Toyota Highlander won’t start

Does your vehicle tend to start poorly ? Do you wake up the whole street when it’s time to go to work? It’s time to act, but what to do? You don’t know anything?

Toyota Highlander Fourth Generation XU70 – (photo by Toyota)


This is the number one cause of starting problems. It is also very easy to detect because the starter motor does not turn or almost does not (it seems to have difficulties), the lights tend to decrease in intensity.

Battery concerns often arise during changing temperatures / seasons. Try jump starting your vehicle.

Toyota Highlander battery


A problem with IBS (intelligent battery system) can lead to not being able to start. This is a device intended to check the battery charge before starting, if it is not good, the unit prohibits all starting. And when it malfunctions, it can prevent the car from starting wrongly. You just have to unplug it for the car to start again.


Obviously, the starter can also be the cause. It tends to stop working overnight without necessarily having any warning symptoms. The carbons (which are used to transmit current to the moving rotor) end up getting dirty and the starter does not work anymore. Know that sometimes it is enough to give a few blows of the hammer to extend its life a little, this can be useful when you are far from home and that you is in a hurry. Also read how to diagnose defective starter motor.


Spark plugs

First thing, change the candles without thinking if they are already a few years old. The role of the spark plugs is to generate an electric arc which will ignite the fuel. If this arc has trouble forming, it will have a hard time igniting, so you have trouble getting started.

PMH sensor

This sensor (located towards the flywheel) which allows ignition timing can cause starting problems.

AAC sensor

The camshaft sensor (located near the top of the engine) has often been the culprit for hard starting.

Other sensors

A problem with the cooling water temperature sensor can interfere with start-up. Other sensors may be involved, especially on modern engines which have them because the computer needs a lot of data to run the engine.

Fuel pump

The fuel pump could obviously be the cause, because if it no longer sends anything to the engine it will no longer be able to “feed” and therefore start. Its relay can also be responsible.

Air intake

In some cases, an air intake in the fuel or intake system causes problems when starting.

Electronic / Immobilizer

A minor problem with the immobilizer will prevent your engine from starting.

Central computer

Making the link between all the electronic elements of a modern car (multiplexed wire system), it could logically be the cause of a starting problem if it malfunctions.

Engine ECU

If the engine ECU has a problem, or one of its buses (communication wire in a multiplexed architecture intended to reduce the number of cables) you may have difficulty switching on your car.

Blown fuse

A blown fuse could also be responsible for your Highlander’s breakdown. It is recommended to check all important fuses in the fuse box under the hood.

Ignition / distributor coils

The ignition coils can also be involved. These are used to send juice to the spark plugs so that they generate a spark (electric arc). It is the same on old engines with an out-of-service distributor (it takes care of distributing electricity for each spark plug and at the right time).

Injection problem

This is the problem to be feared because the injectors are very expensive. The other symptom that announces a weak injector is the presence of smoke at start-up and suspicious clicking / rattling.

If you still can’t diagnose your Toyota Highlander after checking everything mentioned in this article, then its recommend to call the dealership / workshop and let the professional take over.

Author: Nabeel K

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1 year ago

So where is the IBS device on 2014 Toyota Highlander ?!?

6 months ago

I have serious issue with my Highlander, it doesn’t start and after many tries without Jump start it can turn on.

Also one more issue, it loses power steering while driving for few seconds and restore. Any ideas can help, dealership saying everything is fine, starter, alternator and battery. Car has new battery replaced last November.