Complaints pile up about Prius brakes

By Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- In the wake of massive recalls for gas pedal-related problems, Toyota Motor Co. is now faced with mounting complaints of brake problems in its 2010 Prius hybrid, one of the carmaker's most iconic and popular models.

In the U.S., more than 100 complaints alleging poor brake performance have been lodged with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration against the 2010 Prius, a newly designed version of the car that was introduced last summer.

2010_toyota_prius.03.jpg
2010 Toyota Prius

"NHTSA has received a number of complaints about a potential defect affecting the brake system in Toyota's Prius hybrid and is conducting field work to examine the issue," the agency said Wednesday.

In Japan, 14 complaints about brakes in the Prius have been lodged since July. Japan's Transportation Ministry has asked Toyota to investigate brake malfunction complaints in Japan on the Prius, according to the Japan Automobile Dealers Association.

"The complaints received via our dealers center around when drivers are on a bumpy road or frozen surface," Paul Nolasco, a Toyota Motor Corp. spokesman in Japan, said. "The driver steps on the brake and they do not get as full of a braking feel as expected."

A search of NHTSA's complaint database turned up many similar-sounding complaints in the U.S.

"I have been driving my 2010 Prius for 6 months and have experienced the following nearly 10 times," wrote one owner, "When braking, if a pothole or bump in the road is hit, the car seemingly jerks forward/accelerates for a split second."

A Toyota spokesman in the U.S. was not immediately able to provide any comment on the situation.

The Prius is Toyota's third best-selling model in the U.S., ranking behind only the Camry midsized sedan and the Corolla compact car.

Toyota's public image, and its sales, have been hit by recent recalls involving unintended acceleration.

Toyota recalled 2.3 million vehicles on Jan. 21 due to problems with sticking gas pedals and later halted the sale of the eight models involved in the recall.

Toyota's U.S. sales plunged 16% in January as a result, even as sales of other automakers rose.

About 4.2 million vehicles were recalled in November for a problem in which the cars' gas pedals could get stuck in some floor mats. The last-generation version of the Prius was included in that recall, which was expanded to include another 1.1 million last week.

Brakes in hybrid cars like the Prius operate differently from brakes in most cars. In addition to standard brakes, which use friction from pads pressed against drums or rotors, hybrid cars use their electric motors to help slow the car, a process that generates electricity to recharge the batteries. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Find Your Next Car
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,279.74 13.75 0.08%
Nasdaq 4,579.79 -13.64 -0.30%
S&P 500 2,010.40 -0.96 -0.05%
Treasuries 2.59 -0.04 -1.60%
Data as of 7:00pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Yahoo! Inc 40.93 -1.16 -2.74%
Microsoft Corp 47.52 0.84 1.80%
Bank of America Corp... 16.95 -0.09 -0.53%
Oracle Corp 39.80 -1.75 -4.21%
Facebook Inc 77.91 0.91 1.18%
Data as of Sep 19

Sections
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.