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Toyota Corolla Electric-Assist Power Steering (EPS)



  • Yup, dantz. "Healthy skepticism" is ingrained in me having spent all 31 years of my life in NY. :)

    I read both those threads you pointed out and have probably spent too much time searching this issue and should just go out and test drive it already. (Although, timing the arrangement of the test drive is another question I have to figure out, but I have another post on that.) Since I've learned so much from others on here, I promise to come back and post my experience as well.

    Anyway, great point on the tire pressure. Embarrassingly, this is one of the few things I DO know how to do on a car. Should I be sure it's the same as what's on the door jamb, or is there a different recommendation to get the EPS to work how you want it to? I'm sure these dealers are just gonna love me -- y'know, with the healthy skepticism and all, lol.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    I'm sure these dealers are just gonna love me -- y'know, with the healthy skepticism and all, lol.

    Don't sweat it. I'm no car-dealer, but if I were, I'd see the customer paying that much attention to detail as someone very serious about buying a car, and not a "hmm, I wonder what the new Corolla is like" person off the street with an hour to kill while their Tercel's getting serviced.

    And, if they give you any trouble about it, move on down the road. I'm sure a different dealer would be more than happy to appease you and make a sale. :)

    Adding relevancy to the post here... :shades: ... checking tire pressure is a good idea for any test drive to discover handling and ride characteristics on an even playing field with competitors. Driving a Sentra with overinflated tires may give the driver a false impression that the car rides rough, while its more the "little DeVille" of 2009, with plenty of cush. At the least, it will eliminate one variable that could prevent you from making an informed decision.

    As a customer, more power to you!

    Let us know how the test drive goes.

  • dantzdantz Posts: 49
    I would go with the recommended tire pressures as shown on the door jamb sticker (or inside the glove box, wherever they've attached it). Those are the only numbers that count, as the car's overall handling has been designed with those pressures in mind. Just bring along a reliable tire gauge and do a quick check.
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    Well, as I pointed out before, many cars are switching to EPS, for example the 2010 Ford Fusion, and the steering is rated as very good in most opinions (only here on Edmunds they say that the non-ESP models feel better).

    It's definitely a problem with the Corolla (and yes, the problem carried over to the 2010 models. (For some reason Toyota changes model years in February before). I believe Toyota will fix the steering on 2011.

    If you read comparisons, you will see that there is really no reason you should not consider other cars. Besides the steering issue, the Corolla is overpriced. Try the Hyundai Elantra - even Consumer Reports favors it over the Corolla - it's cheaper, gives you more features (heated mirrors standard on all models!!), it's bigger and more roomy, and is also very reliable, and offers much better warranty.
  • terceltomterceltom Posts: 1,022
    It's definitely a problem with the Corolla (and yes, the problem carried over to the 2010 models. (For some reason Toyota changes model years in February before). I believe Toyota will fix the steering on 2011.

    I don't believe it is a "problem" and I don't agree that it needs "fixing"

    I'm sure the steering is pleasurably responsive by design. Perhaps you just can't adjust to such responsive steering. I think it's just a personnal preference thing that you just don't prefer to old fashion hydraulics.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    I don't believe it is a "problem" and I don't agree that it needs "fixing"

    Oh, really? We hadn't picked up on that. :shades:

    If I have to change my driving style to the point that it makes me nervous to drive at high speeds (and I don't drive particularly sporty cars, but DO drive 3,000 miles a month as a courier in a metro area), its a problem. I've driven cars that are known for being lackluster handlers - Camry for one - and while its lacking in feel, its definitely not nerve-racking to drive. The Corolla appears to have serious issues.

    Is it because it is EPS? Nope. Other vehicles have been using EPS lately with straight-tracking and, in some models, delightful handling. It's Toyota's particular tuning (or lack therof) of the EPS in the Corolla. It is too light, too darty, and too reluctant to find straight-ahead.
  • spikejr1spikejr1 Posts: 13
    Well, I just finished an ~800 mile roadtrip in the our brand new 2010 Corolla S.... Drove from New Orleans - Cincinnati where the freeway speeds are consistently 70 mph.

    The car was purchased as a "future car" for my 13yo daugher - and will also be driven by her older sister who's turning 18 and headed to college...

    I am now regretting that decision.

    The lack of stability at higher speeds is a serious concern - especially if you have an inexperienced driver behind the wheel. Everything that "The Graduate" and the others describe is true. I described the situation as needing to "actively drive" the vehicle. If you do not pay attention at high speeds, you will easily "drift" or worse...The Graduate said the vehicle was "darty" and "reluctant to find straight-ahead" - excellent descriptions.

