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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
68,216 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.

2005 Toyota Highlander steering problems

steering problem

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2005 Toyota Highlander Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #21

Aug 052016


  • 50 miles


When I was trying to park my Toyota Highlander 2005 in front of the building where I work, backing up, the engine iddle went extremely high and I tried to stop, but I could not do it because the steering wheel and the brakes locked. I tried to put the gear in neutral, but instead, it went straigh to drive, so it causes major damages to 2 vehicles behind mine, and other 3 in front of mine too. Also my vehicle destroyed a mail box and a tree, but I could not stop until my Highlander stopped by itself totally destroyed. I ended up in the hospital with some trauma.

- Bronx, NY, USA

problem #20

Feb 032016


  • 120,619 miles
Noticed a noise coming from underneath steering column assembly and steering didn't feel right. This happens almost every time we made a turn to either the right or the left. Same thing happened when backing out of the driveway. We then took our 2005 Toyota Highlander in to our mechanic and he advised us that the steering column flex coupling was lose and unsafe to drive due to potential ball barriering lose. Clicking sound went away once steering was repaired. There was also a big difference in the steering.

- Milpitas, CA, USA

problem #19

Nov 092015


  • miles
Unable to steer car properly esp when making a left turn. The car, on at least 3 occasions, had the tendency to go straight (difficult to steer) when making turns and then goes away most times. 2nd incident, writer attempted to merge to the main street. Last incident today.

- Skokie, IL, USA

problem #18

Jul 012015

Highlander 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 134,000 miles


The contact owns a 2005 Toyota Highlander. After the vehicle was started, the ABS, traction control off, vsc, tire pressure, and emergency brake warning lights illuminated. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where the technician was not able to diagnose the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 134,000....updated 09/28/15 the consumer stated the vehicle would lose steering control as if the vehicle was going to lose power. The consumer stated it would happen on an intermittent basis. Updated 10/06/15

- Pooler, GA, USA

problem #17

May 302015

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 104,493 miles
On Saturday, May 30th at approximately 8:30 I was moving our 2005 Highlander from the street into our reserved parking space within our complex. As I was starting my right hand turn into the complex the car accelerator stuck. I hit the curb on the driver's/left side causing the vehicle to veer to the right. As the car continued to accelerate I hit a tree and knocked over one of the community's posted signage. The impact made the car bounce backward partially into the drive, damaging the front passenger's side, drive shaft broke, front end part flew all over and a small fire occurred. Police were call and report taken. They estimated the speed at 20-30 miles per hour. The report taken was not filed since the accident took place on private property. The tow truck driver started the vehicle to get it on the truck. He had a difficult time for he could not get the wheels to turn. On Tuesday, June 2, we were notified by our insurance company that the vehicle was totaled. There was a recall repair done on May 21, 2011, after we were advised that the replacement parts were available to install the forward retention clip used to secure the driver's side floor carpet cover. We were advised that if it was not installed properly, the cover may lean toward the accelerator pedal and interfere with the accelerator pedal arm. If this occurs, the accelerator pedal may temporarily become stuck in a partially depressed position rather than returning to the idle position. An accelerator pedal temporarily stuck in a partially depressed position may increase the risk of a crash. There must have been a failure of the replacement part.

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #16

Apr 082014


  • 35,100 miles
Power steering line corroded with fluid leak. Replaced by meineke.

- Shrewsbury, MA, USA

problem #15

Aug 282013

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 74,296 miles


When I returned from work on 08/28/2013 I noticed a leak under my vehicle. I took my car to an auto mechanic on 8/30/2023 and they informed me that the power steering line was rusted and leaking and needed to be replaced. My vehicle only has 74296 in mileage. I had the power steering line replaced for safety reasons.

