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Toyota Corolla Electric-Assist Power Steering (EPS)



  • almichalmich Posts: 11
    Actually, I believe it was only until this past decade when Toyota started introducing more luxurious trim levels beyond the LE. I remember when my family were shopping for a 4 Runner in 1998, the LE trim was the highest.

    They also do not seem to label any of their vehicles CE or VE anymore and in lieu call them their BASE model. Even Honda has adopted this trim labeling scheme. I figure if you have shopped for a Toyota recently, you would be aware.
  • spikejr1spikejr1 Posts: 13
    Update - The deal is nearly done. I have a mutually agreed price to sell my vehicle to the NHTSA for testing at their Vehicle Research Test Center (VRTC) in East Liberty, OH. The purchase order authorizing the NHTSA is in my hand. Agreed to sell at the lower end of private party price. Not happy, but acceptable to get rid of the problem.

    Last step is a test drive Monday with their engineer on the highway when they come to pick up the vehicle. If he agrees that it's loose, wanders, drifts then he'll hand over the cashier's check. If he doesn't feel the problem is severe enough to test, then the deal is off.

    I did tell him that the Toyota Experience Hotline and local dealer had no information about the EPS module to fix the steering problem. He was quite surprise since he said he had one sitting on his desk that Toyota sent him personally.
  • terceltomterceltom Posts: 1,022
    Heh, heh, now your getting personnal. I love my XLE and with the standard XLE features of 16-inch wheels, upgraded stereo and amenities like a sliding center armrest, wood-grain interior trim, electroluminescent gauges, keyless entry and variable intermittent wipers. Of course I added Moonroof, JBL 400 watt stereo, alloy wheels and some extra exterior trim.
  • terceltomterceltom Posts: 1,022
    YEA, your Toyota Corolla free . . . . . . .
  • sjareasjarea Posts: 49

    "Some customers have expressed dissatisfaction with the on-center steering feel on the 2009-2010 model year Corolla vehicles. A re-tuned Power Steering Computer Assembly has been developed to provide an alternative steering feel for these customers."

    If you search you can find the actual bulletin.
  • They could design a Corolla with gold plated alloy wheels and a computer inside that talked to you and had two way conversations and as long as they stuck variable assist column mounted electric steeing under the hood, the bane of people such as myself that enjoy cars that perform and handle well on the road, I would not have it..
  • Some customers in addition to being dissatisfied with the on-center feel of the 2009-2010 Corollas feel dissatisfaction with not being able to make sharp accurate turns, the feeling of driving in a car that feels like it has low tires and is very sluggish in its response relative to steering input. Let's not forget the low speed wobbly feel of the steering where you turn the wheel a lot and the wheels on the car turn only a very little. How about that disconnected feel? I think the disconnected feel comes from there actually being a disconnect somewhere in the steering system between the steering wheel and wheels on the car which did not exist in what I like to call normal hydraulic assist vehicles. The inconsistent relationship between steering input and wheel movement is a symptom of that. Pardon the incorrect English but the "fix" ain't gonna fix this car. The "fix" is more of a customer service strategy than an actual fix, it is as an alternative to a recall which of course there is nothing they could do with a recall anyway. What are they going to do yank the crappy steering system out and put a decent hydraulic assist in that drives and handles well. That is of course not possible. The "fix" is an attempt to appease complainers such as myself and to satisfy the public and whatever entities such and the NHTSA and congress and show that Toyota is making some sort of "good faith" effort to do something regardless of how ineffectual it is in my opinion. Your not going to make a silk purse out of a sows ear as the old saying goes. Toyota should have demonstrated some "good faith" by not switching to these dreadful fun eliminating systems that have an enormous negative effect on car maneuverability and stability. The new Corolla with EPS is a refrigerator on wheels. The "fix" ain't gonna fix that.
  • spikejr1spikejr1 Posts: 13
    Thanks for the TSB number - if the NHTSA doesn't buy the vehicle on Monday, I'll be using that to get the repair done thru Toyota.

    biffpreston, I understand your frustration w/ the steering - however, I don't have the same conspiracy view that Toyota (or any other company) is trying to "sell" a fix to you, me, or the government. They gain nothing by not fixing the problem in the long run.

    The the complaints most of us have with the EPS are very similar to the complaints people had when hydraulic power steering came out. The hydraulic system you prefer wasn't always a joy to drive either...At first, it was too easy to couldn't fee the road...too much assist. Engineers listened and they reduced the hydraulic pressure and redesigned systems. Over time engineers learned what works for different applications...from massive trucks to sport cars. EPS will suffer the growing pains too...