    I realise that Terceltom is saying that you need to "get used to" the switch from hydraulic to EPS - that may be partly true. But if you still think there's a problem then obviously you can't adjust and it must be the operator? - I disagree.

    The steering "is what it is" - The vehicle is built either naturally "positively stable, or negatively stable". Meaning that the vehicle wants to return to a stable condition without your input, or it needs your active participation to remain stable.

    I fly for a living - a Cessna 172 is "positively stable" - for the most part, the plane "flies itself". That's why people learn in this plane. The other end of the spectrum is advanced aircraft like the Stealth fighter - if you lose the computer, no matter how good you are, you cannot keep up with the control inputs required to keep the airplane flying.

    Does the Corolla need a computer? No. The Corolla in my opinion is in between these two extremes. You can "learn" to gingerly control the steering at high speeds. You may like to actively drive the vehicle. I will caution prospective buyers that if you need to rapidly change lanes at high speeds, you are going to have your hands full. I prefer not to have a vehicle that requires this much attention - especially for a young driver. I'm not putting my daughter in an advanced aircraft "control wise" when she needs a stable trainer....

    If this problem started when "EPS" was used, then it needs to be tuned / fixed. I've driven several types of cars over the years, and I do not recall ever having a vehicle this unstable...

    I am in the process of determining how large of a hit I will take when trading it back to a dealer for a different vehicle - might have to sell private party for less of a loss.'s a nice car otherwise.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,907
    Your story reminds me why I am glad when a car is available to rent from rental agencies. I get lots of real-world experience driving different cars via rentals. In many cases, I have decided not to consider a car based on my rental experience. In others, I have put the car on my short list because I liked living with it during a rental.

    I think the Corolla is available as a rental, e.g. from Hertz and maybe others. I think at least some Toyota dealers rent cars also. Might be a good idea for anyone who is concerned about the steering feel to rent a Corolla and live with it for a few days.
  • I bought a 2010 Corolla XLE in beginning of August 2009. It has larger/wider factory alloy rims/tires than the CE and most S models. I am sure this makes a huge difference in steering feel in comparison to the narrower tires on the CE and most S models. This is why XLE owners do not notice the wander as much.

    On my first 2 hour driving trip between Los Angeles and San Diego, I noticed the tendency for the car to drift. When I returned, I checked the tire pressure and found one rear tire to be a 1/2 lbs lower than the other tires. Letting the car sit overnight in a garage, I carefully adjusted the tire pressure to 32 lbs using a tire gauge to exactly the same visual spot on the gauge on all 4 tires. Steering confidence increased significantly. Now I check my tires weekly and I find I have to make minute corrections using my 12v cigarette-lighter electric tire inflator I carry in the trunk.

    I think some grooved roads are going to be more uncomfortable to drive than un-grooved roads. The Corolla is a light car. I went from a 98 Toyota Short Bed 4x4 with large tires to the Corolla. Of course, this car is going to be thrown around a lot more because of the shorter wheel-base, small tires and light weight. On my normal commute on the freeway/city streets, I don't have a problem. On one stretch of the north-bound 405 freeway in Irvine and a curvy portion of south-bound 405 freeway around Hughes Center/Westchester/LA area I have to pay attention, but I had the same squirreliness (?) in my truck, also.

