Toyota Recall: Complete List of Recalls for the Toyota Highlander from 2002-2011

Duncan MacLeod Highlander


You know something, I will go on record and freely admit…the Toyota Highlander is one of my favourite vehicles, particularly the first generation. I’ve always liked more conservatively styled vehicles, I guess in an ironic way. Perhaps it’s because it looks a lot like the first-generation Subaru Forester, my all-time favourite wagon/crossover thingy. One could even speculate that this was Toyota’s answer to the Forester, long before it got into bed with Fuji Heavy Industries (Toyota owns 12% of the all-wheel drive automaker). Or even still…perhaps it answered a question no one asked.

But, over the years, like most Americans addicted to sugar, it’s gotten more and more obese…but the first generation Toyota Highlander will always have a special place in my heart. Who knows, maybe one day it’ll have a place in my garage.

But for now, onward with the task at hand. Just like all of the other ones, this is the complete list of recalls, ranging from 2002-2011. If you’re new to TDWU (hello, by the way!), you may not know why I’ve picked these particular years.

Basically, I’m going back 10 years for the total Toyota recall amount, because it represents the vast number of vehicles that are not only on the road still, but are also being bought and sold at various dealerships across the country. This particular list is especially helpful if you’re considering purchasing any generation of the Highlander.

Speaking of which, here’s a brief history of the began in 2001 as a crossover, based on the Toyota Camry. In essence, it is a Toyota Camry station wagon, albeit lifted off of the ground. Every girl’s wet dream, re: the Lexus RX series, is also based off of the Camry as well. It looks like Toyota pulled a Honda on us. Anyways, it comes in a variety of trims, from the Base model, to the Limited, and (added later in its model cycle) the Sport. There are two engines available: the four cylinder, and the six cylinder that has been upgraded a couple of times throughout the course of its life. It also comes in 2WD, or 4WD, as well as a hybrid for those that want to look like they’re really eco-friendly, whilst scoffing at those in their purely petrol vehicles. The nerve of those guys.

Although it was initially offered as a five-seater, once it grew a couple of extra seats with the redesign in 2007, the old five-seater was dropped in favour of the Toyota Venza, another Camry-based crossover that’s actually bigger than the first-generation Highlander. At this rate, look for all of the crossovers to be based off of the Camry. Heck, why not all of their vehicles!

But I digress…now that you’ve had the brief rundown, here’s the total Toyota recall list…read it and weep!

2005 Toyota Highlander


2002-04 Highlander: When rear door is closed very hard with child protection lock lever set to “lock” position, lever may contact body panel, causing lever to move into “unlock” position, which could allow door to be opened from the inside.

2003 Highlander in Southern states w/alloy wheels: Spare tire may require the use of a different style of wheel nut to attach it to the vehicle, and using the wrong lug nuts could lead to a loose wheel. Owners will be provided with different style lug nuts, a warning label for the spare re/alloy wheel, and an owner’s-manual addendum.

2004-2006 Highlander: If replacement brake fluid is used that does not contain certain polymers, or that contains only small amounts, a part of the rubber seal located at the rear of the brake master cylinder may become dry and a small amount of brake fluid could slowly leak from the seal into the brake booster. A leak of brake fluid could lead to a change in brake pedal feel and overtime, degradation in braking performance, increasing the risk of a crash. Dealers will replace the seal with a newly designed one. This service will be performed free of charge.

2004-2006 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid: If the forward retention clip used to secure the floor carpet cover, which is located in front of the center console, is not installed properly the cover may lean toward the accelerator pedal and interfere with the accelerator pedal arm. If this occurs, the accelerator pedal may temporarily become stuck in a partially depressed position rather than return to the idle position. A stuck accelerator pedal may result in unintended and sustained vehicle speeds and make it difficult to stop, increasing the risk of a vehicle crash. Dealers will replace the floor carpet cover with a newly designed one free or charge.

2006-2007 Highlander Hybrid passenger cars manufactured from February 16, 2005, through August 30, 2006: A module inside the inverter module may contain inadequately soldered transistors that during high-load driving, may be damaged by heat caused by the large current. If this occurs, various warning lamps, including the malfunction indicator lamp, slip indicator light, brake system warning light, and master warning light, will be illuminated on the instrument panel. The vehicle may enter a fail-safe/limp-home mode that limits the drivability of the vehicle. It is possible that the hybrid system will shut down while the vehicle is being driven, causing the vehicle to stall unexpectedly, increasing the risk of a crash. Toyota dealers will inspect the hybrid inverter production number to determine whether the inverter contains suspect transistors and replace the module free of charge.

2008 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid w/optional stainless steel exhaust tips: Due to improper heat treatment, original clamp used to secure exhaust tip to exhaust pipe may develop microscopic cracks, eventually causing clamp to break.

2008 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid: In the curtain shield airbag (CSA) system, there are two sensors in the airbag sensor assembly which are designed to detect vehicle roll angle. If one of these sensors malfunctions, the airbag warning light (malfunction indicator light: mil) will illuminate and the roll detection system will be suspended; however, the airbag CSA remains available in the event of a side crash. If both sensors fail nearly simultaneously after initial airbag system check, the CSA and the seat belt pretensioner could be inadvertently activated. Inadvertent activation of the CSA and/or the seat belt pretensioner can cause injury to a vehicle occupant. Toyota will replace the airbag sensor assembly with a new one containing improved roll rate sensors, free of charge.

2008 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid with third-row seat: Seatbelt’s Automatic Locking Retractor mode may deactivate before webbing is fully retracted, so it will not lock when certain rear-facing child seats are installed.

2008-10 2008 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid:: The accelerator pedal can get stuck in the wide-open position due to its being trapped by an unsecured or incompatible driver’s floor mat. This recall is an expansion of a campaign of 3.8 million other Toyota vehicles announced in 2009 for the same issue. Toyota will modify or replace the accelerator pedals on the subject vehicles.

2008-2009 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid: Some vehicles were not equipped with correct load carrying capacity modification labels.

2010 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid:: Due to the manner in which the friction lever interacts with the sliding surface of the accelerator pedal inside the pedal sensor assembly, the accelerator pedal may become hard to depress, slow to return to idle, or, in the worst case, mechanically stuck in a partially depressed position, increasing the risk of a crash. Dealers will install a reinforcement bar in the accelerator pedal, which will allow the pedal to operate smoothly.

That’s it folks, that is the total recall list for the Toyota Highlander. As always, if you think that your current vehicle (or the prospective vehicle that you’re thinking about buying) is affected, feel free to contact your local Toyota dealership. Especially the 2008 Toyota Highlander, which has garnered the most amount of recalls out of any year. In fact, just stay away from it altogether.

News Sources: Motor Trend and Consumer Guide Automotive

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