Patrick Rall's picture

NHTSA closes investigation of Toyota Corolla steering systems

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has closed a 15-month investigation into the electronic power steering system in the 2009 and 2010 Toyota Corolla, stating that no problems were found with the system and allowing Toyota to avoid yet another reputation-damaging recall.

This investigation, which began in 2009, affected roughly 750,000 Toyota Corolla and Matrix models that were equipped with the new (at the time) electronic power steering system. The NHTSA received around 150 complaints claiming that the Corolla and Matrix because very hard to control at highway speeds; especially in the presence of heavy winds. The unhappy owners alleged that while driving at speeds in the range of 55-70mph, the car would suddenly begin to wander from side to side on its own and while it was hard for the driver to control, it would suddenly stop – leading the driver to believe that the electronic power steering system was malfunctioning.

However, based on the government’s findings after the lengthy investigation, Toyota’s electronic power steering system in the Corolla and Matrix has been given the “all clear”. Not only does that mean that Toyota doesn’t taken another hit in their already-black eye, but it also means that they will not be forced to recall 750,000 more vehicles to repair/replace the electronic power steering system in the popular Corolla.

Toyota has insisted that many of the recall issues (like unintended acceleration) were caused not by electronic or mechanical failure, but by driver error. Toyota has already lost one such case where the occupants of a Lexus were killed when the vehicle accelerated out of control but it appears that in the case of the 2009-2010 Toyota Corolla steering complaints – the problems were indeed the fault of bad drivers.

Source: Reuters

Other Toyota News:
Toyota recalling Tundra pickups for tire pressure monitor problems, again
Toyota recalls 22000 trucks and SUVs over tire pressure risks
Toyota recalls 51,000 Tundra pickups for driveshaft failure risks
Judge rules Toyota must face economic loss lawsuits
Toyota’s first unintended acceleration settlement approved
Toyota recalls 308,000 SUVs for airbag risks
Toyota announces production cuts into June

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The findings that the problem was indeed 'fault of bad drivers' infuriates me. On 11/3/2011 I was involved in one car accident as a direct result of faulty steering, causing 'drifting'. I can attest that I am not a 'bad driver', nor was the crash a result of any action on my part. The 2009 Matric drifted from lane to lane, I lowered speed as I have never in my 39 years of driving experienced anything like this. 4 miles down the road the drifting was uncontrollable, and resulted in the car spinning out of control when it ran off the road (without my assistance, since I was unable to control steering.) Absurd to have this conclusion to what surely was not a thorough investigation. Big corporate dollars win again.