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Power Steering Failure

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Yesterday I experienced what seemed to be a sudden, complete power steering failure. The car (2006 RX400h) became very hard to steer, especially to the right. Straight ahead or a few degrees either side was no problem. I did what troubleshooting I could, but there is very little on this subject in the owner's manual. The "PS" warning light was not on, there was no evidence of fluid leakage, and there had been no collision, curb strike or other stress on the steering. I wrestled it to the dealer (45 min away) who expressed amazement that I was able to drive it at all. The technician sad it likely "needed a rack", referring apparently to the rack-and-pinion steering. This car has 22,500 mi, has never been off-road or otherwise abused. They did give me a loaner car, said they'd likely need the car for several days and would call. Thank goodness we're still under warranty. Parenthetically, if this had happened to my wife I don't think she would have been able to control it (64y.o., tiny at 61"). This car has electric power steering, so there is no belt to fail, no fluid reservoir to check, not even a fuse to replace.

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Well, this is only the second incident involving the steering rack of which I've seen or heard. I wonder if salty roads have anything to do with it - unlikely, but there have been no failures in snow-free areas that I know.

Please keep us updated as to the cause.

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Well, this is only the second incident involving the steering rack of which I've seen or heard. I wonder if salty roads have anything to do with it - unlikely, but there have been no failures in snow-free areas that I know.

Please keep us updated as to the cause.

Hi to you from this side of the "Pond"

I had a similar problem here in the UK but Lexus were superb at resolving the problem.

Here is the link to my posting on LOC Forum (UK)

http://www.lexusownersclub.co.uk/forum/ind...rt=#entry477335

Regards

John Powell

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Yesterday I experienced what seemed to be a sudden, complete power steering failure. The car (2006 RX400h) became very hard to steer, especially to the right. Straight ahead or a few degrees either side was no problem. I did what troubleshooting I could, but there is very little on this subject in the owner's manual. The "PS" warning light was not on, there was no evidence of fluid leakage, and there had been no collision, curb strike or other stress on the steering. I wrestled it to the dealer (45 min away) who expressed amazement that I was able to drive it at all. The technician sad it likely "needed a rack", referring apparently to the rack-and-pinion steering. This car has 22,500 mi, has never been off-road or otherwise abused. They did give me a loaner car, said they'd likely need the car for several days and would call. Thank goodness we're still under warranty. Parenthetically, if this had happened to my wife I don't think she would have been able to control it (64y.o., tiny at 61"). This car has electric power steering, so there is no belt to fail, no fluid reservoir to check, not even a fuse to replace.

We had the same thing happen to our '06 RX400h. I reported details at other major lexus forum. This car does not have a rack -it is electronic steering. I do not think a rack failure produces this total steering failure. Another risk of beta testing a new product.

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The power steering on the 400h has been a hot topic this month. "Nick49" did us all a service by posting this on 2/10:

I haven't posted or even been here in months, but just happened across this post and had to check the steering on my wife's 400h first hand. I looked under the dash and found the steering column where it enters the firewall, then crawled underneath and found where it enters the gearbox on the rack housing. I observed movement at this point while my wife turned the steering wheel R & L. This system is purely mechanical from the steering wheel to the rack housing. Turn right and the rack moves to the left pulling the steering knuckle behind the pivot to the left and the front of the tire to the right.

What the original poster claimed with the vehicle moving opposite to the direction the steering wheel was turned is not possible with a mechanical system like the Lexus. If the steering was electrically controlled thru servos and was poorly designed it may be possible for this to happen, but certainly the engineers would have forseen this possibly and engineered it such that it couldn't happen.

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We had the same thing happen to our '06 RX400h. I reported details at other major lexus forum. This car does not have a rack -it is electronic steering. I do not think a rack failure produces this total steering failure. Another risk of beta testing a new product.

Beta testing? Hybrids didn't give rise to this type of power steering. Electric steering has been around for years prior.

