Toyota has issued a voluntary recall for certain Toyota Highlander Hybrid and Lexus RX 400h models from the 2006 and 2007 model years. The problem? Some of those vehicles' Hybrid System Inverters were improperly constructed, which could result in reduced power -- or no power at all.
According to a press release issued this morning by Toyota: "The Intelligent Power Module (IPM) located inside the Hybrid System Inverter contains a control board with transistors. Certain transistors on the control boards in some of the subject vehicles were inadequately soldered and could be damaged from heat caused by a large current flow during high-load driving."
Depending on the degree of damage to the transistors, one of two things might happen:
1. The most likely scenario is that the damaged vehicle would enter a "fail-safe driving mode", during which the vehicle's power would be limited -- though there would still be enough to travel short distances.
2. In extreme cases, Toyota says that the power supply circuit fuse could fail altogether. If that happens, the vehicle would "coast to a stop".
Toyota hasn't given a firm date for the recall to begin in earnest since the automaker is still trying to find ample replacement parts. Toyota estimates that owners should receive additional information via snail mail around the middle of July.
If you own one (or both) of these affected vehicles and have further questions, you can get more information online or by phone. Highlander owners can visit www.toyota.com/recall or call 800-331-4331. RX owners should visit www.lexus.com/recall or ring 800-255-3987.