Toyota expands Prius recall

Pleasanton, CA – June 25, 2020 – Toyota (NYSE:TM) is recalling more Priuses for an electrical problem that may cause the car to suddenly lose power on the road.

The recall includes:

  • 2013-2015 Toyota Prius
  • 2014-2017 Toyota Prius V

Recall summary

Like with other Prius recalls in 2014 and 2018, the electrical system is at fault. Sometimes, hard acceleration overheats and damages a part called the inverter, which controls power flow in the car.  This usually triggers a fail-safe mode – also known as a  “limp-home” mode –  but this specific defect is causing cars to stall instead.

Sudden loss of power on the road can cause collisions, which may lead to injury and even death of the driver and other motorists.  The recall officially begins on August 10, 2020, but repairs will become available sometime in July.

In the meantime, drivers “should avoid placing a high load on the hybrid system by avoiding [rapidly accelerating from a full stop] when possible.

Driving risks

Stalling at a stoplight is arguably not as dangerous as losing power on the freeway. Vehicles may not be able to react in time and could ram a stalled car from behind. 

In April 2019, Ralph Vartabedian of the LA Times reported on drivers’ terrifying experiences with Prius inverter failure. “A Marina del Rey woman had to cross three lanes of fast-moving traffic on the 91 Freeway,” he wrote. “In another case, a Florida woman was rear-ended. The crash left her with a cracked vertebra and a punctured lung.”

If your car stalls, you should immediately turn on the emergency hazard lights and call 911 and your roadside assistance provider. Do not leave your vehicle if you are driving down a highway with several lanes of traffic.

Another software update

Toyota’s fix for the recall, like in 2018, is a software update. However, last time, dealers continued to see damaged inverters in cars that had received an update.

One of Toyota’s largest Southern California dealers, Roger Hogan reported the original issue to Toyota in 2017 and sued the company over the defect. Hogan believes the software is not the real problem, and that the only genuine fix would be to replace the inverter with a newer model, costing $2,000 per unit, according to Vartabedian’s article.

Toyota has launched a separate program to “repair or replace” damaged inverters for free before an update is performed. However, in order to qualify, the inverter must already be broken.

Is your vehicle part of this recall?

Over 266,000 cars are included in this Toyota recall. To see if your car is one of them, use MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool to check your car for open recalls.

Joe GlaserToyota expands Prius recall

Mazda recalls 12,000 cars due to risk of crash and fire

Pleasanton, CA – June 13, 2020 – Mazda (OTCMKTS:MZDAY) is recalling 12,097 all-wheel drive (AWD) Mazda CX-30 vehicles because a hose in the tank may be disconnected. This is a fire hazard and poses the risk that drivers could stall on the road and get hit. It also increases pollution produced by the  car.

The recall affects only Mazda CX-30s that were assembled at a specific factory.

Recall summary

While no accidents have occurred as a result of this recall, one Mazda dealer reported that a car’s fuel was leaking out of the emissions system after the tank had been refilled. Another stalled as it was being delivered to a customer. The cause was the same: the fuel evaporative vent hose was not connected.

The vent hose is part of the Evaporative Emission Control System (EVAP) that is used to stop fuel vapors from being released into the atmosphere.  A malfunction within this system means that the vapors can pollute the environment all the time even if the vehicle is idle.  Additionally, fuel leaks can increase the risk of fire and engine stall, both of which can injure the driver and other motorists.

Car owners should be notified by August 11 to take the vehicles to check if the hose is disconnected. The repairs will be covered under the new vehicle warranty.

Separately, Mazda CX-30 SUVs and Mazda3 compacts are being recalled to check and “tighten the bolts on the front brakes” to reduce the risk of crash. The infamous Takata airbag recall is also still underway for a variety of models, including 2007-2015 CX-9 and Mazda6 models from 2003 to 2013.

How did this happen?

Unlike some recalls, which stem from design flaws, this one can be traced back to a single factory in Mexico where Mazda fuel tanks were assembled. The plant conducted an investigation and found that a worker did not finish connecting the hoses on the vehicles they worked on. It is unclear whether this one worker is responsible for the defect in all 12,097 vehicles. But all workers received additional training as a result of the failure. 

