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Toyota Highlander Transmissions: Overview, Problems, Fluids

Until now, Toyota has launched four generations of the Toyota Highlander. Accordingly, we will discuss today several transmissions that Toyota has incorporated throughout its four generations. So, what is the wait? Let us get started.

Toyota has used 4- and 5- speed automatic transmissions in the first generation of the Toyota Highlander. Subsequently, it has incorporated 5- and 6-speed automatic transmissions in its second generation. Its third generation has swallowed 6- and 8-speed automatic transmissions. However, its fourth generation has an 8-speed automatic transmission, along with an eCVT.

For context, the above explanation only offers a simplistic overview. It is by all means enough to understand transmissions that Toyota has included inside the Toyota Highlander. For this reason, we will discuss transmissions with different aspects to comprehend several models that go inside it throughout its evolution. We will find out the cost of replacement and their durability. Moreover, we will go through some common problems that emerge during the lifetime of those transmissions. Besides, we will go through some differences between those transmissions. So, let us get started.

Also read: Types Of Gas A Toyota Highlander Uses (All Generations)

What Transmissions Has The Toyota Highlander Used?

Here we see different transmissions the Toyota Highlander has used throughout its journey.

First Generation (2000–2007)

  • 4-speed U140E/140F/241E automatic
  • 5-speed U151E/F automatic

Second Generation (2007–2013)

  • 5-speed U151E automatic
  • 6-speed U760E automatic

Third Generation (2013–2020)

  • 6-speed U660E/760E automatic
  • 8-speed UA80E/UA80F automatic

Fourth Generation (2019–Present)

  • 8-speed UA80F Direct Shift ECT automatic
  • eCVT with sequential shift mode (hybrid)

How Long Does A Toyota Highlander Transmission Last?

Fundamentally, the reliability of the transmission is contingent on the kind of it. However, it is essential to understand that routine maintenance plays a significant part in determining its proper functioning. When it comes to the transmission of the Toyota Highlander, it often lasts between 100,000 to 200,000 miles. To ramp up the lifetime and smooth running of it, experts suggest sorting out problems at once. Moreover, it is vital to keep the fluid levels topped up.

Also read: The Expected Mileage Of A Toyota Highlander

How Much Does A Toyota Highlander Transmission Cost?

Do you want your transmission to get replaced? If it is the case, it becomes significant to know the prices of different transmissions. Down below, we provide you with an overview of the costs of some of the transmissions for your ease.

  • 4-speed U140E automatic: $2,395.00 (SPPrecision)
  • 5-speed U151E automatic: $2,708.00 (Reman-transmission)
  • 6-speed U760E automatic: $3,432.40 (GoPowerTrain)
  • 6-speed U660E automatic: $1,299.00 (Jdmnewyork)

Common Toyota Highlander Transmission Problems

During the life-cycle of the transmission, it shows different types of problems. As an example, here we discuss issues regarding several transmissions of the Toyota Highlander.


  • Although the transmission is reliable, it may cause problems when incorporated inside heavy cars with 3-liter engines. As a consequence, its components have to operate under heavy loads. Hence, it may require the first overhaul even before a vehicle hits 200 thousand kilometers. It is usually the torque converter that gets replaced.
  • There requires close attention to the output planet of old units of the transmission. It might have issues regarding the damage of pinion-satellites precipitated by heavy loads. With satellites of the planetary gear, the sun gear also gets damaged.
  • Another problematic place for the transmission is the back cover. Nonetheless, the problem is prevalent among cars with high-power engines. Statistics indicate that change of steel disks and frictions in the direct package is made three to four times more than in other packages.
  • It is the rubber-covered piston that remains another frequently replaced component in the direct clutch package. The dry functioning and higher temperature often cause rapid damage to the rubber.


  • Over time, drivers may experience rough coasting downshift with the U760E transmission.
  • Another problem that may emerge along the way is a shaking sensation between 25mph and 50mph.
  • The correct fluid is critical to the transmission since an incompatible one may develop rough shifts. It may also create the shudder emerging from the torque converter clutch.
  • The wearing of the valve is an additional issue with the transmission. However, you can get over-the-shelf solutions for problems regarding valve body wear.


  • The common issue with the transmission is the worn valve body. The contaminated automatic transmission fluid and vitiated torque converter lockup cause slagging or wear-out of plunger valves and channels of the valve body.
  • In the electrical part, the selector position plate with temperature is the most commonly replaced element. It is the overheating sensor that becomes the reason for the malfunctioning of the valve body.
  • Overheating is often the initial reason for early problems with electrical components. The repair of the pistons kit often goes with every overhaul of the overheated transmission.
  • Overlooked bearing vibrations often cause damage to a list of spare parts. It includes crown gear, planetary gears, sun gear, differential, pistons, etc.

Also read: 6 Common Problems Of A Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Differences Between Transmissions

The U140E is a 4-speed automatic transmission. It mounts on several new platforms since it has obtained compactness. It also has acquired high efficiency that also improves fuel economy. Apart from that, it has reduced noise, good shift feeling, and swift response.

The U760E is a 6-speed automatic transmission. On the weight front, you can count it as a slightly lighter version of the U660E transmission. But note that both models share several common parts.

Introduced in the 2007 model year of the Toyota Camry, the U660E is a 6-speed automatic transmission. It is used in front-wheel-drive vehicles. Additionally, it is a compact transmission that is similar to the size of many four-speed transmissions. Interestingly, it has also been used in other Toyota vehicles. It includes Lexus models that have a 3.5-liter engine.

Transmission Fluids And The Toyota Highlander

Well-maintenance of the transmission by sorting out the problems straight away is the first step to ensure the seamless running of the transmission. According to many car manufacturers, it is a good idea to change transmission fluid every 45,000 miles. Notwithstanding, one should keep in mind that different transmissions require different types of transmission fluid. Here we provide you with the source of the transmission fluids that will help you find the one that works with your transmission.