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2021 Highlander Hybrid Platinum not braking properly

27313 Views 105 Replies 47 Participants Last post by  OmniGLHS
It doesn’t happen all the time but when I go to apply the brakes, it’s as if it doesn’t engage. Like I haven’t applied the brakes yet. Then after a second or two it will engage after I applied a lot harder because I’m freakin out because it didn’t respond when I first applied them. Does this happen to anyone else? Thank you all in advance!
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'21 Venza xle '20 Highlander Pl
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I second the opinion that what you describe does not sound right and needs to be checked out. The transition from regenerative to hydraulic braking is imperceptible on my hybrid.
The difference is there whether you feel it or not, just may not feel it if you're using a proper braking technique.

I can feel it or not feel it in my hybrid under the right circumstances. Especially if I goose around playing with the brake pedal while watching the ECO meter trying to save a ml. of gas.
 

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My wife just experienced this as well and asked me to look into it, which is how I got here (Google search of the symptoms). A "pause" in low speed braking in our 2020 Highlander Hybrid, and sometimes the pedal is soft at start, so the car needs restarted and then the pedal seems to firm up again. Definitely doesn't seem normal. I am going to try to reproduce it.
 

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Hi All - I am having the same issues on a 2020 hybrid highlander: occasional startling gaps of about 1 second when coming to a halt or when turning while braking (e.g. when turning at a stop light while simultaneously braking to slow). Am curious if anyone has had a dealer come up with a fix. I haven't noticed the pedal softness, but don't drive the car as much as my wife. The car has less than 5000 miles on it. Am slated to bring it in later this month for a service, so will see what they have to say about the brakes.
 

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My money is on No recall, No TSB and No dealer service. Want to eliminate possibility of a recurrance.....buy a gas Highlander.

Hybrids stop differently slow stop uses the electrics which only have limited assist and once it poops out at max assist if the driver dead foot's at that point braking will appear to fade, so one better be ready to push harder to kick in the hydraulics. Change in angular momentum during a turn, uphill or downhill slopes, condition of roadway, whether ICE is running or in EV mode will all have a subtle effect. Adapt and work the pedal properly and braking transition will appear seamless.

As far as firmness of brake on initial start...gas models too....sometimes hard and requires more pressure....all depends upon how much residual boost remains in the power brake assembly and gradual bleed down of assist pressure if the vehcile sits for an extended period of time. Shut the vehcile off and press the brake pedal a few times to exhaust any remaining power boost and if normal a soft pedal will firm up and require mode pressure for a start.
 

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2022 Highlander Platinum - Wind Chill Pearl
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It doesn’t happen all the time but when I go to apply the brakes, it’s as if it doesn’t engage. Like I haven’t applied the brakes yet. Then after a second or two it will engage after I applied a lot harder because I’m freakin out because it didn’t respond when I first applied them. Does this happen to anyone else? Thank you all in advance!
Brake sooner or don't drive so close to people. :)

Remember is 3 seconds between you and the person in front of you in the cities and 2 seconds on the highways base on normal driving conditions.
 

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My money is on No recall, No TSB and No dealer service. Want to eliminate possibility of a recurrance.....buy a gas Highlander.

Hybrids stop differently slow stop uses the electrics which only have limited assist and once it poops out at max assist if the driver dead foot's at that point braking will appear to fade, so one better be ready to push harder to kick in the hydraulics. Change in angular momentum during a turn, uphill or downhill slopes, condition of roadway, whether ICE is running or in EV mode will all have a subtle effect. Adapt and work the pedal properly and braking transition will appear seamless.

As far as firmness of brake on initial start...gas models too....sometimes hard and requires more pressure....all depends upon how much residual boost remains in the power brake assembly and gradual bleed down of assist pressure if the vehcile sits for an extended period of time. Shut the vehcile off and press the brake pedal a few times to exhaust any remaining power boost and if normal a soft pedal will firm up and require mode pressure for a start.
Like you said likely no recall but if anything Toyota will provide some kind of software fix for it.
 

