Certain 2020-2023 Highlander & Highlander Hybrid vehicles could experience a front bumper assembly detachment during normal vehicle operation.
The subject vehicles are equipped with a resin front bumper cover assembly consisting of an upper and a lower front bumper cover. The engine under cover and left and right fender liners are connected to the lower bumper cover. The lower bumper cover is connected to the upper bumper cover by push-clips and mounting tabs. If there is minor impact to the lower front bumper cover during normal vehicle operation, some of the mounting tabs could detach, and the retention force of the remaining attachment points may become compromised. In this condition, the lower bumper cover, the engine under cover, and the fender liners may detach from the vehicle while driving. These parts could become a road hazard, increasing the risk of a crash or injury for other road users.
Toyota became aware of the problem in May 2021 when they first starting to receive reports of the lower front bumper cover coming off. Because parts could not be recovered, or parts recovered were damaged, it was difficult to determine the problem.
Toyota tried to duplicate the conditions under which the lower front bumper cover might detach from a vehicle by conducting wind tunnel testing. The duplication testing also involved intentionally unseating mounting tabs. During the testing, Toyota was able to duplicate separation of the lower front bumper cover when some of the mounting tabs were unseated; however, the evaluation was not able to determine how the mounting tabs became unseated.
Toyota performed a design review of the subject Highlander front bumper cover assembly and did a comparison with previous generation Highlander vehicles. The previous generation Highlander vehicles utilized outside molding retainers for securing the mounting tabs, and these outside molding retainers had not been used in the subject vehicles.
Toyota also conducted tests where potential impacts on the lower front bumper cover could occur under normal driving conditions where minor impacts might be expected to occur to evaluate whether the mounting tabs could become unseated and potentially lead to cover separation. It was confirmed during these tests that partial detachment of mounting tabs could be duplicated when minor impacts with objects such as curbs occurred.
All known owners of the subject vehicles will be notified to return their vehicles to a Toyota dealer. For all involved vehicles, Toyota dealers will inspect the upper to lower front bumper cover mounting tabs and slots for damage. If no damage is found, dealers will install retention hardware with an improved design. If damage is found, dealers will replace the upper and/or lower front bumper cover and install retention hardware with an improved design.
As of October 19, 2023, based on a review of records, Toyota’s best engineering judgment is there are 13 Toyota Field Technical Reports and 70 warranty claims that have been received from U.S. sources that relate or may relate to this condition. Toyota's number for this recall is 23TB12/23TA12 and the NHTSA campaign number is 23V-720.