Engine Problems Prompt Toyota to Recall 2004 and 2005 Prius Hybrids

Toyota Motor Corp. has announced the recall of some 2004 and early-2005 Prius hybrids to fix a software problem that could cause the gasoline engine to shut off.

The Prius has a gas engine and a battery-powered electric motor that can run separately or together to save fuel. The Prius was the world’s first commercially mass-produced hybrid.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received 68 reports of Prius engines stalling. No injuries have been reported to this point. The NHTSA investigation was closed after Toyota said it would recall the vehicles voluntarily.

When the problem occurs, dashboard warning lights may come on and the gasoline engine shuts down. Toyota said the hybrid’s electric motor will continue operating in a limited capacity, enabling drivers to steer to the side of the road. The engine then can be restarted.

Owners will be notified about the recall this month. Toyota is attempting to repair the defect as quickly as possible since the Prius is enjoying a surge in popularity. For the first nine months of 2005, U.S. sales more than doubled the same period in 2004, to 81,042.

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