Got a Prius? Be careful ...
On October 13, 2005 Toyota Motor Corp. announced that it was in the process of notifying 75,000 Prius owners in the United States of a software glitch that can cause the hybrid cars to suddenly stall or shut down with little or no warning at all. It usually happens at between 35 and 65 mph.
For months Toyota has been investigating reports of stalling in the 2004 and 2005 Prius models. Some of the malfunctioning Prius cars had to be towed to the shop before they could even be restarted. Toyota had previously been blaming problems on a "software glitch" in the Prius computer system.
The problem may cause warning lights in the vehicles to come on prompting the Prius to enter a fail-safe mode that will cause the gasoline engines to stall. Toyota says that the electric motor in the vehicles have sufficient power to allow the driver to pull the vehicle over and away from traffic.
The vehicles involved in the Toyota service action are from the 2004 and 2005 model years. Toyota sold 53,991 of the Prius in 2004 and 81,042 so far this year. Toyota says this is not a recall but is sending letters to Prius owners asking that they take the cars to a dealership for free (of course) repairs.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened an investigation into the problem after receiving a number of complaints about the hybrid vehicles stalling or stopping unexpectedly, often on highways.
Toyota identified a "programming error" in the computer systems of 23,900 Prius cars last year and sent owners a service notice advising them to bring the cars into dealers for an hour-long software "upgrade."