Notes: 2008 is the first year of the 2nd generation Highlander, & it may be a model year to avoid as Toyota most likely worked out some production quality issues with the new model.

The 2009 Highlander is the has far fewer complaints.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
81,295 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.

2008 Toyota Highlander body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2008 Toyota Highlander Owner Comments

problem #7

Sep 122015


  • 144,000 miles


2008 Toyota Highlander involved in a rear/side crash sitting still; hit by other vehicle at 60 mph; 3 occupants inside vehicle all injured; no airbags deployed in vehicle at time of crash; if airbags only are to deploy on a frontal impact crash what good R they in other crashes to help the occupants of the vehicle?

- Monticello, KY, USA

problem #6

May 132014

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
I have the sun visor on my Toyota Highlander that has fallen down and it doesn't stay up at all anymore. I am a single mother with three children and find this very unsafe because it obstructs my vision also when I look to the right or left I constantly hit my forehead on the visor that is constantly on the way. It is a hazard to me and my 3 children.

- Santa Clarita, CA, USA

problem #5

Jun 182014

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 58,381 miles
A few months after buying the vehicle new, my husband noticed a mildew smell in my vehicle that would come and go. I thought it was just from living in a humid place. When the smell became constant, my husband lifted up the floor mat in the back seat and discovered that the carpet was soaking wet. We then contacted the dealership to take the Highlander in to be looked at and to see what was causing the water leak. We took it into the dealership on June 18, 2014 and we were later informed that four rubber stoppers (which were at the time lose inside the bumpers, but should have been inserted into the body of the vehicle) that were meant to keep water out of the interior of the car had fallen out and the tech would need to re-insert the stoppers, and for good measure, glue them into place in order to stop water from entering the vehicle.

- Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #4

Jul 122013

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 71,869 miles


Attempting to park car in a shopping center. Suddenly engine accelerated unintentionally. Hit curb & tree. Damage to car approximately $6000 to repair.

- Marana, AZ, USA

problem #3

May 292012


  • 55,000 miles
I was driving North on a divided one way street. A 2006 minivan was traveling South on the other side of the divided street. He made a left hand turn, ran through the yield sign and broadsided me on the driver side. I saw he was not going to stop and turned the wheel to the right, not in time. Took out the left side of the Highlander from the front wheel to the rear panel. His front airbag did deploy. My side airbag did not deploy and I know my head bounced against the side window twice. I asked the body shop to look at the airbag and they said that it appeared ok and apparently the strike did not warrant airbag inflation. The Highlander is 4 wheel drive, 20" wheels. Both left doors had to be replaced and damage was low on doors. Wheels also replaced. I think the side airbag should have deployed.

- Topeka, KS, USA

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problem #2

Oct 152013


  • 89,900 miles
Driver door lock mechanism has stopped working with the remote, that is a nuisance, not a safety issue but, recently I had difficulty manually unlocking the driver's door and for 1 - 2 minutes was not able to unlock the door to exit the vehicle. I was trying to manually unlock the door (the power lock mechanism quit working) but the door lock was jammed such that I could not get the door unlocked. I tried pushing the electric door lock button to try to unjam the mechanism and eventually that worked and I was able to manually unlock the door and exit the vehicle. This is clearly a safety issue because if the vehicle was on fire I may not be able to get out. A brief search online showed that this is a very prevalent issue with Toyota vehicles. Toyota should be forced to remedy the situation and a recall should be implemented to make Toyota fix the flawed vehicles they have sold. I will go see a dealer in the next day or two to give them the chance to do the right thing and fix it free of charge but I imagine that will only get me an increased blood pressure.

- Garner, NC, USA

problem #1

Dec 262009


  • 29,917 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Highlander. The contact stated that the rear door hatch would lock and unlock intermittently. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who replaced the hinges and the motor on the rear of the vehicle. The manufacturer was notified of the failure and a claim was filed. The failure mileage was 29,917.

- Hermosa Beach, CA, USA

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