Toyota came under further fire Wednesday as complaints about the 2010 Prius’ brakes begin to pile up. There have been at least thirty three complaints have been filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations’ Office of Defects Investigations. Toyota says no formal investigation is under way but that internet traffic and other complaints had made them aware of the concerns.
The government could launch a formal investigation and, if it finds evidence of a defect in the model, work with Toyota to fix the problem and possibly recall the cars. Or, Toyota may take action on its own. However, for the moment, no one is doing much of anything. Owners are frustrated. Dealers claim the problem is normal with anti-lock braking systems, but owners maintain that it isn’t a glitch they’ve ever felt in other cars.
Toyota spokeman Mike Michels adds that the problem might not be the brakes. “Everyone is looking at anti-lock brakes but there are other systems that could be responsible for the behavior people are reporting. We just don’t know.”
The Prius’ braking system is more complex than those on conventional automobiles because the Prius’ brakes are hybrids in their own right. They use the kinetic energy of braking to regenerate power to the electric battery of the car in most cases . For emergency or aggressive stops, they can and do jump straight to a conventional, hydraulic braking system. Several mechanics have suggested that the problem may lie in the sensors that control the regenerative braking system, they may be malfunctioning when the wheels are jarred by a hard bump, causing them to briefly disengage. However, this theory has yet to be tested thoroughly.
Will the 2010 Prius get recalled too? The besieged car company might not be able to take the damage this blow to their star model’s image would do.