really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
5,018 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.

2006 Toyota Highlander transmission problems

transmission problem

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2006 Toyota Highlander Owner Comments

problem #11

Mar 042010


  • miles


Ever since we purchased our 2006 Toyota Highlander we have randomly experienced acceleration problems. After slowing down, we slowly accelerated and would experience a sudden thrust but could slow it down by lessening the pressure on the gas pedal or by braking. This would happen at random 2 or 3 times per year. We both thought it was our fault until we read about the Toyota acceleration problems. Now, we don't believe it is our fault and is a built-in problem. We recently have talked to the Toyota service department and they referred us to the Toyota headquarters for filing a complaint with them. We were told this car is not on the recall list. Since our problem does not seem as bad as other year's car, it may be that this is the year the problem developed in Toyota and got progressively worst as adjustments were made to the car's programming or engine. The last incident involving this acceleration was in late February or early March, 2010. We hope this information may be of some help to you and us in solving our problem.

- Huntington Beach, CA, USA

problem #10

Oct 012006


  • 0 miles
Toyota fly by wire transmission hesitation problem. Specifically a 2006 Highlander- hesitation from stop or slow speed. Complaint across all models and several years. The approximate incident date means nothing lt is and continues to be a problem since the "fly or drive by wire" system originated. Dealer states this is the way it is supposed to operate. - an accident waiting to happen or have they already happened? what will it take to initiate a fix. This problem seems to be related to the five speed automatic transmission. The internet is full of this type of complaint.

- Fairfax, VA, USA

problem #9

May 152007


  • 35,000 miles
Car jerks as moving into the wrong gear. Also stumbles as if the transmission is slipping and then jerks into a gear lurching forward. The car also surges at times without warning. Told repeatedly at dealer they can't find anything wrong.

- Henderson, KY, USA

problem #8

Mar 282006


  • miles


Automatic transmission on my 2006 Toyota Highlander w/ 3.4 liter engine has hesitation when shifting down to 2nd or 1st gear, e.g., stepping on the gas from a complete stop to turn against on-coming traffic. There is a disconcerting moment of hesitation before the transmission seems to engage. Dealer told me it is normal due to the fly-by-wire technology. I don't believe it and I am concerned about it's safety. I am also worried that I waited this long to bring it up because the car has 35,550 miles on it and the warranty is about to run out. I have heard this from other Highlander owners too.

- Manassas, VA, USA

problem #7

Jan 062008


  • miles
2006 Toyota Highlander 4WD. The transmission is a 5 speed and it continuously downshifts even on throttle when uphill and on flat road highways the vehicle is continuously gear hunting. When I need it to move with full throttle it seems even to shift into high gear and always get a feeling I may get rear ended. If the throttle is pushed further the vehicle bucks into high gear making it very uncomfortable and unpredictable as to the response to higher throttle.

- Pleasanton, CA, USA

problem #6

Nov 292006

Highlander 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 9,791 miles
Erratic shifting of transmission, hesitation, searching for gears.transmission does not idle down when coming to a stop, causing hard braking when it should not be necessary.Toyota replaced the transmission at 9,500 miles, it is having some issues just not as severe as the old transmission.

- Coral Springs, FL, USA

problem #5

Mar 142007

Highlander 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 5,407 miles


I bought this car 6 months ago and have the following problem. There is a unpredictable 2-3 second hesitation on acceleration when entering traffic stream from a parking lot or attempting to pass another vehicle when I am driving relatively slow and want to accelerate. When I have to scoot it stumbles before picking up speed so I am not scooting as well as I should be to keep from interfering with other oncoming traffic. It acts as if the ignition has been turned off for an instant causing me to lurch forward momentarily as the car decelerates before the engine catches and lunges forward in acceleration. This hesitation throws off my balance and timing causing a sensation of stalling in traffic and becoming a safety concern for me and is a problem. Today I took it to the Toyota dealer and explained the problem as the vehicle is still under warranty. The service invoice states: "customer states there is a hesitation upon acceleration as if the vehicle cuts off and then it lunges "????????" they said there is nothing wrong as this is an inherent Toyota design feature because it has electronic throttle and they could have saved me a trip to see them if I had called and told them the problem. The service invoice states: "test drove vehicle, performed diagnostic test. No defect of parts or craftsmanship of this vehicle." They said I have just a few thousand miles on the car and the computer is learning my driving habits and may settle down after a while. I have owned many cars over the years and think I am aware of when a car tends to hesitate on acceleration. I asked them what they will tell me when I come back in a few weeks and tell them I still have the same problem and they said they will tell me the same thing. If what they say is true then all Toyota should be immediately recalled as a safety hazard. What are my options"

