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Ouch. This is tough. I wonder if its only models with the added trim that they are sometimes missing a washer or seal? And then the sunroof leak. Worth taking things apart to take a look and making sure all seals are in place.
 

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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.
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I'm in middle TN, too, erkme73. Be interested in learning the dealer with whom you dealt. Sounds like someone I would prefer giving my business. BTW, I also had a leak which I cured - noted in another post on 2nd gen HLs.
 

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It's Cumberland Toyota in Cookeville, TN. Coming from Tampa - where dealers had huge service centers and large teams of specialists, Cumberland seems quite unsure of how to proceed. But, I give them credit for trying.
 

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Hello Everyone,


I really appreciate this thread as it may have saved me a lot of time & money. I purchased a 2014 Highlander Limited Plat about 2 weeks ago. Last week we had a really hard rain & the inside 2nd row pillar (passenger side) was soaking wet. Thought maybe I had accidentally left the window cracked open or the sunroof wasn't closed all the way. But it happened again yesterday. So needless to say my HL is going to the dealer today. Thanks to this thread I have a place to tell them where to start looking! I also started a ticket with Toyota Support to see if they'll help with some of the cost since obviously this is an ongoing issue with their high end line of HL (sad to say). The dealer quoted me $700.00 if they need to remove the liner if they can't find where it's coming from. Hopefully mine is an easy fix and it's just the 2 sleeves under the roof rail on that side.
 

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Welcome @curtisamac1

Hope you get that straightened out soon!

You will find many helpful posts like this. There is a DIY section which is full of info to read through.

Feel free to ask questions, but please take a few tries at the ADVANCED search option you find at the right of the banner from the 3rd Gen main page.

Enjoy!
 

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I'm sad to say that I am another victim of this issue.

We just bought a 2015 Platinum model with 19k miles I found at a local Audi dealer (so no CPO warranty for me). Everything was very clean and it had all the right maintenance documented. Four days after bringing it home, my wife and I walked outside in a light rainstorm to find water filling the cupholders and dripping all over the center console from the sunroof control area. The headliner around the sunroof console was visibly wet. The vehicle was parked at a slight downhill angle at the time since I had backed into the driveway. Previous showers over the last 4 days had not revealed any issues, possibly because it was parked facing uphill.

I'm going to call the Audi dealer I purchased from as well as put in a ticket with Toyota. I saw the ticket number posted earlier in this thread, but I believe that two or three others have also opened tickets. Before I call Toyota, did any of you mentioned the first person's ticket number when you opened your tickets? Does anyone know if Toyota tracks related tickets for similar issues?

Thanks,
Jon
 

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Highlander sun roof leak

The problem many of us are having, with water leaking into the cabin has 3 possible causes. One is the roof rack bolts, which I think is pretty uncommon. Clogged drain holes or tubes is pretty common, and easy to deal with. A tougher problem is when the car is parked up hill. If the grade is steep enough, the drain holes are too high, and what water gets past the seals runs backward into the headliner. It drips out the rear seat belt and the rear dome light. After 4 years of parking the car on the same driveway, this problem has just developed. I had the same problem with my 2001 RAV4.
The only solution (besides backing the car into the driveway) might be to replace the gaskets surrounding the sun roof.
Bill
 

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I've been reading this thread with a combination of interest and dread ;) I own a 2017 SE and as this is my first vehicle with a sunroof, I am concerned.

I had always assumed the rubber sunroof seal was well designed with a flange that made a positive seal with the roof cutout. With a good seal, the drain system would only be a second line of defense and not required to handle anything more than a drip or two.

But when I looked at the seal system closely today, I was dismayed to find out that it is a fairly soft rubber seal that slides down into the cutout along with the glass. It only contacts the inside of the sunroof opening by virtue of its size and shape. As such, any dirt, loss of elasticity or shrinkage anywhere around the periphery of the seal will cause a leak. And this means the inner drain system may well be required to handle more than just a drip or two. And worst of all, if the drain system is clogged or overwhelmed, you only know about it after the leak has occurred.

Do any of you regularly clean and lube the sunroof seal? I would think a cleaning and then a wipe on of some silicon (to lube and and repel water) would go a long way towards preventing any leaks? My 8 month old seal is plenty dirty / dusty.

And don't get me started on the convoluted roof rail sealing system that looks to me to be designed to fail. Sheesh!

Paul
 

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'18 HL Ltd, '19 GMC Acadia Denali, '02 Honda Civic EX
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I've been reading this thread with a combination of interest and dread ;) I own a 2017 SE and as this is my first vehicle with a sunroof, I am concerned...
FWIW I've never had an issue with the sunroof drains clogging or leaking - and every vehicle we've owned since the '95 model year has had a sunroof (not that I want one but rather they've been forced on me in order to get other features that I did want, but that's a subject for a different thread/rant).

