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Discussion Starter #1
We have a 2012 Highlander with the V6 and automatic transmission. Bought it in 2014 with 65k miles. it now has 140k. I had transmission fluid done at 65k when we bought it and again at 130k miles. It has shifted funny for the past 10k miles or so. Not sure if maybe they didn't do the fluid flush right, or if maybe the transmission is going out?

How long do these normally last? Should I get dealer to re-flush and hope that it resolves whatever the problem was?

If it does go out, what is the normal repair or replacement cost? I am in Texas.

Thanks in advance for the help.
 

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Sometimes "shifting funny" is not the fault of the trans. Only way to know is to have it looked at and scanned carefully to check everything out including engine performance. Toyota products as a whole are not known for trans issues the way some makes are. They tend to be very reliable over the long haul
 

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Thanks for the reply. "Shifting funny" may have been a poor choice of words. Sometimes when I let off the gas and coast for a few seconds and then try to push on the gas again, it will lurch forward hard, and it's been doing that for 6 months or so. Then yesterday I just felt some uneasiness in it when it was trying to shift up during normal acceleration.

I'm not getting any codes from the engine. What could they accomplish with a scan if it's not pushing any codes out?
 

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Can you answer a few questions?
  • Was the fluid just drained and refilled at 65k and 130k?
  • Was the pan dropped, then gasket, strainer, & o-ring replaced at either interval?
  • Who changed the fluid?
  • Was the proper fluid used?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Can you answer a few questions?
  • Was the fluid just drained and refilled at 65k and 130k?
  • Was the pan dropped, then gasket, strainer, & o-ring replaced at either interval?
  • Who changed the fluid?
  • Was the proper fluid used?
Toyota dealer did a flush. I do not believe the pan was dropped for either service. I'm sure they used the proper fluid.
 

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Yeah dealers typically do not drop the pan. My dealer has said simply dropping the fluid is good. Been doing that in all my Asian cars (one Infiniti and 4 Toyota units). I still have tiny bit of uneasiness about that but than again on all the vehicles I have ever owned before that required a pan drop I never really saw an advantage to it
OP you may still have an engine issue. Remember a CE light will only come on if there is something having an effect on emissions or if there is some kind of imminent danger (of course than it will flash which means STOP NOW). There are many other things that will not trigger a code or a MIL and can make it act "funny". Most simple but definitely need a scanner to see
 

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Toyota dealer did a flush. I do not believe the pan was dropped for either service. I'm sure they used the proper fluid.
It's just a drain and refill, not a flush. A flush is completely draining the fluid from the mechanical parts, hoses, and cooler, and refilling it, which will take up to 16-qts. Here was my flush experience 3 months ago. There's probably a reason why Toyota wouldn't drop the pan on the Gen2 due to accessibility of those bolts, since it would take too much time. I didn't experience what you had, but did find it looking to upshift/downshift more often than usual before the flush. Now, it's actually behaving as expected, if not smoother. Two long weekend summer trips (10-hr and 6-hr RT) with minimal stops didn't have any issues either.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Talked to the dealer again. At the time I was told it was a flush. As you said Luc, it turns out they did a drain & fill. 9.3 quarts instead of the 16 quarts.

Service advisor mentioned that a catalytic converter can cause that type of issue as well. Is that a common thing on these?
 

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It looks like they just did a drain & refill twice since the pan could hold between 4-5 qts, thus the 9.3-qt value. I've owned mine since 2011, bought as a secondhand, and through all the years of reading in this sub-forum, I don't recall a catalytic converter would cause your symptom. I would think you'd have a rotten egg smell if it were the catalytic converter.

I did a general search by using this string: "highlander catalytic converter" and the Gen2 came up with:
Thread 1
Thread 2

The majority of the Highlander catalytic converter issues seem to be from Gen1. So I don't think it's a common problem with the Gen2.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
So what would you do in my situation? Dealer siad they would take a look at it, but basically just check externally for leaks...

