Toyota has announced that it will recall more than 82,000 hybrid SUVs in the United States this summer, due to faulty soldering in the vehicles’ Intelligent Power Module, which is located within the Hybrid System Inverter. The vehicles included are model years 2006 and 2007 Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX 400h hybrids.
The voluntary recall was prompted by a National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration investigation launched in February, after 32 drivers complained about their vehicles stalling unexpectedly.
Toyota says that the problem can occur when the IPM overheats, causing various warning lights to go off and the vehicle to enter fail-safe driving mode—which allows it to continue traveling at lowered speeds for a limited distance.
In the worst case scenario, the power supply circuit fuse could blow due to a damaged transistor, causing the vehicle to lose power and roll to a stop. Toyota says it is unaware of any accidents that may have been caused by the malfunction.
In July, Toyota will notify its relevant North American customers through the mail. The carmaker says it is currently working to round up the parts necessary to complete the recall, which will cover more than 110,000 vehicles worldwide. Transistors are one of the key auto components affected by the Japanese earthquake in March, though it’s unknown how that might factor into the recall.
Last year, Toyota faced fallout from a deadly flaw that caused acceleration pedals on many of its models to become wedged in the driver’s floor mat. Since 2009, the carmaker as recalled more than 14 million vehicles worldwide, mostly due to the floor mat issue.
Toyota’s reputation for safety has taken a major hit, but after a lengthy investigation in the United States, a separate but heavily-covered “unintended acceleration” phenomenon that some drivers reported in the Prius—falsely attributed to the car’s sophisticated electronic control system—was concluded to not exist.
The potential danger from this latest recall seems to be limited, and shouldn’t be seen as any more hazardous than dozens of others announced by major automakers each year. Nevertheless 2006-2007 Highlander Hybrid and RX 400h should watch their mailboxes in the coming weeks for further details and instructions on how to arrange for a repair.