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Discussion Starter #1
Toyota informs me that the letter sent to 2001-02 owners regarding the Steering Rack Warranty Extension was very selective, based on VIN, not blanket model year.

I'm having similar steering rack problems, but since my warning lights are not coming on, and my 2001 model VIN does not fall within the extension, they are not offering any resolution of the problem. I've documented the problem with Toyota and may have to resort to legal representation to get them to budge on this issue.

It seems they are trying not to open the floodgate on this issue and desparately are trying to appease the US Dept. of Transportation while minimizing their warranty exposure. Can't blame them from a business point of view, but I don't think the problem was limited to their list of VINs.

Mark
 

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The letter clearly states 2001 through early 2002 model years. This implies they made some change to the steering rack in mid-2002 production run.

Just got my letter yesterday. I have had a couple incidents of minor vibration so I will be asking the dealer to look at it.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I totally agree with you about the letter. I have faxed them the letter posted on this site. I have now had several conversations with Toyota Customer Service and they are very firm that the extended warranty is on a selective basis for a particular VIN range. If you got the letter, then your on their list. If not, you will have to fight for it. I'm still trying.

Mark
2001 Prius
 

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I wonder how exactly the vibration feels? Does it occur at a certain speed? During turns? During acceleration or de-acceleration?

I just received the warranty extension letter in the mail today.
 

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packzap said:
I wonder how exactly the vibration feels? Does it occur at a certain speed? During turns? During acceleration or de-acceleration?

I just received the warranty extension letter in the mail today.
Usual reports from people affected go something like this (I haven't experienced it personally):

When started from cold (usually in the morning) and backing up, the steering wheel will vibrate/shudder/stutter on its own. Starts out rather intermittently.
If it gets worse, it'll start occuring more frequently, and/or it'll oscillate back and forth more violently. It may start to occur when driving slow speeds forward as well.

From the descriptions I've heard, you'll know if you've got it if you have it.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Michelle, your description fits my symptoms exactly. Toyota seems adamant that their description of the problem requires some indicator lights to flash. Quite frankly, when it happens, I'm backing out of the driveway and the dashboard is the last thing I'm looking at. Do you know if other people are experiencing indicators on the display, and if so, where? (I'm assuming near the speedometer display).

Mark
 

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plantoday said:
Michelle, your description fits my symptoms exactly. Toyota seems adamant that their description of the problem requires some indicator lights to flash. Quite frankly, when it happens, I'm backing out of the driveway and the dashboard is the last thing I'm looking at. Do you know if other people are experiencing indicators on the display, and if so, where? (I'm assuming near the speedometer display).

Mark
only the early 2001 Prius with the separate power steering rack recall (PS light goes on, power steering would shut off, leaving steering while driving very sluggish) had the PS light. The letter for the enhanced warranty, and all the reports I've seen, have not had the light go off.

Have you been able to show the problem to your dealer? Have you tried going to a different dealer (not saying that you've been to your current one) to get a second opinion?

Switching dealers worked for some people before the letter came out. Often, people would be asked to leave their car overnight, so that the dealership could start it in the morning and see the shudder. It took a few days of that for the intermittant problem to show up for some folks. One person even had to videotape his car in the morning, and show that to the dealer as proof, before they got the work done. Some other dealers would order and install a new rack just on your word, without seeing it, though.

best of luck in trying to get your car fixed!
 

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Actually, if the steering wheel doesn't vibrate ALL BY ITSELF while the car is NOT moving, you may NOT need a fix/replacement.

My 2001 Prius did not.

There is a point at which wear will take place. This is due to that particular electric setup not being precise or forgiving enough to tolerate intial wear. But as the wear (very minor) continues, it will get past that roughness. Then you'll discover the problem is gone.

There is a trick to helping along the process too.

It started as a theory, based on heresay from others. But then when it happened to my 2001, I got firsthand experience. What you need to do is stop super-turning the wheel. Even though Prius is capable of astonishingly tight turns, don't do it. That allows the required wear to happen gracefully, rather than forcing it.

For me, it took about 6 six weeks for the process to complete. That works out to around 3,000 miles. (Check my personal logs, starting around July 4th last year.) By September, the vibration was nothing but a memory. And I never felt a bump after that either, right up until I sold it (late October).

The mechanic at my dealer (whom I know pretty well) assured me the rack was fine. He was right. Now I'm doing the same thing for you. So unless that first sentence applies, your 2002 Prius is fine.