- Perry Hall, MD, USA

problem #14

Feb 082011


  • 70,000 miles
In Feb 2011 my Toyota dealer, wilde Toyota, installed 4 brand new tires on my 2005 Highlander. They performed an alignment as well. Since then my steering wheel had been off centered. When I drive straight I have to hold my steering wheel slightly to the left. Wilde Toyota tried to fix this issue 4 separate times without success. A Toyota field tech came out to inspect the vehicle and stated that its set to factory specs. After he made some minor adjustments the steering wheel has to be held to the right side now instead of the left side in order to drive straight. The field tech declined to speak to me directly. I contacted Toyota corporate. They are not allowing me to have a second opinion by another field tech. I feel that I am driving an unsafe vehicle. ## VIN failed ##

- Pewaukee, WI, USA

problem #13

Mar 012011


  • 141,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Toyota Highlander. The contact stated he heard a clanking noise when driving approximately 10 mph. The contact also stated he could feel a bump in the steering column during the failure. The failure recurred whenever turns were made at low speeds. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer to have the failure diagnosed or repaired. The failure mileage was 141,000.

- Wisconsin Rapids, WI, USA

problem #12

Dec 152010


  • 45,000 miles
There is a distinct cluck from the steering column at slow speeds and while turning (indicating something is loose or not tight), I have read there is a technical service bulletin from Toyota for this issue but I believe this could be a safety issue as it requires the replacement of the intermediate shaft on the steering column. Tsb # ST001-06 for Highlander and Camry.

- Westfield , IN, USA

problem #11

Jul 012008


  • 61,500 miles


I noticed a clunking noise and odd vibration in the steering wheel when traveling at a slow speed especially when turning corners or on a bumpy road. I do believe that if the steering intermediate shaft is not replaced, it could easily cause unnecessary accidents due to loss of steering. Toyota has issued 2 tsb concerning this problem, however they should be forced to have this part replaced. I was able to have mine replaced under warranty, but I'm really writing for all of those owners who might be driving with this problem, because they don't have the money to have it replaced.

- Plano, TX, USA

problem #10

Sep 152010

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 55,000 miles
Vehicle: 2005 Toyota Highlander. Defect: The turn signal switch (the device that turns off the signal after a turn is completed) has failed in our vehicle. We are told by a local dealer that Toyota's turn signal switches fail at a very high rate. This component should never fail over the life of the vehicle. Given the high incidence of failures, Toyota's design is clearly defective. Hazard: If the driver forgets to manually turn the signal off, other drivers are given a false signal and likely to misinterpret the driver's intent. This could lead to a serious accident. Repair: Toyota's charge for repairing the defective turn signal switch is excessively high -- approximately $450. Consequently, many drivers are forced to accept and live with the problem, resulting in an unsafe condition. Remedy: Toyota should be required to either recall and replace the defective turn signal switches or repair them at no cost to the customer.

- Cheyenne, WY, USA

problem #9

Jul 172010

Highlander 4-cyl

  • 78,850 miles
Toyota Highlander 2005 - 4 cyl driving in the rain, over puddles of water that create a splash up to about 3/4 the height of the tire (passenger side), will cause the discharge warning light to come on and cause loss of power steering (hard to turn). Suddenly, the warning light will go off and power steering will return. This is my wife's vehicle and I just noticed this issue recently while driving in heavy rain. The fault is repeatable as I noticed it for a second time today, and I managed to have it repeat the failure every time. This failure can cause a serious accident. In a rainstorm it will be typical to create a splash when turning into another street, as it is common for water to pond at the turn. Loss of power steering will cause the driver to turn the wheel harder, and when the power steering returns, then the vehicle will likely oversteer and spin out or hit anything on the direction that it is oversteered into. This incident actually occurred in two separate occasions when I was turning in the rain. The first was inadvertent and at a higher speed since it was the first time that happened when I was driving (a few weeks ago). The second time occurred today. After the incident I tried to recreate the failure, this time since I was expecting it, I did so more slowly but with the same result that will likely cause an accident. I have not taken the vehicle to the vehicle yet since I have just noticed the problem. However, we have and have had a significant amount of vehicles of different makes, and none have had this problem with splashing water causing what is probably a short and loss of power steering. After driving into the garage, I open the hood and look from the top, from the top everything seems to be dry. The other vehicles have been driven through larger splashes, without this problem.

- Sugar Land, TX, USA

problem #8

May 232008


  • 50,019 miles
Tie rods separated while driving, causing total loss of control of vehicle. Wheels turned sideways. Going 30 miles per hour, was able to bring vehicle to a stop. Vehicle was towed to dealership. They claimed rust, but we received verbal affirmation that no rust was found.

