2004 Highlander - Dashboard lights staying on requiring rear axle replacement - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums
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#1 Old 01-14-2014, 05:33 PM
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2004 Highlander - Dashboard lights staying on requiring rear axle replacement

Hello All,
We have a 2004 Toyota Highlander (4-wheel drive, Limited edition) in good shape/running condition that has served us well over 10 years and 107,000 miles so far.

A couple of days ago we found that the dashboard lights (for VSC, Brake, ABS and Tire Pressure) stayed on even after the engine was started. We drove it home and did not feel the car behaving abnormally in any way. So, we assumed that it was some problem with the electronics/dashboard.

When we took the vehicle into a Toyota dealership yesterday, they informed us that the right rear ABS Sensor was broken and that the “Star Wheel” that it attaches to had broken off from the axle (due to normal wear and tear). And, that this Star Wheel, which would normally be welded to the axle, was freewheeling and messing up the ABS sensor and other electronics – hence the incorrect displays on the dashboard. The Service Advisor then mentioned that the fix was to replace the right rear axle (Toyota Part - $850) and the ABS sensor (Toyota Part - $250). He also strongly suggested that we not drive the vehicle around since it might lead to more serious damage.

Since the suggested repair involved significant cost ($1700 including labor), I am reaching out to this forum to get some advice:
1) Does the replacement of the rear axle seem like a reasonable solution to the problem?
2) When I went to a local car repair shop (he is supposed to be reputable), he said that a brand new after-market axle would run about $140. Is it safe/OK to use an after-market axle for this vehicle?
3) Are the concerns with continuing to drive the vehicle well founded? What are the risks in doing it?

We are trying to decide between going to a dealer and going to a local repair shop and determine how we should factor in the age of the vehicle in that decision – any help/advice is greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
SPSGP
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#2 Old 01-14-2014, 07:00 PM
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You do hear of ABS rings that come loose from the hub and cause havoc. Many replacement hubs come with the ring attached. I would not hesitate to use an good quality after-market hub.

Replacing the axle would seem overkill.

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#3 Old 01-15-2014, 08:05 AM
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ABS Ring broken - needs axle replacement?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AVConsult View Post
You do hear of ABS rings that come loose from the hub and cause havoc. Many replacement hubs come with the ring attached. I would not hesitate to use an good quality after-market hub.

Replacing the axle would seem overkill.

Thank you AV Consult for the advice.
I am surprised that the dealer did not give us that option - replace hub as opposed to replace axle. We have been using the dealer for a while - so, we tend to trust him (maybe misplaced :-()
Armed with this, I will call them and definitely ask the question explicitly (why can this not be addressed by replacing the hub?) before deciding on taking it elsewhere.

Thanks again.

SPSGP
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#4 Old 01-15-2014, 09:28 AM
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I'd get away from the dealer; use them for warranty or complex issues only. In other words, use them only where some specialty Toyota test or repair equipment is required, which an independent might not have.

From what you've described, any competent independent shop can do this for a fraction of the dealer cost.

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#5 Old 01-15-2014, 02:08 PM
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Agree with the 2nd opinion. This is a major investment and worth the 2nd look. Take it to a reputable shop with Toyota as specialty.

01 Highlander Bluestone Metallic 2.4L pushing 208K
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#6 Old 01-15-2014, 07:44 PM
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I believe the sensor ring is integral to the axle, not the hub.

So unless I'm misunderstanding something, replacing the hub will not take care of the problem:



As for input into aftermarket axles, I've never used them, but lots of people do and they seem to work fine. YMMV.
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#7 Old 01-15-2014, 11:31 PM
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Oops, I missed the AWD part. My 2WD has ring gear on the hub. Also was not picturing the CV shaft as the "axle". Good catch OV.

As for aftermarket half-shafts, a good REMANUFACTURED unit works fine. Have used them several times.

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#8 Old 01-16-2014, 07:27 AM
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Thank you all for your valuable/helpful advice. We have identified a recommended independent repair shop (happen to be a NAPA Autocare Center) in our town and will be taking in the vehicle to them tomorrow for a look/diagnosis and estimate. Hoping that they can do it for somewhat less than the dealer's quote of $1700.
Thanks again.
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#9 Old 01-16-2014, 07:34 AM
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No prob.

