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:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
6 / 0
Average Mileage:
77,670 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 brakes problems

brakes problem

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2008 Toyota Highlander Owner Comments

problem #10

Nov 152016


  • 140,000 miles


Braking became erratic. Pedal was squishy and ABS lights came on. This occurred over several months but on an intermittent basis. Lights would go off for a while then come back on.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #9

Jul 302016


  • 75,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Highlander. The contact stated that the brake warning indicator illuminated. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the accumulator and activator failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure recurred. The manufacturer stated that the repair was not covered by warranty or recall. The approximate failure mileage was 75,000. Updated 10/06/16

- Miami Shore, FL, USA

problem #8

Jul 242016


  • 117,122 miles
The steering wheel had been adjusted to a setting for a shorter driver, and while in the process of re-setting it for a taller driver, the steering wheel and its housing came completely off of the shaft that reaches into the engine. To safely get off the road, an attempt was made to stick it back on, and it was unable to stay in the correct position. Once the vehicle was pulled over, to try to reattach it, the driver again attempted to seat the housing on the shaft. This maneuver was completed successfully, but upon attempting to drive again, the "slippery when wet" warning light came on and whatever engine mechanism that alerts began to engage, affecting the brakes, accelerator, and steering. This all happened as we were backing out of the driveway, and then attempting to maneuver into the roadway.

- Highland Park, IL, USA

problem #7

Jul 012015


  • 130,000 miles


The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Highlander. While driving at 5 mph, the brake pedal was depressed and became stuck. The contact had to depress the brake pedal multiple times to release the pedal. The check engine and brake warning lights illuminated. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who diagnosed that the brake booster needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 130,000.

- Lobeco, SC, USA

problem #6

Mar 262014

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 72,000 miles
While driving down highway 17 South towards santa cruz, California on a raining Wednesday morning, I suddenly felt my vehicle loosing control in a slippery downhill highway and I hit the center divider with the left front of vehicle and car spun multiple times and hitting the left rear bumper to the wall facing the oncoming traffic. There are 4 of us in the vehicle all wearing seat belts and suffered injuries. The airbags did not deploy and the antilock brake system did not activate. My insurance company declared the vehicle total lost. I was advised to contact Toyota dealership in fremont to investigate the reasons why the air bag and ABS did not activate. I am about to call the dealership once they open in few minutes.

- Fremont, CA, USA

problem #5

Jan 282014


  • 94,154 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Highlander. The contact stated that while driving approximately 35 mph, the brake sensor, vsc sensor and the trac off sensor lights illuminated. The contact then noticed that the braking system malfunctioned, making the vehicle difficult to stop. The contact indicated that additional pressure was applied to the brake pedal in order to stop the vehicle. The vehicle was diagnosed by the dealer where the contact was informed that the hub of the wheel bearing was corroded. The contact stated that both rear wheel harnesses were replaced to repair the defect. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 94,154.

- Niles, IL, USA

problem #4

Dec 262013

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 78,420 miles


While driving at 35 miles per hour, the brake light on the dashboard came on, brake pedal began going all the way down while braking, and the brake pedal began making noise. I stopped the car, open the hood and found that all my brake fluid was gone. The Toyota dealership was nearby I drove the car slowly to the dealership. They checked the brake system only to find out that all the brake fluid was in the brake booster. My service adviser told me the brake system failed due to bad seals between the master cylinder and the brake booster. Now the master cylinder and brake booster need to be replaced. I purchased the Highlander brand new in 2008. The vehicle is only 5 years old with approximately 78,420 miles on it and has been serviced every 5,000 miles ever since I purchased it. This should never happen to a vehicle that has been well maintained. It's a serious safety matter, and my brakes had just been replaced along with the brake fluid at the same dealership on October 02, 2013.

- Tustin, CA, USA

problem #3

Jan 102009

Highlander 6-cyl

  • miles
The right front brake of my 2008 Toyota Highlander popped loudly when I backed up. It sounded and felt like the brake locked up. This problem seemed to have already existed since the day I purchased the brand-new vehicle in December 2008, and it got worse and worse. Therefore, I took the vehicle to a Toyota dealer for inspection and the they said, "there is nothing wrong with the brake. It is normal and is just that the break is shifting." However, I asked them why the popping sound "only" came from the right front brake. They avoided my question and did not answer. As my concerns over the brake grew more and more, I took my vehicle to the same dealer again, but they said, "my vehicle is out of warranty and I have to pay $45 to have it re-checked." I told them that when my vehicle was inspected for the problem the first time, it was still under warranty, and the problem never went away; instead, it became even worse. However, they still insisted that I had to pay in order to have it inspected again. I was so disappointed I left the dealership. At the time of this writing, the right front brake still makes a loud, annoying popping sound when I back up my vehicle, which makes me worry that the brake could malfunction anytime when I am on the road.

- Russellville, AR, USA

problem #2

Aug 102012

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Highlander. The contact stated that while driving 55 mph and applying the brakes to avoid hitting a deer, the brakes seized and the vehicle failed to respond. As a result, the contact lost control of the vehicle and crashed. The contact mentioned that none of the air bags deployed. As a result, the driver and a passenger sustained minor injuries. A police report was filed. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The contact was able to drive the vehicle away from the scene. The failure and current mileage was 70,000. Updated 11/01/12 updated 11/02/12

- Boonenville, AR, USA

problem #1

May 082012

Highlander 6-cyl

  • miles
Vsc, tracking and ABS lights come on when driving. Sometimes on as soon as I reverse in the morning. Used to go off if I turned car off and restarted. Sometimes doesn't come on until I am almost home from work (30 miles) sometimes the brakes feel off and not gripping. Had brakes inspected and everything fine.

- Vermilion, OH, USA

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