Last post on Dec 06, 2013 at 7:35 PM
You are in the Toyota Highlander Hybrid
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Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Brakes, SUV
#116 of 139 My 2007 Highlander Hybrid's Brakes Just Failed Resulting in 50mph Collision
Jun 02, 2010 (7:31 am)
I just found this thread last night and I wish I saw it earlier because that braking flaw finally caught up with me and there was nothing I could do but crash.
Here's what happened:
I was traveling home from business and was heading northbound on NY State Thruway 87 with traffic more to the heavy side but moving smoothly, weather conditions were excellent. Well apparently a goat had wandered onto the Thruway and a tractor trailer driver locked up the brakes to stop for it. The few cars between myself and the tractor trailer quickly moved over to the left lane with the last one swerving almost at the last second. I moved my foot over to the brake seeing that there was probably slow moving traffic ahead and when I saw the truck, it didn't have brake lights or flashers on so it took me a moment to process that he was standing still. Well I had to make a quick decision: the left lane was blocked for me because everyone else had swerved to it, the right shoulder had a guard rail from the underpass I had just went under; I thought I could try to get through the small gap between the truck and the guard rail but I thought I might flip if I hit the rail too hard so I chose to square up on the truck's bumper and stood on the brake pedal and that was at about 90 to 100 yards till impact. Well the anti-locks started out well and I felt 5 to 10 pulses of the brake then (just as all of you have described and we all know happens with this vehicle) the brakes stop and the vehicle is coasting but doing it at 50+mph. The Highlander continues coasting for 40+ yards (1 to 2 seconds as I recall) before the anti-locks start working again but at this time it was too late and I hit the tractor trailers rear bumper at about 50mph and stopped dead (the bumper on the trailer was too high for the Highlander's frame so the bulk of the deceleration occurred at the motor and passenger compartment, 50mph to 0 in about 3 or 4 inches.) The collision guys couldn't believe I walked away from the accident, they told me that 'high hits' at that speed against tractor trailers are almost always deaths or paralysis at best. I am messed up for sure, hands and feet are numb and back and neck are incredibly painful. I have bruises that run from my ankle right up to my knee from the dash board and my right knee split open also from the dash. I had a large goose egg on the crown of my head from where the high hit of the trucks bumper drove the vehicle down. All in all, I shouldn't be here writing this post but could easily be in a funeral home somewhere waiting from my family to have me buried.
I called Toyota several times about this and no one has ever called me back. Last year, after the Prius recall, I wrote an email to the US Department of Transportation telling them that the Toyota 2007 Highlander Hybrid has the very same failure mode (I.e., brakes not functioning consistently during rough driving conditions.)
Reading through the previous posts here, my vehicle did the exact same thing as the rest of yours does. I know of at least three failure modes on my Highlander Hybrid and they have been described here previously but here they are as I know them: 1) the low speed surge while the regenerative braking system switches to friction braking, 2) stopping on slippery roads especially ice and slush, the anti-lock brakes stop functioning and don't work again till the vehicle is almost at rest 3) under rough driving conditions the brakes will stop working for 1 to 2 seconds before re-engaging ... which was the one that resulted in such a bad collision for me.
My advice to those of you who still have Highlander Hybrids is don't except any excuses from Toyota or the dealership. This is Toyota not doing the right thing because I'm sure they are aware of the problem. I had learned to live with the failure modes in the braking system like the rest of you have but one day you might be faced with the same situation as I just was and have to watch a stationary object (like a tractor trailer) come at you like a freight train and know there is nothing you can do about it.
I'll try to post pictures if I can ... pretty nasty looking I can tell you.
#117 of 139 Re: My 2007 Highlander Hybrid's Brakes Just Failed Resulting in 50mph Colli
Jun 02, 2010 (9:12 am)
I have not been watching posts for several months, but this is the first I've heard of this problem happening at high speed. Sorry for what has happened here, and thankful you're ok. This post merited a response from me because, for the first time I noticed the "gap" in braking friction after hitting a bump on the Xway recently. I had hoped this was only a low speed problem but now am concerned since I was traveling at about 60mph. It has not been my sense that all braking disappears momentarily - but rather a significant reduction in braking friction, which definitely increases the rate of closure on a stationary object. Did your brakes seem to fail altogether or was it more as I have described?
#118 of 139 Re: My 2007 Highlander Hybrid's Brakes Just Failed Resulting in 50mph Colli [paracletos]
Jun 02, 2010 (9:56 am)
Paracletos, They failed all together; there was no braking for as described above about 1 to 2 seconds. I never did have it happen at a speed higher than 45 mph before but I don't have to stop quickly from high speeds too often so maybe it was just a combination of factors coming together at once and probability.
#121 of 139 Re: My 2007 Highlander Hybrid's Brakes Failed Resulting in 50mph Collision [bryankm]
by Kirstie@Edmunds HOST
Jun 03, 2010 (7:09 am)
Holy smokes!! I don't think I've ever seen a car damaged that badly, with the driver walking away relatively intact. Really glad that you at least made it out alive. Those are amazing.
#122 of 139 The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
Jun 03, 2010 (1:44 pm)
If there is anything good to say about Toyota in this situation it is that the SUV stood up to an enormous collision with the passenger compartment remaining intact. Of course there's the bad part - where the brakes contributed to the problem. The ugly? That's what remains of the Highlander! Glad the driver is OK.
#123 of 139 Re: My 2007 Highlander Hybrid's Brakes Failed Resulting in 50mph Collision [kirstie_h]
Jun 04, 2010 (4:35 pm)
Actually, what I think saved me was that I have competed in Olympic Weightlifting for many years. I honestly think most people including my family would not have survived that impact or at the very least wouldn't have walked away from it. My body was pushed to the very limit and it is used to absorbing impacts, I hesitate to think of what might have happened if my wife or 7 year old son had been in the Highlander with me. I do give the Toyota structural engineers props though, the cabin bore more of the forces of the crash then I think most designers would even consider and it held up well ( 1 to 2 inches of compression)
#124 of 139 Re: ABS [mikeg333]
Aug 18, 2010 (9:39 pm)
I have the same problem with my Highlander Hybrid '06. It gets worst during cold months. I first noticed it during winter months when I was still in Pennsylvania and then when I moved to California it became less. I complained this issue many times to the dealership services but they only told me that its the regeneration of the brake system with hybrid system. They said I will get use to it. I dont know what they really meant about, what does a woman knows about stuff like that. But it was pretty much of a big deal to me because its a safety issue, plus I always have kids riding with me. When i read your post and others it became clear to me i am not crazy. I will surely file a complaint about this. Thanks for the link.
#125 of 139 Re: Hi Hy Brake issues [cdptrap]
Aug 18, 2010 (9:51 pm)
I have the same brake problem with my '06 Highlander hybrid. It slip very often particularly during cold season. The dealership just ignore me and said I will just get use to it. Many times I have avoided accident related to the brake problems, i would say i am proud to be a very defensive driver but the question is how long i can avoid it. By the way, the inverter broke down while I was travelling with kids on a busy freeway after 56k miles and just had the major service done prior to incident. The engine suddenly shut down while driving 70mph on a freeway, it wont turn on again. The inverter cost $8200 to replace it. It may happen to you too if you still own the Hi hybrid. I filed complaint to NHTSA, Toyota really need to address the problem. Its a safety issue.