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Steering column 'separation' prompts Toyota Highlander inquiry

by Justin King

Three owners have complained of upper steering column separation when adjusting the telescoping/tilt system.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation into the Toyota Highlander after receiving complaints of steering column separation.

"While traveling in high-speed lane on I80 near Sacramento, California, I attempted to adjust telescoping steering wheel and the steering wheel came off in my hands," one complaint says.

The agency has received at least three complaints involving Highlander and Highlander HV vehicles from the 2008-2013 model years.

"All three instances occurred when the driver was adjusting the steering column using the telescoping/tilt feature and resulted in complete detachment of the upper steering column from the steering shaft," the NHTSA wrote in a letter to Toyota. "Two of the incidents occurred . while the vehicle was in motion."

Investigators have launched a preliminary evaluation of the complaints.