Toyota Prius Suspension/Steering Problems

lynsamlynsam Member Posts: 5
I just bought my new 2006 Prius on Sept. 11 2006. It had 9 miles on it, and now has 134. I am ready to unload it! The steering is very loose at highway speeds, the alignement is off and car veers to the left, the passenger airbag light is always on, and generally it feels shaky. Frankly, I don't feel safe in this car.
I am going into the dealer today.
Any thoughts, please?
Unhappy Driver


  • terry92270terry92270 Member Posts: 1,247
    Maybe have the dealer do a wheel alignment? :P
  • terry92270terry92270 Member Posts: 1,247
    I think this is cross-posted here as well: ;)
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Member Posts: 7,160
    If there is one consistent complaint about the Prius, I have it also, is that it does get blown around in heavy weather and it drifts. The steering isn't loose in fact with the Electric Power Steering it's very very responsive - just maybe too responsive. In most non-performance vehicles there is some significant 'play' in the steering wheel. I'm certain you've driven vehicles where you can turn the wheel an inch or two left and right while cruising and the car won't move. Now that's loose.

    In the new vehicles with EPS turn the wheel a milimeter left or right and it'll go there. But I love it in cornering at any speed. It's very easy to know where you are at all times in these cases.

    I too find it annoying that the vehicle 'drifts' so I just pay more attention to driving. What a concept. A lot of owners switch out of their Goodyear Mediocrities as soon as possible. I'll be going to Michelins withing 10K miles.

    The passenger A/B light being on always? Did the sales person explain the 'Occupant Classification System'? Shouldn't the passenger A/B light be ON when someone is sitting there?

    It's one of the safest vehicles on the road in it's weight classification by the IIHS standards. However I do recognize what you are saying.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Member Posts: 19,106
    i never noticed any unusual driving characteristics driving my sister's prius, other than it is not a memorable experience. it was no different from other average vehicle.
    i did enjoy trying to max my distance before the 'ice' kicked in.
    2023 Ford Explorer ST, 91 Mustang GT vert
  • devsiennadevsienna Member Posts: 70
    So what did the dealer find when you took it in? Did they do an alignment? Was the passenger airbag actually malfunctioning?
  • lynsamlynsam Member Posts: 5
    Hi again -- Yes, I took it in, and they said there is absolutely nothing wrong with the vehicle! So, I guess it is as they say: this is the way a Prius drives. I just have to get used to it! I'm just used to driving a much heavier vehicle, so this is different for me. Thanks for everyone's feedback on this. Oh -- and the "passenger airbag" light -- that's fine too -- just to let the passenger know whether or not his airbag is engaged.
  • devsiennadevsienna Member Posts: 70
    If the car is pulling to the left or right when you take your hands off of the steering wheel, then there is definitely something wrong with the alignment or the brakes. There is a TSB that covers this. Insist that they look up the TSB and do the work.

    As to the passenger airbag light, does the manual indicate that the presence of the light means that there is a problem with the airbag system? If so, take it back to the dealer and have them fix the problem. Show them the light, show them the section in the manual that says "This light means that the airbag system is broken." That's a huge safety issue. I'm assuming that it's the actual passenger air bag light, and not the "put your seatbelt on" flashing red light.

    If the dealership you are taking it to is giving you the runaround on this stuff, then take it to another dealership. Or call up Toyota's Customer Experience number, explain the problems you are having with the car and the fact that the dealership is being unresponsive. This tends to get immediate attention from the dealership.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Member Posts: 7,160
    There is a weight sensor in the passenger seat of all new vehicles since 2005. With a normal sized occupant in the seat the airbag says 'ON'. With a small child ( should not be there ) under 60 lbs the airbag sensor shows 'OFF'. With a purse, briefcase or packages on the seat the sensor thinks a small child is there so the sensor shows 'OFF'. With heavier packages ( over 60 lbs ) there the sensor thinks a a normal sized person is there so it shows 'ON'.
  • lytthanslytthans Member Posts: 1
    I do recommend replacing the chassis stiffener plate with the BTTech plate (about $145 shipped), available on I bought one and my dealer installed it free, during the 5K oil/lube. It really helps the handling and cross wind performance. I don't seem to have any alignment problems, and find the handling pretty good. With the plate installed, it's much better. I also find the electric steering quite responsive, and much lighter than my Volvo XC70.

