’04-’07 Priuses Need New Water Pump

Toyota has discovered a problem with the Prius that needs fixing — a water pump fault that could lead to overheating — and it wants to fix it. But whatever you do, don’t call this a recall.

The effort to repair 378,000 Prius vehicles in the United States from model years 2004-2007 “is not a recall as Toyota has determined it is not a safety issue and the company has not received any reports of accidents or injuries related to this condition,” the company said in a press release. Earlier this year, you might recall, Toyoto recalled around 400,000 hybrids — including 133,000 2010 Priuses — to address a braking problem.

Toyota Prius

image via Toyota

Toyota said it would notify vehicles owners by regular mail “beginning in early December 2010” that they need to have their car serviced. A newly designed water pump will be installed at Toyota dealerships at no cost as long as the service is done by November 23, 2013. For those who have already paid to have the problem fixed, the letter will outline how to be reimbursed.

As for the problem, John Hanson, Toyota Motor Sales National Manager of Environmental, Quality and Safety Communications, explained it this way: “The water pump is part of a system designed to cool the hybrid powertrain components and is separate from the engine cooling system. A fault in the water pump can cause air bubbles to build up and disrupt the flow of coolant, which can lead to overheating.”

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.