Toyota is recalling about 2 million vehicles worldwide, mostly impacting Prius Hybrids, due to a software problem that could cause the vehicles to stall suddenly, posing a potential risk of auto accidents.
The Toyota recall was announced on February 12, includes 700,000 Toyota Prius vehicles from the 2010-2014 model years sold in the United States, 1 million in Japan, and another 200,000 from around the world. The cars may have a problem with the motor/generator control ECU and hybrid control ECU software.
The auto maker warns that the problem could cause resistors to experience high temperatures that can damage them, causing the vehicle to go into failsafe mode. This may cause the hybrid vehicles to shut down while they are being driven, forcing the vehicle to come to a stop.
Another 260,000 2012 Toyota RAV4, 2012-2013 Toyota Tacoma, and 2012-2013 Lexus RX 350 vehicles are also being recalled due to problems with the skid control ECU software, which can cause the Vehicle Stability Control, Anti-lock Brake and Traction Control functions to turn off unexpectedly. The company says that when this happens the standard brakes still function.
Toyota indicates that there have been no accidents or injuries reported in connection to the software problems.
The massive recalls come as Toyota is still reeling from 2013, during which the company once known for its car safety saw the most vehicles recalled of any automotive manufacturer. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Toyota recalled nearly 5.3 million cars and trucks in 2013. It has been the company with the most recalled vehicles in four out of the last five years.
The company’s reputation for reliable vehicles was tarnished by the recall of millions of Toyota and Lexus vehicles in 2009 and 2010, following reports that some vehicles were accelerating out of control. The company blamed the problem on floor mats that were too thick, but critics and plaintiff attorneys alleged that the real problem was an electronic throttle system.
In December 2011, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that Toyota was being fined $32.4 million following two federal investigations into how it handled unintended acceleration recalls and steering rod defects.
Government investigators say the company delayed issuing those recalls and failed to notify federal safety officials about the problems in a timely manner. The fines were the maximum allowed by law. The company also paid $1.4 billion to settle Toyota class action lawsuits claiming that the company’s actions lowered the value of its vehicles, which many consumers purchase in part because of their high resale value. The company still faces numerous wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits, some of which it has settled.
Company officials have said that the higher rate of recalls comes as Toyota attempts to be more responsive to problems.
Customers affected by the latest recall will get a software update free of charge by taking their vehicle to a Toyota dealer. They will be notified by mail when the software update is available.
Toyota customers with questions can visit the company’s website at www.toyota.com/recall or they can call the Toyota Customer Experience Center at (800) 331-4331.
Lexus customers with questions can visit the Lexus website at www.lexus.com/recall or they can call the Lexus Customer Satisfaction Center at (800) 25-LEXUS.