How Long Do Toyota Highlanders Last?

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Today, people shopping for a family vehicle often than not settle for a cross-over utility vehicle with loads of spaces and three rows of seats. The Toyota Highlander checks these two boxes and so much more. Interest in this vehicle still remains high ever since it made its debut back in 2000. Part of the reason for this is simply because industry leader Toyota makes it. For a long time, they have enjoyed a reputation for producing one of the most reliable vehicles, and the Highlander is not left behind.

The second reason has to be its safety rating. The Highlander comes with impressive safety features that would otherwise cost thousands of dollars on other cars. With that said, I started to wonder just how long the motor of this vehicle actually lasts. I embarked on a research journey to find out how long this fantastic car can warm the hearts of those behind its steering wheel.

How long do Toyota highlanders last?

So, How long do Toyota highlanders last? According to Toyota, about 18 percent of Toyota Highlander owners have been using or at one point used the Highlander for more than 15 years, which is absolutely incredible. They further added that if you give your Highlander proper maintenance, this vehicle can easily go over 300,000 miles, which says a lot about its reliability.

How long a vehicle lasts is down to how reliable the car is and, more specifically, its parts or components. In 2019, for instance, the Toyota Highlander had a reliability score of 4.5 stars out of a possible 5 according to J.D. Power and Associates, for the model that was made that year.

This was based on consumer ratings, how often problems occurred on the vehicle, and the nature of the needed repairs. Owners summed up the model as one that is reliable and requires very low maintenance to keep it running, which is proof enough that this vehicle will last many years to come.

Repairpal, a leading auto repair website, gives the Toyota Highlander a cumulative rating of 4.0 stars out of 5 stars from all models from different generations ever since it was first manufactured.

This rating is based on the types of repairs done, how often they are done, and how frequently you visit the repair shops. The Highlander also ranks seventh out of 26 for mid-size SUVs and their reliability, with the annual repair costs ranging around $489.

The reason why Highlanders last so long has to do with the manufacturer, Toyota. This company is ranked eighth out of 32 car manufacturers worldwide in terms of how dependable they are on the road, which is quite impressive because they produce so many of them daily.

What can I do for my Toyota Highlander to last long?

Back in the day, vehicle owners were considered lucky to get their vehicle to 100,000 miles. With advances in parts, fluids, and manufacturing, this has definitely changed, with cars being able to further than ever before. Using a vehicle longer doesn’t happen by chance.

Take care of your vehicle, and it shall take care of you is what people say, but it astonishing just how many people practice this. Below are several ways you can take care of your Toyota Highlander and ensure it keeps you smiling as you blaze through those miles.

First, you have to perform regular maintenance on your vehicle. Regular service is the heart of maintaining your vehicle. It is can almost be equated to the regular doctor’s checkup visit. By noticing problems and taking care of them early, you can save tons of cash before they become worse down the line and cost you a fortune.

Maintenance tasks on your Toyota Highlander include regular oil changes, inspecting your car periodically, doing brake inspections, checking the cooling system, and refilling it when low, and changing the battery. Sadly, most car users ignore this till it’s too late. Regularly scheduled service will also ensure that you get peak performance for your vehicle for longer.

Secondly, you should never ignore warning lights on the cluster gauge of your vehicle. Most drivers ignore unusual lights in the instrument cluster, mostly if they have never seen it before.

Others usually hope that it will simply turn off, so they go on with their daily errands, not knowing it may reduce their vehicle’s lifespan. Every alert issued on the gauge cluster in the form of warning lights has its meaning, and therefore you should consult your local mechanic and check it out.

Alternatively, you can also check out what the light means on your Highlander’s owner’s manual. Watching the gauges on your vehicle like the RPM, temperature, and charge level on the battery can help you point out a problem before it happens, so keep a close eye on them.

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Thirdly, keep a close eye on fluids and filters on your Toyota Highlander. The engine might look like a big block of metal but is very sensitive.

It is full of moving parts that rely heavily on oils, coolants, and transmission fluids to function correctly. Not watching the level of these fluids could cause severe damage to your Highlander engine. Checking your fluid levels should hand in hand with regular maintenance for maximum longevity for your vehicle.

Checking both the engine air filter and the cabin air filter is fundamental for both your engine and your health if you want to be the one behind the wheel for those incredible miles you want to put on the vehicle. The best part is checking these two elements is simple and won’t take much of your time.

Lastly, using the right parts, fuel, and fluids cannot be overemphasized. Vehicle parts are not all equal. Some might be of a lesser quality than the official ones that are meant to be used on your vehicle.

For instance, when you are shopping for your vehicle’s parts, you might find two identical pieces, with the only difference being in the price. Sadly many owners settle for the cheaper option thinking they have saved money.

In truth, the more inexpensive part might cost them more if it fails because it was made of substandard materials. Using the right fluid goes a long way in ensuring you have a healthy engine. For example, synthetic oils are usually priced higher than bulk oils but last nearly three times longer and are better for your vehicle.

What common problems are associated with the Toyota Highlander?

The Toyota Highlander might have a solid reliability reputation, but all cars have their issues. For the Highlander to be so reliable nowadays, it has come through a journey of eliminating the majority of the problems from earlier generations.

The current generation of the Highlander that began in 2014 has few complaints concerning and they include some moldy smell coming from the HVAC (heating ventilation and air conditioning system), excessive wind noises especially at higher speeds, and the liftgate sticking in the open or closed position.

Toyota solved the moldy smell problem and advised owners to turn off the air conditioner’s recirculating setting as it forces the car to draw in fresher air from the outside, reducing the odors.

As for the tailgate problem, Toyota found the tailgate door actuators to be the issue and replaced all the faulty ones under warranty. As for the wind noise that was experienced at highway speeds, it was found out that the gap between the passenger’s side front door and the trim pieces is what caused this issue. This is a design flaw, and some owners have reported solving the problem by using a clear tape over the gap.

Toyota is continually trying to solve all issues involved in its vehicles, including the Highlander, to ensure they are as reliable as ever.

Should I consider buying a used Toyota Highlander instead of a new one?

If the new Highlander’s price point is a little bit of a stretch and a hybrid one even more of a stretch, going for a used one is a good option since time has proven that these vehicles can last for a really long time. Additionally, you will be getting one for a low price.

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Some Highlander owners have reported owning one that has gone over the 450,000-mile mark and still running nicely without breaking a sweat. Highlander owners have shared continuously on various online forums how their cars have exceeded their expectations, so buying a used one is still worthwhile.

It is wise to avoid 2001 to 2005 models if you are in the hunt for a used Highlander. This is because models manufactured in this period and brake and engine problems you probably want to avoid.


The Toyota Highlander is arguably the most reliable SUV in its class, and you surely won’t go wrong if you plan on purchasing one, especially for the long run.

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