Your Prius may be economical and green, but is it safe? It may not be if it's one of 670,000 just recalled by Toyota. The Japanese automaker says the vehicles may have defective steering intermediate extension shafts. For some Prius owners, this is a double whammy. About half of the vehicles being recalled for potential steering shaft defects are also being recalled for faulty water pumps responsible for cooling the hybrid system.
Is My Prius On the Recall List?
The recalled vehicles with potential steering column defects sold in the United States are from the 2004 to 2009 model years. Those with water pump issues are 2003 to 2011 model years.
Starting in December, Toyota promises to send out letters to affected Prius owners. If you're anxious to find out if your car is on the recall list sooner than that, you can plug your VIN into the recall section of the Toyota website or call Toyota at 1-800-331-4331.
Is My Prius Dangerous to Drive?
Toyota did not state whether driving these vehicles pending recall could pose a safety concern, and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has yet to weigh in on the recall. Toyota says there have been no reported crashes or injuries resulting from the conditions underlying these recalls. Both of the recalls are deemed safety recalls, according to Toyota's press release.
Bloomberg News said the steering column defect could affect the responsiveness of the steering wheel.
What's with All These Toyota Recalls?
According to the Associated Press, the U.S. recalls are a small fraction of the total being recalled worldwide by Toyota. In all, Toyota is recalling 2.77 million vehicles because of the steering column defect and 620,000 for faulty water pumps. Edmunds noted Toyota recalled 7.4 million cars worldwide last month due to a power window defect.
These latest recalls follow 14 million others in recent years. The AP said Toyota has been trying to repair its tarnished reputation but the latest recalls show "quality problems continue to dog Toyota."
What Kind of Repairs Are Involved?
Toyota said steering column extension shafts will be inspected under the recall. Those showing signs of wearing out will be replaced. The inspection and repair should take about an hour.
The water pumps require replacement and that should take about two hours, the company said.
Edmunds advises Toyota owners to expect delays in getting the work scheduled as dealers wait for parts.
Carol Bengle Gilbert writes about consumer issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.