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We had the same thing happen to our '06 RX400h. I reported details at other major lexus forum. This car does not have a rack -it is electronic steering. I do not think a rack failure produces this total steering failure. Another risk of beta testing a new product.

Beta testing? Hybrids didn't give rise to this type of power steering. Electric steering has been around for years prior.

Doesn't the rx400h have a different steering system than the regular rx? I have only seen these problems with the steering in the rx400h. Maybe other companies make a better electric steering system.

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I just retrieved our vehicle from the Lexus dealer (Inskip in Warwick, RI). They did, indeed, replace the steering rack which is remarkable for a vehicle which, according to "ultra63" does not have a rack. They told me they did not tear down the rack assembly so they could not report the mechanism of failure. This was the first they had seen. All covered by warranty. It was annoying but the dealer did what they should and I have no complaints.

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With Nick's bit of research, it seems there is indeed a mechanical connection from the steering wheel to the rack. The difference from non-hybrid vehicles is that the power steering pump is driven by an electric motor rather than a belt from the engine because the gas engine isn't always on. But, it seems the mechanical backup is VERY difficult to muscle in the event of power steering failure.

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The power steering on the 400h has been a hot topic this month. "Nick49" did us all a service by posting this on 2/10:
I haven't posted or even been here in months, but just happened across this post and had to check the steering on my wife's 400h first hand. I looked under the dash and found the steering column where it enters the firewall, then crawled underneath and found where it enters the gearbox on the rack housing. I observed movement at this point while my wife turned the steering wheel R & L. This system is purely mechanical from the steering wheel to the rack housing. Turn right and the rack moves to the left pulling the steering knuckle behind the pivot to the left and the front of the tire to the right.

What the original poster claimed with the vehicle moving opposite to the direction the steering wheel was turned is not possible with a mechanical system like the Lexus. If the steering was electrically controlled thru servos and was poorly designed it may be possible for this to happen, but certainly the engineers would have forseen this possibly and engineered it such that it couldn't happen.

Yes, you can be quite sure that the Toyota engineers took just as much care in the design, FAILSAFE design, as did the engineers for the Boeing 737's hydraulic rudder servo controls.

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The power steering on the 400h has been a hot topic this month. "Nick49" did us all a service by posting this on 2/10:
I haven't posted or even been here in months, but just happened across this post and had to check the steering on my wife's 400h first hand. I looked under the dash and found the steering column where it enters the firewall, then crawled underneath and found where it enters the gearbox on the rack housing. I observed movement at this point while my wife turned the steering wheel R & L. This system is purely mechanical from the steering wheel to the rack housing. Turn right and the rack moves to the left pulling the steering knuckle behind the pivot to the left and the front of the tire to the right.

What the original poster claimed with the vehicle moving opposite to the direction the steering wheel was turned is not possible with a mechanical system like the Lexus. If the steering was electrically controlled thru servos and was poorly designed it may be possible for this to happen, but certainly the engineers would have forseen this possibly and engineered it such that it couldn't happen.

Yes, you can be quite sure that the Toyota engineers took just as much care in the design, FAILSAFE design, as did the engineers for the Boeing 737's hydraulic rudder servo controls.

I am sure they did, and, the 737's control failure was more of a problem with Alaska Airs cutting maintainence on the

jack screw assembly.

I for one remember what it is like to steer a heavy vehicle without power steering. I think we are all spoiled these days.

I wonder how hard the steering becomes if the electric assist fails.

/Steve

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I don't know how old "vinovelo" is, but I'm 64 and I'm certainly old enough to have driven before power steering was as common--nay, ubiquitous--as it is now. Since I'm the one who drove the car 45 mi. to the dealer, and back home after the failure, "how hard" is very hard. It wasn't much effort as long as the wheel was within 5-10 deg of center but beyond that, especially to the right, it really took all the strength I could muster. The difference, I believe, is that the newer cars were never intended to be driven without PS, partially because these systems are quite reliable. I still don't know what happened to the rack on our car, but it was disabled without functioning PS. I really don't see this as a "kids these days are wimps" situation at all--you know, "in my day we had to walk five miles to school, rain or snow".

