Hint: What's one thing a steering wheel should never do?
Although this has yet to become an official recall, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has notified Toyota it has opened a preliminary investigation into 2008-13 model year Highlander and Highlander Hybrid SUVs. According to Cars.com, the agency has received reports of the vehicles’ steering coming off while the drivers were using the tilt/telescoping feature. Even more alarming is that two of the owners who filed reports claimed this happened while they were driving.
One of those two owners, both of whom are anonymous, wrote to the NHTSA last month claiming that when driving their 2013 Toyota Highlander at a high speed on a highway in Sacramento, California, they attempted to adjust the steering wheel and it “came off in my hands.” Fortunately, the driver managed to slow down and safely steer the vehicle off the road. They only re-attached the steering wheel once they were at a complete stop. The owner then rightly went to their Toyota dealership, but were quoted a repair in excess of $2,000. The NHTSA is currently conducting its investigation, looking for any possible defects. A full report is due on July 6.
However, a preliminary investigation exists to “asses the scope, frequency and safety consequences of the alleged defect.” It will not directly demand a recall, but it could lead to further testing that may result in a mandatory recall. Or, the preliminary investigation may result in nothing substantial.