Parking Brake Release Noise on the New Toyota Highlander

A reader named Eric asked the following:

“I’m wondering if any of your readers have had any issues when releasing the emergency [parking] brake? I’ve noted a definite, metallic ‘clank’ coming from the right rear end when I release the brake. Should I be worried?”

I’ve noticed the same thing, and have been meaning to mention it…

As far as I can tell, this is just the sound of the rear drum brake releasing, and it isn’t a cause for alarm. It’s most noticeable if you have the door or windows open, but even without that you can often hear it.

Note: The Highlander has front and rear disc brakes, but the parking (or emergency) brake is a (rear) drum brake.

I’ve searched a bit for other mentions of this behavior on the web and it seems that many other owners have noticed it, too. Some describe it as a “clank,” others call it a “clunk” or a “thunk,” and still others refer to it as a “popping” noise.

Whatever you call it (I personally think that “clank” is the most accurate description) this seems to be normal behavior. When you release the parking brake, especially if you release it quickly, you’ll hear it disengage.

What about you? Do you hear anything when you release the parking brake? Or have you run across any other strange sounds when driving your Highlander? Please let us know by leaving a comment, below.

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Complaints & Troubleshooting
20 comments… add one
  • Ron May 8, 2015

    I have a 2015 Hi Limited that does the same thing. I read some where that there is something on the emergency brake that causes it to stick causing the noise. I think Toyota has a fix.

  • Bill May 12, 2015

    Yes I have the same sound on my 2015 XLE. Clank when releasing the parking brake.

  • William May 31, 2015

    Press firmly on the (foot) brake before releasing the hand brake – this will prevent this sound

  • Joyce Aug 28, 2015

    New breaks reverse squeal. No squeal on original breaks. Is there a repair or adjustment required like bleeding after some driving mileage reached.

  • Ralph Sep 3, 2015

    Anybody having brake noises? My 2015 XLE developed a noise I think related to the front breaks when coming to a stop. It does not happen every time, but enough to annoy me. Let’s see what the dealer finds

    • Torrence Jul 19, 2016

      I have a two month old 2016 highlander limited platinum and I hear the same braking noise when coming to a stop. What did they say it is?

      • Stephanie Aug 5, 2016

        I parchased a 2016 LE 2wks ago anda also Hear noise on front brake when comming to a stop. Took it To Toyota service and said it was normal it was abs brake system

  • John Sep 9, 2015

    Ralph – I also have a 2015 Highlander XLE and I hear the same clunk when the brakes are applied. It is not all the time, but annoying! What did the dealer figure out on yours?

  • Ralph Sep 21, 2015


    The dealer replaced the front right strut assembly as suggested by Toyota, but that did not fix the problem. Now we’re for a Toyota tech to come and inspect the car. Toyota gets involved in any warranty problem.

  • richard Sep 30, 2015

    I get the same noise like a metallic ‘clank’ when releasing the brake of my 2014 XLE toyota highlander. I also get some ratteling at the rear of the driver’s seat. What should I do? Is anyone having the same issues?

  • Stephen Jan 24, 2016

    Mine is 2015 xle highlander, I don’t have strange sound when released the brake. But I do have a strange sounds (kinds like very little “trembling” esp. kick the accelerator) that do annoyed my, believe or not, my heart, makes me feel my heart is sick, some uncomfortable. It makes me felt better if I oftenly take deep breath.

    In fact, I read someone has the problem before I bought it. But, you know, HL is always on the top of SUV, esp. my wife wanted a 8 seaters, so, for me, though I prefered Pilot, but no choice.

    I remembered the guy who said the new buyers won’t notice that, for they are enjoyed in the new car. Now mine is 3800 km, and felt much bothered by this strange sound. By the way, I am 61.

    My previous van is Sienna, I didn’t observe such a strange sound, or feeling.

  • Seajhay Aug 17, 2016

    2016 ‘Lando XLE. I hear the clunk too when i release the parking brake. i now just release it slowly to try and avoid the heavy impact/release and seems to be working well.
    I also hear a tiny high pitched screaming noise when i pay for gas. i think it’s coming from my wallet or atm card. it seems to depend however i pay for the fuel…

  • Umair Aug 31, 2016

    Hello guys I own Highlander 2015. I hear this clunking sound when I reverse my car and hit the breaks gently. Is that normal ? Or there is something to worry about like intermediate shaft ?


  • Audrey May 31, 2017

    I have a 2015 XLE and experience the same park brake clanking noise! Sometimes it’s so loud it sounds like a backfire noise. Dealer says nothing wrong. I just had the battery replaced due to bad cell, and the rear trailing arm replaced. All with less than 27000 miles on it. I’m worried.

  • Delia Jun 10, 2017

    I have the same sound coming from my 2015 Highlander Limited. Sounds like an air compressor pop usually when I brake but once it happened when I ran over a small chuck hole. I drove all around the Smokey mountains and thought it disappeared but after sitting all night and driving the next day it started again. Not every time I drive but occasionally. Wish I knew if it was serious. I just got it a month ago. I love it but worry something is wrong. I was surprised to see so many with the same question

  • Jimmy Aug 4, 2018

    2017 XLE Highlander , parking break release clunking noise when fully depressed. Foot break combination does help but should not be the case. I have a CRV and it’s does not make any noise at all even if at full depressed . Toyota fails to addressed even to this new model Sucks Big time , irritating for a new vehicle and the name Toyota should speak for itself .

  • Oct 24, 2018

    Valuable information. Fortunate me I discovered your web site unintentionally, and I’m shocked why this
    twist of fate didn’t took place earlier! I bookmarked it.

  • Bryan Jan 31, 2019

    2018 XLE Highlander hybrid, the same clunk sound, Toyota is really not able to build large vehicles, very disappointed!

  • Rebecca Feb 5, 2019

    Aw, this was a really good post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to make a
    great article… but what can I say… I put things off a
    lot and don’t manage to get anything done.

  • Amy Sep 10, 2019

    I have a 2018 Toyota Highlander Sport. I’ve owned it for about a 1 1/2 yrs. It was made and shipped to me. Within the last month or so when I release the emergency brake it makes a loud popping noise. I took it to the dealer to be checked and they said it’s normal. I’ve never owned a car (all makes and models that did this) and why after over a year owning it that it starts???

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