September 11

2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid – Inverter

Auto Repair, Toyota


Today’s featured service is diagnosis on a 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid
2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Toyota is definitely the leader in hybrid sales with a lineup of vehicles from the very popular Prius to the Camry and Highlander models. There are also several Lexus models that utilize these hybrid drive systems. Toyota hybrid vehicles are well built and have proven to be very reliable. This is fortunate because when something goes wrong the repair costs are astronomical. It’s one reason that I have not been a big fan of hybrid vehicles.

Our featured 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid was towed to us from Whistler where the vehicle broke down and would not move forward or backward. Diagnostic tests found the inverter assembly defective. The part is only available as a complete unit, exclusively from Toyota. The cost: a whopping 7600 dollars!!!

This is not the only expensive component on a hybrid: battery packs are in the 5000 dollar range. The other major component, the motor/generator is something that I’ve never priced out, but you can be certain that it would cost much more than the inverter.

With hybrid drive vehicles extremely expensive parts costs are the big issue. In defense of this Toyota it was a well used high mileage vehicle with 156,000 miles (251,000 km). When questioning my Toyota dealer’s parts department they had only ever sold 1 of these units which means that failure is very rare.

Our clients were from Washington state and decided to tow the car home to ponder their options which might include trading in the vehicle for something new. Of course a vehicle that doesn’t run has very little value.

At our shop we increasingly see more and more hybrids for service and this is the first vehicle with a major component failure. Even some of the 10 year old Prius’ that we see are still going strong.

If you are considering buying a hybrid vehicle just be cautious and be aware that there are many very expensive parts that can fail.

For more on the Toyota Highlander click here

For more about Toyota’s hybrid drive system click here

Toyota Highlander Hybrid
The inside view of the Inverter assembly with top cover removed: full of  complex electronics and electrical components.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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