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Not expecting a recall or the like, but interested in the fix. This is not a trivial issue - it very much feels like the brakes have gone out for a second. I have had multiple hybrids with regen brakes and have have worked on cars for many (too many!) years. To suggest that this is normal is to shift the blame from the software to the driver. For the average driver (my wife for instance), these occurrences are scary. They are unpredictable in occurrence and are not solely during 'hard' braking. Further, it is during hard braking when they are scariest (imagine needing to brake hard and while you are doing so there is a moment when if feels like the brakes have gone out). Bottom line is they lead to a lack of confidence in the car. The fact that there are just a handful of cases of people discussing this suggests that most hybrid highlanders don't have this issue. I think if they did there would long since have been an effort to address it.
 

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Brake sooner or don't drive so close to people. :)

Remember is 3 seconds between you and the person in front of you in the cities and 2 seconds on the highways base on normal driving conditions.
The 2-3 rules are for hydraulic braking. Given this limit it is irresponsible to play around with a light pedal on a hybrid trying to squeeze every milliwatt out of the regenerative braking because additional time needed to convert for the discs to apply friction with further brake pressure eats into braking time. And those playing with a slow coast for thousands of feet to a stop to do the same are equally irresponsible causing other drivers to shift lanes to get away from the slower hybrid dead footer.

I bought a Rav hybrid for the increased hp over the gas, whereas the Highlander is deficient in this area, its hybrid providing less hp than the gas. Toyota hybrids are designed to drive 'em like you forgot they are hybrids, not compete for greatest mpg bragging rights. I beat the crap out of my scooter on early morning back road runs and have no idea of what the maximum mpg is possible out of my Rav hybrid and could care less.

And I'm sure most gas Highlander owners could care less about hybrid owners whose complaints have no application to gas models being related to inability to adapt to the inherent operation of their vehicles and modulate their braking properly.
 

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My new HY HI has the same problem when braking downhill, feel a pause for a half-second.

Here is what I did... I reduced the 3 PSI on my both back tires drove a few days, looks better, at least it didn't feel like losing the brake. Also using engine braking (S +/-) to slow the car helps a lot.
 

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It doesn’t happen all the time but when I go to apply the brakes, it’s as if it doesn’t engage. Like I haven’t applied the brakes yet. Then after a second or two it will engage after I applied a lot harder because I’m freakin out because it didn’t respond when I first applied them. Does this happen to anyone else? Thank you all in advance!
 

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The same thing happens on my 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid that I bought just 2 months ago. It seems to happen when I'm braking to stop at an intersection and I'm driving at a decline (like going downhill). It doesn't happen everytime, so it is hard to reproduce the problem. The service center at my dealership said that there were no malfunction codes when I took it in to be serviced. Nonetheless, this has caused me enough concern that I've submitted a complaint with NHTSA and to Toyota corporate office. Something should be done about this before someone gets hurt.
 

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Toyota AWD hybrids' braking systems work exactly as designed and function that way because of the combination two stage regenerative/hydraulic braking system. Takes a little more driver skill in operation of the vehicle initially when coming from a standard hydraulic brake system....and then driven properly it will work flawlessly every time. And that Eco meter provides a clue to when the system switches from regenerative to regenerative plus friction. and situations will vary dependent upon whether the ICE starts, stops, drain is placed on the electrics with the HVAC heat pump or startup of the electrics in the rear axle, power requirements dependent upon road grade and variable magnetic boost from front axle combo electric and ICE torque convertor. Feather the brake pedal with light pressure when on regenerative only braking trying to get 50 mpg and any one of those can affect degree of braking. All that matters is that when firmly pressing the pedal to activate the hydraulics the stopping action is predictable and dependable every time....just like a gas model.

Complaints may give NHTSA a few laughs, Driver unfamiliarity with the operation or lofty expectations for the operation of a hybrid will do nothing to affect Toyota's software controls or modification of their refined 20 y.o. design.