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The power steering on the 400h has been a hot topic this month. "Nick49" did us all a service by posting this on 2/10:
I haven't posted or even been here in months, but just happened across this post and had to check the steering on my wife's 400h first hand. I looked under the dash and found the steering column where it enters the firewall, then crawled underneath and found where it enters the gearbox on the rack housing. I observed movement at this point while my wife turned the steering wheel R & L. This system is purely mechanical from the steering wheel to the rack housing. Turn right and the rack moves to the left pulling the steering knuckle behind the pivot to the left and the front of the tire to the right.

What the original poster claimed with the vehicle moving opposite to the direction the steering wheel was turned is not possible with a mechanical system like the Lexus. If the steering was electrically controlled thru servos and was poorly designed it may be possible for this to happen, but certainly the engineers would have forseen this possibly and engineered it such that it couldn't happen.

Yes, you can be quite sure that the Toyota engineers took just as much care in the design, FAILSAFE design, as did the engineers for the Boeing 737's hydraulic rudder servo controls.

I am sure they did, and, the 737's control failure was more of a problem with Alaska Airs cutting maintainence on the

jack screw assembly.

I for one remember what it is like to steer a heavy vehicle without power steering. I think we are all spoiled these days.

I wonder how hard the steering becomes if the electric assist fails.

/Steve

The 737 rudder control problem, moving OPPOSITE the rudder pedal command, had to do with contamination of the dual spool hydraulic servo valve. Once the inner spool was stuck the outer spool operated backwards to the command input.

The Alaska elevator position jackscrew failure was a one-off, pure and simple, absolute stupidity.

The initial inspection indicated the jackscrew had too much play, most likely due to wear.

A second inspection was done and the jackscrew proved to be within tolerance.

Big surprise, HUGE surprise.

I don't doubt that the person doing that second inspection knew exactly what the job was....test the jackscrew outside, beyond, the area of normal travel.

In my long ago days of running that type of shop it would have taken at least two subsequent tests to indicate to me that the first one was mistaken.

All in the name of pinching pennies...!!

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I don't know how old "vinovelo" is, but I'm 64 and I'm certainly old enough to have driven before power steering was as common--nay, ubiquitous--as it is now. Since I'm the one who drove the car 45 mi. to the dealer, and back home after the failure, "how hard" is very hard. It wasn't much effort as long as the wheel was within 5-10 deg of center but beyond that, especially to the right, it really took all the strength I could muster. The difference, I believe, is that the newer cars were never intended to be driven without PS, partially because these systems are quite reliable. I still don't know what happened to the rack on our car, but it was disabled without functioning PS. I really don't see this as a "kids these days are wimps" situation at all--you know, "in my day we had to walk five miles to school, rain or snow".

What I meant is that most people today put behind the wheel of an old truck with no power steering would be in for quite a shock.

Very interesting feedback. I had not considered that the system might actually me MUCH worse than a similar manual system.

I really wonder what failed in that they replaced the whole rack rather than the power components.

Well you got me beat. I only had to walk just under two miles for a few years (rain or snow, and it was a pain in the !Removed! in winter).

"in my day we had to walk five miles to school, rain or snow". You forgot to add: "and we liked it!" :D

/Steve

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just a note to wwest's always interesting post, regarding the jackscrew failure, those were mcdonnel douglas planes that boeing inherited with their merger, not boeing designed. this does not lessen the result of the bad decisions that were made during service or design, just wanted to make that point.

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just a note to wwest's always interesting post, regarding the jackscrew failure, those were mcdonnel douglas planes that boeing inherited with their merger, not boeing designed. this does not lessen the result of the bad decisions that were made during service or design, just wanted to make that point.

