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Toyota Repairing 650,000 Prius Hybrids

by on Nov.30, 2010

Is that steam? The Toyota Prius faces another snag.

The big number recalls continue at Toyota, more than a year after the maker announced the first safety campaign caused by runaway vehicles.  The latest action involves 650,000 of Toyota’s third-generation Prius hybrid due to a defective coolant pump that can cause the vehicles to overheat and lose power.

Nearly 60% of the Prius hybrids involved in what is officially a service action were sold in the United States, according to Toyota, which says it will cover the cost of any repairs conducted at one of its dealerships.

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The maker says the problem involves an electric water pump that can slowly permit air bubbles to enter the coolant lines.  As that happens water circulation slows and temperatures rise, resulting in overheating  of the hybrid-electric componentry.

Initially, that should trigger a warning light, but if the problem is left unattended, the vehicle would drop into a “fail-safe” mode where power would be reduced.  It is not clear from Toyota’s statement whether permanent damage to the vehicle might result if the problem were still ignored.

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Toyota Not Ready With Fix for Prius “Carpet Entrapment” Recall

Maker focusing on other safety campaigns first.

by on Mar.11, 2010

Toyota has yet to begin repairing '07 - '10 Prius hybrids for a "carpet entrapment" problem.

Though Toyota announced the recall of 2007 through early 2010 Prius sedans, back in October, to fix a problem with so-called “pedal  entrapment,” the maker says it is still not ready to start making repairs to the hybrid.

There is no set date, but “we’re hoping very soon” to notify owners to begin bringing their Prius sedans into service centers for repairs, Sean Gilligan, a Toyota field technical specialist, tells TheDetroitBureau.com.

Part of what is known internally as the “90L” recall, the broader recall campaign was announced last October. It targets vehicles where accelerator pedals can inadvertently be jammed open by loose carpet or mats.  Originally, Toyota said that 3.8 million vehicles, including Camry and Avalon, as  well as Prius, were affected by the problem.  Since the beginning of the year, the automaker has expanded the number of models covered by the recall to more than 5 million.

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There were several challenges, Gilligan explains, before the recall can be completed.  First, Toyota has had to identify the problem, then develop a fix which can vary by model.  The carmaker started by focusing on higher-volume models, like Camry and Avalon.

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Investigation Reveals Prius Brake Problems May Preceed 2010 Model-Year

Will earlier models require recall or service actions, as well?

by on Feb.08, 2010

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(The following story has been revised due to breaking news of the Toyota Prius recall. Click Here for that story)

Most observers anticipate a recall of the 2010 Toyota Prius to solve brake problems, but could earlier models face similar action?

How far back do potential braking problems with the Toyota Prius – the world’s most popular hybrid and the best-selling car of all types in Japan – go?  Research by TheDetroitBureau.com suggests the answer is much further than initially believed, and could involve vehicles dating back to the 2005 model-year or even earlier.

After initially downplaying complaints by owners that 2010 Prius brakes could release unexpectedly, the troubled Japanese manufacturer’s CEO Akio Toyoda admitted the maker must “face up to facts,”  and recall 430,000 vehicles, including not only its best-selling hybrid but also the Lexus HS250h, a luxury model using essentially the same technology.

But even as Toyota prepares for another embarrassing recall, an investigation by TheDetroitBureau.com finds that complaints about the hybrid’s brakes and other traction systems may extend back well before the launch of the third-generation Prius, last spring.  This magazine’s reporting team went into the extensive National Highway Traffic Safety Administration files for the Prius and found hundreds of customer complaints either directly detailing problems with Prius brakes prior to the 2010 model-year, or outlining compound issues that appear to involve both brakes and accelerator issues.

And that’s on top of a series of other problems, such as sudden headlight failures and unexpected powertrain shutdowns, that have been identified with the vehicle, which has become a favorite for both environmentally-minded and high-tech-oriented buyers in the U.S. and abroad. (Click Here for more on that story.)

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Observers suggest a consistency to the reported Prius issues, in that most seem directly linked to the vehicle’s numerous electronics systems – a fact one of the nation’s best-known “geeks,” Apple co-founder Steve “Woz” Wozniak, pointed out earlier in the week when he told various news media his car would “go wild,” at times due to an apparent glitch with its cruise control system.  And while both safety experts and Toyota officials alike have registered frustration at trying to reproduce such problems, Wozniak said he could make his Prius act up at will.

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Toyota President Akio Toyoda Apologizes For Recalls – Even As More Problems Surface

Still no decision on how to handle Prius brake defects.

by on Feb.05, 2010

How do you say "mea culpa" in Japanese? Toyota President and CEO Akio Toyoda apologized for the company's ongoing safety problems.

The yen stops here, according to Akio Toyoda, the president and CEO of Toyota Motor Co., and heir to the carmaker’s founding family today apologizing for the company’s safety problems.

“Many customers are wondering whether their cars are OK,” the chief executive acknowledged, saying “I offer my apologies for the worries.”

Speaking in a mix of Japanese and English, the executive tried to put a concerned face on the company’s mounting problems, which have led to the recall of about 10 million vehicles since last October, and which are being linked to a variety of new issues including what Toyota now admits was a defect in the braking system of its most visible offering, the hybrid Prius sedan.

“Please believe me. We always put customers first,” Toyoda said, turning to English, during a hastily staged news conference.

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The chief executive of the world’s largest automaker said, meanwhile, that Toyota has not yet decided how to handle problems with the Prius.  After repeatedly downplaying owner reports of problems, the maker yesterday confirmed that it had uncovered a defect that can cause brakes on the hybrid to release for a second.  Toyota has made changes meant to prevent the problem on vehicles it has been building since sometime in January, but it has so far declined to order a recall of 270,000 2010 Prius sedans already sold.  Meanwhile, the automaker is looking to see if a similar problem plagues the dedicated Lexus hybrid, the HS250h, which the upscale brand introduced last year.

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