Regulators Investigating Honda, Nissan For Loss Of Power Steering Issues

Here’s the thing about power steering –– it helps drivers keep control of their vehicles, and when the system fails the likelihood of an accident increases. For those reasons, and after receiving numerous consumer complaints, regulators have opened two separate investigations into Honda and Nissan-produced vehicles that lose power steering capabilities.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration inquiries revolve around 374,00 model year 2013 Honda Accord sedans and 17,000 model year 2008 Infiniti EX35 compact crossover vehicles.

According to a notice [PDF] from NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation, the inquiry into Honda was initiated after the office received 24 unique complaints alleging loss of power steering or a sudden increase in steering effort in the Accords.

Of the complaints, four alleged that the failures resulted in crashes; all of which occurred at speeds less than 30 miles-per-hour.

“While driving…at 40mph the EPS (electric power steering) light came on and the power steering failed,” one complaint states. “We pulled over to the nearest empty parking lot and read the manual. We hadn’t been doing any of the things the manual said would cause this. Over the next 10 miles this happened three more times.”

Another consumer complaint states the driver was attempting to turn left into his neighborhood when the power steering failed, causing the vehicle to go over a curb and crash into a fire hydrant.

In addition to the consumer complaints, regulators have identified information related to the power steering problem in Honda’s Early Warning Reporting field report data.

The inquiry into Honda comes less than two weeks after NHTSA announced it would investigate the car manufacture for its possible inaccuracies in reporting procedures.

That probe was a result of the company’s lack of reported information regarding injuries, deaths and crashes related to defective Takata airbags.

NHTSA’s inquiry [PDF] into the Infiniti crossover vehicles was initiated after two complaints alleging wheel shaft separation that led to loss of steering control.

In one complaint, the driver alleged experiencing issues with steering while driving 40 miles per hour. After slowing to a stop, the driver reported a complete loss of steering with the steering wheel rotating 360 degrees without turning the wheels.

The second complaint stated that the driver reported the steering became loose while driving home and completely separated after stopping in his driveway. A service invoice provided by the owner indicates the dealer replaced the steering column and shaft assembly after finding a failed steering shaft bearing.

Since the end of October, Nissan has issued three recalls related to Infiniti vehicles. None of the recalls included the EX35 crossover.

The newly opened preliminary investigations are the first step in a process that could lead to a recall of the vehicles, if regulators determine Honda and Nissan need to address safety issues.

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