fairly significant
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
13,027 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.

2012 Toyota Highlander engine problems

engine problem

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2012 Toyota Highlander Owner Comments

problem #7

Jun 082014

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 45,000 miles


Vehicle got stuck in shallow wet sand, within less than a couple mins of attempts to move forward and backward by spinning wheels, the car started smoking and became fully engulfed in flames. It was a total loss. The issue is the little that it took to start a fire like this - perhaps some component needs to have safety feature added or stern warning communicated and posted in the car of this danger. We learned that lesson the very hard way. Internet searches after the fact show occurrences of this same scenario on ice, etc on modern cars.

- Shady Shores, TX, USA

problem #6

Jan 232013

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 9,900 miles
While parked at a curbside, with engine idling, I spontaneously decided to adjust my tilt steering column (up/down) to see if there was a more comfortable position to drive. When I moved the column down for the first time (I had never tried to adjust the position previously, since I bought the car one year earlier), the car's engine immediately shut off. I could not re-start the engine and all I kept thinking was thank-goodness I was not driving, as I had lost engine, steering and braking power. The recent headlines about GM's ignition switch problems and drivers suddenly losing control while driving made me realize that I could have easily been in a similar catastrophic loss of control situation, because of the tilt-steering problem I encountered. I thank the stars that I was not driving or on a highway when this occurred. My car had to be towed to the dealer for repair. Apparently, an ignition switch wire somehow became detached or broken due to my single tilt action. Scary indeed.

- Massapequa Park, NY, USA

problem #5

May 182013


  • 18,800 miles
I was stopped at an intersection (red light) and was needing to make a left turn. The light turned green but this intersection does not have a green arrow so you have to yield to the oncoming traffic. As I proceeded forwarded a little bit into the middle of the intersection so I could make my left turn, I slowed down to almost a stop because there were too many cars and I couldn't turn at that moment. Then there was a window of opportunity for me to turn shortly after I slowed down almost to a stop and I stepped on the gas to go, then nothing happened. The vehicle just paused for about 2 or 3 seconds and then suddenly jumped forward. My wife was in the car and she thought it was me mashing on the accelerator pedal but I didn't, it's just that the vehicle didn't do anything and then suddenly jumped forward! luckily when this delay happened, I wasn't in the oncoming traffics lane, nor were there any oncoming traffic close at that moment. At the time this happened, I even thought maybe it was me not giving the vehicle enough gas, but it happened again about a month later. This is when I did a google search for delayed acceleration and I came upon other's who have mentioned the exact same thing happening with their Toyota vehicles as well. Please look into this as this is very dangerous. This vehicle is less than two years old and I've read that others have had this problem with their older Toyota vehicles. I've even read that Toyota knows of the issue already but they have no fix"???"

- Grand Prairie, TX, USA

problem #4

Jun 162013

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 5,787 miles


On February 4, 2013 the Highlander accelerated three consecutive times. Turned off the engine each time and engine accelerated when coming to a stop each time. On June 16, 2013 the Highlander engine accelerated as the car was slowing down before it came to a stop. We have had acceleration problems with two Highlanders and two Camry and no answers from Toyota as to why accept for them to try and blame it on driver error. When a car is at a stop and accelerating on its own then there is no driver error. Please help us. [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Rockville Centre, NY, USA

problem #3

Feb 042013

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 5,700 miles
When stopping the auto on 3 occasions the engine began racing very strongly....updated 02/07/13 however, while the Highlander was being checked, the consumer and her husband experienced sudden acceleration while driving a Toyota Camry loaner, causing a crash and personal injury. Updatd 02/11/13

- Rockville Centre, NY, USA

problem #2

Aug 032012

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 1,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Toyota Highlander. The contact stated that while driving approximately 35 mph and steering to the right, the engine suddenly emitted an abnormal noise. The contact also stated that the headlights would not shut off intermittently when powering off the vehicle. In addition, the defroster for the rear window would not function properly, causing the windows to remain foggy for a long period of time. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing where the technician advised that there were no failures. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and advised the contact that the vehicle was not included in any recalls. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 1,000 and the current mileage was 3,300. Updated 1/29/13

- Yonkers, NY, USA

problem #1

May 232012

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 5,000 miles
My Highlander was at the airport for three days parked. When I was leaving the lot I was driving slow in the lot to pay my parking. When I got out of the lot to main stream traffic I tried to accelerate and the car would only go slow as I kept pushing the throttle. There were cars on both sides of me with no one in front and then the car just took off. It did startle me because I was not expecting this. Thank god no one was in front of me because I am sure I would not have reacted fast enough to stop because of the rapid acceleration. Something is wrong with the throttle in these vehicles. I did not take it in because I am sure they would not have been able to reproduce the problem. This has only happen once and I hope it doesn't happen again.

- Coraopolis, PA, USA

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