In recent weeks Toyota has managed two major acceleration-related recalls covering much of its lineup; this week it announced a braking-related recall on its iconic Prius tech flagship; and now, looking ahead, Toyota might be facing a steering issue as well on one of its best-selling vehicles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed to Automotive News that it is reviewing a large number of steering complaints concerning the electric power steering system used in 2009 and 2010 Toyota Corolla sedans.
Going back to April 2008, NHTSA has logged a total of 83 complaints so far related to the steering, according to AN, with 76 of these reporting that the vehicle would unexpectedly pull to the side at higher speeds.
In all, the complaints cite a total of six accidents and ten injuries due to the phenomenon, which is described as a strong pulling to the side, like being buffeted by crosswinds, requiring two hands on the wheel to maintain a straight path.
Beginning with the 2009 model year, Toyota replaced the previous hydraulic power steering unit in the Corolla with an electric one. Newer electric power steering systems typically include logic to correct for environmental variables like the crown of the road as well as crosswinds, although we're not sure if the system in the Corolla does.
The Corolla from those model years is already covered by both of Toyota's two major accelerator-related recalls—for pedal entrapment (floor mats) and for an issue with a sticky pedal mechanism.
The review stage might presage a formal investigation, which then might eventually prompt a safety recall.
The 2009 and 2010 Toyota Matrix hatchback is closely related to the Corolla and thus might also be affected, as might the Pontiac Vibe. Both remain covered by the other two accelerator-related recalls.
According to Ward's, the supplier JTEKT Corp. produces electric power steering units for the Corolla, Matrix, RAV4, and Venza, along with the Lexus RX 350 and Pontiac Vibe. Previously, Toyota sources have confirmed to TheCarConnection.com that its EPS units follow a similar design across applications.