In 2016, Toyota issued a voluntary recall for its 2010 to 2014 Prius models after a problem with its power inverter caused cars to overheat and completely lose power. The recall lead to a software fix that purportedly resolved the problem. However, one Toyota dealer recently filed a lawsuit that alleges that the recall failed to address the main issue and that the existing motor vehicle defects could cause customers to experience an emergency. There may be many Maine customers who currently own a vehicle with this potentially serious problem.

The dealer felt compelled to file the lawsuit after he stated that customers were returning to his business with vehicles that had supposedly been fixed. His suit alleges that the software fix did not correct the original problem and he refuses to resell any of the affected vehicles. The software patch only prevented the engine from losing power long enough to enable the driver to get off of the road.

Toyota documents allegedly refer to the software fix as both a fail-safe or a ‘limp-home’ mode that is intended to provide enough power to get the driver to a destination. However, the dealer’s lawyer stated that the repair merely reduces the likelihood of an engine shutdown, violating the purpose of a recall, which is to correct an existing problem. The inverter, which switches power between the battery and the dual engines, contains transistors which tend to overheat, leading to power loss or other possible problems.

While there have been no known injuries or deaths officially associated with this engine defect, when an engine loses power, the cause is not always readily apparent. The sudden loss of power while running at highway speeds presents a serious hazard to both the driver and other motorists. The dealer alleges that Toyota’s refusal to fully correct the problem places lives in unnecessary danger. Maine residents who have suffered a serious injury or sustained monetary damages from motor vehicle defects may be entitled to seek compensation for their losses through the filing of a product liability civil suit.

Source: latimes.com, “Toyota failed to fix defect that can cause Prius to overheat and lose power, dealer claims in lawsuit“, Ralph Vartabedian, Feb. 7, 2018

Terry Garmey & Associates

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