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Another Toyota Prius recall

Recalled: Toyota has recalled its first-generation Prius hybrid over possible power steering problems.

Toyota recalls 106,000 Prius cars globally, including almost 500 in Australia

Toyota logo2 Jun 2011

TOYOTA has recalled 106,000 first-generation Prius hybrid cars worldwide – including 493 in Australia – to fix a power steering problem that can lead to heavy or temporarily limited steering.

No cases of the condition, which affects the original Prius sedan produced in Japan between August 2001 and May 2003 and sold here between October 2001 and October 2003, have been reported in Australia.

Nor have any Australian accidents or injuries been attributed to the problem, which afflicts about 52,000 vehicles in North America and about 48,000 in Japan, although the first complaint of the problem is said to have been reported in Japan in August 2007.

Since then 28 reports of the problem have surfaced in Japan and one in the US, where Toyota is investigating one minor accident that could be linked with the issue.

Although the recall is yet to be announced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Toyota Australia’s public website states: “If the vehicle's steering wheel is frequently turned to the full-lock position with high force, there is the possibility that the nuts that secure the input shaft in the steering assembly may become loose.

“If this occurs, the electric power steering may become less effective, leading to heavy steering or temporarily limited steering.”

8 center imageFrom top: Third-generation Toyota Prius, Lexus IS250, Lexus CT200h, Toyota Prius C concept.

Toyota Australia says it will contact affected first generation Prius owners by mail in June, advising them to make an appointment with their preferred Toyota dealer.

Toyota dealers will install improved nuts to secure the pinion shaft – a job that is expected to take about four hours at no cost to owners.

“This safety recall is a preventative action,” said Toyota. “Customers can continue to drive their vehicles, but if they experience the condition they should immediately contact their preferred Toyota dealer to make an appointment.”

Toyota’s latest recall action for the world’s top-selling hybrid car follows a recall to repair a braking issue in about 400,000 examples of the third-generation Prius – released here in July 2009 – globally in February last year, including 2378 cars in Australia.

The last recall for Toyota Australia, which escaped largely unscathed by damaging recalls totalling more than 8.5 million vehicles last year, involved 4844 examples of the Lexus IS250 in February.

The IS250’s fuel leak was the subject of the only other Toyota recall to be issued this year. Last year Toyota Australia issued a total of nine recall notices, which was well down on its high of 16 in 2004 – not including the 19 it posted in 1999, 18 of which affected the HiLux Surf.

Prius pricing was slashed by $5000 to $34,990 at base level in April, a month after the mechanically similar Lexus CT200h was launched here with a $39,990 starting price.

Sales of just 58 Prius cars in April represented a decline of two-thirds over the same month last year and Prius sales were down by almost 65 per cent to April this year.

Toyota notched up 3000 hybrid vehicle sales globally in March and will soon extend its Prius family with the Prius C and V people-movers, both of which are under consideration for local release.

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