Yes, that was a McD DC-9 that had the jackscrew problem, a DC-9 that Alaska bought long before the merger in order to get CAT-9 landing capability of which McD was late, VERY late, delivering.

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I just submitted a post for my 2006 is350. Similar experience....I'm amazed that you didn't panic. My first thought was if my wife had been driving whould she have been in a crash???

I've complained about this to Lexus Corporate...lets see what I hear.

I'm amazed how many people have reported this issue...and that Lexus does not have a TSIB on it yet....it was my understanding that for fatal flaws the number of complaints needed for a recall is not very high. Perhaps Lexus should look into this.

Would I own a lexus again - probably yes. Would I praise it as much as I did until today....probably not. I do not believe that getting a nice loaner, a frap and cookies in the lounge makes up for this flaw. Not even close. Compensation would be to advise all affected users and do a recall. This ain't my problem...this is our problem.

Cheers,

DH from Houston, TX.

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Seems like quite awhile since last post. But today is Aug 4 2019. Left Less Shawb for an alignment cause the 400 RX was pulling to the right. Just happened out of the blue. For no Charge they told me it was in perfect alignment? The technician told me he drove it for about 5 miles and said it not only pulled to right, but then correct, and then pulled left for a few seconds and he almost when over the double yellow on a major hwy. We live several hours away from a dealer, Was hoping to find some real information about this problem. But its the web. Calling dealer in the AM, If there was a recall it should have been posted here. So this could become a resource 

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Hi,  I purchased a RX 400h with only 44,700 miles. I had to replace the front struts and tires.  Of course,  an alignment was done.  Unfortunately,  my car still pulled a little bit to the right. My mechanic checked the alignment and said it was within specs, but he tweaked it a little bit to see if that would help.  Unfortunately,  I still feel a very slight pull to the right.  Has anyone else experienced this type of issue? If yes, could you please share how you resolved it? Thank you so very much! 

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Hi,  I purchased a RX 400h with only 44,700 miles. I had to replace the front struts and tires.  Of course,  an alignment was done.  Unfortunately,  my car still pulled a little bit to the right. My mechanic checked the alignment and said it was within specs, but he tweaked it a little bit to see if that would help.  Unfortunately,  I still feel a very slight pull to the right.  Has anyone else experienced this type of issue? If yes, could you please share how you resolved it? Thank you so very much! 

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8 hours ago, Valorie said:

Hi,  I purchased a RX 400h with only 44,700 miles. I had to replace the front struts and tires.  Of course,  an alignment was done.  Unfortunately,  my car still pulled a little bit to the right. My mechanic checked the alignment and said it was within specs, but he tweaked it a little bit to see if that would help.  Unfortunately,  I still feel a very slight pull to the right.  Has anyone else experienced this type of issue? If yes, could you please share how you resolved it? Thank you so very much! 

LOL, maybe that's why the previous owner sold the RX.  These slight "pulls" can be difficult to diagnose and eliminate.  Is the steering wheel perfectly aligned when driving straight ahead?  If it isn't, there is still probably an alignment problem.  The cause could be a slightly damaged (bent) suspension parts.  I know the tires are new and shouldn't have a wear pattern that could cause a pull but swapping the wheels side-to-side could in theory help as long as the tires are not "directional".  Directional tires should not be swapped side to side - only front to back.  If the tires are directional, I suppose you could have the wheels swapped front to back to see if that makes any difference.

I've had improper alignments several times due to mechanics not being competent or having defective equipment.  Just a few months ago, a Toyota dealership tech said my Sienna needed an alignment even though the tires were wearing evenly, the steering wheel was aligned and the vehicle was driving perfectly.  When I got the van back, the steering wheel was cockeyed and there was a severe pull to the right.  The dealer tech clearly didn't know what he was doing.  When I took the van back for a "re-do", the tech essentially put the alignment back to where it was which was already perfect ... but they (Hendrick Toyota of Merriam Kansas) certainly didn't refund what I paid to have it screwed up and then restored back to where it was.  

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