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Toyota Prius Software Problems



  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,112
    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: 31,112
    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.
  • joebeattjoebeatt Posts: 50
    Now about the quality of the car, not the service of Toyota America:

    Let's stick to JD Powers. Go to (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:

    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: 31,112
    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.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    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).

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,112
    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: 1,092
    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
    Service Bulletin Num : 04009 Date of Bulletin: MAY 13, 2004
    NHTSA Item Number: 10007672
    (ECU). *TT
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,112
    Anybody who has read the prius boards for more than two weeks knows that you are on a holy crusade to prove that hybrids are a bad idea

    You are obviously a newcomer to the Forum so, welcome. If you followed the hybrid threads since 2000 as I have you would know that I was an early proponent for the Prius and hybrid technologies. I still consider the Insight the best commuter car available in this country. The HCH has a better overall reliability record if people posting are letting us know any problems they are having. The Prius has had many problems whether you have had any or not. There are people trying to invoke the lemon law in CA on the Prius. You can pick any car from any country and go to the appropriate thread. I dare say you will not find a vehicle that has gotten towed to the dealerships in the last year as much as the Prius. They do die for no apparent reason and the dealers are just doing a reset on the control computer and hoping the trouble will not return. There is a reason that Toyota ranks so poorly on the customer service ratings at JD Powers. They are poor at taking care of customer problems. All cars have problems from time to time. It is how it is handled by the dealers that leaves a lasting image in your mind.
  • falcononefalconone Posts: 1,726
    The Prius has an exemplary record from what I have read online. I also happen to follow other boards which support this as well. I have NO idea where you get your information, but you definitely are not right on this one. I surely agree that ANY vehicle can have its share of problems, but overall, the Prius has enjoyed a very good service record.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,112
    but overall, the Prius has enjoyed a very good service record.

    How do you explain the posters that have had their new Prius towed when it just quits? I doubt you will find another car on Edmund's with as many DOA failures as the Prius. I'm sure you have read all the cases of the car just quitting. Is that to be expected? I have read every post on the hybrid boards and the Prius is not the jewel in Toyota's crown. Even some of the real diehard Prius fans admit that there are issues with the car. My complaint is not as much with the Prius as with Toyota not accepting the problems. I have never heard of so many cases where the dealer was clueless about a problem with a car.

    There are 5 cases on this thread that is less than a month old. If I was researching a car and that many all-out failures occured in one month that car would be scratched off my list. You can go back a year on the VW TDI boards and not find that many total failures, where the car was towed to the dealer.
  • falcononefalconone Posts: 1,726
    Compared to the people that DO have this car there is NOT a problem, otherwise there would be a TSB issued. I know numerous people personally that own this vehicle and they have never ever had any problems. Just because a few people complain, it does not mean that there is a problem. Granted, the service people are clueless, but most vehicles today are quite complicated pieces of machinery. Regardless of your useless posts, hybrids are here to stay, so just get used to it old man.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,112
    there is NOT a problem, otherwise there would be a TSB issued.

    I may be old but I can still read. See post #44 that poster claims there are 18 TSB's on the Prius II.

    ceric, "Toyota Prius Software Problems" #44, 2 Apr 2005 5:51 am
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,112
    how do you account for the fact that CR says that owner satisfaction with the 04 Prius is the highest they have ever measured?

    That is easy. The Prius is a new high tech piece of machinery. It attracts the same people that respond to and support CR. I would bet that a much larger percentage of Prius owners subscribe to CR than say the Toyota Echo or Ford Focus. Those surveys are only as good as the data they get from respondents. I have no doubt the Prius is popular with the owners. Even many that have had them crap out on the freeway and had to be towed still love the car. That does not make it a reliable car just a well liked car. People love VWs and they have more than their fair share of faults. I just bought a new Passat TDI. I just hope that it is a good one. They were rated very high by CR for years in spite of their faults.
  • jpricejprice Posts: 58
    You are all but calling the posters that are having problems liars.

