NHTSA Investigating Toyota Prius Steering Shafts
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations (NHTSA) announced that it will investigate whether 561,000 model year 2004-2009 Toyota Prius vehicles have defective steering shafts.
On January 30, 2013, William Rosenbluth, of Automotive Systems Analysis, Inc., petitioned NHTSA to open a defect investigation concerning the upper coupler of the steering intermediate shaft on 2004-2009 Toyota Prius vehicles. The petition was based on an inspection of a client's 2005 Prius.
The petition includes images that illustrate wear and corrosion on the splines at the base of the steering column and indicates that these conditions indicate partial engagement to the upper intermediate shaft coupler. The petition also reports that no known service took place that would account for this condition since the time of vehicle production.
NHTSA said that it will decide whether or not to grant a defect petition claiming the steering column linkage was improperly assembled.
Toyota has previously issued two recalls for steering issues in the Prius.
In November 2012, Toyota recalled 669,000 2004-09 Prius vehicles to replace the steering shaft extension assembly. In 2006, Toyota also recalled 170,000 2004-06 Prius vehicles because the intermediate shaft in the electric power system had the potential to crack, which could result in a loss of steering control.