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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

I just had a terrifying experience with my Prius '04. (Up to this point, I've loved my Prius.) I was driving across the Bay Bridge in San Francisco. Some of the warning lights came on, but before I could do anything, the accelerator stopped working. I slowly rolled to a stop. I was in the middle of heavy traffic on the bridge and there was no where to pull over. I tried to restart the car - but the car wouldn't turn off! So, there I was, unable to move forward, but unable to shut it off. I called 911 and the CalTrans had to come push me off of the bridge. The guy had never worked with a Prius before... so he was totally confused as to what to do. I'm still shaken from this whole thing.

I called Toyota and they are on their way over to pick it up for evaluation. Has anyone else had a similar experience? Any ideas on what happened?

Laura
 

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Do you remember what the warning lights were? (aside from the big triangle of death)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yes, the "red triangle of death" was there... as well as the "VSC" light, the check oil light, and one other. It was pretty much all of the lights. The battery showed as being drained as well - but I couldn't turn off the car.
 

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That doesn't sound good. I'm glad that you are ok and did not get hit from a passing car.

About your Prius. Do you recall if there was enough fuel in the tank? Do you also have a smart entry system for your Prius? If so did you manually switch it off then try to power off and restart the car?

Please keep us inform the cause and solution of the problem.

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hello,

Yes, the tank was almost full. I did have smart entry on, so I put the key in and tried to turn it off that way. But, it wouldn't turn off and the key got stuck. Later, after I got off the bridge, I tried to drive it onto the tow truck bed and discovered that the power steering was broken.

I'll let you know what I find out tomorrow!

Laura
 

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I take it you meant you tried to "steer" it onto the tow truck and the electric steering wouldn't work. As an added, If Toyota service didn't have it in the number one bay and find out what had happened within thirty minutes I'de start making phone calls everywhere. First to Toyota and after advising them with no satisfaction my next call would be to the gov't and media.
This sounds like the worst situation of stopage I could imagine and what you will probably hear from Toyota is the car started right up and they couldn't replicate the problem. So with second thoughts, I would be at the dealers when they opened and watch the process they go through personnally.
Then if there is no immediate answer to what happened, I would plan on getting rid of the car.
 

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Just for future reference, if you need to do an "emergency shut down", push the "park" button, then push and hold the power button for 5-10 seconds and the car should shut down.
 

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ktphill, did you see any mention at all of GM. This isn't a car problem, this is a hybrid problem that we may have heard about before but not in such startling circumstances. If this had happened to me in those circumstances and I had used efuscos method of shutting down unsucessfully as I was waiting for the 911 emergency service and I was not satisfied with any answers I was getting from Toyota, I sure as heck would be thinking Camry.
Get off that track you seem to have adopted!!
Shutting down on a road is considerably different than a lane on the Bay Bridge and if you aren't surprised that anyone would think that after Toyota has had the car for several hours and their report is "can not duplicate", car starts OK, then x*%l#
Hopefully, we will be getting a satisfactory report.
In the meantime, don't leave home without the cell-phone.
I'm not talking "recall" I would hope that if this shutdown can not be explained we all won't be losing the use of our cars!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hello,

Toyota's tow truck still has not dropped the car off at the dealership. I'm disappointed with their reaction - I can't find anyone willing to help really. I really hope they find something, because I won't want to drive the car if they don't.

BTW, I did push the power button down while the car was in park for 10 seconds - but nothing I did would turn the thing off!!!! It was very strange.

Laura
 

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Wow Hyp, I'll bet you love sitcoms. All problems solved in 30 minutes or less.
 

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I have seen the car stick on Ig-On when trying to put it into READY. It wouldn't get out of the apparent hang unless I pushed the power button WITHOUT the brake.
So, were you pressig the brake when you tried to power off?

When in Ig-On mode (amber LED on power button), there is no power steering, even though it would be possible to do. Maybe Toyota thought it would be too much of a load on the aux battery, or they REALLY wanted it to act like a normal car.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Hello,

Yes, I was definitely pressing the brake when I tried to turn the car off. That's an interesting suggestion about not pressing the brake. Hopefully, there won't be a next time, but if there is... I will try that.

I called Toyota 4 times today and finally they were somewhat able to give a status report. They said that the car is turning on and off fine, but that the check engine light is on. I reiterated that I will not drive the car again until they find something wrong and fix it. I do NOT want to be stuck in that mess again.

This whole thing has been rather disappointing for me. I have adored my Prius since the day I got her. Then, to break down on the Bay Bridge after only having her for a year... and to get such poor treatment from Toyota after the fact is really disheartening. Now, I think I'm even a bit nervous to get in the car.

Thanks for everyone's comments,

Laura
 

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Your prius is an 04, and from the sound of it, a rather early 04. I bet you need the TSB recommended programming flash done to the computer system. Have your dealer review the TSBs for the Prius and I'm sure he will find one that directly relates to your issue of spontanious shutdown. Have the TSB applied and I'm sure you will have smooth sailing from here on out.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Ok, the verdict is in. The dealer said that my software control unit had a bug. They had to update the software - and now it's fixed. I asked if it was the same issue that they had been considering a recall for and the guy said yes.

Is that the same thing as the TSB programming flash?

Thanks for everyone's assistance!

Laura
 

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Matt, when the car was brought in with this story I believe if it was a TSB the dealer should have found it in thirty minutes. The service on a Prius is predicated on computer inputs by almost 90%. The problem should have showed immediately and the repair time predicated on what componant indicated had to be changed. This could have been really something with multi rear end collisions.
And if you don't think you won't be reading about this incident I don't know the S.F. Chronicle.
 

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Laura, could you tell us if your car has been brought into a Toyota dealer for regular service in the past year. 5,000 mile check-up or oil changes when the reprograming should have been routinely checked or performed. I've heard the directives are ignored until your car has trouble and I sure wouldn't want mine to fail in one of the tunnels in "the big dig."
 

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Sorry Hyperion, but the 40D is routinely done since it is a campaign, but the TSBs are not, unless you have a problem. Some dealers will proactively do a TSB anyway, but most won't.

So, I bet the car could have been restarted if it was powered off first without pressing the brake. Might have had to restart a couple of times.
But then, you usually have EV power for a bit after the MIL comes up, and you didn't seem to have any EV power. Hmm.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Hello,

I brought the car in on Feb 20th because all of the check engine lights had come on while I was driving. Of course, when the service guy took a test drive to review the problem, the check engine lights were no longer on. I asked him twice to go ahead and check the engine, but both times he refused because the problem couldn't be replicated. I also brought the car in on July 13th for some regular maintence, but I did not hear anything about this TSB.

Incidentally, the exact same service lights that came on in the Feb incident came on right before my car shut down on the Bay Bridge. I tried to shut off the car for the 10-15 minutes that I was stuck on the bridge, but nothing seemed to work.

I called the "Toyota Customer Experience Center" this morning. It was the best experience that I have had with Toyota yet. They took down a full report of the incident and also asked me to report it to the NHSTA for the ongoing investigation of this issue. They will be assigning me a case manager today as well.

Thanks,

Laura
 

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Really pleased to hear that you are following this through. Would appreciate it if you would post any further info as it occurs. This is what I was afraid of. If it ain't broke in their shop they are not going to look for anything. Not through any malice, just lack of knowledge in their service depts.
Whether we believe it or not, the Prius owner is the test driver for the hybrid movement.
Thanks for your post Laura.
 
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