Feb 09 2010 UPDATE – Toyota has announced the global recall of more than 400,000 2010 hybrid models, including the Prius, Lexus HS250hm, and the Sai, because they can experience a problem with their anti-lock brake systems. Some 2010 Camrys prone to brake fluid leaks have also been recalled.
When the hybrids' braking problem was announced last week, Toyota executives initially described it as a momentary delay in braking when the car was driving over slippery or bumpy surfaces. However, Toyota has since changed its description, increasingly calling it a change in braking feel.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that owners contact Toyota dealers immediately if they notice changes in their braking performance. If a loss of braking occurs, the agency advises owners to continue to press firmly on the brake to stop the vehicle. Drivers can also leave extra braking room as they await their recall notice.
Though the company said it implemented a solution in cars that were produced beginning last month, it has yet to find a fix for the 37,000 recalled cars already on U.S. roads or the more than 200,000 affected vehicles that have been sold worldwide. Toyota said that a solution is "near."
Feb 04 2010 UPDATE – Toyota has announced that it previously knew about complaints of brake malfunctions in its 2010 Prius and has expanded its investigation to include all hybrid models.
Toyota's quality general manager said that in late January the company rewrote the cars' braking-system software following an increase in complaints in December. The automaker didn't make any public announcement of the software changes at the time, but says it wasn't trying to "cover up" the glitch. The Prius cars made since then all have the modified software, but the company hasn't decided whether and how to rewrite the programs on the cars it has already sold.
U.S. highway safety regulators said they are opening a formal investigation into the issue. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it has 124 complaints from Prius owners, including reports of four crashes linked to the brake problem.
Feb 04 2010 ORIGINAL ALERT – Toyota, already under pressure over gas pedal malfunctions in some of its cars, has been dealt another blow. Japanese officials have ordered the company to investigate complaints that the brakes on its 2010 Prius model sometimes failed to work immediately on bumpy or slippery roads.
So far, 14 complaints have been received in Japan, and more than 100 have been lodged with the National Highway Traffic Safety Information in the United States. Toyota officials described the problem as a "disconnect" in the vehicle's anti-lock brake system (ABS) that causes a less than one-second lag. In the span of that small delay, however, a vehicle going 60 mph will have traveled nearly 90 feet before the brakes begin to take hold.
The Prius is Toyota's third best-selling model in the United States, ranking behind the Camry mid-size sedan and the Corolla compact car. The company hasn't yet issued a recall for the vehicles, stating that it would like a little more time to address the issue. Earlier models of the Prius are included in recalls prompted by sliding floor mats that can entrap accelerator pedals.