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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,
I've been a Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep owner my whole life. Over the last 10 yrs I've replaced 2 minivan transmissions, a Jeep tranny and a hemi motor. I'm done.
I've always heard of Toyota reliability so I started looking into these Highlanders for my wife and maybe even a 4Runner for myself.
I'm looking at 2012-2013 Highlander in the 100,000-112,000 mile range since that is my pricerange right now.
I'm reading about Toyota head gasket issues being a problem and the job is much more involved than any vehicle I've ever owned. I'm reading about headgasket leaks that turn into warped heads and warped aluminum blocks.
I'm now nervous about considering Toyota because these repairs are more expensive than total tranny replacement.
What should I be looking for regarding good years of Highlanders or which motor is better? How are the trannys in these? anything else I should know?
Thanks
 

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Corolla, Camry, Tundra, Camry, Avalon, Highlander, Venza, Highlander
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No headgasket issues...several snowflakes overheated, ran out of coolant from leaky waterpump, failed fans, failed thermostat, failed rad cap, or broken wp belt. Or, the clueless purchased used vehicle with neglect abuse and dont understand caveat emptor!

Get as new and low mileage as possible for yoyr budget. Understand that 100k mile vehicles need a ton of maintenance immediately.

Change all fluids, filters, and maintenance items for a baseline point for future maintenance .

Or, be a whiney biatch and try to complaim about nonissues for forum sympathy usually trolling their previous autobrands that never gave them issues
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I've always done my own maintenance and fluids get changed usually more often than suggested by manual. Preventative stuff like hoses, plugs, wires and belts all done before there is a problem. I always do this when I buy a used car because I assume the previous owner did not.
Thanks.
I'm not sure what you're referring to in your last sentence.
 

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2011 Highlander Limited, 1994 Toyota Pickup, 2005 Toyota Matrix, 2008 Mustang GT
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I've had a little but of everything LOL. You're gonna find problems with every automaker, but the issues with my Toyotas have been much less than others. You're also gonna pay as well LOL. Have you looked at the Rav4? I've had 2 and they are great cars. I only stepped up to a Highlander for the 3rd row and higher towing. The last statement the previous posted made is about people that complain about EVERYTHING LOL. People will come on here and say how great this car or that car is compared to their crappy Highlander. Buying a used car with over 100k is gonna be tricky no matter what, but I'd buy a used Toyota with that many miles before I bought a used Chevy or Kia with half those miles.
 

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Highlander(s)
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If you buy from a reputable dealer (as I did mine) they can pull entire service history for you, and so on. You'll pay a premium for this. In my case I probably could have gotten one a little cheaper but I chose to go with my local dealer who has been very good. I also had the assurance I got a 1 owner that was sold there new and serviced there.
 

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Don't overpay as I did asssuming the quality was going to be A1 and worth it. Even with warranty I have had key issues within 30,000 km of buying mine. Now info pops up they're not as good as some people believe (me for one). I was down for 14 weeks with no AC early spring to late fall, waiting foroparts to fix it under warranty.

Note: At night, test drive it. Virtually no switches are back lit, you're blind trying to open windows, doors etc.

I look after my vehicles but there are engineering things that I cannot prevent from failing. Exhaust issue is my latest I have to deal with. When running its a good vehicle and the 3.5L is loaded with power.
 

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2011 Highlander Limited, 1994 Toyota Pickup, 2005 Toyota Matrix, 2008 Mustang GT
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I think the only switches not lit on my 11 are 3 window switches (the driver's one is I think) and maybe the door lock switch. I did learn a spiffy trick in the 30 years that I've been driving tho. The window switches are always setup in the same arrangement as the windows. This means that the forward left is the driver's, forward right is front passenger, rear left is the rear left passenger and the rear right is the rear right passenger. Having learned that I no longer even look for the switch at nigh or day.
 

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2008 Highlander Base
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This Gen Highlander like Tacomas of the same era are notorious for having water pumps that fail early. I'd check the service records for the vehicle you intend to purchase (assuming the dealership and/or private owner has complete records) to see when and how long ago the water pump was last changed. If the pump hasn't been changed within the last 50K to 60K--the range in which these water pumps seem to fail according to forum members--then be prepared for that near future expense, and add that to your purchase calculus.
 