    And automobiles are not the only industry...for example, world class fighter jets and large commercial aircraft are increasingly "fly by wire". Airbus has ZERO control cables or hydraulic lines to the cockpit. Yep, you're flying a computer control yoke and that info is transmited to the hydraulic actuators electrically. The "feeling" a pilot gets when moving the control yoke is programed by engineers...the resistance to control imputs has to be determined. Engineers could design the control yoke to move at the touch of a finger, or require significant effort. Over the years, engineers have improved the "feel" and now pilots can't tell the difference...

    Are you going to even attempt to get the TSB "fix" installed to see if their is ANY difference in handling?

    One additional note you might find useful - the engineer at the NHTSA did mention to me that they were also testing a Corolla that exhibited the exact opposite of what most people on here are complaining about - that being a stiff steering feel during most driving conditions. He is drving to my home on Monday with another engineer to get a feel for that vehicle's problem, and then if he buys my Corolla, will drive it back to experience the loose steering issue. So it sounds like the EPS can be either too stiff, or too loose...
  • What I described is not a conspiracy. I just call them like I see them. I think I'm pretty right on the money with what I said. Regardless of how badly the Corollas with EPS maneuver and handle Toyota is committed to continue to produce them. Cheap manufacturing cost of EPS system conbined with slightly increased fuel efficiency, at what cost of course, is a killer combination that they cannot resist regardless of how utterly awful the cars they churn off the assembly lines handle. I do not believe for one instant that that variable assist column mounted electric steering can ever be perfected where good tactile feedback is a possibility. Perhaps some other type of electric steering system but not variable assist. The car is being worked on now at the dealer and no I do not play on dilly dallying around with the TSB fix. You may be happier driving a Corolla with it's dull electric tiller than me.

    FYI companies do all sorts of things such as what I have described above about the so called "fix". They are going to do whatever is cheapest and generates the most positive or least negative publicity. They could care less if their cars drive like garbage scowls so long as people continue to buy them. They are not in business to sell cars that drive well necessarily they are only in business to sell cars and for the greatest profit. Using the cheap to manufacture EPS allows them to bring their fleet fuel economy average up and move closer to the CAFE mandate, so they pay fewer "fines" or "fees", and it costs them a lot less than installing hydraulic assist systems.

    With regards to the stiff steering Corolla. Ihave noticed that the steering is all sorts of different things depending on what speed you happen to bedriving. The steering wheel does feel stiff and sluggish sometimes and loose others. I might call it schizophrenic steering. Like I said some people might be more tolerant of driving a car that handles like the modern Corolla than I. Prius owners for example.
  • terceltomterceltom Posts: 1,022
    "Some customers in addition to being dissatisfied with the on-center feel of the 2009-2010 Corollas feel dissatisfaction with not being able to make sharp accurate turns, the feeling of driving in a car that feels like it has low tires and is very sluggish in its response relative to steering input. Let's not forget the low speed wobbly feel of the steering where you turn the wheel a lot and the wheels on the car turn only a very little"

    Actually Biff, I don't think your right on the money at all, in fact I think your way off base with the examples of complaints you list above of what you believe others don't like about the newest generation of Corollas. Okay, I'll give you that a small number of 2009/2010 Corolla drivers are complaining about trying to keep their car straight on the highway and are experiencing some wandering. But site me some examples of the other complaints you list above. Again, there are those of us that bought the Corolla because of this improvement of electronics over hydraulics in regard to the steering. Some of us actually test drove the Corolla first and liked what we found.

    By the way, I do have gold plating on one of my my three Corollas.
  • biffprestonbiffpreston Posts: 59
    edited August 2010
    "Again, there are those of us that bought the Corolla because of this improvement of electronics over hydraulics in regard to the steering."

    Definately different strokes for different folks. I don't see the electronic steering as an improvement over hydraulics. What is the improvement that you see? I dont think for an instant I think Im going to change your mind about whatever it is and I wouldnt be so arrogant as to try. The Corollas dull electric tiller is far from anything I could call an improvement. I amazed that anyone could say that the new Corollas with EPS drive any better than utterly atrocious.. Mind over matter I suppose.

    As for being right on the money about what I said about the so called "fix". Yes I do believe I am right on the money in what I said about the nature of the "fix" in post #325 and what I added about it in post #327
  • zekeman1zekeman1 Posts: 422
    edited August 2010
    For info, I spoke with a rep from NHTSA about the EPS issue yesterday; he confirmed they are getting complaint filings and calls regarding the steering - it's a very real thing and he forwarded me several documents related to it, including the bulletin.

    I told him that I had approached my dealer about the drifting who gave me the deer in the headlights look. Now that I have the bulletin and have printed it off, I'm going back to the dealer, present it to them and ask them to fix. NHTSA asked to be informed if they refuse to repair it.