    I have always hated an out-of-align front-end. I think mine might be slightly out-of-align and I think this is what some car owners might be experiencing. I am not saying that the steering has the best characteristic, but exact tire pressure and out-of-alignment will magnify the tendency for the steering to have that wandering feel. Let's not forget wider tires can make a big difference on steering feel also.
  • zikzakzikzak Posts: 8
    I too agree, the 2009 and newer Corolla's have a huge problem with the steering! I drove my daughters brand new 2009 Corolla several months ago with her and my wife in the car. We drove to Jacksonville, from southern Georgia and I started complaining the mintue I got onto interstate 95south. I felt the car drifting back and forth in my lane. After 35 miles, I was PO that the car drove so bad..and my daughter had just bought it. I drive the same highway all the time in my wife's 2009 Sonota and my 2007 Santa Fee. I can drive my cars with one finger as if they are both on rails. Not so with my daughters car. It's so bad, that we are looking to replace the standard Goodyear tires in hopes of helping the situation. Prior to buying my 2007 Santa Fee, I traded my 2005 Corolla LE. It drove as good as any car I've ever had..and I've been driving for over 35 years and have "a prefect driving record". I also drive 80 miles daily up and down interstate 95. Mark my words, Toyota has major problems with this car's steering. They can stick their head in the sand, but one day it will come back to bite them. Can you say "class action LAWSUIT". I can foresee the day when teams of lawyers will seek information from current and past owners of Corolla's who have either complained, had an accident, or have proof of receipts after trying to resolve the steering problem. I can hardly believe Toyota has not recalled every new 2008/2009/2010 Corolla sold. My best advise to all current owners, is to keep off the cellphone, keep both hands on the wheel and slow down at least 5 to 10 mph below the speed limit..and sell the car as soon as possible. We sure will!!
  • zikzakzikzak Posts: 8
    I forgot to mention, I generally get 80,000 to 100,000 miles on my vehicle tires. I'm exterminely aware of tire pressure, alignment, driving habits and road conditions. All that being said, all new Toyota Corolla owners need to document their steering problems.
  • terceltomterceltom Posts: 1,022
    I hope you get your dissatisfaction resolved. Please note: This is not a problem with ALL 2009/2010 Corollas as you state. It seems to be sporadic. I guess I'm one of the lucky ones that have never experienced any problem whatsoever with this new EPS on my 2009 XLE, in fact I have been very impressed with the feel of this new sterring concept.
  • mnfmnf Spokane WaPosts: 405
    No issues here after 22,000 on my 09 LE I just returned from a 400 mile trip last weekend my 17 year old also logged a few miles with no issues. I do 80% or more relaxed with one hand on the wheel. I also do use my cell phone and never feel like i am drifting. On the return i had to travel into a head and cross wind of 30-40 mile winds even then i used one hand 70% of the time. I do think tires and air have some impact on the feel. Did your daughter also have issues with the car you mentioned that you used it and that you had issues.

  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    I'd suggest reading some consumer reviews here at Edmunds. You'll find them by clicking a link on the right. It's worth noting that the first five or six mention steering in a detrimental way. I haven't has time to read more.. Not even Trident gum can get 5 out of 5 kind of agreement though!
  • zikzakzikzak Posts: 8
    Prior to my trip to Jacksonville, I did check all the tire pressures and only had to really adjust the air in one. Since I have my own air compressor, I always follow the recommanded tire pressures. From another view, I love the Corolla's looks and how quiet it rides down the highway, minus the lane movement. When my daughter bought the car several months ago, she and my wife made the deal. I only found out after the purchase was complete. My older Corolla (which I loved) drove as well as any small car I've ever owned. I really hope putting different tires on the car will solve the problem, maybe a good rain tire.
  • What tires are on the car now? Tires and 1-4 lbs of pressure differences wouldn't do anything. There is a major problem with all CE and LE models.
  • terceltomterceltom Posts: 1,022
    "There is a major problem with all CE and LE models".

    Well it's obviously not "a major problem with all CE and LE models" see message #80 for just one of the many satisfied "09" and "10" Corolla drivers.
  • terceltomterceltom Posts: 1,022
    Lets see, Toyota sold over 750,000 Corollas in 2009 and are track to match that number again this year. And you said you found 52 complaints ! Hardly ALL of the CE and LE Corollas. But then again if it's your own car it doesn't matter if it's one complaint out of 1,125,000 or 52 complaints out of 1,125,000. But the reality is it's only a small percentage Corolla drivers that see the new EPS steering as a problem.
  • It would be nice to know the real truth how many of us have brought this up to their dealer. Especially their first time in service. As soon as I left the showroom and drove home I had to bring it back and complain. They said they had to do a front end alignment because it was off. It only had 15 miles on it. It's impossible to use the GPS with its sensitive touch steering. What I don't understand is how you keep praising Toyota and how your steering is so wonderful, terceltom. You do this for whom? You? For what satisfication? Very strange.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    If you're going to use your anecdotal evidence, I'm using mine. It is just as relevant, and just as ridiculous to use in a scientific manner. It is interesting to see something other than numbers listed, and instead reviews from people other than performance testers who are looking to wring out every ounce of performance from a car 100% of the time.

    The consumer reviews for the 2010 Corolla can be found to your right. There are 27 here on Edmunds, so far. Here are excerpts regarding handling from the first five you'll find.

    1.) Wow, I thought it was just me but reading what others say the steering is kinda weird.

