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Investigation Reveals Prius Brake Problems May Preceed 2010 Model-Year

Will earlier models require recall or service actions, as well?

by on Feb.08, 2010

(c)  2009 TheDetroitBureau.com

(The following story has been revised due to breaking news of the Toyota Prius recall. Click Here for that story)

Most observers anticipate a recall of the 2010 Toyota Prius to solve brake problems, but could earlier models face similar action?

How far back do potential braking problems with the Toyota Prius – the world’s most popular hybrid and the best-selling car of all types in Japan – go?  Research by TheDetroitBureau.com suggests the answer is much further than initially believed, and could involve vehicles dating back to the 2005 model-year or even earlier.

After initially downplaying complaints by owners that 2010 Prius brakes could release unexpectedly, the troubled Japanese manufacturer’s CEO Akio Toyoda admitted the maker must “face up to facts,”  and recall 430,000 vehicles, including not only its best-selling hybrid but also the Lexus HS250h, a luxury model using essentially the same technology.

But even as Toyota prepares for another embarrassing recall, an investigation by TheDetroitBureau.com finds that complaints about the hybrid’s brakes and other traction systems may extend back well before the launch of the third-generation Prius, last spring.  This magazine’s reporting team went into the extensive National Highway Traffic Safety Administration files for the Prius and found hundreds of customer complaints either directly detailing problems with Prius brakes prior to the 2010 model-year, or outlining compound issues that appear to involve both brakes and accelerator issues.

And that’s on top of a series of other problems, such as sudden headlight failures and unexpected powertrain shutdowns, that have been identified with the vehicle, which has become a favorite for both environmentally-minded and high-tech-oriented buyers in the U.S. and abroad. (Click Here for more on that story.)

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"Braking" News!

Observers suggest a consistency to the reported Prius issues, in that most seem directly linked to the vehicle’s numerous electronics systems – a fact one of the nation’s best-known “geeks,” Apple co-founder Steve “Woz” Wozniak, pointed out earlier in the week when he told various news media his car would “go wild,” at times due to an apparent glitch with its cruise control system.  And while both safety experts and Toyota officials alike have registered frustration at trying to reproduce such problems, Wozniak said he could make his Prius act up at will.

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Toyota Preparing Repair Plan for Prius

Recall likely, according to reports and internal documents.

by on Feb.07, 2010

How will Toyota handle the growing concerns about Prius brakes? An announcement is due this coming week, the maker says.

Toyota has confirmed plans it will deal with braking problems with its popular Prius hybrid model, first reported here back in December, but while a full recall is considered likely, a company source cautioned that the automaker could take less drastic steps, such as a service bulletin, which would make repairs to those who report problems to their dealers.

But with pressure mounting from regulators in the U.S., Japan and other parts of the world, it seems increasingly likely that a recall is the only way out for the maker, an embarrassing step that would drag the company’s halo vehicle – and the most popular gasoline-electric model in the world – into Toyota’s steadily worsening safety crisis.

So far, more than 8 million vehicles have been recalled by the automaker as the result of a pair of problems, including so-called carpet entrapment – in which loose floor mats can jam the throttle wide open – and sticky accelerators.  Several million of those cars, trucks and crossovers are subject to both recalls.

But while Prius is impacted by the carpet entrapment issue, it also appears to be subject to an entirely separate problem involving its compound braking system.  Under certain circumstances, when a 2010-model Prius hits a bump, pothole or slick surface, the brakes appear to release for up to a second, which at 30 miles an hour would translate into a vehicle sliding 44 feet without the ability to stop.

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Your Trusted Source!

Late Friday, Bob Carter, a group vice president with Toyota Motor Sales USA, sent an e-mail to U.S. dealers advising them the company is working on a fix for the problem that has been reported by well over 100 Prius owners, and should have something to announce early in the coming week.

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Toyota Admits It Knew About Prius Brake Defect!

Maker fixing new models, may need recall for older hybrids.

by on Feb.04, 2010

Toyota began fixing the 2010 Prius even though it said it only was investigating a possible "issue" with the vehicle's brakes.

Toyota owners may still be saying, “Oh, what a feeling,” but likely not for the same reason they did in the past, as the automaker’s growing problems with safety and corporate credibility emerge, Toyota officials in Japan now confirming that they have known about a defect with the brakes on their high-technology halo car, the Prius.

That problem, which can cause the brakes on the third-generation, 2010 Prius to apparently release for up to about a second, was first reported by TheDetroitBureau.com in late December. (Click here)  While Toyota acknowledged receiving reports of complaints to editor Ken Zino, the maker secretly was developing a fix for the problem, one that it quietly put into place on versions of the popular hybrid that it has been building since sometime in January.

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Your "Braking" News Source!

The latest setback for Toyota comes in sharp contrast to news that the maker earned $1.7 billion during the October-December quarter, ironically due, in large part to hefty sales of its greener models, including the Prius, which is the best-selling vehicle in Japan and the top-selling hybrid-electric vehicle worldwide.

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