really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
60,514 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.

2003 Toyota Highlander body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2003 Toyota Highlander Owner Comments

problem #10

Nov 212016


  • 148,000 miles


During a wreck airbags did not deploy when I hit an unmarked utility pole in the roadway of a parking lot exit.

- White Pine, TN, USA

problem #9

Apr 272015


  • 47,000 miles
Was pulling into a parking space in a strip mall, about 10 feet before the parking block the car suddenly accelerated. I was able to turn the wheel hard to the left and hit the brakes to avoid the building. I did hit the awning supports and caused the awning to sag. Was able to finally stop the car and got out safely. The car later was totaled by the insurance company.

- Huntington Beach, CA, USA

problem #8

Mar 022015


  • 113,000 miles
My SUV after a heavy rain was flooded. (floor, both front and back). I took the car in to several mechanics. All agreed that it could be a clogged ac line, clogged vent in hood, door seals. All was checked and found no problems. The a crack started in my windshield. Not relating the two problems I took the car in again to a mechanic. He found rust popping out from the roof where the windshield had been forced outward by rust, causing it to crack. The leak was then discovered, and caused by the roof racks. Allowing water to run inside roof and door track into the car. I have herd of other people having the same problems with roof racks. This problem should be addressed, as it can cause a number of more serious problems.

- Largo, FL, USA

problem #7

May 152012

Highlander 4-cyl

  • 62,000 miles


On April 15, 2013 while parking my 2003 Toyota Highlander all of a sudden my car accelerated while shifting from reverse to drive while I was parking. Suddenly my car took off with the engine full speed to red line on the tachometer in a space of four feet it jumped the parking block and smashed into the center block wall with my foot on the brake. The damage to my car was $2000. This was the second time this has happened. I consider myself lucky, because I could have been hurt and other people. I am scared now when I drive my car.

- Sylmar, CA, USA

problem #6

Mar 072012


  • miles
The problem is since we purchased the 2003 Toyota Highlander in 2005, the drivers side sun visor ( the one with the home link buttons and the lighted mirror)... it has never been able to stay up. When put up near the roof, it constantly falls down blocking my vision as the driver. This is very unsafe and should be modified and recalled from Toyota before it causes someone to crash because of not being able to see!

- Canyon Country, CA, USA

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problem #5

Jan 152012

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 125,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Highlander. The contact stated that while driving 2 mph and attempting to park, he haphazardly crashed into a wall and the front fender detached from the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing. The technician stated that the fender would have to be replaced. The contact applied glue to the area and re-attached the fender to the vehicle. The vehicle was repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 125,000. Updated 05/10/2013

- Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #4

Feb 022012


  • 110,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Highlander. The contact stated that the vehicle was taken for a routine oil change when he was advised that the sub frame was severely rotted under the engine. The contact's concern was that the engine would possibly fall out while driving but the mechanic advised him that the engine would not drop. The contact stated that he could feel the engine shifting abnormally when driving. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was contacted and they offered no assistance. The failure and current mileages were approximately 110,000.

- Buchannon, NY, USA

problem #3

Apr 042003


  • 10 miles
2003 Toyota Highlander 4.0 loud vibrating noise when either back window is rolled down rolling down front window slightly helps alleviate the noise but it is still deafening to everyone in the vehicle. Design flaw.

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #2

Jul 142003

Highlander 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100 miles
Toyota Highlander: With one rear window rolled down, slightly, there is very painfull noise that is almost unbearable while driving at city speeds (30-45 mph). Manf. States that this is common in some vehicles. In this one it is because the vehicle is so tightle sealed there is no place for the air to go thus creating a pressure difference. Noticed on 2nd aday after delivery. Dealer failed to provide us with info about this problem. In fact they claimed if was the first they had heard about this problem. Now after 10 months I was driving on the interstate at 65 mph, with all the windows slighlty down and the problem is worse thanever. This is a desin flaw that Toyota has failed to correct. This going to the last Toyota our family will purchase!!! carl783@juno.com.

- St. Petersburg, FL, USA

problem #1

Jun 302003

Highlander 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25 miles
I picked up car at the dealer and the same evening rolled the rear windows down slightly and the result was a painful pulsating pressure that almost caused my wife to go off the road. This is well documented since 2001 and Toyota had an opportunity at that point to rectify the situation immediately. The dealer said it was the first he ever heard of the problem. Toyota recognizes the phenomenon and faxed me arbitration papers which I filed and was denied because it is "a design issue" not covered under warrant". I will not drive an unsafe vehicle and would apreciate the assistance of the NHTSA in order to prevent non-disclosure of a serious design flaw that is unsafe and harmful to the ears.

- Matthews, NC, USA

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