A dangerous and potentially deadly stalling condition found to affect the Toyota Prius and Auris models has prompted the automaker to initiate a recall of over 2.4 million cars in a second effort to resolve a software issue that was supposedly fixed already.
An official statement released by the Toyota Motor Company on Oct. 5, 2018, indicates problems with certain 2010-2014 model year Prius and 2012-2014 Prius "V" models are sufficient enough to create concern for safety. In total, approximately 807,000 Prius cars in the United States are affected by programming that may improperly enter a fail-safe mode causing a loss of power.
This continues a legacy of large recalls that mark the Toyota Motor Company’s recent history; a potential fire hazard at the power window switch initiated a 7.4 million-vehicle recall in 2012 with 2.5 million U.S. cars affected which closely followed an accelerator configuration issue that affected millions more less than three years prior. However, this recall campaign is very different from those recall campaigns and raises significant questions in its own right; this isn’t the first time there has been a recall – for the exact same problem.
It’s been 13 years to the month since a 75,000-car recall was initiated for the exact same stalling condition in some of the 2004-2005 Prius models; a fail-safe mode activation disabled the gasoline engine and left drivers to coast off to safety with a limited-capacity electric operation. The NHTSA had received 68 reports of stall incidents that prompted the internal investigation that preceded the recall. To address this issue, a software patch was released as well as, in some cases, dealers would apply a water-proof grease to certain electrical connectors. The exact repair procedure this time around may vary by any number of factors that affect the versions of software installed in cars from the factory — but the same general approach is being used; Toyota is offering affected vehicle owners free reprogramming that includes the updated file patches at dealers in their service network.
Based on an analysis of the available information, a prudent Prius owner should ask themselves first and foremost if any current recall campaigns are applicable to them and, if so, following manufacturer-prescribed resolution process as deemed necessary. Information on recall campaigns for Toyota products can be found directly on their website by providing the web portal with your V.I.N. number. Additionally, inquiries can be made directly with the NHTSA at their web portal here.
In consideration of the peripheral facts make up the bigger picture, it’s only natural to wonder if it’s going to be fixed this time or if the third time will be a charm. The similarities between the two separate recalls for the same reason, on the same car, a decade apart raise the question of why? Is it a hardware issue or a software issue; and why, after all the revisions and updates that take place during the course of 10 years, did the problem resurface now?