According to a New York Times article in early June, Toyota has referenced a problem and recall due to the electric steering of 2001-2003 (first generation) Toyota Priuses. The report states that the recall looks to include nearly 52,000 vehicles in the US alone, as well as a total of 106,000 vehicles worldwide.
The article states that there have been some unconfirmed reports of minor accidents relating to the steering issue. While Toyota claimed that the recall was voluntary, the New York Times states that the car manufacturer was required to inform the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration immediately following a recall.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the article is the fact that Toyota has been researching steering issues for nearly four years now. Initial technical reports came in 2007 of a first generation Prius steering wheel locking up.
According to the report, Toyota discovered loose locking nuts upon their original research into the steering issues. Differing reports gave the car manufacturer a tough time investigating the issue for years. The New York Times report states that the company’s brand engineers were unable to determine a total cause to the steering issues until May 2011, finally prompting the need for a recall.
The news article states that the steering complications are related to the lubrication grease and tightening from the assembly onto the nuts. It also states that since there is a difference between the right and left hand models, the steering wheels in the US wouldn’t stick.
This is not the first time the Prius has been the center of a recall issue. Toyota recalled nearly 1,700 of the 2001 models in 2000 for a power steering issue. Although both recalls involved steering, Toyota representative Brian Lyons disputed any connection between the two, saying “Wednesday’s announcement is not related to the 2000 action.” There are said to have been numerous complaints relating back to steering problems with Priuses from the early 2000’s.
Also in a separate case, Toyota recalled some Venza all wheel drive cars and some Sienna minivans, according to a recent Wall Street Journal Report. Both were related to risk of drive shafts breaking due to an insufficient amount of heat. Unlike the early 2000 Priuses, these are recently developed 2011 models.
Jensen, Christopher. (June 1, 2011). Steering Difficulty Prompts Recall of 52,000 Toyota Priuses. Retrieved on June 22, 2011 from The New York Times
Welsh, Jonathan. (June 1, 2011). Toyota Recalls Older Prius Cars to Fix Steering. Retrieved on June 22, 2011 from The Wall Street Journal