DETROIT - Federal safety regulators are deciding if they'll investigate a complaint that the steering can fail on the Toyota Prius.
The government says in documents that an automotive laboratory in Virginia asked for the investigation after evaluating a client's car.
The probe could affect about 561,000 of the gas-electric hybrids from the 2004 through 2009 model years.
The car owner complained to the government in 2011 that he heard a snapping noise, and the steering failed on his 2005 Prius.
Automotive Systems Analysis of Reston, Va., alleges that the steering column linkage wasn't assembled correctly.
No crashes or injuries were reported. Toyota says it's co-operating with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on the matter.
An investigation can lead to a recall, but so far that hasn't happened.