really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
4 / 0
Average Mileage:
61,354 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 Hybrid engine problems

engine problem

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2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Owner Comments

problem #16

Nov 102015

Highlander Hybrid

  • 115,000 miles


While driving ABS, vsc and check engine light illuminated, I continued driving (was 10 miles from home on fwy). Five minutes later I encountered traffic, traveling at 40-50 mph I took foot off gas and began to apply brakes. Brakes immediately seized and the car started to skid. I released the brakes, then tried again, same result. I pulled to side of fwy and stopped. I drove surface streets using the parking brake when I needed to stop, until I got to my house. That evening and the next morning I checked toe cars operation, it didn't matter if I was traveling in fwd or reverse, the brakes immediately grabbed at the slightest application of the pedal. I took the car to a repair shop, he witnessed the same circumstance and did a computer diagnosis, which indicated a new brake actuator unit was needed ($3000). My primary concern (and my mechanic's) was that there was no fail safe, if the unit malfunctioned I would expect the ABS system not to work, not to make the braking system completely inoperable. I narrowly avoided being rear-ended when they malfunctioned on the fwy. I reported the problem to Toyota motor as well (case #1511120583)

- Beaverton, OR, USA

problem #15

Sep 062015

Highlander Hybrid

  • 111,141 miles
While trying to get back on the freeway, the indicator lights for the ABS system, the vsb system, the 4WD system and anti-skid system came on and the vehicle lost all drive power. It defaulted to failsafe/limp mode even though the engine was still running. The car will start and move but within 60 seconds reverts to fail safe mode.

- Clarksville, TN, USA

problem #14

Mar 042015

Highlander Hybrid 6-cyl

  • 143,000 miles
While pulling into a parking lot I heard a loud warning indicator inside the car and immediately noticed that I lost ability to brake. I was only traveling 10 mph or less when this occurred and was able to slowly roll into a parking space. The ABS, vsc, and stability control lights were already on, and had been for months. Fred haas Toyota dealer in houston, tx area recommended having the ABS actuator replaced at a cost of $2700 for the part plus tax and labor. The braking seemed to work fine so I continued to drive the vehicle. This latest incident disabled the brakes almost entirely so I had to address the problem. Now fred haas Toyota says its the brake pump and worn brake pads. These were replaced at over $2600 and the brakes seem to be working as well as before. But of course, all of the warning lights have now turned back on and fred haas still wants to replace the ABS actuator at $2700 plus tax and labor. I see that the world wide web has hundreds of examples of consumers in my predicament and even a few complaints over the years on this site. Can this finally be thoroughly investigated please?

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #13

Oct 132014

Highlander Hybrid 6-cyl

  • 107,263 miles


Driving at a speed of approximately 40 mph and slowing down for a stop sign. Vsc, ABS, and brake malfunction warning lights came on. Brakes functioned, but dealer said that the accumulator and booster assemblies need to be replaced.

- Temnpe, AZ, USA

problem #12

Dec 242013

Highlander Hybrid

  • 70,000 miles
After purchasing the car (our first hybrid) we noticed that the brakes were acting different when slowing; while slowing down to stop at a stop light or sign or to slow in traffic, if the car is under 30 mph and hits a bump the brakes will release (while your foot is on the brakes) and the car will lunge forward even though your foot is pressing down and has not been released. This has happened over the past year and no one can seem to figure out the problem. The brakes are new and several forums have been read in regards to trying to figure out the issue. It seems that several hybrids experience the same issues. Braking under 30, the car will hit a bump, brakes will release causing the car to lunge forward and possibly causing an accident. It has happened enough that our family is considering trading in the car. We have almost been in 10 plus accidents because we are almost stopped at the stop sign and the car hits a bump and accelerates into traffic coming from the left/right. With children in the back seat, this is a huge concern. We have sent Toyota an email asking for inspection, however they said they would just like to have our dealer look at it, however they have not been noted of this issue in the past, when clearly there are hundreds of others that are having the same issues and they have been in accidents. I find it very difficult to believe that acceleration/break release when hitting a bump causing the car to lunge forward into moving traffic is a safety concern when the brakes are perfectly good. We will be trading in the vehicle if something is not done about it shortly, not only are we worried about our family but we are also worried about others who could be involved. This issue has nothing to do with the brakes, they are good, and the issue is still re-occurring.

- Edwards, IL, USA

problem #11

Mar 102013

Highlander Hybrid 6-cyl

  • 116,992 miles
I was driving from Maryland back home to New Jersey and the vehicle could not accelerate or move at all when in gears. The engine was on, however the car stopped moving. I was on backroads with low visibility so neighbors and others came out immediately to push the car off the road so it would not create an accident. It was towed to the dealership and was told that it was a faulty inverter on the hybrid system. After researching, I found that the previous years models were recalled, however 2008 model was not. But as I do the research, it appears that numerous buyers of this model have had the same issue.

- Mendham, NJ, USA

problem #10

Nov 022011

Highlander Hybrid

  • 88,000 miles


The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Highlander hybrid. The contact stated that while driving 35 mph, the vehicle hesitated while engaging the brakes. As a result, the vehicle suddenly accelerated abnormally. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who was unable to duplicate the failure. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure who did not offer any assistance. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was 88,000 and the current mileage was 89,000.

