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U.S. govt. looks at Toyota Corolla steering complaints

The Transportation Department now says that it is looking into more than 80 complaints it has received from owners of the 2009-2010 Toyota Corolla about the vehicle's steering.

The latest image hit to the Japanese auto giant comes on the same day that the company said it will recall some 400,000 hybrids -- including its high-profile Prius -- to fix driving complaints about squishy-feeling brakes.

According to the complaints filed at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Corollas can veer left or right at highway speeds.

"I purchased [a] 2010 Toyota Corolla in November of 2009, and since then I am having [a] problem with the steering wheel," one driver wrote to NHTSA. "I can not keep the vehicle driving straight on the freeway. I think it is very dangerous."

Let me emphasize here: The Transportation Department has not launched a formal investigation into the Corolla steering, as it did last week with the Prius brakes. Instead, said Transportation spokeswoman Olivia Alair, the agency is reviewing the Corolla complaints "as we do with all complaints."

Also, understand this: Toyota is a massive automaker, at one point rivaling GM for U.S. sales. It is bound to get owner complaints simply because of the sheer number of vehicles it sells. Even though this news comes the same day as the Prius recall and on the heels of the stuck-gas-pedal recall, it may not necessarily mean that the automaker is suffering a general breakdown in quality. That will be a matter for the Transportation Department and its Japanese counterpart to decide.

Click here to see an explanation of how the Transportation Department goes about a review.

An excerpt:

"Q: How many reports must be filed before NHTSA investigates an issue?

A: There is no established number. Agency technical experts review each and every call, letter, and online report of an alleged safety problem filed with NHTSA. Although NHTSA has no jurisdiction over defects that are not safety-related, it does review each report that suggests a potential safety defect involving groups of motor vehicles or vehicle equipment."

Nevertheless, this is the last thing Toyota needs as it tries to repair its once-impregnable image for quality and reliability.

Follow me on Twitter at @theticker

By Frank Ahrens  |  February 9, 2010; 12:16 PM ET
Categories:  Corporations , The Ticker  | Tags: Toyota Corolla, Toyota Prius, Toyota recall update, toyota recall model and years  
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Next: What you need to know about Toyota, Lexus recalls


Hey, Frank, your bias is showing. You haven't adjusted your unemployment figures at the top of the page.

Posted by: rlalumiere | February 9, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Talk about a worst case scenario, a stuck gas peddle and no brakes. This is a great way to commit suicide, but a Toyota

Posted by: shipfreakbo214 | February 9, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

With the high profile senators,congressmen,& other powerful people on their payroll it is hard to see how they could have any problem!

Posted by: jrs6776 | February 9, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

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