    Additionally, I asked the NHTSA rep if they had received any complaints about surging in speed at about the 30 to 45 mph range...almost as though you would be gently accelerating and then taking your foot off the pedal. He said they had and gave me some suggestions on how to approach the dealer with that problem; once I do, I will give NHTSA some feedback on both how they intend to address the EPS as well as the surging.

    I found NHTSA extremely interested in the problem(s), very forthcoming and willing to pursue.
  • terceltomterceltom Posts: 1,022
    Please keep us posted as to the answer you receive regarding the surging as well. I believe I have on occassion experienced some of this.
  • terceltomterceltom Posts: 1,022
    In response to you question as to what improvements I see in EPS over regular power steering is the ability to relax and cruise on the highway with such ease compared to regular power steering. Not that I would recommend it, but driving with one hand is so tempting and easy with this car. The ability to make such precise turns and maneuverability with the ease of just one finger. Safety, regarding avoidance of dangers on the roadway. Parallel parking is a breeze as the car seems to almost park itself.
  • biffprestonbiffpreston Posts: 59
    edited August 2010
    I'm wondering if you had a straight face while typing that last response up. The Corolla with EPS is the exact opposite of what you describe. What your saying makes no sense.
  • terceltomterceltom Posts: 1,022
    I'm sure I have the 2009 Corolla with the EPS set-up as it is supposed to be. You do know that the EPS problem is only affecting a small number of cars and is not a very wide problem don't you. Sounds like you on the other hand, have one of the defective Corollas. Why do you assume that my car is also affected ? How many millions of 2009/2010 Corollas do you think were sold versus less than100 owners posting on this thread concerning this so called problem. Okay so you might say not everyone reads Edmunds; but if it were a large scale problem this thread would be swamped with complaints.
  • There are no "defective" Corollas. The Corolla with EPS is defective in general. It's probably up to about 700 complaints at ther NHTSA and would be 10 that least if more people were aware of the NHTSA and the ability to file a complaint there. I voiced some earlier suspicions about posters and your last 2 posts just confirmed it.
  • houdini1houdini1 Kansas City areaPosts: 7,472
    You sound like someone who expected to get a brand new BMW for that $15 grand you laid out for a Corolla!!

    2013 LX 570 2016 LS 460

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,906
    Or... there are some cars in same price range as the Corolla, e.g. 2010 Focus, still made with hydraulic steering. They are getting harder to find though.
  • I wasnt expecting a BMW. Have you been driving for very long? Because I have driven for over 23 years and the new EPS is a whole entire level bad and beyond anything I have ever experienced in any car with power steering that I have ever owned or driven which most have been in the subcompact/compact class. It is so vastly worse than any of the older used compacts that I bought when I was younger 22 years ago. None of the cars I ever purchased were over 10 thousand back in those days. A couple of old cheap 1980's mustangs, chevy cavalier. I remember my grandmothers old 1985 Chevy Malibu station wagon. It was actually fun to drive. I mean this thing I have now does not even compare to that. The level of worse compared to any car I have ever driven with power steering is immense and far beyond anything that could even begin to be considered subtle. I feel sorry for kids these days getting these dreadful breadboxes on wheels with lifeless numb electric steering that makes the act of driving into an unpleasant chore. I am amazed that cars that drive and handle like this can be legally sold to consumers.
  • terceltomterceltom Posts: 1,022
    edited August 2010
    There you go again, speaking for me and all of the other satisfied 2009/2010 Corolla EPS equipped owners. 700 complaints out of how many hundreds of thousands of cars sold ????? You have no clue as to how small of a percentage that is, do you? Drive my car and you'll see how the EPS is supposed to be. You my friend have a DEFECTIVE Corolla by your own description; I do not, and neither do hundreds of thousands of other new Corolla owners. I'm sorry you do, but that's just the way it is.
  • mnfmnf Spokane WaPosts: 405
    I have been driving since 1974 ( legally) and i my opion its not what some not all are saying. When you first start driving it it feels differant but then it becomes normal and to be honest refreashing. I dont have the issues that i have read from a few of the owners all i can comment on is my experience.