- Bend, OR, USA

problem #9

Dec 112011

Highlander Hybrid

  • 58,805 miles
I was on a slight incline, as I was approaching a traffic light, I hit the brakes. While I thought the vehicle was going to stop, it began to accelerate. I hit the brakes numerous times and eventually came to a stop. When I brought my vehicle to Toyota, they simply dismissed the issue indirectly saying I didn't know how to drive. I was then lowballed when I attempted to sell the vehicle back to them. I've noticed [xxx] has been able to recreate the incident. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Bronx, NY, USA

problem #8

May 292010

Highlander Hybrid

  • 49,000 miles
Unintended acceleration of 2008 Toyota Highlander hybrid while parking car. Foot was on the brake the whole time, eased up on brake to coast into parking space and accelerator engaged. Stomped on brake and car stopped, by then had climbed up curb onto sidewalk.

- Morrison, CO, USA

problem #7

May 242008

Highlander Hybrid

  • miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Highlander hybrid. The contact stated that when driving over bumps at approximately 20 mph, the vehicle momentarily surges forward. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealership where the contact was informed they could not duplicate the failure. The failure continued to occur. The failure mileage was unknown. The current mileage was approximately 20,000.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #6

Feb 182010

Highlander Hybrid

  • 21,280 miles


Accelerator pedal sticking - Toyota Highlander hybrid 2008 (not recalled!) on 2/18/10, my accelerator got stuck while driving. I have been driving for 30 years, and I know how to drive, so please spare me Toyota! also, my car is not even on the recall list yet!!!! I accelerated quickly from a stopped position. Once the accelerator was released, the vehicle continued to race. I hit the brake, put car in neutral, and the vehicle stopped moving. About 3 seconds later, and without touching the accelerator, (the accelerator was not stuck to the mat, and in its released position) I put the car back into drive. The car once again began to race forward. I put the car in neutral again (it stopped once again), waited 20 seconds, and back in drive, it was then ok. The pedal did not get stuck to the floor mat as Toyota claims could happen. The floor mat in my car was no where near the path of the pedal. I was able to drive the car home, albeit very carefully! the scary part, is that Toyota did not recall this vehicle for this problem! I bought the car to the dealer the same day, and they were a bit nonchalant about this, and also told me they did not find a problem, and there was nothing they could do about it, which really concerns me! also, my call to Toyota corporation was taken very loosely, and they did not seem to have much concern, except to tell me to remove my floor mats.

- Fairfax, VA, USA

problem #5

Feb 132010

Highlander Hybrid

  • 7,986 miles
2008 Toyota Highlander hybrid limited accelerated while pulling into my driveway and before I could stop vehicle I hit a frozen snow drift with the right front side. Damage occurred to vehicle and I hurt my back. This happened once.

- Eatontown, NJ, USA

problem #4

Jan 222010

Highlander Hybrid

  • 58,000 miles
My cruise control zooms out of control without any initiative from me. It's a very random problem, but dangerous and frightening.

- Forest Lake, MN, USA

problem #3

Dec 162009

Highlander Hybrid

  • 11,000 miles
While pulling out of a parking lot onto a busy street I pressed the accelerator hard at which time it became stuck. I tried braking hard but the car continued to accelerate at which time I remembered hearing about a recall involving floor mats. I yanked the floor mat back while continuing to brake and shortly thereafter the car stopped accelerating. I would estimate it was stuck for about 5 seconds, maybe a quarter mile distance. After returning home and moving the floor mat around I do not see how it could have been up under the gas pedal and if it was how it could have interfered with the operation of the gas pedal. The floor mat is a vinyl/plastic, rigid, relatively thin and bought aftermarket (not the carpet floor mat that came with the car). I removed the floor mat altogether. Reading about the latest recall prompted me to file this report even though no accident was caused nor damage done to the vehicle.

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #2

Sep 112009

Highlander Hybrid

  • 16,000 miles
To whom it may concern, on September 11th, 2009 we drove from orange county to kernville for a weekend trip. 120 miles into our journey we were O in the mojave desert on highway 395 when I overtook another car at approximately 75miles per hour. As I got back into lane, I attempted to depress the brake to slow back down but the car continued to accelerate. My wife was sitting beside me. Perplexed, I looked down at the pedals and told my wife the car would nor slow down, as I continued to try and depress the brake pedal. At each attempt to decelerate the engine whined alarmingly but the car continued to accelerate. I tried several times to press and release the accelerator followed by returning my foot to the brake. At no time did the accelerator pedal appear to be hindered or restricted in anyway. The car continued to accelerate. At 95miles per hour I forced down both the brake pedal and the emergency/ hand brake at the same time forcing the car to slow down, all the while the engine continued to rev up. As we approached stopping saskia pushed the gear stick into park and we bounced and shuddered to a halt. It was terrifying. The children did not understand what was going on and were completely panicked by the situation, screaming and crying as we tried to stop the car. Both saskia and I were visibly shaken. We took a short brake and then gingerly attempted to move forward again. The car appeared to be working and we slowly accelerated back on to the highway attempting several times to stop and brake to make sure that the car was working properly. It was immediately apparent that the brakes were not working properly though still functional. They were taking longer to stop and there was a grinding sound and shuddering very time we tried to slow down. We were much closer to our destination than to home and decided it made sense to continue and hope that we could call the dealer the next day.

- North Tustin, CA, USA

problem #1

Jul 012008

Highlander Hybrid

  • 8,200 miles
Came to a complete stop on a neighborhood street to allow a car out of their driveway. My 2008 Toyota highlander Highlander hybrid (with 8000 miles) made a hissing or whistling type sound and just accelerated. ( I was at a stop) we went about 150 ft (according to the insurance investigator) and went right into a tree. I was released from the hospital that evening but my passenger is severely injured. My ins investigator suggest I ask you if there are any other circumstances like this.?? the truck is totaled. My investigator wants to get a court order to have the "black box" released that gathers information.

- Meriden , CT, USA

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