Special Coverage

Toyota's Safety Crisis

Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. says an “overly sensitive antilock brake system” likely is to blame for faulty braking in ’10 Prius hybrid-electric vehicles.

“We’ve been investigating an issue on Prius brakes and it has to do with an overly sensitive ABS system, and that’s all the information I have on that subject right now,” TMSUSA spokesman Brian Lyons tells Ward’s.

Reports surfaced today the National Highway Traffic Safety Admin. was investigating ’10 Prius brakes that were weak. A separate investigation of Prius brakes is under way in Japan.

Lyons can’t say if an overly sensitive ABS is the focus of Japan’s investigation of the ’10 Prius, which Toyota began retailing in May.

Meanwhile, Lyons says Toyota will be reflashing electronic control units of recalled Camry and Lexus ES models brought in for fixes to their accelerator pedals.

Software code is to be added that will ensure the brakes are capable of overriding the throttle in those models. Toyota is planning to roll out such software across all vehicles in its lineup by the ’11 model year but Lyons says currently the code only is available for the Camry and ES.

The Camry and Lexus ES are part of a recall where floor mats could snag accelerator pedals.

The Camry also is part of Toyota’s recall of 2.3 million units for sticky accelerator pedals.

Beginning this week, when a Camry owner brings in his vehicle for the sticky pedal fix, a steel reinforcement bar, Toyota dealers also will shave down the car’s pedals and reflash the ECU. Lyons says the entire process should take two and a half hours.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com