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AMD, Toyota Certified
Category: Toyota
Satisfied Customers: 2725
Experience:  Master Automobile Technician L1 Advanced Level Specialist
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Prius: Hi, We have a 2002 Toyota Prius which has about 170,000km

Resolved Question:

Hi, We have a 2002 Toyota Prius which has about 170,000km on the odometer. In the last 2 months, on cold days when the car is first started the steering wheel shakes uncontrollably when put into reverse and the car moves slightly. The car sometimes has to be turned off and restarted to get it to stop. This does not always happen but the problem appears to be getting gradually worse. It doesnot happen when driving but if the wheel it turned quickly, there is a slight vibration in the steering as it is turning. There are many similar problems reported on line. Most owners seem to be told that the steering rack needs to be replaced at a very high cost. It appears to be an electronic control issue not a mechanical problem. Has a more specific diagnosis of this fault been made? Is there a specific control part eg torque sensor or steering motor that is the root cause?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Toyota
Expert:  AMD replied 1 year ago.

AMD :

Hello and thank you for trusting us with your Toyota question, My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will be assisting you today.

AMD :

Are you available to discuss your question at this time?

Customer:

Ok by phone?

AMD :

Hello, Unfortunately due to our website regulations we are not allowed to contact customers in any method other than the website.

AMD :

I'm sorry about this. We can discuss your question in this format using the chat if that's OK

Customer:

OK go ahead

AMD :

Thank you. Let me explain the issue with the shaking steering wheel as I have run across a couple of them in my career

Customer:

go ahead

AMD :

Now the issue that you have indeed is resolved with a new steering rack, However there's one thing to be done before condemning it to be a rack issue. The shake that you get is caused by the computer encountering a loose spot in the rack. when it gets to that spot it will start activating the motor to move the rack back and forth thinking that you are trying to turn the steering wheel, Does that make sense?

Customer:

totally

AMD :

From my experience sometimes a torque sensor calibration takes care or at least helps the condition.

AMD :

The torque sensor calibration resets the computer to the current effort and conditions needed to turn the wheel side to side so the computer would adjust to mechanical wear and binding in the mechanical rack.

Customer:

ok that would be a good first step who can do this?

AMD :

I would give this calibration a 40% success rate.

AMD :

Only a toyota dealership will be able to perform this calibration because of the need of equipment.

AMD :

This is a strict toyota only procedure.

AMD :

You will have to ask for it by name for them to get it done, if they recommended a rack from the start most likely they haven't come across this issue before.

AMD :

Now if this procedure was done and it didn't help then the issue is indeed mechanical and caused by a loose spot in the rack and pinion which would cause the computer to pick it up as the steering wheel is turning but in fact it's not so it will shake the steering wheel back and forth because it doesn't know what to do.

AMD :

This issue was corrected with a more sophisticated steering control in the newer model prius but the older model prius still had the old system which didn't deal well with mechanical wear in the steering.

AMD :

Is everything making sense?

Customer:

yes is there a way of refurbishing the rack rather than full replacement. i see refurbished racks being offered ex the states but of course they are LHD

AMD :

To be honest I am a toyota dealership technician in our case we don't really refurbish racks for the prius. However I am sure it has been done but most likely it will be very hard in RHD configuration. However if I was in your shoes I would use an original rack. Because I have had my fair share of bad experiences with non original parts for the prius and I wouldn't even think about using a non original part in your prius even if the original is expensive.

Customer:

Ok good advice. Are you able to give a dealership name who can do the calibration of the torque sensor. as you say if our local branch is not up with this procedure we may not get very far. Would you suggest we look at a bigger dealership in Auckland perhaps/

AMD :

I am not located in your country so I wouldn't be able to give an exact dealership recomendation however any toyota badged dealership should be able to do this procedure if you mention it by name. Of course the bigger the dealership the more experience they have and the more chance that they will be familiar with this procedure without you having to point it out

Customer:

Ok I didnt realise that. That is most of the questions I can think of - what happens next?

AMD :

If you have any other questinos please let me know. If you can't think of anything else then a positive rating for my input would be greatly appreciated.

Customer:

You got it. Thanks for the help.

AMD :

You're welcome! I wish you the best and thank you for using justanswer.com

AMD, Toyota Certified
Category: Toyota
Satisfied Customers: 2725
Experience: Master Automobile Technician L1 Advanced Level Specialist
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