Federal investigators are considering opening an investigation regarding the complaint about the steering on Toyota Prius hybrids.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it is currently reviewing the complaint made by an outfit in Reston, Va., Automotive Systems Analysis, which affirms it found a defect in shafts on 2004 to 2009 Prius models. This means that more than 500,000 vehicles might fall under the period under scrutiny, according to NHTSA.

The complaint was made regarding the upper coupler of the steering intermediate shaft, after signs of wear and corrosion were found at the base of the steering column of a 2005 Prius belonging to a San Diego customer. The owner complained in 2011 that he heard a snapping noise, after which his steering failed. The NHTSA is currently deciding whether further investigation is needed.

In November 2012, Toyota announced the recall of 670,000 units of the Prius in the US because of a problem with the electric water pumps. The NHTSA says that the affected Prius hybrids are from the 2004 to 2009 model years and the recall actually involves two separate campaigns which will be conducted simultaneously.

Subsequently, the automaker announced that the Prius recall has been expanded to Australia too, due to the same water pump issue. According to the ACCC a total of 8,119 units of the second generation Toyota Prius were affected by this recall and owners of the model had to take a trip back to the dealers as soon as possible.


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