— A Toyota Sequoia yaw rate sensor investigation has been closed after nearly 1,000 complaints about yaw rate sensors causing Sequoia steering wheels to jerk and pull while activating the vehicle stability controls.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened the investigation in June 2016 after 2001-2002 Toyota Sequoia owners kept complaining their SUVs suffered from sudden jerking in the steering.
Those owners also report activation of the brakes from the vehicle stability control (VSC) systems, flashing VSC warning lights on the instrument panels, warning buzzers and grinding noise or vibrations caused by pulsed brake application.
NHTSA identified 135 complaints when the investigation was opened, but that number jumped to nearly 1,000 complaints by the time safety regulators gathered all database complaints and reports submitted to Toyota.
In June, NHTSA found about half the 2001-2002 Sequoia owners said their SUVs were diagnosed as having faulty yaw rate sensors and 60 percent of the complaints said the SUVs pulled to the right while traveling highway speeds. Many owners reported the problems occurred multiple times with the steering wheels suddenly yanking to the right, in one case allegedly running another car off the road.
"When driving 70 mph on the interstate, the vehicle periodically yanks hard to the right, it sounds like I have a flat tire, front right tire feels and sounds like it stopped turning. Car slows, vsc system idiot lights flash and beep. After I have successfully though unintentionally run another car off the road it returns to normal. The idiot lights stay on until the car is turned off." - 2002 Toyota Sequoia owner / Holt, Florida
NHTSA says it has closed the yaw rate sensor investigation without taking action because the problem "will not result in abrupt lane change or loss of vehicle control due to steering controllability." However, that position will come as a shock to many Toyota Sequoia owners who complained about SUVs going nuts and traveling across highways.
"The vehicle loses acceleration and feels like the anti-lock braking mechanism is being engaged. The jerking pull resulted in crossing multiple lanes of the highway before control of the vehicle was regained. This is going to cause deaths known issues with other Sequoias." - 2002 Toyota Sequoia owner / Daytona Beach, Florida
NHTSA says it studied the design of the yaw rate sensors, tested SUVs and their instruments, collected and tested parts from the field and reviewed testing conducted by Toyota.
The government says any speed problems are minor when the yaw rate sensor malfunctions and most complaints aren't serious as people experienced only flashing lights on the instrument panels and grinding noises or vibrations caused by braking to one of the front wheels.
Safety regulators say the "closing of this investigation does not constitute a finding that a safety related defect does not exist," but in their opinion, the problem isn't serious enough to warrant additional investigation or a recall of about 135,000 model year 2001-2002 Toyota Sequoia SUVs.
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Read steering and braking complaints submitted by owners of the 2001-2002 Toyota Sequoia SUVs: