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Toyota Prius Software Problems

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Comments

  • Just filed my complaint with NHTSA. Thanks.
  • "That is a real problem. I like computers, I question if they belong in our cars. Failures happen but I have never owned a car that just failed. Even my worst cars since my first 1947 Pontiac always gave warning of impending problems."

    I don't see why a computer problem is necessarily worse than a mechanical failure. The failure of a fuel pump on the freeway or ball joint failure or even a tire blowout can lead to serious consequences.

    If you have been driving for more than a half century and never had a sudden failure then you are damned lucky. I can tell you lots of horror stories, such as the water pump on my 1964 Volvo going out at 70 mph leading to a rupture of the radiator. And I assure you there was not a line of computer software in that car.

    Regards,

    David (Whose 2004 Prius just passed 14,000 miles with 49 mpq and not a single software or hardware problem. Easily the best car I have ever owned. AND a bargain.)
  • joebeattjoebeatt Posts: 50
    Hi David,

    Good point. Now I think of it, I have been in a very dangerous situation because of failures only twice in my life (I drive since 1973). Both were caused by a fuel pump that quit in the middle of the freeway. One of the two incidents happened in a tunnel and I still remember the sight of those BIG lorries that were coming in om me at 60 mph.

    Both incidents happened in cars with no software at all. I have never had any problem with software so far. This is of course not to say that Toyota shouldn't do something about software problems, when they occur. They should!
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,788
    "I don't see why a computer problem is necessarily worse than a mechanical failure. The failure of a fuel pump on the freeway or ball joint failure or even a tire blowout can lead to serious consequences."

    Mechanical problems and failures are the result of material failures, which can happen. In general, it causes a single point failure. Keep in mind that the Prius is subject to these failures plus additional potential software problems.

    Software problems are the result of massive amounts of human generated software code. The use of software code in the Prius (having to use software more than a standard car to drive the dual propulsion system) requires a larger code, and more chances for error. Plus, that error shuts down the entire vehicle. A tire can be replaced with a spare, and a CV Joint is not expected to fail unless it is old or mechanically defective. A software bug that is never fixed will lurk around waiting to occur again.

    The real problem is that Toyota may not be doing anything about the source of the problem - the code itself.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,850
    The failure of a fuel pump on the freeway or ball joint failure

    These parts can be replaced and the trouble is no longer an issue. With a software glitch that just gets reset you never know when it will come back to get you. I read in the Wall Street Journal yesterday that JD Powers rated Toyota below average on reliability. They were 28th out of 39 brands. What happened to them? Maybe too big too fast.
  • "Stevedebi" wrote:

    "Mechanical problems and failures are the result of material failures, which can happen. In general, it causes a single point failure."

    Really? Try telling that to the thousands of owners of Chrysler vehicles who had to be towed after transmission failures a few years ago, or the VW/Audi owners in the tens of thousands who experienced total vehicle failure because of ignition coil problems. Those cars were brand new. Those were DESIGN problems, not WEAR problems.

    The whole trend over the last 30 years has been to replace mechanical components with electronics because it is so much more reliable. The biggest increase in automotive reliability came when electronic fuel injection replaced carburetors. Remember them? Remember what happened when they got gummed up?

    "...Keep in mind that the Prius is subject to these failures plus additional potential software problems."

    The Prius probably has fewer mechanical components than any car on the road. Even the accelerator linkage is electronic. And the result is outstanding reliability. Check out Consumer Reports reliability ratings. Prius is at the very top.
     
    "The real problem is that Toyota may not be doing anything about the source of the problem - the code itself."

    You have made two assumptions there, without any evidence that either is true;

    1. that there is a software problem

    2. that if there is, Toyota is not doing anything to fix it.

    Regards,

    David (whose Prius never misses a beat)
  • Gagrice wrote:

    "I read in the Wall Street Journal yesterday that JD Powers rated Toyota below average on reliability. They were 28th out of 39 brands."

    Must have been the National Inquirer. A search of the on-line Wall Street Journal found no such article.

    David
  • Gagrice wrote:
     
    "I read in the Wall Street Journal yesterday that JD Powers rated Toyota below average on reliability. They were 28th out of 39 brands."

    I went to the J.D. Power website. The headline for the latest Dependability ranking by Manufacturer is as follows:

    J.D. Power and Associates Reports:
    Toyota Motor Sales Captures Top Corporate Ranking in Vehicle Dependability

    While Toyota and Honda Continue to Dominate, the Big Three Domestics
    Make Important Strides in Long-Term Quality Improvement

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 29, 2004
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,850
    If you have been driving for more than a half century and never had a sudden failure then you are damned lucky.

    Only one vehicle ever quit on me. I was driving on the LA freeway in an Aivs rental car that just died with me in the left lane. I was able to coast to the shoulder and was less than 100 feet from an emergency phone. That car was an AMC Pacer with just 13 miles on it. Avis brought me a Chevy something or another and I have not had a problem since. I do maintain my vehicles, any little noise is researched and fixed. I also don't put a lot of miles on a vehicle. My 7 yr old Suburban just turned 49k miles. Our 1990 Lexus LS400 has 84k miles on it. Both look like the day they were purchased new.

    You are lucky that your Prius has operated flawlessly. Not all have had your good fortune. Oh, my two worst new vehicles a Honda & a Toyota.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,850
    J.D. Power and Associates Reports:

    I only know what I read in yesterdays WSJ. I should have kept it but gave it to the stewardess to dump. That was what caught my eye the rating of 28th out of 39 brands. I don't subscribe to the online WSJ, maybe someone that does can find it.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,850
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 29, 2004

    That was almost a year ago. Much has happened since then. I am talking yesterdays news. It really is not important, I take what JD Power and Consumer Report says with a grain of salt. It was the fact that so many on this forum live by those two sources that I repeated what I read.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,850
    Must have been the National Inquirer. A search of the on-line Wall Street Journal found no such article.

