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Toyota Continues Massive Recall, Prius Stays Exempt

Amongst one of the largest recalls Toyota has done, the Prius remains aloof from the crowd. Here is what I think.

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Toyota has now inflated the number of fuel pump recalls on their cars to around 2,000,000. While this is a staggering number, a vehicle that remains exempt from all this noise is—the Prius.

2020 Toyota Prius AWD-e Silver

What makes Prius and the other hybrids so unique that they are not included in this recall. Here is what I think and what you should consider when looking for your next Toyota.

Why The Prius And Other Hybrids Are Not In The Recall
The list of vehicles that are on this fuel pump recall is pretty extensive. The recall covers Toyota and Lexus models, and this is the list.

  • 2015 Lexus NX 200t and RC 350
  • 2017 Lexus IS 200t and RC 200t
  • 2017-2019 Sienna and Lexus RX 350
  • 2018 Lexus GS 300
  • 2018-2019 Lexus ES 350, GS350, IS 300, IS 350, LC 500, LC 500h, LS 500, LS 500h, RC 300, RC 350, RX 350L
  • 2013-2015 Lexus LS 460
  • 2013-2014 Lexus GS 350
  • 2018-2019 Toyota Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Highlander, Sequoia, Tacoma, and Tundra
  • 2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser and Lexus IS-F
  • 2014-2015 4Runner, Land Cruiser, and Lexus GX 460, IS 350, and LX 570

If you look, you will see only a couple of hybrids on this list. The question here is, why?

I believe that the hybrid powertrain is the reason. When a Prius or other Toyota hybrid shut off, they can still drive. I think this is one of the reasons that Prius and different hybrids are not under scrutiny.

Another reason I believe that all these cars, which are now using direct injection systems, have a common fault. The low-pressure fuel pump or the pump in the tank is used across all the models shown above.

Now, I need to research this and dig up if that is 100% accurate, but I think it is, and here is why. Toyota, GM Ford, Mazda, and every other manufacturer look for ways to save money. If Toyota can have Denso build a fuel pump that will work in most of its models, it will save them loads of cash.

Using the same part in multiple applications cuts costs by knowing exactly how much money it takes to manufacture that part. If you know certain production variables, your result is better profit margins and hopefully better cars.

In the Toyota case, I believe they used the same part. I did a random sampling of the list and chose three random vehicles to compare, Avalon, Camry, and Sienna. Each of those vehicles has the same high-pressure mechanical fuel pump part number. To me, it would make sense that Toyota would do the same with the low-pressure pump.

2021 Toyota Sienna Silver Why The Fuel Pumps Are Failing
My belief in why the pumps are failing is not because Denso is a crappy company. Recalls happen for various reasons. Usually, it is due to a manufacturing error.

One of the machines that did not wind the copper wiring inside the pump properly could have been at fault. It could be that as the pumps were pressed together and the housings were damaged. Who knows. The point is these things happen, and Toyota is not the only one it happens to.

I am not defending Toyota or Denso for what is going on. The company is fully aware that this mistake is on them, hence the recall.

I believe that Prius is exempt from this recall because it uses a different fuel pump and has a different drive system than most of the other vehicles on the list.

If you plan to buy a new Toyota, a Prius or hybrid option looks like a tried and true method you should consider.

I am not saying Prius could not have an issue, but my professional observation of why I believe it is not on the list.

Until next time, stay safe out there and drive on happily. By the way, have you Winterized Your Prius Yet? be sure to check out the article.

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Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting. Read more of Peter's stories at Toyota news coverage on Torque News. Search Toyota Prius Torque News for more in depth Prius coverage from our reporters.

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Dana Teicheira (not verified)    October 31, 2020 - 12:02PM

2019 Highlander hybrid. Hybrid system failure. Dealer had to drop tank to replace fuel pickup tube, which had a vacuum leak. They replaced low pressure in tank fuel pump at the same time as preventative measure. I believe that it is the same pump.

Walt (not verified)    October 31, 2020 - 12:37PM

I hadn't checked, but I know most of the recalled vehicles have 6-cylinder engines. You don't see the Prius, Corolla, Yaris or other exclusively 4 cylinder models on the list other than the two Lexus 200 series. It is likely they have direct injection and the same high pressure pump.

Angela Klem. (not verified)    June 17, 2021 - 5:21PM

Bought a 2016 prius new,has under 23,000 miles. There is still the factory warranty on it. The darn car is stalling out. Computer has shut down the car. For a year it has been outside my house sitting. The dealership and 3rd party told me,since the inverter was replaced and it stalled right after, it is prob the back battery. However the backnstandard battery has been out of make for a year. There was no way to get a battery for me. Come tofind out it was a lie, other toyota dealerships have the battery. We are back to the stall out game theywere doing to peoplein 2014 right?