    And you would seem to think that the posters to this list represent the majority of Prius owners...

  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,770
    Let's not let this turn into a personal thing, OK?

    This topic IS a place where folks who are having a problem can come and talk about possible solutions. We have all kinds of "problems" topics about all kinds of vehicles. The idea of the topics is NOT to cast a positive or negative light on the vehicles, although those kind of comments are invariably going to come up. That's just the nature of message boards. So rather than go off on a tangent about what postings in a problem topic MEAN, let's move on.

    Thanks for your cooperation and participation!

    PF Flyer
    News & Views, Wagons, & Hybrid Vehicles

    Edmunds Moderator

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  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,770
    I've had to take down the first post after I ask that this topic not turn into a personal beef because it was about making it personal. This topic is about problems with a vehicle and finding solutions to those problems.

    Let's stick to that please.

    PF Flyer
    News & Views, Wagons, & Hybrid Vehicles

    Edmunds Moderator

    Need some roadside assistance? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

    Share your vehicle reviews

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  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    "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."

    The "stringent" laws to which you refer require that the vehicle have the same problem 3 times, or be out of service 30 days in the first year. You cannot get your money back after a single event.

    "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."

    It could be a hardware problem, but it is more likely a software problem. The reason I say this is that the dealer didn't replace hardware, he replaced software. If the problem was bad computer hardware, the problem would have re-created itself shortly. Since the cars in question did not have a re-occurrance of the issue after the software was reloaded, it was almost certainly a software bug.

    The reason the other Prius owners have not had this problem is simple. The combination of inputs to the computer unit that cause the software crash (rendering the Prius inoperative) is very rare. Thus the failures are very rare. But if all Prius vehicles have the same version of software (which they certainly should), and the dealers are just installing the same version back into the machine, then every Prius out there is subject to the same failures. But obviously it won't happen often. I don't own a Prius, but I doubt at this point that I would consider this a "deal breaker". But I am concerned that Toyota (and other manufacturers) may not have considered how to use owners as "field beta testers", which Microsoft has managed to to with their built-in "report software error" features in Windows. At least that way Microsoft gets information on what killed the application in question. BTW, my understanding is that there are over 30,000 known bugs in Windows, but they don't show up that often so they aren't fixed, or get fixed gradually as MS updates their versions.

    If you prefer to put it in a nicer fashion, I'm concerned that the manufacturers have not put in place some means of having their vehicles report back exactly what happened to kill their programs, including "dump" data so that the problems can be analyzed and fixed.

    RE: Recalls. The problem has not been reported to the NHTSB often enough to warrant an investigation. That is the reason the car has not been recalled. That, and the possibility that Toyota doesn't yet have a fix for the problem (and may not know exactly where the software "bug" resides). They cannot recall a problem until they fix it, and they can't fix it until they have data. And most importantly, they will not gather data unless they think they have to, so report any incidents to the NHTSB, for the good of the Prius and future software processes in automobiles.
  • telemanteleman Posts: 1
    Just Googled "Prius software problems" and found this board. My six-month-old Prius died last night in the rain as I got on the Interstate. Same problem as others describe: engine suddenly died and all of the warning lights lit up, including the one that means "take to Toyota service immediately." I have to say that Toyota roadside assistance was extremely responsive. I just heard from the dealership. They acknowleged that the 04 has had a software problem, but claimed that they loaded updated software that should prevent this from happening again. How do I confirm this is the case and that new software has been developed by Toyota, or if they just reinstalled the old problematic software and lied to me? Does it do any good contacting Toyota about this, and should I get in touch with the NHTSB?
  • joebeattjoebeatt Posts: 50
    I would put Toyota to the test and ask them if they did a recall for the 04 Prius to update the software and if not, why not. I would report to the NHTSB also. It can help to make cars safer and more reliable.
  • falcononefalconone Posts: 1,726
    There is a recall or TSB (not sure of which) that addresses an issue with the gasket that lines the hood. Rain/water can enter here and cause problems . This MAY have been what caused your problem. Though I do think there CAN be software issues, then why aren't more cars effected? Isn't the software the same in all the cars?
  • joebeattjoebeatt Posts: 50
    It could still be a software issue. It is very difficult to predict when software will fail. A hidden bug might stall the vehicle, but only when a lot of different external conditions are met. Also the order in which these conditions appear might influence the process. These external conditions and the correct order to trigger the bug might happen only once in a million "car-years".

