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Corolla could embarrass Toyota next

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Corolla could embarrass Toyota next

Shame file: Late model Corollas in the US have experienced steering trouble that could also affect Australian cars.

World's top-selling small car could be subject of next Toyota recall in Australia

11 February 2010


AUSTRALIA’S most popular small car could become the latest model to be embroiled in Toyota’s widening global recall crisis.

According to Automotive News in the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering an official investigation into alleged steering-related problems with 2009 and 2010 versions of Toyota’s Corolla, the world’s best-selling car.

This week’s embarrassing recall of the Japanese giant’s iconic Prius hybrid following brake feel problems is so far the only worldwide safety debacle to affect Toyota owners in Australia, following the recall of some 8.1 million vehicles globally by the world’s largest car-maker.

Neither the recall to fix faulty floor mats in millions of US vehicles, nor the subsequent global recall of millions more (including the Corolla) to replace sticking accelerator pedals in the US, Europe and China, includes Australia.

But the fact that Corollas imported here employ the same electric power steering system as those sold in the US means it is likely Australia’s Corolla – more than 39,000 examples of which were sold here last year alone – will be involved if an NHTSA inquest leads to a global recall.

Toyota Australia did not respond to a request for comment at the time of writing.

Automotive News quoted NHTSA spokeswoman Karen Aldana as saying the safety agency was looking into US complaints, now numbering 83 since April 2008, related to the Corolla’s steering – 76 of which claim the vehicle unexpectedly veers to the left or right at about 65km/h.

According to AN, complainants have compared the movement to being buffeted by strong winds, sliding on black ice, or hydroplaning. They said that after trying to straighten the car, it can overcorrect, requiring the driver to use “a tight, persistent, two-handed grip on the wheel to travel in a straight line”.

Reports to the NHTSA have cited six US accidents resulting in 10 injuries related to the problem.

Toyota’s current-generation Corolla, released in Australia in May 2007, was the first to switch from a conventional hydraulic power steering system to a now-commonplace drive-by-wire electric system.



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