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The Prius recall covers 670,000 vehicles in the U.S. Worldwide, Toyota is recalling 2.78 million vehicles.

Toyota , .

Steering issue prompts Toyota to recall 670,000 Prius hybrids

  • Article by: CHRISTOPHER JENSEN
  • New York Times
  • November 14, 2012 - 9:19 PM

 

Toyota is recalling 670,000 of its 2004-09 Prius hybrids in the United States to fix problems involving the loss of steering and the hybrid powertrain shutting down, the automaker has told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The move is part of a worldwide recall of almost 2.78 million vehicles, according to The Associated Press, which quoted Toyota officials. Only the Prius is affected in the United States. Outside the United States, the recall covers the Corolla and the Wish, a small van.

The cars are being recalled because the metal used for a steering component is not hard enough, according to a report the automaker filed Wednesday with the safety agency. The part could wear out "if the steering wheel is frequently and forcefully turned to the full left or full right position while driving at low speeds," and that "could result in the loss of steering ability," according to the report.

Toyota said it got its first notice of such a failure in February 2010 in Japan but its investigation was inconclusive. In February 2012, Toyota got its first report of steering loss in the United States. This month, the company concluded that it finally knew the cause and decided a recall was needed.

A second recall covers 350,000 of those same vehicles and involves replacing an electric water pump that could fail and shut down the hybrid powertrain system. But the gas engine would continue to move the vehicle, said Brian Lyons, a Toyota spokesman.

Toyota told the agency it got its first report of a water pump problem in 2009 in Japan, which resulted in changes to the pump in 2010. But pump failures continued, and it was not until this month that Toyota determined the cause of the problem -- a coil wire that could be scratched, leading to corrosion and "in some cases break."

Toyota says it is not aware of any accidents in the United States related to either of the recalls Wednesday.

The company described the recalls as voluntary. But once a manufacturer is aware of a safety problem it must -- within five business days -- inform the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of its plan for a recall or face civil penalties.

© 2014 Star Tribune