Toyota Camry Hybrid Recall Urged by Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports is calling on Toyota to recall nearly 178,000 Camry hybrid vehicles due to power brake problems, indicating that the automaker’s decision to implement “repair campaigns” without officially recalling the vehicles is insufficient. 

The influential consumer watchdog group urged a Toyota Camry hybrid recall in response to a number of consumer complaints lodged with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) involving loss of braking performance, increased pedal effort, and other difficulties.

Consumer Reports indicates that a recall should be issued instead of a “repair campaign” to fix the critical safety features, such as ABS braking actuators and front brake assists that may cause drivers to lose braking ability.

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“We think Toyota’s proper action would be a recall,” wrote Consumer Reports this week. “Greatly diminished brake function is a serious safety concern. A recall is more comprehensive and widely published than a mere service campaign, and owners don’t have to wait for a problem to happen before qualifying for the repair. Besides that, unlike extended warranties, recalls don’t expire and are performed proactively.”

A preliminary investigation opened in January by the NHTSA identified at least 59 consumer complaints of defective brakes for only the 2007 and 2008 Camry Hybrid models. Those numbers have increased to 269 complaints, with 14 crashes and five injuries, according to recent NHTSA data.

While the NHTSA’s investigation is only focusing on the 2007 and 2008 models, Toyota has broadened its repair campaign to include 2001 through 2007 models.

Consumer Reports wants Toyota to recall 2007 through 2011 Camry Hybrid models for diminished brake function from faulty brake-fluid reservoir filters and unreliable ABS brake actuators. The clogging brake-fluid reservoir issue stems from one or more brake system dashboard warning light may be lit at one time and causing the front brake assist to be temporarily lost. In certain circumstances, stopping the car could be significantly more difficult and require much more force applied to the brake pedal than usual.

The second issue concerns the ABS brake actuators that could fail, causing warning lights to illuminate on the dash and diminishing braking ability. In the event the actuators fail it will not activate the ABS function, requiring more time and space to stop the vehicle than normally required. There is also a related problem from possibly faulty brake pedal stroke sensors.

For now, Toyota has announced in their service campaigns that dealers will replace the actuators and redesigned brake-fluid reservoirs in affected vehicles anytime between now and June 30, 2017. Toyota is also offering an extended warranty of the anti-lock brake system’s brake actuator from the standard 3 year or 36,000 miles, to 10 years or 150,000 miles.

Photo Courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/danielctw/ / CC BY 2.0

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