Toyota  /  AP file
Toyota is warning of a potential glitch that could cause warning lights in popular Prius hybrids to illuminate, which can prompt the vehicles to enter a "fail safe" mode that may cause their gasoline engines to stall.
updated 10/13/2005 6:48:51 PM ET 2005-10-13T22:48:51

Toyota Motor Corp. said Thursday it is recalling 75,000 Prius gas-electric hybrid cars because their engines can stall due to an electrical problem.

Involved in the recall are some 2004 and early 2005 model year Prius cars. The cars have a gas engine as well as a battery-powered electric motor that can run separately or together to save fuel.

In affected vehicles, dashboard warning lights may come on and the gasoline engine shuts down. The vehicle’s electric motor will continue operating in a limited capacity, so drivers can steer to the side of the road. The gasoline engine may start working again if the driver restarts the vehicle.

Toyota spokesman Xavier Dominicis said the automaker began investigating the problem after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received 68 reports of Prius engines stalling. No one has been injured by the defect, and it hasn’t caused any reported accidents, Dominicis said.

NHTSA closed its investigation after Toyota said it would voluntarily recall the vehicles. Owners will be notified starting this month.

Toyota dealers will repair affected vehicles for free. The vehicles may need to have their software reprogrammed. Dealers may also apply a waterproof grease that will prevent water from getting into the electrical system.

Dominicis stressed that the defect isn’t related to the Prius’s gas-electric hybrid system and could happen in any vehicle.

The Prius was the world’s first commercially mass-produced hybrid car and it remains the most popular. U.S. sales of the Prius more than doubled in the first nine months of this year to 81,042, according to Autodata Corp.

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