Toyota Highlander Triangle Blinking Master Warning Light

Many cars have something similar to the master warning icon present on Toyota models, including the Highlander. It usually looks like a yellow or orange triangle with an exclamation mark in the center.

The master warning light can have many meanings, from an open door to a maintenance reminder to a fault in your powertrain, and it usually lights up in combination with other warning lights. Those other lights can point in the direction of the underlying issue, such as the engine. Turning off the master warning light means targeting the underlying issues.

What do the different combinations of sound and flashing that come on with your master warning light mean? How can you turn it off? What steps should you take if you see this warning on your Highlander? We’ll answer all these questions and more in the following article.

What Does The Triangle Master Warning Light On Toyota Highlander Mean?

To figure out what the master warning icon means on your Toyota Highlander, you’ll have to see what exactly it’s signaling. The 2019 Toyota Highlander owner’s manual explains the warning light:

“A buzzer sounds and the warning light comes on and flashes to indicate that the master warning system has detected a malfunction.”

The buzzer and the warning light, in turn, are also accompanied by a warning message on the multi-information display, where you should see more info about the exact issue.

Toyota Highlander Triangle Master Warning Light
The Master Warning Light on Toyota Highlander looks like a yellow or orange triangle with an exclamation mark in the center. It is accompanied by a warning message on the multi-information display.

The master warning system incorporates pretty much everything that may present a problem while driving, even if it’s not a fault on your car. The seriousness of the issue can vary as well. While some issues can be fixed on the spot, others will require either an immediate or a non-urgent inspection.

How Do I Turn The Master Warning Light Off On Toyota Highlander?

To turn off the master warning light on your Toyota Highlander, it’s important to diagnose the underlying issue. Or simply cleaning the DTC or resetting the service due.

To identify the cause of the warning light, you can use the steering wheel controls to cycle to the error in the alerts/warnings section of the menu bar. From there, you can scroll down to view the specific issue. If there are no alerts or warnings, then everything is likely fine and you can proceed to reset the warning light.

The blinking triangle exclamation mark on Toyota Highlander’s dashboard is a Master Warning Light.

Here’s how to reset the master warning light on a Toyota Highlander:

  1. Press the return key on the steering wheel.
  2. Press the menu key.
  3. Use the side arrow key to navigate to the ‘wheel’ icon on the screen.
  4. Scroll down the wheel icon category until you find the ‘scheduled maintenance’ option.
  5. Press enter.
  6. A pop-up will appear asking whether to reset data, choose ‘Yes’.
  7. Your maintenance light will be reset, and the orange/yellow triangle exclamation mark will turn off.

Causes And Fixes

If the master warning light is illuminated and toggling over it displays alerts or warnings, then immediate attention is required. The cause of the warning could be as minor as an open door, an unbuckled seatbelt, irregular tire pressure, or even low windshield washer fluid. However, in certain Toyota Highland models, the master warning light may also be accompanied by other dashboard lights, particularly if the issue is more severe, such as an EPS or braking malfunction.

The possible causes of the master warning light turning on in the Toyota Highlander are explained below:

1. Door, Hood, Back Door, Or Glass Hatch Open

Maybe it’s simply the case that you didn’t properly latch any of the doors or the hood. The warning pops up once your vehicle reaches a speed of above 3 mph, as the car assumes you started driving.

Check if everything has clicked and if the doors aren’t sticking out. Perhaps there is an obstacle such as leaves or dust, so ensure all the latches are clean. If that does not help, it may mean there is a mechanical or electrical issue with the door latch.

2. Inaccurate Tire Pressure

Irregular tire pressure is a common cause of the master warning light coming on, especially in colder climates.

Extremely high temperatures can lead to a significant increase in tire pressure, while extremely low ones have the opposite effect. Incorrect tire pressure can lead to lower fuel efficiency, reduced handling, and increased wear on the tires.

To prevent this from happening, it is important to check your tire pressure regularly and ensure that it is at the recommended level. In the case of a Toyota Highlander, the recommended tire pressure is 36 psi for both the front and rear tires. This ensures that the tires provide optimal performance and durability, while also ensuring a safe and comfortable ride.

3. An Issue In The EPS (Electric Power Steering)

The EPS makes the steering wheel less heavy by measuring how much you turn the steering wheel and sending the appropriate amount of force to the wheels. It’s logical that when the EPS fails, steering will become more difficult.

