Torque News created a story in March of 2019 detailing the total costs for all repairs and maintenance work required to keep a 2007 Toyota Highlander Sport in top condition over 100,000 miles. The surprise was that the total came to a whopping $14,029. We thought it would be a good idea to keep our tally of the repair and maintenance costs rolling, and we’ve just hit 120,000 miles. There have been more unexpected high repair costs along with the expected maintenance costs.
Our Highlander was purchased new in March of 2007, so it is now about 15 years and nine months old. During its life, it has been a commuter car, a family hauler, soccer and hockey carpool vehicle, adventure vehicle, snow beast, first vehicle to two young sons, and an Au Pair’s around-town vehicle. In total, it has served six family members as their primary vehicle. During all of this time, it has never once left us stranded. Its reliability has been remarkable.
That is not to say it has not had issues. We replaced the transmission oil cooler and extra heavy-duty alternator, both part of a factory towing package. We also have had a long string of wheel bearing failures, frozen brake calipers, and premature brake failures since the vehicle was bought new. Those continue to this day.
We’ve done two timing belt replacements, and we have been diligent about fluid changes. Power steering, differential, transmission, and oil fluids were always changed on schedule or a bit early. We’ve also had a couple of windshields (insurance covered the cost), and a bunch of sets of tires, including two sets of dedicated winter tires on their own rims. Since we swap them out each fall and spring, the rotation costs are absorbed in that service job.
Update - Toyota Highlander 100K to 120K Costs
So here are the new costs since the original long tally we provided in our original report when the Highlander hit 120K. All of these jobs were performed by trusted local shops, which have proven to be much more affordable than the Toyota and Lexus dealers in our area we used when the car was new and middle-aged.
101,123 - Replaced a frozen wheel nut stud and changed oil $106.10 (Dec 2018)
101,291 - Replaced 12–V Battery $170.99
105,143 - Oil change service $49.04 (August 2019)
106,449 - Full parking brake rebuild and minor charge for license plate fasteners $292.01
109,130 - Spark Plugs, transmission fluid replacement, differential fluid change Oil $553.23
111,612 - Timing belt replaced (second time) $925
112,008 - Tire swap $71
114,098 - Oil change $91.03
114,419 - Parking brake failure repaired, wiper blades, plate light bulb, radiator cap, oil change $510.69 (feb 2021)
114,915 - Replaced both rear wheel bearings and also rear brakes $1,143 (July 2021)
116,000 - Cabin air filter $15
116,385 - Oil change, wiper blades, mount snow tires $115.45
117,772 - Front brakes calipers, rotors pads, swap back to summer tires, oil change $877.56
119,982 - Mount winter tires oil change $102.89
As you can see, the Highlander is no stranger to brake issues. We have replaced calipers and the parking brake multiple times, something many cars never need during their lifespan. During this 20,000-mile period, we also replaced the spark plugs, which are only required every 120,000 miles, and the timing belt, which is only required every seven to nine years.
The total maintenance and repair cost to operate the Highlander from 100K miles to 120K miles was $5,022.99. This spanned a period of exactly four years.
The total cost to maintain the Highlander since it was purchased has now been $19,052.00. The vehicle cost $30,797, so we are two-thirds of the way toward paying for the car twice in maintenance and repair costs.
Today, the Highlander is running just as well as it did the day we drove it home from the dealer. The car has minimal interior wear, and the updated infotainment system we installed (the cost of which is NOT included in our total above) continues to offer modern navigation and Bluetooth. We will be needing tires in the spring again, but otherwise, we are hopeful the Highlander will continue to operate well as our backup transportation, utility vehicle, and “Kid home from college” vehicle.
As an automotive tester and media member, I often have the chance to drive new vehicles the same size and shape as the 2007 Highlander. Very few offer a better powertrain or overall driving experience. Almost none offer the full-size spare and temporary third row of seating the Highlander has. None, zero, nada, zip, have a roof rack and supported metal roof load surface that can rival the Highlander's for utility. And, yes, it (still) also has a moonroof.
So what is the Highlander’s single worst feature? 18 MPG. However, as you can see, we put relatively few miles on the vehicle. And during much of the last four years gas in our area was around $2 per gallon.
Please feel free to comment below and ask questions. We will try to answer them as best we can.
Images by John Goreham.
John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. John's interest in EVs goes back to 1990 when he designed the thermal control system for an EV battery as part of an academic team. After earning his mechanical engineering degree, John completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers, in the semiconductor industry, and in biotech. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American news outlets and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on TikTok @ToknCars, on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin
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