October 14, 2005 10:40 AM PDT

Software glitch stalls some Toyota hybrids

Toyota is asking 75,000 owners of Prius hybrid cars to come in and have their vehicle's software checked.

A software glitch in some 2004 and 2005 Priuses can make a warning light come on without cause, and in some cases shut down the gas engine altogether, a Toyota spokeswoman said. Because the Prius also has an electric engine, drivers typically can safely get to the side of the road, where they can restart their cars.

Sixty-eight incidents of Prius warning lights flashing without cause or engines shutting down have been reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Toyota spokeswoman added. NHTSA has not asked for a recall, but has told Toyota to notify owners. The automaker is doing that through letters.

When drivers bring in their cars, mechanics will examine the car and reprogram the electronic control module if necessary. In some cases, mechanics may also apply a dielectric grease to a connector on the transaxle--a unit that combines a transmission and an axle's differential gear--to keep water from getting inside. Water entering the transaxle can cause problems to those related to the software glitch.

While vapor locks, worn clutches and bad tires have long stalled drivers, motorists are discovering a whole new generation of problems with the advent of the electronic car. Manufacturers have replaced traditional emergency brakes and other parts with electronic devices in many models in the past few years.

In the relatively near future, radar systems to give drivers a better view of surrounding traffic, as well as other safety devices, will appear. By 2040, cars could even drive themselves, some experts have speculated.

New types of energy-efficient engines monitored by microprocessors will also come out.

The public, though, will have to be convinced of the reliability of these electronic wonders, and the current problems with the Prius (not to mention the general public's familiarity with desktop crashes) likely won't help.

Despite a few minor problems, the Prius has become quite a strong seller for Toyota. The company shipped 125,742 of the hybrid vehicles worldwide in 2004, selling 53,991 in the U.S. alone. So far, 81,042 have been sold in the U.S. in 2005.

8 comments

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Toyota Uses Microsoft Drivers?
Microsoft drivers are the worst. :-)

NOTE: For David and Andrew (our resident MS fanz), just in case you're ready to launch into me for being anti-MS, this is simply a pun. Sometimes it's okay to smile.
Posted by R. U. Sirius (745 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ha!
That would be funny, and yes Microsoft drivers are horrible. I have this one IBM USB mouse, windows recognizes it only about half the time it's plugged in. And and works perfect with other OS.
__________________________________
R.K.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.Remove-All-Spyware.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.Remove-All-Spyware.com/</a>
Posted by Roman12 (214 comments )
Link Flag
That was a bit harsh
Are you implying that I have no sense of humor? Maybe you should go to my website! (No, I am not going to link it. I don't play the Google game.)
Posted by Andrew J Glina (1673 comments )
Link Flag
Toyota Uses Microsoft Drivers?
Microsoft drivers are the worst. :-)

NOTE: For David and Andrew (our resident MS fanz), just in case you're ready to launch into me for being anti-MS, this is simply a pun. Sometimes it's okay to smile.
Posted by R. U. Sirius (745 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ha!
That would be funny, and yes Microsoft drivers are horrible. I have this one IBM USB mouse, windows recognizes it only about half the time it's plugged in. And and works perfect with other OS.
__________________________________
R.K.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.Remove-All-Spyware.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.Remove-All-Spyware.com/</a>
Posted by Roman12 (214 comments )
Link Flag
That was a bit harsh
Are you implying that I have no sense of humor? Maybe you should go to my website! (No, I am not going to link it. I don't play the Google game.)
Posted by Andrew J Glina (1673 comments )
Link Flag
No problems here.
I've had no problems with my hybrid. Whoops, just rembered I drive a Civic Hybrid and not a Toyota.
Posted by (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No problems here.
I've had no problems with my hybrid. Whoops, just rembered I drive a Civic Hybrid and not a Toyota.
Posted by (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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