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Highlander Hybrid Fuel Tank Issues merged threads

158563 Views 742 Replies 178 Participants Last post by  lloyd123
Have any other 2020 Highlander Hybrid (AWD) owners having issues with filling the fuel tank all the way or the DTE display showing much less than it should?

When I took delivery of my 2020 Highlander Hybrid last month I was concerned that the "Distance to Empty" display read only 420 miles. I asked the salesman if this was right and she confirmed that the fuel capacity of the vehicle was 17.1 gallons and the MPG is rated at 35 so the range should be about 600 miles. Then she said that it might take a while for the computer to reset and show the correct DTE.

I've only driven the vehicle 725 miles since I got it due to Covid-19 restrictions, and while it's averaging 35.6 miles per gallon (mostly ECO mode), the vehicle only shows about 420 miles DTE when refueled. This week I specifically waited for the low fuel light to go on and drove a few miles past just for good measure. I went to the gas station and only could pump 12 gallons before the pump shut off. I tried topping off the tank and eeked 12.5 gallons into the tank and showed DTE of 445 miles – far less than the 609 miles I expected.

I took the vehicle back to the dealership and explained the problem. They checked for error codes, software updates, recalls and TSBs and found nothing. They noted that that were no issues. I called Toyota corporate and was told the same thing - no issues reported.

I did some research (“Google”) and found that 2019/2020 RAV4 Hybrids with the same new “saddle” tank design are having the same problem I’m experiencing. Apparently, the new tank design is required to accommodate the hybrid drivetrain and won’t fill all the way. RAV4 owners can fill about 9 to 10 gallons of the 14.5 gallon tank – pretty consistent with what I’m getting with 12 gallons of the 17 gallon tank capacity.

I’m pretty sure there’s a design defect in the Highlander Hybrid fuel tank preventing the last five gallons of gas being pumped thus cheating me out of 180 miles of range.

While Toyota has acknowledged an issue with the RAV4 and are working on a fix, they haven’t acknowledged a problem with the Highlander yet. I guess I might have to join the RAV4 class action lawsuit in order to get satisfaction?

Toyota Faces Class Action Lawsuit for Faulty RAV4 Hybrid Fuel Tanks
Toyota offers interim fix for Rav4 Hybrid gas tank concerns

Thoughts?
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Yesterday we had the fuel tank replaced in our 2020 Highlander Hybrid model LE all wheel drive. I took the car in with the low fuel light on and it switched from 1 mile to refuel. Toyota techs. changed the tank and components in about 3 hours. I then took it to Costco about 1/2 mile away and fueled it on the low notch setting and it clicked it off at 13.906 gallons. The fuel gauge now read well over the full mark, first time this has happened. So this would mean even though the refuel message was on I still had 3 gallons of fuel still left in the tank being that its capacity is 17.1 gallons.

Before that the same method the fuel gauge would read between 3/4 and the full mark or so. No charge from Toyota, as the service writer told me that if I had to pay it would be about $1,600.00 as the fuel tank alone was nearly $900.00
 

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So this would mean even though the refuel message was on I still had 3 gallons of fuel still left in the tank being that its capacity is 17.1 gallons.
Let me get this straight - they replaced your tank and you think they took all the gas out of the old one and put it back in the new one? Do I have that right? 🙄
 

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Let me get this straight - they replaced your tank and you think they took all the gas out of the old one and put it back in the new one? Do I have that right? 🙄
Yes, that is what I was told, and I did walk into the shop and did see my old gas tank on the shop table with a hose connected going into the filler tube, as the new tank had already been installed. I was concerned that sediments may be pumped from the bottom of the old tank, and was told that there is a filter in their filling system preventing any sediments going into my new tank. If I do have any fuel problems later down the road I will of course contact my Toyota dealer.
 

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I still do not understand the problem, or solution. The tank size did not change. All that really got changed was what the gauged showed. Am I missing something?!?!?!?
I was told by the Toyota Tech. service writer that the corners of the new tank have been rounded which
enables the tank to fill fully. Whatever they did it appears to work in our vehicle.
 

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There's a Tech Service Bulletin in the US on this - they will replace your fuel tank and other parts for free if you complain and you are still in the 3 year/36k mile warranty, or 7 year/70k if you are in certain states.
https://static.nhtsa.gov/odi/tsbs/2022/MC-10209005-9999.pdf
I see this is just 2020-2021. My wife has a 2022 XLE Hybrid, do we know if there's a TSB for that? Everytime we go to fill up, it clicks off at like 13 gallons.
 