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2018 Highlander Hybrid
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As well as the intermediate steering shaft. It’s not if it will start to clink it’s when. In jersey that’s a 700.00 repair bill but easily done on your own with basic tools. Dealer charged me 821 for parts and labor to replace my water pump and thermostat on my 13 with 96,000 miles. I had them install a new drive belt too since it had to come off.


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My 2011 SE has almost all the swtiches lit. Not sure why yours doesn't. Maybe it has something wrong?
There is a big discussion on this where an owner modded his window switches. Added LED under them and its quit common at least the 2012 is 100% normal to leave you totally dark. Test drive in the evening or night as that lesson is now learned by me. Some vehicles (other make use RED backlighting) and the Red is not well suited to my eyes. I have trouble seeing them. I hadn't read about the water pump issie. I'll monitor that this summer while I have warranty on mine until early winter.
 

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My '12 LTD had these "larger-item" done the past two years:
  • 8/2018 @ ~80k miles (self): brake pads and rotors (probably premature since there were still some thickness left), brake fluid bleed
  • 5/2019 @ ~92.5k miles (self): transmission fluid, gasket, strainer, and flush
  • 8/2019 @ ~95.5k miles (shop): FL and RR wheel bearings, and front/rear gear oil
  • 12/2019 @ ~102k miles (shop): water pump, belt, tensioner, idler, and thermostat; had developed the "rattle" and luckily, it didn't collapse on a 300-mile round-trip
I also replaced the rear glass and hatch support struts last November from Gmt's suggestion since they are easy to swap out and in, and don't cost much from RockAuto. Be aware of the sunvisor on both sides since they don't like to hold in place, but Toyota does offer an extended visor replacement program if within the timeframe. Otherwise, regular oil changes @ 10k intervals with Mobil 1 synthetic and OEM filter have kept it running smoothly.
 

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2008 Highlander Base
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There is a big discussion on this where an owner modded his window switches. Added LED under them and its quit common at least the 2012 is 100% normal to leave you totally dark.
That was one of the most idiotic engineering/design blunders I've ever encountered in a vehicle, and not one you'd pick up on during a daylight test drive. Over the years I've learned that control panel strictly by feel while driving at night.
 

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2011 Highlander Limited, 1994 Toyota Pickup, 2005 Toyota Matrix, 2008 Mustang GT
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That was one of the most idiotic engineering/design blunders I've ever encountered in a vehicle, and not one you'd pick up on during a daylight test drive. Over the years I've learned that control panel strictly by feel while driving at night.
I could understand this when you first own a vehicle, but it takes no time at all to know where things are. Do you need a light to find the seat belt coupler or release button? Do you need lights to find the seat adjusters? Do you need lights to find the door handles at night? Can you find the overhead lights at nigh without a light being on? I think people buy a car and then complain and compare it to the cars they didn't buy. As far as idiotic engineering goes, I once had a Mustang the used the turn signal switch to activate the horn LOL. Tell me how that would go over in a 2020.
 

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The 3.5 is in the Highlander, Avalon, Lexus ES, RX, even GS with different config, since 2005 for Avalon. You see them pass 200k with minor maintenance and 300k+ with all preventative care. I agree with the above. If you see headgasket issue then the person drove it overheated too long. (The water pumps seem to last anywhere from 100-200k miles, about same on the radiators too from my experience) If there's any weak spot it's probably transmission when abused. I've never had any issues, but I've seen it as the only major issue from time to time on various years in the v6 3.3l and 3.0l that needed rebuilding, but that's usually on people that don't change the fluid and floor it often. My 2012 Highlander is at 81k miles and tranny fluid looks great. I do get a little annoyed that it had to down shift on the hills going 80mph and I typically cancel my cruise if it does that. My Lexus ES3.0 and GS 3.0 I6 with 4 speed and 5 speed never had that issue thankfully, much lighter of course, but I did have it occur on the 6 speed in 2014 ES350, much happier with the 5 speed myself. And didn't have the issue with the 2010 ES350.
 
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