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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
98,153 miles
Total Complaints:
5 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace oil cooler hose (4 reports)
  2. not sure (1 reports)
2008 Toyota Highlander engine problems

engine problem

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2008 Toyota Highlander Owner Comments

problem #5

Aug 312017

Highlander 2gr-FeV6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,650 miles


Driving down road and noticed smoke coming out the back and oil and rear window. Stopped and check oil level, it was almost empty. Walked to store bought oil and topped it off and drove home (1.5 miles), noticed a loud tapping noise, sounded like lifters. Checked it again and it was almost empty and I could see a trail of oil behind my car on the driveway. Looked under car and could see the leak coming from the oil cooler rubber line. I put a rubber patch hose on it , topped off oil and took it to my local Toyota service guy to be fixed. He put a new all metal cooler line and new gaskets on it. He said there was internal damage to the upper part of the engine and I should call Toyota assistance and see what they could do.

I called Toyota and they said there had been no recall on this issue, only a TSB for leaking VVTI oil line with rubber between two metal pipes. I told them about the noise and they said the car was out of warranty and there was nothing they could do. They suggested I set up service appointment with dealer.

I called dealer, he said to have it toad in. He couldn't give me any information about what would be done, only that they would have to tear engine apart to figure out what he problem was. All I can see is $$$$$$$$$ and it's scaring the hell of me. Anybody have any suggestions, please make your comments.

- , Marietta, US

problem #4

Nov 152016

Highlander Limited

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

I bought the vehicle certified pre-owned. It happened after I only had it a month. Luckily it was covered. However I was stranded on the highway for an hour and had to have it towed to the dealership.

- , Attleboro, MA, USA

problem #3

Jul 202016

Highlander Limited 4x4 3.5L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

We got lucky with this one. Pulled into our driveway after 15 min drive from work. Noticed big trail of oil into driveway and forming puddle of oil at front end under vehicle. We still had 1/2" of oil on the dipstick when we pulled in. Added 2 qts to troubleshoot leak location. Took off plates underneath to find a hose had a 1/4" hole, but only could see this when engine was started to verify leak location. Oil was spraying out 3' into the street when engine on. Oil pressure light hadn't come on yet. No revving of engine occurred yet either when driving home. Literally would've been undetected as an issue unless we either had driven it dry or stopped to see it (which, thankfully we did the latter).

Toyota replaced the oil cooling hose for no charge, since there was a case on the issue. However, they tried to give me crap about "impact marks" on the metal portions of the part replaced. I haven't hit anything since I purchased this vehicle and there wasn't anything on the carfax report. My service advisor then made comments about carfax and how they don't have every incident recorded. He sent me photos of the dents on either side of the part, so I'm not sure what that's from.

Either way, I'm stuck with my guys at the dealership, since I've been screwed over elsewhere in the past. This is my 8th vehicle and I've had most luck with keeping up proactive maintenance with recent cars. Will continue to do the same in the future.

I feel lucky compared to the other stories where people broke down on the side of the road with oil run dry. I'm going to NC next week, an 8 hr drive. Whew.

- , Riva, MD, USA

problem #2

Jun 272013

Highlander Sport 3.5L V6 (2gr-Fe)

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,116 miles

click to see larger images

rubber oil line broke rubber oil line broke

Engine began revving upon acceleration from a stop light. Engine warning light came on indicating low oil pressure. Quickly pulled into auto repair shop who found dipstick was dry. They poured oil into engine only to see it leaking out from below passenger side. Prior to this occurring, there had been no evidence of oil leakage at all.

Car was then towed to local toyota dealer. Dealer replaced oil cooler hose 15767-31010 which had failed (see photos) with 15767-31020 (all metal assembly). One of the hoses had developed a small (less than 1 cm leak). Replaced oil and restarted engine. Engine began making tapping sound and dealer recommended full engine replacement. Depending on option, quoted cost was between $7500 for a used toyota engine to $8300 for jarco engine (rebuilt). This occurred in South Carolina while we were vacationing from Maryland. Thankfully, we were not on the highway when the hose burst.

Decided to ship car home on flatbed to have local dealer give second opinion. After lead mechanic and service manager listened to engine, they recommended no additional maintenance. While a slight tapping can be heard with hood open, the tapping noise is not as noticeable now (500 miles later). Service Manager instructed me to check for oil leaks (none so far) and listen for change in engine noises. So far so good, keeping my fingers crossed. Confidence in car definitely shot, not to mention SC dealer....

Some additional information:

The single pipe oil hose was replaced in May 2010 under the SSC 90K recall at 33k miles. That is not the part that failed. This is the dual manifold rubber hose that Toyota has now replaced with an all metallic assembly. As far as I know, this part was never recalled, but there is a TSB 02011-11 available (describes possible oil seepage). If I had been aware of this potential problem with my HL, I would have taken proactive steps to have the part replaced. Toyota realizes that this problem is more serious than simple oil seepage. Otherwise, they wouldn't have completely redesigned the part and removed the rubber hoses. There are numerous posts online with customers detailing the same issue. Owners with the legacy oil cooler hose should consider proactive replacement for piece of mind.

- , Timonium, MD, USA

problem #1

Aug 122011

Highlander Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

Toyota claimed they had a recall on this rubber oil line in May of 2010, but we didn't get a notice. Had vehicle in the Toyota dealership in Daytona Beach, FL in August of 2010, but no mention of recall.

Toyota replaced the rubber line with a metal line on the 09 Highlander.

Now vehicle has been at Cox Toyota in Burlington, NC for 5 days, and still no answer from Toyota, and no offer of a loaner car.

Who would trust a car which is knocking and will probably cost $$$$ to fix, and don't yet if Toyota will cover.


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