Notes: 2008 is the first year of the 2nd generation Highlander, & it may be a model year to avoid as Toyota most likely worked out some production quality issues with the new model.

The 2009 Highlander is the has far fewer complaints.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
70,464 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.

2008 Toyota Highlander steering problems

steering problem

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2008 Toyota Highlander Owner Comments

problem #19

Dec 212016


  • 85,000 miles


As I was making a slow right turn onto a side street, the steering wheel gave out and I hit a parked car. Then my dashboard light indicator for the steering wheel lit up.

- Lincolnwood, IL, USA

problem #18

Sep 202016


  • 159,000 miles
Driving at a slower speed and during a turn - my power steering shut off- the power steering indicator appeared on my dash but then disappeared. As a result I lost access to power steering. This happened several times and has happened at approximately 20 mph. I checked the recall notifications and identified I had 3 separate recalls related to this vehicle how the power steering concern was not one of them. I soon discovered this article which explains what happened to my vehicle exactly

- Nauwigewauk, NJ, USA

problem #17

Jul 242016


  • 117,122 miles
The steering wheel had been adjusted to a setting for a shorter driver, and while in the process of re-setting it for a taller driver, the steering wheel and its housing came completely off of the shaft that reaches into the engine. To safely get off the road, an attempt was made to stick it back on, and it was unable to stay in the correct position. Once the vehicle was pulled over, to try to reattach it, the driver again attempted to seat the housing on the shaft. 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. This all happened as we were backing out of the driveway, and then attempting to maneuver into the roadway.

- Highland Park, IL, USA

problem #16

Jan 012012


  • miles


The intermediate shaft in the steering column is making a knocking noise when ever I turn it to the right. I complained to the dealership and they said they could not find anything wrong with it. Now they have a tsb for it for repairing the intermediate shaft. While I'm spending $500, for the repair, they should recall this part because Toyota knows about it since 2 years ago. While driving it and making a turn, it will just make a knocking noise and feels like the steering wheel is loose.

- Union City, CA, USA

problem #15

Jun 152014


  • 110,000 miles
In motion on city streets steering column makes clunk noise when turning left or right, also on highway steering column rattles. It started 6-15-2014 until present day 12-28-2015.

- Baton Rouge, LA, USA

problem #14

Oct 302014


  • 120,000 miles

- Santiago De Queretaro, NM, USA

problem #13

Nov 012014


  • 85,000 miles


The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Highlander. The contact stated that while driving approximately 20 mph and making a left turn, a loud noise emitted from the steering wheel. The failure recurred each time the contact turned left or right. The vehicle was taken to the dealer but the failure was unable to be determined. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 85,000.

- Woodbridge, NJ, USA

problem #12

Aug 012014


  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Highlander. While turning the steering wheel in either direction, a popping noise emitted from the steering column. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who diagnosed that the intermediate steering shaft was faulty and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired and the failure was remedied. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 70,000.

- Bloomington, IN, USA

problem #11

Feb 092015

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 64,441 miles
Noise occurs while turning in the steering column. The "clunking" and vibrations are felt within the steering wheel. The part from Toyota was remanufactured in 2011 to replace the current part given it was a default part not lasting long. It is a safety issue given it is the mechanism that connects the steering wheel to the front shaft assembly. Should that have issue, break etc. While driving or turning it can be accidental or fatal. The dealership mentioned that while it may not be a safety issue, its not fully determined that it is not. For the part to be re-manufactured differently, there must have been knowledge of a faulty part. This needs to be remedied by Toyota. Part is intermediate steering shaft.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #10

Sep 152014


  • 24,200 miles
Turning left or right there is a clicking noise and a click in the steering wheel mainly at slow speed & if just bearing moving - very low speed. Numerous reports have been turned into Toyota - yet they will not do a recall - appears that the steering shaft is the problem. Have been told hundreds have had to be replaced in phoenix alone. Can you request from Toyota how many of these shafts the dealers have purchased? Toyota will not tell me when I requested this information. Our vehicle has less than 25K miles on it & it is 7 years old so it isn't an abused vehicle. This problem is also on other Toyota models / years I've been told.

- Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #9

Dec 262014


  • 125,000 miles


The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Highlander. The contact stated that while attempting to park, the steering wheel seized. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the intermediate driveshaft detached from the mount due to a failed spiral cable assembly. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 125,000.