Is it common for these transmissions to start having issues in the 150k range?
 

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Check the transmission dipstick to make sure the level is proper when cold and hot. If you are able to drop the undercarriage guard, you could check if it's leaking. Otherwise, I would consult with a reputable independent shop and get some feedback from them. Either way, you'll have to pay some diagnosis fee to the shop or dealer. I'm mostly DIY when capable and have time, otherwise, it's off to the shop. I only use the dealer for warranty work, which isn't much since '12 and '13 are the last Gen2 model years.
 

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I'll say there have been very few failures posted about since I've been a member here. Even fewer for cats, though I can't imagine why that would be relevant. There have been a few transaxles replaced under warranty for a final drive whine, but that has to do with how the gears were machined/honed, not shifting.

When you say lurch forward, is it when you hit the accelerator hard after coasting (the fuel injectors do turn off when you do that, you essentially restart the engine when you put your foot on the gas petal)? Or is it when you barely hit the accelerator. I've noticed ever since I've bought this car the transition to coasting with the fuel injectors off and slightly accelerating is not smooth one and it does lurch a little.

I'll also say I've basically tried to break this transmission over the years by roasting/abusing it. Mine does some unusual shifting at times. If you hit the accelerator hard after coasting, sometimes it will lurch hard because the transmission or clutch in the torque converter is still engaged when the engine is revving up, then disengages to downshift. Or similar symptom when trying to upshift under load, sometimes I think the clutches don't release fully when suppose to leading to a lurch.

I've replaced the fluid about every 60k, but after 195k miles and 12 years, I expect a transmission to act at least a little funny. Here is the question you need to ask yourself. Its out of warranty, and transmission repairs or replacement are very expensive, do you really want to poke the bear or just let it go as is? If its not leaking, not a major lurch, I personally would ignore it. Everyone definition of hard lurch varies so its hard to gauge how bad it is, when you say hard, I'm picturing like my old Jeep which would try to launch forward with all the issues it had...
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for the replies.

It's not a major lurch. Sometimes it's subtle, which isn't a lot different from what it has done since new. Sometimes it's been a little more pronounced than that, but never really extreme at all. Maybe it's just aging...? I've taken good care of it and it sounds like failures are fairly rare.

So let me ask this - what is a typical repair/rebuild cost if it went out?

I'll check fluid level and engine mounts tomorrow. I need to go to bed now...thanks again yall!
 

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We have a 2012 Highlander with the V6 and automatic transmission. Bought it in 2014 with 65k miles. it now has 140k. I had transmission fluid done at 65k when we bought it and again at 130k miles. It has shifted funny for the past 10k miles or so. Not sure if maybe they didn't do the fluid flush right, or if maybe the transmission is going out?

How long do these normally last? Should I get dealer to re-flush and hope that it resolves whatever the problem was?

If it does go out, what is the normal repair or replacement cost? I am in Texas.

Thanks in advance for the help.
I recommend you pour some this stuff in the trans, Hard shifting is probably caused by sediment build up in the solenoids. So far this has worked three times for me, Has helpd the trans in our CRV, Accord and Highlander and the power steering in our Camry with hard shifting. Pour one bottle of this into the trans and drive couple of hundred miles before changing the fluid. You will notice the difference immediately. Also if you have have a way, try resseting the transmission by using Techstream, before replacing the trans. You can get this at local auto store

https://www.amazon.com/Sea-Foam-TT-16-Transmission-Additive-16/dp/B0002JN2F4
 

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Don't pour anything in your trans except what belongs in there. Mechanics don't come in bottles. Odds are absolutely nothing is wrong with it. I don't understand your dealer's resoponse. They could easily run it through diagnostics and find any issue that MAY exist. The scanners can get very granular in what they look at. Yeah you're looking at spending an hour's worth of diagnostic time. But it's far better than wondering or pouring suspect crap in to it and further messing it up. If they won't find a dealer or GOOD reputable transmission shop who will.
 
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