Vehicle fires

The U.S. Fire Administration 2019 Report on Fire in the United States stated that equipment failures accounted for at least 20% of vehicle fires between 2009 and 2017. The number could be higher — in 24% of vehicle fires, the precise cause could not be determined (partly because many fires occur after a collision, and partly because fire has a handy way of destroying the evidence.)

Fuel is extremely flammable, which is why cars are built to keep it contained. Any situation where it is leaking poses a hazard to drivers.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, if a vehicle catches fire, the driver should:

Pull over as quickly as it is safe to do so, to a safe location off the road such as the breakdown lane or rest stop.

Once stopped, TURN OFF the engine.

GET everyone out of the car. Never return to a burning car for anything. 

MOVE everyone at least 100 feet from the burning car and well away from traffic.

Is your vehicle affected by this recall?

Over 12,000 cars are included with this recall. Own a Mazda? Check for open recalls on your car using MotorSafety’s free lookup tool.

Joe GlaserMazda recalls 12,000 cars due to risk of crash and fire

Chrysler recalls 67,248 Jeep Cherokees over risk of stalling and rollaway

Pleasanton, CA – June 12, 2020 –Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE:FCAU) recalled 67,248 Jeep Cherokees over a defective part that can cause the SUV to stall or lose its park function without a warning. Sudden stalls can lead to a collision, and losing park function means that a car parked on a slope could roll away, posing a risk to surrounding people and vehicles.

The recall includes 2014-2017 Jeep Cherokees with two specific four-wheel-drive systems called Jeep Active Drive II and Active Drive Lock.

Recall summary

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) started looking into the issue back in February based on the reports that Jeep Cherokees were stalling and losing their “park” function. The culprit turned out to be the Power Transfer Unit (PTU), which is a part of a car that transfers power from the engine and transmission to the wheels.  As a result of a design flaw,  a part of the PTU that has “teeth” may wear off, which may result “in a loss of engagement” with another part of the PTU.  Because of that, Drive and Park may no longer function. The former leads to stalls, while the latter means that a parked vehicle will not stay put on a slope (unless its parking brake is engaged) posing a rollaway risk.

Newer Cherokees, which have stronger “teeth” on their PTU gears, are not part of the recall.

The risks

Anton Yelchin attends the 'Cymbeline' Photocall during the 71st Venice Film Festival on September 3, 2014 in Venice, Italy.
Actor Anton Yelchin was killed in “freak accident” on June 18th, 2016 when his Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled back and pinned him against a brick wall.

So far, there has been only one accident related to this recall.  But, stalling while driving can be dangerous and cause collisions, as faster-moving vehicles may hit the car from behind. And rollaways are extremely hazardous.  In 2016, Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin, for example, was killed when his 2015 Grand Cherokee rolled backward down his driveway and crushed him.  

The fix

The repair offered by FCA is a software update that will prevent stalls and rollaways, and it should be available by September, according to an FCA’s recall center customer service representative. The company will reimburse owners who have already paid for a repair.

Is your vehicle affected by this recall?

Over 67,000 cars are part of this Chrysler recall. Check to see if your car is one of them at MotorSafety.org, where you can search for open recalls on your vehicle.

Joe GlaserChrysler recalls 67,248 Jeep Cherokees over risk of stalling and rollaway

Another Honda Fuel Pump Recall Announced For Popular Honda and Acura Models

Laguna Hills – June 6, 2020 – In the latest in a litany of 2020 Honda recalls, the automaker has recalled thousands of vehicles over a potentially-faulty fuel pump that could cause the cars to stall. But unlike the last recall, which only affected models with a certain V6 engine, this recall affects all the following models, regardless of engine:

  • 2018-19 Acura NDX
  • 2019 Acura RDX
  • 2019 Acura RLX
  • 2019 Acura RLX Hybrid
  • 2018-19 Honda Accord
  • 2018-19 Honda Civic
  • 2019 Honda Fit
  • 2018-19 Honda HR-V
  • 2019-20 Honda Insight

Honda says 136,057 vehicles in America are affected; worldwide, over 1.4 million vehicles are hit by this recall. Honda will notify owners of the affected cars of the recall by the end of July, but owners can find out if their car is affected right now.