- New Smyrna Beach, FL, USA

problem #4

Oct 302006


  • miles
I noticed hesitation in gear shifting and some lunging when my foot was off the brake after I purchased a new 2006 Highlander in July 2006 and made a mental note to have it checked at the first follow-up service. In October 2006, I was pulling out of a post office parking lot while aware of 2 cars at a safe distance away. When in the intersection, 1 of the 2 cars was traveling much faster than anticipated. When I accelerated quickly, the car just seemed to choke, and the car collided into my rear side (driver's side). I and the other driver had only minor injuries, but the collision was very frightening and it could have been much worse. I also felt that something more serious was wrong with my car than I had thought. After I got my car back from the body repair shop (7 weeks later), I took it into to the dealer and asked them to check the problem. I was told all of the Highlanders have that hesitation if the gas pedal is pressed hard. I was told to press down only gradually. Since then, I continue to notice the problem with my car. It makes me feel very unsafe and am not sure how to resolve the issue other than to sell the car. I am worried however that others may be at risk because of this feature with the transmission.

- Bethesda, MD, USA

problem #3

Dec 022006

Highlander 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 4,000 miles
I purchased a Toyota Highlander sport 4 months ago. I bought the V6 engine. I became concerned about a hesitation problem where the car holds back when starting from a stop and then lurches. This is dangerous at stop lights and entering freeways. The Toyota dealer says the car does this on purpose but they don't know why. This sounds like an excise for a flaw in the design. I checked www.carsurvey.com, which lists consumer complaints and found many complaints about the exact same problem. This is clearly a safety issue that Toyota is ignoring!! please do something and check the above site to see more complaints. Thank you gary mackman.

- Paradise Valley, AZ, USA

problem #2

Jul 022006

Highlander 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,000 miles
2006-Toyota Highlander-3.3V-6 with 5-speed automatic transmission erratic shifting and hesitation at slow speed when letting off accelerator and then reapplying transmission. Vehicle stays in between gears and hesitates. Once it gets into gear the vehicle lunges forward, making it necessary to apply the brakes hard. This is particularly dangerous in stop and go traffic. I get nervous when trying to merge into highway traffic because I don't know how the accelerator will respond at any given moment. It is an accident waiting to happen. I notified Toyota and they told me to work through the dealer. I notified the dealer and they are going to take a look at it. After reading the many posts on the internet about the same problem, it seems Toyota and the dealer service departments are telling customers that the vehicle was designed to act this way. The dealerships that try to reprogram the chip that controls acceleration are not having any luck fixing the problem. The problem returns sometimes worse than it was before. At present there is no recall and no tsb. The 'fix' seems to be based on experimentation not fact. I will give the dealer a chance but I have been down this road before. Since there is no fix and Toyota is not willing to admit to defect, I fear I will be facing many visits to the dealer getting a lot of lip service without any action. I am surprised that Toyota, the beacon of quality, is ignoring this potentially serious safety problem. Lets not wait for the accident to spurn a recall or investigation. How about car companies get proactive for a change.

- Omaha, NE, USA

problem #1

Mar 282006

Highlander 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2006-Toyota Highlander-3.3V-6 with 5-speed auto-erratic shifting and hesitation at slow speed when letting off accelerator and then reapplying transmission is in between gears and hesitates then slams into gear and takes off, generally a lot faster than you wanted to. Also under acceleration it sometimes acts like it don't know what gear it wants to be in. From complaints of other customers and after talking to tech. This is a common complaint with this engine and trans. Package since 2004 and still no fix. I was told Toyota programmed it this way cause they got the best mpg, heck with the driver having complete control and feeling confident that when you push the accelerator it's going to go.

- Charleston, WV, USA

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