hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
75,082 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.

2003 Toyota Prius steering problems

steering problem

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2003 Toyota Prius Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #28

Jun 042014


  • 100,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Prius. While driving 10 mph, and making a left turn, the steering wheel shook violently. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, but the cause of the failure could not be found. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was included in NHTSA campaign number: 11V304000 (steering). The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 100,000.

- Papaaloa, HI, USA

problem #27

Jan 152013


  • 162,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Prius. While driving at approximately 35 mph, the steering wheel shook intensely. The vehicle was serviced under NHTSA campaign number: 11V304000 (steering), but the failure persisted. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The VIN was not provided. The approximate failure mileage was 162,000.

- Woodbridge, VA, USA

problem #26

Apr 012015


  • 63,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Prius. While driving approximately 35 mph, an unknown warning message displayed and the steering wheel was very difficult to turn. The vehicle was restarted and functioned as normal. The failure occurred multiple times. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure and informed that the vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 11V304000 (steering). The failure mileage was 63,000.

- Oakland, CA, USA

problem #25

Jun 142014

Prius 4-cyl

  • 145,000 miles


While driving, the steering wheel begins to shudder. At one point, it power steering makes a spontaneous turn to the left, which I prevent with my hands, but nevertheless moves the car to the left enough to cause an accident if the driver is not paying close attention, or happens to be too near another car. The power steering immediately shuts off, and the rest of the trip continues with no power steering, until the car is turned off. The next time the car is turned on, the power steering is back (until it happens again).

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #24

Feb 052014

Prius 4-cyl

  • 113,400 miles
Violent shaking of the steering wheel when turning in cold weather. It has happened most days this winter when temperatures were below 45F degrees. It was mostly an annoyance at first, and would happen when starting the car, but twice it has nearly caused a crash. The first near collision from shaking was in January when trying to park between two cars in a parking spot and I couldn't control the wheel until I put threw the car into park, turned it off, and turned it on again. The second, and most serious incident so far I nearly hit a pedestrian in a crosswalk while trying to make a right turn in downtown seattle on a day when it was in the 20's. turning right the steering wheel started shaking so violently it broke free from my grip, I lost control of the car and it veered left into the oncoming lane towards a pedestrian. I slammed on the brakes and only missed him by about 3 feet. I contacted Toyota and was informed that there had been a 2 year service campaign to replace the eps, but that the campaign expired 12/31/13, and they were therefore unable to do a replacement because I didn't bring the car into the dealership before the deadline, and they don't see it as a safety issue. We were never contacted by Toyota about the service campaign, and the issue did not become dangerous or even particularly bothersome until nearly a month after the campaign expired. Due to this nearly causing two accidents in a short time span just past the campaign deadline, and the fact that it seems to be a common problem on this model of Prius, I believe this should be escalated to a general recall or extended warranty based also on mileage instead of solely on the calendar year to not penalize lower mileage vehicles coming into the problem beyond the expiration of the class action lawsuit mandated service campaign.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #23

Sep 022013

Prius 4-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
Started vehicle, began to pull out of driveway and steering wheel began to shake violently. Had to stop vehicle to wait for steering wheel to stop shaking. Has been doing it everytime I go to start vehicle. Seems to do O.K. driving at speeds above 10 mph. Starting to get slight vibration at highway speeds. Toyota dealership says power steering rack needs to be replaced at a cost of $3400.

- New Market, VA, USA

problem #22

Sep 152010

Prius 4-cyl

  • 75,000 miles


Two years ago, my car began exhibiting steering issues. When turning, both in reverse and drive, the steering wheel would shudder violently. After a few seconds, the shuddering subsided and the car steered normally. The issue was especially bad when the car was cold and improved as the car warmed up. Over the past couple of years, the issue has worsened, occurring with increasing frequency and with increasing violence. The steering wheel now jerks uncontrollably as I drive, and the steering wheel shudders when turning, sometimes so violently that I cannot hold onto the wheel or control the car. Turning left is becoming progressively difficult; the car pulls constantly and sharply to the right even though the tires on the car were just aligned. The 2003 Toyota Prius was already recalled for steering issues exactly as I describe. Toyota claimed the issue lay with the pinion shaft nuts. The pinion shaft nuts in my car were already replaced, per the recall. However, the steering problem persists and is growing worse. From my research, other 2003 Toyota Prius owners describe the same problem, and the same failure of the recall repair to remedy the problem. Mechanics not affiliated with Toyota have told me this is a common, well known issue with the 2003 Toyota Prius. According to the Toyota recall notice, "if the steering wheel is repeatedly and strongly turned to the full-lock position, there is a possibility the nuts securing the pinion shaft in the steering gear box assembly may become loose." (pressroom.Toyota.com/releases/Toyota+Prius+eps+pinion+shaft+nut+June+2011+recall+faq.htm). However, my car has been driven gently and maintained well throughout its life. Despite my careful care of the vehicle, it has become dangerous to drive. I believe the recall insufficiently addressed the steering issues endemic to the 2003 Toyota Prius.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #21

Jul 012010


  • 104,442 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Prius. The contact stated after having her vehicle repaired under NHTSA recall campaign id number: 11V304000 (steering:electric power assist system) the steering wheel would jerk violently and made a loud noise. The vehicle was taken to a dealer who was unable to duplicate the failure. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure but did not offer any assistance. The VIN was not available. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was unknown and the current mileage was 104,442.

- Providence, VT, USA

problem #20

Aug 012011


  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that while driving, the steering wheel would vibrate abnormally with the illumination of the power steering warning light. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the vehicle was repaired multiple times, but the failure recurred. The manufacturer was not contacted. The failure mileage was 70,000 and the current mileage was 100,000.

