Toyota Motor Corp. recently announced it is recalling over 1 million of its flagship Prius and C-HR vehicles because of a risk of engine fire. Find out if your vehicle was affected, and what to do if it was.
Prius and C-HR Recalls Span the Globe
The Toyota Motor Corporation recently made news when it reported it would be recalling 1.03 million vehicles worldwide because of the chance their engines could catch fire. The recall affects Prius models, including the plug-in and hybrid versions built between 2015-2018. It also applies to the new C-HR, which debuted in December 2016.
Of the vehicles affected, 554,000 will be called back in Japan, where the company sells both traditional and hybrid models of the C-HR. Here in the United States, 192,000 Prius models. The company does not sell hybrid C-HRs in the U.S. market.
Risk of Engine Fire Caused by Faulty Wiring
In a statement issued September 5, 2018, Toyota explained that the risk of engine fire is the result of a faulty wire harness assembly, which is connected to the hybrid vehicle Power Control Unit. Part of that harness can rub against the cover at the point of connection, causing it to wear down over time. With continued use, the wire core can be exposed, causing a risk of electrical short, increased heat, and eventually a risk of engine fire.
There has been at least one reported incident of fire started by this vehicle defect. In Japan in September 2017, a Toyota vehicle caught fire, causing smoke damage. Luckily, no one was injured in the event.
Toyota’s History of Recalls Leaves a Mark on Consumer Confidence
Prius owners are no strangers to recalls, unfortunately. Toyota was among the many auto manufacturers affected by the Takata airbag recalls in 2016. That year, 2.87 million Toyota vehicles, including the Prius were also recalled for leaky fuel tanks. Prius owners also still remember the unintended-acceleration issue in 2009, which resulted in several accidents and made many users worried about what more could go wrong. Ivan Drury, senior analyst at Edmunds.com, told the Los Angeles Times:
“This event left a scar. It still plays a role in consumers’ minds.”
Drury also played off those concerns, calling recalls common when auto makers are “pushing the boundaries of technology.” However, the number and the size of recalls has become a growing problem. At least one industry consultant blames reduction in quality control staffing, not technological advancement, for the increased number of recalls in recent years.
What to Do if Your Vehicle was Recalled
Toyota has said it will be mailing recall notices to all known owners of affected vehicles starting in late October. But you don’t have to wait to find out if your vehicle was affected. You can visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) Safety Issues & Recalls website to find out all the issues that apply to your vehicle. Just enter your 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which is on your Michigan registration, and is also usually displayed on the vehicle dashboard or on the inside of the driver’s door.
If your Prius or C-HR contains the faulty engine wire harness, Toyota has promised that its dealers will check the assembly. If a wire core is exposed – from too much contact with the cover – Toyota will replace the assembly with a new one that includes a protective sleeve. For vehicles without an exposed wire core, technicians will install a protective tape to prevent further wear.
It is important to respond to any recall for a defective vehicle. But when the danger is a risk of engine fire, the stakes are especially high. If you receive a recall notice for your Prius or C-HR, make sure to have your vehicle inspected right away to avoid the danger to yourself and your passengers.
Dani K. Liblang is a lemon law lawyer at The Liblang Law Firm, PC, in Birmingham, Michigan. She helps the victims of defective vehicles recover damages from auto manufacturers for their injuries. If you have been hurt because of a problem with your vehicle, contact The Liblang Law Firm today for a free consultation.