“Lexus has identified a condition in which some 2009 and 2010 LS models have experienced a brief off-center position of the steering wheel when it is turned to the extreme right or left position and re-centered, but corrects itself within a few seconds as the vehicle is driven,” the automaker said in a statement.
At least one owner found the experience to be nerve wracking and not self correcting. In a complaint filed in March with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the owner wrote, “I have noticed that when making U-turns or sharp turns the steering wheel fails to return to center by itself, and when I turn it back myself the wheel is no longer aligned with the car, i.e. the normal position of the steering to go straight is off about 90 degrees. This tends to cause over and understeer and can be pretty scary in traffic.”
The automaker said it is not aware of any accidents.
Toyota told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the problem “was traced to a change made in August 2009 to the programming of the steering control” computer.
The recall of Toyota’s most prestigious models continues a stunning sequence of safety-related problems and investigations of a company some industry observers regarded as the world’s premier automaker. Toyota recently paid a record $16.4 million fine to the federal government for failing to promptly notify safety officials of a defect involving sticky gas pedals on about 2.3 million vehicles. The automaker denied any wrongdoing, but federal officials accused Toyota of putting “consumers at risk.”
The automaker has recalled about six million vehicles in the United States since last fall, and top officials have been called before several congressional committees.