Note: The 2004 Prius is setup differently, to avoid this very issue and the 2003 rack was modified to be more forgiving. So those owners shouldn't ever have to deal with even a single bump!

Note2: My 2001 had 2 racks. The original one was among the first to ever be replaced. At that time, they didn't realize replacement wasn't actually necessary. But since they replaced it with an unmodified rack, I ended up experiencing the very same symptoms again... but that time I waited it out and discovered it was fine afterward, without any need to replace.
 

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Steering recall

Hello All,

I am new to the forum (since I just now discovered it) and own an 02 Prius that got the recall notice. In the winter months here in VA when temps are 40 or below in the morning my steering wheel starts to violently shake when turning to the right. Hasn't got progressively worse or anything but tends to make more of a fuss the colder it gets.

My quick solution, back out of my driveway and turn left and leave my subdivision making all lefts until the car warms up (usually just a few miles). Not sure what Toyota will do to fix it but my motto when it comes to dealership service is "don't fix it unless REALLY broken!" :mrgreen:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
John, thanks for the details on your experience. I'm well past the intial wear on my '01 (80k miles). My situation is similar to the one described above this message by TDB. Not getting any worse, but also hard to replicate at a dealer because it seems to need cold weather (usually below 40 degrees).

Michelle, thanks for the thoughts on trying a different dealer. Also I'll try the video taping. I'll just keep my camera handy. Great idea. I hadn't thought of that.

Mark
 

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plantoday said:
Michelle, your description fits my symptoms exactly. Toyota seems adamant that their description of the problem requires some indicator lights to flash. Quite frankly, when it happens, I'm backing out of the driveway and the dashboard is the last thing I'm looking at. Do you know if other people are experiencing indicators on the display, and if so, where? (I'm assuming near the speedometer display).

Mark
I was thinking about it, and I think that perhaps the people at Toyota that you were talking to might be confused with all of the various issues that were sent out regarding the classic Prius' power steering rack. The warranty extension is for steering wheel vibration/oscillation, no mention of a PS warning light. The recall, and the Limited Service Campaign, have instances of the PS light going off, and the power steering going into fail-safe mode (no power steering makes it difficult to steer manually).


case 1: The only Recall so far for the Prius. I'm copying this info from http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/toy ... g%20Recall
Report Date: October 22, 2000 08:10:03 PM

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 00V285000
Component: STEERING:pOWER:GEAR BOX
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CO., LTD.
Potential Number of Units Affected: 1772


Year: 2001
Make: TOYOTA
Model: PRIUS
Manufactured From: MAY 2000 To: JUL 2000
Year of Recall: '00
Type of Report: Vehicle
Summary:

Vehicle Description: Passenger vehicles. Insufficient electrical contact can occur in the torque sensor which controls the power assist operation of the electric power steering gear box. The torque sensor could output improper electrical signals.

The power steering warning icon will be displayed on the center panel, and the driver could experience higher than normal steering effort depending upon vehicle speed.

Dealers will repair the electric steering gear box. Owner notification is expected to begin during October 2000. Owners who take their vehicles to an authorized dealer on an agreed upon service date and do not receive the free remedy within a reasonable time should contact Toyota at 1-800-331-4331. Also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Auto Safety Hotline at 1-888-DASH-2-DOT (1-888-327-4236).
------------------
FROM TOYOTA'S WEBSITE:
Approximately 1,750 Prius vehicles produced between May 9th and July 21, 2000 may be affected by a special service campaign. Of this total, less than 450 have been delivered to customers, with the remainder in Toyota's company and dealer service.

The Toyota Prius uses a sophisticated electronic assist power steering system. There is a possibility that the torque sensors built into the power steering gear assembly may not function properly, causing an error in the signal transmitted to the steering electronic control unit (ECU). Should this error occur, vehicle control will be maintained, but steering effort will increase.

