A 2020 Toyota Highlander SUV.

Owners of brand-new 2020 Toyota Highlander SUVs may soon need to take their vehicles back to their dealer to have recall repairs performed. The automaker is recalling more than 38,000 Highlanders because they may stall while driving and cause a crash.

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The problem is caused by the vehicle’s automatic stop-start feature, a fuel-saving measure that can shut the engine off when the car is not moving. In this case, the system may mistakenly shut off the engine when the car is in motion. This is particularly risky when traveling at high speeds.

To fix the problem, Toyota dealers will perform an update to the vehicle’s engine management software. The automaker says this software is not used on any other Toyota or Lexus vehicles. Highlander Hybrid models are not included in this recall, either.

Toyota spokesman Ed Hellwig told CR that the affected vehicles will not be at risk of stalling if drivers manually turn off the auto stop-start feature after initially starting the car.

More than 15,000 vehicles included in the recall are still on dealer lots and will not be sold until they have been repaired.

In documentation sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Toyota says it is aware of eight incidents in which a 2020 Highlander stalled while driving. 

The Details

Vehicles recalled: Every 2020 Toyota Highlander manufactured between June 24, 2019, and March 4, 2020.

The problem: Faulty engine control software could cut off the engine’s fuel supply while driving, which may cause a stall. This could lead to a crash, especially if it occurs at a high speed.

The fix: Toyota dealers will update the engine control software. In the meantime, drivers can manually turn off the auto start-stop function after they initially start the car.

How to contact the manufacturer: Toyota said the recall is expected to begin April 24, 2020. Owners may also contact Toyota customer service at 888-270-9371.

NHTSA campaign number: 20V162. Toyota’s own number for this recall is 20TA06.

Check to see whether your vehicle has an open recall: NHTSA’s website will tell you whether your vehicle has any open recalls that need to be addressed.

If you plug your car’s 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN) into NHTSA’s website and a recall doesn’t appear, it means your vehicle doesn’t currently have any open recalls. Because automakers issue recalls often, and for many older vehicles, we recommend checking back regularly to see whether your vehicle has had a recall issued.

This article was updated on April 1, 2020 to include new information from Toyota about how to prevent a stall.

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