pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
129,550 miles
Total Complaints:
7 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. Rebuild engine or trade for Honda (3 reports)
  2. replace engine (2 reports)
  3. not sure (1 reports)
  4. replace oil valve covers (1 reports)
2001 Toyota Highlander engine problems

engine problem

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2001 Toyota Highlander Owner Comments

problem #7

Aug 022017

Highlander LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 168,000 miles


We bought a 2002 Toyota Highlander with 168,000 mi. The previous owner was an elderly guy who drove very little and not at high speeds (his own account). We drove a lot and much of it on the freeway. The Highlander ran great but then we realized it was burning a massive amount of oil. We had the oil changed when we purchased it and it was dry after 1500 miles. No one would believe me but after a lot of research I learned this was a problem for Toyotas of various models and years, but especially Highlanders. Something is wrong with the original oil valve covers. No idea why but they put out new ones that have solved the problem. Once we replaced the oil valve covers the problem went away and the car is running fine and burning a normal amount of oil...which is to say, none at all between regular oil changes. I'm just really glad we didn't accidentally destroy the engine by running without oil. It would have been easy to do since I'd never imagined I'd have to manually check the oil level just 800-1000 miles after a fill-up with oil change.

I'm pretty sure Toyota must know about this as they didn't seem too surprised when I showed up at the dealership and requested this random service, but of course it would get kind of pricey to admit it. Why not just have customers keep checking their oil and adding quarts after quarts between changes? Since I bought it used and got a good deal, I'm just hoping there aren't any other $1000 manufacturer mistakes waiting for us in the future.

- Cynthia L., Spokane, WA, US

problem #6

Jun 182014

Highlander Limited 3.0V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,230 miles


- jeromelogan, Hamilton, AL, US

problem #5

Sep 042015

Highlander V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 133,595 miles

No more Toyotas for me. Seems to be a common problem. Vehicle babied from new and expected to get 400000 kilometres. Toyota say bad valve seals or something internal. Replace engine. Ford seems to be making engines that last. Next time they will get my business.

- Ed T., Pickering, ON, Canada

problem #4

Mar 142014

Highlander V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 184,939 miles


My Highlander might have a lot of miles but is in good condition. This is a good vehicle but when used cars are bought there needs to be a way to know if there are any issues. This has been a good vehicle, but the sludge condition continues while the 8 year plan has stopped. This was a dumb thing to put a time limit on this.

The car might not have had any problems back when this supposedly occurred. This was signed off on in 2007 so this should still be occurring.

- jbowlingky, Morning View, KY, US

problem #3

Jan 232012

Highlander Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles

Started in 2009 silver exhaust coming out. Took to Toyota they said it was the timing and fixed it. This problem happened 1 or 2 times after that. In Jan 2012 upon start up horrible noise from engine. Took it in and Toyota not able to duplicate it. They did nothing. 2 months later upon start up horrible noise from engine. I video the sound from engine. They said they could not diagnose from that and kept car couple of days. Told them again about noise but still could not duplicate noise. They called me back and they suspected it to be valves but wanted $2300 just to take engine apart to confirm problem but not fix it. They wanted $8000 to install rebuilt engine. Advisor said the problem started back in 2009 when I originally took it in. Toyota will obviously not do anything. Had to buy another car but not a Toyota. I trusted them. This car should of lasted as another person said at least to 200,000 miles. I alway serviced my car and had oil changes. The advisor said I burned 4 and 1/2 quarts of oil in 2 months. I never had any oil drips. Probably only drove it 1000 miles in the 2 months. So disappointed.

- V V., San Jose, CA, US

problem #2

Jan 022008

Highlander 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,778 miles

The engine started using oil after checking it on a holiday. Oil changes were regular (every 3,000 miles). I haven't had any oil leaks. We changed the air filter, the PVC valve and checked the compression pressure at Toyota. Everything was normal according to them. (Thank you Moose Jaw Toyota! sarcastic comment) It only seemed to use oil on long trips (2 hours or more.) Okay so then we kept driving it and the consumption just got worse. I was travelling to a wedding in August of 2008 and the catalytic converter became plugged solid with oil soot. Had that replaced and thought that the exhaust back pressure forced oil consumption in the motor. Nope. Just getting worse now.

I've finally had enough as it got to the point where I would have to add a liter of oil every two hours of driving. So, I decided to get engine rebuilt at a reputable local garage and machine shop (Thanks Expert Auto and MAX Machine!...NOT TOYOTA; If one got it done there you may as well remortgage your house!! $10,000 was the quote!!) The machine shop said there was sludge buildup and piston rings were worn out. So we are at 185,000 kilometers now and are hoping we can drive the vehicle for another 5 years. Other than this, the car has been flawless.

My advice is don't buy a Toyota. They hum and haw until YOU have to pay to get it fixed.

- Larry F., Swift Current, Sask, Canada

problem #1

Jul 202007

Highlander 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

Soon after the warranty ran out on the engine my check oil light came on while driving immediately checked oil bone dry!! This vehicle has had the oil changed regularly and more often than recommended. Finally took it to local Toyota dealer to check for "sludge" was told none noted unless took engine apart (costly) continued to drive and add oil before and after long trip approx. 150 r/t. When started up in mornings lots and lots of white smoke came out sort of like a locomotive ha!.. Still continued to drive and add oil. The other morning on way to work was running very sluggish chalked it up to being very cold out. On way home from work still doing the slug thing then the check engine light came on (1st time for this). Drove straight home took to local Toyota dealer sucked me out of $400.00 changed plugs and tuned it up wooo hoooo. Still can't drive it. They said they would have to check the valve seals and see if there were any more damage. Estimated cost min. $1600.00. Found a mechanic used to work for toyoya he is in process of looking at it. Never, Never, Never will I take my vehicle to Toyota of Somerset. $300.00 labor is quite high especially when I'm sure those mechanics probably make very little. I guess they have to pay for that new showroom just built. Any back to complaint. I really love my Highlander and everything about it except it only has 81,000 miles on it I thought Toyota's go for about 200,000 miles. We have a 1997 Camry and it has 130,000 no complaints or problems love it too. To say the least I will never ever own another Toyota Sorry Toyota you lost me. I even live in Kentucky where they make Toyota's

- Linda E., Ferguson, KY, US

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