Toyota announced today the voluntary recall of 106,000 first-generation Prius hybrid cars. A single US accident is suspected of being related to a faulty steering issue, specifically the steering pinion shaft attachment nut that may come loose.
Prius vehicles that are affected include 48,00 models manufactured and sold from 1997 to 2003 in Japan, 52,000 sold from 2001 to 2003 in the US, 1,200 in Great Britain and 800 in Germany.
The loose nut in question is located in the electric-power steering which can cause the vehicle, operated over a lengthy period of time, to steer with too much force.
“If the steering wheel is repeatedly and strongly turned to the full-lock position, there is a possibility the nuts securing the pinion shaft in the steering gear box assembly may become loose. If the vehicle is continuously operated in this condition, over time, the customer will gradually notice significant increased steering effort when making a left turn,” said an official Toyota statement.
To fix the problem, improved nuts can be installed at no cost to owners. Dealer instalment approximately takes up to four hours.
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A separate, fairly minor recall involves 34 Venza AWD and 16 Sienna AWD 2011 vehicles from Canada and the US. This recall is issued to replace an insufficiently heat treated front right-hand driveshaft.
Toyota’s reputation has been detrimentally affected in the last two years because of mass recalls of over 14 million cars. Toyota will have to fight hard to rebuild a brand image that includes thoughts of safety.