There have already been some updates to address problems, and perhaps another one is coming as Toyota gains an understanding of the rare but dangerous shutdowns problem. Look up ECU and Flash in a search of this and other sites and you'll see there have been several.
You said: "and if it saves even more gas, why not?!"
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I think we need to be cautious in assuming that every software update will lead to improved gas mileage. Some MAY actually decrease mpg. I'd like to see this type of information detailed somewhere, and maybe it is.
If there is a software update out there that will improve the vehicle significantly, I'm sure that Toyota will release it and then encourage us to come get it, probably through a service campaign. However, the utility of being able to flash the car with new or updated programming is there for the instances of the shutdown some have experienced or another programming related problem which can be easily corrected in the lab and on the computer and then just downloaded to individual vehicles. I'm not inclined to believe that Toyota thinks they can improve much on the programming logic as it currently stands.
Personally, I'd love to see software updated regularly, provided there's room for improvements/features in the code. For the majority of drivers though, and especially the press, I'd think that bringing the car in to the dealer for software updates would be perceived as fixing flawed code, and would probably generate negative vibes to an average consumer. More versions of software floating in the wild also makes troubleshooting more difficult as additional variables are introduced and the higher likelihood of bugged code slipping into new releases.
From a business perspective, today's car manufacturers now have a brand new angle to drive trade-ins to the newest car model, and that's software features. I could draw a comparison to 35mm cameras, which 10 years ago, once you bought one, it was pretty much a long term investment. Now with the age of digital cameras, we are on the upgrade merry-go-round with megapixel and software improvements driving camera upgrades every few years. In the same fashion, Toyota would not have an incentive to update software features on older cars (hardware permitting), when it could play that card to drive sales of the new model.
That said, as we move forward I think we'll start seeing more two-way data links (through XM for instance) for live traffic conditions, weather, and maintenance alerts; in fact I believe the Acura RL is already doing some of this. Once that door opens, I would believe it technically feasible to wirelessly transfer a new firmware image to the car while driving, with the ability to flash the system with the downloaded image at the next power cycle. Of course, security becomes a MAJOR consideration in that scenario as, to date, the communication systems (phone/audio) have been completely isolated from vehicle control systems. I think liability would play the largest role in this ever seeing the light of day. Hope it does though, but I'm a geek.
I called the main Toyota hotline recently to inquire if there were any outstanding TSB's on my 04 Prius. There were none.
I asked about the sudden engine shutdown problem that has made the news and is obviously of concern to Prius owners. I was told that the problem was being "researched by the NHTSA and Toyota" I got the impression I had pushed a sensitive button. In any case, it's my impression that no fix has been developed. Does anyone have better information..?
Re on-the-fly software updates. I'm not so sure I want some guy in India (or..?) "tuning my car" while I'm on the freeway in So CA. (or anywhere)
At 75, I really miss the days when a screwdriver, needlenose pliers and a 9/16 combo wrench would fix almost anything. (Oh yes..and a small hammer) ...........But I love my Prius..
TSBs can't be searched for by VIN. Campaigns can.
Thanks Dan.. I learn something every week from this site.
Should they know about TSB's in general for a particular model car..?
Also..I didn't mean to infer that I would not have my car workied if something goes wrong or some MAJOR glitch comes to my attention. But I'm a life-time member of the "if It Ain't broke.....etc" club..
For example: Periodic "tuneups" on an modern engine that's running well is a big waste of time and money. IMHO.
When they come up with a fix for that sudden engine failure syndrome..I'll be first in line. ~JD~
Well, they do have a fix, but it is a TSB. Some dealers will do the reprogram proactively, but some won't. After the new program comes out, the cars produced after that point have the new program.
I would agree, it would be nice for techs to know about all the TSBs, but do you know how many there are? There's about 30 for the 04/05 Prius alone. Some are not 'fixes' persay, but merely a head's up, some a pre-delivery list.
But that's just for the newer Prius. Then you have all the other models they have to know, including prior years. That's a lot of TSBs!