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Lawsuit Alleges Toyota Failed to Fix Safety Defect That Could Cause Vehicles to Overheat and Lose Power

Toyota's New Technology Attempts to Prevent Unintended Acceleration

One of California’s largest dealers is saying that Toyota Prius vehicles that were part of a 2016 recall to fix a key electronic component haven’t been repaired because they are still overheating and losing power causing drivers to be stranded in traffic. According to a news report in the Los Angeles Times, Toyota said the problem in the model years 2010-2014 had been taken care of with a software change.

Lawsuit Over Unresolved Defect

But Roger Hogan, whose family owns Claremont Toyota and Capistrano Toyota, says he has seen more than 100 post-recall failures. He has warned customers about the issue and has refused to resell used Prius vehicles he’d gotten as trade-ins. Today, he says, 70 of these cars, collectively worth about $1 million, remain parked at his dealerships. Last year, Hogan filed a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court stating that the Prius hybrid system has an unresolved safety defect that could leave cars without power.

Hogan also filed a complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) investigators telling the agency in a Dec. 14 letter that lives are being put needlessly at risk because of these unresolved safety defects. Toyota has rejected Hogan’s allegations saying that his complaint is without merit. Hogan filed his lawsuit alleging breach of contract and fraud. Toyota sought to have the case thrown out, but a judge ruled in December that it could go forward. Trial has been set for January 2019.

Software Didn’t Fix the Problem

Toyota’s solution to the problem was to make changes to the vehicles’ software. The automaker has not said precisely how the software reduces overheating. Hogan’s suit alleges that the software fix was a cheap way out that did not remedy the safety defect. Martha Anderson, a schoolteacher in South Orange County told the Times that she was driving home from a shopping center when her 2012 Prius, which had the software fix, lost power at a busy intersection in Laguna Niguel.

She was able to pull over into a parking space on a side street. Anderson said she was shaken up by it and was grateful she wasn’t on the freeway when the car lost power. Anderson brought the car into Hogan’s dealership where mechanics found that the inverter had overheated so badly that two holes were blown through the aluminum case and steel bolts had melted. Hogan refuses to sell cars such as Anderson’s because it poses a danger to consumers.

Our Orange County auto defect lawyers commend Hogan for standing up to Toyota. As attorneys who represent those who are injured by auto defects, we firmly believe that Toyota to step up to the plate and provide a proper fix for these recalled vehicles. Expecting consumers to drive away in vehicles that could put them in harm’s way is unacceptable.


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California Personal Injury Blog