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Gen 3 steering questions

Discussion in 'Gen III 2010+ Prius Technical Discussion' started by cobradb, Jun 17, 2010.

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  1. cobradb

    cobradb Member

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    i noticed at 6000 miles our prius steering is hard to keep on center and seems to go L or R rather than straight.
    (I saw this when new but was not a complaint then) i run 38 psi but have tried 36 and didn't notice any diff.
    tires are wearing good and dont think its alignment
    any comments,, thanks
  2. bedrock8x

    bedrock8x Senior Member

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    Do you mean the car will not go straight when your hands are off the steering wheel or you have to give constant correction to keep it straight?
  3. tumbleweed

    tumbleweed Senior Member

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    I think it most likely is alignment. Things can be very wrong with alignment that don't effect tire wear but make the car wander all over the road. Take it in, Toyota should give you a free alignment if you tell them you have had the problem all along.
  4. dogfriend

    dogfriend Human - Animal Hybrid

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    Why don't you think it is the alignment? That was the problem with my car when I first got it - it was terrible at freeway speed + crosswinds. Specifically, it was the rear toe in being out on one side that caused the problem.
  5. silentak1

    silentak1 Since 2005

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    I believe you can get one free alignment within 12,000 miles or 1 year of purchase. At least that's what my local dealer promised to me in writing.

    And I strongly believe it is an alignment issue. Pot holes, hitting curbs, etc will make the toe slightly off overtime.
  6. jim256

    jim256 Member

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    Another factor might be that many cars now have variable ratio steering, so steering wheel movement when on center produces less reaction than movement at the limits. The Prius does not have variable ratio, so a slight movement of the wheel on center can produce more effect than other cars you may be used to. I found it requires a little more attention and practice to avoid small L-R movements at speed than the ones with a variable ratio.
  7. dcdb

    dcdb New Member

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    I have about 2200 miles on my Gen III, and I have this exact same problem. The car seems to require constant correction to maintain a straight line, and often when the car is going straight, the steering wheel is slightly off-center. I've taken it in twice to have it looked at, and the service department has performed a four-wheel alignment and shimmed the steering column (whatever that means). The problem doesn't seem to have gone away.

    It's possible that I'm being too OCD that the wheel isn't dead-on straight when heading down the highway? It's very minor (like 2 degrees), but I don't recall other cars I've driven having this issue. Does the wheel need to be slightly cocked to compensate for the susceptibility to cross-winds that I keep hearing about? Is this the "getting used to the EPS" period? Have other folks successfully dealt with this issue?

    Thanks,
    Dan
  8. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    There are several factors that make the Prius wander when driving straight:

    1) The Prius uses electrically assisted power steering, which has nearly zero deadband and very little feedback. This means that it is hard for the driver to "feel" the road, and every little control input turns the wheels. With many cars it takes quite a bit of input at the steering wheel to actually turn the wheels, but not so with the Prius.

    2) Aerodynamic design. Like most low drag cars, the Prius is more likely to get blown around by cross winds and passing trucks.

    3) Low rolling resistance tires. Prius tires are designed for mileage, not ultimate road handling. It's a trade off between rolling resistance, grip, and cost.

    4) Alignment. Normally Prius are aligned to reduce rolling resistance. You can add some toe-in to improve tracking at the expense of a bit more drag and tire wear.

    Tom
    1 person likes this.
  9. oldasdust

    oldasdust New Member

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    Probably the electric steering i noticed a big difference after driving my prius. My honda fit also has electric steering and feels similar. I find it different ,but not bad ,just some getting use to. I feel differences in most vehicles i drive they all have their own feel just adapt and let the vehicle train you to its individuality. Because of "stick assembly" even the same year , make, model and equipment will drive differently. I got this first hand driving fleet cars all the same but driving between 10 different ones everyday.
  10. sipnfuel

    sipnfuel New Member

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    This happened to my Prius too, right after the first rotation it seems. It pulls to the right and the non circular steering wheel makes it slightly more awkward. Requires constant minor corrections.

    I think increasing tire pressure amplifies this effect for whatever reason.

    I don't think it is an OCD thing because my Prius was dead on straight when I first got it.
  11. Metalman

    Metalman Member

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    The only difference I notice between the steering of our Prius and any other vehicle is that it takes less turning of the wheel to make 90 degree turns. I like it like that. I does not seem to wander much...or I am automatically and unconsciously adjusting for it.
  12. Teakwood

    Teakwood Member

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    I found the Prius wheel handling to be somewhat "squirrelly," much harder to keep on a straight line than any other car I have owned in 45 years.
    That being said, it handles nicely on curves.

