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Toyota Prius Could Be Subject To New Federal Proble

Multiple news agencies have indicated that the Toyota Prius may be subject to a new federal probe.

According to the articles, an independent testing laboratory in Virginia specialized in autos has formally asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to look into the Toyota Prius after a steering failure was reported.

The laboratory tested a 2005 Prius owned by one of the laboratory’s clients and found that an issue that results in a steering failure may affect the vehicle. According to a recent petition sent to the NHTSA, the Automotive Systems Analysis of Reston, Va., uncovered that the upper steering shaft the Prius is equipped with failed and ended up coming loose, which resulted in a separation of the steering shaft and electric power assist steering column. According to the laboratory, the metal came loose because the steering shaft hadn’t been installed properly. The petitions stated that if this failure had happened while the vehicle was traveling on a highway, the issue could have resulted in a serious accident, increasing the risk of potential injuries. About 561,000 vehicles could be affected by this steering issue, which could affect all units of the 2004 through 2009 models. At this moment, U.S. auto safety regulators are looking into the petitions to decide whether they will investigate this issue or not.

According to documents published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, only one complaint was received, which was reported by the car’s owner. The consumer reported to the federal agency that he heard a snapping sound coming from the steering wheel. He was attempting to park his Prius while driving at about 5 mph when he heard the sound.

This problem may be complementary but not the same as the issue that prompted the recall of 669,705 Prius vehicles back in 2012 in the country. According to the petition, the previous recall concerned the lower steering shaft while this issue could be linked to the upper steering shaft.

Toyota has reported that the company is willing to cooperate with the NHTSA if the agency decides to go on with the probe. So far, a recall hasn’t been issued and the probe hasn’t been initialized. This petition adds to a long list of problems linked to safety issues associated with Toyota vehicles.

Toyota, the world’s most popular automaker, has recently been ordered to pay $29 million to 29 different states over a settlement concerning safety recalls linked to some of its cars. In 2010, the company was sued after 14 millions vehicles accelerated without warning, which were issues linked to accidents. State attorneys general reported that the company failed to notify customers about the problem promptly, which may have led to the accidents reported.

To learn more about the problems Toyota is facing and how these issues could result in a probe, click here for the full article.

About the Author
The Vachon Law Firm is based in Southern California and focuses exclusively on consumer protection litigation.