Hybrid News and Notes

All the hybrid news you can handle. Maybe more.

Prius Airbags Can Deploy At Any Time

2016 has not been a favorable year for airbags. Some deploy with too much force. Some don’t deploy during crashes. And then some, like those in the 2016 Prius, can deploy at any random time — even if the car is parked, turned off, and unoccupied.

The front passenger airbags contain compressed gas that is stored in the inflators. Toyota didn’t go into many details, but a component inside the airbag might not have been welded correctly during assembly. The stored gas can escape from the inflator and cause the frontal passenger airbag to deploy without warning.

Toyota expects to start sending notices in November 2016.

Murano Hybrid Fire Risk

Nissan is recalling 120,000 vehicles, including the Murano Hybrid, because brake fluid can leak onto circuit boards, short them out, and start a fire. I know what you’re thinking — wait, there’s a Murano Hybrid?

The vehicles have anti-lock brake actuator pumps that can leak brake fluid onto internal circuit boards, causing electrical shorts in the systems. The problem is caused by anti-lock brake actuators that were manufactured out of specification.

Nissan says if you notice the ABS warning light on for more than 10 seconds when you first start the vehicle, don’t drive. Walk away. Walk far away.

C-Max Door Latches Recalled

Ford just can’t seem to shut the door on a latch issue that prevents doors from closing. They recently expanded a recall by 2.3 million vehicles, including the C-Max:

Ford says the pawl spring tab can break inside the side door latch, causing failure of the door to close properly. Although the problem will typically prevent the door from latching in the first place, the automaker says a door that is able to close could unintentionally open while the vehicle is moving.

There’s an appalling pawl shortage (which is much more fun to say than it is to experience). This means owners should receive a first notice about the recall, then a second notice when the parts are available.

7 Hybrids to Avoid

Not all hybrids are created equal and these seven hybrids wanted to make sure you were really aware of that.

This is a list of seven hybrids to avoid buying if you were in the market for a used car. They aren’t necessarily hybrids from the 2016 model year (although they can be), but just the cars that were the biggest pains to own this year. Why seven? Because 7-8-9, and we think that’s pretty bad-ass.

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What's Wrong with the 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid?

When Toyota announced the Camry Hybrid for the 2007 model year, there was understandable excitement. Toyota had a strong track record of hybrid success with the Prius, and the Camry has always been a popular everyday car, so it seemed like a natural match.

But here’s a simple rule when it comes to first generation products — just don’t buy them. Let someone else be the guinea pig.

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A Prius Plug-in Mileage Lawsuit

A new lawsuit has a suggestion for Toyota. Maybe it’s time to start calling their plug-in hybrid the Prius Plug-in-every-few-miles.

From CarComplaints.com:

A Toyota Prius Plug-In mileage lawsuit has been filed concerning a 2012 Prius Plug-In that allegedly gets only 8 miles on a single battery charge. Plaintiff Richard Rosenbaum says he purchased the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In to save gas when driving 12 miles for work, then discovered the car wouldn’t travel that far on a single battery charge.

We all know EPA estimates and MPG numbers posted by manufacturers are best case scenarios, often conducted in labs. But a 40% reduction (8 miles vs advertised 13) is a tough pill to swallow. Especially when one of the primary reasons for buying the car was to get to your job, 12 miles away, on one electric charge.

Another interesting note:

Rosenbaum says the gas engine must be used at temps below 55 degrees because of using the heater, with the gasoline engine allegedly needed to provide hot water for the car’s heater.

That’s something they probably don’t mention in the brochure. We’ll see how this one plays out.

M35 Hybrids Can Suddenly Shut Down

A defect in the hybrid cooling system can cause the engine in the 2012-2013 Infiniti M35 to suddenly shut down:

Nissan confirmed that certain conditions can cause a malfunction in the hybrid cooling system and lead to the engine shutting down. A driver will receive a warning light but if the warning is ignored, the powertrain control module is designed to shut off the engine to prevent engine damage.

The affected hybrids were built between March 23, 2010 and to September 9, 2013. The recall is expected to begin in early September 2016.

XC90 T8 Mileage Claims Are Wrong According to Lawsuit

When it comes to hybrids, you usually pay a premium up front that you hope to recoup with gas savings over time. So imagine Xavier Laurens’ dismay when he paid $20,000 more to get his XC90 hybrid, only to find out Volvo streeeeeetched the truth about just how far you could go on battery power alone.

Plaintiff Xavier Laurens says he was duped into buying the $72,000 model year 2016 XC90 T8 hybrid SUV based on the advertised claim a single battery charge would get 25 miles without using gasoline. [Laurens says the SUV really gets no more than 10 miles on a full charge][1], not enough to help him save money on his drive to and from work.

Here’s the real kicker:

Volvo technicians tested the SUV and was able to get up to 18 miles from a single charge, but Laurens says that was accomplished only because of highway driving below 40 mph with many features turned off.

Most people know you’ll never achieve the MPG lab-based results of the EPA or manufacturer, but 40 mph on the highway? Good luck surviving in most major cities at that speed.

Curtain Shield Airbag Recall for Prius

The curtain shield airbags in your car have two chambers that are welded together. That weld keeps those chambers hugging and happy. The only problem is, someone did a really bad job welding 1.4 million Toyota vehicles worldwide.

The bad welds are cracking and letting those chambers loosen their embrace in the Prius, Prius Plug-in, and Lexus CT 200h. If they pull too far apart and you get in an accident:

  1. You’ll get a limp airbag. No-one likes a limp airbag.
  2. There’s a chance that parts of the inflator can enter the cabin and injure somebody. No-one likes shrapnel.

Scenario two sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it? No wonder Toyota has issued a recall (they just don’t know when it will begin). Of the 1.4 million vehicles, about 482,000 are located in the USA.

Nissan Murano Hybrid? Yep, it Exists.

Did you know there’s a Nissan Murano Hybrid? No? Don’t worry, you’re certainly not alone as GreenCarReports.com explains:

What if a car is launched, ever so quietly, and no one notices at first? Does it exist? Such existential questions are posed by the recent discovery that Nissan is now selling a hybrid version of its Murano crossover utility vehicle, as of the current 2016 model year.

Maybe there wasn’t much hoopla because the hybrid system used in the Murano is a “mild hybrid” which has a yawn-inducing electric motor that typically isn’t powerful enough to propel the vehicle itself.