Software Updates

Discussion in 'Gen 4 Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by PriusPeep, Nov 18, 2017.

  1. PriusPeep

    PriusPeep Member

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    I've now had my Prius 3 liftback for a year.

    It disturbs be that there has not been a single software update on anything in the vehicle. Does Toyota do it without us even knowing?

    Anybody who does any kind of work/play on a computer, their phone or practically any electronic device understands that there are continuous software/firmware updates to make corrections and improvements. Heck, I've twice updated the firmware on my TV.

    With billions of line of code you're going to tell me that in a year there's nothing to update?

    I've serviced my Prius twice. Both times I've asked at the dealer they seem annoyed that I ask. They seem to not want to discuss the matter, which makes me very suspicious. Very peculiar.

    Perhaps more knowledgeable people on this site can enlighten me.
     
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    sorry, no. you can buy a gps map update, and there have been entune updates, i believe. but i don't know if there's anything new for the '17's.
     
  3. Elektroingenieur

    Elektroingenieur Senior Member

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    There have been several updates, all announced in Technical Service Bulletins, for the Entune radio head units, an update for the Hybrid Vehicle Control ECU on models with NiMH batteries, and an update (Limited Service Campaign GMB) for the Engine Control Module on vehicles sold in Mexico.
    No. I suppose a dealer could install an update without telling you, but to get warranty reimbursement from Toyota for the work, they have to disclose it on the repair order.

    Indeed, the Entune head unit and HV ECU updates are not service campaigns or recalls, so dealers are reimbursed for applying them only if a customer complains about one of the problems they are intended to fix, not merely because the vehicle came in for maintenance or unrelated repairs.

    This may be one reason for the dealer’s reticence. If you ask about software updates generally, without mentioning one of the related problems, they may be concerned that telling you about them could be considered “warranty solicitation,” which is strictly prohibited by Toyota.
    Maybe Toyota got it right the first time. When updates are costly, inconvenient, and embarrassing, and the consequences of defects potentially serious, there may be more emphasis on software quality and testing, especially after the unintended-acceleration scandal several years ago.

    Another factor in Toyota’s favor is that most of the electronic control units communicate outside the vehicle, if at all, only through limited, well-defined interfaces like OBD II, so they don’t need continual updating for compatibility or security, e.g., because Google released a new version of the Chrome browser, or because someone found a vulnerability in a third-party library that processes files downloaded from untrusted sources.

    There is also no requirement for new features. This is slowly changing, but it’s still the basic pattern in the auto industry that vehicles are not expected to receive enhanced capabilities after delivery; if you want a better car, you’re expected to buy the new model.
    Considering the figure of 296,000 non-comment lines in the 2005 Camry electronic throttle control software (NASA Report, page 144), “billions” may be a generous estimate, especially if you don’t count the software in the Entune head unit.
     
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  4. alanclarkeau

    alanclarkeau Senior Member

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    My FORD FOCUS Diesel, after the 15,000km service drove with quite different engine characteristics - seemed to be smoother or more torque down low. I quizzed them, and they said that when they plugged in the car, it may have uploaded a software update. They didn't know for sure, but that was his guess, he said that it automatically does it. That happened a couple of times while I had that car.
     
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  5. Elektroingenieur

    Elektroingenieur Senior Member

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    That’s interesting—Ford must do it differently.

    Toyota has a fairly involved procedure for ECU software updates, described for the U.S. market in T-SB-0134-16, Techstream ECU Flash Reprogramming Procedure (PDF). You’re supposed to connect the vehicle to their battery diagnostic system to maintain the 13.5 V supply during reprogramming, and they warn that it’s possible to damage the ECU if this is not done, or if anything else goes wrong. From others’ unhappy experiences, I suspect that at least some of the ECUs may not have built-in recovery capability, so if the flash rewrite fails, it’s bricked.
     
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  6. PriusPeep

    PriusPeep Member

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    Thank you for the detailed reply.

    I'm not sure I understand everything you wrote. However, when a customer specifically asks, the dealer should not ignore the inquiry and refuse to address the matter.
     
  7. Elektroingenieur

    Elektroingenieur Senior Member

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    You’re welcome.
    Agreed, and if that happened, it’s unfortunate—the dealer should have at least explained the situation to you. It’s not like the service bulletins are confidential; anyone can pay $15 to subscribe to techinfo.toyota.com and see all of them, and many are eventually posted on NHTSA’s website and other free sources.
     
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