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I recently bought a 2022 Highlander Hybrid awd. I am unable to fuel up beyond 14.2 gallons when tank is near complete empty. I am getting about 470 mpg (at 33 mpg) when the range should be about 570. This is very disappointing because the primary reason I bought the Highlander was the range and fewer trips to the gas station.
Did you ever get a fix? I have a 2022 here as well (hybrid XLE AWD) and we get like 13-14 max. I saw a TSB for the 20-21 years, but not sure what to do for my 2022.
 

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Thought 1. Gas gauges aren’t really accurate.
Thought 2. They almost always read empty before the tank is.
Thought 3. The tank capacity is given for a completely dry tank, and the fuel pump will not suck a tank completely dry.
Thought 4. There is always a difference between total capacity and usable capacity, see thought 3.
 

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Mods (@John Anthony, etc), if you want to roll this into the merged thread, that's fine, but I thought this might deserve its own thread because I have some anecdotal insight and I thought people who are having issues might want to help prove/disprove what I'm seeing.

The merged thread.

After a wide range of driving conditions this past year, I believe this is (mostly) a software issue. I think what we can all agree on is there's some learning ability in the gas gauge/DTE software - where it's taking into account your recent mpgs (past two tank average is what I've "read") to calculate your DTE. I think there's also some factoring there for gauge "fullness", but am not entirely sure.

Anyway, what I've noticed over the past few months is that as I allow the tank to get closer and closer to empty before filling it (searching for the lowest gas prices mainly), the higher my DTE has gone, and the more I've been able to add to the tank when I get closer to empty. These past two tanks especially, I've gotten it down to ~5 miles to empty and found my DTE jumping 5-10% over what I would have expected, and getting very close to the 600 mile mark (after hovering around 500 for most of the year). I've also noticed it's taking slightly more than I'd expect to fill it, more than 15 gallons vs. 12-13 when I've only let it get down to 25 miles to empty. That doesn't make sense when I'm getting 35-40mpg; 25 DTE would translate to 2/3rd a gallon, not 2+ whole gallons.

I think this is because the software needs to see those near-empty readings to "learn" what an empty tank is supposed to read. If you're filling up at a quarter tank every time, it may never learn.

On the flip side, it may have to learn what a full tank looks like, too, so it's important to both fill completely and drive down close to E for it to register. I've seen the gauge not reading full, despite filling it, just once - this summer when I was towing a trailer across the Midwest, not knowing where the next station would be and filling up every 200 miles or so instead of when nearing E.

My advice (@reezick, @kalagher @dtime1 ,etc) - if you're having trouble getting the gauge to read full, or you're upset your tank won't take more than 13-14 gallons when "empty" - try this: for the next 3-4 tanks, fill completely and drive down as close to DTE=0 as you're comfortable doing - sub 10, if you can. Help teach the software what a full/empty tank looks like and you might start seeing improvements.

I know there's a couple on here who've gotten replacement tanks/pumps/sending unit/gauge, etc and have seen improvements. That doesn't necessarily negate the theory.
 

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My short version of what you are saying is that the user has to push the (false) full and empty limits until the system learns. That would be ridiculous behavior for Toyota to adopt. They could avoid all this agony by simply doing the "learning" themselves and starting the new vehicle fuel and empty parameters accordingly.
 

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Got ours back from the dealer today - took a couple of months to get the gas tank. Dealer verified that they were able to put 17.5 gallons of gas into the empty tank before the nozzle clicked off, versus 14.5 previously. Service manager said he's seeing a lot of hybrid highlanders and rav4s getting new gas tanks. Considering the wait for parts, you should take yours in sooner rather than later for the fix.
 

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I had the gas tank replaced on my 2020 Highlander hybrid limited this week. They refilled the tank with fresh gas and charged me for the gas. When I got my car back the gauge showed gas above the full level with 487 miles distance to empty. Is this the expected reading for miles to empty? Now my DTE gauge ticks down for every mile driven. Has this happened to anyone?
 

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So is the service bulletin for the tank, gauge etc for if your fuel gage only reads to about 3/4 full when filling up the tank? When I fill the tank I get up 13/14 gallons w maybe 10 miles on DTE. Like others said, it’s frustrating to not get the range Toyota showed of 600 miles. I get maybe 490/500 if hyper-mileaging, I mean staying in the green econo section as much as one can. All my other vehicles I’ve had, if they stared they had a 15 gallon tank that’s what I could usually fill to, they probably had a reserve, but did not count it.
We just got back from a road trip and even though we got 37 MPG the range was nowhere near 600 miles. Funny thing is we saw a Highlander Hybrid billboard ad showing a 600 mile range. Ugh!
 
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