In the late 1800s Alexander Winton developed the first steering wheel for an automobile. Francis Davis invented power steering shortly after the turn of the century though it wasn’t readily available in passenger vehicles until the 1950s.
Most automobiles today use rack and pinion steering. The steering wheel, through pinion gears, turns the front automobile wheels. The power steering is accomplished through hydraulics.
Steering wheels typically fail as a result of the following issues:
Defective Material/Workmanship: Steering apparatuses can fail due to defective material or shoddy workmanship. This is the most common form of a steering defect.
Loss of Power: Most cars today come equipped with power steering. When the power steering system fails, the driver will have a difficult time steering and controlling the automobile.
In 2008, Nissan recalled more than 150,000 Rogue CUVs due to a loose screw in the steering column. Under worst case scenarios, if the screw fell out, the driver could lose total control of the vehicle.
The 2007 Buick Terraza was recalled due to a design defect that could cause the steering knuckle to break. This could result in a loss of steering and control of the vehicle.
Toyota recalled more than 800,000 SUVs for a defective front suspension that affected the steering mechanism
ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles) have not been immune to recalls. In 2009, Polaris recalled 8,500 of the company’s Sportsman model. According to the Associate Press, the steering knuckle in the ATV could break free, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle.
The United States is not the only country dealing with steering defects and recall. Toyota recalled more than 100,000 vehicles in China due to manufacturing defects involving the power steering system.
Following an accident or injury related to a steering wheel defect, a lawsuit may be filed to seek compensation for injuries, pain and suffering caused by the incident. In some cases, such as four cases filed against Toyota in California, those filing the lawsuits allege that certain companies knew of certain issues with steering apparatuses, but failed to react to protect the consumer.
The California lawsuits state that Toyota responded too slowly when the company recalled approximately 1 million 4Runner SUVs from 1990 to 1995, following the discovery of defective steering rods. The ensuing lawsuits were filed following the death of four people due to the issue.