hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
72,576 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.

2009 Toyota Highlander engine problems

engine problem

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2009 Toyota Highlander Owner Comments

problem #11

Sep 192016


  • 105,000 miles


2009 Highlander, purchased new, had 105000 miles on 3.5L V6 engine. Oil changed every 7000 miles, fully synthetic. No warning lights or engine noises prior to incident. Car started after work, drove.6 mile. Started running very rough, pulled over to shoulder thinking I had a flat tire. Car died before finishing maneuver, coasted to shoulder. Engine would not start. Towed to repair shop, they diagnosed "engine fully seized up". contacted Toyota, they offered no satisfaction as " car not being repaired by dealer, not under warranty". I find this answer to be wrong, due to low mileage, history of maintenance, no reason for catastrophic failure of engine. Mechanic stated theory of "oil ports clogging up", since heard theory of "oil pump failure".

- St Louis, MO, USA

problem #10

Mar 102016


  • 150,267 miles
March 10, 2016 vehicle was taken to dealer for oil change. Parked vehicle after return home (10 miles drive between dealership and home) same day and after a few hours, noticed all oil had leaked from vehicle. Vehicle was towed back to dealer that day. Upon investigation dealer said the problem was the oil cooler pipe. Dealer said Toyota issued a technical service bulletin T-sb-0201-11 over 5 years prior that issued a repair procedure to replace this oil cooler pipe. Dealer replaced oil cooler pipe under warranty per technical service bulletin and assured me that no damage to the engine was "apparent" after the repair. July 18, 2016 returned to same dealer for a problem with the engine making a loud knocking sound upon fast acceleration. Dealer diagnosed problem as a rod knock and confirmed it was due to the oil cooler pipe leak from March. The repair involves replacing the engine an extensive and very expensive repair. Toyota needs to make this technical service bulletin problem a recall to avoid unnecessary engine damage and potential safety hazard to the 533500 estimated vehicles included in the bulletin.

- Red Hook, NY, USA

problem #9

Mar 242011


  • 45,000 miles
The water pump went on my Toyota highland. I looked it up online and found out the water pumps are faulty and will make a sound like there is gravel in the motor. I had Toyota fix the problem under warranty, but I looked online and found that other people have the same problem. Should be looked into due to being bad pumps.

- Ashburn, VA, USA

problem #8

Aug 072015


  • 111,503 miles


Noticed large oil puddle in driveway. Had car towed as oil loss could have caused fatal damage to the engine. The oil line was diagnosed as dry rotted and needed to be replaced. The replacement oil line was vastly different than that of the original line indicating a problem with the previous design. The leak began while driving and we were able to trace the oil for miles leading home. The oil indicator light did not come on to warn of low oil. Toyota did recall other vehicles for the same problem however not this particular make and model. After talking to Toyota's recall department I was told if I had had the repairs taken care of at a Toyota dealership I may have been able to be reimbursed slightly (a percentage of the bill) however since I used the shop of my choice there is no option for any reimbursement.

- Anderson, SC, USA

problem #7

Aug 062015


  • 75,000 miles
August 6, 2015 I was driving northbound on hwy 45. After about 20 minutes on the road my 2009 Toyota Highlander began to smoke, the oil pressure warning light came on and I pulled over to the side of the road. Within a few minutes, black smoke was pouring out from underneath the hood. Within another minute or two the SUV was on fire and soon the front half was completely engulfed in flames. I thought it would explode. Two milwaukee fire department teams arrived and extinguished the fire. Thank god no one was hurt and my children were not in the car. Accident report bmz14xn was filed with milwaukee county. Prior to the fire that totaled the Highlander, an emergency repair was made to the Highlander on November 3, 2014. That night the engine began to make a strange noise and the oil warning light went on. I pulled into the nearest auto repair shop; the tech said if I drove any further the engine would have been severely damaged because there was no oil left. The engine coolant pipe sprung a leak and all of the oil poured out of my car. That was the first time my Highlander lost all of its oil because of a faulty oil coolant pipe- the second time it resulted in an engine fire. In December 2014 I received a letter from Toyota stating they reimburse for repairs related to leaking oil or engine damage. Toyota dealers received technical service bulletin (tsb) #tsb-020-11 indicating the replacement part should be metal; not rubber which is what I had. I mentioned the emergency repair twice when I went in for service to jack safro Toyota. Neither time did a service tech suggest that the oil coolant pipe be checked to make sure it was correctly repaired. I believe this was a major oversight on the part of the service department and that Toyota should recall the oil coolant pipe. The faulty part is on 2007-2010 Highlanders and other Toyota vehicles.

