really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
21,078 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.

2005 Toyota Highlander transmission problems

transmission problem

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2005 Toyota Highlander Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #27

Aug 262011

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 94,000 miles


My 2005 limited edition Toyota Highlander has multiple issues. The right caliber is sticking, which has caused heat and warping in the hub system and affected the ABS sensor. These will both need to be replaced at a cost of over $1000. The front struts are leaking. The largest problem is with the transmission which has some type of interior problem. It is suggested that I replace the transmission. The cost to repair this, based on what the Toyota shop said was $3400-$4600. My car has about 94,000 miles on it. The brake issues with the caliber, roters, and hub system will get replaced next week. The transmission repair will not be repaired at this time unless the Toyota goodwill petition goes through. The cost is too great.

- Fruitport, MI, USA

problem #26

Aug 112008

Highlander 4WD 6-cyl

  • 50,994 miles
I have a Toyota Highlander 2005 V6 4WD, which suffers from a transmission shift delay and hesitation, which normally occurs when upshifting or downshifting between 2nd and 3rd gear. This shift delay is not only a headache, but a safety concern to me and many other fellow Highlander owners as seen on various online forums. While driving my vehicle I have to constantly try to anticipate how it might react in order to prevent an accident from happening, while in traffic. It seems as if this problem has been known by Toyota since 2000 and they have not done enough to get it fixed.

- Plano, TX, USA

problem #25

Jan 232008


  • 29,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Toyota Highlander. While the contact shifted the gear into the park position, the transmission began to jerk with hesitation. The failure occurred intermittently. The vehicle had not been diagnosed or repaired. The failure mileage was approximately 29,000.

- Bono, AR, USA

problem #24

Oct 202010


  • 57,000 miles


My 2005 Toyota Highlander developed a leak from the transfer case, which has the potential to cause a complete loss of transmission fluid as well as loss of steering control. There are documented accidents which have occurred as a result of this problem. This repair would normally be covered by a 5 year/60,000 mile power train warranty however the leak was discovered a few months after the 5 year time period expired. I have since learned that Toyota was aware of this potentially dangerous problem and first released a technical service bulletin (tsb) in November of 2007 with the most recent tsb being issued may of 2010. My vehicle was clearly under warranty at the time that the tsb's were initially issued, but Toyota withheld this information from the consumer. This results in a cost of several thousand dollars to the consumer in potential repairs. I have contacted Toyota corporate headquarters and they refuse to negotiate any type of reimbursement for repairs. Toyota has continued to issue tsb's for the same problem for 3 years and has apparently made no attempt to correct the problem during production.

- Great Neck, NY, USA

problem #23

Apr 202010


  • 69,545 miles
I have a 2005 Toyota Highlander and the transmission has slipped from about 45,000 miles when it shift from 3rd to 4th. Taken it to dealer for upgrade on ECM and this did not fix problem and it is getting worse.

- Mechanicsville, VA, USA

problem #22

Mar 022010

Highlander 6-cyl

  • miles
2005 Highlander V6 AWD. Has a surging effect since day one. Also surges slightly when applying brakes. In traffic stop and go situation, vehicle does not respond for a few seconds and then lunges forward. Very dangerous when trying to change lanes. Dealer said nothing wrong with vehicle. Toyota said at time to contact dealer.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #21

Feb 232010


  • 50,000 miles


I've owned a 2005 Toyota Highlander since new, once in a while this condition would occur, now it is all the time. It just turned over 80K miles. I have not been notified of any recalls, not even Toyota no. 60F. When you are coming to a stop, at normal speeds, normal braking pedal pressure, just before the vehicle stops, it launches forward with your foot pressure on the brake pedal. When you apply more pressure as if there was an emergency, it is worse. My wife and I have learned to compensate by coasting then stopping. I emailed Toyota.com about this twice, no answers.

- Caledonia, MS, USA

problem #20

Mar 012006


  • 15,000 miles
My 2005 Toyota Highlander has chronic transmission problems. When accelerating, the engine revs but the transmission hesitates noticeably before going into gear. Sometimes the hesitation lasts so long that it interferes with my ability to merge onto the freeway and those are very scary situations. Sometimes the transmission cannot decide what gear to be in and when it does engage the whole car bucks or shudders. Everyone who drives my car experiences the same problem. Even the passengers notice. The Toyota dealer claims that there is no problem with the vehicle and that the problem is my driving and that I have not adjusted to the car's "drive by wire" system. One mechanic did admit that there were issues with the transmission's computer for this model year. Other than that, Toyota insists that there is no problem and that I have to learn how to drive the car.

