31 May 2006

Prius Recall

LATimes

Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday that it planned to begin a global voluntary recall of nearly 320,000 of its hot-selling Prius gasoline-electric hybrid sedans to repair a potentially faulty steering system component.

The campaign will involve about 170,000 vehicles sold in the U.S., said spokesman Sam Butto of the Japanese automaker's Torrance-based U.S. sales unit. That represents about two-thirds of the 268,000 sold since the hybrid's introduction here in July 2000.

The recall also covers eight other Toyota models - none sold in the U.S. - that use the same steering system. In all, Toyota is recalling 986,000 vehicles, more than half of them in its home market, the company said in a statement issued in Japan.

The Prius recall does not involve any of the car's propulsion system components but a potentially understrength piece of the steering shaft assembly that could loosen or crack.

Toyota said no owners in the U.S. had complained about the fault, which was discovered in vehicles sold in Japan.

The part can fail if the steering wheel is turned forcefully to the locked position at low speed or if a front tire strikes a curb or other solid obstacle while the car is in motion.