Steering friction?

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Main Forum' started by stuartdole, Nov 22, 2010.

  1. stuartdole

    stuartdole Junior Member

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    Hi everyone - I'm looking to buy a new car, and I'd really like it to be a Prius. I've driven the III twice (two different cars), and there is one thing I noticed that would probably really annoy me, and I'm hoping it's just these two cars, or their newness, and not something that all the Priuses have.

    It's a funny "stickyness" to the steering - like there's some friction in the steering wheel/power assist. When I'm driving straight, like in a freeway lane, and I make small adjustments to the wheel to stay centered in the lane, I can turn it about half an inch either way and it sticks there - more and it returns to center.

    My old car is a 95 Accord. When I get back in the Accord after test driving the Prius, the steering feels like silk by comparison. I know part of this is "what you are used to", but I'm wondering if I'm overly sensitive, if this is a generic side effect of the electronic steering (shouldn't be - I used to be an engineer!), or just an individual defect or something about the cars' newness that loosens up with time? Any comments?

    I really want to like the Prius - aside from that (and the crimped visibility) I really like it.

    Happy trails,
    Stuart
     
  2. xs650

    xs650 Senior Member

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    I think it's just a poorly done electric power steering. I notice some of that and have largely gotten use to it, but still don't like it. I would describe it as more of a hysterisis, I don't notice a friction feeling but do notice a non-linear response with non-linear feed-back. Seems more like a poorly executed servo system than mechanical friction to me. But, we are driving different cars.:cool:

    The non-linearities I mentioned happened in two Prii I test drove and the one I bought. For me it was an annoyance, not a deal killer.

    My son's Honda S2000 has good feeling electric power steering.
     
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  3. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The OTHER One Percenter.....

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    Welcome Aboard! :welcome:
    The "X-Box 360" steering in the Prius does take some getting used to. I drove an Ion for the better part of a year, which was also equipped with electric steering---but the Saturn had a much different tactile feel to it, and neither car has what you would call "great" steering---unless you're dodging buggies in a Wal-Mart parking lot.
    This car seems a lot twitchier for me, but for all that I have gotten somewhat used to it over the last 1,600 miles.
    In fact, I drove "my" Prius (comapny car) for the first time this morning after being away from work for a week....and yeah...the steering can be an issue for some drivers.
    I don't think it's overly dangerous though, and like the seats...the bifurcated rear glass...the infernal beeep-beeeep-beeeep whenever you put it into reverse...it's all part of the character of the car.
    I mean...it's a PRIUS.
    Nobody is going to be drifting in this car, nor is it likely to be a contender in the next Cannonball Baker Sea to Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash...not that there will ever BE another race like that. They've not done one since like, the 70's! But...I digress.
    Engineering is compromises....
    Welcome to the "sharp end of the stick" technologically speaking....:cool:
     
  4. timo27

    timo27 Member

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    Yeah, what others said. My last car was an RSX S-type, and probably the thing I miss most about it was how it almost anticipated where I wanted it to go. That said, it probably took me about an hour to get used to the Prius' steering.

    However, I didn't really notice it the way you describe it as friction--more as a general numbness--so maybe there's something about the particular car(s) you're driving.

    Anyway you could rent one for a day, put on a lot of miles under varying conditions, and see how you felt?

    Good luck, have fun, and welcome to pc.
    ~T

    p.s. - if you do jump, consider getting the dealer to disable the aptly afore-named 'infernal beep beep beep' if you spend much time backing up.
     
  5. twittel

    twittel Senior Member

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    My previous car was a 99 Taurus. It steered like a tuna boat in the high seas! My Prius steers like I could race down a California mountain road; i.e. very responsive.

    BTW, I love your plurality assumption of more than one Prius: Prii; nice. I thought more than one Prius was called an infestation LOL.

    Happy Motoring!

    Tom
     
  6. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    Toyota is generally criticized for steering, with or without electronic assist. Car magazine writers make comments about it being like driving an appliance.

    The steering on the Prius is okay. It's not exciting. It's not great. It gets the job done, and you get used to it. The Prius is not a sports car. It's fun to drive in its own way, but if you buy one with a sports car driver's mentality, you are going to be disappointed.