    Go figure.
  13. Ffejrobins30

    Ffejrobins30 New Member

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    My steering wjeel had been just off-center since day one and the dealer performed an alignment at the 5K and adjusted the front toe and front camber. The numbers were technically within spec, but the cross camber was out. This is what required the toe adjustment as well. The steering wheel is now straight. Make sure that when you get the alignment done, wherever you get it done, to ask for a copy of the print out. This way you know they did something instead of blowing smoke up your bum...
  14. Ou8durian

    Ou8durian Junior Member

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    Jim,
    Thanks for your explanation, I have my gen 3 for a week now and every time I get on the freeway, I'm wondering if there was an issue with my car. I could steer the Prius with my finger nail:D. And now I know why.
  15. ursle

    ursle Gas miser

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    My 06' wandered here and there till I installed the TRD rear sway bar(thicker then stock), it still wanders instead of tracking but it's do-able, the 11' was a wandered until I gave it the TRD rear sway bar(doesn't come with one) and same same, still wanders but it's manageable.
    Good rubber helps, the oem rubber is a wandering wonder.
  16. tach18k

    tach18k Member

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    It is a different ride. Coming from a Ford F150, yeah steering is way different, not solid, awkward at times. Freeway driving it is touchy, but it does have narrow tires. After driving the Prius and then drive a Mercedes, I about put the MB into the curb because of the steering deference, MB has much more oversteering.
  17. tumbleweed

    tumbleweed Senior Member

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    I am a little surprised by the reports of Gen3 cars that wonder, or have poor tracking. My Gen2 had that problem and it turned out to be an alignment problem, not enough toe in the rear. But even with that fixed it was never as good as the Prius I have now. I don't think the car left the assembly line out of alignment, I think some of these cars are banged around pretty badly loading and unloading during shipping.

    My Gen3 is one of the most stable cars I have ever owned. It has no modifications whatever, just the stock Prius V (five) suspension. I can take my hands off the steering wheel on a straight level road and it will go in a straight line indefinitely, eventually it will wonder off a little and all I have to do is touch the steering wheel to bring it back. It has pretty good resistance to cross winds also, at least as good as my old Accord. It has been this way since I bought it and I have had 3 sets of tires.

    So I don't think the problem is inherent to the Gen3 Prius. I don't think it has anything to do with aerodynamics, tires, tire pressure, steering ratio, or lack of a rear anti-sway bar although installing one may help.

    I tend to believe it is mostly alignment, both front and rear. My '05 was aligned within the specifications and was practically undrivable. Fortunately a Prius mechanic who posted on here at the time identified the problem for me and told me how to make some shims for the rear that solved it.

    If your car has poor tracking I would suggest having the alignment checked and in addition to proper caster in the front take a good look at front and rear camber and toe. Front toe should be zero or a little toed in (+ direction), rear toe should be in the middle of the spec range or a little more in the toed in direction (the spec for rear toe is very wide). When the shop checks/adjusts your alignment be sure to get a copy of the alignment sheet that shows both before and after. If you have questions about what they did you can post it here and maybe on the mechanics (not me) on this site will be able to help.

    Here is a simplified explanation of the parameters involved: Tire Tech Information - Alignment

    Here is a little more involved one: Wheel Alignment A Short Course
  18. hlunde

    hlunde Member

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    I agree with all of the above, but there is an additional consideration in that the Prius' rear beam axle does not provide the level of passive rear steering that vehicles with independent rear suspensions can.

    Overall, I would say that the Prius handling is "competent", but I would not call it "nimble". My GenIII does track dead straight with the steering wheel centered with 39K miles on the odometer and no alignment yet performed. The Conti Eco Plus tires show uniform wear and no cupping with about 20K miles on them.

    I'm wondering what the OP's previous car was?
  19. orcarecord

    orcarecord Junior Member

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    I find the steering on the Prius akin to driving an appliance. It is devoid of any steering feedback what so ever. I affectionately named my Prius the toaster.
  20. Tande

    Tande Member

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    I know the feeling!....We (wife & I) each have a Gen. III (2010)....Mine steers like the O/P....Hers is much more relaxing to steer (doesn't wander)....Been trying to find time to swap wheels as a test (mine has "Yoko's", hers has "Bridgestone's").....
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