23rd Mar 2006, 19:37

I just purchased a 2004 Toyota Highlander and I am feeling the hesitation, but not to the degree of everyone else. My issue is 2 days ago I was merged onto the interstate and when my car reach 60mph the steering wheel started to shimmy back and forth. I carried the vehicle in and the dealership is saying that the front and back wheels on the right side are "out of round" or bent. They have told me I had to hit something very hard to cause this, but I haven't hit anything. I have not hit a curb, pothole, speed bump or run off of the road. I have driven this vehicle for 5000 miles and was hearing a slight popping noise when I first got the vehicle and it only occurred while on the interstate, but it stopped happening. Has anyone had any similar problems occur with the tires and wheels?

10th Sep 2006, 21:38

I have driven the Highlander (and thank God DID NOT buy one!!) and it wasn't hesitation that bothered me about it, it was the lack of power. These things are so slow they are a hazard in traffic. The lowly Chevy Aveo is a Porsche compared to the Highlander!!

24th Sep 2006, 16:27

Your service department is making excuses. These cars simply have defective transmissions and underpowered engines. Nothing will correct the problem other than trading these underpowered SUV wanabes in on a real SUV.

21st Nov 2006, 18:17

After reading the plethora of problems plaguing the Highlander I can't fathom why people are buying these things.

They are apparently slow, unsafe and under some major safety recalls. Is buying a name more important than looking at the car's obvious shortcomings?

25th Jan 2007, 18:29

Hey Guys!

This forum is for 2003 Highlander! Please do not write in this section for 2004 and 05 models!!!

Yes, you all correct 5 speed auto tranny has a defect. But Audi has the same problem, also because of automatic 5 speed.

How about 2003 model owners? Any hesitation or problems to report? Please come forward!


13th Feb 2007, 12:58

My 2003 Highlander has been very reliable. I have "hauled"just about any and everything in it that a small truck can handle. It has been in twenty states. I have only one complaint, and that is the mirror on the visor could be doubled in size. I am handicapped, and the adjustable seats have been wonderful. This is my fourth Toyota, and probably not my last. I am only sixty, so I may need a couple more. Our 1993 Corolla has over 250 thousand miles,and my husband drives it to work daily.

25th Jun 2007, 17:07

I've been driving 2003 Highlander for about 5 months without any problems. I feel sorry for those who got the hesitation problem with their highlander. It could be 2003 model has 4 speeds, and later models have 5 speeds. After reading the posts in here, I feel a little scared with my highlander. I hope it won't give me any troule. Thanks God.

12th Jul 2007, 09:49

Just picked up a 2003 (96,000 Kms) and was delighted first few days until I started noticing the hesitation when leaving a stop sign and turning left or right. Responsiveness from a dead-start is just not there. Problem is somewhat mitigated by enabling ECT / Snow feature.

Car had snow tires on when I picked it up and I experienced shaky steering wheel at 65mph. Went to Costco and had Michelin Cross Terrains put on. Now the shaking has subsided somewhat, but I still notice too much steering wheel movement at higher speeds.

Initial excitement of owning my used Highlander has been dampened somewhat by these 2 issues.

6th Aug 2007, 16:48

05 4cyl Highlander owner 30.5 mpg highway/28 mpg mixed driving... Has 30K miles on it... No hesitation or transmission slipping so far... no lurching a foot either..

Got 17 inch wheels and inflated tires to max psi... took a Ohio to Richmond VA trip.. avg 30.5 going on HWY go the speed limit.. I get better MPG than Hybrid owners have reported... around VA Beach and Town driving... it dropped to 28 mpg... I top off gas tank each time I filled it up... so I know how much gas was burnt...

29th Aug 2007, 14:32

I am presently battling with Toyota over what I consider to be a safety defect (the hesitation problem). I understand that the Highlander and the Lexus RX330 are very similar, so I visited the Lexus service manager. He told me that the RX's had the same hesitation problem and that it is fixed on the Lexus models--turned out to be the transmission. I thought it was interesting that Toyota fixed this on the Lexus and not the Highlander. I suggest you have a chat with your local Lexus dealer and get the story from them, then approach Toyota or the NHTSA with what you find.

31st Aug 2007, 12:46

I just purchased a certified Toyota Highlander, 2004 Limited model. I absolutely HATE it. The lurching / hesitation problem makes this a terrible car to own and drive. Of course during my test drives I did not experience this and that holds true to when I drive it. I don't always experience the hesitation. This happens about 75% of the time. The other 25% it drives okay. I wish I would have done more research before buying (and now being stuck with) this car. Buyers beware!

5th Jan 2008, 12:10

I have a 2003 v6 highlander. I'm getting an check engine and VCS light. Last time I got it I found a disconnected Vacum hose; I reconnected the hose and lights went out. This time all hoses checked and are OK. Put the computer on it, but it's not reading my computer signal. Otherwise car is running fine.

Has anybody come across this before? Does anybody know what the problem might be?

8th Mar 2008, 21:14

I have been driving an '07 Highlander with 4-cylinder engine for almost a year (purchased new). I have never experienced any transmission shifting problems. The car has been flawless. It is a little under-powered at times on the highway, but it is my preference with gas skyrocketing prices.

I notice the '08 Scion xB uses the same (or similar) engine and is offered with a dealer-installed optional supercharger. A supercharger add-on to my Highlander would be perfect (as I also have a 4-cylinder Previa with a factory supercharger).

9th Dec 2008, 11:16

Toyota V6 hesitation problem.

I brought my Toyota Camry V6 to a dealer to have the computer software upgrade. I saw an improvement in performance overall. Happy.

4th Feb 2010, 12:23

After reading all these comments about Toyotas highlanders, I am about to buy a 2004, but now I don't know.

18th Nov 2010, 17:50

I love my 2004 Toyota Highlander, but from day 1 had trouble with the hesitation and lurching, and was told, as I see many on this forum were, that it is supposed to do that - computerized driving style. Doesn't happen as often any more, but still does - that lurching is actually frightening sometime.

However, I have had other transmission trouble - seal leaking - thank goodness it was under warranty. Since February 2009 I've been complaining about a noise when I hit 45mph - it was finally diagnosed a week ago after countless complaining as a bearing in the differential, and I was told I need to have the transaxle replaced - $4,000.00. Toyota offered me 50% off repair. I have to have my car fixed, but not happy about this, especially the more I read about these transmission issues. Anyone else have this problem?

11th Apr 2016, 15:46

I have the same problem for my 2003; it sometimes lacks the power to accelerate from a dead stop, when I step on the gas. It lurches eventually but still is lacking power. Help.

11th Apr 2016, 19:12

It probably needs some more gas. I'd recommend punching the gas pedal a bit more abruptly.