A new Toyota recall has been put in place for almost a quarter of a million vehicles due to an apparent braking problem. Toyota announced Wednesday that the recall would affect 242,000 Prius and Lexus hybrid cars manufactured between March and October of 2009.
Japanese automaker Toyota's recall said it received in excess of 90 complaints from Lexus and Prius hybrid drivers who said they needed to step more heavily on the brake pedal than they were used to. Toyota examined the issue, and determined a cause. A spokeswoman for the company said that a manufacturing flaw was letting nitrogen gas leak into the brake fluid. This apparently reduces the effectiveness of the brakes in the now-recalled Toyota vehicles.
"The involved vehicles are equipped with a brake pressure accumulator that may develop a fatigue crack on an internal part due to vibration," Toyota USA said in a statement on its website. Drivers were experiencing the aforementioned increased stopping distances because of brake pressure accumulator cracking. Fortunately, the Toyota manufacturing error has not caused any reported injuries or accidents in associated with the effect.
According to Toyota, all consumers who are driving the affected vehicles will receive messages regarding the automobile recall via first-class mail. "The driver will become aware of the problem through a warning light illuminating on the dashboard," said the statement from Toyota. "Should this occur, the vehicle should not be driven and owners should report the issue to their nearest Toyota Centre."
The Toyota recall affects cars that are mostly in Japan. 117,000 vehicles are being recalled there, followed by 91,000 in North American, 30,000 in Europe and smaller numbers in other markets. Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., announced that it would inspect the brake booster pump assembly on the recalled Lexus and Prius HS 250h hybrid vehicles, and replace it if necessary to avoid future recalls. Consumers driving the recalled Toyota models can have theirs replaced for free in a procedure expected to last only about three hours.
After a series of Toyota recalls in recent years, the Japanese automaker is struggling to fix its reputation for reliability and safety in the eyes of automobile customers worldwide. Toyota recalled 1.7 million cars around the world in April 2013, after learning of problems with airbags. This recall affected some popular Corolla, Matrix and Tundra models. In October 2012, Toyota recalled over 7 million automobiles due to a power window problem that posed a fire risk.
"Recalls seem to be so commonplace these days; I don't see it having any major impact," said Neil King, automotive analyst at Euromonitor. "The only fortunate thing [for Toyota] is that at least they are not the only ones affected. There was a period when it seemed to be only Toyota." He also added that as automobiles such as Toyota get increasingly technologically advanced, recalls are increasing in frequency.
For more information, visit www.toyota.com/recall or call Toyota's customer hotline at 1-800-331-4331. Lexus drivers can call 1-800-255-3987.