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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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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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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6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Former Toyota...stripped head bolts
By bizmin on 10/06/10 00:00 AM (PDT)

Vehicle

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

Review

2003 Toyota Highlander 2.4 L 4-cylinder engine, 108,000 miles, perfect service, until it developed coolant leak on the back side of the top of the engine, adjacent to an insulator pad at the back of the engine block. The back 3 head bolts were completely stripped, allowing coolant to leak into the engine. Toyota dealer says the short block or entire engine must be replaced, with no other option [$5200- $7400+.] Based on the frequency of identical engine failures, faulty factory assembly and/or design assures eventual failure of the engine. 25-year Toyota fan, probably lost forever.
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4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Buyer beware
By bk on 07/20/10 20:01 PM (PDT)

Vehicle

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

Review

We purchased this car new and kept it dealer maintained for 7 years. I found it to be quite a reliable vehicle until recently. At 118,000 miles it developed a coolant leak. It was ultimately found to be due to stripped out threads in the engine block (i.e. the car needed a new engine ~ $7500.00). After discovering that I was not the only one to experience this problem (check online Toyota forums), I notified Toyota. The Rep stated, "Your engine may be defective, but we cannot help you because you are out of warranty." Beware of the 4 cylinder engine in the 03 Highlander! A dealer maintained vehicle is worthless, and Toyota has lost a customer. And so it goes.
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Great SUV
By David on 05/18/10 12:23 PM (PDT)

Vehicle

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

Review

Great SUV! I am getting 24-26 mpg 70/30 hwy/city. I got the dreaded P0420/P0430 check engine light. Ran several tanks of the good gas with fuel system cleaner. Cleared codes and everything is fine now. Runs better too! Love the economy with all the space and 4 cylinder has plenty of pep for me. I have been looking for an SUV with plenty of room and economy. Fun to drive and rides nice too!
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Almost Perfect
By John Adams on 05/09/10 09:25 AM (PDT)

Vehicle

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

Review

I am a small business owner and was using an Odyssey for hauling and an Accord for personal running. Been looking for something doing both. Finally decided to buy a 4 cylinder Highlander with 118,000 miles. And I have never been so happy in my life on making a car buying choice like this one. Great gas mileage, can do the loading as good as in my Odyssey. Great Car like smooth ride, and great gas mileage. Yes, being a 4 cylinder it does not have that V6 feel but who cares, it has good enough power to hold its own. Recommended 200% to all those who need good gas mileage, need bigger space, wanna drive SUV like looks and don't care if the vehicle does not make 0-60 miles in 6 seconds.
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2003 Highlander (2.4L 4A)
By Rich on 11/02/07 08:31 AM (PDT)

Vehicle

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

Review

Our Highlander has been a very reliable vehicle. It's very well built and has lots of room. I'm always amazed how much I can stuff into it! The handling and traction has improved considerably after replacing the cheap OEM Goodyear Integritys with Michelin LTXs. The 4 cyl isn't exactly a tire-burner but it consistently gets upper 20s to lower 30s mileage on the highway. We tow a two PWC trailer at just over 2000 lbs. and pulls it nicely at speeds up to 60 mph. Over that and the engine has to work quite hard. Needless to say the mileage drops to the low teens. Overall, I'm hard pressed to find something as roomy and versatile as our Highlander on the market today!
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