed on. I stopped, turned off the engine, restarted the vehicle, and experienced a very spongy, squishy brake pedal. I contacted Toyota motor corporation to further address the concern of my vehicle now being unsafe as a result of their recall. Toyota motor corporation was vague and said that the matter could only be addressed by longo Toyota, the dealer that performed the recall, since the parts warranty would only be with them. In contacting bob smith Toyota, the service advisors swears that the problem can be resolved by them. It appears that performing the recall weakened the integrity of my brake system. As one representative said, "you will not have a catastrophic failure and you will still be able to stop. It will just take longer."

- Montrose, CA, USA

problem #23

Feb 182011

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 41,845 miles
On February, 18, 2011 at appproximately 1:30 P.M. I got into my 2004 Toyota Highlander, which was parked in a private parking lot at 1 meetinghouse rd. In chelmsford, MA. I turned the key on, started the car, and put the gear in reverse to back out of the parking space. As I touched the accelerator pedal with my right foot, the car accelerated uncontrollably at a speed that did not correspond with the pressure I had put on the pedal. I immediately put my foot on the brakes, but there was no response from the brake system. The steering wheel was turned to back out in a counterclockwise direction, and within no more than 4 seconds, the car crashed into a building approximately 20 feet from where the car was initially parked. The car was totally unresponsive to my efforts to brake subsequent to this sudden and inexplicable acceleration. IżM lucky I wasnżT killed, because my vehicle was totaled.

- Carlisle, MA, USA

problem #22

Jul 172010

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 71,624 miles
Date of incident: Saturday, July 17, 2010 at approximately 12:45 P.M. incident description: Coming from a complete stop, turned the steering wheel to park a 2004 Toyota Highlander into a parking spot. The driver gently/minimally touched the accelerator pedal to pull into the parking spot. The vehicle suddenly accelerated without any additional force placed on the accelerator pedal. The driver immediately applied the brakes in an attempt to stop the vehicle. Prior to the vehicle coming to a complete stop, the front of the vehicle struck the metal part of a sign. This is the first occurrence of sudden acceleration since purchasing the vehicle used from a dealership. The vehicle has not been scheduled for repair at this time. Updated 10/20/10 updated 10/22/10

- Westminster, MD, USA

problem #21

Jul 092010


  • 85,000 miles


I own a 2004 Toyota Highlander. I have had an occasional problem with the vehicle hesitating and then lurching upon acceleration since I purchased the vehicle. The problem is becoming more frequent as the vehicle ages. I have mentioned it on several occasions when the vehicle was take in for service but the mechanic was not able to duplicate the problem. I have been using an independent mechanic for the last couple of years for my regular service on the car (the car has been a very good car other than the acceleration issue and has not needed anything other than regular service). I mentioned the problem to him on different occasions and at first, he was not able to duplicate the problem either. My husband mentioned it again when we took it in for the last service. This time when the mechanic drove the car he was able to feel the hesitation and subsequent lurching. He then put it on an analyzer which showed voltage spikes in the throttle body. He said to call Toyota. We called Toyota and were told that the vehicle needed to be taken to a Toyota dealer. We took it to a dealer this morning and were told that they could not duplicate the problem again. I called Toyota and filed a complaint (10070906470 and 1007090670 were the numbers I was given). They told me there was nothing they can do until a Toyota dealer can duplicate the problem. I have since found hundreds of complaints online about the same issue by other 2004 Highlander owners. I don't know where else to turn for help.

- Bartow, FL, USA

problem #20

Jun 082010


  • 36,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota Highlander. The contact stated that while pulling into a parking space, the vehicle independently accelerated. The contact was able to stop the vehicle by applying extreme force to the brakes. The failure recurred on a separate occasion and the dealer was contacted which advised the vehicle was not under recall. The manufacturer but did not provide any assistance. The vehicle was not repaired of diagnosed. The failure and current mileages were 36,000.

