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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
50,257 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.

2009 Toyota Highlander body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2009 Toyota Highlander Owner Comments

problem #9

Feb 092015


  • 45,000 miles


The power back door/liftgate does not close properly. The read door of the Highlander would come within an inch of closing when you operated the powered close function and stop, requiring a physical nudge to completely engage the lock and close. This went on for about a year until one day there was a loud crunching noise when it was closed and would not open. After searching the internet for solutions and finding this is an extremely common problem (even several websites dedicated to forming class action lawsuits) including Toyota issuing T-sb-0091-12, I called Toyota's help line where I was very rudely told that since the warrantee was over, they would not cover any of it. We have a 1 year old baby and we got this car with that in mind. We currently have no access to the trunk and cannot fit her stroller in through the window. We are now faced with a several thousand dollar repair! I disassembled the part myself to find out that the metal gear about 1/2 an inch thick had sheared off and broken - exactly as shown in figure 2 of their official bulletin. Toyota tried to blame us for the failure saying we probably tried to close the door on cargo (we did not) and that this is not a known issue (why would they issue a tsb if this was not a frequent issue?). from research on the internet, there appears to be many many people with this problem and unfortunately for us, our occurred outside of the warrantee period so we are left with little recourse. I think it would be appropriate for Toyota to extend coverage for this common issue since its failure makes the trunk unusable and because it has such a common occurrence. Tsb:

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #8

Oct 262015


  • 75,000 miles
Liftgate will not close or open when automatic button is pushed either on the dash or the button on the liftgate itself. Stays open and have to force the liftgate down manually. At times liftgate will open by itself while stationary or vehicle is moving. Closing or opening the liftgate automatically problem has be ongoing for about 6 months. Brought to dealership and they could not repair, but I could take to body shop for repair. Currently a service bulletin has been issued, but should be a safety recall.

- Franklin, TN, USA

problem #7

Oct 222014


  • 87,473 miles
Lift gate and power door motor broke. The door stocked and could not be opened or locked. I was lucky that my toddler was not around. I am horrified what would happened if his hand stock in it and the door could not be open. We took it to molle Toyota. They told me that beside the lift gate and motor the whole rear door and hinge has to be replace. They said that if I don't replace the doors I will have same problem few months later. They said that Toyota modified the new rear door that they are aware that the door in my vehicle causing problems. They refused to pay for the door because it's outside warranty. The cost of motor and lift gate repair is $1500 the cost with new door is $3500. I don't understand why Toyota does not pay for door that they are aware that are defective and needed to be modified. I also think that there should be a recall on this part because someone can get injured.

- Leawood, KS, USA

problem #6

Jul 072015

Highlander 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 22,612 miles


Rear door hatch made a loud popping noise when door was lowered. Door no longer opens or closes. Dealer states cost to repair $4,700 to $5,400. Toyota has a technical service bulletin covering this problem but denies responsibility if vehicle is beyond 36/36,000 warranty. Updated 9/15/15

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #5

Apr 252014

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 53,275 miles
Liftgate does will not open. Schaumburg Toyota reported the following on their service report the following: "found auto open & close motor seized. Need: To go to bodyshop - replace L/hinge, motor-door". Toyota schaumburg is speculating (pure speculation) that the car was bumped into and therefore the distances (which distances ?) are skewed. We (owners) believe that no such incidence happened. We E-mailed Toyota (case # [xxx].) who referred us back to [xxx]. [xxx] did call but offered no proof of their speculation (that the car was bumped into), neither did [xxx] provide the misalignment numbers. [xxx] did mention that Toyota has known about this problem but they will honor the problem only within 3 months/36,000 miles. The power to my liftgate is now disabled and I would like for Toyota to acknowledge that they have known about this problem and therefore make the liftgate fully functional (power connected) for me. We (owners) are honest when we say that the care was not bumped into from rear-side and we should not be paying for these repairs. I have tried my best to work it out with Toyota corporation and schaumburg Toyota, however, both are trying to deflect the responsibility away from themselves. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Northbrook, IL, USA

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problem #4

Apr 052014


  • 59,900 miles
The rear hatch in my 2009 Toyota Highlander stopped working - without misuse or handling on my part. After pushing the automatic close button, there was a loud clunk sound. There was nothing obstructing the back area. The back door/hatch would not open, nor could I close it. I immediately drove it to the dealership - on a Saturday. I was afraid my back door was going to fly open. They were able to close the hatch but it cannot be opened. The technician confirmed that they had seen a lot of these and said Toyota would take care of it. He said the problem is the hinges were bending and therefore causing the door not to shut. I was asked to return on Monday. After a diagnostic test, the service manager confirmed that the hinges were bent and I would need a whole new door. The total cost of the problem could be close to $3,000 (depends on whether the motor can be salvaged). I was also told this is my responsibility since I am out of the 3yr/36K mile warranty (59K miles). There has been a tsb issued for this same problem, but as he pointed out, it is for malfunction within the timeframe. I have not been successful with Toyota usa, but will continue to pursue this. This is a know defect and should be a recall issue or at the very least, an extension on the time associated with the tsb. Toyota is replacing the subpar hinges with better ones. An issue is an issue - even if it doesn't happen within a timeframe. I have done nothing to cause this issue. And now because Toyota used subpar hinges, I have to pay $3K!

- Richmond, VA, USA

problem #3

Oct 022011

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 40,000 miles


Rear door/hatch electric motor and latch/lock assembly failed. Several incidences of the rear electric hatch failing to seat/close occurred prior to the failure. The door would start down but would not close/latch. Toyota service department (dothan, al) said the door needed to be adjusted and did so. About one month later the door closed with a loud noise and would not open afterwards. Upon outside inspection, I saw the door was offset about a quarter of an inch toward the passenger side and seated about the same (1/4 inch) further in than normal. The door would not open at all at that point. The same service department initially accused me of damaging the car in an accident (untrue). They pried the door open, and recommended I disable the electric door motor and only operate the door manually. Later the same service personnel admitted there was a design problem with the door hinges that caused the failure.

- Enterprise, AL, USA

problem #2

Jul 302013

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 30,352 miles
As my wife came how with my daughter, she proceeded to reverse the car into our driveway to park the car in our garage as she normally does everyday. In the driveway was also my car where it is parked everyday. As she was proceeding to go back, the car all of a sudden accelerated on its own and took off. She tried to press the brake but to no avail. She continued to press the brake, however the car would not stop. She proceeded to hit my car and damaged both cars from front to back. Her car on the passenger side, and mine on the driver side. After hitting both cars, her car proceeded to go further back and crash into the house causing major damage. That is when the car actually stopped. It was at this time that she was able to put the car in park and turn the car off. Both cars and the house now need major repairs. My daughter was sitting in the back at the time of the incident.

- Oradell, NJ, USA

problem #1

Nov 252012

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 38,700 miles
The power arm broke off of the rear power lift gate when closing. The driver side hinge on the rear power liftgate is bowed.

- Maysville, KY, USA

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