Crossover & Midsize

Recall: Is Your 2020 Toyota Highlander Stalling?

Although the Toyota Highlander is more crossover than SUV, it’s one of Toyota’s best-selling models. It has a wide array of standard features, and there’s even a somewhat-sporty XSE trim. Though, the Nightshade Edition is mostly just a cosmetic package. But, while the Highlander is popular, it has had some problems in the past. And one of them has prompted a Toyota Highlander recall.

The 2020 Toyota Highlander’s stalling problem

As Drivetrain Resource explains, there are several reasons why a 2020 Toyota Highlander could stall or develop a misfire. The most common is a fuel issue. Bad gas or water could’ve gotten into the tank, the fuel injectors could be clogged, or the car’s fuel pump is starting to fail.

It’s also possible the Highlander’s running low on oil, something that’s been known to happen in some models. Another engine-related problem is the timing chain, which can jump off its teeth or break entirely. Also, if the stalling issue is only temporary, However, modern engines aren’t purely mechanical: they have electronic components as well, and they can also fail.

A broken or dirty throttle position sensor, oxygen sensor, and/or mass airflow sensor means the engine can’t properly control its air/fuel mixture. Not only can this cause misfires, but it can also damage your catalytic converter.

However, as Consumer Reports explains, it’s a different electronic component malfunction that’s behind the latest Toyota Highlander recall.

Recall details

To save fuel, the 2020 Toyota Highlander has a start-stop system, like many other modern cars and SUVs. When the crossover comes to a stop, the engine shuts down and restarts when the driver takes their foot off the brake. However, there’s a problem with some start-stop-equipped Highlanders.

According to Carfax, a software glitch can lead to not enough fuel being supplied to the engine. In some cases, Autoblog reports, this can even happen when the Highlander is at speed. If that happens, several warning lights come on, as well as an alert chime, to signal that the engine has stalled.

2020 Toyota Highlander
2020 Toyota Highlander | Toyota

38,810 2020 Toyota Highlanders are included in the recall. In fact, CR reports this recall affects every single 2020 Toyota Highlander, including ones still sitting on dealer lots. Only the models with the 3.5-liter V6 are affected by it, which excludes the hybrid Highlanders. No other Lexus or Toyota product is part of this recall, either.

2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid | Toyota

Beginning April 24, 2020, owners of 2020 Highlanders can bring their crossovers to Toyota dealerships. There, technicians will update the stop-start system’s software to fix the issue. Also, if you were considering buying a new Highlander, know that Toyota won’t be selling any affected models until the recall is applied.

This isn’t the first Toyota Highlander recall

As is often the case for recently-updated cars, the Toyota Highlander has been part of another recent recall. Though it did avoid the 2.5-liter four-cylinder fire issue.

In January 2020, the 2018 and 2019 Toyota Highlander was part of a recall that was eventually extended to include 1.8 million vehicles, Roadshow reports. Also included in the recall were the 4Runner, Land Cruiser, Camry, Avalon, and several Lexus products.

2020 Toyota Land Cruiser
2020 Toyota Land Cruiser | Toyota

Again, the issue was with stalling vehicles, Roadshow reports. This time, however, the fault lay with a failure-prone fuel pump. First, the engine would begin to run roughly and eventually stall completely.

Owners of affected vehicles should have started to receive their recall notices in mid-March 2020. The solution appears to be the fitment of an improved fuel pump. If you’re unsure if your Highlander is part of either recall, both Toyota and the NHTSA provide online recall lookup tools.

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