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Discussion Starter #1
So I was giving the HL an overdue Christmas eve wash, and while drying the door jam on the passenger side rear noticed the seat belt was soaked and the headliner is again wet. The dealer had claimed they fixed this a couple of months ago so apparently not (I never did have them replace the stained headliner). Really disappointed in Toyota's quality control, and with this recent issue along with the wind noise and 1750 RPM drone that has gotten increasingly louder as the miles add up, I'm getting more tempted to trade her in. Too bad, there are so many good things about the new gen HL, but I have a bad taste in my mouth lately. Wish y'all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
 

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At this stage, the damage is done. Make the dealer/manufacturer correct the leak and undertake the headliner replacement. If you end up keeping the vehicle, the stained and damaged headliner will eventually separate because the material is held onto a backing via adhesive that will not withstand water damage in the long run. If you do trade with a stained headliner, you will take the financial hit of that damage being visible, so replacing the headliner is essential one way or the other. Sad because if the service people are hacks, they can do a lot of collateral damage while replacing a headliner. Some members here have stated the front windshield had to come out to replace the headliner, something else to think about if that's true. Sucks to be on the receiving end of such problems, particularly when you get some people on forums start acting like your situation cannot possibly be for real because their unit is so flawless. Just do what's best or you, and good luck.
 

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Roof Leak

I understand the frustration, we HAD a 2014 Limited Platinum and noticed a musky smell one day, thought it was from the humidity here in Texas. After cleaning out the Highlander one day noticed the middle row seat belts were damp and water dew on the roof liner. I also noticed that underneath the rubber mats there was condensation which was actually from time water leaking from the roof through the seat belt pillars to the middle row under the carpet. Brought it to the dealership (and with the extended warranty) the dealership contacted warranty services and determined that this was not covered. Unfortunately it was going to cost us 2k to have them remove the roof liner and determine the exact issue which may lead to other expenses and also to replace the carpet which was concern to make sure not mold had developed. After dealing with the dealership and not being covered under warranty we opted to just trade the vehicle in. The water and condensation may have or could result in electrical issues which we didn't want to have to face or deal with. After researching the issue, there were many other owners with the same issue and looks like it may be due to a clogged dispense tube from the back end of the sunroof, where the water is not draining proper after washing or rain fall. Hope you have better luck resolving the issue and at least your dealership was willing to resolve it.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I understand the frustration, we HAD a 2014 Limited Platinum and noticed a musky smell one day, thought it was from the humidity here in Texas. After cleaning out the Highlander one day noticed the middle row seat belts were damp and water dew on the roof liner. I also noticed that underneath the rubber mats there was condensation which was actually from time water leaking from the roof through the seat belt pillars to the middle row under the carpet. Brought it to the dealership (and with the extended warranty) the dealership contacted warranty services and determined that this was not covered. Unfortunately it was going to cost us 2k to have them remove the roof liner and determine the exact issue which may lead to other expenses and also to replace the carpet which was concern to make sure not mold had developed. After dealing with the dealership and not being covered under warranty we opted to just trade the vehicle in. The water and condensation may have or could result in electrical issues which we didn't want to have to face or deal with. After researching the issue, there were many other owners with the same issue and looks like it may be due to a clogged dispense tube from the back end of the sunroof, where the water is not draining proper after washing or rain fall. Hope you have better luck resolving the issue and at least your dealership was willing to resolve it.
Sounds like we have the same problem, my 14 Ltd Plat is going in on Monday and I also have the extended warranty and hope they don't pull the same crap on me. On another forum saw another who when the Toyota engineer came out to inspect at the dealer, he told the owner the drain tubes can't handle the volume of water especially if the car is parked uphill. He was told there was no fix. I'll report results next week...Happy New Year!
 