    It's a little bit like the aerospace industry. In 1994 a Boeing 737 suddenly turned over on its back and crashed straight into the ground for no reason. Everybody was puzzled what had happened. Finally it turned out that all 737s had a design flaw related to the rudder. The 737 came into service in 1967, and every day thousands of 737s are taking off and landing safely, so it is very weird that the flaw went unnoticed for all those years. Still it did. But finally, when all the external conditions were met, the accident happened.
  • eprupiseprupis Posts: 30
    I have a 2004 with navigation--one year old and 16000 miles. Today my touch screen stopped working. The info screen dropped the mileage number, the mpg calculation, and the current mpg plus the outside temperature. The energy screen showed the diagram but no movement of energy. The audio and map screen did not function and the climate screen showed a message that the air conditioner was not connected. All the steering wheel controls functioned and the air conditioning responded to those controls as did the audio system. The green dash info stayed functioning and the car drove normally in all other respects. I did get the display screen to come on and hit the display off button and now the screen will not come on at all no matter what button I hit. I have seen software operating failures on this board but this is a new problem I don't recall reading about. Of course I'll bring it to my Toyota dealer ASAP, but they seem to be clueless abouty the Prius' unique features. Any ideas?
  • There is a tsb about this problem take it to your dealer and they will order a new screen to correct this problem
  • sunny9sunny9 Posts: 4
    I don't believe I have yet seen a posted response to your query: "are there continuing software problems with model year 2005?" Did anyone respond back?

    I am also very interested in learning that answer, as well, particularly after reading no less less than 15 pages, at the National HighwayTransportation Safety Board site (NHTSB) devoted to complaints, defect investigations, and service bulletins, on the 2004 Prius.
    The problems cited did not appear to be trivial and let's face it, repair costs are only part of the dilemma the owner has to deal with when malfunction happens--and often at the most inopportune times.

    While it is impossible for a consumer to dodge all the problematic auto "bullets" out there, it is outrageous for a manufacturer to remain silent/not respond to consumer complaints on cars that have been out in the market for close to eight years now.
  • My 2004 Toyota Prius computer malfunctioned right in the middle of the most dangerous intersection in my city in clear, dry daylight conditions. Every warning light came on and so did a big "problem" message light. The car continued to drive, using mostly the electric motor, and I was able to reach a local Toyota dealer a few miles away. They told me my computer had to be "reset" and asked if I had gotten notice of a recall for the computer on my vehicle. The answer is "no" to the recall question, but now I am concernied that there is a recall out there for the computer on the 2004 Prius.
  • khskhs Posts: 1
    My 2004 Prius (3300 miles) suddenly beeped and warning lights came on, inlcuding red triagle, engine warning, etyc. Took to dealer--ECM reprogrammed. Service person told me "this has happened to almost all "Prius' they sell. If happens again, just drive to Toyota Dealer--nothing to worry about--no explanation." I just finished reading these messages. I plan to pursuewith Toyota and file a complaint with NTSB
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,112
    Service person told me "this has happened to almost all "Prius' they sell.

    Welcome to the forum. At least the Service people were honest about the occurrence of the problem. Many act like it is a fluke and have never seen it happen before. Did the car quit or just all the Warning lights came on? Did you buy the extended warranty? How do you like the car? Would you buy another one? Good luck with getting an answer. I am sure that Toyota is aware and working on it. It does not hurt to make the NHTSA aware of the issue.
This discussion has been closed.