Beginning in May 2016, Toyota began receiving reports of brake cables disengaging from the crank lever of the foot-operated parking brake. If a vehicle is left in any gear other than park with the ignition on (the Prius automatically switches to Park when turned off), this issue could lead to the car rolling away. In addition to three Toyota field reports, another 64 warranty claims could be related to this issue.
As stated in the notice Toyota sent to dealers, new vehicles with a safety recall cannot be sold under US law. Additionally, Toyota has asked dealers not to deliver affected pre-owned vehicles until they've been fixed and strictly prohibits certification of used cars with an outstanding recall. The automaker has also asked that affected rentals and loaners be removed from service and fixed. Current owners can expect recall notices to start arriving in November. Beginning December 11, Toyota will be fixing the cars free of charge, of course.
Luckily, it's an easy fix, and no other Toyota or Lexus vehicles (including other members of the Prius family) use the same cable assemblies. Dealers need only to install a parking brake clip and re-inspect the affected vehicles. Toyota has already started sending out the clip kits to dealers. Still, with Prius sales declining over the past couple of years, having thousands of brand new cars sitting on lots unsellable – if only temporarily – can't be fun.