    2.) After test driving an "S" model, I realized some improvements needed to be made in the power-steering sector

    3.) The steering does wander a bit - feels like you are not on the ground, should have reg rack and pinion for a small car feel.

    4.) The car seems to drift to the left a little not sure if it's the crown in the roads or what.

    5.) Suggested Improvements Increased straight line stability by changing suspension geometry.

    I didn't pick and choose these reviews out of the 27. I didn't go through and find the most detrimental things to say about them. I simply found the portion of the first 5 reviews which regarded handling and pasted it here. These are, in order, the first five reviews posted. Each of them had something bad to say about the steering. Several lauded the ride, and liked the cars overall, but the steering system wasn't favored, 5 out of 5 times. Even Trident's dentists can't match 5 out of 5!

    I truly don't believe the Corolla to be a bad car. Not at all. I think its a good economy sedan, perhaps too appliance-like to be the object of lust, but as a commuter piece, it works quite well outside of the need to actually "drive" the car.
  • terceltomterceltom Posts: 1,022
    Come on man, it's okay for me to tell you how much I just love my new Corolla just as you stated you "would never buy another one". Like I said over and over I DON'T HAVE ANY STEERING ISSUES ! INFACT, I LIKE THE NEW EPS STEERING. Yes, I am a big Toyota fan, but I'm objective as well. I just wanted to let you know that there are litterally hundreds of thousands out there just like me. This an objective forum not just a Toyota bashing forum. It's okay to post on here if you like the car, not if you just dislike it. And I just like everything about car.

    On a side note, curious as to why your bad steering effects your GPS?
  • terceltomterceltom Posts: 1,022
    Obviously a misadjusted front end is a problem but I certainly don't believe the EPS is. Where did you get your information to come to the conclusion that all CE and LE Corollas have bad steering but the XLE, XRS and the S do not? I'm not dissagreeing, as I have an XLE, but it would be interesting reading material.
  • mnfmnf Spokane WaPosts: 405
    Its worth taking note that only 2 out of 10 mention it in Suggested Improvements. Would you not think if it was that bad it would get noted in suggested improvements. I know that it would for me but heck i love the way my Corolla handles

  • dantzdantz Posts: 49
    I recently rented a new Toyota Yaris sedan for two weeks and drove it around in the Pacific Northwest. I was surprised to discover that the Yaris sedan has the same "wandering" steering effect as the several 2009 Corollas that I tested last year. The Yaris sedan is a great little car and it's ideal for around town use, but keep your eyes on the road! Look away for more than a second or so and it starts drifting off to one side or the other, much as the 2009 Corolla does. The steering wheel provides very little feedback in this situation, so there are no tactile clues to tell you that you're drifting off centerline. (I think the 2009 Corollas that I test-drove last year were a bit worse in this respect, as their steering issues became immediately apparent during the test drive, whereas I didn't notice the problem at all when I test-drove a Yaris liftback. Of course, it's a completely different body type, so that might account for the difference.)

    The interesting thing is, by the second week of my trip I found that I had completely adjusted my driving habits to match the Yaris' steering feel. Basically, I learned to keep my eyes on the road most of the time and to keep all "look-aways" to a bare minimum. Also, when going in a straight line I found that it's best to drive kind of like a robot, that is, don't make any unnecessary arm movements. That seemed to work. Eventually I got so used to the new driving style that I hardly even knew what I was missing. The only real difference was the higher level of awareness required, plus the fact that the overall driving experience was a bit less relaxing (but still acceptable). Still, at trip's end I was quite relieved to get back into my Honda Civic with its more "normal" steering feel.

    Bottom line: I expect that most drivers will be able to adjust to Toyota's EPS, but I don't think it's enhancing their driving experience any. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    Also, I wouldn't recommend that anybody drive a 2009 or higher Corolla or Yaris sedan while in a partially-impaired condition (e.g. sleepy, drunk or stoned, even slightly), because (in my opinion) these cars require more focus to drive safely.
  • terceltomterceltom Posts: 1,022
    I guess I'll start with suggesting that no one should drive "sleepy, drunk or stoned" regardless of what kind of car or steering you have. That being said, yes the Yaris actually had the new EPS technology back in 2007 already, even before the Corollas did. The EPS steering is set up to stiffen up as your speed increases. So when your driving slow, like in the city and trying to parallel park, the steering is very lite and easily manageable.
  • gerryagerrya Posts: 9
    For those who share my highway speed steering complaint on the 09 Corolla, here's what I've done: Went to the dealer and booked an appointment for a 4-wheel align on a day I figured they'd not be too busy. Zeroed in the tire pressure exactly to spec on my way to the dealer. Talked directly to the technician and explained specifically and exactly what I was concerned about - fortunately I did that, because the service adviser was totally clueless. Told him that the car had no on-center feel and wandered constantly at highway speed, used the hockey-stick-on-a-basketball analogy. And explained to him in a nice way that I'm not a total idiot about such things - I'm a mech engineer working in auto manufacturing, with over a million miles of driving experience,and that this is my 3rd Corolla.