- Yates City, IL, USA

problem #19

Aug 192011


  • miles
When I put car in reverse, or sometimes in turning, the steering wheel starts to vibrate. At times I have to stop and let it finish, as I cannot keep my hands on it. This started happening more often after car was recalled for steering issue.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #18

Jun 042011


  • miles


Twice now my steering has frozen as I am straightening the steering wheel after making a turn. There are no particular events leading up to the failure, though this time my steering had felt stiffer and jerkier off and on before the time when it actually froze. The first time it happened I had it towed right to the dealer. This time, I was actually able to get it moving again, but it continued to freeze randomly the next couple of times I drove it. In both instances, the "solution" is to replace the steering rack.

- Somerville, MA, USA

problem #17

Mar 192011

Prius 4-cyl

  • 30,000 miles
2003 Prius hybrid; steering wheel shudders quite frequently; this shuddering happens backing up and turning corners; sometimes it shakes so violently the steering wheel is pulled from your hands; we contacted Toyota and several dealerships; no recalls on this vehicle for this problem because they said it was fixed on the 2002 models; our vehicle only has 33K miles on it and there is a part failure with the potential for causing a life threatening incident to take place; Toyota and dealership reps take no responsibility for this safety issue; told we can have steering replaced for about $3K even though car only has 33K miles on it; may not fix the problem they said; we are afraid to drive the car and to sell it to someone else because of this safety issue; this is a serious problem with cases listed all over the internet; Toyota rep said there have been no complaints; they know it exists, but they do not want to address this serious problem; some government group needs to step in and make Toyota responsible for a recall of this year vehicle and have the steering replaced for free.

- Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #16

Jan 312011

Prius 4-cyl

  • 105,000 miles
I experienced a shaking in the steering wheel of my Toyota 2003 Prius when backing up for the first time in the morning each day. The dealer said it was caused by the electric power steering rack and pinion which could lockup at any time. Toyota has recalled 01/02 model Prius for this problem, but not the 03. Why is Toyota allowed to let this condition to continue with failure of these electric power steering units" how many lives must be lost before the government acts" Toyota is changing $2,500 to $3,500 to fix a problem they know exist in these cars a worried consumer.

- Poplarville, MS, USA

problem #15

Jan 092010


  • 40,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Prius. While driving approximately 10 mph making a right turn, the steering wheel started to vibrate. The contact stated that the failure occurred numerous times intermittently. The vehicle was taken to the dealer but they could not duplicate or diagnose the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 40,000.

- Serritos, CA, USA

problem #14

Dec 032010


  • 85,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Prius hybrid. The contact stated that she had experienced several failures within the vehicle since purchasing three months ago. The transmission was replaced, the left front tire had a leak and the inverter was replaced because several lights on the instrumental panel remained illuminated. On December 3, 2010, while driving approximately 10 mph the steering wheel began to shake violently. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer who performed a diagnostic test but was unable to locate a failure code. The dealer test drove the vehicle but was unable to duplicate the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 85,000 and the current mileage was 86,000.

- La Vista, NE, USA

problem #13

Aug 212010


  • 38,000 miles
2003 Toyota Prius steering failure - while driving in traffic in los angeles, turning left at a stop sign the steering system locked. I reset the car and could not regain control until putting the car into reverse and then pulling forward again. The car then continues to intermittently lock in the left turn position and you must use force to try to center and steer again. Took to dealer and they said the rack and pinion system has failed $3500 to repair. This car is not safe to drive until the steering can be repaired, I really like this car but don't know if I can ever put my family in it again. The steering failure is very dangerous and had no warning.

- Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #12

Oct 202009


  • 70,000 miles
Steering wheel locks while driving. First time, November 2007, steering rack replaced free (still under warranty). Second time, October 2009, steering rack replaced for $1200. Upon complaint, Toyota reimbursed me for half of the cost of parts ($350). Both times the problem was solved, but I think it may not be really the fault of the steering rack, but a computer issue. This is a very frightening situation when on the freeway. 2003 Toyota Prius.

- Roswell, GA, USA

problem #11

Jul 102009


  • 68,000 miles
Electronic: Steering in my Toyota Prius shakes and pulls to the right sometimes. I took it to the dealer when this began last fall and they told me the steering computer and the entire steering system needed to be replaced. They told me this is not dangerous but it scares me, especially with the recent recalls.

- Richmond, VA, USA

problem #10

Feb 052010


  • 27,770 miles
I have a 2003 Toyota Prius. When I made left turns the steering wheel would stick and I would have to jerk it back to straighten out the car. I took it into the shop and the steering system had to be replaced. The cost of the repair was approx. $2800. I am making a report in the event that there are other Prius' that have had this problem.

- Oakland, CA, USA

problem #9

Nov 212008


  • 118,000 miles
I had a 2003 Toyota Prius which I was very happy with. Unexpectedly, and without warning, the steering column locked while I was driving the car and I was unable to navigate the car. Fortunately, I was in my neighborhood and was able to stop the car in a neighbor's yard without incident. I had the car towed to my dealer and learned that the steering woud need to be replaced for about $1500 or more. Since the car had almost 120,000 miles on it, I chose not to repair it. My dealer suggested I write to the Toyota corporate headquarters, which I did. After a lot of wrangling, they sent me a check for $1,500 to cover the loss of my trade-in value but only after I agreed to purchase a new Toyota vehicle. At the time, I let it go, but realize now with all the concerns being raised, that perhaps my story is important. The steering failure could have occured while I was driving on the highway at 65 mph or while exiting a high speed ramp. Worse, it could have happened on the chesapeake bay bridge, which I had crossed just 15 minutes earlier.

- Chester, MD, USA

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