The Nikkei reports that Toyota Motor Corp. will recall an estimated 270,000 units of its new third-generation MY 2010 Prius in Japan and the US to fix a brake problem.
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) has opened a formal investigation of the Toyota Prius Hybrid model year 2010 to look into allegations of momentary loss of braking capability while traveling over an uneven road surface, pothole or bump. The agency has received 124 complaints from consumers, including four alleging that crashes occurred.
Some Prius customers have complained of inconsistent brake feel during slow and steady application of brakes on rough or slick road surfaces when the anti-lock brake system (ABS) is activated in an effort to maintain tire traction. The system, in normal operation, engages and disengages rapidly (many times per second) as the control system senses and reacts to tire slippage. Toyota introduced a running production change last month, improving the ABS system’s response time, as well as the system’s overall sensitivity to tire slippage.
The leading Japanese automaker is to shortly file with the Transport Ministry and the US Department of Transportation for the recall to change the control program for the vehicle’s anti-lock brake system. Toyota had denied the existence of any structural defects in the Prius braking system. But its response to quality problems has come under increasing fire at home and in the US, which announced Thursday that it would investigate into the braking issue.
The scope of recalls and voluntary repair offers may expand further because the Sai and Lexus HS250h hybrids, which were released after the third-generation Prius, use the same braking system. The company has begun examining these vehicles for braking problems.
This condition is not related to either the floor mat entrapment recall or the sticky pedal recall currently in action.
Ford updates brake system software. Separately, Ford announced a customer satisfaction program to update the software of the regenerative brake system of some 2010-model Ford Fusion Hybrids and Mercury Milan Hybrids.
Ford has received reports that some drivers have experienced a different brake feel when the hybrid’s regenerative brakes switch to conventional hydraulic braking. While the vehicles maintain full braking capability, customers may initially perceive the condition as loss of brakes.
The Fusion and Milan Hybrids’ brake system maintains full conventional brakes and full ABS function even as the customer sees visual indicators and hears a chime. The software threshold to transition from regenerative brakes to conventional brakes can cause the system to transition to conventional brakes unnecessarily. The software upgrade will reduce unnecessary occurrences of the vehicle switching from regenerative braking to conventional hydraulic brakes.
Customers with affected vehicles will receive a notice in the mail. Ford is asking owners of affected vehicles to have vehicle software reprogrammed at dealers at no charge.