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NHTSA Defect Investigations for the 2007 Toyota Prius

The Office of Defects Investigations (ODI) is an office within the NHTSA which investigates serious safety problems in the design, construction or performance of vehicles. The NHTSA is authorized to order manufacturers to recall and repair vehicles, if the ODI finds a safety issue. NHTSA investigations for the 2007 Toyota Prius, both ongoing and closed, are listed below:


    NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE09019

    • Status:
    • Date Opened: April 17, 2009
    • Date Closed: August 27, 2009
    • Recall: No recall issued

    Component(s): Exterior Lighting
    Exterior Lighting:Headlights

    Summary: ODI opened this investigation after receiving reports that both headlights would go out, or extinguish while driving.the subject vehicles are equipped with high intensity discharge (hid) headlamps that operate on independent lamps and ECU's (electronic control units) for each headlight, meaning that each headlight runs independently of the other, and a failure in one lamp or ECU does not necessarily result in a failure of the other.during the investigation, a random sample of forty consumers was contacted by ODI in a telephone survey to verify their experiences.the consumers stated in complaints to Toyota that both headlights failed at the same time.ODI discovered through talking with these complainants that in fact one headlight would begin to flicker and then cut off.the other headlight would still be a few cases where no action was taken, some complainants stated that after a few months both headlamps would begin to fail resulting in no headlights; however none reported that both lamps failed simultaneously.complainants also stated that they could toggle the headlamp switch on and off to temporarily restore lighting when this condition occurred, even in cases were both headlamps were extinguished.the results of this survey are largely consistent with ODI's assessment of the reports and warranty data.Toyota submitted in response to ODI's information request letter that, generally speaking, only one lamp failed at a time, and that toggling the switch restored the lamp.Toyota requested a meeting with ODI and on August 6, 2009, presented their assessment of headlamp failure.Toyota confirmed that a headlamp could extinguish while driving due to a bulb failure, and that it could be temporarily restored by turning the headlight switch on and off, and that simultaneous failure of both headlamps was rare and unlikely.Toyota also briefly discussed their intention to conduct a customer service campaign to address consumer dissatisfaction with hid bulb failures.since there is still one headlight operating when the other one cuts off, there is still lighting available to get the vehicle to a repair facility.thus, a safety defect trend has not been identified at this time and further use of Agency resources does not appear to be warranted.accordingly this investigation is closed.the closing of this investigation does not constitute a finding by NHTSA that a safety-related defect does not exist.the Agency will take further action if warranted by the circumstances.

  2. INVESTIGATION: Steering intermediate shaft failure

    NHTSA Defect Investigation #DP13001

    • Status:
    • Date Opened: February 21, 2013
    • Date Closed: N/A
    • Recall: No recall yet

    Component(s): Steering

    Summary: On January 30, 2013, Mr. William Rosenbluth, of Automotive Systems Analysis, Inc. in Reston, VA, petitioned (ODI 10495921) the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to open a defect investigation concerning the upper coupler of the steering intermediate shaft on model year (MY) 2004-2009 Toyota Prius vehicles. The petition was based on an inspection of a client's (Mr. George Richwine of San Diego, CA) vehicle, 2005 Toyota Prius.Mr. Richwine had expressed this concern to NHTSA via ODI 10437229 in late 2011.The petition consists chiefly of the vehicle inspection and repair records.It includes images that illustrate wear and corrosion on the splines at the base of the steering column and indicates that these conditions indicate partial engagement to the upper intermediate shaft coupler.The petition also reports that no known service took place that would account for this condition since the time of vehicle production.

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