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Prius Safety & Crash Test Ratings



  • PFFlyer@EdmundsPFFlyer@Edmunds Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,810
    We are NOT going to do this again in another topic. We get it. You disagree about hybrids.

    Let's stop this before it gets any legs please.


    Moderator - Hatchbacks & Hybrid Vehicles

  • Kirstie@EdmundsKirstie@Edmunds Posts: 10,677
    And, let's remember that it is never a big deal til it happens to you. Hybrid or not, it is extremely unsettling, so let's let members express themselves.

    I know I would be blown away if my (non-hybrid) car caught fire.

    Need help navigating? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • suziknsuzikn Posts: 8
    I don't know of other cars that catch on fire when no one is in them.

    A car fire is a big deal whether or not it is a hybrid or not.

    My sister-in-law's car caught on fire when my niece was a tiny baby strapped into the carseat next to her. My sister-in-law barely caught my niece out of the car alive.

    If our Prius had been parked in the garage, I don't know what would have happened to our house. My son's room is right above the garage. It's a scary thought. Thank God, our garage is a total mess right now and we didn't park it.

    Car fires (hybrid or not) are a serious matter, and you want to find out what started them in order to prevent them.

    I would hate for another Prius to catch on fire and someone be killed.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Completely agree with all your posts in regard to the serious nature of car fires and how they should be taken seriously.

    But my point is that there is nothing inherent to the Prius that makes it more flammable than other cars.

    I did this research a couple of years ago and there are TONS of incidents of cars catching on fire that were not hybrid cars, and VERY VERY few incidents of hybrid fires.

    Anyone trying to say that the Prius is a dangerous, flammable, self-combustible vehicle, well that is just not a true statement.

    A Google search of "Prius fire" returns 16 hits, and 5 of those are Suzikn's. Only one of them refers to anyone's Prius catching on fire - there was one 2005 story about a guy whose Prius caught on fire overnite at the dealership, but who knows what could have caused that. There was another story I remember about a Prius which crashed into a convenience store and the gas leaked and it caused a fire.

    A Google News search of Prius fire returns no news stories of Prius fires.

    At the NTHSA complaint website, there are 2 instances of Prius fires, both in the 2001 model year. There was a recall for a leakage problem on those vehicles which might have caused those fires.

    There are about 500,000 or slightly more Priuses in the world on the roads right now, and if there was an issue with the traction battery being self-flammable and/or a fire danger, that information would be ALL OVER THE PLACE and would be constantly used by the


    crowds to forward their own interests. And believe me because I know this is a fact: There are A LOT of people who want to see the Prius fail. And they would be using this like a Golden Hammer if it was a real problem.

    I am very sorry about your Prius fire, but it was not because the Prius is a hybrid. Car fires happen.
  • suziknsuzikn Posts: 8
    "But my point is that there is nothing inherent to the Prius that makes it more flammable than other cars."

    Well, the one thing that is inherent to our Prius is that we got it the first year. Whenever you have new technology there is a higher chance that there could be problems. The fire did start in the battery which is the newest technology in the car.

    Just because there haven't been many Prius fires (thank God), doesn't mean there isn't still a problem that is just coming out in these later years of use.

    You said "There was a recall for a leakage problem on those vehicles which might have caused those fires."

    It was not a recall with the leakage problem. That's one of my issues that I have with Toyota. It was a Special Service Campaign, and it was not supposed to cause a fire. The most it was supposed to do if you didn't get it fixed was cause the engine to stall.

    If a leakage could cause a fire (which according to the letter that we got from Toyota is the case), then Prius for that model should be recalled. A recall is a much larger and more publicized action.

    I know when we've had recalls, the envelopes that are sent out usually say in large letters RECALL. I immediately open those and find out what is going on.

    Also, recall information goes on many websites and it's easy to find out if a car has a recall. You can't do the same with a "Special Service Campaign".
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,692
    It could be in just the 2001 model. That would be a very few cars. The other one that caught fire on the dealers lot was also a 2001 model. The sad part is Toyota did not give him replacement cost on the totaled Prius.
  • jbarnhartjbarnhart Posts: 2
    Oddly enough, a good friend just called me because his 2001 Prius just spontaneously caught fire and burned in his driveway. The source of ignition seems to be the traction battery. I'm sure he would be interested in exchanging information. Email me at joe(dot)barnhart(at)gmail(dot)com
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,692
    Welcome to the forum.

    If you have any of the particulars, like a newspaper article or pictures, be sure and post them for us all to see.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Google Images has 2,510,000 images of car fires. Did not see one Prius fire in the group I looked at.

    "prius car fire" does not turn up any images of burning Prius cars.

    I do feel sorry for the people who have Prius fires, but it's such a rare event.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,692
    You looked at all 2,510,000 images? I think you see the pattern as the first Prius start to age. The batteries are getting old and deteriorating. Connections can loosen up from vibration. Poor connections result in heat. Enough heat and you get a fire. This is not an issue with 12 volts. With 200+ volts it is an issue. Denial will not make it go away as you have hoped for. Comparing a car catching on fire from an accident with a car sitting in a dealer's lot or an owner's driveway is a stretch. We have several now reported on Edmund's. I doubt we would see 1% of the actual cases. As you have said car fires are not newsworthy.
  • jbarnhartjbarnhart Posts: 2
    No pics or newspaper articles. It only burned on Sunday, the day he called me. The strange thing (to me) is that he had not driven anywhere Saturday, so his car was just parked by itself, turned off for more than a day, when it spontaneously caught fire.

    I told him to call a lawyer instead of a newspaper. From the description here and on the Yahoo forum, it sounds like Toyota is not stepping up and taking care of these spontaneous combustion cases.

    Whatever the problem is, I hope it does not extend to 2006 Prius models like mine!
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,692
    I have only read of pre 2004 Prius fires. Under any circumstances Toyota should cover the loss. They are less than 8-10 years old. The battery warranty period.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,719
    "Under any circumstances Toyota should cover the loss. They are less than 8-10 years old. The battery warranty period."

    I don't think the Gen 1 had the same warranty on the battery. Five years comes to mind...
  • suziknsuzikn Posts: 8
    Just got back from being out of town. I'll try to send you an e-mail.

    Is his insurance going to cover the fire???

    From what I understand from our insurance company, they are covering our loss and then their lawyers will fight Toyota to reimburse them.

    Since our insurance won't cover the loss of the items in the car, my husband is thinking of taking Toyota to small claims court to cover those items. I thought it was a good idea.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,692
    Your home owners policy should cover the items in your car. I know they did when my truck was stolen. Most auto policies cover up to a couple hundred bucks.

    I would be interested in how the insurance companies make out with Toyota.
  • jeyhoejeyhoe Posts: 490
    I just stumbled across this topic and want to add a couple of thoughts.

    First, larsb should be absolutely ashamed of his attitude about someone's car catching on fire. He apparently sees it as a political issue to be glossed over lest the Prius get unwanted bad press. Truly a fanboy gone wild.

    Next, I'm quite glad to hear that it seems to be only the early version of the Prius that's been burning as I have several friends with the new version parked in their garage. The Prius, based on my very limited admittedly experience, does not appear to be aging well. Another good friend bought one of the early ones and put about 130,000 miles on it before it "broke down" (and I dont know the details) while the couple were on a long vacation trip. They had it towed to nearest Toyota dealer where the estimate to repair was appx $10,000. That's what I call high maintenance! So they did the sensible? thing and wlaked out to the lot and picked out a new Prius, paid for it and continued their vacation.

    Last and to hopefully demonstrate that I'm not here (just?) to bash the Prius, there most certainly is another vehicle that is prone to burn. Bunch of them in fact. Surpirised no one in here mentioned the Ford "cruise control switch fires" that caused some number of fires, at least one that burned a house down and I think the folks inside were killed. :cry: This poorly designed switch is in a couple dozen Ford models and years back to 1993. Apparently the thing could short out and burn just sitting in the garage. Ford finally stepped up and issued a RECALL. I was affected with my 1995 Econoline work van. I had the recall done about 2 years ago. They replaced the wiring harness and maybe the switch, not sure exactly what. But to top it all off, Ford has just now issued a recall of the recall. Why? Because the new wiring harnesses they installed are fused ON THE GROUND SIDE OF THE SWITCH!!?? Unbelieveably poor Ford has gotten rid of so many people over the past few years that there's no one left who knows that fusing a ground wire is useless.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    First of all, I'm not a "fanboy" of any sort. I like hybrids because there is nothing else as clean and efficient on the road.

    And second, anyone who classifies the Prius as a "vehicle prone to burn" is just being ignorant.

    There are more than a million Toyota hybrids on the road worldwide, and a large percentage of those cars are Priuses (or Prii, depending on your preferred term.)

    There are very VERY few instances of a Prius catching on fire, and in FACT, I can only find one or two VALID NEWS STORIES using Google which even refer to such an event. Can anyone find and post more?

    So, with such a small number of Priuses catching on fire, can anyone with confidence or solid data say that a Prius is "prone to burn" more than any other car?

    I think NOT.

    P.S. Just Googled "prius fire" + burned and "Prius burned" +fire AGAIN TODAY 2-26-2008 and found virtually nothing new about Prius fires. The data indicating that a Prius is a fire risk just does not exist.
  • I have a 2004 Prius with no problems.
    I also have a 2007 Highlander hybrid which smells like it's burning when we go up a long, steep hill. It has something to do with the electric motor assist. The smell goes away on the way down.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    That happens with the TCH too. On the TCH, owners have tracked it down to this problem:

    Small problem easily solved during a 4,800 mile trip concluded on Saturday.
    Noticed a burning smell when we got out of the car several times. I first thought it was truck brakes since we first noticed it a rest areas along the last 660 mile grind of the trip. When I got home on Sunday, I had the bugs washed off the car and smelled the burning smell again in our driveway. I opened the hood and discovered that a foam rubber strip which had been secured with some kind of double stick tape to the top area of the radiator had come loose and blew back directly onto the catlytic converter which is near the front of the engine.. I'll say BURNT!... to a crisp!.
    I suppose this could have been worse if it became enflamed but as far as we know it didn't. I removed it and scraped the residue off of the catalytic converter with a putty knife. Problem is solved. I will ask the dealer about this problem this week during servicing. I don't think this is significant and I don't think there will be any long lasting issue with it, but do wonder why they put a cheap piece of self stick foam rubber near the engine compartment and so close to the catlytic converter heat source. So..if anyone else smells something burning, check this out first.

    So the HH might have a similar issue.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    To my knowledge, no persons have been injured or killed by a Prius fire.

    Not too many cars that have burned over the decades can make THAT claim.
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