Solution is simple:
Driver can adapt and live with quirks specific to the hybrid, otherwise trade it in for an AWD gas model with standard hydraulic braking, and both axles mechanically linked only to the ICE through a transfer case. And save the hybrid specific complaints for the Highlander Hybrid forum where they belong.
 

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I have a 2021 Highlander Limited Hybrid and have noticed this brake "fade" a few time, especially in the morning. Never after the first ride of the day. Currently in dealer shop for first service and mentioned to the service writer. Interested to hear results.
 

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Toyota AWD hybrids' braking systems work exactly as designed and function that way because of the combination two stage regenerative/hydraulic braking system. Takes a little more driver skill in operation of the vehicle initially when coming from a standard hydraulic brake system....and then driven properly it will work flawlessly every time. And that Eco meter provides a clue to when the system switches from regenerative to regenerative plus friction. and situations will vary dependent upon whether the ICE starts, stops, drain is placed on the electrics with the HVAC heat pump or startup of the electrics in the rear axle, power requirements dependent upon road grade and variable magnetic boost from front axle combo electric and ICE torque convertor. Feather the brake pedal with light pressure when on regenerative only braking trying to get 50 mpg and any one of those can affect degree of braking. All that matters is that when firmly pressing the pedal to activate the hydraulics the stopping action is predictable and dependable every time....just like a gas model.

Complaints may give NHTSA a few laughs, Driver unfamiliarity with the operation or lofty expectations for the operation of a hybrid will do nothing to affect Toyota's software controls or modification of their refined 20 y.o. design.

Solution is simple:
Driver can adapt and live with quirks specific to the hybrid, otherwise trade it in for an AWD gas model with standard hydraulic braking, and both axles mechanically linked only to the ICE through a transfer case. And save the hybrid specific complaints for the Highlander Hybrid forum where they belong.
If this is true than why have my past 2008 Prius and currant 2015 Prius and our 2018 Hybrid Camry had those same braking issues? Sorry not buying that explanation.
 

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If this is true than why have my past 2008 Prius and currant 2015 Prius and our 2018 Hybrid Camry had those same braking issues? Sorry not buying that explanation.
My father's Prius does not do this. I drove a new Corolla Hybrid and it did not do it. (I like the Hybrid Corolla, too.)

ALL I can guess is the dynamics of the bigger car coming into play, but that is a swag, at best.

Ask your dealer why the other hybrids do not do this??? Huh? Eh? Well???

A reasonable question in my book.

I bought the gas for my own selfish reasons and know I like driving a hybrid myself; I fell in love with Ruby (the details of fuel or whatever did not come into play.) I figure Ruby is my last all wet fuel car. I had been waiting a year and half for the Gen 4 and my trigger was set to hair.....and Ruby is SO beautiful!!! (Can you believe that from Mr Practical????)
 

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I did and they did try to verify what I said with no luck. So now I just keep it annotated with toyota when I do my services and if something happens I will get some lawyers to sue the hell out of them. And if I rear end someone go figure if that is not the fault!
 

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If this is true than why have my past 2008 Prius and currant 2015 Prius and our 2018 Hybrid Camry had those same braking issues? Sorry not buying that explanation.
Maybe because it's apples and oranges. Old Prius' and Camry hybrids do not have the same 4 cyl AWD system, or 2 independently powered axle regenerative braking control system used in current gen5 Rav4s and the gen 4 Highlander hybrids.

These new gen hybrids do not have a transfer case or driveshaft for their AWD, instead using a totally independent electric rear axle controlled operation and 2 stage braking controlled by the ECU. The V6 gas do not use 2 stage braking use a transfer case and drive shaft for mechanical rear axle control.

Whether you believe any explanation or not is irrelevant. The driver must adapt to the vehicle and not all hybrid drivers seem to have a problem with AWD hybrid brake pedal control. As before, forewarned is forearmed, so any failure to brake properly is the fault of the driver not the vehicle. If when braking you fear for the life of yourself, family or other drivers.....solution is simple........trade in for a V6 gas..
 
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