    Tom
     
  7. xs650

    xs650 Senior Member

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    You're right, and I knew what it was like when I bought it. It's other characteristics outweigh the poorly done steering, but that' still no excuse.

    My VW Jetta Station Wagon wasn't a sports car either, but it's steering felt like the people that designed it gave a damn about driving instead of just being appliance designers. Also, as someone else pointed out, Prius steering is worse than their old Accord sedan, that's not a sports car either.
     
  8. MikeDS

    MikeDS Member

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    I've felt this too...in addition to feeling somewhat detached I do feel some resistance in the steering wheel....I'm what you'd call a "barely tolerating" Prius owner, though. My car feels cheap and poorly put together in many way, this being only one of them.
     
  9. Flaninacupboard

    Flaninacupboard Senior Member

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    I steer left, it go left. I steer right, it go right. After cars with
    A) No power steering
    B) Failing hydraulic power steering
    C) Electro-Hydraulic power steering

    I prefer the prius. it's not too heavy, the steering responds the same whether i'm parking or driving slowly, it doesn't try to stall the engine, and it doesn't make a horrible noise. I don't really require anything else.

    Having said all that, i am rolling on 215 17's, which probably makes it more sure footed and sharper.
     
  10. xs650

    xs650 Senior Member

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    I thought your steering was reversed in the UK:D
     
  11. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    It is, but he sits backward.

    Tom
     
  12. Former Member 68813

    Former Member 68813 Senior Member

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    I heard bad things about the steering feel before test drive and was pleasantly surprised. It's better than EPS in my RAV4 and way better than the new Corolla/Matrix. However, it's not as crisp as the older Toyotas and Mazda cars with hydraulic PS.

    In big scheme of things, steering is not a big weakness of this car.
     
  13. MikeDS

    MikeDS Member

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    Agreed. I often consider selling my Prius, but the steering does not factor into it at all...it could be better, but it doesn't really effect my driving experience as much as other shortcomings that bug me daily.
     
  14. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The OTHER One Percenter.....

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    Selling or keeping "Das Wunderkar" is a purely personal decision, but since you've already taken a ding in depreciation from buying the car new---if applied to the "hybrid premium" it may be financially wise to consider keeping the car and gutting out the "character issues" that abound with it....since I suspect that gas isn't going to be getting any cheaper in the near term.
    This car has plenty of cheerleaders...:cheer2: so I'm not going to steal any of their pom-poms, I'm just pointing out that if you bail, and some calamity (real or contrived) causes a $100 spike in a barrel of the black gooey stuff, then you may wish you had yer Prius back!!!
    Just sayin....:cool:
     
  15. Flaninacupboard

    Flaninacupboard Senior Member

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    Nah, I just look at the road via a mirror.
     
  16. MikeDS

    MikeDS Member

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    Yeah, I know, haha. Though I get a little break because I did cash for clunkers, so I'm not upside down on the car. I go back and forth...love the gas mileage, though I only get mid 40s since I live in hilly Los Angeles. The mileage is about all I like though...I find the car an ergonomic mess, it has a cheap rattly interior and it rides like crap on these bumpy LA roads. My wife's Civic feels like a much nice car in every respect...I keep toying with the idea of swapping for a TDI...
     
  17. twittel

    twittel Senior Member

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  18. kithmo

    kithmo Couch Potato

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    The electric power steering on the 2010 Prius is speed sensing. The electric assist is increased as the speed is decreased and switches off altogether when not needed, such as at freeway speeds, to save energy.
    So the sticky feeling you get at freeway speeds is nothing to do with the power steering, it is the natural feel of the Prius suspension setup.
    The feeling seems to me like there is quite a bit of castor angle on the steering which is trying to keep the steering centred. The car also drifts with road camber which would back this notion up.
     
  19. andino

    andino Senior Member

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    I hate the detached feeling that the Prius has. Its better with 17s because they're slightly wider and heavier but still not great. The steering on my Scion tC was much better and I really miss that road feel. Luckily, the Prius is just the daily driver and not the toy or else I would be more inclined to trade it in for something else.
     
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