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2014 Highlander Platinum Roof Leaks

We also had a water problem with our 2014 Highlander Limited Platinum. We live in Austin, TX, which until recently has been in a severe drought condition. Also the car is parked in a garage, so the opportunity for the leak to occur did not happen very often. Still, just before it went out of warranty, we had the problem for the second time. Water was leaking into the "C-pillar" and coming out the right side middle row seat seat-belt retractor. It actually was leaking throughout the right side, from the middle row seat back. The dealer in Austin could not duplicate the problem. We vacationed in New Mexico last summer, and the problem recurred. After two trips to the Alamogordo Toyota dealer, they finally figured out and solved the problem. They said it had to do with the holes where the roof rack bolts to the roof, under the longitudinal roof rails. They caulked around them and the problem has not recurred.

FYI, I contacted Toyota at 800-331-4331 and they created case number 1507211570 for this problem. There should be good documentation of the problem and how it was solved. Since this is apparently a chronic problem with this model car, they should be willing to fix it whether your car is under warranty or not. It is a cheap fix.

It is interesting that the mentions of this problem on ToyotaNation all have to do with Platinum models, the ones with the Panorama sunroof. I don't understand why the roof rack holes under the roof rails would be any different on a Platinum model than any other model.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Rick, keep an eye on things...my problem was one of the sun roof drain hoses was crimped and wouldn't allow water to drain. I was not told my issue had anything to do with the roof rails, so I would make sure you monitor in case you also have the same problem. Also, for others out there - periodically check your headliner and under the second row carpets for moisture.
 

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Thanks, Jazz. The first thing the dealer checked was the drain hoses, and that did not solve the problem. The problem had to do with the holes where the roof rack crossbars mount. I uploaded two photos that show where it was leaking. One of the photos shows the silicone sealant that the dealer used to seal around the openings. To get it to leak, the car had to be parked facing uphill on a slight incline and sloped slightly toward the passenger side. This just happens to be the way the parking space where we stay in New Mexico is situated.
 

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If the extended warranty doesn't cover it, then what is the point of the extended warranty. Its things like this you think a extended warranty will cover, and then the lawyers step in at the fine print and you're SOL. Amazing how much more and more I see these warranties being a scam. I know, there are those horrible, yet releaving times they do cover some great cost, but you don't buy a Toyota because it looks great and does all the performance check boxes at the top of its class. You buy it to avoid BS like this. Anyways. Best of luck on this.
 

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So I was giving the HL an overdue Christmas eve wash, and while drying the door jam on the passenger side rear noticed the seat belt was soaked and the headliner is again wet. The dealer had claimed they fixed this a couple of months ago so apparently not (I never did have them replace the stained headliner). Really disappointed in Toyota's quality control, and with this recent issue along with the wind noise and 1750 RPM drone that has gotten increasingly louder as the miles add up, I'm getting more tempted to trade her in. Too bad, there are so many good things about the new gen HL, but I have a bad taste in my mouth lately. Wish y'all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

would you have any picture show where the exact spot is, thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks, Jazz. The first thing the dealer checked was the drain hoses, and that did not solve the problem. The problem had to do with the holes where the roof rack crossbars mount. I uploaded two photos that show where it was leaking. One of the photos shows the silicone sealant that the dealer used to seal around the openings. To get it to leak, the car had to be parked facing uphill on a slight incline and sloped slightly toward the passenger side. This just happens to be the way the parking space where we stay in New Mexico is situated.
Rick, I'm trying to picture where those holes are from your photos? It looks like part of the sun roof is showing in one of them, but looking down the side of the HL I see no windows, unless its the angle you shot the picture. Pretty poor design if you ask me if they have to load the area with silicone, something must've been missed at the factory. I have a feeling they removed my roof rails also since one section doesn't seem to be seated down neatly against the rubber gasket.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
would you have any picture show where the exact spot is, thanks
Here are the pics, just below the "SRS AIRBAG" pic the seat belt exits the pillar and water was dripping out of there and most likely behind the pillar as well.
 

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Hate to revive such an old thread, but Google says this is the most current one for the Highlander 2015 model. I have the platinum version, and despite owning it since new, this week was the first time I've ever seen water inside the cabin. Driver's side, at the pillar just behind the second row of seats. Soaked seat belt, trim, and headliner.

We had very heavy rain last night, and the car was parked with front facing up a not-so-subtle incline. All doors and windows (including sunroof) were completely closed (and locked). I had no reason to believe this was a systemic problem, so I initially began to pull back interior trim pieces from the tailgate all the way to the driver's door. The water was limited to the pillar at the third row. No wetness either forward or behind that point - so it is likely coming in from directly above that point.

I sent an email to my the service manager at my dealership to see if he's heard of this. Unfortunately, I'm in another state now, and would have to take it to a dealer that I've never seen before. I'm hoping to learn from others as to what solution (if any) worked, and what the most likely culprit is - so that I can sound reasonably intelligent when I discuss this with their service department.

All that said - those of you that have experienced this and still have your HL... what solutions did your dealer implement that ultimately solved your problems? Are there any pointers you would suggest I use to shorten the trial/error phase of the repair?
 

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My roof doesn't leak anymore

I just received a reply to this thread that I participated in a couple of years ago. I noticed that there were some questions I didn't answer about the leak location and where the Toyota mechanic applied the sealant. Unfortunately, I didn't see the actual location. The mechanic just gave me pictures. My understanding is that the two holes that were sealed around were where the rear roof rack attaches to the roof (I don't have a roof rack). I also came across the file where I documented the leak for Toyota. That file is attached. In spite of the fact that the repair looked pretty sloppy, the leak has not recurred in two years.

Good luck to others having similar problems. I hope this helps.
 

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I just received a reply to this thread that I participated in a couple of years ago. I noticed that there were some questions I didn't answer about the leak location and where the Toyota mechanic applied the sealant. Unfortunately, I didn't see the actual location. The mechanic just gave me pictures. My understanding is that the two holes that were sealed around were where the rear roof rack attaches to the roof (I don't have a roof rack). I also came across the file where I documented the leak for Toyota. That file is attached. In spite of the fact that the repair looked pretty sloppy, the leak has not recurred in two years.

Good luck to others having similar problems. I hope this helps.
Thanks for coming back to update everyone, Rick. My new dealer is more than 2 hours (round-trip) from where our new home is, so I was reluctant to take it to them without better documentation.

I did some experimenting with the wife inside with a flashlight, and have narrowed down my leak to the driver's side roof rail. I contacted the dealer where I originally purchased the HL (Tampa) and he agreed that if I can't get it to the local dealer here in TN, I should take measures to prevent further damage. With that, I removed the 6 12mm hex bolts and removed the rail. I was hoping it would be a simple case of applying some silicone to the suspect areas. But, as your pictures show, the mounting design and leak prevention is quite complex.

There are about 5 different possible points of failure, and none are easily identified. There is a small plastic tube that comes up through the roof penetration at each bolt entry point. The plastic tube acts as a sleeve. Then, there is a rubber gasket/seal that is at the bottom of each of the black plastic standoffs (that are part of the roof rail bottom) that cover the bolt/sleeve. Further, each bolt has a rubber gasket to prevent water from above/inside the roof rail from getting past the bolt head. Lastly, there is a black rubber gasket that goes along the entire outside perimeter of the rail.

Examining each of these areas carefully revealed nothing abnormal or obvious. With that, I put everything back together as it was. I added no sealant, as I'm concerned that if it doesn't resolve my leak, I would have destroyed any evidence as to the original cause of the leak, and given the local dealership a blank check to blame me for the leak.

Looks like I'm going to be doing some driving and waiting...
 

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erkme73, you're doing a great job locating the problem

You are having a very similar experience with your Highlander as we did. We live in Austin but have a vacation home in Alto, NM. In Austin, the car is parked in a garage and rarely left sitting outside in the rain. We first noticed the problem when we were in Illinois for a funeral and the car was left outside during a heavy rain. My cousin sat in the backseat and said the seat was wet.

I took the car to Autonation Toyota in Austin, and they could not duplicate the problem. It rains most every afternoon in Alto, and we noticed the problem again there. Our normal parking place in Alto is on a slight upward grade outdoors. The nearest Toyota dealer is in Alamogordo, 55 miles away, and we took it to them. We got a rental car (at our expense initially) and left it with them. At first, they could not duplicate the problem. I told them to raise the front end slightly and try again, and that's when they discovered the leaks.

