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US closes investigation into Toyota Highlander steering wheel problems without seeking a recall

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. safety regulators have closed a five-year investigation into complaints that steering wheels can fall off of some Toyota SUVs without seeking a recall.

The investigation opened in 2018 by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration covered about 708,000 Highlanders from the 2008 through 2013 model years.

The agency said in documents posted on its website Wednesday that it's closing the probe because the problem happened rarely, and likely was caused by damage due to collisions. Also, Toyota issued a bulletin in 2018 telling technicians to inspect the steering column when making repairs after any crash.

The investigation was opened in 2018 after the agency received complaints that the steering column could detach from the lower part of the column while drivers were adjusting the steering wheels.

The agency said it had 42 complaints from owners about the problem.