• Feb 9th 2010 at 4:01PM
  • 106
2009 Toyota Corolla, now power steering woes? - click above for high-res image gallery

Will it ever stop? Yo, we don't know. And yes, we're quoting Vanilla Ice because... well, at this point in the never ending Toyota tale of woe, why not? Anyhow, there have been 83 complaints about the power steering systems in 2009 and 2010 Toyota Corollas, most of which are claiming that the car will veer to the right or left at speeds over 40 mph. Coincidently, the Corolla is one of the eight Toyota models affected by the production and sales stoppage. The alleged problems have purportedly caused 10 accidents and six injuries. Here's the gist:
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.
Of course, you should always have a tight, persistent, two-handed grip on the wheel. That's known as driving. Not that people aren't actually experiencing problems with late model Corollas, but this kinda reminds us of the Seattle Windshield Pitting Epidemic.

If you don't know, in the 1950s Seattleites began complaining en masse about pits (or holes) appearing in their windshields. Everything from hoodlums with BB guns to sand flea eggs to a million watt radio antenna to atomic testing were thought to be maybe causing the pitting. Also, shifts in the earth's magnetic field and even gremlins (the fictional creatures, not the AMC product) were blamed.

Finally, after a full investigation Seattle Police Sergeant Max Allison announced that the windshield pitting was, "5 per cent hoodlum-ism, and 95 per cent public hysteria." This happened on April 15, 1954. All reports of windshield pitting stopped on April 17. Is this related to reports about the Corolla's power steering ills? More closely than we might think, we think.

UPDATE: There might be a little fire under all this smoke. Our friends at AOL Autos have also been reporting on this breaking story, and have discovered this:
"[I] notice the steeering wheel sometimes pulses only when my cell phone is...docked to the right of the steering wheel," wrote one Corolla driver in an official complaint on June 26, 2009. "It's strange I can sometimes tell if my Blackberry is going to ring or get an email. The steering wheel seems to shake or try to steer on its own. This is similar to my other 2009 Toyota Corolla that I resold to the dealer. I wonder if more shielding is needed to reduce any interference."
If that's the case, we take back what we said about Seattle.

[Source: USA Today]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Maybe they're shocked that cruise control didn't take over completely while they were talking or texting on their cell phones? ;)

      You have to also wonder how many complaints stem from improper maintenance. Yes, when the car whines while you turn the steering wheel, it's probably low on power steering fluid...

      • 5 Years Ago
      That Corolla driver might want to move his or her cell phone from being next to the steering wheel and focus on the task at hand - driving. That could noticeably reduce the swerving.
      • 5 Years Ago
      C &D magazine had a small car comparo in the May '08 issue. "Little Feet" comprised eight small sedans with good fuel economy and low prices. The Corolla finished 3rd, behind the Impreza 2.5i and the VW Rabbit S. C&D always gives abrief synopsis of their findings for each car, called "The Highs" and "The Lows". The Lows of the Corolla, and I quote "Nasty electric steering, dead travel in the brakes, plain-Jane inside". In the text of the article they said, "Our one major complaint: The new electric-assist power steering has a herky-jerky feel, the result a nonlinearity in the assist curve that amplifies small corrections. The Scion (xD in the test is what they are reffering to), with a similar system, was less objectionable but not great". So there you have it, read Car & Driver and you won't buy a bad driving car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Just saw on the Fox News / Boston:

      Highlanders have problems with the sun visor. Apparently it flips down on it's own blocking the driver's range of view. More than 90 cases have been reported to the safety department but nothing was done about it. not even Toyota says anything about it yet.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Do you know that the GMC Acadia, Saturn Outlook, and Buick Enclave suffer from roof leaks, sometimes creating a pool of water under the blower motor and damaging it, thus making the windshield defroster unavailable, thus creating a safety hazard?
        • 5 Years Ago
        mact, there's a three-year-old TSB for that leaking issue. So GM knows about it and has a fix for it.

        Per the article that hygormg posted, Toyota has (surprise!) declined to acknowledge the visor issue despite 80 complaints in 2002 alone.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hello Toyota,

      Please investigate the emails and phone calls that I made 12 months ago on my steering for the 2009 Corolla. I keep both hands on the wheel. But sometimes something starts buzzing and trys to pull steering. When it happens I can also be stopped but most of the time I am moving.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I finally have heard enough,NHSTA get 10's of thousands of complaints every year about all manufacuters cars,80 complaints out of over 500k cars sold,give me a break.Why are only Toyota complaints making the news?I will tell you why,although Toyota is not completely without fault the Administration is doing their best to tarnish Toyotas reputation long enough so that they can steer public perception back towards American auto companies.This Corolla thing really brings it to light.Your steering veering left or right its's called needing an alignment,get your car maintained.The Obama administration openly was disapointed that Toyota out sold Ford and GM during cash for clunkers.If I sound bias then call me guilty but please tell me why no other auto manufactuers complaints from NHSTA are making the news now or in the past.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The answer to your question is quite simple. Toyota has built up and relied on its reputation for quality. That is what makes it newsworthy; the disparity between reputation and reality. Jim Baker, I'm sure, wasn't the only person to nail Jessica Hahn but he got the coverage he did because he was supposed to be a moral man.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Toyota just puts lousy tires on their cars, as do a lot of car makers. When I had one, I got barely used really cheap XRS tires and rims and it make the car drive really well. Dare I say even a little sporty. I've hardly ever been happy when any factory stock tires. The first set of replacements is usually a major upgrade. Cheap tires doesn't call for a recall if the crappy tires are DOT approved and it shouldn't even call for a story over 80 complaints.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Their stock brake pads are terrible too...I have to say that.
      • 5 Years Ago
      when it rains, it pours.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ Crokery
        Indeed - in addition, everyone shoud know about Cognative Dissonance. Combine it with Groupthink, and you may begin to realize there's a difference between perception and reality.

