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 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
23,435 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 #12

Jan 222012

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 62,030 miles


Brake malfunction speed sensor.

- Windsor, CT, USA

problem #11

Apr 072011

Highlander 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Highlander. While driving approximately 25 mph and applying pressure to the brakes, the contact noticed that the vehicle continued to accelerate. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where they performed a diagnostic test which concluded that the brake booster had burst and would need replacing. The dealer performed the repairs and the manufacturer paid fifty percent of the repair costs. The approximate failure mileage was 53,000. Updated 05/03/11 updated 05/11/11

- Colquitt, GA, USA

problem #10

Aug 172010


  • 23,000 miles
I was involved in a car accident on 08/17/2010 while driving my 2008 Toyota Highlander that has 23000 miles on it. The accident caused me total damage to my car and put my life in danger due to failure in the break/acceleration system on the car. The car did not stop but accelerated even though when I was pressing the break which caused me to hit a truck that was passing in front of me. I explained to the emergency crew that the accident was because of failure of the break/and acceleration system on the Toyota car and I explained the same thing to the police officer who was presented on the scene. I like to mention here that the Toyota dealer sent me a note of defection about my car prior to the accident and I took the car to the dealer shop and spent 2 hours there to have it fixed. The car now is at the state farm insurance and I can email/send you the car pictures after the accident.

- Munster, IN, USA

problem #9

Oct 132008


  • 10,245 miles


Noted recently on six complaints registered with NHTSA regarding 2008 Highlander brake problems and five complaints registered with NHTSA regarding 2008 highland electric problems that involve brakes and electronic controls. I am submitting the following experiences with my 2008 Highlander because they mirror many of the complaints. The brakes on my Highlander have been an issue from the first weeks of ownership. I have taken the car to a local Toyota dealership and complained about the brakes. The dealership did adjust the emergency brake which they indicated was out of adjustment but have stated that the brakes are working normally. My specific complaint is brake response. There is roughly an inch of pedal travel before the brakes begin to respond. If one must make a hard emergency stop the vsc control will engage. On one occasion, while driving in town a car ran through a traffic light in front of me. I hit the brakes hard - the vsc light came on - and the car slowly stopped. There was no accident but it was extremely close. I have found that if I routinely press on the brake pedal until the vsc light comes on that the pedal travel is reduced. I took the Highlander to aaa auto diagnostics and they confirmed the pedal/vsc. Aaa was unable to read the Highlander computer because they did not have the proprietary Toyota computer interface. The local Toyota dealer has stated that the depressed pedal and vsc light response is normal. I also noted complaints of sudden acceleration when putting the car into gear. I have never experienced a surge to the degree mentioned in the complaints referenced above, however, while putting the car into drive with my foot on the brake I have had the car surge forward. I now always have the emergency brake on while putting the vehicle into drive. The date listed below is that of my first complaint to the local Toyota dealer.

- Santa Clara, CA, USA

problem #8

Jan 122010


  • 30,000 miles
Recently I was involved in a minor rear-end accident. The impact speed was approx 10-15 mph and light to moderate damage was done to my vehicle, which is a 2008 Highlander. Prior to this accident I noticed my anti-skid braking system activated at a point I would consider to be premature. This premature activation limits the braking power of the vehicle when it is needed. This problem was brought to the attention of South county Toyota in costa mesa, ca and they stated the vehicle was operating to specification. I am still concerned about the issue and would like to have it evaluated by a Toyota motors rep while I am present. I do believe this premature activation of the anti-skid system was a contributing factor in my recent accident and it may have been prevented if the full braking power was available. At the time of the accident the streets were dry and it had not rained in several weeks. The vehicle suffered moderate front end damage which has since been repaired. Toyota was notified of the accident and they have failed to correct the issue or admit there is anything wrong with the vehicle. As of right now I can duplicate the brake fade/ issue 100% of the time.

- Costa Mesa, CA, USA

problem #7

Jan 062010


  • 29,000 miles
We have a 2008 Toyota Highlander with intermittent failure of the anti-lock brakes and vehicle stability control system (ABS/vsc). For no apparent reason, the ABS/vsc will malfunction and brakes operate incorrectly. It is an intermittent problem that comes an goes. We have almost had an accident in the snow in Ohio. We have had the car into the dealer 4X without resolution since nobody knows what is wrong. It has been an ongoing issue since it started Jan 2010.

- Galena, OH, USA

problem #6

Dec 152008


  • miles


I have Toyota Highlander 2008 from Aug 2008. This car has a problem with braking. First winter it was unsafe to park car on shopping parking, because of close proximity to other cars. Highlander was not stopping, it continued moving with my leg on the brake pedal. This car was not slowing down. I drove many different SUVS from rental companies, like Chevy trail Blazer, GMC acadia, Jeep two different models, but never had any problems with brakes. I went to the dealership three times and each time they told me they cannot do anything. I'm used to this car now, but braking still not good. It requires deep pressure on the pedal and car is stopping longer.

- Skokie, IL, USA

problem #5

Jan 022010


  • 10,000 miles
Left and right rear brakes stay engaged when applied and will not disengage for up to 2 minutes after released. I was told that the mechanism (apparently the calipers) was corroded.

- Olean, NY, USA

problem #4

Jan 232010


  • 16,144 miles
Brake failure on 2008 Toyota Highlander: I turned car on & shifted into reverse to back out of parking space. There was no resistance on the brake pedal. Car rolled backward & would not stop. I applied emergency brake and car stopped. When E-brake was on I tested to see if there was pressure on the brake pedal - there was none. At this point I put car into park and turned off engine, waited a few minutes and restarted engine. Still no brake pressure and shifter would not come out of park position. I turned the engine off and then on again and released emergency brake. At this point the car shifted out of park and there was pressure in the brake pedal. I drove vehicle safely to nearest Toyota dealership (where vehicle was purchased). Computer check indicated no problem with brakes. Manual/visual check revealed a gap leaking brake fluid between the master cylinder and the brake booster, both of which were subsequently replaced by the dealership.

- Katy, TX, USA

problem #3

Sep 272008


  • miles
Toyota 2008 Highlander-braking system hesitates like the prius is described. It freezes up and doesn't react as quickly as it is pushed. This is ongoing.

- Casper, WY, USA

problem #2

Sep 092009


  • 44,000 miles
No previous braking problems experienced. First heard an airy sound when braking then soft brake pedal and then almost complete brake failure. Dealer found a vacuum leak in brake booster. Repair was replacement of the brake booster.

- Port Sydney, 00, USA

problem #1

Mar 092009


  • 3,799 miles
Brake pedal spongy at low engine operating speeds.

- Columbus, IN, USA

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