2003 Toyota Highlander SUV - Consumer Reviews

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Huge disappointment
By ejet on 09/01/14 10:43 AM (PDT)

Vehicle

2003 Toyota Highlander SUV Fwd 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A)

Review

We bought this SUV new in 2002. We bought it because we have a 1998 Carolla that's been a very reliable car. But not the Highlander. At just under 200,000 k the old leaky head gasket then the stripped head bolt got us. Last year we thought we would keep the Toyota for a few more years so we put money into the few body chips. Bought new tires, winter and summer and put in a new windshield in the spring. Now we had an engine that was toast. Our local Toyota dealer found us a used motor from another Toyota and installed it. They say it only has 70,000 k but who knows. So we spent $7600.00 so far.
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Disappointed
By herbertspoof on 05/09/12 17:53 PM (PDT)

Vehicle

2003 Toyota Highlander SUV AWD 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A)

Review

Purchased used 5 years ago with 86,000. Didn't flinch at the mileage due to Toyota's reputation for reliability; car drove well, at first. Sold at 109,000 due to expensive repair and maintainence costs including: All 4 wheel bearings, $500 a pop. Breaks completely replaced, some more than once. $2,000 spent on breaks in just 2 years. Evaporator sensor went bad; $400 just for the part. Muffler developed a small hole; $400 for a new one. Straw that broke the camel's back: drive shaft developed a wobble and needed complete replacement $1,200. Cut my losses and unloaded the hunk of junk. Other car was a 20 year old Subaru Legacy that had fewer problems and was cheaper to maintain.
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6 of 6 people found this review helpful
New Owner-Wierd Issues
By mjc333 on 11/08/11 18:20 PM (PST)

Vehicle

2003 Toyota Highlander SUV Limited AWD 4dr SUV (3.0L 6cyl 4A)

Review

I just purchased the Toyota Highlander 2003 and upon purchasing the vehicle I was very happy. The check engine light came on shortly after purchase and apparently the cause is a bad "ECM" board in the SUV. I am not sure if this is common but I have experienced this problem. I love the vehicle otherwise and plan on driving it for a while. Currently at 82K hope it lasts to 200K without major repairs.
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Blown Head Gasket Engine 4cyl Bad News
By toml1958 on 11/02/11 12:14 PM (PDT)

Vehicle

2003 Toyota Highlander SUV Fwd 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A)

Review

Beware of the dreaded code stating leakage in exhaust system, for this is an idication of the head gasket going and leaking coolant. Upon further review it is found thatrear head bolts are stripped due to excessive heat most like caused by foam insulator pad between plastic intake manifold and engine. Some say engine is toast, but the fix rec. is a time sert insert kit (approx $500 helicoil) with drill guide. Mine is to be currently repaired at about a total cost of $2,900.00 as long as the helicoil kit holds the head bolt torque, we will see? It is a design flaw in my opinion as it seems to be a regular issue with the four cylinder Highlanders approx.2001-2005? Failure was at 160,000 mi.
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Good Car
By graphical87 on 09/22/11 09:05 AM (PDT)

Vehicle

2003 Toyota Highlander SUV Fwd 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A)

Review

I've had my Toyota highlander for about 5 months now. When I first got it it had almost 216,000 miles. It's a great SUV and pretty reliable with decent gas mileage. At about 218,000 miles the temperature gauge started going up , almost to red. It would go up and then down to normal and repeat. Turned out I blew a head gasket. While it was at the shop being repaired they found that the head bolts were stripped which is a known problem with this year ,make and type of engine my highlander has. Ended up paying $3,700 to get fixed. Despite the major repair I haven't had any other problems with it. I'm at 222,000 miles and it runs great. I'm hoping on making it to 300,000 + miles.
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High Mileage pitfalls
By shaggs on 04/20/11 18:23 PM (PDT)

Vehicle

2003 Toyota Highlander SUV AWD 4dr SUV (3.0L 6cyl 4A)

Review

I bought this SUV new in 2003 and have it maintined regularly at the dealer. I now have 216,000 km on it and am starting to experience some high mileage wear items that have become prohibatively expensive. The oil cooler developed a leak and cost $1,000.00 to replace. The rear hanger bearing on the drive shaft (the shaft that connects the front transfer case with the rear) is noisy. For a worn bearing or universal joint the whole drive shaft must be replaced at a cost of $1,700.00 just for the part. I am looking for a good used one but am finding it impossible. There are no after market shafts, only ones available from the dealer. Highlanders will last many years, but at what cost!!!
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5 of 9 people found this review helpful
2003 highlander Engine Failure 147,000 miles Coolant leak
By anderswl on 04/16/11 14:52 PM (PDT)

Vehicle

2003 Toyota Highlander SUV Fwd 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A)

Review

Just like others I have read on this site, my 2003 run hot and after having it towed for service and repair I was told the engine needs to be replaced. The cost for the re-built engine was $6,400 - $8,500 depending on who you called. Very disappointed in the built strong organization I put so much trust in.
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Stripped Head-Bolts
By lsthkr on 01/28/11 18:26 PM (PST)

Vehicle

2003 Toyota Highlander SUV Fwd 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A)

Review

Never had a problem with this vehicle until Jan 25 2011 as I was driving across town. Coolant leak brought me to a dead stop. I discovered a common problem with this engine (2.4L 4cyl). Just Google Highlander stripped head-bolts to see how many of these engines are dying and how expensive the fix is. Mine had only 126,000 miles on it. I am the original owner. The dealer will not help with repair costs even though this is a manufacturing and or design issue.
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2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Mechanically reliable, no frills vehicle.
By j_ash on 12/16/10 19:32 PM (PST)

Vehicle

2003 Toyota Highlander SUV Fwd 4dr SUV (3.0L 6cyl 4A)

Review

I bought my '03 about two years ago with about 70k miles. I had to replace the HVAC blower motor (approx $250) because of an annoying rattle. Aside from that issue I've had no other machanical problems at 115k. I will say that the front seat is uncomfortable and is ill suited to long drives. The cabin materials in general are cheaper than other cars I've owned in the past. The carpet is super thin and the leather is of substandard quality in my opinion. A good car if you dont care about the ugly, cheap interior.nion. Not a bad car if you don't care about the interior.
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1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Long Hauls
By Jim on 10/12/10 00:00 AM (PDT)

Vehicle

2003 Toyota Highlander SUV Limited AWD 4dr SUV (3.0L 6cyl 4A)

Review

Only one problem with vehicle: the drivers bench seat is too short and causes extreme leg pain on an extended trip. I frequently drive for 10 and 12 hour stretches, and the bench does not provide enough support for me. I am 6 ft. tall, so I cannot imagine how a taller person fairs in this vehicle. Overall, the car has been trouble free.
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