    Don't know about the airbag situation.......
  • 210delray210delray Member Posts: 4,721
    Yes, and this is standard Toyota practice with the new advanced frontal airbags. NOTE: we are NOT talking about the "airbag faulty" red warning light.

    NHTSA requires only that the indicator be lit when the passenger airbag is OFF and someone or something is sitting in the passenger seat (normally an infant, child, or something that weighs more than about 10 pounds).

    Toyota goes one better by showing that the passenger airbag is ON when a sufficiently heavy person (adult or large child) or a heavy object is on the seat.

    Plus, Toyota also is better IMO in that the light is NOT illuminated at all when the right front seat is unoccupied. (Some other manufacturers tell you the airbag is OFF when there's no one there. Duh!)
  • jimdemainejimdemaine Member Posts: 1
    At 31,000 miles my 2005 Prius factory Goodyear tires needed replacement because they were unevenly worn, expecially on the outer portion. They have been rotated by the dealer every 5000 miles. I've had new Michelin tires installed at COSTCO and then had a wheel alignment check at reputable shop. The front wheel alignment was fine, but both rear wheels showed too much toe-in: R rear was 0.35 and the L rear 0.51 giving a total toe of 0.86 (Specified range is 0.05-0.55). As you may know, the Prius rear wheel alignment is fixed and there are no adjustments. The shop noted that they've recently had two Prius's with almost identical mal-alignment. The shop, which also does body work, can pressure-bend the wheels to comply with alignment specs. Has any one else done this?

    I talked to the service manager at Toyota who's offered to check the alignment at no charge, but notes that any repair is not covered under warantee after 12 months or 12,000 miles.

