really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
16,587 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2004 Toyota Highlander Owner Comments (Page 3 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #6

Aug 042004

Highlander 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


Vehicle; 2004 Toyota Highlander limited, V6 engine, auto transmission. There is a definite hesitation/lag/delay in shifting and acceleration. This condition happens almost all of the time and creates a real safety concern. Moderate acceleration will produce this condition. Toyota is aware of this condition but is doing nothing to correct it.

- Batavia, IL, USA

problem #5

Sep 102004

Highlander 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,500 miles
I have owned a 2004 Toyota Highlander V6 4-wd vehicle since July 10, 2004. About two weeks ago I noticed there was some hesitation upon acceleration and on occasion the vehicle seems to down shift for no apparent reason. This is extremely dangerous when making a left-hand turn against traffic without a turn arrow or pulling out into any kind of traffic. Sometimes it will go - often times there is a 1-2 second delay. I have also noticed on occasion that while driving on the highway, suddently the vehicle downshifts with no change in acceleration on the driver's part. This makes for a jumpy feel in what was originally a very smooth driving car. In addition, it is wreaking havoc on my mileage (am currently getting 17.1 mpg even on the highway). I can see these problems leading to accidents and I've had a couple of close calls already. I also have teenaged drivers and there is no way I can feel they are safe driving this vehicle. I have had the car in two times in the last week. I am told that the Highlander has a "unique shift pattern" and the technician didn't notice any hesitation problems. Upon leaving the dealership, I noticed hesitation right away. I suppose they are choosing to ignore these problems. The suggestion was that I speak to my salesman and maybe they would offer me a good deal on another model since I have just 2,000 miles on the Highlander. What kind of solution is that? furthermore, I went to this dealer's website and found several low-mileage Highlanders for sale. This leads me to believe they have had to satisfy other owners by trade as well. Aside from that, nothing was done to rectify the problems.

- Mason, OH, USA

problem #4

Aug 012004

Highlander 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 11,000 miles
2004 Toyota Highlander with approx. 11,000 miles. 6cyl. 2W/D I have noticed a slight but consistent hesitation between pressing the accelerator and actually accelerating. I recently experienced that when accellerating heavily, as to pass another car, the Highlander actually seems to pause, and to even momentarily slow down instead of acellerating. And then it suddenly accelerates. This delay is greater than 1-2 seconds and is significantly noticable. This is not a situation where the vehicle is droping smoothly into a lower gear to accellerate. The first time it occured to me I thought for a moment that the transmission had fully disingaged or otherwise failed. I had time to briefly consider how I was going to get safely out of traffic & onto the shoulder before it suddenly accellerated. Please understand, the engine in fact did rev in acceleration while the vehicle itself slowed before the transmission suddenly surged into connection at a high RPM. This is my wifes vehicle. She's described this "surging" before and I pretty much blew her off until it happened to me. No more. This is an accident waiting to happen. In the meantime Toyota, or more accurately the mechanic at the Toyota dealer, tells me they are aware of the issue as fairly common, but don't have a fix and have not entered a bulletin to their dealers. Again, this is an accident waiting to happen.

- Overland Park, KS, USA

problem #3

May 252004


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


Bought a new '04 Toyota Highlander May 3. within a few weeks driving it became dangerous because of hesitation upon acceleration. It is unsafe to drive in heavy/fast traffic. The dealership said they could find no problem until I insisted repeatedly. Then they 'found the problem' but there is no fix. This is dangerous because it will eventually cause someone to be killed. Why isn't Toyota responsible for fixing this problem on a $30,000 vehicle??

- Greenville, MS, USA

problem #2

Jun 012004

Highlander 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 2,265 miles
The vehicle has a dangerous hesitation on low speed acceleration. When slowly rolling forward, and then accelerating, such as to pull out from a side street, the vehicle will often hesitate for 1 second or more. This sometimes results in almost getting into a side impact crash, as the vehicle will not pull across the lane out of the way of on coming traffic.

- Alpharetta, GA, USA

problem #1

Jun 252004

Highlander 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,000 miles
We purchased a 2004 V6/5 speed auto 2wd Toyota Highlander in June, 04. It has a hesitation problem which creates a safety hazard. It loses power for several seconds after decelerating and re- accelerating to change lanes or make left turns, thereby exposing a powerless, decelerating car to oncoming traffic. Have taken the car to the dealer twice. They claim it is a design problem, they cannot fix. They say it occurs as a result of the adaptive learning algorithm in the engine/transmission package. Check the edmonds town hall by searching for "hesitation" and you'll find it reported since 12/03 by Highlander, Camry, Solara, Lexus RX330 and Lexus Camry equivalent owners all having gotten no commitment by Toyota to fix it. This is a safety hazard as described by the classical definitions. It occurs frequently (in most vehicles and in normal operation, and more than a few of the occurrences will expose the occupants to severe personal injury. Toyota claims the hesitation is "normal" because all the Highlanders on the lot do it--which only reinforces the high frequency estimate. For whatever reason, they are not addressing this issue with anything other than an offer to have a Toyota rep confirm your car has it and then to take the issue to arbitration. Its time for you to investigate, before serious injuries or deaths occur. If we can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me. Jim mullen.

- Carrollton, TX, USA

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