pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
81,750 miles
Total Complaints:
7 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace engine (4 reports)
  2. not sure (3 reports)
2002 Toyota Highlander engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Toyota Highlander Owner Comments

problem #7

Jan 012015

Highlander V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles


My first and only new car- I have had all maintenance done by- Toyota in Jopin,, Mo- I've done everything by the book!

I went to Kansas City Ks which is maybe 130 miles - I noticed my car making a weird sound so I pulled into a gas station to check my oil - I had ZERO oil in my car and I had just had my oil change by Toyota 3 weeks earlier- I add 3 quarts of oil and drove home - I checked my oil again and had ZERO oil again! I took it to Joplin the very next day and they once again changed my oil and said keep an eye on it-with no suggestions on how to fix it - they changed the PVL valve or something like that- a year earlier cause it was doing the same thing-it doesn't leak any oil I park in the garage. so obviously its burning it or blowing it out- I called Toyota yesterday and now I'm waiting on a quote because their saying this is very strange but it sounds like your valves or rings or both - which will be very expensive!! Well after reading this site- it seems like this is a known problem and I think Toyota should do something to help their customers out - I paid 35,000 for this car that is a hell of a lot money in my books and I don't have that kind of money to buy another car. I didn't think I would have to. Toyota please help and stand behind your product!


- Jda H., Frontenacc, KS, US

problem #6

Jul 232010

Highlander Limited 3.5L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

at 95,000 miles I started to notice the problem of occasional showing up of oil indicating light before my change oil is due. My trusted mechanic told me that I need a new engine or else I have to add a quart of oil every 500 miles or every time the oil light shows up which I usually do since then. My friend says if I choose to replace the engine how can I be sure that the new engine would not create me the same problem if that is Toyota's loop hold on this model? I don't know what to do now.

- dvicedo, Danvers, MA, US

problem #5

Dec 022010

Highlander V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

I purchased a 2002 Toyota Highlander from a shady dealership in my area. A short time after I puchased it, it started sounding like a diesl engine. I took it to get looked at it and it was just one thing after another. I ended up having to get a new transmission, a new short block in my engine and a new transfer case for the 4 wheel drive. This was covered thankfully by Toyota even though I was slightly out of my waranty. I started to experience some other problems with it and was afraid it was going to cost me money so I upgraded to the 2002 Toyota Limited because I love the vehicle despite the ENGINE TROUBLE lol. Before my last oil change my oil light would come on spiratically and eventually my check engine light came on. I took it in for an oil change and it fixed the problem.

I am a little more thank 2k miles away from my next oil change and the light is coming on with a lovely noise accompanied by the light. I am going to take it in to get it looked at on Wednesday and am horrified as to what I will find. I know in my gut they will tell me I need a new engine which is ridiculous since I JUST got my 90k mile check up and NOTHING was wrong...stay tune...

- stricklett, Olympia, WA, US

problem #4

May 202010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


There is an engine defect (Toyota calls it "oil gelling") in the 2002 Toyota Highlander. There was a special extended warranty which Toyota offered to cover the repair cost for this particular defect. We have kept our 2002 Highlander running well, and have a perfect maintenance record. Now, suddenly, it's burning oil like crazy. An independent (and very trustworthy) mechanic told us we need a re-built engine, at a cost of $5,000-$7,000 (the vehicle only has 87,000 miles on it). The Toyota dealership service department looked at it and charged us over $100 to tell us our engine doesn't have oil gelling, so we don't qualify for the extended warranty coverage. We'll have to cover the cost of the re-built engine ourselves. It's peculiar that the Highlander would have TWO engine defects, and only one is covered (but not the one we have). The dealer offered us $1500 towards a new Toyota. We're not in the market for a new car -- we just want our old one to run (we really like our vehicle otherwise). We contacted Toyota headquarters several times to ask for assistance with the repair cost, but they are not willing to budge an inch on this. This company has truly disappointed us.

- nicolewi, Madison, WI, US

problem #3

Dec 312009

Highlander V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,128 miles

I never expected a Toyota product to experience premature engine failure. I was under the impression I was buying a quality vehicle. The repair would have cost me $4,500 for a new engine plus labour. It was not worth the cost to repair so Toyota offered me a $1,000 on the purchase of a new car.

- Anne B., St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

problem #2

Jun 292008

Highlander Limited 3.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,800 miles

we too have a 2002 highlander and it was using excessive oil,gateway Toyota tore the engine apart (our expense) and found the rings were shot. car has only 60,800 miles on it and the oil was changed regularly, Toyota would not cover repairs at a cost of over $3900.

- Boardman G., Beachwood, NJ, US

problem #1

Nov 052007

Highlander V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,273 miles

Toyota tells me that the use of oil on my 2002 Toyota Highlander is normal. This does not make sense to me. The oil usage has been getting worse -3.3 liters and engine oil light came on last oil change. At only 97, 000 kilometers and regular dealer service I feel they should repair it. I am waiting a response from the dealer but they have brushed me off in the past. I am not sure that I should keep it. I am not paying $5000 for an engine job.

- phunter, Kitchener, ON, Canada

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