— Toyota Highlander telescoping steering wheels are detaching from the steering columns, causing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to open a federal investigation into 732,500 SUVs.
The government says it has received three complaints about the steering wheels in 2008-2013 Toyota Highlander and Highlander Hybrid SUVs. All three incidents occurred as drivers were using the telescoping/tilt mechanisms.
"I attempted to adjust telescopic steering wheel and the steering wheel came off in my hands and by grace of god was able to slow and get off road on the hand high speed breakdown lane and somehow remount the steering wheel. Vehicle currently at dealership for repair and I was told that the steering and mount would need to be replaced and will cost in excess of $2000.00."
Another Highlander driver also mentioned the telescopic steering wheel and what happened while driving 30 mph.
"I was adjusting the telescoping steering wheel when the steering wheel came loose from the car and a loud rapid beeping noise was emitted from the vehicle. I crossed into the oncoming lane before I was able to get the steering wheel back onto the car enough to steer back into my lane. I drove the car 6 blocks home and it has not been started or driven since."
The third driver said they were adjusting the telescoping steering wheel when it detached, and when they tried to reattach the wheel the SUV started suffering from other problems.
"This maneuver was completed successfully, but upon attempting to drive again, the "Slippery when wet" warning light came on and whatever engine mechanism that alerts began to engage, affecting the brakes, accelerator, and steering."
NHTSA didn't release additional information about the investigation, but CarComplaints.com will update our website once safety regulators reach a conclusion.