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Toyota: Steering flaw drives Prius recall

TOKYO -- Toyota Wednesday recalled 106,000 first-generation Prius hybrid cars globally for faulty steering caused by a nut that may come loose.

One minor accident in the U.S. may be related to the defect, Toyota Motor Corp. said.

The latest recall from Toyota, which has taken hits to its reputation from several massive recalls worldwide, affects 48,000 Prius vehicles in Japan, starting with the first Prius models that went on sale in 1997, and those manufactured through 2003.

It also affects 58,000 vehicles sold abroad, including 52,000 Prius cars sold from 2001 through 2003 in the U.S., 1,200 in Great Britain, and 800 in Germany, a spokesman said.

Toyota said loose nuts in the electric-power steering can cause the vehicle, if operated over a long time, to steer with too much force.

The problem can be fixed by putting in better nuts. Repairs will take about four hours.

In Japan, Toyota also recalled 21,600 iQ small cars for brake problems. In the U.S. and Canada, Toyota recalled 34 Venza and 16 Sienna 2011 model vehicles to replace an insufficiently treated driveshaft, which could break.

In the past two years, Toyota has issued massive recalls ballooning to more than 14 million vehicles. Its once sterling reputation has come under scrutiny, and it faces damage lawsuits and lingering doubts in the U.S. about whether it had been transparent about the recall woes.

Toyota faces a new problem: the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan destroyed key parts suppliers. But the company said Tuesday it expects to be back to 90 percent of pre-disaster production in Japan in June, faster than initially expected.

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