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Even More Problems for Toyota (Part III)

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Sudden acceleration. Engine Stalls. Now… Brakes. Toyota’s woes are not going away and the latest string of consumer complaints concerns one of the jewels of Toyota’s kingdom: the Toyota Prius.

In a year where Toyota will recall 4.8 million vehicles, the latest bad news about Toyota cars is that the Prius may have a defective braking system involving the transition from regenerative braking to hydraulic braking – a key component to charging the Prius’s battery. The problem is particularly apparent when a driver comes across a pothole or bump, causing the driver to press down harder on the brakes to be able to slow down or stop his or her vehicle. Some drivers have described it as a feeling of "losing control" of their beloved Prius.

An internal memo from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that “It appears that when you hit a bump, the regenerative braking (front wheels only) cuts out, and there is a short delay until the friction braking kicks in. This results in loss of braking, which is experienced as acceleration (due to sudden end of deceleration from braking). Net impact is still a loss of braking/ increase in stopping distance. This could be fatal for pedestrians — it happens when approaching stop lights if you hit a pothole.”

Fatal for pedestrians is not what we’ve come to expect from Toyota. Even during tough economic times, no manufacturer should put consumer safety anywhere other than first place.