11th Feb 2005, 22:08


You should skip over and read about these same issues with the camry ---- must be the same transmission. 5 speed electrocic with a built in "memory"... the problem will not go away. It is a faulty design and Toyota will not admit it. They say that the transmission is functioning the way it was designed and therefor does not fall under the lemon law.

I urge you to not give up - take them to arbitration as I did. Even though I was not successful in mine if enough folks with the same problem start making noise about it...

19th Feb 2005, 17:20

I have a 2004 Toyota Kluger V6 3.3 5sp auto (essentially identical to the Highlander). The transmission hesitation problem in my particular car is very, very scary. Judging by numerous other web boards, most Highlanders have a small to moderate amount of hesitation, but on some, the problem causes an unpredictable delay of about 2 seconds - a mighty long time in an emergency situation. When the transmission does finally cut in, it hits with an almighty jolt. It is NOT just a problem with certain driving styles (as some people have claimed) - everyone who drives my car gets the problem.

In addition, my car has totally unacceptable surging, and a heap of other related problems, and is impossible to drive smoothly - rather ironic given that most reviews on the car rave about its smoothness. Mine is a total disgrace to Toyota, who refuse to acknowledge it as a fault or problem, even though they do say that a "fix" is being investigated. I have learned that a fix has been in the wings since at least 2002. My wife refuses to drive my car, and three friends/colleagues who were initially interested in buying one decided against it after taking mine for a drive.

Most cars seem to be OK, but be aware that if you get a dud, Toyota will leave you high and dry. If I could dump mine without taking a huge hit on my lease, I'd get rid of it today.

20th Feb 2005, 16:11

Sorry to hear about your experience with your Kluger. I posted the comment right before yours about the shifting issues I experienced with my Camry. Ironically - I drive an 2002 Highlander and have experienced no shifting or other issues. BUT - I would not be surprised if the problems you are experiencing are the same as what occured in our Camry. Do you have the V6 5 speed? if so I bet it is the same transmission. Try arbitration and see if you get anywhere. I was not successful and I believe it is because Toyota says that the transmission is operating the way it was designed - therefor the lemon law does not apply. I proved it was an annoyance, but not a safety or value issue.

I agree with the response from the Toyota corporation - they will indeed leave you high and dry.

26th Feb 2005, 20:41

I am glad to read the above comments. I thought it was just me or my vehicle. I am experiencing the same issue on my 2005 Highlander. It is a serious concern for me. The engine seriously over revs before the transmission kicks in. This occurs when leaving a ramp and merging into traffic, or when passing. I will monitor what the US Safety board mentioned above is doing. Thanks for the info.

6th Apr 2005, 07:29


Anyone having this hesitation problem needs to contact NHTSA. They are trying to determine whether they should open an investigation. If they find this to be a safety issue, then they can demand that Toyota take immediate action. Here is the contact information:

NHTSA hotline: 1-888-327-4236.

File on on-line complaint at www.nhtsa.gov.

Also, would be a good idea to post your complaint at http://www.autosafety.org.

23rd Apr 2005, 18:51

I have a 2004 Toyota Highlander and am experiencing the same hesitation and jotting problems, especially when accelerating from low speed. I spoke to the dealer and of course they wash their hands clean. I am in Canada. Does anyone know how and where to file a complain?

28th Apr 2005, 09:17

I got the same transmission hesitation problem with my 2005 Highlander Ltd. I just bought 4 weeks ago. It was my wife who noticed it first. Not only when merging in a highway, but my other concern is that, after making a left or right turn on a corner, it's just too slow to moved. Some cars were about to hit my back. Then when I applied more gas, the car would just jolt right away that makes me uncomfortable. I don't know if I need to addressed this problem to the dealership if they can't do anything about it.

The other problem is the noise coming from an open window at the back seat.

8th Dec 2005, 06:02

Well sounds like we got 1 more victim here in new zealand... brand new 2005 Highlander, only 3 months old. Thought it was only me too until I read this... :o(

16th Jan 2006, 16:45

I purchased a 2005 Highlander V6 new in July 2005 and have had the same hesitation problems when changing lanes and pulling out into traffic. The car has been in the service department on 3 occasions and has less than 10,000 miles on it. I have also been told that I had to "break the car in" and that it was "learning my driving style", as well as, "they all drive like that now". I was ironically pleased to see your website and to learn that I'm not just another woman driver who doesn't know what she is talking about. Unfortunately, I also have a problem with my car rolling forward about a foot or more after taking my foot off the brake when the car is turned off. Has anyone else had this problem? Besides taking the car back to the Toyota dealership repeatedly and contacting the sites you had listed, is there any other recourse to getting our problems satisfied?

23rd Jan 2006, 22:27

The transmission hesitation problem: does this only occur with the V6 engine? or has anyone experienced this with the 4-cylinder engine?

25th Feb 2006, 21:30

I drive a 03 Lexus ES300 and have the hesitation problem. It is very dangerous here in Southern California trying to merge onto a freeway with people traveling 85 mph+. I have complained to Lexus about this and they said it is normal performance of the car. My 1998 ES300 and my 1995 LS400 have no problems like this. I think when Lexus/Toyota added the 5speed auto it really messed things up. If only one person drives the car you will not have this problem, but since I let my wife and 16yr old daughter drive the car, the computer doesn't learn the driver. I went out and bought a 05 LS430, it does not have the problem. I wish Lexus would stand behind their products for they are so reliable besides the transmission. My 92 SC400 had 225,000 when my Older daughter started driving it. Shes is now 19 and has close to 260,000.

13th Mar 2006, 20:45

Whoa there guys. According to Edmunds, the Highlander had a 3.0L V6 with a 4-speed AT in 2001-03 (the model year of this posting is 2003). The 3.3L V6 with 5-speed was introduced in 2004. The 4-cylinder Highlander still used the 4-speed AT through 2005.