The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is now "reviewing" steering complaints with the 2009-2010 Corolla.
The NHTSA will not say if it is considering opening a formal investigation.
Department of Transportation spokesman Olivia Adair said the DOT is reviewing the complaints "to determine if a safety defect investigation is warranted, as is standard procedure with all complaints."
"We receive 30,000 complaints per year and review each within one business day to determine if there are any emerging problems, so this is standard," said Alair.
A Fox Business review of Toyota-dealer on-line forums reveals dozens of complaints related to Corolla steering.
This latest blow to Toyota (TM: 74.77, 1.95, 2.68%) comes just hours after the Japanese car maker announced two more voluntary recalls affecting 437,000 2010 Toyota Priuses and approximately 7,300 2010 Toyota Camrys.
The Prius recall was widely expected following media reports last week that the Japanese car maker was considering a recall following hundreds of complaints both in the U.S. and Japan that the new Prius was having difficulty braking even at low speeds.
The recall will affect 147,000 vehicles in the U.S., 223,000 cars in Japan and some 53,000 cars in Europe.
“We’re committed to doing everything we can – as fast as we can – to restore consumer trust in Toyota, and these recalls are part of this effort,” said Jim Lentz, president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor Sales, in a statement. “We regret the inconvenience … and will do our best with the support of our dealers to make sure that it is conducted in the most trouble-free manner possible.”
Separately, Toyota announced a recall of early model 2010 Toyota Camrys, which reportedly have power steering hoses that are too close to a front break tube. The power steering hose could cause a leak in the break hose, Toyota said, leading to breaking problems in Camrys.
The Prius recall involves Prius and Lexus HS 250H models produced between May and December 2009. It will be a software update to the vehicle’s ABS system.
Earlier models of the Prius are not involved with today’s recall. Owners of both the recalled Prius and Camry should expect to get letters from Toyota over the next couple weeks informing them of the recall and where to take their vehicles.
The Prius and Camry recalls are Toyota’s third and fourth in less than four months, following the car company’s recall of floormats and accelerator pedals in eight of its most popular vehicles. The earlier recalls have done massive damage both to Toyota’s image with consumers and its stock, which is down nearly 20% this year alone.
Moody’s said Tuesday that it was putting Toyota on notice of a possible credit rating downgrade, saying that “these problems may significantly damage Toyota’s brand and its reputation for high product quality over the medium to long term."
Shares of Toyota were up 3.5% to $75.39 despite the recall news.
Source: By Jeff Flock and Ken Sweet