hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
48,566 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2004 Toyota Highlander steering problems

steering problem

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2004 Toyota Highlander Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #22

May 012016


  • 123,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Toyota Highlander. While driving various speeds, the vehicle required greater effort to steer. While steering the vehicle, there was an abnormal noise. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic were it was diagnosed that the steering intermediate staff assembly needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 123,000.

- Norwalk, CT, USA

problem #21

Dec 242014


  • 90,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota Highlander. While driving approximately 45 mph, the battery indicator light illuminated and the power steering failed suddenly. The contact had to maneuver the vehicle to the side of the road. The vehicle failed to restart and was towed to the contact's residence. The manufacturer was notified of the issue. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN provided was invalid. The approximate failure mileage was 90,000.

- Huntsville, AL, USA

problem #20

Sep 302012

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 95,983 miles
With no warning or prior indication of any problem, the steering rack and pinion broke making the vehicle completely un-steerable. Toyota repair found that the power steering pump belt was broken and the pump had locked up. The vehicle was being driven on a freeway through the mountains and it was just fortunate that the incident occurred on one of the few straight stretches and it was possible to keep the vehicle on the road surface.

- Yuma, AZ, USA

problem #19

Nov 042011

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 62,000 miles


The steering angle sensor went on randomly during driving, the traction control indicator light was on, causing engine speed slow down and sluggish on road, it happened a few times. I drove slowly to the dealer, it costs over $600 to fix the problem, I am very disappointed at Toyota.

- Rochester Hills, MI, USA

problem #18

Mar 092010

Highlander 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 14,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota Highlander. The contact stated when the engine was started the steering angle sensor warning light illuminated and the steering became difficult to handle. The vehicle was towed to the dealer who performed a diagnostic that was unable to locate a failure. The vehicle was test driven and the failure was recreated. The dealer replaced the steering angle sensor. The failure and the current mileage was 14,000. Updated 5/2/11

- Baltimore , MD, USA

problem #17

Aug 092010


  • 110,000 miles
2004 Highlander - steering failed on major shopping road today. Heard only a hissing sound in the engine compartment with a large plume of dark smoke out the tail pipe. Engine did not quit but was lucky to be able to pull wheel hard right to turn into parking lot. Ai/C stayed on, did not overheat, timing belt just changed, no leaking fluids but most of all no warning lights or check engine lite came on. Had problem last month with A/C which was fixed. What happens to someone driving at 65 on highway and loses ability to steer... instant death to driver and perhaps many others. Been a Toyota fan for 30 years but this coupled with other major recalls seriously frightens me to get behind the wheel again. Car was towed to Toyota dealer who has maintained the car since 2004. Awaiting outcome of investigation. Posted 8-9-10.

- Harriman, NY, USA

problem #16

Jun 212009


  • 32,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Toyota Highlander. The contact stated while driving at speeds of 5 mph and attempting a turn, the contact heard an unusual clanking noise coming from the steering wheel. The dealer was unable to duplicate or determine where the noise had come from. The contact stated the noise was heard one additional time. There were no repairs made to the vehicle. The failure mileage was 32,000 and the current was 44,000.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #15

Feb 092004


  • 81,300 miles
"intermediate shaft failures on 04-05 Toyota Highlander" there is a technical service bulletin (ST001-06) of shaft replacement on some models but never became a safety recall issue. On Toyota prius nhw20 model vehicles produced in Japan from July 2003 to Nov 2005 are being recalled. Toyota says on some vehicle, under certain conditions, the steering intermediate shaft may become loose or develop a crack. What about those people who wants to keep their Toyota for a lifetime? mine is an SUV(Highlander) with a higher center of gravity and rolling force. Your help on this matter is deeply appreciated.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #14

May 092009

Highlander 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota Highlander. The vehicle was stationary. The contact started the ignition and turned the steering wheel to the left and the right. The steering wheel exhibited a slight vibration and noise. The failure occurred whenever the steering wheel was in operation. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic. The technician stated that the vehicle could be driven and if the failure progressed to return it for repair. The failure mileage was 45,000. Updated 4/22/10 updated 06/01/10

- Belmont, CA, USA

problem #13

Aug 222009


  • 28,000 miles
Steering wheel make a noise like a bolt is missing.

- Camarillo, CA, USA

problem #12

Apr 282008


  • miles


2004 Highlander, having same problems as all other reported problems for this vehicle. Hesitation, steering shaft replacement, 2 wheel bearing replacements, lousy original tires, bad sodering of heat/air board leading to not working properly, can not have back windows down due to noise and vehicle shaking, had rear wiper motor replaced within 1st month of ownership. While I did purchase the extended warranty, which did cover the cost of the wheel bearing replacement, it did not cover the cost of having to replace the tires damaged by the bad bearing - and Toyota does not care. In their race to become the number one car maker, they have given up on being the safest, most reliable car maker - and they have certainly given up on being customer friendly. According to several Toyota dealers, they don't have to, since they continue to be popular selling vehicles. I am getting nervous as the time for my warranty comes due to expire - and for the first time am seriously considering trading it in before that happens. That was not the intent when I bought the vehicle, but after reading all the people having all the same problems, I am very concerned.

- Bloomingburg, NY, USA

problem #11

Apr 072009


  • 54,594 miles
Steering. Looseness when turning left or right. Dealer replaced part (45220-48150 shaft assy) @ a cost of $387.93 (this with a 15% discount). In reading your complaints filed, I note this wasn't T/1st time this has been reported & as stated, there is a dealer service advisory on it. I also took note that there apparently hasn't been any action 2 resolve the matter (ie, the owner continues 2 pay 4 repairs). Should not Toyota B required 2 cover this type of repair " like we're talking steering here. Is it going to take someone who just let's the problem go to the point where he/she looses control of the vehicle & there is physical injury or death? I was hesitant to write this up because I don't see where N investigation has been conducted (did I just miss it"). my vehicle has just under 55K miles on it (all of them onroad) &S been maintained by the dealer. To me it looks like a $$$ maker 4 the dealer & a calculated decision by Toyota that enough of those requiring the repair wouldn't complain; looks like Toyota wins.

- Rancho Cordova, CA, USA

problem #10

Feb 192009


  • 53,217 miles
Wife was driving on clean dry road. Suddenly, the vcs light and traction lights came on the dashboard while alarm sounding came on as well. Car suddenly braked, brakes made a grinding sound, and car jerked to the right. Tried to drive forward and it would not go over 10mph. If the car did, the above happened again. Car was not drivable, and was towed to the nearest Toyota dealership. The situation was very dangerous, as the behavior of the car, not controlled by my wife, the driver, could have easily caused an accident. Turns out, the dealership stated the steering angle sensor went on the car. First...the car only has 53K miles on it. This is not a 'wear and tear' part. This part should never go with only this many miles on it. Garbage. Second, the failure of this part causes a very dangerous situation on the road, as once it goes, the driver basically has no control over the car until it slows down to under 10 miles an hour. Toyota needs to stand behind their product, Focus on the safety of the public, and issue a recall for this problem. I've researched this on the internet and there are many, many complaints and documented cases of this same problem happening on Toyota vehicles. The dealership fixed the part for $700. Rip off.

- Andover, NJ, USA

problem #9

Sep 092008


  • 42,592 miles
Heard a clicking sound when turning the steering wheel left or right.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #8

Oct 312008


  • 53,000 miles
While driving on busy highway the steering of my Toyota became impossible I managed to get car off of road. Had vehicle towed to garage the steering angle sensor had gone bad the mechanic advised me that this was a dangerous situation. I was also informed that there had been a technical service bulletin sent out on this situation. I just feel that the owners need to be aware of this situation and Toyota should take some responsibility for this dangerous default.

- Riner , VA, USA

problem #7

Oct 142008


  • 86,955 miles
After starting my car and driving it two blocks, the vsc light and audible warning buzzer went on at the same time my car lost tracking and started veering to the left. I was able to get the car home, but the same thing happened as soon as I drove it 3 blocks to a service station. Diagnostics discovered the steering angle sensor was defective. The part was replaced for $630.11. I see this as extremely dangerous as it could have potentially resulted in a car accident.

- Scottsdale, AZ, USA

problem #6

Aug 192007


  • miles
2004 Toyota Highlander brakes engaged when accelerator was depressed. Customer states that he was in a parking lot hit the accelerator and the brakes applied, and that made the engine stall. He was unable to start the vehicle. The dealer found the steering angel sensor was not out putting correctly which caused the vsc to activate.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #5

Nov 082006

Highlander 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Loose and noisy steering shaft, does not feel safe to drive.

- East Brunswick, NJ, USA

problem #4

Nov 182006

Highlander 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,250 miles
2004 Toyota Highlander began making a noise which could be felt in the steering wheel, particularly when turning or going over a bump at slow speed. Toyota has a tsb out on this but it is not know to owners, and is not well know at the dealership. This despite hundreds if not thousands of complaints on the web. Furthermore, Toyota reps and the dealer's service writers will tell you face to face it is not a safety issue, but won't put it in writing. When the problem was finally repaired by replacement of the steering shaft, I became aware that prior to the repairs the car was pulling to the left and the steering wheel was hard to turn as the vehicle now track straight and the wheel easy to turn. With such symptoms I feel very strongly that Toyota should be compelled to notify vehicle owners.

- Fresno, CA, USA

problem #3

Apr 072006

Highlander 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 15,000 miles
Noticed free play and a clunking in steering wheel @15,000 miles. More pronounced on turns with bumps. Complained to dealer about condition and they said it was the steering shaft had excessive play in shaft joint. Had to wait over 1 month for the part to arrive. Steering shaft assembly part#45220-48150 was replaced.

- Waterford, NY, USA

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