In this case, you will also see an EPS warning on the dash, which looks like a steering wheel with an exclamation mark right off it. You should get your car checked and fixed.

4. Radar, Blind Spot Monitor, Or Park Assist Issue

The warning for the radar cruise control may be due to bad weather, or because there is dirt obstructing the sensor. In the second case, you’ll have to clean the sensor and everything should start working normally.

The Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) and the Park Assist can also report an error and stop working if they are covered with ice, mud, snow, etc. If this does not help, there may be an underlying issue, like a misaligned BSM sensor or any type of fault with the intuitive parking sensors.

5. Abnormal Engine Oil Pressure

If the engine oil pressure is too low, the multi-information display will tell you to stop your vehicle in a safe place.

There are plenty of reasons for low engine oil pressure, such as low levels of oil, a wrong choice of oil, or an oil pump failure. Continuing your ride when this warning shows up means there’s a chance you’ll do great damage to your engine. Therefore, you should stop safely and get the car serviced.

6. Braking Malfunction

A malfunction in the car’s brakes, whether mechanical, hydraulic, electric, or electronic, can trigger the master warning icon and buzzer. Driving with this error can be dangerous, so you need to fix it as soon as you can.

In this case, you’ll see a brake warning light beside the master icon. Causes for a brake issue can vary, but you most likely won’t be able to fix any without equipment, parts, and knowledge of the brake system.

7. Maintenance Due

Every couple thousand miles, your Highlander will remind you to perform routine maintenance. While this is not urgent, you shouldn’t wait forever before performing maintenance or having it done at a service.

After finishing the maintenance, the warning won’t go away on its own. You’ll have to reset it, which can be done using the trip meter button in the following manner:

  1. Turn the engine switch to off/lock with the trip meter A shown (depending on whether you have a smart key or not).
  2. While holding down the trip reset button, switch to ON, but don’t start the engine.
  3. Hold the button until you see the trip meter displaying zeros.

You can also reset the maintenance due using the multi-information display:

  1. With the engine on, press the gear icon.
  2. Select “Maintenance System”
  3. Select “Yes”
  4. The display should show “Initialization Completed.”

This is the procedure for a 2019 Toyota Highlander model, and the exact steps may be slightly different in an older or newer Highlander. You can find the manual for your manufacturing year on Toyota’s website.

What To Do If The Toyota Highlander Triangle Warning Light Turns On?

Depending on the cause of your master warning light, these are the steps you should take:

  • If the cause is not a fault, in other words just a warning, take the appropriate action. Check that all doors, the hood, the back door, the glass hatch, and the moon roof are closed and whether something prevents them from closing fully. Also, disengage the parking brake before driving.
  • There are some fixes you can perform yourself. If the car reports a dirty sensor, clean it from any ice, snow, or mud. If the maintenance has been performed, but not reset, initiate the reset.
  • If there is an underlying fault, you will need to send your car to the dealership. Some faults don’t require immediate assistance but still have to be checked, while others, such as issues with the brakes or engine oil, need to be addressed as soon as possible.

Assessing The Troubleshooting Urgency

When the Toyota Highlander’s master warning light illuminates in a flashing or non-flashing state accompanied by an audible alert, it signifies an urgent problem that requires immediate attention. This could be a malfunctioning driving system, such as the brake system. Or a potential danger that may arise if the corrective procedure is not promptly performed.

On the other hand, when the triangle with exclamation illuminates in a flashing or non-flashing state without an audible alert, it could indicate a possible malfunction in the electrical components or the need for routine vehicle maintenance. For instance, a dirty sensor, a malfunctioning airbag system, or the necessity of tuning for optimal performance.

Conclusion

The triangle master warning light itself is vague, but it usually shows up with a message that explains the issue, and sometimes another warning, such as a “check engine” or brake warning.

If there are no obvious driving hazards like an unlatched door or driving with the parking brake applied, the light may also show up because of maintenance due, to a dirty park assist or BSM sensor, or problems on the engine, brakes, or power steering.

Some of these causes can be easily solved yourself, but if there is a more serious issue, it’s best to see a Toyota car service or dealership.

By Milica Cikuša

Milica, the car guru with 4 years of experience in the auto world. She slays at fixing German cars, but ain't afraid of Fiat or Ferrari either! Tired of the lack of quality car diagnostic blogs, she's now breaking the mold with her independent writing. When she's not tinkering with cars or typing away, you'll find her working on her second novel, surrounded by her two feline sidekicks.

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