    What happened to post #308 ;)
  • You do not get tactile feedback in variable assist column mounted electric steering. It is a design characteristic of the system itself that is not limited to a few cars. Maybe some people don't like to have a feel for the road. I have always found it to be a pleasure to drive a car that handles the road well with good road feel. some people simply do not mind driving a breadbox with a dull lifeless electric tiller steering it along. This really is acceptable to some people. I will say I do understand that. It's simply not for me. Some people might love Toyota so much and not be very discriminating in their demand to have a car that handles well. Some people might not be very performance oriented people who really arent into driving. I can see Corollas being ok for these types. I do not understand however when theyre are alternatives that perform so much better buying a car like the Corolla with EPS or any other atrocious contraption employing EPS. This does baffle me. EPS is apparently ok for some people. Not for me though. I was told my car drives as designed by my dealers service techs, and the car drives like utter crap. I think my Corolla is driving just the same as any other Corolla. Maybe some people are just fascinated with electronics and modern technology so much that they think electronic power steering is just sooooo neato, I have no idea how anyone could be satisfied with something that performs like this. Then again I dont however believe everthing that is always posted by people either.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    I know the 92-96 gen Camry offered XLE trims, I'm sure. So, having shopped Toyota recently, I'm aware that XLE has been around for at least 15 years. LE has been like Honda's "LX" trim. In the late 80s it was a "luxury" trim level with PW, PL, Cruise, and A/C. Now it is a base model with those same features. LE Toyotas are much the same; the volume trim-level since the 90s on Camry. Since the Camry has a history of being the best-selling sedan in America, I use its trim-levels as a general guide.

    To me, Nissan "S" trim = Honda "LX" trim = Toyota "LE" trim = Ford "SE" trim = Hyundai "GLS" trim. High-volume, modest-features, high-value models.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,025
    I feel sorry for kids these days getting these dreadful breadboxes on wheels with lifeless numb electric steering that makes the act of driving into an unpleasant chore. I am amazed that cars that drive and handle like this can be legally sold to consumers.

    Uh... I don't. Almost all the kids I see are driving better vehicles than I did nearly 30 years ago when I started driving. For example, it's almost impossible to purchase a late-model "stripper" car these days that doesn't have A/C or FM radio. Mine had neither, and drove like a shopping cart.

    I'd have considered myself lucky to have a vehicle about which my chief complaint was subpar handling. While you may be having a bad experience with your Corolla, I don't think any kid who's been given a 2009/2010 Corolla should be pitied.


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  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Now we have to know. Briefly (so as to stay on topic), what'd ya have, kirstie?
  • spikejr1spikejr1 Posts: 13
    edited August 2010
    kirstie h: You had asked for an update regarding the NHTSA offer to purchase my vehicle. Writing to let everyone know that the engineer from the NHTSA / VRTC came to my home this morning and we test drove the vehicle together. He agreed that the car exhibited poor handling at higher speed as described by most others in this thread. Again, that primarily being a "wandering" or "drifting" at higher speeds, the need to actively make steering corrections, and due to the EPS, any corrections made were being rapidly transmitted to the wheels making over-correction a likely in a panic/rapid response scenario. While an experienced driver could "get used to" the vehicle, the steering doesn't allow for complacency in any way...and is fatigue inducing on a longer drive. For a novice driver, it was easy to see how an over-correction could occur and cause an out-of-control situation. Hence my reluctance to give this to my daughter as a first vehicle.

    After the test ride, the engineer believed the car exhibited detrimental handling characteristics and complete the sale - the NHTSA is now the owner of a super clean 2010 Corolla S with 11,472 miles for a fire sale price of $15,000.00. While I'm not please with the final price, I think it reflects the low end of a private part sale price, and the fact that the undesirable handling may, or may not be correctable. (Although I believe it can be corrected with the new EPS TSB fix)

    With check in hand, I will be car shopping soon...while I feel vindicated, I am sad to see the car go...a bitter sweet ending.
  • terceltomterceltom Posts: 1,022
    edited August 2010
    " I think my Corolla is driving just the same as any other Corolla"

    There in is lies the problem, you think but do not know how other Corollas are driving, your judging everyones new Corolla on your own bad luck of getting one of the lemons. You are one of a minute percentage of new Corolla owners who are experiencing this effect as you describe it. Trust me, if you lived a block away from me, I'd allow you to drive my 2009 Corolla to see what the EPS is supposed to be like. I hope everything works out for you and all of the other 2009/2010 Corolla owners having this EPS problem, but please don't include us satisified drivers to your bad list or assume our cars are having the same problem as yours is.
  • biffprestonbiffpreston Posts: 59
    edited August 2010
    Another thing that amazes me is that cars would start to handle so much worse than better over time. You can shine them up. Put extra safety features in them. Put all the bells and whsitles that you want. Then end up with instead of something made with modern technology and materials that handles and drives seriously worse in terms of handling and maneuverability than the previous generation of the same car. Something that feels completely unnatural to drive. Then this becomes the standard.
  • I could say what I really think Terceltom about your motivations in coming to the various message boards and sounding like a professional apologist for Toyota. I don't necessarily think your employed by them either. I said necessarily as well. I might considfer that possibility but I think there might be other reasons. I have seen you arguing or debating with others regarding this same issue in other message boards saying the same things that you are saying to me. I simply do not believe you.
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