- Spokane, WA, USA

problem #7

Aug 282007


  • 200,000 miles
2005 year model Toyota Highlander. There had been a steering wheel "knocking" since about 5000 mi. It could only be detected when gently turning (wiggling) the steering wheel. I took is to Toyota dealer shortly before the three year factory warranty expired. The whole steering column assembly was replaced. I was not told what the problem was but it could be a serious safety hazard if the cv joint is defective.

- Springfield, VA, USA

problem #6

Nov 102009

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 56,500 miles
2005 Toyota Highlander 4X4 V6. The steering became jerky when turning and especially when going over bumps. The intermediate shaft assembly had to be replaced to fix the issue. The technician researched it and there have been two technical bulletins put out by Toyota and they have redesigned the original part so that it is no longer available and has a new part number. The Toyota dealership also stated that just lubricating the assembly does not work. My mechanic stated that he has fixed a number of these on Highlanders, rav4S, and avalons. In my opinion the old part adversely affects the steering and safe handling of the vehicle and should have been recalled by Toyota when the part was redesigned.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #5

May 122009


  • 40,000 miles
There has been a noticeable increase in steering wheel noise and play in my 2005 Toyota Highlander. The issue was noticed around 40,000 miles becoming increasingly worse in a only a few months. Mileage now is 46,000. Took vehicle to dealership and was told the intermediate steering shaft needed to be replaced. After researching this issue it appear there is a defect in this part or design posing a serious safety risk.

- Williamsburg, VA, USA

problem #4

Apr 032009


  • 42,558 miles
I have a 2005 Highlander and it has 45K on it. I have just recently noticed this clunk/knock noise every time I turn the steering wheel left or right 5 degrees off center. The Toyota dealerships service department advised spending $140 on greasing the intermediate steering shaft and the problem should go away, but the more I read up on this particular issue, the more I'm realizing that this is a design flaw and that if I bandage the problem now, it'll only come up again in future mileage. This should totally be a Toyota recall because it directly affect safe driving. I'm just wondering how I can escalate this complaint to the top?

- Omaha, NE, USA

problem #3

Mar 242009


  • 59,000 miles
I noticed a looseness & clicking noise in my steering while either parked or moving very slowly. A local mechanic I use diagnosed it as a worn rack & pinion (R&P) gear where it meets the steering column. I have an extended warranty on my '05 Toyota Highlander V6 with 60K miles. I brought car to king Toyota in deerfield beach, fl and they said there is a Toyota service bulletin on this problem which disassembles & lubricates the steering column. They said if that doesn't fix problem then they would change the R & P assembly. As a former airline maintenance planner I don't know how a lube would fix noise & looseness in a steering felt like a worn part. If true, why did the steering column lose its lube after only 60K miles.. was the lube missing from new & that's what caused the wear...if it was lubed was it a defective seal. Is the lube a stop gap way to delay a recall? my mechanic said & my own experience tells me something isn't right...this is a steering & possible vehicle control issue. Most of my driving is highway above 40-70mph, so I was concerned because my family & my life are at stake.

- Pompano Beach, FL, USA

problem #2

Mar 212008

Highlander 4WD

  • 14,545 miles
Around the middle of March 2008, my 2005 Toyota Highlander has knocking sounds on the steering wheel when I make turns. I sought the advise of a mechanic friend who has worked with Lexus in the past. He conducted a test drive and ocular inspection and advised me to bring the vehicle to the dealer for he suspects a problem with the steering shaft assembly. On March 24, 2008, I brought the vehicle to a Toyota dealer and was advised to replace intermediate steering shaft assembly. I paid a total of $469.29 for the service by Toyota city, mamaroneck, NY 10543 inv. [xxx]. the car has 14,549 miles during the date of service. I wrote Toyota usa for a refund of the amount I spent and got an assurance that they will look into it. Family members use the car in the usual course of grocery, school and related travel activities and has not abused it. For your information, this is also well maintained as we follow the suggestions/advise of the owner's manual for maintenance scheduled checks. My VIN [xxx]. the letter of assurance from Toyota sales usa was received several months ago and request for refund has not been acted upon. Thank you very much. Have a great day! information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6)

- New Rochelle, , NY, USA

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