The federal government has launched a probe into more than 560,000 model-year 2004 to 2009 Toyota Prius hybrid vehicles due to a dangerous steering shaft. According to Torque News, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that the probe stemmed from a petition claiming the vehicle’s steering column linkage was improperly assembled.

NHTSA also launched an investigation into 724,000 sedans and SUVs, which may suffer from a sudden loss of engine power or stalling. This investigation covers 2009 through 2011 Ford Escape and Fusion, and Mercury Mariner and Milan. Ford has apparently received 27,500 warranty claims and 1,400 complaints regarding this issue.

Also, three crashes and one injury were reported as a result of these auto defects. NHTSA must complete these investigations before any recalls are issued for the Toyota Prius or the Ford vehicles in question.

Prior Toyota Prius Steering Issues

The Toyota Prius has been recalled multiple times for steering problems. In 2006, the Japanese automaker recalled 170,000 2004 to 2006 Toyota Prius hybrids because the intermediate shaft could crack and result in loss of steering control. In 2011, 100,000 2001 to 2003 Prius models were recalled to address a faulty Electronic Power Steering (EPS) pinion shaft nut. Most recently, Toyota recalled 669,000 2004 to 2009 Prius models to replace a steering shaft extension assembly.

Dangerous Auto Defects

Both steering defects and engine stalling can cause serious injury collisions. If you or someone you love has been injured as a result of a defectively manufactured or designed auto product, please contact an experienced California auto product liability attorney who has successfully handled auto products liability cases against large automakers. In cases involving defective products, the manufacturer of the defective automobile or the faulty product can be held liable.

During this investigation, I trust NHTSA will also look into whether the automakers reported these serious issues in a timely manner. Under federal law, all product manufacturers are required to report any safety complaints to the governmental agency that oversees them. If the product is defective a timely auto recall is extremely important because it warns consumers about a dangerous or faulty product.