Toyota Motor Corp. and U.S. regulators are looking into possible steering problems in the company’s popular Corolla compact, the latest quality issue to surface in the wake of two recalls that covered millions of vehicles and forced Toyota to halt U.S. sales of eight models.
The Corolla investigation could start as early as Thursday, said a U.S. Transportation Department official. The inquiry will cover about 500,000 model-year 2009 and 2010 Corollas, officials said.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received 163 complaints about the steering in Corollas from those model years, according to the safety agency’s Web site.
The increasing pressure on Toyota from NHTSA comes a week before two congressional panels plan to hold hearings on the car maker’s troubles.
In Japan, the car maker expects that 70% to 80% of the braking systems in its hybrid vehicles will be fixed by the end of February, after it recalled about 437,000 vehicles in major markets, including Japan and the U.S., to redo software that controls the antilock brakes.
Toyota said it plans to temporarily halt production at two U.S. plants. The decision follows the suspension of sales of eight models—including the Camry and Corolla—affected in a U.S. recall over sticky accelerators pedals. Earlier this month, Toyota idled some of its North American production lines for a week.
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