The Detroit News is reporting that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will investigate some 561,000 Toyota Prius models for potentially defective steering shafts. The affected hybrid models are from the 2004-2009 model years. The story indicates that NHTSA is weighing whether or not to grant a defect petition, which claims that Toyota incorrectly assembled the hatchback's steering linkage.

As of this writing, there is no recall. However, a recall based on the Prius steering shaft would be the third related to steering issues for the model since 2006. Seven years ago, Toyota recalled 170K Prius models for potential cracking of the intermediate shafts, and in November of 2012, the automaker recalled 670K units to replace the steering shaft extension assembly.

We'll be monitoring NHTSA's signals to see if this investigation turns into a full-fledged recall. For now, stay tuned.

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