2002 Toyota Highlander 2.4L 4 cylinder from North America


This isn't my father's Toyota. Seems like Hyundai has become the Toyota of the 80's and early 90's


Replaced valve cover gaskets at 77,000 miles.

Replaced power steering pump at 98,000 miles.

Replaced A/C condenser at 100,000 miles.

Battery replaced at 55,000 and 90,000 miles - both times left me stranded... A Toyota battery of course that credited me nothing when I replaced it, because I couldn't prove when it had been installed. I have the receipt for the date of purchase, but they get you, because if you install it yourself, you get nothing to prove when it was installed, which is also based on mileage. So my little battery that says it has a 60 month 60,000 warranty - it's a load of garbage. Toyota clearly cannot make a battery (my Nissan batteries, yes, in Florida, used to last 5-6 years and I changed them preemptively).

General Comments:

Do some research on the Toyota 2AZFE 2.4L engine and you'll find that many people have stripped out 3 rear head bolts on the engine and nobody really knows why. I've talked to Toyota's national customer service line, and they say it's due to overheating the engine, but the consensus online seems to be different. I know the Internet can be a nice fun rumor mill, but I read enough to at least determine that this is a risk - most likely I'll be selling/trading this vehicle in to avoid the problem, but when I had the power steering pump done, I had the water pump, thermostat, upper and lower radiator hoses and radiator cap all replaced. Radiator showed no signs of leaking at all - my car is always garage kept and the engine bay kept clean.

A side note would be that I've always used Amsoil 5w30 and either Amsoil or Wix filters, always had fluids changed at dealership ahead of schedule, NGK Iridium plugs only, and always driven with a light foot.

I would just say that this is the quirkiest car I've owned in the way it idles and downshifts, and it feels like I can't abuse it at all; truth is I'm afraid to own the car - seems like there are tons of people who have reported the symptoms I've experienced when they've happened, and fixing those are never cheap.

I thought that this being a Toyota built in Japan, it would be a step ahead in the quality control department, and it's just been a very expensive car to own in terms of maintenance and preventative maintenance.

Final thought: I was the reviewer who a couple years ago said "If I could do it all over again, I'd buy two." Clearly my attitude has changed. I've owned a 2001 Camry, this Highlander, leased an 03 Camry, and owned a 99 ES 300, and we recently purchased a Honda Pilot. My loyalty for Toyota is gone (independent of any recalls on TV - my engine block being at risk to strip out bugs me just a little more than a stuck gas pedal) and I'll look at Honda, Hyundai, Ford and Subaru next time around.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 30th June, 2010

31st Mar 2011, 19:17

I agree with the gentleman. There is definitely a serious problem with the three rear cylinder head bolts in the rear center only, the two at the ends do not strip. There should be a recall for this, because it a costly fix.

2002 Toyota Highlander from North America




Rattles in the dashboard are very annoying. Rattles in the doors are not as bad, but still need to be taken care of.

General Comments:

Very smooth power train.

Good visibility.

Terrible road feel, and the light steering is dangerous on some roads.

Road noise from tires and a lot of wind noise.

Suspension is too soft and car suffers from massive body roll. Motion sickness likely on some roads.

Interior is well laid out, but made with cheap materials.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 10th July, 2009

16th May 2011, 22:14

A lot of your complaints may well be caused by the tires you have on the vehicle, for example the comments about the road feeling terrible, and the light steering being dangerous on some roads. Also, comments about the road noise from the tires and wind noise as well. The suspension being too soft and car suffering from massive body roll are probably also caused by the tires, along with motion sickness being likely on some roads.

The way the car feels on almost all of the things you mention can change from night to day depending on the tires you are using. I recently tried and returned some very expensive Michelin LTX 2 tires on my Highlander for many of the complaints you list. The thing drove worse on the highway than with my Bridgestone Blizzak DMV snows! Try Bridgestone Dueler Alenza on your Highlander for summer tires. Much more responsive handling, the things you are complaining about are no longer a problem.