really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
47,508 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.

2013 Toyota Highlander steering problems

steering problem

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2013 Toyota Highlander Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #44

Jun 122021

Highlander 6-cyl

  • miles


- The car was purchased in 2015 used and the steering wheel has made a clunking sound when turning a hard sharp left or right since the day of purchase -While on a road trip of approximately 3,000 miles round trip in June 2021 the steering wheel was adjusted to accommodate my husband's height. It became very loose, with it finally dropping into my husband's lap on the last day of our trip-it was difficult to steer the car -We brought the car in to our dealership the following day where they confirmed we needed a new steering column-the car has not been involved in any accidents nor have the air bags employed -Other than the "clunking" sound there has never been any previous warning that the steering wheel would disengage while driving.

- Everett, WA, USA

problem #43

Mar 172021


  • 45,500 miles
There are sounds when sometimes when turning, including poping or sometimes like a whirling sound. The steering is a bit stiff sometimes and not easy to turn the wheels, this does not happen at any specific speed. I do not have any picture or other document I can upload as this is not physical damage that can be photographed.

- Clearwater, FL, USA

problem #42

Jan 012016


  • 60,000 miles
Intermediate steering shaft - noise began around 60K miles and has continued to get worse, now at 104K. If Toyota knowingly made a design change and issued a new replacement part, recall should be issued.

- Canton, GA, USA

problem #41

Dec 012019


  • 54,000 miles


'thunk'/popping noise when turning the steering wheel left or right. Was told to replace the intermediate steering shaft, and learned that a new one was developed to fix this problem in 2013 but no recall or safety notice was sent to owners.

- Encino, CA, USA

problem #40

Dec 202018


  • 88,000 miles
When I turn my steering wheel going very slow or stationary my steering wheel makes a popping sounds and my mechanic says it's the intermediate shaft. Its getting worse as I'm putting miles on it. Since it's a steering component, it's a very serious issue since if it fails I will loose complete control of my car.

- Federal Way, WA, USA

problem #39

Oct 092018


  • 43,000 miles
The door locks stopped working and I was forced to pay to repair them after owning car for less than 6 months. The power windows fail to operate at random times. There was a similar problem with the 2010 Toyota yaris window panel. The car jumps or skips while accelerating.

- Woodland Hills, CA, USA

problem #38

Aug 032019


  • 33,000 miles


My steering makes a clunking sound, which you can actually feel in the steering wheel when it occurs, when turning either left or right. It is increasing in occurrence and intensity. It occurs at any speed. This has been going on for several months. I took it to the dealership and they lubricated something, saying there was no danger. Should it become worse bring it back. It's going back!

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #37

May 012019


  • 29,493 miles
The contact owns a 2013 Toyota Highlander. While driving, a clunking noise was heard coming from the steering wheel. In addition, while making left or right turns or while the vehicle was stopped, the noise grew louder. The contact also stated that the steering wheel became difficult to turn when the vehicle had not been driven for a couple of days. There were no warning indicators illuminated. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic, but a failure code could not be found. The vehicle was not repaired. The dealer and manufacturer were not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 29,493.

- Richmond Hill, NY, USA

problem #36

Jun 072019


  • 60,000 miles
Clunking noise from front end when turning wheels, appeared at approximately 60,000 miles. Took to shop for repairs, and was diagnosed as intermediate steering shaft. Mechanic said it was so loose he could manipulate it with his hand and was close to catastrophic failure.

- Nixa, MO, USA

problem #35

May 282019


  • 68,700 miles
Re: investigation EA18006. My car has been making a clunking sound in the steering column during slow turns to the right so I did an internet search and found numerous discussions and articles talking about a 'known' issue with the steering column. One article led me to your investigation. While at the dealer yesterday, I explained the issue and asked them to investigate. They said for $70 they can look into it. Given I consider steering a critical system, I protested the service charge and their only response was they could do a 'visual' inspection for free but it should be looked at deeply to diagnose properly. I had them proceed and they came back with a suggestion that the steering column be replaced. I asked if it was a safety concern and was told 'yes it will be at some point'. obviously, I had them replace it but feel that if there is a safety issue here, they should be proactive and replace these steering columns on all affected products before someone gets hurt. I sent a concern to Toyota as well but wanted to add this to your active investigation record.

- Simsbury, CT, USA

problem #34

May 012018


  • 48,500 miles


I am the first owner of this vehicle and bought it new from a Toyota dealer. My 2013 Highlander has 54,700 miles. For almost one year (starting may, 2018), I am experiencing a clunk and knocking noise from the steering column when making a right or left turn. Now more recently, I am experiencing it more often, and worried about the safe operation of the vehicle. I have found after a research that this steering column issue is widespread and Toyota has changed the design of the steering intermediate shaft, and recommending to change with this revised part to rectify the issue. The old part# was 45220-48170, which has been re-designed by Toyota as new part# 45220-48171. If this is a safety issue and required to change the design, then Toyota must change this part and rectify the issue free of cost.

