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:
1 / 1
Average Mileage:
41,974 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2008 Toyota Highlander Owner Comments

problem #12

Oct 012014


  • 63,000 miles


After parking the car at the airport for a couple of days and upon return started the car and started hearing grinding noise from the passenger side of the engine and would not be audible at the highway or freeway driving speeds (> 40 miles). Took to the dealer to get 2 outstanding recalls (spiral cable and software update for brake pedal override) and was told that the water pump is failing. Cost could be around $800 and was not happy to hear as the quality of these parts consistently been deteriorating and had to replace on earlier Toyota's that I owned.

- W Bloomfield, MI, USA

problem #11

Oct 122014

Highlander 6-cyl

  • miles
I was driving home from work. The oil cooler hose failed leaking oil and smoking from burning on exhaust then oil pressure light came on. Dealer says recall was done already however it apparently did not fix the issue. They say they can't do anything cause it was already done once. Not sure if any engine damage was done need to have it towed to a shop.

- Mahopac , NY, USA

problem #10

Jun 302014


  • miles
My 2008 Toyota Highlander sport oil cooler line just gave out. During my research I found this has been a problem in the past. My car has been in the shop for over two week. According to the Toyota dealer, the rubber hose is being replaced by metal. Toyota does not have an eta for the part. The dealership is number 90 on the list.. they will not provide a car.

- Warrenville, SC, USA

problem #9

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 #8

Sep 292013

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 108,989 miles
While sitting in a line of traffic on our way home from a 2 mile trip to the store, we noticed a hot oil smell. I said to my wife that someone needs to get their car in for service work, not knowing that we were this someone! this smell had not been present at home, on our trip to the store or when parked there. When I pulled into my garage, steam/smoke appeared to be coming from the hood. The dipstick showed very low oil. There had been no signs of an oil leak in the garage before, but, after arriving home I saw a big oil leak. I called the Toyota dealership (1/2 mile from home) who told me to bring it up to see what was going on. By the time that I got there my car was making a sound making it obvious something very wrong. I pulled directly into the service bay. The mechanic checked the dipstick which showed absolutely no oil in my engine. He put it on the hoist, added oil, and restarted the engine. The oil poured out as fast as he had put it in. Upon further inspection, he saw that the lower oil cooler lines had ruptured. My engine had been close to seizing. Replacing these parts was very expensive, $437, but replacing my engine would have been much more expensive. More importantly was that the danger of a fire from the oil that was pouring out on the hot engine was not out of the question. While at the dealership, the mechanic pointed at a Lexus and stated, "this is very interesting. That Lexus SUV is in here for the same problem, the oil cooler lines ruptured." He said that he would not be surprised to see this be a recall issue, as the new lines are designed differently without rubber fittings, and will not rupture. This would indicate to me that Toyota has noticed a design flaw in the oil cooler lines that were in my Highlander. I feel this oil cooler lines problem is an issue that needs to be researched as a possible Toyota recall.

- Cedar Falls, IA, USA

problem #7

Apr 302013

Highlander 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Highlander. The contact stated that while driving 30 mph, the vehicle began to exhibit a loud, abnormal noise. The vehicle was taken to a dealer for diagnosis and the contact was informed that the water pump would need to be replaced. The manufacturer was notified but they offered the contact no assistance. The vehicle was repaired. The failure and current mileage was 62,000....updated 07-10-13

- Blue Bell, PA, USA

problem #6

Jul 052012

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 56,000 miles


As I approached a stop sign, my check engine and vehicle stability control lights came on. I was less than a mile from my destination and was able to safely park my vehicle with no issues. As soon as possible, I contacted my local Toyota dealership to alert them to the problem. The dealership representative asked if the vsc light was flashing and I told him no; to which he replied it would be okay to drive. Later on that evening, I decided to take the vehicle to the dealership and upon taking off at the light, the vehicle seemed sluggish at first and then suddenly accelerated and surged forward. When I pulled into the dealership, I explained what happened and am now awaiting to see what the problem is.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #5

Feb 282012

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 25,000 miles
Upon starting my car, the vsc off, check engine, and ABS lights remained lit. Acceleration was slow and rough, and the general engine feel was wrong. I stopped car and restarted with no effect. While driving, the lights extinguished for a moment, and at that point performance temporarily improved - this caused a surge in acceleration. But the same lights came on a moment later and performance, once again, failed. Fortunately I was not in traffic when the surge occurred.

- St Clair Shores, MI, USA

problem #4

Nov 282011

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 77,900 miles
Valve springs. While driving at 65 mph the vehicle stalled without warning. I managed to steer across 4 lanes of fast traffic to a complete stop. The car was towed to the closest Toyota dealer and was diagnosed as piston failure. The car was towed 140 miles to motorcars Toyota for repair. The technician inspected and diagnosed: "a valve spring on the #2 cylinder broke in front head and dropped into the # 2 cylinder, destroying the piston and severely damaging the short block assembly. Block had a hole in it and #2 piston was broken in half". repair included: Replacing short block assembly, front head, exhaust cam, valve, spring. I had to pay aprox. $6000 for a problem Toyota publicly admitted some 2008 V8 models had. Faulty valve springs was actually a recall but only for Lexus models. Not fair!

- Hudson, OH, USA

problem #3

Dec 152009

Highlander 6-cyl

  • miles
Brief engine knock/rattle noise cold startup. Immediately following a cold soak startup.

- Aguadilla, PR, USA

problem #2

May 122010


  • 33,800 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Highlander. While the vehicle was parked the contact heard a rattling noise. He drove the vehicle to an authorized dealer who was unable to duplicate the failure. The failure recurred while the vehicle was parked and was taken back to the dealer. The contact stated was advised by the dealer that the failure was caused by the cam shaft gears. The vehicle remained at the dealer. The contact stated that the vehicle will be in the dealers possesion for approximately two weeks. The failure only occurred when the vehicle was parked. The failure mileage was 33,800 and the current mileage was 34,250.

- Groton, CT, USA

problem #1

Dec 282008


  • miles
Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6) my father [xxx] was killed while driving a 2008 Toyota Highlander. He hit another car sustaining severe injuries to the driver. He left my house in georgetown, tx. Driving to rockport tx when it is reported that he left his lane, no indication that he tried to slow down. The accident occurred in goliad county, about an hour from his house. The autopsy could find no medical or physical cause for this accident. The accident is on file with the Texas department of public safety and usaa insurance.

- Georgetown, TX, USA

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