I'm still hung up on the part where the sensor ring came loose off the end of the axle. I've not looked myself, but I would be surprised if it was welded into place. I know the dealer said the welds broke loose, but I'm thinking that it was probably just a press fit. But still!! Flopping around in there and chewing everything up?

Nobody heard a thing???

Out of curiosity, was the car ever accidently driven with the parking brake on?
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#10 Old 01-16-2014, 10:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oveur Engineer View Post
No prob.

I'm still hung up on the part where the sensor ring came loose off the end of the axle. I've not looked myself, but I would be surprised if it was welded into place. I know the dealer said the welds broke loose, but I'm thinking that it was probably just a press fit. But still!! Flopping around in there and chewing everything up?

Nobody heard a thing???

Out of curiosity, was the car ever accidently driven with the parking brake on?

We were certainly not hearing any noises. The way the service advisor at the dealership described it to me was "the star wheel (which I imagine is the same as the sensor ring that you have alluded to) weld to the axle is broken and the star wheel is freewheeling causing the ABS senor to misread".

As for driving with the parking brake on, not that I can recall. Curious though as to your train of thought the connection between that the problem that we are seeing?

Thanks again.

SPSGP
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#11 Old 01-16-2014, 02:33 PM
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hmmm, with a wild presumption the ring self centers on the shaft, and there is nothing wrong with the CV joints, *I'd* be tempted to line the ring back up with the broken welds and weld the ring back in place.

If not, half-shafts are $55 at RockAuto. The majority of the cost would be in the labor to swing the hub away replace the shaft and re-assemble. $400 or so?

EDIT: + $120 (plus shop markup) for a new ring sensor if the ring gear pummeled it.

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Last edited by AVConsult; 01-16-2014 at 02:40 PM.
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#12 Old 01-16-2014, 08:38 PM
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The train of thought about the parking brake was that if the ring was pressed on and not welded on, then driving with the parking brake on may have heated up the end of the axle expanding the pressed on ring enough for it to slip off it's mount. Analogous to "Putting a ring gear on a flywheel"

I'm just musing a little trying to come up with possible explanations as to how your car ended up the way it is. I'm an engineer. We do that.

However, if the ring was in fact originally welded in place, then I've got no explanation as to why the weld(s) would fail and the ring would come loose.
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#13 Old 01-16-2014, 10:48 PM
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Found a fairly decent photo of the front axle with the ring gear; that ring sits on a narrow shoulder of the largest circumference leading to the CV housing. Ring does look press fit, although there are some dark marks/blemishes near the ring/shaft interface. If the ring came loose, it would certainly wobble/whip around as the shaft shoulders down towards the spline.

Sure makes more sense--now that I'm paying attention-- why Toyota was quoting $1700; full retail on the CV shaft (axle), sensor, full book labor...maybe other stuff. They don't call 'em stealers for nothing.

spsgp--please report back. Too many leave a thread hanging with no solution.

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#14 Old 01-29-2014, 07:18 PM
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Thank you to AVConsult, Oveur Engineer and others for your advice/guidance.

The good news is that we did get the problem fixed at an independent repair shop for $700 (as opposed to the $1700 quote from the dealer). He did end up replacing the ABS Sensor (Toyota part) as well as the right rear axle (after-market) since the sensor ring was broken.

The bad news is that we have another problem now (I imagine unrelated):

When my wife was driving the car this afternoon, she heard a "clonk" sound as she was making a right turn and then the pressing the accelerator did not move the car (as if it was in Neutral). Putting the car into Park causes a grinding noise (as if gears ares slipping instead of engaging). And, we need to use the brake the prevent car from rolling. Additionally, the Check Engine and VSC lights stay on in the dashboard.

Plan to take it into the same repair shop tomorrow and see if we can get a diagnosis.

Any thoughts/opinions from the experts in this forum on what might be going on?

Thanks again for all your help.

SPSGP
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