The third generation Prius, which encompasses the 2010 model, is adding to the recall troubles of embattled Toyota. A formal investigation by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was announced this week because the agency has received 124 complaints directly related to braking issues on this model car. Japan also ordered Toyota to question the cause and origin of the problem.
UPDATE: Toyota has officially recalled 437,000 vehicles. They are 2010 models including: Prius and Lexus HS25OH Sedans. A software glitch can cause a momentary brake problem when the computer shifts from one method of breaking to another.
The majority of those complaints encompass a tentative recall where the brakes fail to perform properly after encountering road hazards such as dips, potholes or cavities in the road. Two of the complaints allege collisions resulting in minor injuries as a result of the brake failure, according to the Adminstiration. The NHTSA website currently indicates on an ongoing investigation for 2010 Toyota Prius hydraulic service brakes, antilock mechanism and control, foundation components and the power brake assist modules. The matter was officially under investigation by the NHTSA on February 3rd, 2010.
The first reported incident to the NHTSA for brake failure on the 2010 Prius was on October 16th, 2009; bearing complaint number 10288715 in which the complainant asked the administration to investigate the vehicle and it’s braking system because “the car accelerates or lurches forward” after “braking on wet pavement”, “going downhill” or “traveling over an uneven or bumpy surface”. This problem had occurred four times on this Prius with only 400 miles on the odometer according to the complaintant.
The first reported injury related to the brake failure was shortly after on November 13th, 2009 when the complainant wrote:
“I was unable to slow down going into an intersection at a reasonable rate of speed. While I was not accelerating, when I applied the brakes the car did not slow down as I would have expected. The same behavior occurred in the past several months [since owning the Prius 2010 model]. It seems to skip forward or accelerate while braking on a downhill or uneven surface. By the time I was able to stop the airbags had gone off and I had hurt my neck and back. It is a new vehicle that has almost $14,000 in damage and won’t be fixed for a month…”
A second injury was reported on September 30th, 2009 where the driver indicates traveling at a speed of 15mph and experiencing brake failure when the “pedal extended to the floor” but the brakes responded shortly after. The complaintant stated to have experienced this several times but was too late as she collided into a vehicle and injured her neck. The failure occurred when the vehicle had approximately 3,000 miles on the odometer.
Since September 30th, 2009 the pile of complaints has added up at the NHTSA which resulted in this morning’s announcement.
Last month Toyota announced perhaps the world’s largest automobile recall for a sticky gas pedal problem in almost every vehicle they manufacture. This does not include an earlier recall of 3.8 million vehicles by Toyota due to the gas pedal getting stuck on accessory floor mats. The sticky gas pedal recall alone is expected to cost Toyota approximately $2 billion USD.
No information has been made available at this time about whether or not the parts or problems associated with the brakes in the Prius carry over to any of the other models in the Toyota line but given the circumstances and concerns made by Japan the NHTSA, a Toyota Prius recall seems inevitable.