hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
106,646 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Toyota Highlander Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #7

Nov 132009


  • 120,047 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Highlander. While driving approximately 25 mph, the engine began to overheat. He pulled to the side of the road, and the vehicle was restarted to resume operation. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic for inspection. The rear head bolts and a blown head gasket were stripped. Also the cylinder head gasket was replaced. The total cost of the service repair was $1,972. The failure mileage was 120,047. The VIN was unavailable. Updated 05/06/10.

- Spring Lake , NJ, USA

problem #6

May 272009


  • 105,000 miles
I have a 2003 Toyota Highlander with a @azfe motor in it. There is a major problem with these motors stripping out the headboltsin the back of the motor. I am now in a predicament as I have to get a block when I know it will mess up again and Toyota has as of yet to do anything about it.

- Coppell, TX, USA

problem #5

Jun 112009


  • 68,500 miles
I noticed that the engine noise changed. Took the SUV to the dealer to check it out, dealer stated that the noise was ok and returned the vehicle to me. After driving the vehicle less than 10 miles returned it to the dealer and the engine was blown.

- Blacklick, OH, USA

problem #4

Nov 012007

Highlander 4WD 4-cyl

  • 68,000 miles


While driving on the highway, my engine temp in my 4 cyl, 4WD 2003 Highlander suddenly spiked high. I had to pull of the road. Towed to dealer. Dealer said bolts on short block of engine were stripped and allowed coolant to leak out and engine overheated. I was at 68,000 miles, so over the warranty period. I took it to my local dealer and they said I had a bad water pump...I paid to have that fixed, but the car still overheated. I took it back to the dealer and they then said it was the engine itself..the short block, something about the screws were stripped, that I had gotten a bad engine with stripped screws. Dealers service manager told me this was a known issue on some 4cyl 2003 Highlander but couldn't help me as it was out of warranty!!! the service manager called me back later and said that Toyota would help out...I ended up paying a total of almost $1000 for the replacement short block, with Toyota paying the rest of the cost for the short block replacement. This was on top of the cost I paid just a few days prior for a water pump that turned out to not be the issue. Very frustrating...I have all my receipts for maintenance and for these repairs. I am filling out this complaint over a year after the incident, because I have seen the same thing in the complaints and wanted to add mine. I do have all the documentation for my repairs for this and am more than willing to answer any questions, thank you.

- Puyallup, WA, USA

problem #3

Jan 152008

Highlander 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,158 miles
My car engine is filled with sludge and the manufacturer (Toyota motor Corp.) will not honor the warranty.

- Salem, OR, USA

problem #2

Sep 202007

Highlander 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles
Sudden rapid increase in engine temperature. Mechanic found leak at back of head gasket. Two bolts to engine block were loose enough to be removed by hand and new bolts could not be reinstalled due to defect in threads. Only repair said to be new engine. Vehicle was previously well maintained and had 73,000 miles.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #1

Nov 022003

Highlander 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Two months after buying my new 2003 Highlander it developed a loud ticking in the engine. Toyota told me that this was common after 3000 miles or so but that there was nothing wrong with it, nor could it be fixed. I think this significantly reduces the value of the vehicle since I have had passengers ask me what was wrong with my car.

- Green Bay, WI, USA

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