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Toyota Prius Owner Sues for Defects in Hybrid System

Tuesday, March 20, 2018By Nina Shapirshteyn

Toyota Prius’s recall and warranty extension in 2014 for faulty intelligent power modules (IPM) has not fully addressed the potential hazards posed by these cars. Now a lawsuit claims that both drivers and passengers were endangered because Toyota failed to properly remedy the problem, which could result in complete stalling during operation of the car even at accelerated speeds. The proposed class action lawsuit related to the IPM recall and warranty extension includes current and former owners and lessees of 2010-2014 Prius cars.

The claim relates to the warranty extension provided by Toyota for the hundreds of thousands of affected cars nationwide. The warranty extension affects the IPM situated inside the inverter assembly and other inverter component defects that might be affected by the failure of the IPM to operate properly. When this condition is noted by one of several trouble codes, there are warning lights and the car switches to fail-safe mode.

The warranty extension is only available to cars that were repaired under the 2014 recall. The recall involved nearly 700,000 model years 2010-2014 Prius cars. The company attributed the defective IPM to sensors that are negatively affected by high temperatures. In addition to the cars entering fail-safe mode, the hybrid system could potentially fail completely and cause the car to stop operating. Under Toyota’s recall, dealers installed an update of the software for the motor control and hybrid control units. Toyota dealers also performed total replacements of the inverter assemblies for owners that reported defects in the inverter before the software update became available.

Despite these remedies, the plaintiff in the lawsuit maintains that the defective part was not fixed and that the new software installation created other problems with the vehicle. Specifically, after the software update, the affected cars did not accelerate normally. The lawsuit alleges that Toyota is attempting to save money and therefore did not do enough to repair the defective modules. To this point, the automaker initiated two other recalls of its Highlander SUV 2006 to 2010 models for similar problems in similar inverters. These recalls began one year before the Prius was recalled and involved a complete inverter replacement.

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