NHTSA probes 561,000 Toyota Prius hybrids over steering problem
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced on Monday that it will investigate 561,000 model-year 2004 through 2009 Toyota Prius hybrids over a steering shaft issue. The federal probe stems from a petition claiming the vehicle’s steering column linkage was improperly assembled. According to the petition, there was no known service that occurred on the vehicle to account for the problem. The NHTSA will have to complete its analysis before it can become a recall.
Toyota has recalled the Prius multiple times for steering problems. In 2006, the automaker recalled 170,000 2004 through 2006 Toyota Prius hybrids because the intermediate shaft could crack and result in loss of steering control.
In 2011, Toyota recalled over 100,000 model-year 2001 through 2003 Prius vehicles to address a faulty Electronic Power Steering (EPS) pinion shaft nut. Over time, the loosening of pinion shaft nuts may make more difficult for the driver to turn the vehicle to the left. The recall covered 52,000 Prius models in the United States and another 54,000 overseas.
Most recently, Toyota recalled 669,000 model-year 2004 through 2009 Prius vehicles to replace the steering shaft extension assembly. According to the automaker, certain extension shafts were manufactured with an insufficient hardness level, which may cause the part to deform if the steering wheel is frequently turned to the full-lock position while traveling at a slow speed.