Papers were filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Thursday, September 21st to initiate a Special Service Campaign (SSC). Written SSC owner notifications addressing this issue will be mailed in late-October.
-----------------------
POST FROM A GROUP MEMBER:
A fast and easy way to find out about the steering repair issue,
is to call Toyota at 1-800-331-4331. I provided the VIN
from my Prius, and they found my vehicle is ok, no recall for the
steering component is necessary.Great news!
--------------
NOTE FROM MODERATOR (AND RECALL VICTIM)
There is a plate visible on opening driver's door which states Month of manufacture, and sequence number within the month. If car was made before 5/00 or after 7/00, it should NOT be subject to this recall.
(Cut & Pasted by Eric Metzler, 10/22/00, update 11/4/00)


case 2: LSC 30D. Electric Motor Power Steering (EMPS) Electronic Control Unit (ECU) replacement for some 2001 Prius. Free ECU replacement up to June 30, 2006. http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/toy ... sage/59107
What is the potential problem?
The innovative and environmentally friendly Prius uses and
advanced electrically assisted power assisted power steering system
rather than a traditional hydraulically-assisted system. On certain
2001 Model Year Prius vehicles, due to the sensitivity of the
diagnostic logic in the Electric Motor Power Steering (EMPS)
Electronic Control Unit (ECU), there is a possibility that the master
warning light and power steering warning light may illuminate along
with an audible warning chime while the steering wheel is in the
straight (neutral) position. If the warning lights are on, then the
failsafe system will be activated and the driver may experience a
higher than normal steering effort based upon vehicle speed.

If this should occur, it may be <bold> temporarily <unbold> corrected
in certain cases if the vehicle is parked, the ignition is turned
"OFF" and then turned back "ON".

What is included in this Limited Service Campaign?
Before you are inconvenienced by these symptoms, Toyota would like to
replace the EMPS ECU. Any Toyota dealer will conduct this service at
NO COST to you for a limited time. This program will be offered until
June 30, 2006, and will only be available at your authorized Toyota
dealer.

All terms of your Toyota Basic Warranty will remain intact regardless
of whether you take advantage of thie Limited Service Campaign.
case 3: 2001 THROUGH 2002 MY TOYOTA PRIUS ELECTRONICALLY-ASSISTED POWER STEERING RACK WARRANTY EXTENSION. http://www.priusonline.com/viewtopic.php?t=1701

The innovative and environmentally-friendly Prius uses an electronically-assisted power steering rather than a traditional hydrolic system. toyota has received reports of customer concerns regarding an unusal steering wheel vibration in certain 2001 through early 2002 model year Prius vehicles.

Although the electronically-assisted power steering rack is generally covered by Toyota's New Vehicle Limited Basic Warranty for 3 years or 36,000 miles, we at Toyota care about your overall experience with the Prius. To assure you that we stand behind our product, we are offering an extension of the warranty coverage on your vehicle's electronically-assisted power steering rack.

This warranty extension is offered for a total period of 5 years, with no mileage limitation, from the vehicle's in-service date for a steering wheel vibration related to your Prius' electronically-assisted power steering rack assembly. The specific component(s) covered by this warranty extension are as follows:
* Electronically-assisted power steering rack assembly
 

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Respectifully to the contributators of this thread, to me, in the final analysis, the rack scenario is consistent with a very much earlier view presented in this forum that there is something amiss with the rack and that Toyota is likely aware of it but seem to rather manage the loss rather that address the problem head on.

From the 2000 prius on, the uneven tire wear issue was reportedly related to a certain batch of tires - early 200 models Tires continue to wear even to the 2003 models unless folks exceed the recommended (engineered) specificatios and increase their tire pressure. It is my undersanding that Bridgestone maintains that this is nothing wrong with the design of their tires and since the problems occur when the tires are on the front of the vehicle, it would seem reasonable to believe that the onus lies somewhere with the vehicle.

The rack problem seems to be similarly relegated to a "batch" of cars yet there has been nothing proffered suggesting that the rack has been designedor the vehicle modified to overcome the problems. The problems may be inherent in the original design. Given this thought, is it the rack causing the tire and eventual vibration problem or is it the vehile design. Was there a round table decision to manage the fallout as it occurs. Hence, incremental tire, alignment, and rack replacement to a seemingly abritrary and convenient set of cars.

This story is a very old one. As mentioned before it can be readily uncovered in the posts by dissed on this site and by treading on the yahoo site that foretold of the fate that is to confront classic Prius owners. (Use the search feature if you know how)

While the vehicle is relatively revolutionary, attempts to gain market recognition and share in the Hybrid market is being made via the pure prestigue that many are understandably willing to be adorned with. It is not necessarily the the vehicle must be perfect, but owners should be accorded a significantly better degree of respect towards the touted committment to quality, workmanship and most of all customer respect and satisfaction.