    Has any one else had a similar problem??
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Member Posts: 1,015
    A Toyota dealer service manager has had shims made for just this purpose. Ask over on The "chat" over there has indicated it's common, but it's not just the Prius. I had a 4Runner with the same problem, and my Dad's Rav4 was way out of alignment off the lot new. So much I could see it! It also made a lot of tire noise on the road.
  • gzwegersgzwegers Member Posts: 3
    I have experienced the exact issue you are describing. I own a 2004 prius and I could sense there was a problem with the car since I brought it home two years ago. The original tires were replaced at 31000 mi at my own expense because the Toyota dealer in Rochester, MI would not help me. In fact, they refused to acknowledge that there was an issue. To my utter disbelief, they told me "this is normal tire wear for a toyota". The drivers side rear wheel had scrubed the outside edge off almost to the steel reinforcements. I wish that I had kept a photo. I purchased new michelins and now at 75,000 mi the tires are badly worn again with the same scalloped wear pattern. I have had the alignment check 3 times and have been told it is within spec. I am not sure if the technicians do not know what they are doing but the tires are surely saying something is wrong. My ownership experience has been downright aweful because of the dealers reluctance to admit that any of my observations could be valid. This will probably be my first and last toyota. The basic message at toyota is if you buy a car with problems, you are on your own and please don't be foolish enough to buy the extended "bumper to bumper" warranty as I did. You will be astounded at the number of exeptions to the "total" coverage if you read the fine print. My roof liner is falling down and the interior trim is all loose and sounds like it is 10 years old, and by the way, also not covered under the extended warranty. My next hybrid will be a Honda or Chevy volt. I noticed another message on this discussion board about the existance of shims to correct the wheel alignment so I am holding out some hope for a solution.
  • gzwegersgzwegers Member Posts: 3
    Do you have any information about obtaining shims or how to make them? I would like to try this solution for the rear tire wear issue. Do you have a contact at toyota customer service that will actually help? My complaints to toyota have fallen on deaf ears.
  • stevegoldstevegold Member Posts: 185
    My 2004 Prius wanders a little in strong cross winds but I did not think anything was wrong. I installed a BTT stiffener plate but did not notice any difference in performance anywhere.
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Member Posts: 1,015
    As I posted above, ask on Priuschat. "DH" is the fellow, and his wife is usually the one posting over there. He has offered the shims to others with the problem.
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Member Posts: 1,015
    Most owners with "wandering" problems find it's one of two issues:
    1. Prius "toein" is specified at almost 0, with the range from 0 to about 0.55 as I recall (but don't quote me). Most owners with wandering problems had it set to 0.5 (still within spec but not "0") and found that makes it much better. Again, there is a lot more info. on this over on priuschat.
    2. Some owners unconsciously "fight" the electric power steering. Once they realize what they are doing and stop, they are fine.
  • gzwegersgzwegers Member Posts: 3
    A high percentage of new prius' have alignment issues. My 2004 was no different. I would insist that the dealer set the front toe at 0.1 deg total and at .05deg per side. I watched my first set of tires disintigrate within 30Kmi. The rear alignment is still a mess. I had it measured today and the right side is at .4deg toe and the left is at .08deg. The left wheel is the tire chewer. I am going to attempt a fix with shims as described by aanother owner on this chat board. My vehicle handles considerably better with the front alignment as indicated and michelin harmony tires fitted. I have noticed that the vehicle drives much better if you look farther down the road when cruising the freeways and do not over correct your direction. Just keep your eyes pointed where you want to go and the car will follow, just like a boat. This technique is one of the first items covered at many high performance driving schools. Once you start to trust the car, it will feel better. Any vehicle with relatively neutral front toe, which decreases rolling resistance for fuel mileage, will feel like this. I have driven my prius quite aggressively during fits of exuberance and am still alive to tell.
  • smt1smt1 Member Posts: 4
    Has anyone had this problem? I have an 06 Prius (22,000 miles). Recently it has developed a squeak in the drive train. The easiest way to reproduce this issue is to drive the car then put it in park. Go to the front of car and rock the car back and forth (not up/down) You will be able to hear the squeak in the passenger side front. The dealership has yet to fix this issue. Also, if you let the car sit for about 5 minutes and cool off, the noise is no longer there when rocking the car. This has gotten worse to the point now that you can hear the squeak when driving the car at low speeds. :mad:
  • podman1podman1 Member Posts: 1
    I have 2005 Prius and was bothered by a similar problem. You could rock the vehicle, in park, e brake off and hear the squeak within 5-10 minutes after turning off the car.I also could hear the sound, when the engine was off and I was going into my garage up a slight incline that required a bit of accelerator. The first couple of times the dealer could find nothing wrong, probably due to the fact that the car had cooled down. I suggested to the technician that he check the flexible connector in the exhaust system, since the sound appeared to be a dry squeak. Turns out that was the problem! They ordered a new part and now I have a squeak free Prius.
  • sarge116sarge116 Member Posts: 1
    My used 2005 Prius drove great until I hit double RR tracks going a bit too fast. Now I can feel all the bumps and cracks in the road, there is a vibration but especially a "rubbing" feeling coming through the steering wheel. It is getting worse and can be felt on the floor and gas pedal now.

    Five places have checked it out and find nothing loose. The last I had the tires rotated and balanced. Still the same vibration, etc. Everyone says the struts are fine, tires too. What could be the problem? Wheel bearings?? I'd like to take it on a trip soon.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Member Posts: 9,372
    Nothing may be loose, but was anything bent? From my experience, a wheel bearing is going to be more noticeable as a noise than a feeling in the wheel. You might want to have an alignment done
  • oldsterxxxoldsterxxx Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2009 prius and had to replace 2 tires at 15000 miles and have it re-aligned. I had the alignment checked again in 3 months and it was out of alignment. Put it back into alignment and had it checked again in another 3 months and it was out of alignment again. Toyota was absolutely no help and just blew me off. Needless to say I am not happy about buying a $30000 new car that won't hold its alignment.

    Anyone else having the same problems with Toyota Prius? Anyone able to get any help from Toyota?
  • wallywalruswallywalrus Member Posts: 1

    My 2014 Prius was pulling to the right brand new. Toyota could not fix. Corporate Office suggested I sue them and would get only the used value, loss of my sales tax, and loss of registration=$7,137. ALignment Plus fixed for me cost $80 and advised I prevent Toyota from aligning-ever. I increased the tires from 195 to 205. Original 195 insufficent for load. Considering a sway bar in front ivo articles here. For now all OK and Toyota is a Dumb Bully.

Sign In or Register to comment.