Our vehicles are garaged when at home so the likelihood of contamination is reduced. Our current oldest vehicle is an '02 Honda and it has seen it's fair share of outdoor parking as it was my wife's DD while she was working.
 

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FWIW I've never had an issue with the sunroof drains clogging or leaking - and every vehicle we've owned since the '95 model year has had a sunroof (not that I want one but rather they've been forced on me in order to get other features that I did want, but that's a subject for a different thread/rant).

Our vehicles are garaged when at home so the likelihood of contamination is reduced. Our current oldest vehicle is an '02 Honda and it has seen it's fair share of outdoor parking as it was my wife's DD while she was working.
Well, that certainly is good to hear. Like you, I did not want a sunroof but was forced to get it just to get a red car.... red is not available in the lower trims. Good one, Toyota... you got me to pay about $6K more than I wanted to (leather, sunroof, power liftgate etc). Left a really bad taste in my mouth, though. Not sure I'll ever do that again, either.

Paul
 

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Keeping the rubber clean and treated can't hurt. But the only time I have had a problem is when the vehicle is parked up hill. My RAV4 did not develop the problem till it was 13 years old. The Highlander got the problem after 4 years. I am thinking about having the sunroof gaskets replaced.
Bill
 

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My problem appears unique in that it occurred when I was facing downhill rather than uphill. Two dealers have been unable to identify the problem, but the second cleaned and conditioned the gaskets with a special lubricant made for sunroof seals.
 

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Having leaking problem too

I have a 2014 Highlander Platinum and my roof has been leaking through the C pillar on the drivers side in the back seat. It's garaged when home so the problem mostly happens when parked at work, which is a fairly flat surface. It's been to the dealer twice now, and both times they said they cleared the drain tubes. I'm getting concerned that this is a design problem. I'm taking it back to the dealer next week for another look.
 

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I have 2014 Highlander Platinum with a leaking panoramic sunroof. As I mentioned in my previous post, it was leaking through the C pillar where the seatbelt comes out on the drivers side in the back seat. It only appeared to be leaking in heavy rain. The first two times, the Toyota dealer said it was the drain tubes and cleared them. The third time I took it in, they had a different tech look at it and found that the weatherstrip seal on the sunroof had a problem, and they said it needed to be replaced.

This repair is addressed in a TSB (T-SB-0047-15) that came out 7/29/15. From the TSB, they made a change in production as it specifies which VIN number is after the change. The weatherstrip seal in the TSB is part number 63251-0E050, but they used part number 63251-0E051 in my repair so it looks like the part number had a modification as well.

The problem with this repair is that the sunroof itself has to be removed to replace the seal, so it's quite a bit of labor. The headliner would also obviously need to be removed to make the repair. All of this was done on my Highlander, and I just got it back. Dealer said they did water testing to make sure it didn't leak. So far, everything seems to work correctly and I haven't heard any rattles or anything. The true test will be a heavy rain, which hasn't happened yet.

As I understand it, the fact that this was happening in heavy rain makes sense. The fact that the weatherstripping seal was letting in so much water would lead to overwhelming the drain tubes and then it would leak into the C pillar.

It should be noted that this wasn't covered under the Toyota Extended Warranty as this is classified as a body issue and those aren't covered. If it would have been a mechanical issue with the sunroof, it would be covered. I don't agree with this, but that is how Toyota explained it to me. The TSB does say it would be covered by the original factory warranty.

So the lessons I have learned on this Highlander are as follows:
1. Don't buy an early production of a new body style. My Highlander was one of the first 2014's made (I purchased in January 2014) and has shown this with various issues. In addition to the sunroof leak, it's needed all four door actuator locks replaced and the rear trailing arms replaced twice. The TSB's on the sunroof leak and trailing arms clearly show that it was a known issue and that new part numbers were used for the fix.
2. Extended warranties cover significantly less than the original factory warranty. Keep that in mind when making the buying decision as it's positioned by the dealers as a continuation of the original factory warranty. Don't be mislead...it's not. That said, the replacement of the 4 door actuators and one set of the rear trailing arms means that I came out ahead financially on buying the extended warranty. And I still have 3.5 years and 63K more miles to go on that extended warranty.
3. Every repair or maintenance I've done on this Highlander is on it's Carfax report. Taking it in multiple times for the same sunroof leak really gets to be a concern as it is clearly shown on the Carfax.
4. It's very helpful to search ToyotaNation to see if anyone else is having the same issue on their Highlander before you take it in. On the trailing arms and door actuators, it helped me direct the dealer on where to look. Both times the trailing arms were creaking, the dealer said they couldn't hear it. When presented with a TSB, they suddenly heard the creaking. Door actuators were similar as it was an intermittent problem, once I was able to get video of the problem they replaced it. Then the others failing were a quick conversation. It helps when all four fail within 18 months.

