Toyota Prius: Jiggling steering wheel=Transmission?

I haven’t had a car checkup in a while because I’m poor. I used to take my Toyota to the dealership for maintainence, but I felt that the dealership didn’t do anything. At least I could never figure out what exactly they did when I took my car there.

At least two times I took my Prius into the Toyota dealer for the following problem, and they said that they fixed it, but then the problem re-occurred within 4-5 months.

While driving, the car will sort of stutter a little bit, acceleration will not respond, at the “Problem” light will come on. Usually the light will stay on for weeks, but the problem will just resolve itself.

Like I said, I’ve taken the Toyota in the for that problem, but I never got an answer about what that problem was, and what they did to fix it. And then the problem will intermittently happen again.

A second issue with the car: When I start up the car, about half the time the steering wheel jiggles violently for a few seconds. Friends who have seen this say that I should check the transmission.

So, I’m wondering if you have any advice. First of all, are these problems worth spending money on diagnosing?

Does anyone else have similar gripes about dealerships? Should I just go a more mom-and-pop place?

I live in Portland, Oregon. Does anyone have any recommendations?

Thanks for your advice

Regarding the jiggling of the steering wheel, this is not transmission related. Since the Prius uses electric power steering, rather than a hydraulic system, it sounds like something may be amiss with the electric motor that is used for power assist. This may be beyond the abilities of your local Mom & Pop mechanic.

Is the car under warranty? If so they are responsible for fixing problems that you report while it is under warranty. Make sure you get and keep records of every problem you report to the dealer. Once reported they are responsible for fixing it, even if it goes past the warranty time or miles

Check out what your state’s (USA) laws are:

If it is not under warranty, That CEL (check engine light) is just a kid in class waving her hand trying to get you attention because she has the answer. You need to have the codes read. Some places will read them for FREE. Try Autozone or Advanced Auto Parts. Get the exact code (like P0123) not just their translation into English and post it back here.

Regarding warning lights:

  1. if the coolant temp light comes on, shut off the engine ASAP

  2. if the oil warning light comes on, shut off the engine ASAP

  3. if a FLASHING MIL/CEL comes on, shut off the engine ASAP

    ASAP means driving to the berm of the highway right now and not waiting for the next exit.

But if the MIL/CEL is not flashing, then it’s not an urgent indicator.

 I seriously doubt if the transmission has anything to do with the vibration/jiggling.  More likely tyres, steering gear, wheels suspension or alignment.

Try another dealer. Also, post this at in the forums under maintanence/troubleshooting.

Ultricon, based on the steering symptoms, I suppose that you have a 2001 or 2002. The best solution is an entire new steering system, Price >$2000 installed. Not good news eh? The assembly can also be obtained from salvage vehicle dismantlers, ideally from a 2003 without major front-end damage. Cost should be much less but getting it installed is the tricky part. There are 2 or 3 independent hybrid shops in San Francisco that would do the work; I don’t know if a regular Toyota shop will install used parts.

There is the chance that Toyota will pay part or all even though you (probably are) post-warranty. Start by calling 800-331-4331.

The acceleration hestation could be several things including the sensors in the accel pedal (coincidentally very similar to the steering issue). As stated we really need the DTCs and subcodes if any to help with long-distance diagnosis.

PriusChat is among several good places to seek Prius help online. Cartalk is mostly for exchanging hybrid disinformation. Sorry guys :slight_smile: