Thursday, November 15, 2012

How's Your Carbon Footprint Now?

Brad_in_MA sends this one in. Interesting, to say the least.

Toyota Recalling 670,000 Prius Hybrids in U.S.
Toyota is recalling 670,000 of its 2004-9 Prius hybrids in the United States to fix problems involving the loss of steering and the hybrid powertrain shutting down, the automaker has told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The move is part of a worldwide recall of 2.77 million vehicles, according to The Associated Press, which quoted Toyota officials in Japan. Only the Prius is affected in the United States. Outside the United States the recall covers the Corolla and the Wish, a small van.

Um... Loss of steering tends to be a bit of a deal breaker. I wonder how many accidents this may have caused? Now, I tend to take these stories with a rather large grain of salt. The media's been trying to help the Feds tear down Toyota ever since the big buyout back in 2010 - we've seen several reports of recalls and such, and yet Toyota continues to enjoy class-topping sales. If their cars really were this bad, you'd think at some point the fervor with which Americans buy Toyota vehicles would have abated somewhat...

It is rather interesting, though, that the recall affects the hybrid powertrain. Now, it's pretty shoddy reporting (I know, I know, that's a stretch), because they don't explain exactly what is having problems - to me, "powertrain" is engine, drivetrain and transmission, so "hybrid powertrain" means, well, everything under the damn hood and the car. I assume they mean the electric motor and transmission; however if that's the case, it means the Prius is just driving on the small gasoline motor. It's not earth-shattering, it just means it's not going to get the crazy gas mileage.

The loss of steering, that seems like it might be a big deal - however, given the media's shark-like attention for anything even vaguely involving bad news about Toyota, I think if there had been a rash of Prius crashes due to steering failures we'd have heard about it by now. Given the somewhat limited cause - frequent full turns to the left and right at low speed? Seriously? - it's more probable that this was a theoretical failure rather than a real life one. And for the hybrid system, it's not something that affected safety, just performance.

Still, the schadenfreude is palpable, especially considering that for many of the cars affected, they were gas-only as a result...

That is all.


JD Rush said...

No hybrid=no go on a Prius. And no stop- the hybrid regen system is the primary brakes. The real brakes are only designed to work if you really need them.

Mopar said...

If I remember right, the Prius is also drive by wire with electic power steering. The steering wheel has no mechanical connection to the actual steering system. It's more like the steering on a radio controlled car then most other cars. Computer or electrical system fails, the steering fails.

Anonymous said...

This is the same car that had a recall about 3 years ago because of the accelerator.

A a fairly bare bones car it is only asked to Go, Stop and Turn... I wonder when the brake recall will occur.

Mr.B said...

Nope, there is no "steer by wire" system. You are connected to the wheels. Te ASSIST is electric.

Brakes are standard hydraulic once the battery is full, so no effect on braking without the regen.

And the "accelerator problems" turned out to be so much hot air.

But don't let the facts stop yr hate

Eck! said...

Actual problems were a connecting shaft that had weak splines that were wearing leading to a feel it was not steering eve though it was. It was a material QA issue.

The other was if the cooling fan fails the systems shuts down to protect itself and your out of power. Last I remember My '64 Ford Fairlane would do that when the harmonic damper (fancy rubber damped pully) would part with the engine and there would be no cooling, power steering or generator leading to a boil over.

We for get if a car these days is 99.9999% perfect there are still many imperfect parts!

just sayin.


Anonymous said...

I seem to recall that a disproportionate number of the claims of problems with Toyota vehicles came from diabetic octogenarians with circulation problems and nerve damage in their feet--who had such difficulty operating the pedals that they shouldn't have been driving at all.

But the fact that we treat a driver's license as a holy civil right in this country, and not a privilege the state extends to those who can prove they can operate a vehicle safely without being a menace to everyone else on the road (why does ANYONE with a DUI conviction get his license back, EVER? why aren't they banned from attempting to operate a motor vehicle ever again, for the rest of their lives, with a mandatory ten-year felony sentence in a supermax facility for violators, since they've demonstrated they're incapable of doing so? and why does it take so long for the state to take away Grandma's license after she causes multiple accidents? someone explain this to me. yes, I know, waah, they can't work without a license, well, a pilot can't work without a pilot's license, is that a civil right too?) is a separate matter.