Common Hybrid Defects
Hybrid vehicles continue to gain in popularity in the U.S. due to their fuel efficiency and benefits to the environment. Generally, hybrids rely on a combination of an internal combustion engine and a battery electric drive system. The electric motor powers the car at low speeds, drawing on the battery for power, in addition to supplementing the internal combustion engine when extra acceleration is required. Although these vehicles increase fuel economy and reduce emissions, hybrids have also experienced numerous defects since they were first introduced to the market.
At Timothy Abeel & Associates, we routinely represent owners of hybrid vehicles in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. If your hybrid has a defect that the dealer cannot or refuses to repair, you may be entitled to significant compensation.
Common Hybrid Vehicle Defects
Hybrids rely on complicated electronic systems that contain more wiring than standard combustion engine automobiles. The electronic control modules switch between battery power and the internal combustion engine, and the reliability of these modules varies from model to model. Currently, breakdowns are being caused by faulty battery control modules, defective wiring, diodes and propulsion systems, as well as powertrain failures. At the same time, hybrids can also experience defects to airbags, drive shafts, braking systems and other parts that historically affect standard automobiles. Nonetheless, with more and more hybrid vehicles being sold in the U.S., these problems are likely to continue, leading to additional recalls.
Most recently, Fiat Chrysler announced a recall of about 1,700 Model Year 2017 Pacifica Hybrid minivans due to a faulty diode within the power inverter module. The module could stop functioning, triggering a powertrain shutdown, This could increase the risk of a crash and the potential of injuries. Although no accidents or injuries were reported, Chrysler temporarily halted production on all Pacificas and instructed dealers to replace the faulty part in vehicles that were already sold.
Toyota Hybrid Recalls
In 1977, Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest automaker, began manufacturing the Prius Hybrid sedan in Japan and introduced the vehicle worldwide in 2000. Today, the Prius is one of Toyota’s best-selling models, and the automaker is the standard bearer of fuel-saving hybrid technology. Toyota has also released other hybrid models, including the popular Camry.
Through the years, however, Toyota has announced numerous recalls of its hybrid models due to a wide range of problems related to the drive shafts, braking systems, and powertrain modules. In fact, the number of recalls in its line of hybrids due to a single defect has increased because the automaker uses standard parts in multiple models in order to reduce its costs.
- In July 2017, Toyota Motor North America, Inc. announced a safety recall involving certain Model Year 2016 Avalon and Camry Hybrids due to a potentially misassembled front drive shaft. The defect could cause vehicle vibration and components in the drive shaft assembly to separate, leading to a loss of propulsion while driving, which at higher speeds could increase the risk of a crash. The defect could also cause the transmission not to hold when shifted to park, leading to a possible rollaway accident.
- In 2016, Toyota recalled 340,000 Prius cars worldwide, 94,000 of which were sold in North America, due to a parking brake defect. The automaker said the brake cable could disengage unexpectedly with the transmission in a gear other than ‘Park’ while the ignition is on, which could lead to a rollaway accident.
- In 2015, Toyota Motor Corp. recalled about 625,000 hybrid cars worldwide to fix a software glitch that could potentially shut down the powertrain system while the car is being driven. The affected models included Prius minivans, 120,000 of which were sold in North America. Toyota agreed to make the needed fix, noting that no accidents or injuries had been reported. This was not the first software glitch affecting Toyota hybrid vehicles, however.
- In 2014, Toyota recalled about 713,000 third-generation Prius cars sold in North America. A programming glitch in the software used to control the boost converter could cause the vehicles to lose driving power or cause the powertrain system to shut down while it was being driven.
Other Hybrid Recalls
Although Toyota is known as an industry leader in the hybrid vehicle space, numerous automakers have followed in Toyota’s footsteps, only to experience similar problems with powertrain shutdowns and other defects.
- In 2016, Hyundai Motor America recalled certain model year 2015-2016 Sonata Hybrid vehicles equipped with panoramic sunroofs. Due to a bonding issue, the panel could detach while driving, endangering other motorists. Hyundai instructed dealers to repair the problem.
- In 2014, Ford Motor Company recalled certain model year 2005-2008 Ford Escape and 2006-2008 Mercury Mariner hybrid electric vehicles due to faulty coolant pumps that could lead to overheating in the electronics systems. The overheating could shut down the powertrain, causing the vehicle to stall, increasing the risk of a crash. Ford instructed dealers to inspect and replace the original Motor Electronics Coolant (MEC) Pump with an improved brushless pump.
Hybrid Vehicle Defects Attorney
Although drivers are attracted by the fuel efficiency and environmental sustainability offered by hybrids, these vehicles are still powered by gasoline and rely on complicated electronic components to function properly. As such, hybrid vehicles are susceptible to all types of defects and may be the subject of recalls.
If you are experiencing a problem with a hybrid or your vehicle has not been repaired after a recall, the experienced legal team at Timothy Abeel & Associates can help you obtain significant compensation. Call our office today for a free consultation or complete the contact form on our website.