Toyota has officially issued a Lexus and Prius recall due to brake problems that will affect about 437,000 gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles.
The global Toyota Prius and Lexus HS250h recall was announced earlier this week, after days of speculation over what Toyota Motor Corp. would do to address the brake problems they have known about for months. About 150,000 Prius and Lexus vehicles in the U.S. will be affected by the recall, as the Japanese automaker is still reeling from the recall of more than 8 million vehicles over sudden acceleration problems.
Toyota officials say that the Lexus and Prius brake problem is caused by the vehicle switching between traditional braking systems and an electronic system that helps recharge the hybrid car’s battery. Drivers feel a moment where the brakes do not appear to be working as the system switches over. The problem can be fixed by a software adjustment, the company claims.
More than 100 complaints about the 2010 Prius’s brake system have been filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), even though the vehicle was only released last summer. Toyota said it began receiving complaints about the brakes in the later months of 2009. The company informed dealerships last month and says it has developed a software fix for the problem.
The Prius has become the flagship of the Toyota car line, and the company has trumpeted its intention to eventually release gasoline-electric hybrid versions of all of its vehicles, which would potentially use similar hybrid brake software.
There have been no accidents or injuries reported due to the defective brake systems, and the bulk of the recalled vehicles were sold in Japan, which had been untouched by the recent string of Toyota recalls.
In September 2009, a Lexus and Toyota recall was issued for 3.8 million vehicles that contained certain all-weather floor mats, which Toyota indicated could get stuck under the gas pedals, causing unintended acceleration. In January, Toyota issued another recall for 2.3 million Toyota vehicles, including 600,000 that were not subject to the prior floor mat recall due to an actual mechanical problem that was causing some gas pedals to stick. Shortly after, the company stopped production and sales on eight of its most popular vehicles, including the Corolla, Camry, and Tundra. The company has also announced it is recalling nearly 2 million vehicles in Europe and almost 80,000 in China.
The Toyota accelerator pedal recalls have resulted in more than 60 lawsuits, including over a dozen wrongful death or injury claims.