There are several reasons why the daytime running light (DRL) may stop working on your Toyota Highlander.
In this article, we will discuss it step-by-step to fix the issue.
As there are numerous Toyota Highlander models, each model’s fix is slightly different. If one solution outlined here doesn’t work, please try another.
Let’s start our step-by-step DRL diagnosis for our Toyota Highlander.
DRL Will Be Off While Headlight Is On
If the light switch is placed in the “Auto” position, the daytime running light (DRL) on the Toyota Highlander should be ON whenever you drive the car during the day. It’s a safety light that’s very important in the rain, fog, snow, or at dusk or dawn.
As shown in the above picture, if you turn the light control to the headlight position (position 3), your headlights will be ON even if you turn off your Toyota Highlander and remove the key. When the Headlight is ON, your daytime running lights will automatically turn OFF.
If you manually place the light switch to the “headlight” position, all lights (fog, tail lights, etc.) except for the daytime running light will come on.
Similarly, if the switch is on the “4” position meaning DRL OFF, your daytime running lights will also not work.
For DRL to work in your Toyota Highlander, you have to put the light switch to either position 1 (Auto) or 2 (DRL On).
Daytime Running Lights Went Out Due to Aging
One of the primary reasons your Toyota Highlander’s daytime running light has gone out is aging. Every light bulb, whether LED or incandescent, will eventually go out due to being too old.
No light bulbs are created equal. Some DRL light bulbs will last longer than others. Even if your Toyota Highlander is new, the light bulbs can go out anytime.
Thus, if the daytime running lights in your Highlander aren’t working, take your car to the Toyota service center or your local mechanic shop.
It would not cost too much. With labor, the replacement cost would be less than $30. However, at the Toyota service center, they may charge more due to higher labor costs.
DRL Fuse Has Blown Out
On the newer Toyota Highlander, separate modules control the daytime running lights (DRL). There are also fuses that protect this module from electrical surges or short circuits.
If the fuses that control your daytime running light on your Highlander goes out, your lights will stop working.
If only one DRL light goes out, it probably means your DRL bulb is bad. However, if both DRL bulbs stop working, it could mean that the fuse has blown out.
However, remember that if the fuses go out, it means there are some other electrical problems because the fuse doesn’t go bad on its own.
The electrical problem could be as minor as short-circuited LED bulbs, or it could be some significant issue such as an electrical wire short circuit.
There are two fuse boxes in your Toyota Highlander. One inside your car on the driver’s side below the steering wheel column. Another one is in the engine compartment.
All the electricals that are outside of your Highlander go through the fuse box that is in the engine compartment. And all the lights and interior electrical go through the fuse box inside your car.
To check the fuse related to the daytime running lights, follow the steps outlined below:
- Open your Highlander engine compartment cover.
- Locate the fuse box. In most models, the fuse box would look as shown in the image below.
- Open the fuse box cover.
- On the back of the cover, there will be a diagram indicating which fuse controls what. Locate the fuse that controls the daytime running light on your Toyota Highlander.
- Pull the fuse out and observe the filament inside it. The following image is a guide that shows how you can check whether the fuse is good or bad. A — Good fuse, B — Blown Fuse.
- If the wire is still intact, then your fuse is okay, and the problem related to your DRL is somewhere else.
- If the fuse is blown out, make a note of the amperage on the fuse.
- Replace it with a new fuse. You can buy it from amazon, an authorized Toyota dealer, Walmart, or NAPA stores.
DRL Socket is Damaged
These daytime running lights on your Toyota Highlander will be on for the entire day. As a result, the contacts on your DRL lights will become very hot. An aged daytime running light will draw more power than usual, thus generating more heat.
Everything on the DRL housing is made of plastic. If the contacts become too hot, the bulb socket will melt and get damaged.
In this case, however, not only do you have to change the daytime running lights on your Highlander, but you also have to change the electrical socket.
Water Intrusion Caused a Short Circuit
The light housing in front of your car is watertight. However, condensation could build over time, and water will damage the daytime running light on your Toyota Highlander.
If you see moisture in your DRL housing, you have to clean the water so that your DRL can work without issue. However, the problem could be something else if there’s no water. It’s better to take your vehicle to your nearest mechanic.
Electrical Wiring Corrosion
Everything on a car corrodes over time. Sun, heat, water, moisture, snow, and salt will corrode everything, including electrical wiring.
The wire harness that connects the daytime running lights on your Toyota Highlander will deteriorate and rust over time. It’s natural, and we can’t do anything about it.
Electrical wire failing is common, and it’s one of the primary reasons for older Highlanders for which the DRL stops working.
Ambient Light Sensor Not Working
There is an ambient light sensor in your vehicle. It’s situated on top of your dashboard below your windshield. It looks like a round black object.
This ambient light sensor controls the DRL and Headlight alternatively. The circuit turns OFF the Headlight and turns ON DRL during daytime. Alternatively, at night it turns OFF the DRL and turns ON the Headlight.
If the sensor goes bad, your DRL will stop working. Moreover, if the fuse goes bad, which controls the ambient light sensor, your daytime running light on the Toyota Highlander will stop working.
Please check the sensor status. You can do it easily.
Put the light switch to “Auto.” Now put your hand on top of the sensor, and the headlights should come ON.
Now remove your hand so that light can fall on the sensor. The headlights should turn OFF. If it doesn’t happen, it means your ambient light sensor has gone bad.
Bulb Contact Burned Out
Sometimes, the DRL doesn’t go out, but the contacts that connect the bulbs to the outlet go out. If it happens, change the DRL bulb on your Toyota Highlander.
If you checked, everything mentioned in this article doesn’t fix your problem with your daytime running lights; please take your vehicle to your local mechanic. Because there should not be any other reason for which your DRL would not work.
How to Turn ON or OFF Daytime Running Lights on Toyota Highlander?
We highly recommend you keep the DRL on. However, if you want to turn off the daytime running lights on your Toyota Highlander, follow the steps below.
The above image is the light controls on your Toyota Highlander. It’s situated behind the steering wheel on the left side. The knob at the end of the control has 4 control positions, as shown in the above image.
- DRL OFF (Daytime running lights OFF, position — 4)
- Auto (1)
- Daytime Running light ON (2)
- Headlight ON (3)
At position 2, The side marker, parking, tail, license plate, instrument panel lights, and daytime running lights turn ON.
At position 3, headlights, side marker, parking, tail, license plate, and instrument panel lights turn ON except for DRL.
If you want to turn OFF the daytime running lights on your Toyota Highlander, turn the knob to the “DRL OFF” position.
However, you have to remember that if you want to turn on the headlights at night, you have to turn this knob again to either the “Auto” or “Headlight ON” position.
You should keep your light control at “Auto.” At this position, your Toyota Highlander will automatically turn ON the DRL in the daytime and turn OFF the headlights. At night, it will turn ON the headlights and turn OFF the DRL.
Does Every Toyota Highlander Have Daytime Running Lights?
Every Toyota Highlander sold in the United States, and Canada has daytime running lights (DRL). Even though it’s not required by law, Toyota adds this feature as a safety measure in Highlander.
The daytime running lights (DRL) are very dim. It doesn’t illuminate the road and isn’t suitable for nighttime driving.
When the headlight comes on, the onboard system also turns on your vehicle’s tail light. As a result, both oncoming drivers and those following you can see your vehicle at night.
On the contrary, when the DRL is on, it doesn’t turn on the tail lights nor illuminate roads in front of you. It is only a safety light that helps other drivers spot your car during low visibility situations such as fog, light rain, snow, or while you go through shades.