- Flower Mound, TX, USA

problem #33

Apr 122019


  • 52,500 miles
Car has only 53K miles and I am being told I need to replace my intermediate shaft. Due to knocking sounds. I am worried if it will result in the steering wheel falling off or worse

- Milton, MA, USA

problem #32

Apr 022019


  • 55,000 miles
I have heard a knocking noise when turning my vehicle either wayfor the last several months. While in for regular service today, I asked dealer to check the noise. This is a 2013 with 60K miles on it; purchased certified used a couple of years ago. Service tech tells me it is related to the steering column, which will cost over $2000 to repair. He can't/ won't tell me the significance of this issue, saying maybe it is "just a noise". when I question that this seems like an unusually expensive repair at 60K miles, he does not really respond. A quick google search reveals that this is an extensive issue impacting many 2008-2013 Highlanders. Toyota has gone so far as to have put out a technical service bulletin regarding this issue. It also appears this issue is being "investigated" by safety board. Steering is a critical safety component of a vehicle (obviously). Not only has this not been made an official recall by Toyota, I was not informed at time of purchasing this certified vehicle of this issue, nor was I told today by service that this is an ongoing issue.

- South Bend, IN, USA

problem #31

Jan 012016


  • 35 miles
My intermediate steering shaft makes clunk nosies turning left at low speeds and now progress when turning right at times. I have 50K miles and started this issue at 38K miles. It gets louder seems like. Concerned it will effect the safety of the vehicle.

- La Habra, CA, USA

problem #30

Mar 162019

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 96,000 miles
I got hit by a drunk driver while I was at an intersection stationary. I was waiting to make a left turn and an oncoming car going 35 mph crossed lanes and crashed into me. It was a bad accident, both cars involved totalled.I had 4 other passengers in the car, and no airbags went off. I received head injuries (a lot of dizziness), neck and back injuries.

- Sherman Oaks, CA, USA

problem #29

Jul 012018


  • 60,000 miles
My steering wheel on VIN#(xxxx) feels clunky when I turn corners. It scares me, like it feels like a ghost is jacking it abruptly into the turn it does not happen all the time. I went to this site to check up on problems, and recalls. Put my VIN # in and lo and behold, people have experienced this same thing and found that the whole steering column became loose and had to be changed out! this ought to be a recall. I'm scared. To check up on the site I used go here: Https://driving-tests.org/VIN-decoder/ put my VIN in and you'll see 1/3 way down the page "most recent complaints" there you will read what is happening to my SUV. I bought the car used from a Toyota dealership and the warranty is not going to be used on this because they don't know of any recall. Do I wait until my steering column becomes loosened? this has been happening intermittently from summer til present time. Parts of this document have been redacted to protect personally identifiable information pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Mystic, CT, USA

problem #28

Feb 082019


  • miles
I started feeling a clicking/clunking feeling in the steering column a month ago, especially when I made turns. I was also able to feel that the steering wheel has started to get looser. On 2/8/19 Toyota recommended that the intermediate steering shaft be replaced. I had this part replaced for $428. There's 58,254 miles on the vehicle. This is my 3rd Toyota vehicle in 30 years and I have never had any major problems in the past. I understand the new shaft may have an improved design I hope so it does not occur again. I am very disappointed that there has not been a recall to replace this part. Does there need to be a serious accident or even someone getting killed in a car accident because of this faulty intermediate steering shaft??

- Highlands Ranch, CO, USA

problem #27

Jan 162019


  • 64,000 miles
Clunking noise from steering wheel. Internet search revealed possibility of steering wheel coming off resulting in accident. This could be a severe problem and needs a recall.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #26

Feb 082016


  • 48,000 miles
My 2013 Toyota Highlander was purchased used in 2015 with about 40,000 miles on it. In 2016 the car started to make a "thumping" noise when I make a left turn over a bump but it didn't happen often and I thought it was related to my garage entry of a 1.5" bump in the pavement. Most noticeable at low speeds but that may be a result of the lower interior noise. The care has had these noises become more prevalent since I first noticed it. The car has approximately 80,000 miles on it now and it is getting more pronounced. It occurs when you hit any type of bump and more often when turning the vehicle. I have seen many reports of this and expect Toyota to offer their owners a repair for this issue. This is not the type of quality I expect from Toyota having owned a Camry (1987), rav-4 (2006) and now my second Highlander (2002 & 2013).

- Ocean, NJ, USA

problem #25

Dec 102018


  • 65,887 miles
Vehicle started making a clunking noise 3 days ago. Brought it into the dealership to have it repaired. Was informed it was not covered under warranty and it would cost $507 in repairs. After reading many complaints about the same issue it actually is making me a little concerned.I have always owned Toyota's and never have had any issues. My mileage is 65,887 I truly believe that this issue needs to be recalled and replaced. I noticed a loud clunking noise when I made left hand turns or if there was a speed bump or a dip. The steering wheel also didn't feel the same either almost like it's loose. I've owned this vehicle for approx 1 year ourcahsed certified pre owned. The dealership really frustrated me today and now I question even keeping this vehicle. If this shaft plans on going out every 30-60K miles id rather dump it and get a different vehicle.

- Henderson, NV, USA

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