Toyota, which recently recalled many of its popular models for accelerator problems, is now recalling 133,000 2010 Toyota Prius hybrids and 14,550 of its 2010 Lexus HS 250h models for a brake problem. Some 7,300 four-cylinder Camrys are being recalled for a separate braking issue.
Owners of the 2010 Prius have reported disturbing issues involving the brakes. In 124 complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), owners report that when the brakes are applied, particularly when the car is traveling over a bumpy surface or in slippery conditions, it lurches forward unexpectedly. Four accidents have reportedly been caused by this malfunction and two of the crashes caused injuries.
The Camry recall stems from a concern that a power steering hose is too close to a brake tube and could result in the lack of braking ability.
Toyota has said it will send certified letters to owners of the affected vehicles notifying them of the recall and telling them to bring their vehicles in to dealerships for repairs. The fix for the Prius is a software "reflash" (reinstalling of revised computer commands) which has already been used on recently manufactured cars. A similar fix for the Lexus will be completed soon, a Toyota spokesman said.
The Prius, Lexus and Camry recalls are separate from the highly publicized recall in November which addressed floor mats which can hold down the gas pedal and cause the car to accelerate out of control. A second recall announced in January was for a sticking gas pedal mechanism in eight different models.
A Toyota spokesman said the Prius braking problem is caused by a computer glitch which creates a lag in response between the regenerative braking system (which captures energy during braking to improve fuel economy) and the antilock brakes (which help the car continue to steer under emergency braking situations). The problem occurs when the brakes are applied while the car is traveling over bumpy surfaces or in wet conditions.
Toyota updated the Prius' braking control software in late January to reduce this lag time — a fix that works for cars now coming into the market. That solution will now be implemented on the recalled Prius models.
"When ABS comes into play, you may feel a little bit of slip, but if you continue to apply the brake it will work," a Toyota executive recently told reporters in Japan. "It may cause customers a little unease."
As more safety and recall information becomes available this page will be updated.