Your time, money and energy have been treaded upon for it seems that you have been DISSED for they do not seem to be able to FIXIT.

I loved my prius but felt compelled to get rid of it. I now feel a bit sorry for those that are also in the unfortunate position of reevaluating the overall satisfaction with their experience with Toyota and the classic Prius in particular. Many such folds are the newbies to these forums looking for answers.
 

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FIXIT said:
From the 2000 prius on, the uneven tire wear issue was reportedly related to a certain batch of tires - early 200 models Tires continue to wear even to the 2003 models unless folks exceed the recommended (engineered) specificatios and increase their tire pressure. It is my undersanding that Bridgestone maintains that this is nothing wrong with the design of their tires and since the problems occur when the tires are on the front of the vehicle, it would seem reasonable to believe that the onus lies somewhere with the vehicle.
Except that decent tires DON'T show the rapid/uneven tire wear of the Potenzas, even at the recommended pressure.
 

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Steering vibration problem

I also received the letter from Toyota but haven't visited the dealer yet. Vibration doesn't come all the time. It is sporadic but nerve wrecking. It comes either when reversing or when turning. It is a heavy vibration that you can easily sense and there is also a heavy vibrating noise as if a chain is off the sprocket.
I didn't see the warning light first few times but now (after about a week) I notice a warning message with a bell tome comes in the LCD panel. It has the PS, battery, and a car icon with the PS highlighted. If you stop the car and restart, it disappears. Occassionally the message "problem corrected" comes.
I am taking my car to Toyota today but I don't have great confidence with the mechanic.
 

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FIXIT said:
From the 2000 prius on, the uneven tire wear issue was reportedly related to a certain batch of tires - early 200 models Tires continue to wear even to the 2003 models unless folks exceed the recommended (engineered) specificatios and increase their tire pressure. It is my undersanding that Bridgestone maintains that this is nothing wrong with the design of their tires and since the problems occur when the tires are on the front of the vehicle, it would seem reasonable to believe that the onus lies somewhere with the vehicle.
Except that decent tires DON'T show the rapid/uneven tire wear of the Potenzas, even at the recommended pressure.
But then the stress seems to make it into the steering wheel and rack resulting in an eventual placating unlimited warranty on rack replacement within the first five years. Woe be to anyone using non-remommended tires [load rating and incorrect base pressure setting] who loses control of their vehicle and seriously injures someone then tries to use their arm chair professional judgment as to what is acceptable. Use of decent replacement tires, if not fully compliant, is solely personally practical.
 

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FIXIT said:
But then the stress seems to make it into the steering wheel and rack resulting in an eventual placating unlimited warranty on rack replacement within the first five years. Woe be to anyone using non-remommended tires [load rating and incorrect base pressure setting] who loses control of their vehicle and seriously injures someone then tries to use their arm chair professional judgment as to what is acceptable. Use of decent replacement tires, if not fully compliant, is solely personally practical.
Don't worry about me. My tires are fully compliant.
 

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It is not you I am worried about. You are no doubt informed, intune, and therefore fortunate. Do you believe the vast majority of classic owners not so informed and in tuned are as fortunate? I pose this more rhetorically and am not beckoning a response from you in particular.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Done!

Well it finally got fixed by Toyota under the Power Steering Rack Warranty Extension. I posted under this old thread so people can follow the history. It was 13 months after I contacted Toyota. They now say that the VIN range was extended (They originally told me it wasn't within the range). However they never sent out letters to the owners in the new VIN range, and I never received one of the letters on the intial mailing.

Overall, I'm satisfied. The car has 110k miles and this warranty has no mileage limit, but it has a time limit of 5 years from the in-service date. Many 2001 owners will be coming up on this limit over the next few months.

It must be a verified problem (confirmed codes from the on-board diagnostics). They won't replace it if it just "feels funny". If you have the symptoms described in this thread, then pursue it ASAP. The non-warranty cost is $1,700 - $2,000. Also search other threads for this topic to get more details.

Thanks to all who posted. It encouraged me to pursue this to the end.
 

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Thanks for the feedback. We have been having pretty bad vibration problems (and it has been getting worse). No warning lights have come on. We just took this in today and they quoted me $1800 to get this fixed. (OUCH)

I will see if I can fight to get this done under warranty.
 

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Does anyone know how far into the 2002 model year this goes. Could you 2002 owners post your manufacture date and indicate if you got a letter. Thanks.
 
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