- Vista, CA, USA

problem #19

Nov 232009


  • miles
My 2005 Toyota Highlander V6 4WD, which I purchased new, has been experiencing a hesitation/shifting problem for nearly as long as I have owned the vehicle. While the problem does not always occur, it is quite pronounced when it does and has resulted in very dangerous situations. The problem has been brought to the direct attention of Toyota motor sales in California, and their response has been disturbingly poor. The Toyota dealer that has been servicing my vehicle has been very helpful, but apparently cannot take action to correct the problem without corporate authorization. Here is a summary of the problem: The vehicle cannot always decide when to accelerate from a stop - there have been many instances of initial hesitation/lack of adequate power upon applying the gas pedal. For example, I have experienced a delay of a second or two when applying the gas pedal to proceed. This has resulted in some very close calls with oncoming traffic. Also, there are occurrences where the vehicle cannot seem to decide between gears (it will sometimes jump up/down between the lower gears, such as 1st to 2nd gear and/or 2nd to 3rd gear). Furthermore, I have noticed a general lack of adequate acceleration/gas pedal response, especially during city driving (ie. Lower speeds). My local Toyota dealer has records of the problem since approximately 16,000 miles (the vehicle now has about 44,000 miles). I believe the issue is the ECM, which was reprogrammed but the problem returned. Based on my research, I believe the ECM may be defective and that replacing the unit may solve the problem. Toyota will not replace the ECM. About a month ago, the Toyota dealer was able to verify the hesitation problem during a service visit. However, they could not duplicate it later with the scan tool attached - they had the vehicle for two days trying to get a snap shot because the Toyota field service technician told them "no repairs are to be made until the problem occurs more often." Tw*

- Easthampton, MA, USA

problem #18

May 202009


  • 89,500 miles
Automatic transmission is forcing fluid out through vent causing loss of fluid and possible damage to transmission. Dealer said it is caused by bearing going bad in the transmission. Vehicle has almost 90,000 miles. Dealership said problem is covered under extended warranty since it was a certified used vehicle.

- State College, PA, USA

problem #17

Jul 012007

Highlander 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 15,000 miles


2005 V6 Toyota Highlander - transmission update flash - does not resolve lag issue as intended, and later makes transmission stutter and jerky - not resolved after transmission fluid change and inspection. Two dealers stated: Could not replicate issue. Family and friends have driven and ridden in vehicle and state they feel it drives like an old car or worse - makes noises and is not smooth, also can be dangerous if a quick response is necessary.

- Fremont, CA, USA

problem #16

Apr 252005

Highlander 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 300 miles
This problem has been happening from the first month I bought my 2005 Toyota Highlander new at the dealership. Transmission shift erratically. Jolting shifts all the time; especially when accelerating. Lags in downshifting, hesitation in shifting. I've taken it to the Toyota dealership many times. They have said it is learning my driving habits. One dealership told me to take my foot off the gas and depress it again - this tells the transmission what I really want to do. He also said to be aggressive with the gas. Most of the time the dealerships say there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with it. But I've noted that they never type in my complaint on the work orders.

- Petoskey, MI, USA

problem #15

Mar 022006

Highlander 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 2,000 miles
Toyota hilander limited. I have a hesitation when I accelerate. I have had it back to Toyota at least 3 times concerning this problem. They tell me that's the way it's supposed to be. It's dangerous if you are trying to get on an interstate and don't have the acceleration you need.

- Savannah, GA, USA

problem #14

Sep 142006

Highlander 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles
Purchased a new 2005 Toyota Highlander 4WD. After 45K miles the 4WD transfer case began to leak gear oil and transmission fluid. I noticed this since I do all my own oil changes on the vehicle. No harm was done, but I have brought the same problem to the dealership 5 times. Each time they stated that they have repaired the problem. However, without fail several months later I am still experiencing the problem. Toyota's customer service was not very friendly or helpful. One representative stated that the dealership really did not have the tools to properly fix the transfer case seals properly. My safety issue: If this transfer case fails again and I do not notice it, then I fear that the vehicle could be sent into an uncontrollable spin or even worse. Thus far Toyota has replaced the transfer case twice and the transmission once with a re-manufactured transmission.

