How to disable Auto Start-Stop on Toyota Highlander

Available on select Highlander V6 models. Toyota introduce a drivetrain technology that is a first for Toyota in North America: Stop and start engine system.

Toyota Highlander third generation (XU50; 2013) – (photo by Toyota)

This new Toyota technology automatically stops, and restarts the engine while the vehicle is stopped. Essentially putting the vehicle into a standby state until you are ready to move again. In the right conditions, the system shuts down the engine when the vehicle reaches 0 miles per hour, and then smoothly restarts once brake pedal pressure is released.


An icon in the multi information display will illuminate when the engine is shut off, because of this system. Depending on the route and traffic, as well as your driving style.

The system may help return greater estimated fuel economy of up to one mile per gallon in the city. Because the engine is off while the system is active, the vehicle is not producing any emissions while stopped. When the engine is not running, there are no unwanted engine noises or vibrations. This helps make for a more peaceful cabin while stopped, similar to that of a hybrid vehicle. Stop and start is active by default.

  1. To disable the system, press the Auto Stop-Stop button on the dashboard to the left of the steering wheel.
  2. An indicator icon will come on to confirm the system is canceled.
  3. Reactivating the system can be done by pressing the same button, which will start the engine if it is currently off, or by simply shutting off the vehicle entirely.
  4. The system will automatically be active again upon the next ignition cycle.
  5. You may wish to manually disable the system in certain driving situations, like towing a trailer, or if your air conditioning performance is affected, or your windshield fogged up due to the engine being off.
  6. You can also change the engine idling stop time between standard, and extended in the vehicle settings. This setting only affects engine idling stop time when the air conditioning system is on. Since the air conditioning system can cause the engine to restart more frequently using the extended setting will lengthen the engine stop time, but will impact air conditioning performance.
  7. Stop and start is designed to monitor a wide range of inputs, to ensure proper operation whenever possible. However certain situations, such as when your front defrost is switched on, may cause the system not to engage, or may restart the engine before you release brake pedal pressure.
Contact the author: stevietobias@wheelsjoint.com


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Mark Thomas
Mark Thomas
12 days ago

You noted all the “good” benefits of this system, but you failed to mention the the not so good features:

  1. Car hesitates/shutters as engine restarts, causing driver the think there is a problem with the engine.
  2. Shorter starter life, meaning more repair $$$$$. (only warranted for 5yrs/60K miles)
  3. Special battery needed because of this feature in Highlanders…meaning more $$$$ to replace.
  4. Cool air from air conditioner warms in hot weather while engine it off.