Toyota Sequoia Problems: 3 MOST-Known Issues

Toyota’s Sequoia is a massive SUV that has been around since its inception in 2001. Sometimes commonly tagged a family vehicle because of its roomy interior, the powerful vehicle can double as an off-road SUV.

It is popular for its durability and reliability, and it can last over 300,000 miles without major issues. The vehicle comes with a powerful engine and enjoys a high resale value.

Despite the impressive reliability and longevity, the Sequoia still has its own problems.

In this article, we will discuss the three most common problems of the Toyota Sequoia based on our research.

1. Transmission Problems

According to Car Complaints, transmission failure is the worst Sequoia problem, which is rampant among the 2002 year model.

Transmission failure occurs in 2002 Sequoia with an average mileage of 97,000 miles and it cost approximately $3,500 to fix.

Here are some of the Sequoia transmission associated problems:

Transmission Slipping

This will cause the transmission system to select and deselect gears in your Toyota Sequoia.

A slipping transmission system can automatically switch from a higher gear to a lower one without the influence of the driver. This can lead to a sharp deceleration and might be risky while driving on the highway.

Shaking and Lurching

When the automatic transmission of your Sequoia is not shifting properly between gears, you may experience problems like shaking and lurching of the car. It will be obvious when the transmission is selecting gears.

This problem is common in Toyota Sequoias with higher mileage somewhere around 97,000 miles and above.

You can read more about general problems across the Toyota SUV lineup.

Stalling Due to Transmission Failure

When transmission problems persist, it can lead to transmission failure. When a failure occurs, the transmission will seize and the car may stop unexpectedly.

Possible Causes and Solutions

The cause of the transmission problem leading to failure might be from a faulty torque converter.

The transmission will malfunction if the torque converter’s solenoid, needle bearings, clutch, or seal is damaged. You may need to replace the damaged torque converter.

Three options are available if you need to fix the transmission in an extreme situation:

  • Replace the entire transmission
  • Rebuild the old transmission with additional parts
  • Buy a used transmission

Related: How Long Do Toyota Sequoia Last? (Solved & Explained!)

2. Lower Ball Joint Issue

One of the highest complaints about the Toyota Sequoia is the lower ball joint issue. The vehicle’s lower ball joint is prone to premature wear because of manufacturing defects.

The ball joint issue occurs at an average mileage of 17,079. But complaints range from 11,000 to 20,000 miles.

According to RepairPal, there are 8 model years of the Sequoia affected with this problem. Some of the lower ball joint issues are severe in some model years, leading to a recall campaign.

Toyota issued about 5 recalls for the Sequoias affected by the lower ball joint issue.

Here is the list of the model years:

  • 2002: 1 recall for lower balls joint issue
  • 2003: 1 recall for lower ball joint issue
  • 2004: 2 recall for lower ball joint issue
  • 2005: 1 recall for lower ball joint issue

The lower ball joints are a very critical component of your vehicle’s steering and suspension systems.

Usage over the years can lead to wear of ball joints and eventually affect the performance and ride quality of your car as they do.

Most ball joints will last for 100,000 miles or more. Bad driving habits might reduce the lifespan of these components.

If such wear of the lower ball joint is overlooked, the ball joint can break and it can be a serious issue on the road.

Here are few signs of a worn-out/bad ball joint:

  1. Awkward Noises: A bad ball joint will produce a squeaking and clunking noise, clicking, clunking, or popping sound that announces the problem audibly. A rubber boot filled with grease protects from dirt, dust and debris from the ball joint. A tear, wear, or damage in the boot can cause sand and grime to get into the joint, causing it to seize up. If the ball wears out enough inside its socket, it will move up and down. These clunking noises are a sign that it’s time to replace your ball joints.
  1. Vibrating and Shaking: A bad/worn ball joint will cause your Sequoia to vibrate or shake while in motion. The worn ball jostles, vibrates, and shakes as you drive, transferring those vibrations into the chassis and the steering wheel.
  2. Excessive Tire Wear: A bad lower ball joint can cause the vehicle to sway to one side, putting more pressure on one tire. This will cause the tire on one side of your Sequoia to wear faster than the other tire.
  3. Wandering of Steering from Side to Side: A bad ball joint can affect the geometry of the steering system. The car’s ball joint is part of the suspension system. As part of the suspension systems become worn, misaligned, or just knocked out of whack, it can cause your steering to wander. This issue makes driving difficult because it requires more effort to keep your Sequoia straight. Also, this can endanger the driver, everyone in the vehicle, and other road users.

Solution for Bad Lower Ball Joint

A bad/worn ball joint can cause a loss of control of the steering wheels; therefore, it should not be put off.

A catastrophic failure of the lower ball joint can damage the front suspension, and this can cause serious accidents.

The best solution to a worn/bad lower ball joint is having it fixed by an expert. According to RepairPal, it costs between $417 and $444 to replace a bad ball joint, but this can vary among dealership.

