In another blow to its prestige, Toyota is recalling 2.8 million vehicles worldwide for steering-shaft and water-pump defects.
The main problem is a steering intermediate extension shaft, according to Toyota. If the steering wheel is forcefully turned to full right or full left while driving slowly, it can begin to deform the splines (ridges) of the shaft. If that happens frequently enough, the splines may eventually wear out and cause faulty steering.
A second Toyota recall involves about 350,000 of those same US Priuses, which have faulty water pumps. The pump's electric motor can fail. "In limited instances, the electric power supply circuit fuse may open, causing the hybrid system to stop while the vehicle is being driven," says a Toyota statement.
There have been no reports of crashes or injuries from either defect, Toyota's USA division says.
This is not the first time Priuses have had steering shaft problems. In 2006, Toyota issued a recall for 2004 to early 2006 models to replace the steering intermediate shaft and sliding yoke because they could crack and cause drivers to lose steering control.
Worldwide, the current Toyota recall involves Corolla, Wish, and other models besides the Prius. Some 1.5 million of the vehicles are in Japan; another 496,000 were sold in Europe. Last month, the Japanese automaker announced a recall of 7.4 million vehicles for a faulty electric power-window switch that, in extreme cases, caught fire. The company in recent years has had to recall 14 million vehicles due to accelerators that got stuck, according to the Associated Press.
For the current steering and water-pump problems, Toyota is urging owners to let Toyota dealers inspect the extension shaft and, in some cases, replace it. The repair should take about one hour. Dealers are also prepared to replace the electric water pump – a two-hour repair.
Toyota will be sending notification letters in December, telling owners to schedule an appointment with a Toyota dealer. There is no charge for the work.
Owners wanting more information can call Toyota at 800-331-4331.