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Problems With Prius?

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, May 26, 2009 6:41 PM EST
Category: On The Road
Tags: Prius, Toyota, Auto Accidents, Unintended Acceleration, Auto Crashes

Prius has problems with unintended acceleration.


IMAGE SOURCE: Westword Web site/ Prius in a river

Problems With Prius

Paul Knight of the Houston Press reports on Bobette Riner, who bought a new Prius during the recent gasoline hike that had everyone thinking fuel-efficiency.

Riner even had a three-month wait before she got the energy conserving car with a “cute little body” that she loved.

Then while driving on a rainy night in Houston last fall, Riner was traveling about 60 mph when she felt the car hydroplaning out of control. The car’s speed had shot up to 84 mph quite on its own. Hitting the brakes, Riner found they were dead.

Then, just as suddenly as the car had accelerated, it shut down and Riner was now fighting a stiff steering wheel. Out of control she drifted across four lanes and down an exit ramp, coming to rest near a PetSmart parking lot.

Riner is not alone. She found that online message boards and blogs were full of owner horror stories about false acceleration that led to crashes.

The story, which has been reprinted in Miami, Broward county and Seattle, reports that over the last eight years about 1.3 million hybrids have been sold in the U.S. with Prius sales amounting to more than half. It hasn’t hurt that celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz have talked about their love for Prius.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has two Prius investigation one from 2004 and another from 2005 for the car’s cooling system.

One of the first places to publish the acceleration problem was the website, Consumer Affairs, which collects Prius complaints and stores them on a database online.

Unintended Acceleration Across the Country

Barbara Sherman, 69, of Winter Haven, Florida, bought one after Christmas 2007 for her and her husband. But on a trip to North Carolina on a steep hill along a riverbank, the wheels just stopped. The couple gave the car a running start and got out of the bottom of the hill, then in the streets of Winter Haven, Sherman hit her brakes to stop for a light, but the Prius kept going. The dealer told her the car mat had depressed the accelerator, but Sherman says the mat was nowhere near the accelerator.

Elizabeth James bought her Prius in 2005.

James, who teaches at an elementary school in Eagle, Colorado, was driving toward Denver.
When she hit the brakes near the small town of Lawson, the Prius took off. Looking down the car was going 90 mph. James gripped the wheel with both hands, drove around a car in the slow lane on the shoulder of the interstate, exited a ramp, ran a stop sign through a wooded area, and eventually landed in a river with an injured back and legs.

Her husband wanted Toyota to examine the car.

Ted James says, “You’d think Toyota would be interested in how their car functioned in that crash. Toyota’s whole reaction was really disconcerting. It was like, ‘Deny everything.’”

Richard Bacon of Tacoma, Washington experienced the Prius dying while he was driving up his driveway. When he slid back into traffic he just missed being hit broadside.

In another incident, he was merging into traffic and crossed a patch of snow when his wheels locked up throwing him and his wife toward a 30-foot drop-off down the side of the road. “Only a snow bank kept my wife and me from serious injury or death” reports Broward New Times.

Once again, Toyota blamed the floor mats.

Art Robinson has sued Toyota over his 2005 Prius.

After driving it off the lot in Tacoma, Washington, he thought the car was not handling properly, so on his way back to the dealership, the Prius took off. He hit the brake, even the emergency brake but nothing worked.

Eventually Robinson exited the freeway and drove through an intersection and into a convenience store where the Prius burst into flames.

Seattle Weekly reports Toyota has not settled a single lawsuit based on “unintended acceleration”.

Consumer Reports named the Toyota Prius Touring the best overall value among 300 cars this year.

The Prius Touring provides the best overall value because of $26,250 and the 42 mpg fuel economy gives it a low owner-cost, says the magazine. #


Anonymous User
Posted by James
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:15 PM EST

If a car - any car - is hydroplaning, it's because by definition the wheels have lost traction. They might spin, causing the speedometer to read high, but the car won't actually speed up. If it could do that, it wouldn't be hydroplaning.

Anonymous User
Posted by Radha
Friday, May 29, 2009 6:16 PM EST

My 4 month old 09 Prius did the same, unintended acceleration and dead breaks - lucky for me in a parking lot. Car crashed on to a light pole and so easily flipped onto its side. Car is now totaled - glad because I would be scared to death to drive it again. NHTSA lists 5 such incidents including mine - just for the 09 version. More with earlier year models. I opened a case with Toyota, they better have a good answer!

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