- Brookfield, WI, USA

problem #6

Jul 122015


  • 71,000 miles
We were traveling down a state route highway at 50 mph when suddenly we lost power to the car, we were between two mac trucks, and the oil light started flashing. We had to quickly get off the roadway (no breakdown lanes) and find a safe spot to stop on some grass. The rubber oil line had cracked/ruptured and drained the oil from the car rapidly causing the engine to lose power and make noise. I found out online that this is a known issue but no recall has been done as Toyota claims this is not safety issue. However, in my case it was very much a safety issue as this happened on a highway in rapid succession with no safe place to leave the roadway.

- Concord, NH, USA

problem #5

Jan 302015


  • 78,000 miles


Massive oil leak from oil cooler line of 2009 Toyota Highlander with tow package at ~78,000 miles. Rubber hoses burst and oil leaked out from engine.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #4

Aug 032013

Highlander 4-cyl

  • 15,000 miles
While driving down the expressway with the family (50mph), check engine light and traction control suddenly turn on and flicker on and off randomly. Engine power hesitates. At the stoplight, check engine light continues to turn on, and off randomly, as well as traction control light. Engine appears to be stalling at times, and RPM bounces between 500-900. Acceleration when pressing against gas pedal results in uneven acceleration. Pulled vehicle off to the side, turned engine off, and examined vehicle. Examined vehicle and do not see anything suspicious. Turned vehicle back on, and check engine light with traction control off. Moments later, lights turn back on. Limped vehicle back to residence via local roads. Continued to experience intermittent on/off check engine light and traction control. After arriving at residence, parked vehicle and performed additional examination. Noticed burning smell at rear brake shoes, possibly from traction control holding on to brakes. Will bring car to dealership on 08/05/13 first thing in the morning.

- Santa Clara, CA, USA

problem #3

Jun 232013

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 75,000 miles
I'm contacting you about an issue recently encountered on my 2009 Highlander. The oil hose attachment located at the bottom of the car had pin size hole that pushed all the oil out of my car. The oil hose is in a location that would not be exposed to any element. I truly feel that this is a manufacture defect but can't find recall information on the site. I had the car towed to the dealership that said this part will take up to 3 weeks to receive. They also had a few other Toyota cars in repair for the same issue. This is alarming since it looks like a known issue and the hose location is not exposed. The dealership also told me once repaired they don'T know the extent of the damage since the oil was drained out at fast pace. Please look into this issue and help protect others that might not be aware of this defect.

- Des Plaines, IL, USA

problem #2

Apr 042013

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 72,566 miles
T-sb-0201-11 from Toyota states "some vehicles equipped with 2gr-fe/fxe towing package engines may exhibit an oil seep from the engine oil cooler pipes." This tsb affects Toyota and Lexus vehicles going back to at least 2008-present. This is a major issue, and I feel this should be handled as a recall instead of a tsb due to the severity of the issue if/when the pipe breaks. I recently elected to have my vehicle repaired on my own just so I wouldn't have to worry about this issue happening to me or my wife, and thus blowing up my Highlander's engine causing thousands of dollars in damages. Seems pretty bad that a recall can be issued for floor mats and accelerator issues, but no recall is issued for this issue which can drain the oil from your engine in a minute, blow up your engine, and then possibly wreck your vehicle. Consumer's engines are now being destroyed, and this is showing up in different online forums. I feel that the NHTSA needs to force Toyota to replace all of the defective engine oil cooler pipes with the newer metal ones that the tsb addresses. They should also be forced to reimburse all costs to those individuals that either needed to have the repair done, or decided to preventatively have the repair done on their own before those pipes burst on their own.

- Lexington, SC, USA

problem #1

Mar 282013


  • miles
Toyota has issued a T-sb-0201-11 which states "some vehicles equipped with 2gr-fe/fxe towing package engines may exhibit an oil seep from the engine oil cooler pipes." This affects Toyota and Lexus vehicles going back to at least 2008-present. This should have been handled as a recall vs. A T-sb with a defined expiration date because consumers engines are being destroyed when this 'seep' occurs. This happens with a minute and all of the engine oil is left on the road and the engine is destroyed. Imagine a family who's driving along the highway, their engine stops working and an 18-wheeler rear ends them. That is why the NHTSA needs to force Toyota to replace all of the defective engine oil cooler pipes with the metal ones that the T-sb addressee.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

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