        There's no such thing as objectivity...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Darn it. I thought I was safe just letting a Toyota pass when one comes up behind me. Now I have to worry about driving along side of one too.
        • 5 Years Ago
        To all of the people that are so quick to blame this on "paranoia"...

        Maybe you're right, maybe not. I think people underestimate the impact that psychology plays in our perception of the world. I have no doubt in my mind that more often than not, perceived quality is quite a bit different from actual quality.

        I've argued for years that many people have viewed their experience with the Toyota brand through rose-colored glasses. If everyone around us agrees that Toyota makes a quality vehicle, we tend to go along with it. It's called "group think". It's much easier to ignore minor faults when we've already convinced ourselves that we've purchased a quality product.

        On the other hand, if we're told that a brand is inferior in every way possible, we tend to go out of our way to look for every fault. Some may argue that this was the case with the American car makers (not trying to say American is better than Japanese or vice versa).

        In either case, it takes a hell of a long time to change perception; whether it's justified or not. What I find humorous is the fact that everybody is suddenly clever enough to recognize this gap between perception and reality; but only after the quality (and safety) of their beloved Toyota is being questioned.

        Why are these people unable to understand that this concept works both ways (perhaps Toyota quality has been suffering for years - riding on the reputation it built in the 80's or 90's) or that it could apply to another company (perhaps GM vehicles weren't as horrible as everyone would have made you believe - maybe it was just "paranoia" and "old wives tales").


        • 5 Years Ago
        now i its not just pouring.. its more like hurricane, earthquake and tsunami all togther
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ Crockery
        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually, I was talking to my friend last Wednesday about his dad's 07 Camry and sticky gas pedals. He told me that they were going to take it to the dealer and they were going to have the steering checked because it would jerk back after completing a turn. I believe these vehicles have electronic steering assist and any automaker that has it should look over their software and hardware.
        • 5 Years Ago
        A stuck gas pedal is less dangerous than a poor handling SUV?
        • 5 Years Ago

        I guess all those Toyotas I see on the road that have well over hundred thousand miles on them and are running like clockwork are all in my head due to paranoia.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Boy, Thats one hot appliance that doesn't run properly
        toyotas suck
        • 5 Years Ago
        I was going to say, no sh!t the Corolla "suffers from steering woes." The steering sucks. Of course, I'm not sure why these buyers didn't notice on their first test drive that their prospective purchase had a numb, vague electric-assist tiller.

        Is there such thing as a recall for crap on-center feel? If so, I'd like to nominate my dearly departed '94 Cutlass Supreme.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This is a concentraded affair, sorry. We've seen that on Steve Jobs' health rumours, Bloomberg buried him, CNN had him taken to the hospital with massive heart attack, Apple shares went down by some 30%.

        The Equinox I drove felt like a featheweight, totally rubish.
        Taurus brakes were non-existent, when I returned to my Mazda I almost bit the steering wheel - my car actually braked.
        Explorer? ANY time I accelerated harder the tire pressure warning came up. Passenger seat airbag sensor had a mind of its own.

        ALL of the above are more dangerous than ANY of the Toyota problems.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I have trouble seeing how an SUV driving like it's very light is even a bad thing, let alone dangerous.
        • 5 Years Ago

        I never said that Toyota couldn't make a car that would last 100 thousand miles. I never even said that they were bad vehicles. All I said was that people seem to "think" that Toyota's vehicles are better than they are (or more importantly, better than every other vehicle on the road), and it's gotten to the point where people can't even admit that there might be a problem.

        Seriously though...what year are you living in? Where I come from it isn't a particularly noteworthy feat to hit 100 thousand miles. Hell, every vehicle I've owned has hit that mark easily (and trust me, I've driven some beaters). In all honesty, when I look out my window I see a lot more Fords and GMs still on the road from the 80's than any other make. Of course, there were a lot more of them being sold back then...

        • 5 Years Ago
        Hence the reason why so many SUVS are sold.
      • 5 Years Ago
      When will all this Toyota recall news stop? And does anybody know if Lexus is feeling the pain too?
        • 5 Years Ago
        The HS is not a big seller for Lexus, so no - I don't think they are experiencing nearly the grief that Toyota dealers have been. Lexus sales were slightly up last month.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah I think some HS hybrids were recalled
      • 5 Years Ago
      people just need to learn how to drive. with their hands... and not their knees.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The ripple effect. And I'm sure a lot of Toyota exec. would like to drown their sorrows in a bottle of Ripple.

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