DETROIT, July 28 An influential consumer
magazine on Monday called on Toyota Motor Corp to
recall about 177,500 older Camry hybrid sedans to address
potential power brake defects.
Consumer Reports, which many consumers use when studying
what vehicles to buy, said the Japanese automaker's decision to
call for a service campaign or a warranty extension on two
different problems covering cars from model years 2007 to 2011
does not go far enough. Under a service campaign, an automaker
repairs cars as they are brought back to dealers by consumers.
"Consumer Reports believes that Toyota should recall these
cars," the magazine said. "What's at issue here is a series of
acknowledged defects in a crucial safety system.
"A recall is more comprehensive and widely published than a
mere service campaign, and owners don't have to wait for a
problem to happen before qualifying for the repair," Consumer
Reports added. "Besides that, unlike extended warranties,
recalls don't expire and are performed proactively."
Toyota officials did not have an immediate comment.
Consumer reports said Toyota's decisions were prompted
partly by consumer complaints filed with U.S. safety regulators
at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The
complaints over the last several years have covered loss of
braking performance, increased effort to press the brake pedal
and other difficulties, the magazine said.
NHTSA opened a "preliminary evaluation" probe into an
estimated 30,000 Camry hybrid sedans from model years 2007 and
2008 after receiving 59 complaints of intermittent loss of
assisted braking, resulting in increased stopping distances.
A preliminary evaluation is the first step in a process that
can lead to a recall if regulators determine that a manufacturer
needs to address a safety problem.
Consumer Reports, which pointed out that Toyota's service
campaign and extended warranty both broadened the scope of the
potentially affected vehicles, said its review for the two model
years NHTSA cited found power-brake complaints had risen to 269,
with 14 crashes and five injuries.
In the service campaign, a problem is potentially caused by
a clogged brake-fluid reservoir filter and "front-brake assist
could be temporarily lost," according to a Toyota notice to its
dealers. Instead of a recall, Toyota will alert owners to the
campaign to install a new brake reservoir tank at no cost
between now and June 30, 2017.
In the other case, Toyota is extending warranty coverage of
the anti-lock brake system's brake actuator from the standard
three years or 36,000 miles, to 10 years or 150,000 miles,
according to a separate company notice to dealers. Remedies
could include a new actuator or the reprogramming of the skid
control electronic control unit.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit. Editing by Andre Grenon)