(Adds NHTSA comment)
By Ben Klayman
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 spokesman John Hanson said in an email statement that
the automaker was working with the U.S. safety regulators at the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on a probe
related to the issue.
"We believe our actions to address this issue are
appropriate, and we are continuing to cooperate with NHTSA in
its investigation," he said.
Consumer reports said Toyota's decisions were prompted
partly by consumer complaints filed with NHTSA. 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.
NHTSA said it continues to evaluate all data as part of the
investigation and will take action as needed.
A preliminary evaluation is the first step in a process that
can lead to a recall if regulators determine a manufacturer
needs to address a safety problem.
Consumer Reports, which pointed out 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
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 dealer notice. Remedies could include a
new actuator or reprogramming of the skid control electronic
(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit. Editing by Andre Grenon)