hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
125,933 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Toyota Highlander Owner Comments

problem #12

Nov 032014

Highlander 4-cyl

  • 215,000 miles


Driver side rear brakes will not illuminate after you depress your brakes. Replaced bulb and socket that houses bulb and will not work. Check online for similar issues and read reports of 2002-2006 Highlanders having either left or right side rear not working.

- Mcdonough, GA, USA

problem #11

Nov 032014

Highlander 4-cyl

  • 215,000 miles
Driver side rear brake lights will not illuminate even when you depress your brakes even after you replace bulb and light socket. Right side rear is ok. I have looked online and it appears other 2003-2006 Highlanders are having similar issues. Some on right side and others on left like myself.

- Mcdonough, GA, USA

problem #10

Feb 242014

Highlander 4-cyl

  • 94,000 miles
Clarification from previous submission (10/21/14)....... heating system blows cold air intermittently when the heat is on. The system was cleaned, worked well to a short time. Within two weeks the problem returned. The mechanic noted this was a common problem with the heating control panels of the early model Toyota's. safety factor: This is hazardous in the winter, as the windows become foggy resulting in the limited visibility especially while the vehicle is in motion. " "

- Cleveland Heights, OH, USA

problem #9

Aug 092014


  • 136,500 miles


Parking light is not functioning, will not be able to drive at night. Safety issue.

- El Cajon, CA, USA

problem #8

Jun 172014

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 64,699 miles
Right side (passenger) brake lights do not light bright when brakes are applied, driver of another car almost hit our vehicle when turning right on to main road. Our car was stopping, but other driver did not see our brake lights on the passenger side as they were not working... the left (drivers) side works fine, but was not visible to the other driver. This seems to be an on going problem with 2002-2007 Toyota Highlanders, dealer said no recall was issued? this is a real safety issue that could be fatal. Not to mention the cost of a ticket for having a defective brake light. There are many other Toyota Highlander owners that have experienced the same problem with no recourse from Toyota. Just google "Toyota 2003 Highlander brake light problem" time to issue a recall for safety issues.

- Bayville, NJ, USA

problem #7

May 272014


  • 100,000 miles
My daughter had parked her car at the school parking lot on 5/27/2014 at 7:02 am, she went to school stayed the whole day at school, she went to dance practice after she got out at about 3:30 pm she headed to the parking lot to go home, she said as she was approaching the vehicle she hit the alarm to open the door but the alarm did not go off, so she contined to get closer to the car and she could smell something burning when she opened the door to the vehicle a cloud of smoke came out, she started coughing and could not believe what happened, she called me right away hysterically crying couldnt even talk and she was telling me that her car had blown up, I said what your car blow up how could that be, I could not understand what she was telling me how can your car blow up" I was like what the heck !! I told to her hang on and if she was ok I was on my way to her, I called my husband and told him and he had the same reaction as me like what?". when I arrived to the school I could not believe what I saw the whole dashboard of the vehicle had caught on fire cracked the front window glass, melted the sun visors and the whole middle dashboard was melted completely. I had to call the police and fire I had no clue if this was going to blow up, when the firemen came they watered it down and looked at it and said that there was no foul play it had looked like an electrical fire. What coud have caused this and imagine if my daughter would have been driving the car when the fire occured.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #6

Jul 062013

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles


The rear left brake light does not work despite having replaced the bulb and fuse.

- Florence, AZ, USA

problem #5

Jan 012014

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 145,000 miles
We have had unreliable operation of the driver-side brake light for some time (approximate incident date above was for most recent incident). Web search turns up numerous complaints with same symptoms - one example is at www.topix.com. several reporting this problem replaced major components of taillight assembly only to have problem recur. A call to Toyota asking about tsb or recall yields nothing.

- Lincoln, CA, USA

problem #4

Jun 102013

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 124,000 miles
I have a 2003 Highlander. When I press the brake, only the driver side of the tail/brake light becomes brighter. When the lights are on, the bulbs illuminate on the passenger side but they do not get brighter when the brake is pressed. When the lights are off, the brake lights do not illuminate on the passenger side. I saw the same problem today on a Highlander just like mine.

- College Station, TX, USA

problem #3

Jul 062012

Highlander 4-cyl

  • 107,000 miles
While driving on the highway, the temperature gauge went above the half way mark and within 15 minutes of stopping and starting it approached the red but never actually went into the red zone. No dashboard lights ever went on to alert me to an engine problem. When stopped, it went above the half way mark and when driving it went down to the halfway mark. I got home ( 20 minutes later), I parked the car and drove it the next day to the Toyota dealer ( 8 minutes away from my house). It did not go above the halfway mark at this time.fyi, all maintenance and check ups have always been on time and done at this dealer. The dealer called later that day and informed me that the head gasket was bad and in order to see what else may be damaged, it would cost $550. Just to investigate into to head cylinder and the engine. The $550.would be applied to any repairs. The next business day, the dealer called to tell me that the bolts of the head cylinder were stripped and the threads were in the block. I would need a new short block at the cost of $6,375 plus tax. All due to the overheating incident, which had never happened before.

- Glenside, PA, USA

problem #2

Feb 222011


  • 100,000 miles
Brake light bulb burns out periodically

- Long Beach, CA, USA

problem #1

May 012007


  • 120,000 miles
Temp (hot/cold) dial electrical short. Temp setting continuously fails to hold set temp & blows opposite of setting. Fear of electrical fire plus unable to defrost windshield for good visibility. Feel there should be a recall or some help on this item as after investigating I found that one dealership replaced 1,100 last year and has replace several already this year. I wouldn't have a problem except the failed switch can not be replace the whole assembly has to be replaced and that part cost $669 plus labor to install. Being a single mom I don't have that kind of money and truly feel this is a safety issue due to the possibility of fire and not being able to defrost properly.

- Chester, MD, USA

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