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Software glitch stops Toyota’s Prius

Stop, hammer time: A problem with overheating transistors has forced Toyota to update software on about 2500 Prius petrol-electric cars.

Toyota’s overheating environmental hero called back to workshop for software fix

Toyota logo17 Feb 2014

By BARRY PARK

TOYOTA Australia is calling about 2500 third-generation Prius hybrids back to workshops after uncovering an electrical glitch that could put the petrol-electric cars into limp-home mode.

The car-maker announced last week that it was recalling the cars, built between January 2009 and February this year, because of a software fault affecting lead-footed drivers.

According to Toyota, during “high-load driving conditions, such as accelerating from a stop”, transistors within the hybrid system could experience “high thermal stress” – in other words, start to overheat.

“If this occurs, the transistors could deform or become damaged, resulting in the vehicle entering a failsafe mode,” the car-maker said.

By “failsafe mode”, Toyota means the Prius software will detect that the transistors are overheating, and reduce the car’s performance, allowing the driver to limp to the nearest workshop at reduced speeds and acceleration rates.

“Motorists can continue to drive their vehicle however, are advised to contact their preferred Toyota dealer if any warning lights illuminate or if they experience reduced power.

“In the worst case, the hybrid system may shut down and cause the vehicle to stop while being driven,” Toyota said.

Toyota said it was sending letters out to affected owners to ask them to visit a workshop and have their software updated to fix the problem.

“The software will be updated on all involved vehicles at no cost to the customer. In most cases, this will take less than one hour to carry out,” the car-maker said.

This is the second recall for the Prius in the past year. Last June, Toyota asked early-model second-generation hybrid owners to contact them about fixing a brake problem that could leave the environmental pin-up car with reduced stopping power.

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