In addition, you need a wheel alignment to keep the wheels perfectly aligned to each other after repairing your Sequoia’s suspension/ball joint.

Related: Toyota Sequoia In Snow & Winter Driving? (Explained)

3. Brake Problems

According to Car Complaint, the Toyota Sequoia’s brake problem is the overall worse problem based on complaint by model year.

The most common Sequoia brake problems occur at an average mileage of 95,000 miles and it costs approximately $1,400 to fix.

The worst model years for brake problems in the Toyota Sequoia are:

  • 2001 Toyota Sequoia: 1 brake-related recall
  • 2004 Toyota Sequoia: 1 brake-related recall
  • 2005 Toyota Sequoia: 1 brake-related recall

Here are the worst brakes problems:

  • 2001 Toyota Sequoia: VSC Traction Control Engages For No Reason
  • 2017 Toyota Sequoia: Long Travel Soft Brake Pedal

VSC Traction Control Engages for no Reason

The Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) is installed in many Toyota vehicles, including the Sequoia. The VSC system helps stabilize your car if it slides during harsh weather or on slippery road conditions..

It is effective and has helped avert accidents in rainy, foggy, and snowy weather conditions.

In such weather, if the car loses traction, the VSC automatically reduces engine speed while giving braking power to the wheels that need it the most.

The VSC is a great security system of a vehicle but can cause a wreck and panic if it malfunctions. This is the case for many 2001 Sequoia owners.

According to some owners’ report on Motor Biscuit, the VSC of the Sequoia would come on when traveling at higher speeds.

This caused the vehicle to shake, shift to the right, and begin making a loud grinding noise when the brakes were actuated. Apparently, this problem has no known solution and it’s terrifying for the vehicle owners.

Few owners reported that removing the VSC/anti-lock brake fuse seemed to make a difference, costing them around $1,300 from their dealership. Unfortunately, other owners never found a solution.

Soft Brake Pedal With Long Travel

Users complain that the brake pedals are “soft” and “squishy,” and that they must be pressed many times before responding.

When some people push the brake pedals, they sink all the way to the floor, resulting in a loss of control.

Therefore, it is vital to check and be cautious of the soft brake pedals. Here are some causes and solutions for soft brake pedals:

  1. Air in the Braking System: This is the most common reason for a soft brake pedal. The simplest approach to detect this problem is to nuzzle the brake pedal a few times. With each modest stroke of the pedal, the pedal should get firmer. The best solution to air in the braking system is the bleeding of the brakes.
  2. Faulty Master Cylinder: The major challenge of the Sequoia master cylinder is the leakage. This has led to recall campaigns in 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2007. Loss of brake fluid can cause poor braking performance, possibly resulting in a vehicle crash. The best solution for a faulty master cylinder is replacement followed by total bleeding of the brake system.
  3. Fluid Problem: The brake fluid makes it seamless for the brake system to move the pistons within the calipers or wheel cylinders. It is just like oil in your engine. Any issue with the fluid can lead to soft brake pedals or brake failure. There are two common fluid issues which are fluid leakage and contaminated fluids. Fluid leakage is quite obvious and the problem can easily be fixed by locating the leakage and repairing it appropriately.

Also, a complete bleeding of the brake system is required to remove all leaks from the system. A brake fluid can be contaminated if it absorbs moisture. This can happen if the brake fluid goes too long without being changed. It is advisable to change your brake fluid at a max, once every two years.

Using a different fluid from the manufacturer recommended product can contaminate the brake system. To fix the contaminated fluid issue, a complete cleansing of the break system is required.

Related: Where Are Toyota Sequoias Made? (Solved & Explained)

General Pros and Cons of the Toyota Sequoia

Here are some pros and cons of the Toyota Sequoia:


  • Roomy interior
  • Impressive infotainment and sound system
  • Powerful V-8 engine
  • High resell value
  • Cons
  • Lower ball joint problem
  • Transmission failure
  • Soft brake pedals


  • Transmission problems
  • Lower ball joint issue
  • Brake problems

Meanwhile, you can also explore the best and worst Toyota Sequoia years.

What Do the Reviews Say?

Compared to other large SUVs, the Toyota Sequoia is a dinosaur. Its roomy interior and strong engine aren’t enough to offset its aging infotainment system, lack of available comfort features, and jittery ride. That’s why it ranks near the back of the class.

A new infotainment system with a larger touchscreen and smartphone integration can’t hide the Toyota Sequoia’s age. At least the SUV rides well, and the TRD Pro variant has good off-road chops for its size.

What Is the Resale Value of the Toyota Sequoia?

Here is a list of reselling values from 2010 to 2020

Model Year Mileage Price
2020 22,108 $62,102
2019 20,301 $60,550
2018 80,000 $43,993
2017 74,910 $40,822
2016 33,874 $39,797
2015 124,540 $25,952
2014 26,941 $28,895
2013 171,796 $20,498
2012 132,643 $19,999
2011 211,739 $16,995
2010 175,117 $16,198

Go Back: Problems for each Toyota model.

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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.