It was announced today that Toyota would be recalling 1.9 million Prius hybrid models built since March 2009. Toyota said in a statement that they had identified a potential computer software issue that may cause the model to stop in extreme circumstances.
The recall amounts to 30,790 Prius models that were UK-registered between March 2009 and February 2014. The vehicles in question all need to have a potential boost converter issue corrected in the car’s engine management software.
Toyota has stressed that there are no reports of any injuries or accidents relating to this issue with these third-generation Prius models worldwide.
In more detail, the potential issue relates to the software that controls the boost converter, which is in the Intelligent Power Module (IPM). The boost converter is required when the hybrid engine is placed under load, most likely when accelerating hard from standstill – pulling out at a roundabout for example.
Should an issue occur, the driver will be alerted to the fact by dash warning lights lighting up followed by slightly reduced power as the Prius automatically switches to ‘failsafe mode’. Toyota do also say that in some limited cases the potential is there for the vehicle to stop completely.
All Prius owners affected will be contacted within the next few weeks (either by telephone or letter) requesting them to take their vehicle into the nearest Toyota dealer, where the software issue will be corrected free of charge. The timescale for the fix is estimated to be about 40 minutes per vehicle.
The Prius is the only hybrid in the Toyota range that uses this particular software, so no other Toyota vehicles are affected.
All vehicle recalls are strictly monitored by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), but should not necessarily be seen in a negative light. Cars are getting safer all the time, and part of this increase in safety is due to the on-board computers that all modern cars now have. Like any other complicated piece of machinery with added software, things can go wrong. Often, a dealer recall will be specified to correct a minor issue when the vehicle is next due in for a service.
But more serious defects result in a full recall where the manufacturer contacts the owner to request that the vehicle issue is corrected asap.
If you are concerned as to whether your car is affected or not, Toyota have an online checker where you can enter your vehicle details to see if you car is part of this (or any other) recall. You can find the recall checker link here.
While many may see this as another setback for Toyota, the brand was last year the best selling car manufacturer globally, and is forecasting record profits once again for this year, in part due to the weakening of the Japanese yen.