- Wellesley, MA, USA

problem #19

Sep 022006

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 28,000 miles
2004 Toyota Highlander acceleration incident, crossed median, was hit broadside and two occupants killed; my son and his wife. Written letter of witness of accident is available. Updated 04/22/10 updated IVOQ 05/13/120 updated 9/28/11

- Ames, IA, USA

problem #18

Feb 082008


  • 80,000 miles
Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6). Please note that the VIN info is not correct. I inserted random numbers because I don't have that info in my possession right now as I am at my work desk. Also keep in mind that my car is a 2004 vibe. It did not have that option. In 2/28/08, I had an acceleratation problem. If you get in touch with barstow in potsdam NY, they can verify this. They have it on record. This problem was unpredictable when it happened and the last time it happened, I thought I was going to die. I could not get the car to stop after it accelerated by itself. I brought it to barstow, explained the situation and they said they had had no other complaints such as mine. The mechanic there undid the cruise control, and the problem went away. Five months later I had him put it back on in July. It cost me $25 ea. Time. Please contact ken murray at barstow motors potsdam NY to verify all of this. I would like to be reimbursed for the money I had to pay as I strongly feel that the problem is related to the one that Toyota is having now with acceleration difficulties. Also, although I have not had any other problems, I want to know what will Toyota do if it happens again. My vibe is a 2004. [xxx]

- Colton, NY, USA

problem #17

Jul 152008


  • 73,003 miles
Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6) I was in the process of parking my 2004 Toyota Highlander in a parking place at my work site. I was moving very slowly moving into the parking spot when all of a sudden the Highlander began accelerating very rapidly. I could not stop the car by stepping on the brake. Upon reaching the front of the parking spot the vehicle jumped the curb and ran into a tree. The vehicle continued to spin the wheels while pushing on the tree until I turned the ignition off. The damage to the Highlander was $5,272.46 which was covered by Mercury insurance [xxx].

- Corona, CA, USA

problem #16

Jan 012005


  • 1,000 miles
Ever since I purchased my Highlander, new, I infrequently experience an unexpected surge in acceleration while beginning to accelerate from a stop, or after slowing to turn a corner. This has happened several times while turning a corner. I have brought this up to two different Toyota dealerships, in the past, and was told that their electronic transmission was their biggest complaint, but there was nothing they could do about it. While describing the problem to a service rep at a dealership, a gentleman, also waiting for service, indicated that he had the same problem with his newer model rav 4. this may have happened fewer than two dozen times since I purchased the Highlander. Has this problem been brought to your attention, or do you know if Toyota has ever developed a "fix" for this?

- Lakewood, WA, USA

problem #15

Aug 012005


  • 20,000 miles
We have a 2004 Toyota Highlander, and we have had surges on the gas since we bought it in 2004. It usually is something that we can control, as you will be driving along, and it will surge forward a bit, but we have always been able to apply brake and control it. There has only been one instance where it surged strongly, and I had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting the car in front of me. We tried to sell the car a couple of years ago, but the buyer test drove it, and noticed the surging, asked about it, and then decided not to buy it - so we kept it after that. We were thinking it is a software problem, or something.... we have never taken it into a shop to have it diagnosed, but thought maybe it was important to mention it, in case other Highlanders have had the same issue. I didn't think it was the gas pedal sticking, but just the gas surging somehow, but maybe it is related.

- Eldridge, IA, USA

problem #14

Jun 102005

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 30,000 miles
2004 Toyota Highlander, AWD and a V6. The vehicle hesitates when accelarating after braking. Can be up to 3 seconds before power is restored. I brought the vehicle back to the dealer and was told that is normal.

- Farmington, MN, USA

problem #13

Aug 012007


  • 35,000 miles
On August 18th 2007 I sent a letter to Toyota motor sales writing concerning a problem with my Toyota Highlander which had surged in a parallel parking situation hitting the car behind and damaging it and my vehicle.. her headlight and bumper were damaged.. the repair on the other car came to $1800. And more. I reported it to the Toyota dealer in spirit lake, ia. And also to the Toyota motor sales in toledo, Ohio 43699-0024. The spirit lake dealer told me it must have been caused by bad gas.

- Buffalo Center , IA, USA

problem #12

Sep 132009


  • 102,000 miles
Unloading items from the trunk of the 2004 Toyota Highlander at the back (basement) of a new residence. Drove from the back of the house to the front with intentions of backing up to the garage to unload the remainder of the boxes. I ended up crossing the road directly in front of the driveway hitting a telephone pole head on; smashing my head against and breaking the windshield. I have incurred thousands of dollars in medical bills, approximately $7,000 in damage to my car and a week off of work.

- Wheelersburg, OH, USA

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