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My wife has a 2002 Highlander FWD. Whenever there is any wetness or slightly slick road, the front wheels seem to lose traction and spin out. It's gets so bad on hills sometimes that the car does not move forward at all. The tires are made by Michelin and have more than half their tread depth. I am at a loss to explain why it is spinning out so excessively. Has anyone else experienced this?
 

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HI Vader007

I thought that all highlanders came with traction control as a standard feature. Then I saw some pics on Highlanders on autotrader and there was no control button under the steering wheel.

Almost all cars now days have something called differential which means that if one wheel is on dry asphalt and one on ice. The wheel on ice will just spinn and the car will not move one inch forward. Its a saftety feature to prevent the car from moving like "butter in a hot pan" when you drive in icy conditions. It also helps the car in turns where the outer wheel travel a longer distance than the inner wheel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Differential_(mechanical_device)

Good reading here to understand how it works.

If your HL has traction control, check it so its not malfunctioning.

I have not been driving in ice and snow in years but still remember the pain with my Volvo (rear wheel drive). I had to stuff my trunk with sandbags and put on chains to get it going. I also had studded tires. If I got stuck I could also use the sand to spread it infront of the wheels to gain traction as well as rear of the tires and then reverse and then try to build up some speed on the sanded area. The "handbrake technique" worked sometimes on the volvo as well. (see below)

This is why I always prefer manual transmissions. Now with traction control and winter modes on automatic transmissions its better but not even close to a toss-up.

Get some chains for the tires. I dont know if they have the good ones with a right side up with extra twirling studds/spikes like they do for trucks that pulls semi-trailers.

I hope other users here on this forum with snow and ice experience can give you user specific tips to the highlander.


A simple solution for a standard "open" differential is to partially apply the vehicle's handbrake when one wheel is spinning, as this often provides sufficient resistance to increase the overall torque and allow the other driven wheel to move the vehicle. This only works where the handbrake acts on the driven wheels, as in the traditional rear-drive layout. Naturally, the handbrake should be released as soon as the vehicle is moving again.
 

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2005 HL Ltd. 4WD V6
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Do the tires show EVEN wear? I'm thinking of maybe an alignment problem, but if it's off that much, you'd see very uneven tire wear. Make sure you're running the factory recommended tire pressures, as usually found on a sticker in the driver's side door jamb.
 

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My wife has a 2002 Highlander FWD. Whenever there is any wetness or slightly slick road, the front wheels seem to lose traction and spin out. It's gets so bad on hills sometimes that the car does not move forward at all. The tires are made by Michelin and have more than half their tread depth. I am at a loss to explain why it is spinning out so excessively. Has anyone else experienced this?

Sounds as if TC is activating once wheelspin/slip is detected and once that happens the engine will remain fully DETHROTTLED until she lifts the gas pedal and re-applies pressure. She should learn to "feather" the throttle just barely up to the point of wheelspin/slip, loss of traction, but not beyond.

If none of that works then the only solution is to add more traction, F/awd, tire chains, better tires, etc.
 
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