    When he checked the alignment all was within factory spec except for one rear wheel a bit toed-in. We discussed it, and agreed to fix the rear toe-in (it requires shimming, not just an adjustment, so it costs extra) and adjust the front toe-in just a bit so that the car will track straight in the right lane on a crowned road, and most importantly added more caster. (Caster is like the rake on bicycle forks - the steeper the rake, the more the front wheels tends to fall back to center when you let go of the handlebars. Not enough rake, and the wheel won't return to center) End result: steering is very much improved on the highway!! I still find the EPS kind of vague at higher speeds, and I may still go back and get them to crank the caster all the way to the max spec value, but it's certainly workable as is.

    Need to bear in mind that one of the last steps at the factory is to do a wheel alignment, and it's done at a rate of about one vehicle a minute. They don't fine tune and tweak your car and then road test it and tweak again till it's perfect - they just adjust it to somewhere within factory spec range and ship it out.

    Note that there is quite a range of "within spec" values - if you go in and just ask for an alignment check under warranty, they'll verify that you're within factory spec, but they won't change anything for free unless it's out of range. That's not good enough. Before you give up on the car, pay the money to get a good alignment done by someone who knows what he's doing, and insist that it's complete with a highway speed road test.

    It's a $20,000 (Canadian) car, so I figured it was worth coughing up the $165 to get it aligned properly. Mistake I made was I lived with it for quite a while so I opened myself up to the whole argument of whether it wasn't aligned right at the factory, or whether I or one of my kids hit something and knocked it out of alignment (we didn't....).

    I'll be interested to know if anyone else gets the same results.
  • terceltomterceltom Posts: 1,022
    Doesn't the over compensation of the front toe-in, to make your car pull slightly left, concern you if you go into the passing lane at 65 mph of a highway. In this case the downward road crowning would be to your left adding to the leftward pull.

    The EPS will become more vague at higher speeds as this is it's design.

    Perhaps Toyota should just make the specifications more precise so those of you that are experiencing this phenominum would not have to go through what you had to.

    Too bad someone with your automotive background and driving experience didn't happen to notice the drift before you purchased the car, you could have asked for this additional adjustment before you made the deal.

    Glad it all worked out for you though. While it really shouldn't be necessary for a new car owner to go through what you did, $165.00 is a small price to pay to put this problem to rest for a pleasurable driving experience.
  • gerryagerrya Posts: 9
    You kinda have to decide which way you want it to be, I guess. He could just as well have set it up to track straight in the left lane but drift right in the slow lane. Set up the way it is now, it tracks without any effort in the slow lane and drifts ever so very slightly to the left when in the fast lane - but you're not supposed to be out there unless you're speeding or passing, in which case you had better be hanging on tighter anyway. Can't have it both ways.

    I do wish I'd done a longer test drive when I bought the car, but I doubt I'd have picked up on it even if I had. The car bounced around a bit on the road, but it didn't strike me as unusual at the time. My 2 previous Corollas were quite susceptible to buffetting from crosswinds, so I put it down to the same thing - it was a typical January winter day in Ontario, not exactly ideal conditions for a test drive. I put snow tires on for the winter, and I kinda put it down to that for a while - snows can affect your steering. But I got concerned when I put the OEM tires back on in the spring and it still wandered. Foolish me, I should have got it aligned much sooner.

    There's a young guy working at the same place as me who commutes long distance with an identical car. He has had no issue or concern whatsoever.

    On a happier note: I don't know how accurate the in-car fuel economy readout is, but running little over the limit (105 km/h = 65 mph) the economy on this car is incredible!
  • zikzakzikzak Posts: 8
    That makes so much sense. Thank you for the possible soluation to our problem. I've talked to my wife & daughter about your suggestion, and although the dealer said it was OK during it's last oil change, I will issist on seeing them perform the check....instead of taking their word for it. Again, thank you.
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