The Office of Defects Investigations (ODI) is an office within the NHTSA which investigates serious safety problems in the design, construction or performance of vehicles. The NHTSA is authorized to order manufacturers to recall and repair vehicles, if the ODI finds a safety issue. NHTSA investigations for the 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, both ongoing and closed, are listed below:

  1. INVESTIGATION: Power Window Master Switch Fire

    NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE12002

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: February 06, 2012
    • Date Closed: June 14, 2012
    • Recall: No recall issued

    Component(s): Electrical System
    Structure:Body
    Unknown Or Other

    Summary: ODI has identified certain Toyota vehicles experiencing a higher rate of fire and thermal event incidents among all Toyota vehicles that use the same power window master switch design.They include a total of approximately 1.4 million model year (MY) 2007 through 2009 Camry, Camry Hybrid, RAV4 and Yaris vehicles built from approximately September 2006 through August 2008, as well as all MY 2008 Highlander Hybrid vehicles.This Preliminary Evaluation has been upgraded to an Engineering Analysis (EA12-006) to further study the alleged defect and its consequences.The ODI reports cited above can be viewed at www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchNHTSAID under the following identification numbers: 10461220, 10460691, 10460166, 10459730, 10457955, 10457854, 10456438, 10456353, 10455614, 10455540, 10451821, 10450641, 10450606, 10450568, 10450133, 10449270, 10447947, 10447845, 10447515, 10447444, 10447419, 10447417, 10447416, 10446699, 10436663, 10429983, 10411328, 10407290, 10394453, 10392622, 10360414, 10323848.

  2. INVESTIGATION: Upper Steering Column Separation

    NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA18006

    • Status:
      PENDING
    • Date Opened: November 16, 2018
    • Date Closed: N/A
    • Recall: No recall yet

    Component(s): Steering
    Steering:Column

    Summary: On May 4, 2018, the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened Preliminary Evaluation PE18-005 to investigate three allegations of steering column separation for Model Year (MY) 2008 through 2013 Toyota Highlander vehicles. Two (2) of the 3 complaints were received by ODI in April 2018 and occurred while the vehicle was in motion. As part of PE18-005, ODI analyzed additional incidents reported through the Vehicle Owner Questionnaire (VOQ) process and examined the field data, warranty data, and relevant technical information submitted by Toyota in response to the PE18-005 information request letter. During PE18-005, ODI confirmed that the steering columns in the subject vehicles are equipped with breakaway capsules that are designed to collapse/shear during certain types of vehicle collisions. This design feature aims to reduce driver injury severity from impact with the steering wheel in frontal vehicle collisions. There is no direct method for detecting when the capsules in the subject vehicles have sheared. If the driver operates the tilt/telescoping feature after the breakaway capsules have separated, the steering column may drop out of position and could subsequently detach entirely from the rest of the steering assembly. Loss of steering while driving may cause a loss of vehicle control, which could lead to a vehicle crash. To date, ODI has identified 14 incidents involving complete steering column separation, 6 of which occurred while driving. One of these incidents involved a minor crash. Additionally, there have been 16 events where the steering column dropped from the dashboard mounting brackets, but column separation did not occur. Four of these incidents happened while driving. Of these 30 total separation/drop incidents, 5 of the vehicles have evidence of minor collision repairs months or years prior to the steering column failure.This investigation has been upgraded to an Engineering Analysis in order to 1) conduct a more detailed analysis of the conditions that may cause the steering column breakaway capsules to separate and 2) assess factors that may contribute to the problem of failing to detect and repairbreakaway capsules after they have separated. Toyota has recently revised their repair manual and issued a Collision Repair Information Bulletin to help address the second concern.The VOQs associated with the opening of this investigation can be viewed at www.NHTSA.gov under the following ODI complaint numbers: 11141761, 11083623, 11083280, 10888043.