    As a matter of fact it was Customer Service Index study by JD Powers. Look it up Toyota is not the best automaker if you are experiencing a problem. In fact they are below all the big 3 brands. Here is the 2003 chart. I am sure the one in the WSJ was the 2004 that does not show any improvement in the way Toyota handles customer problems. Which is the reason for this thread, Poor customer service.

    http://www.jdpa.com/presspass/pr/images/2003058afull.gif
  • joebeattjoebeatt Posts: 50
    Now about the quality of the car, not the service of Toyota America:

    Let's stick to JD Powers. Go to http://www.jdpower.com/cc/auto/auto.jsp# (new vehicle advisor).

    Click: "Help me choose"
    Click: "Compact" (then Next)
    Click: "Mechanical Quality" and "Long Term Dependability" as being very important to you
    Click: "Update List"

    What do we see? Prius is number 1

    Also please read:

    http://www.consumerreports.org/main/detailv2.jsp?CONTENT%3C%3Ecnt_id=575861

    Can we now stop bashing the Prius? As far as quality is concerned it is a very good car.

    Also, let's go back to the topic of this thread "Toyota Prius Software Problems".
  • joebeattjoebeatt Posts: 50
    I do not agree with the "single point of failure" theory of mechanical problems. I have been in a critical situation twice in my life, both because a mechanical failure made the car die on the freeway. I almost died in the second incident.

    Furthermore, the "added complexity" argument is true, but the electrical motor can give you a backup in case of emergency. A few years ago 40 people burned to death in a tunnel in France. They couldn't get out, because their cars shut down because of oxygen starvation. A Prius could have gotten out in EV mode.

    Of course, these kind of situations do not happen very often, so I wouldn't buy a Prius for that. On the other hand, so far, software problems do not seem to happen that often either (see the reliability statistics), so they do not stop me from buying a Prius.
  • Had same problem yesterday, Thursday, 30 Mar 05. My 04 Prius quit working and had all the lights including the engine, vcs, caution red triangle, etc. I had no option except to go to the sholder on 234 just short of Route 28 near Manassas. Called dealer, Miller Toyota, Manassas who provided a tow service number. Within 30 minutes had the car in for service. As others, they "reprogrammed the engine ECU" and mentioned that this was a "recall" item. I don't think its a recall item because the service form states that it was maintenance. They did a recall on the "brake light switch" which should have been accomplished when we had the car in for the 20000 mile check. (Also, I never received a recall notice in the mail.) Like others I don't think Toyota has a fix for this.

    FYI, they did pay for the tow truck and a one day rental car charge.

    Will post again if more software problems develop.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,850
    Will post again if more software problems develop.

    Welcome to the Forum. Please do keep us posted if this happens again. There are those here that are in denial that the Prius has serious problems. If you report this to the NHTSA it will help get Toyota to research and fix their firmware.

    http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/ivoq/
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,788
    "
    You have made two assumptions there, without any evidence that either is true;

    1. that there is a software problem

    2. that if there is, Toyota is not doing anything to fix it."

    I'm not going to bother responding to most of your comments, since they prove my own statements about how critical software is when it controls more and more of the vehicle.

    1. It is a software problem because the fix was not mechanical - the fix was to put the same software back into the Prius. Then the vehicle worked again. I don't know what triggered the problem, it may have been a combination of mechanical inputs or electric current levels or whatever. But it caused the software to stop working and the car died.

    2. I didn't mean that Toyota wasn't fixing it; I said that if they are not getting data then it is unlikely they can find the error. If the dealers are just putting the same code back in the car and not downloading specific debug data, then Toyota has very little idea where the problem lies. Software engineers are always interested in fixing their code. But one has to know where the problem is before it can be fixed.
  • I don't know what state you live in but in California where I live there are rather stringent lemon laws. If I were you I would invoke that law and either get my money back or get a new Prius.

    It is almost certainly NOT a software problem because there are somewhere around 70,000 2004 and 2005 Prii on the road, all, presumably running the same software. If it were a software problem there would be massive numbers of cars failing. You almost certainly have a hardware problem in your control module and an intelligent dealer would have replaced it.

    I personally know 6 other people with 2004 or 2005 Prii with a combined mileage approaching 100,000 miles. None have ever experienced a problem of any sort. I know someone with a first generation (2001) Prius approaching 120,000 miles with no problems of any kind except for tires (a known problem with the first generation Prius).

    David
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,850
    You almost certainly have a hardware problem in your control module and an intelligent dealer would have replaced it.

    There is the answer. The Toyota dealer service is rated way below average. You should read through the trouble encountered with the Prius II. I have not seen a vehicle that gets towed to the dealership more than a Prius. Try to find a new car that has a worse record here on Edmund's over the last year. You will see several people that were interested in the Prius including myself that would not buy one with all the troubles. They all seem to be control/computer related.

    bonster, "Toyota Prius Owners: Problems & Solutions" #79, 14 Oct 2004 10:16 am
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    Among the 18 TSBs on 2004 Prii, this is the one we are talking about.
    It is not listed on 2005 models (5 TSBs all for Oct.2004 and earlier).

    Make : TOYOTA Model : PRIUS Year : 2004
    Manufacturer : TOYOTA MOTOR NORTH AMERICA, INC.
    Service Bulletin Num : 04009 Date of Bulletin: MAY 13, 2004
    NHTSA Item Number: 10007672
    Component: ELECTRICAL SYSTEM
    Summary:
    SPECIAL SERVICE CAMPAIGN 40D TO REPROGRAM THE ELECTRONIC CONTROL UNITS
    (ECU). *TT
This discussion has been closed.