Japan’s Ministry of Transportation has directed Toyota to investigate a series of consumer complaints related to the braking system on third generation Prius models. These complaints come from customer’s in both Toyota’s domestic market and the United States. While the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has yet to demand a recall of Prius models, the agency is investigating over one hundred complaints related to braking issues in the Prius.
Braking issues reported most commonly occur on rough or icy pavement, which has historically been a challenge for all anti-lock braking systems. Narrow, low rolling resistance tires as used on Prius models may offer increased fuel mileage, but at the expense of traction and braking ability. Could this latest blemish for Toyota simply be a case of operator error, or is it another example of cost savings with a disregard to safety?