  3. INVESTIGATION: Upper Steering Column Separation

    NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE18005

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: May 04, 2018
    • Date Closed: November 20, 2018
    • Recall: No recall issued

    Component(s): Steering
    Steering:Column

    Summary: On May 4, 2018, the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened Preliminary Evaluation PE18-005 to investigate three allegations of steering column separation for Model Year (MY) 2008 through 2013 Toyota Highlander vehicles. Two (2) of the 3 complaints were received by ODI in April 2018 and occurred while the vehicle was in motion. Since opening PE18-005, one (1) additional VOQ involving steering column separation has been received. This incident occurred while the vehicle was stationary.As part of PE18-005, ODI examined the field data, warranty data, and relevant technical information submitted by Toyota in response to the PE18-005 information request letter. Ten (10) additional incidents of steering column separation were identified. Four (4) of these instances occurred while driving. During PE18-005, ODI confirmed that the steering columns in the subject vehicles are equipped with breakaway capsules that are designed to collapse/shear during certain types of vehicle collisions. This design feature aims to reduce driver injury severity from impact with the steering wheel in frontal vehicle collisions. There is no direct method for detecting when the capsules in the subject vehicles have sheared. If the driver operates the tilt/telescoping feature after the breakaway capsules have separated, the steering column may drop out of position and could subsequently detach entirely from the rest of the steering assembly. Loss of steering while driving may cause a loss of vehicle control, which could lead to a vehicle crash.To date, ODI has identified 14 incidents involving complete steering column separation, 6 of which occurred while driving. One of these incidents involved a minor crash. Additionally, there have been 16 events where the steering column dropped from the dashboard mounting brackets, but column separation did not occur. Four of these incidents happened while driving. Of these 30 total separation/drop incidents, 5 of the vehicles have evidence of minor collision repairs months or years prior to the steering column failure.This investigation has been upgraded an to Engineering Analysis (EA18-006) in order to 1) conduct a more detailed analysis of the conditions that may cause the steering column breakaway capsules to separate and 2) assess factors that may contribute to the problem of failing to detect and repair breakaway capsules after they have separated. Toyota has recently revised their repair manual and issued a Collision Repair Information Bulletin to help address the second concern.The VOQs associated with this investigation can be viewed at www.NHTSA.gov under the following ODI complaint numbers: 11141761, 11083623, 11083280, 10888043.

  4. INVESTIGATION: Power Window Master Switch Fire

    NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA12006

    Component(s): Electrical System
    Structure:Body
    Unknown Or Other

    Summary: On October 10, 2012, Toyota initiated a safety recall of approximately 2.5 million U.S. vehicles involving the following models and model years:2007-2009 Camry and Camry Hybrid, 2009 Corolla and Corolla Matrix, 2008 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid, 2007-2009 RAV4, 2008-2009 Scion xB and xD, 2008-2009 Sequoia, 2007-2008 Tundra, 2007-2008 Yaris, and 2009 Pontiac Vibe.See NHTSA recall number 12V-491 for more details, including the affected vehicle manufacture dates for each vehicle model.Note that only early-production 2009 model year vehicles are included in the recall.Toyota and GM dealers will inspect the power window master switch (PWMS) assemblies and apply a specialized grease that inhibits heat build-up.The circuit board in the PWMS may be replaced with a new one if "notchy" or sticking feeling is observed during the inspection.The failure report summary above shows counts for the vehicles identified at the start of this Engineering Analysis, specifically the approximately 1.4 million vehicles that share an identical PWMS assembly design including, model year 2007-2009 Camry, Camry Hybrid, RAV4, and Yaris built from September 2006 through August 2008, as well as all 2008 Highlander Hybrid.Toyota subsequently identified approximately one million additional vehicles that have a slightly different PWMS design but contain the same defect condition.Note that the totals for complaints and fires shown above may include duplicative reports (between ODI and manufacturer reports).This Engineering Analysis is closed.See attached report for additional information.The ODI reports cited above can be viewed at www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchNHTSAID under the following identification numbers: 10323848, 10360414, 10392622, 10394453, 10411328, 10429983, 10436663, 10446699, 10447416, 10447417, 10447419, 10447444, 10447515, 10447845, 10447947, 10449270, 10450133, 10450568, 10450606, 10450641, 10451821, 10455540, 10455614, 10456353, 10456438, 10457854, 10457955, 10459730, 10460166, 10460691, 10461220, 10462140, 10462200, 10462247, 10462404, 10462705, 10462761, 10464451, 10464769, 10465421, 10466279, 10466667, 10468126, 10468265, 10475230, 10470313, 10470684, 10471551, 10471824, 10472336, 10472910, 10473753, 10473967, 10473969, 10476921, 10477469, 10478563 and 10478657.