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Prius Owners Skeptical Of Voluntary Recall Over Power Problems

MENLO PARK (KPIX) -- Problems for Toyota are piling up as new complaints roll in about the Prius, one of their most popular models.

The automaker began voluntarily recalling hundreds of thousands of Prius hybrids in 2014 and 2015 because some cars would lose power while being driven.

The problem affects model years 2010 to 2014. Toyota says it has issued an effective remedy.

Owner Kathleen Ryan was on the freeway when something went wrong with her vehicle.

"It felt like someone pulled the emergency brake. I mean I couldn't believe what was happening and you step on the accelerator and nothing happened," said Ryan.

A mechanic traced the problem to the car's inverter, which controls the transfer of electricity between the battery and two electric motors.

Repair documents show the software fix offered by Toyota added a failsafe mode that's supposed to keep the car running at a reduced speed long enough for the driver to pull off the road. Ryan says it didn't work.

Roger Hogan owns two southern California dealerships. He says he stopped selling used 2010 to 2014 Priuses because of the problem.

"A recall is supposed to prevent the incident from happening," Hogan. "It's not supposed to be you fix it after you've experienced the horrific event you're supposed to prevent that event from ever occurring. Why should you be allowed to put someone's life in danger?"

According to new documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times, as of February 8, Toyota instructed dealerships to send all problematic inverters to a product liability company called Exponent in Menlo Park. According to its website, Exponent is "best known for analyzing accidents and failures."

Meanwhile, in a statement to the L.A. Times Toyota said, "The Prius has a long history as a safe and reliable vehicle and is among Toyota's most popular models."

Toyota also said the company is "committed to the safety and security of our customers."

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