- Penfield , NY, USA

problem #8

Jun 142014

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 141,451 miles
We were starting off to go on vacation when warning lights came on the dashboard and information panel with hybrid system warnings and brake warnings then the car completely stopped in the middle of the road and steering was lost. We were able to get off to the side enough to prevent causing an accident however we were on a busy street. Had it towed to the local Toyota dealer and the diagnosis was a failed coil. They replaced all 3 coils saying that it would be prudent as the engine was already apart (I agree). They also said that this is a relatively common occurrence with some of the Highlander hybrids. I have the part and it looks like the top of the coil became over heated and blew out the top plastic compound. I consider myself very lucky that this did not happen while on a highway on a rainy day where the vehicle abruptly stopping would certainly have caused me to be in an accident. This is certainly a flaw that Toyota should address for safety reasons and it makes me hesitant to want to purchase another Toyota product again.

- Sutton, MA, USA

problem #7

Mar 112013

Highlander 6-cyl

  • miles
I had to replace the steering shaft on this car. I was told that on the 2008 and 2013 models there was an issue. Toyota would not work with me on this expense. I feel this is a major part of the car and I could have been in danger if not fixed. Them knowing this is an issue and not doing a recall is wrong! I felt they should have taken care of this and not at my expense. I have had about 3 different recalls on the car and this just added to my worries. I am not sure what constitutes a recall but felt this was one on Toyota. Thank you

- Lake Oswego, OR, USA

problem #6

Nov 062012

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 61,000 miles
My steering locks when I was driving. I reported this issue before to the dealer, but they figure out that the computer has a problem after the big issue.

- Roslindale, MA, USA

problem #5

Jan 242012

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 82,600 miles
The contact owns 2008 Toyota Highlander. The contact stated that while parked the rear passenger door side seat belt would not release and as a result it had to be cut. The contact also stated he heard a knocking noise emitting from the steering column. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for a diagnostic testing. The technician stated the seat belt and the lower steering shaft needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and stated the vehicle was not included in any recalls. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 82,600 and the current mileage was 93,000. Updated 12/12/12

- Easton, PA, USA

problem #4

Mar 182010


  • 21,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Highlander. The contact stated that while driving 10 mph, the contact heard a knocking sound in the steering wheel and the vehicle began to shake abnormally. The vehicle was taken to a dealer for diagnosis and a repair was made however, the contact was unaware of the nature of the repair. After leaving the dealer the vehicle began to shake again. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer at least three times who then advised that they were unsure of what was causing the failure. The vehicle was not further repaired. The failure mileage was 21,000 and the current mileage was 60,000.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #3

May 062011


  • 58,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Highlander. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds, the power steering failed and the steering wheel began abnormally moving from left to right independently. The vehicle was inspected by a dealer and they advised him that the power steering control module had failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired for the power steering control module. The manufacturer was contacted and they advised him that they would cover fifty percent of the repair costs. The failure mileage was approximately 58,000.

- Fitchburg, MA, USA

problem #2

Feb 102008

Highlander 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 13,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Highlander. On February 10, 2008 while driving approximately 35 mph, the vehicle suddenly accelerated when she put her foot on the brake pedal. The vehicle failed to slow down. She lost control and swerved the into the left lane and crashed into another vehicles rear bumper causing that vehicle to crash into the vehicle in front of them. She sustained injuries to her ribs. The other two drivers also sustained injuries. The insurance company was in the process of investigating the failure. The vehicle was destroyed. The failure and the current mileages were 13,000. A police report was filed. Updated 03/30/10. The consumer stated there may have been possible steering problems as well. According to the police report, the consumer was traveling too fast for the road conditions. Updated 06/28/10

- Summerville, SC, USA

problem #1

May 152009


  • 2,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Highlander. While driving at low speeds with his foot on the brake pedal, the power steering locked and it was very difficult to make a left or right turn. The vehicle also became hard to control at higher speeds between 50 to 70 mph. The failure occurred 10 times. The dealer was contacted and stated that the vehicle was designed that way and it was not malfunctioning. No repairs were made to the vehicle. The failure mileage was 2000. The current mileage was 12,050.

- Rockville, MD, USA

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