really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
90,983 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2002 Toyota Prius steering problems

steering problem

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2002 Toyota Prius Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #28

Oct 272012


  • 37,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that the steering shake violently while turning, reversing, or in drive. The steering had to be held with both hands to be able to keep the vehicle in lane. The steering would stop shaking whenever the accelerator pedal was released. The manufacturer advised that the vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign id number: 12V537000 (steering). The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileage was 37,000.

- Pittsfield , MA, USA

problem #27

Aug 012004

Prius 4-cyl

  • miles
When driving on the freeway, after a 300 mile drive, a pothole was struck. The steering wheel vibrated forcefully from side to side for about a minute, then power steering failed. Steering was possible, but only with great physical effort. After the vehicle rested overnight, symptoms were not present.

- Dryden, MI, USA

problem #26

Dec 292010

Prius 4-cyl

  • 56,000 miles
I was turning left into a parking spot when the steering sounded and acted odd. The ps light came on. I brought it to a Toyota dealer and had to replace the power steering gear mechanism at a cost of over $2600. I was told the recall on this was V.I.N. specific and did not apply to mine. My concern is if this is the same issue that is addressed in the recall, and my car had the issue, why is it not taken care of by the company.

- N. Ft. Myers, FL, USA

problem #25

Dec 012004

Prius 4-cyl

  • 20,000 miles


On cold days, when driving for the first time, the steering wheel will start shuddering back and forth violently and rapidly if I try to turn the vehicle. This occurs regardless of the road condition at speeds of less than 10 mph. The shuddering stops only when I straighten out the wheel.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #24

Feb 042011

Prius 4-cyl

  • 137,000 miles
Day leading up to incident, steering wheel would pull to right very easily or while rolling, but could be pulled back to center without issue. On day of incident, backed car out of parking space and a clunking sound was made under car. Steering wheel would then only turn about a quarter turn and would not turn the wheels at all. We had the car towed to the dealer who determined that the steering rack was bad and the spiral cable which provided power to the airbag was bad as well. This was a very disturbing finding for us as we could've been driving the car on the interstate at interstate speeds when the steering broke. Additionally, the airbag would not have gone off if we had gotten into a crash. Dealership and Toyota were contacted regarding warranty replacement of both items. Dealership and Toyota refused to provide any warranty or discount to correct the issues. Had the car towed home. Ordered used steering rack and spiral cable and installed them myself. Car is functioning now, but I have concern that the same thing will happen again. I still have the bad steering rack and bad spiral cable.

- Murfreesboro, TN, USA

problem #23

Jan 192011

Prius 4-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
I have a 2002 Toyota Prius with 140K miles on it. The steering wheel started to shake violently last fall when I put the car in reverse. It now does this at low speeds, particularly around corners and is becoming an increasing problem at higher speeds. The power steering cut out on the freeway at 70 miles per hour last week. That convinced me I need to get a new car. I tried to trade it in at a local Toyota dealer last summer and couldn't understand why they wouldn't give me more than $2.5K for it as I had paid $15K for it 2.5 years earlier. Admittedly, I had been T-boned and a lot of work had been done on the car, but my dealer had it fixed it to where you wouldn't know it was in an accident unless it was pointed out. I researched the problems online and found this is a well -known design problem with the cars steering rack. I can't sell it to anyone as is. I'm stuck with having to do a $3K repair to a car that's worth less than that to its dealership. It scares me to drive it. They only made 26K of these cars. Does every one have this problem" I spoke with Toyota and they said they did offer an extended warranty repair on this, but since my car had >100K, the burden would be mine. They should be willing to resolve this design flaw. What is my recourse" again, I am afraid to drive it as I don¿T know what will happen.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #22

Dec 202010

Prius 4-cyl

  • 142,000 miles


Steering wheel, uncontrollable shudder, will literally rip itself out of your hand or grip. Usually happens during the first of the day when it's relatively cold. While slowly moving the vehicle, the steering wheel will start to vibrate violently, in an un controllable manner. Sometimes the power steering will just error out while driving down the street during the day, loosing all power steering as well.

- Bonham, TX, USA

problem #21

Dec 052010


  • 39,000 miles
Repeated problems with steering, including uncontrollable vibration of steering wheel and loss of power steering. Car has 39K miles. Problem has recently grown worse, with complete loss of power steering and appearance of ps warning on computer screen during highway driving. Problem is especially prevalent in cold weather. Very dangerous.

- Washington,, DC, USA

problem #20

Dec 062010


  • 90,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Prius. The contact was driving approximately 45 mph when the power steering warning light illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the power steering rack would need to be replaced. The dealer deemed as unsafe to drive. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 90,000.

- Spokane, WA, USA

problem #19

Mar 202004


  • miles
Steering wheel shakes when starting to back up or go forward. Happens in colder weather more often - Huntsville, TX, USA

problem #18

Oct 042010


  • 20,000 miles


Steering wheel shakes violently for a few seconds then stops. Up until yesterday it did this sporadically while backing and turning. Yesterday, it did it during wet weather, 50 degrees Fahrenheit, backing and turning. Then it did it again while driving and turning in a parking garage. This was the first time it has ever done it going forward. This problem has been occurring for approx 8 years on and off. Toyota dealership says they cannot reproduce problem.

