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:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
25,025 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2008 Toyota Highlander Owner Comments

problem #8

Jun 272014

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 77,000 miles


While driving my care on the highway the "low engine pressure" light came on. I immediately exit the highway and went to the gas station. All the oil in my car leaked out. We put 4 quarts of oil in my car and when you turn on the car all the oil leaked out. I call for a flat bed tow truck and drop my car off to the dealer. Toyota has a recall 2gr-fev6 lsc 90K, which has this issue. The Toyota dealer is saying my vehicle VIN # is not effected by this. How could this been when the same exact thing happen to my car and they are replacing the parts that are part of this recall. They are charging me $900 to fix the car. I need help. My Toyota life time warranty does not cover this!!!!!.....this is a serious safety issue. I believe Toyota is covering it up so that they do not have to have all the vehicles fixed due to this malfunction.

- Irvington, NJ, USA

problem #7

Mar 252014

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 83,000 miles
Following a oil change at local Toyota dealer, a large puddle of oil (2 foot X 2 foot plus) found under car. I suspected oil filter or stripped oil pan plug. Vehicle towed to dealer for inspection. They stated it was complete failure of the AWD transfer box and that is was not covered by warranty. Estimated cost to repair - $5,000+ note - during a previous oil change at approximately 63,000 miles Toyota dealer stated there was a possible small leak on the AWD transfer box and that they would monitor this during future oil changes. I was never informed, of any additional leakage during any oil changes at the same Toyota dealer. (car did not leak any oil prior to failure of the AWD transfer box)

- Lubbock, TX, USA

problem #6

Jul 182013

Highlander 6-cyl

  • miles
As was pulling out parking space, car stopped moving even though engine running. Had towed to dealership, diagnosed with failure of hybrid inverter.

- Wilmingotn, NC, USA

problem #5

Apr 042010


  • 34,000 miles


While driving in reverse my 2008 Toyota Highlander gas pedal continued acceleration after braking and crashed into my garage.

- Hobe Sound, FL, USA

problem #4

Mar 012008


  • 100 miles
2008 Toyota Highlander fails to shift into gear. Most occurrences at low speed after slowing to 5mph vehicle does not respond to gas pedal - or will not engage into gear and move forward. This occurs or is most noticeable at slow speeds when the gas pedal is pushed after having slowed down or in the midst of a slow down (not a complete stop) usually to wait for traffic to clear. Occurred with every driver of the vehicle (4). Most notable (scary) while my daughter was turning and trying to get out of the way of traffic. Car would not engage in gear, RPM increase, car reves up, but will not move forward out of the way of traffic. My daughter screamed. Taken to dealer at least twice. And continue to call and complain. Dealer states they had experts look at car, rebooted computer (because car responds to driver that drives the most!). said nothing is wrong or can be done. Dealer has admitted that engaging is slow, noticeable. Failure to engage occurs daily. Consequence - in danger of not being able to move car out of the way of oncoming traffic. Nothing was done to repair. Computer re-set. (this is what I was told) vehicle also has experienced trouble while driving up hill. RPM went to 4000 + and would not change gears. On freeway and slowing down. Had 6 high school girls in car. Also has "dropped" into gear heavily.

- Livermore, CA, USA

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problem #3

Mar 012008


  • 100 miles
This is an intermittent problem with acceleration we have had with our Toyota Highlander since we purchased the vehicle. When accelerating, the vehicle will periodically over-rev before the automatic transmission shifts into the appropriate gear. This results in a momentary lack of acceleration. Again this is an intermittent problem. When taken to the Toyota dealer, they say they cannot recreate the problem and that there is nothing that they can see that is wrong with the vehicle.

- Sherrills Ford, NC, USA

problem #2

May 022009


  • 2,000 miles
2008 low mileage Toyota Highlander sticking accelerator pedal. My accelerator got stuck at full throttle. I'm sure it was not the mats; I did not have any. The mileage was very low at the time, unlike what the recall is addressing. It has not happened since.

- Red Bank, NJ, USA

problem #1

Apr 132008

Highlander 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 4,000 miles
The contact leases a 2008 Toyota Highlander. While driving approximately 20 to 25 mph, the brakes failed. The contact had to swerve to avoid striking other vehicles. He then heard a loud bang. There were no warning lights. He pulled off the road and the vehicle was towed to the dealer. The dealer stated that the transmission axle failed. The manufacturer will send an investigator to inspect the vehicle. The current and failure mileages were 4,000.

- Ossining, NY, USA

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