- Citra, FL, USA

problem #13

Dec 012006

Highlander 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 718 miles
I own a 2005 Toyota Highlander V6. I'm experiencing a pause or hesitation shifting into low at very low speeds (2 to 4 mph). The hesitation causes the vehicle to lunge because the gas peddle is depressed before the low gear engages. I feel it is an unsafe design because in slow traffic or near pedestrians I need to keep my left foot on the brake to prevent the car from lunging. Toyota has informed me that the vehicle is "operating as designed".

- Sault Ste. Marie, MI, USA

problem #12

Aug 252006

Highlander 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 0 miles
Long hesitation when trying to accelerate from a stop or low speeds.

- Billings, MT, USA

problem #11

Jul 152006

Highlander 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 19,279 miles
Summary: 2005 Toyota Highlander has signification hesitation when accelerating. 1.) events leading to failure: Failure is constant since it is present during normal operation of vehicle; 2. failure and its consequences: If I accelerate (step on the gas pedal), the vehicle hesitates/lags/dies for a few seconds before vehicle will begin moving. The consequences of this failure is that there is constant danger when making a left turn during gaps in oncoming traffic. Although a margin of safety is always used, I am afraid that one day, something may happen to reduce this margin, e.g. oncoming car is accelerating very quickly or the hesitation worsens from a few seconds to several seconds; 3.) what was done to correct the failure: Nothing. Contacted two Toyota dealers, don davis Toyota and freeman Toyota, and was told by john and tim, service dept advisors, that this is normal for Toyota since adopting fly-by or drive-by wire. Both authorized Toyota service department employees say that Toyota is aware of this complaint but that there is nothing to be done; this is normal operating procedure and falls within their design parameters. No parts will be repaired or replaced. This seems to be a dangerous design flaw by Toyota. While they acknowledge the existence of the problem, they do not feel they need to resolve and offer no solution.

- Euless, TX, USA

problem #10

Jun 042005

Highlander 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25 miles
2005 Toyota Highlander. Issues with automatic transmission shifting properly. Shift lags severely when gas pedal is engaged causing vehicle to lag behind and not catch up to the proper speed. Vehicles behind it are in a position to severely impact the rear bumper because vehicle is not moving. Have had car to dealer and they claim there's nothing they can do. Have asked them to check service bulletins and see about resetting the computer which Toyota claims is the problem. Resetting the computer doesn't work.

- Everett, WA, USA

problem #9

Jun 102006

Highlander 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 13,750 miles
Unexplained vehicle acceleration with inability to stop before hitting vehicle in front of me. Pulled off of road behind truck to park. Lifted foot from gas pedal to put on brake so as to put vehicle into park. There was then an extreme vehicle acceleration which was uncontrollable with brake. Slammed into truck. Toyota Corp claims no errors logged in computer system, and that if foot would have been on brake pedal, the filament would have broken. I can't be certain the braking happened before the accident-it was very fast. I am certain foot was on brake and not on gas!! there has been a previous denial of a petition to investigate numerous instances of this identical situation with other Toyota's-(NHTSA action # DP05002). NHTSA please investigate this!! there are too many complaints of this happening-do something before there are deaths! is Toyota immune from safety recalls" I'm sorry you couldn't find evidence of a defect, but there is something seriously wrong. Severe hesitation, sudden acceleration=possible deaths. I've received my repaired vehicle, and when I went to trade it in, I was offered thousands less than trade in is supposed to be! if Toyota really believes there's nothing wrong with their car, what's the problem" again they're not being held accountable!

- Ellwood City, PA, USA

problem #8

Nov 012005


  • miles
I have made numerous complaints about the functioning of the transmission in my 2005 Toyota Highlander. It began one month after I purchased the new car. The problems have progressively grown worse and are more frequent. The dealership indicates that the hesitation and jerking of the transmission is normal and a result of the electronic controlling of the transmission. Even after the dealership updated the software, the transmission continues to have problems. The dealership nor Toyota have not offered any solutions.

- Goldsboro, NC, USA

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