really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
64,127 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.

2004 Toyota Highlander brakes problems

brakes problem

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2004 Toyota Highlander Owner Comments

problem #9

Feb 012012


  • 64,171 miles


Brought the vehicle in for a routine oil and filter replacement. As dealers normally do, they also did spot checks on brakes, hoses, etc. The two front wheels had been removed supposedly to check the wear on the brake pads. As the mechanic was reinstalling the wheels, two of the lugs broke off. The service rep showed me one as he explained why the oil and filter job was taking much longer than expected. I studied the fracture face and saw typical fatigue failure with origin and progression features. It was quite evident the problem started much earlier than today. I only saw one broken lug, but the service rep said that there were two lugs that broke prematurely when they were reinstalling one wheel. This concerns me so I am giving this information to NHTSA. I have taken close-up pictures of the fracture face if you would like them submitted. To be safe, I am having all the front wheel lugs replaced on this vehicle. Agreed, this isn't necessarily a Toyota problem. It could have been caused by overtorque when I had the tires replaced. If it is a Toyota problem, you'll have other reports similar to mine. (I am a retired sr. Quality engineer familiar with accident investigation, failure modes, metallurgy, metallography, machining practices, threads, etc.)

- Arlington, TX, USA

problem #8

Nov 142011

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 125,360 miles
On November 14, 2011, I was parking my Toyota Highlander in a very familiar parking space and suddenly my car took on a life of its own and accelerated, veered left, jumped low sidewalk car barrier, jumped curb, and hit a decorative pole; brakes could not stop car. It went from gently entering a parking spot which I have often used to full throttle speed. The car did not accelerate straight forward it veered to left.

- Rotonda West, FL, USA

problem #7

Jan 262011

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 78,000 miles
I took my 2004 Toyota Highlander V6 to longo Toyota for brake booster recall in November 2010. They kept my car nearly 7 weeks before repair was completed. A few days after picking up my vehicle, while I was parked dropping off my passenger, most of the control panel lights illuminated (brakes, ABS, trac off, vsc, check engine). I reported this to the dealer. They said to bring the car back. I took the car back and diagnostic tests were run and concluded that a code was stored but it was nothing specific that had failed. Brake system was bled. In June 2011, the light cluster ("christmas tree" is how the dealer refers to it) illuminated again while I was attempting to pick up my car from my local Toyota dealer (bob smith Toyota). Again, the car was left. Again it was reported to me that the system had stored a code but no specific component was in failure and the brakes were bled. Approximately, July 20, 2011 and July 23, 2011, the lights illuminated again, only four of them (trac off, vsc, ABS, brakes). I contacted the Toyota dealer on Tuesday, July 26 and was forcing the issue on July 29, 2011 and made an appointment for August 1, 2011. On July 31, 2011, the same four lights illuminated while driving and stayed on. I stopped, turned off the engine, restarted the vehicle, and experienced a very spongy, squishy brake pedal. I contacted Toyota motor corporation to further address the concern of my vehicle now being unsafe as a result of their recall. Toyota motor corporation was vague and said that the matter could only be addressed by longo Toyota, the dealer that performed the recall, since the parts warranty would only be with them. In contacting bob smith Toyota, the service advisors swears that the problem can be resolved by them. It appears that performing the recall weakened the integrity of my brake system. As one representative said, "you will not have a catastrophic failure and you will still be able to stop. It will just take longer."

- Montrose, CA, USA

problem #6

Oct 212010


  • 73,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Toyota Highlander limited. The contact was driving 45 mph when the vehicle abnormally began to veer off the road. The contact applied the brakes and the vehicle then suddenly spun around and crashed into a ravine. The vehicle rolled over twice. The contact sustained injuries to the neck and back and was admitted to the hospital for two days. A police report was available. The vehicle was destroyed. The vehicle was towed by the contacts insurance company. The contact stated that prior to the crash, an unknown warning light was illuminated and the vehicle was taken to the dealer. The dealer made repairs to the vehicle and the light was no longer illuminated. Neither the dealer nor the manufacturer was notified of the failure and crash. The failure mileage was 73,000. Updated 01/14/11

- Farmington, MI, USA

problem #5

May 182010


  • 105,400 miles
Cabin brake assembly bracket bends when applying the brakes during (but not limited to) emergency stopping. This movement causes the edge of the brake pivot bolt to hang on the upper brake assembly, locking the brake pedal to the floor and preventing the brake from disengaging. Additionally, when this does occur, loss of adequate brake leverage and/or sudden change in proximity of the brake pedal to the floor may prevent the driver from applying the brakes to their intended capacity. This is of particular concern during an accident avoidance situation when adequate foot pressure fails to engage the vehicle's ABS. This directly leads to increased danger of injury/fatality to drivers, passengers, occupants of other vehicles, and pedestrians. Took vehicle to dealer to address this defect. Dealer refused to remedy this safety defect at no cost to customer.

- Bensalem, PA, USA

problem #4

Dec 192008


  • 86,210 miles
The car's vsc (vehicle skid control) system activated on a dry straight road. The brakes went on and reduced the speed to about 5mph, making the car undrivable. Glad this didn't happen in traffic. The car was turned off, and restarted, and I could get it to about 10mph, and then it would apply the brakes quickly and reduced power no-matter what the throttle position was, and the car was limited to about 5mph. Once this happened the car has not been able to be driven, unless the fuses for the anti-lock brakes are removed. I did this just to get it to the dealer... it had buzzers and warning lights going off. The dealer looked at it and thought that it was the anti-lock brake & vsc "ECU", which was going to cost $2,400, but there could be extra sensors that needed to be replaced too. This seemed very excessive so I didn't have the work done. Now the car is sitting. I've heard there is a service bulletin out on this but I haven't been able to find it. I've heard that it can be the steering angle sensor, or the wheel rotations sensors, or the G-center (accelerometer). Each one is several hundred dollars apiece. A failure in the skid control system should just stop working and not cause the brakes to be slammed on, leaving the car undrivable. And the repair cost should not be $2,500 to over $4,000. This is ridiculous.

- Manitou Springs, CO, USA

problem #3

Sep 012006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 21,000 miles


: the contact stated after the vehicle was parked for an extended period of time, while brake pressure was applied at various speeds, there was an increased stopping distance. The vehicle was inspected by a dealer who duplicated the problem, yet was unable to repair the brakes due to the design. The dealer determined the contact needed to warm up the engine before driving, but the problem persisted. The manufacturer was alerted. Updated 11/9/2006 - the consumer contacted Toyota who said the are still working on a fix for the problem.

- Boulder, CO, USA

problem #2

Jun 092006


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
This situation has been happening since I bought my Highlander in November 2004. After backing out of my driveway or moving in reverse, the first time brakes are used in the forward or drive gear there is a loud clank or bang from the front wheel brakes. I have had the dealer check them more than once and every time I am told that it is normal or that they are unable to reproduce. This is not my first car ever and I'm sure that I've never heard that kind of noise in my brakes after changing gears.

- Hatfield, PA, USA

problem #1

Nov 262004


  • Automatic transmission
  • 24,000 miles
Consumer complained about a brake system problem. Consumer took vehicle to the dealer on several occasions, and dealer performed repairs. Shortly after the problem recurred. The consumer feels that the brakes are still not performing as they should. The tire wore out prematurely at 24000 miles.

- Desert Hot Springs, CA, USA

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