The Austin dealer had told me that, if the problem recurred to call Toyota and get a case number, which I did. That case number is given in my first post. Toyota should be able to reference that case number and research what was done to solve the problem. Eventually, the problem was solved, and I even got Toyota to reimburse me for two rental cars (I think it took two trips to the Alamogordo dealer).

Like you, I think this is a chronic problem with our vintage Highlanders with the panorama roof (Platinum package). I don't know whether it is a problem with other models.
 

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2014 Highlander sunroof leak

Hey all,

Just discovered water inside the rear cabin headliner. Upon diagnosis from the dealership I was told it was due to pinched tubing from the sunroof. This is a non moving part so not sure how this gets pinched. My "premium" extended warranty does not cover the problem. Reading on this site I see I'm not the only one. I believe this issue has been going on for a year or two because we have smelled a mildew type odor in our car off and on, but could never find a problem until now. Toyota customer service says there haven't been enough complaints for this issue for them to fix this free of charge. Just putting out feelers to see if anyone else had this problem and the outcome for their fix.

Thanks
 

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Hi,
Does this problem only applies to top model with pana roof?

I have a new 2018 XLE with regular moonroof. So far have not encounter such issue.
 

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@rickstillwater - Here's an update to my last post... While they did fix the leak, the resulting mold seems to have destroyed the car.

We took the car to the local dealer (middle-TN) who found a missing gasket on one of the DS rack bolts. They replaced it, but nothing else. When I picked up the car, I specifically asked why they hadn't replaced the headliner since it was visibly soaked. I was concerned about mold and staining. They said it shouldn't be an issue, but if it is, they would fix it.

For the next few weeks, a smell began to develop in the car. Since it is my wife's daily driver, and I rarely use it, I didn't realize how bad it had gotten. It smelled a bit like a 3 week old sippy cup filled with spoiled milk. We had the car detailed, and pulled out all the floor mats. Nothing obvious that smelled like mold, so we didn't suspect the original leak. Everything appeared dry.

Yet, on cooler evenings, all the windows would fog up - something it hadn't done before. So we installed a de-humidifier for several nights, and a bucket of damp rid. No difference. After a month or two of that, we finally threw in the towel, and took it back to the dealer. With no visible stains or other signs of mold, we told them to do whatever it takes to find the source of the smell and get rid of it, or we'll torch the car.

The problem was that the smell was so intense (headache-inducing) that once you took your first breath, you went nose-blind and could not isolate where the smell originated.

The dealer called a couple days later and confirmed that the headliner and padding was riddled with mold. A week later, they had it replaced. The repair was covered by the dealer, despite it no longer being under warranty. Grateful, we took the car back. The smell was noticeably better, but still present.

A week later, the smell was just as bad. We contacted the dealer, at which point they informed us that the factory had not yet reimbursed them for the headliner repair, and they were a bit reluctant to commit to repairing whatever remaining mold may be present without their express permission to do so.

I told them it needs to get fixed either way, and dropped it off with them again.

Yesterday I received a call from the advisor. She said some Toyota big-wigs were there last week (for other things) and looked at the car. They provided instructions on what to do (disassembly, documenting mold, etc), and insinuated that this would get covered by the factory. Since then, they've found mold EVERYWHERE. They've removed everything... all seats, all carpeting, even the dashboard. They've hired a 3rd-party mold remediation company to clean the items (not replace them). This, of course concerns me on several levels.

Will all the parts go back together properly (without missing bolts/screws)?
Will they get all the mold?
What kind of mold is it (i.e. health implications)?
At what point is this considered a catastrophic event where I need to get my insurance company involved (possibly totaling it like a flooded vehicle)?
Should I consider trading it it?

I would trade it in, but it's paid for, and wife really likes it (aside from the smell). I'd prefer not to realize the depreciation hit already.

Sorry for the long detailed post. Hoping others might have some ideas on what my next step should be, or how forceful I should get...
 
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