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Toyota Highland Hybrid Steering and Suspension Questions
Last post on Nov 22, 2009 at 11:05 AM
You are in the Toyota Highlander Hybrid Maintenance & Repair
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Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Steering, Suspension, SUV
#1 of 28 2006 Highland Hybrid/Lexus RX400h power steering failures
Jul 10, 2008 (6:26 pm)
I own a 2006 Toyota Highland Hybrid with 54K+ miles on it. Last week my power steering failed. Fortunately I was only trying to back out of my parking space and not driving down the interstate. I had the vehicle towed to a local Toyota dealership. Initially they said they had never seen this problem before and were unable to diagnose the problem. After a couple hours they said they would have to call the technicians in California and since there was no telling when they would call back they put me in a rental car at my expense. The following day they called to tell me they needed to replace my power steering rack and since the vehicle was no longer in warranty (less than 3 years but over 36K miles) the repair costs would be $1,840. Iíve owned many cars in my life with many more miles on them than this and Iíve never had a power steering failure. I started to do some internet research and found this is definitely not an isolated incident. There are numerous reports of similar failures on both the 2006 Highlander Hybrid as well as the 2006 Lexus 400h hybrid SUV. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into the defect in Nov 2006. In response to a request for information to support that investigation, Toyota reported there had already been 109 warranty claims related to the electronic power steering assembly on the 2006 HIHY. Unfortunately the investigation was closed in Mar 2007 without a recall because the defect seemed to only occur at no or low speeds and didnít result in a loss of steering control. Iíd like to try and find out the magnitude of the problem. Toyota reported 109 warranty claims as of Nov 06-Mar 07. How many have there been since then? How many non-warranty claims such as mine? On both the Highlander and the Lexus 400h? Itís certainly more than 109 and it sure seems like itís a matter of when your power steering will fail and not if. Remarkably, after 109 warranty claims, I can find no evidence that Toyota even had the decency to issue a technical service bulletin. I would encourage everyone who has experienced this problem to file a complaint with both the NHTSA (http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/) as well as the Center for Auto Safety (http://www.autosafety.org/). Perhaps the NHTSA will reopen the investigation if enough consumers report the problem. The Center for Auto Safety will ask if you want to be part of a class action suit if you report your complaint through their web site.
#2 of 28 Re: 2006 Highland Hybrid/Lexus RX400h power steering failures [lcarr8522]
Jul 12, 2008 (8:47 am)
July...TX, AZ, NV......HOT...???
The RXh/HH electric power stearing is already known to be of marginal design. It will actually go into degraded/derated performance mode AUTOMATICALLY if you cause it to overheat by...
"USING IT TOO MUCH".
#3 of 28 Re: 2006 Highland Hybrid/Lexus RX400h power steering failures [lcarr8522]
Jul 13, 2008 (11:09 am)
THANKS for sharing it! Will keep an eye on this.
So far, our '06 is doing fine, knock on wood!
#4 of 28 Re: 2006 Highland Hybrid/Lexus RX400h power steering failures [wwest]
Jul 13, 2008 (11:21 am)
I cannot find anything on-line that addresses specifically the steering design aspects of the RXh/HH. Can you please point us to them if you have found them? It would be helpful.
Our '06 HH is driven often in average 95-F heat (on average) during hot summer months in central CA. During CA heat wave like the one that just passed, daily temperature soared to 105-115 F. We also often drive HWY 5 between LA and SF Bay Area and the Redding region. Everyone who knows that route knows how hot HWY 5 gets in the summer. Average is around 100+ F from LA up into Redding.
We also crawl at low speed on ranch roads in >95-F often enough, no sign of steering problem yet coming on 45K miles, knock on wood.
I thought the engine would be much hotter than ambient temperature. If the car is moving, air flow should cool everything to some degree? Why would high heat cause steering problem in the HH?
Sure hope this is not some systemic problem though.
#5 of 28 Re: 2006 Highland Hybrid/Lexus RX400h power steering failures [lcarr8522]
Aug 22, 2008 (8:47 am)
My 2006 Highlander Hybrid with 44,000 miles was just towed to Toyota on a flatbed after having problems with the power steering. We had not used the car in a while and as I pulled out of the driveway I couldn't turn the wheel easily. It felt like a lack of power steering fluid but we decided to drive it locally to see if it improved. It did not in fact it was a good thing that my partner took over the driving. All of a sudden the front wheels started to quiver back and forth violently and we got it to the nearest service station and called for assistance. It was headed for the guardrail on its own and if it had not been for the strength of my partner we would have crashed.
I have not yet received a call from Toyota but I can tell you I am not happy and will be a lot less happy if the repair bill is close to $2,000.
Prior to this incident there were a few times that I though the car turned a little hard but it didn't seem to last so I wasn't concerned.
I will post the repair corrective action as soon as I hear from the garage and will follow up with the appropriate agencies as soon as I have a diagnosis from Toyota.
#6 of 28 Re: 2006 Highland Hybrid/Lexus RX400h power steering failures [cdptrap]
Aug 22, 2008 (10:19 am)
According to Toyota there are situations and/or circumstances wherein the solid state electric drive control can/will overheat and reduce the driver stearing power assist functionality quite substantially. Look in your owners manual for word of this.
There appears to be an additional problem in that when it is operating in the substandard state more MUSCLE is required of the driver and EXTENDED muscular effort will/might actually bend the torque tube out of alignment. In some cases this has actually resulted in the electric assist operating OPPOSITE the driver's turning of the stearing wheel.
Especially HOT day, HOT surrounding landscape/roadbed, yes, the power stearing will be more prone to going into substandard, low assist, mode.
#7 of 28 Re: 2006 Highland Hybrid/Lexus RX400h power steering failures [wwest]
Aug 22, 2008 (10:48 am)
With my situation the temperature in northern NY was around 75 - 80 degrees tops. The car had been sitting in the garage to save mileage and a more efficient Yaris was being driven. My car will not be looked at until Monday.
#8 of 28 Re: 2006 Highland Hybrid/Lexus RX400h power steering failures [upstateny5]
Aug 26, 2008 (11:37 am)
The steering rack needs replacement with my vehicle. Fortunately my dealership is being fair about the situation. The car will not leave their lot after the repair is performed as it will be traded in.
Aug 28, 2008 (9:21 pm)
Wow, good thing you all are safe when your steering system malfunctioned. Thanks for sharing this problem and sorry it did not work out for you all.
I will be sure to post any problem we encounter in our '06. It is approaching 47K miles now. We are in southern SF Bay Area and just got hit by another heat wave, local temperature at our site was 109 today. It is normal for Summer to be in the mid-90's to low 100's in our neck of the woods. We also drive I-5 a lot and it can be baking in smoggy foul air at 100+ while the coast is blanketed by cool clean foggy air. So far, so good; knock on wood!
Aug 29, 2008 (5:47 am)
I really have some questions about temperature with the problem. As with the first poster there really did not seem to be any warning signs - just instant failure.
I do have to say that the local Toyota dealership could not have been nicer and were very accommodating on the trade in etc.
Would I consider a future hybrid - YES. Unfortunately the finances just did not work out for one this go around. Since the RAV4 grew up we almost have the same interior space as we did with the Highlander (which now has grown up more).