In the immediate aftermath of its sudden acceleration recalls, Toyota is now under pressure from braking problems in the Prius, Toyota’s popular hybrid. According to Ray LaHood, Secretary of Transportation, transportation officials will begin an investigation after reports are received that the Japanese government has launched an investigation into complaints of brake malfunctions, according to the Japan Automobile Dealers Association.
A Toyota spokesperson in Japan indicated that the complaints received about braking referred to situations where drivers were on a bumpy road or on a frozen surface. According to a registered whistleblower with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “My 2010 Toyota Prius has a severe braking problem, the car is thrown forward after (I) apply my brakes on a rough surface. potholes. This is very unexpected and luckily there was no one in front of me, otherwise I would have hit them. This already happened several times, I took my car to the dealership and there is no solution, I don’t know what to do with a new (car) like this “. There are many complaints with similar descriptions about braking / acceleration issues when even small bumps and potholes are encountered with the 2010 Prius.
Brakes on Prius and other hybrids work differently than on standard cars. Hybrids use a coupling system between their braking system and electric motors to generate electricity to recharge the batteries along with standard brakes. Braking problems could be within this coupling system.
This latest issue with the Prius is in addition to Toyota’s recall of 3.8 million cars in November 2009 to repair accelerator pedals and software to address what have been reported as sudden acceleration issues. Toyota dealerships were making modifications to the accelerator pedals by removing inches from the bottom so that the accelerator pedals would not get caught under the floor mats. Toyota then followed that recall with another sudden acceleration recall on January 21, 2010. On that day, Toyota Motor Sales announced a recall of 2.3 million vehicles that included:
* 2005-2010 Avalon
* Camry 2007-2010
* 2009-2010 Corolla
* 2010 Highlander
* Matrix 2009-2010
* 2009-2010 RAV4
* Sequoia 2008-2010
* 2007-2010 Tundra
According to a US article titled “100 Toyota Drivers Filed Complaints Before Recall,” “she would become one of more than 100 drivers, according to a USA TODAY search of the Administration’s complaint database. Highway Traffic Safety National, which in recent years has gotten their Toyota vehicles off the ground when they weren’t expected to. “
Apparently Toyota was not as aggressive in dealing with the problem as they have shown. According to LaHood, “Recalls involving pedal entrapment and possible sticky accelerator pedals on Toyota vehicles are some of the largest in automotive history. Every step of the way, NHTSA officials … pushed to Toyota to take corrective action to keep consumers safe. “…” Today, apparently Toyota is taking the right steps to address these safety issues. Unfortunately, it took a lot of effort to get to this point. “
During a congressional hearing on Wednesday, February 3, the Secretary of Transportation said that owners of the recalled Toyotas should stop driving them until they are repaired. He was quoted as saying, “… stop driving it, take it to a Toyota dealer because they think they have a solution.”
Toyota has stated that they have a fix to implement for the throttle issue, but there has been no official release from Toyota regarding the 2010 Prius braking issue. Toyota’s US sales have plummeted 16% in January as an apparent reaction to the sudden acceleration of retirement, even as sales by other automakers surged. No one knows what the effect of this Prius problem will be. It is clear that Toyota’s image has been seriously damaged and we will have to wait and see how long it will take to recover.
To read an in-depth article on this situation from a third party, go to Consumer Reports’ article on Toyota’s recall.