Hope this helps...there probably aren't a huge number of 2014 Highlander Limited Platinum's on the road. But I'd bet that the issue I had with the sunroof leaking isn't all that uncommon. I know the rear trailing arm problem is a common issue on 2014 and 2015 Highlanders as I've ridden in 3 different ones from those years and all had the creaking noise from the back. And door actuators have been an issue across many Toyota models.

Overall....I expected more reliability out of Toyota. I'm hoping the part number changes have fixed these problems so they won't reoccur. Good luck with your Highlander.
 

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2014 HL ltd plt passanger c pillar water leak

i have bee having this issue for the past 2 years. I live in Dayton Oh. The vehicle was under warranty when i first reported the issue. The Dealer sprayed water in the general area and could nor replicate the issue. The bad thing is that they did not record my issue so there is no record. I called Toyota and was told that they did not see the issue on any other 2014 HL LTD PLT and advised me to take my car in and have it looked at. Guess what? the dealer did the same water spray test and could not replicate the issue so I had to leave my job and go down to the dealer and show them the damp c pillar and wet carpet. I had the service done 4 days ago and the issue resurfaced again when it rained.I will take it back tomorrow and have them look at it again. I have the same musty smell ans stains on the c pillar.
 

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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...

Thanks to the last post notification, I came back here and realized I never provided my final resolution. @tyronvanspall, I'm afraid you won't like the answer.

After nearly 3 months of the dealership having the 2015 HL trying to eliminate the mold, we got tired of the excuses of it not getting completed. They'd say "tomorrow it should be done", and of course, it never was. Eventually, my wife said, "let's just trade it in."

With that, we went to the dealer, and traded it in on a 2018 HL. Here's the fun part. They let me drive the 2015 home so I could move all the personalized stuff out (air horns, radar detector hard wiring, dash cams, etc). When I got in the car to drive it home, I noticed among other things:

1) the fit and finish of the dash items was poor - it looked like buttons were not sitting properly in the trim
2) The back speakers weren't working
3) there was still visible mold under the carpet in the hatch back area
4) the rear seats weren't installed (my decision to take it home to unload stuff caught them off guard apparently)
5) the smell of mold was still mildly present

By the time the wife and I got home, we were convinced we were making the right decision to abandon the car. There is simply no way it would have ever gotten back to the pre-mold condition.

To be honest, the moisture issue we've experienced was two-fold. The luggage rack bolt did leak, yes. But a few months prior, we also had the windshield replaced (safelite repair), and that also had a leak (behind the dashboard) that was not visible without the A-pillar trim being removed. That let Toyota off the hook, and ultimately Safelite had to pay the dealership for the repairs. Though, I firmly believe the soaked headliner padding and carpet padding was the bigger contributor since the mold didn't appear until after the pouring water from the roof leak.

Ultimately, the most frustrating and disappointing aspect to all of this was the local dealership's inexperience with a rebuild/cleaning project of this magnitude. It became very obvious that they had never stripped a car down to this level, and I really think they simply got in over their heads - and didn't know how to put it back together.

In fairness, they did pay us top value for the age/mileage/trim package on trade. Still, we had to fork over roughly $20k to resolve the mold problem and get into a newer car. Never mind the ethical implications of the poor schmuck who ends up with it.

Wife is happy, but I have a particular distrust for the dealership's capabilities.

I say all of this to warn anyone with a leak... be very, VERY aware of the possibility of catastrophic mold. It can happen quickly, and without any visual evidence (if you're not looking). Pull the trim pieces, lift the carpet, get under the headliner with a flashlight. You need to eliminate the moisture completely and ensure no new water is getting in, as that is like steroids for the mold. Once it hits a certain threshold, it effectively totals the vehicle.

Best of luck to all. I'm now so paranoid about moisture in any of my vehicles, I'm about ready to install a blow drier to dry any little drop that gets in.
 

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As a follow up on my 2014 Highlander Limited Platinum that I've posted about earlier in this thread, it started leaking through the C pillar on the passenger side this time. The dealer said the drain hose on that side was kinked. This is also what they found eventually on the drivers side too. It seems odd that both drain hoses are kinking after 5 years but the roof isn't leaking after the hoses were replaced. This has been an extremely frustrating process as I've had to take it in eight different times in the last 1.5 years for sunroof leaks.
 

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I wonder how the lemon law works where you are. In some states, 3 times the same issue and they need to take the car back.
 

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I wonder how the lemon law works where you are. In some states, 3 times the same issue and they need to take the car back.
In Kentucky, the Lemon Law really only applies in the first year or 12K miles. This problem didn't appear until the Highlander was over 4 years old.
 
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