Fuel pump failure

A manufacturing defect could cause the fuel pump in the affected models to suddenly stop working, depriving the engine of fuel, and causing it to stall. This stall could happen at any speed, and entirely without warning.

Stalling can cause a loss of control

Like other defects that could cause a car to stall at highway speed, a faulty fuel pump poses a grave safety risk: not only is it possible you won’t be able to accelerate, you could also lose power steering, power brakes, and other systems that make your car much easier to drive than it otherwise would be. If your fuel pump fails, you will not be able to restart the car.

The safest thing to do is turn on your flashers and try to get out of the road. If traffic conditions do not permit you to do this, stay in your lane – you don’t want to block two lanes at once. Call 911 and stay in your car until help arrives, because your car isn’t going anywhere without a tow.

While Honda and Acura recall reports show no known accidents because of this defect, the possibility of a crash remains.

Honda recall history

While this is the first 2020 Honda recalls for the affected cars, other recalls have revealed other Honda safety issues. Earlier in 2020, fuel pumps in other cars were recalled, while in 2019, over 100,000 2019 Honda CR-V’s were recalled for potentially-dangerous air bags.

Get it fixed for free

Once parts become available, Honda will repair all the affected vehicles for free at any certified Honda or Acura service center. Owners of these vehicles are encouraged to proactively look up their VIN to find out if their vehicle is part of this recall.

Joe GlaserAnother Honda Fuel Pump Recall Announced For Popular Honda and Acura Models

Faulty Suspension Issue Prompts Toyota To Recall 2018-2019 RAV4 Vehicles

Laguna Hills, CA – Jun 03, 2020Toyota recalls 2018-2019 RAV4 and RAV4 Hybrid vehicles because of cracks in the lower suspension arms. The cracks could result in the separation of the suspension arm from the front wheel assembly, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle.

Hazards Created by the Faulty Suspension

If there is a crack in the suspension arm, it could eventually cause the suspension arm to break from the front wheel assembly. Depending upon the depth of the crack on the front lower arm and the vehicle’s driving patterns, the driver could potentially lose control of the vehicle when driving at high speeds.

Crashes that occur when drivers are traveling at high speeds are more serious and usually result in more severe injuries if not death. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding was a factor in 9378 traffic-related deaths in 2018.

Upon discovering the problem with the cracks developing in some of the steel slabs, Toyota decided to conduct a voluntary recall of the vehicles for safety. Toyota’s records reveal that as of May 14, 2020, there are no known reported incidents related to the faulty RAV4 suspension issue, and no warranty claims have been filed.

Number of Vehicles Affected

Because only vehicles assembled with a specific slab of steel material from a specific supplier under certain production conditions contain the defect, Toyota does not know the actual number of the defected vehicles that exist. Therefore, the 2020 Toyota recalls are based on the production records of the vehicles that could potentially be affected, which is a little more than 9,500 vehicles. The manufacture dates for the RAV4 vehicles are between September 25, 2019, and October 25, 2019. For the 2020 Toyota recalls, at least 1,000 of those RAV4 vehicles were distributed to Puerto Rico.

Toyota made a point to note that the RAV4 recalls do not apply to other Toyota or Lexus vehicles sold in the United States.

Other Toyota RAV4 Safety Issues

In 2019, the 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid sport utility vehicles were included in a recall for potentially defective brakes. More recently, owners should be reminded of the 2020 Toyota recalls relating to the fuel-tank issue.

Toyota is not the only manufacturer that seems to have problems with their suspension assemblies. Similar to the issue with the Toyota RAV4, Volkswagen recalled more that 7000 SUVs with defective suspension assemblies in 2018.

Toyota Not Yet Ready to Repair

Although a remedy is not yet available, Toyota estimates that RAV4 vehicle owners will be able to take their vehicle to any certified Toyota dealership to have the front lower suspension arms replaced as early as July 2020. To get the process started and locate a dealership near you, start by looking up your vehicle with the MotorSafety Vehicle Lookup Tool.

Joe GlaserFaulty Suspension Issue Prompts Toyota To Recall 2018-2019 RAV4 Vehicles