- Gaithersburg, MD, USA

problem #17

Nov 212009


  • 45,000 miles
Electronically-assisted power steering rack assembly defective on 2002 Toyota Prius, particularly vehicle id number [xxx]. information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Cream Ridge, NJ, USA

problem #16

Jul 252010


  • 70,000 miles
2002 Toyota Prius steering rack failure. Approximately 2 weeks ago the steering in my Prius became difficult to turn and pulsated when turning. The Toyota dealer, where I had purchased the vehicle, inspected the car and informed me that the steering rack was failing and needed to be replaced at a cost of $3,000. After researching this on the internet I found that this is a problem inherent to these 1st generation Prius models. I contacted Toyota customer service and opened a case to see if Toyota would offer any assistance in the repair of my car. Online at owner forums regarding this problem there were many instances where Toyota would repair the vehicle at no cost to the owner or at least offer some assistance with the cost. I was refused by Toyota with any help of any kind. I believe that since Toyota was aware of this defect during the 2001- 2003 model run and changed the steering rack for the 2004 redesign to eliminate this problem that there should be a recall to address this matter. I base this on the volume of cars experiencing this along with the fact that Toyota had a special service campaign in place at one point that repaired these affected vehicles when customers experienced this problem. Toyota is no longer running this repair campaign.

- Hobart, IN, USA

problem #15

Jul 202010

Prius 4-cyl

  • 68,800 miles
1. recently, the steering started shaking violently periodically upon turning 2. the steering periodically shakes violently and it becomes difficult or impossible to steer the car 3. I contacted the dealer and the Toyota executive offices and they "declined participation" updated IVOQ 11/02/10

- Penngrove, CA, USA

problem #14

Jul 022010


  • 107,400 miles
Severe shaking in steering of 2002 Prius. Also encounter loss of power steering for a short time 4 different times. Taken to dealer 3 times !St two times I was told it just needed grease on the steering column. 3rd time was told it needed $3400 of working and that the car was dangerous to drive. Car had approximately 107,000 miles the third time I took it in. After I contacted Toyota Corp. The dealer called to say he would work with me on the price, but I can not trust him to do the work. It has not been fixed yet I had ask the service manager if the car was safe to take on a long trip the 2nd time I took it in and he said yes. It was on the way back from the trip that I loss power steering driving on I95. Thankfully I was able to control the vehicle until power steering resumed.

- Little Egg Harbor, NJ, USA

problem #13

May 152010


  • 60,000 miles
My 2002 Toyota Prius's electronic motor steering assembly stops working after approximately 1hr of driving at highway speeds. At 75 miles per hour, warning lights turn on and steering assist fails. Steering the car from the road is incredibly difficult. After turning the car off and back on, the steering works once again. The car is not safe to drive as the steering fails unexpectedly at high speeds. The dealer states that the fix will cost $3200, which is over half of the vehicle's kelley blue book trade-in value.

- Boone, NC, USA

problem #12

May 312010


  • 93,000 miles
The electronic power steering assembly malfunctions and stops providing assistance to the driver on a 2002 Toyota Prius, on one instance the gasoline motor stopped working and I was left driving at low speed with the assistance of the electric motor only. The latest incident occurred on May 31st, 2010 while driving at about 65 mph on a freeway, the car lost the power steering operation, multiple warning lights came on the screen, the gas motor shut down and the speed of the car dropped to around 23 mph. The accelerator pedal was responsive only in the range of 0~23 mph. I took the car to a service center and the service advisor told me the electric power steering module was defective and needed replacement. Reviewing the service records for the cars I found that it presented the same symptoms once in 2006 and three times in 2008. The service center either cleaned a sensor or couldn't replicate the problem. The part was never replaced. While researching NHTSA site I found that Toyota has file tsbs back in 2004 recognizing a problem with this particular component and in some cases extended the warranty on the part. I contacted Toyota and they refuse to assist in the cost of the car repair.

- Chula Vista, CA, USA

problem #11

Mar 292010


  • 103,000 miles
I complained to the dealer multiple times about shaking in the steering column. After several inspections where they found nothing, I told them to check the rack & pinion. They found that to be the cause. Toyota paid for the new parts and I paid for the labor to get it replaced. Less then 13 months later, I have had multiple incidents of my power steering going out making it very difficult to drive the car. The dealer acknowledged there is a problem, again, with the rack and says I need to replace it.

- Castro Valley, CA, USA

problem #10

Aug 152008


  • 59,516 miles
Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6). To whom it may concern, I was attempting to make a left turn in my 2002 Toyota Prius traveling approximately 30mph when the steering wheel suddenly locked. I did manage to slow the car down and forced the wheel into completing the turn after hearing a cracking sound. I was told that the vehicle had a faulty sensor and the entire steering rack had to be replaced. I had just exited the highway and was lucky there were no other vehicles or pedestrians around. This situation occurred 08/15/08. This is after I had brought in both my 2002 Prius and my 2002 Toyota highlander in for numerous sensor defects that were either fixed or replaced. I continued to have problems with my Toyota highlander as well. The last issue with this vehicle was oil the constant loss of engine oil. To be more detailed, I lost 8 quarts of oil in approximately 2000 miles. There was no explanation given considering there were no visible signs of leak or burning. This was the reason I no longer own this vehicle but unfortunately still own the Prius. [xxx]

- Oakland Gardens, NY, USA

problem #9

Jan 152010


  • 40,000 miles
Steering wheel shakes violently when backing up and turning wheel. Happens randomly. Sometimes not for months. In January 2010 it happened three times in one week. Toyota dealership is unresponsive saying they cannot duplicate the problem.

- Gaithersburg, MD, USA

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