Toyota claims Matrix steering defect is not a defect

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A white 2009 Toyota Matrix.

The 2009 and 2010 Toyota Matrix (former shown here) and Corolla have steering issues that aren't considered safety defects by Toyota. (Photo: Wikipedia)

During the height of the Toyota recalls earlier this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigated nearly three-quarters of a billion 2009 and 2010 Toyota Matrix and Corolla cars. A steering issue was the culprit. According to Auto Blog, the Detroit Free Press heard from Toyota that what appeared to be a safety defect is not, in fact. Toyota is so sure of this that the company thinks it can avoid another recall and instead provide free repairs to any customers who ask.

Toyota Matrix power steering prone to drifting or locking

It is surprising that reports of Toyota Matrix and Corolla power steering units causing drift or locking up don’t lead to the problem being proclaimed a safety defect. Toyota reportedly has 437 reports on record of the problem (resulting in 11 injuries and 18 crashes), but Toyota considers the issue one of “customer satisfaction,” rather than a defect or safety issue. AutoBlog indicates that Toyota has advised its dealers via a Technical Service Bulletin that tire pressure and alignment should be considered culprits first. If that doesn’t fix the steering issue, then a new unit that has been tuned with a different feel should be inserted into the Matrix or Corolla in question.

Interestingly, GM’s Pontiac Vibe – which is widely considered a Matrix “twin” – may have the same kind of steering issues, writes AutoBlog.

Bottom line: Toyota could save money

Not recalling the 2009 and 2010 Toyota Matrix and Toyota Corolla will save the automaker a great deal of money and allow them to forgo checking in with auto regulators. However, the NHTSA will have to agree with Toyota’s assessment of the “non-defect.” The investigation is still in progress. Toyota certainly doesn’t want another public relations nightmare, and this situation could be another storm on the horizon. A forced recall could strike down any goodwill Toyota has been able to salvage with the public of late.

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