Third Generation Prius slated for firmware update

Toyota's official Prius brake system diagram

Toyota's official Prius brake system diagram

Toyota is getting ready to recall some 270,000 third generation Priuses sold in the US since their introduction in May 2009. This US recall is expected to be announced on Tuesday, Feb. 09 2010 and is expected to be just a firmware update for the car’s computer. The firmware update is designed to address the braking system issue that was reported by some 100 drivers in the US. The ABS system appears to fail momentarily when driving on an uneven surface and it looks like Toyota is making changes in their software to make sure the time required for calculation of the pressure difference between left and right wheels’ brakes is less than a human can sense. I guess Toyota is working through the software clutter to make sure the braking subroutines get higher priority (though they should be the highest already) and/or execute quicker.

A bit of a good news is: if you bought a 3rd gen Prius within the last month, you should be fine because your car has come from the factory with the firmware update already applied. Which actually begs a question: braking system is no small matter in a car (especially during a winter like this), so why recall now if the solution had existed for at least one month, according to Toyota?

So, if you are one of the 270,000 lucky owners of a 2010 Toyota Prius, look forward to a call from your dealer on Tuesday. There is no easy way to update the firmware in the car that’s parked at home so a trip to the dealership is going to be needed. On the other hand: even if there was a slot for a memory card with firmware update or, say, an Internet download, I am not sure I would want to mess with this particular update. DVD navigation system or A/C menu update – absolutely! Braking system? I’d let the mechanic handle that.

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