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Toyota Prius Brake Problems



  • hal_cathal_cat Posts: 11
    In addition to Edmond, check out:

    And, there have been 45 reports to the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration at (mine included)

    I vote :lemon:

    I am in the process of trading up to the latest (2010) Prius, in hopes that the brake problems are fixed. I will be driving with my left foot ready to hit the emergency brake, and as I always do, looking for where to swerve it the brakes don't hold.
  • I picked up my 2010 Prius three weeks ago. I am taking it in today because of brake issues experienced in the last 2 weeks. I spend a lot of time on the highway - haven't experienced problems there - just in town. The brakes engage initially - but then feel like they release. The last time it happened I was turning a corner - it was a little unnerving - that was when I decided it was going in!
  • They will probably tell you nothing is wrong. Same as they did me.
    Then, when you need the brakes the most you will hastily apply them, and they will delay in gripping or grip and kinda release. Resulting in a deductible and thousands in damage with diminished vehicle value (since the car has been in an accident). Finally, increased insurance rates. Hopefully no body gets hurt.
    FYI to all and Toyota: I have tried to report my concerns this with a discussion over the phone and have not had my voicemails returned.
  • whitey9whitey9 Posts: 138
    Yeah, it's just like with the Priui catching fire at/near the hybrid battery compartment. I have searched thru for investigations into failing brakes, or fires, and have found NOTHING!
    The fires, I suspect, are the result of the hybrid system being modified by an aftermarket company, to become a "plug-in" Prius.
    I keep hearing about "no brakes", "brakes failing", but cannot reports, or investigations by the government.
    I have had issues with the HID bulbs "burning out", but no other defects have surfaced on my '07.
  • whitey9whitey9 Posts: 138
    I know the feeling you are describing. Once an owner of a VW Beetle brought the car in to have the brakes checked.
    He declined to say ( or the service writer didn't write it down ) that he had replaced a section of the hydraulic brake line ( steel ) with some surgical rubber hose.
    Needless to say, when I applied the brakes, as I was test drving there was a "panic" in the cockpit due to the rubber hose inflating like a balloon whenever the brake pedal was depressed. NO BRAKING OCCURRED!
    The lack of confinement in a steel line did not allow the brakes to operate AT ALL!
    Therefore, the rapid pumping of the brake pedal in an attempt to slow the vehicle as I approached an immovable object, and the shreiking of the operator was clearly audible to those in the vicinity.
    Thank goodness the EMERGENCY brake worked better than the service brake.
  • Well, it happened to me yesterday (September 19,2009). I was in love with my 2008 Prius (despite having to spend a couple of hours to figure out how to operate the danged thing). I was pulling out of a parking lot, moving very slowly ,when I saw a car turn the corner and drive down the street which I was entering. I immediately applied the brakes HARD and to my dismay, NOTHING HAPPENED. I consequently rolled into the the approaching car (and SUV, wouldn't you know) and did thousands of dollars of damage to my beloved Prius. The cops of course issued me a ticket for failing to yield the right of way (correct) and said I must have hit the gas pedal instead of the brake (not correct). I do not feel safe in this vehicle. It is a horrible sensation to apply maximum brake force to the pedal and feel no response. I think it is a telling event that Toyota is changing their brake system in newer productions.
  • Be sure to file a report with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
    They have more clout than anyone individual, and as the number of reported problems goes up they will have more incentive and clout to work on getting the problem resolved.
    Note that the 2010 Prius now has a "black box" capability so that Toyota can find out the exact circumstances when the brakes failed so they can hopefully resolve the problems and make a safe car. Of course, Toyota totally denies that the brakes ever fail.
    BTW - I told the magistrate that the brakes failed, and my fine for my ticket was waived.
  • whitey9whitey9 Posts: 138
    Check the floormat on the driver's side and make sure it isn't bunched up thusly not allowing the brake pedal to fully depress, or the throttle ( gas pedal ) to fully release.
    There is a recall in progress for floormats. Priui from MY '04 - '09, I believe.
  • There is a recall on the floor mats? That being true or not. You are absolutely ridiculous for thinking that the problem originated from my floor mat being bunched up.That would have been painfully obvious if that were the case.
    My floor mat has never budged from the position it was in when I bought the vehicle. The hooks at the back of the mat (nearest the seat) work very well as intended to prevent that from happening.

    I'm not sure if you people that right with alternate ideas for the problem are sincere, or work for Toyota. Because every idea seems to be misleading and in an attempt to redirect the consumer of the true and costly imperfection in the make of car.

    If you are truly attempting to help in a legitimate way... thank you for your input.
  • whitey9whitey9 Posts: 138
    That's what the Lexus' occupants thot when they made an emergency call on their "On-Star" to see what could be done with their "runaway" car speeding down the highway at 120+mph.
    They said the brakes did not work, and they were unable to stop the car.

    Only 1 person died in the resulting crash, a bystander.
  • whitey9whitey9 Posts: 138
    Without being overly coy, the purpose of bumpers on cars is when something happens that is not expected, or that does not normally occur.
    What I am trying to say is not everything that happens, necessarily happens on purpose.
    Stuff happens.
  • ggholgghol Posts: 1
    My 2008 Prius slides when I brake on wet roads. It's scary. Has anyone experienced this? Is it the brakes or the tires? I only have 21,000 miles on the car.
  • whitey9whitey9 Posts: 138
    Slides? Or drifts ( sideways )? Steering sharply while braking?
    Tire pressures OKay? Tires not worn?
    Too much speed? Braking too late?
    Any function/malfunction lights illuminating on the dashboard?
  • vspin1vspin1 Posts: 1
    I have had this happen on more than one occassion on my 2007 Prius. I had to brake hard when a vehicle cut in front of me to make an unexpected turn, but it felt like the brakes never engaged. I hit the vehicle that cut me off, which caused no damage to his pickup truck, but about two thousand dollars worth to my Prius. I have contacted my dealer, the main Toyota company, and have spoken with a rep. Basically they sy that it needs to be documented by my dealer in a road test, but trying to simulate this is nearly impossible. I have new tires on the car, and it happened to me again about a week ago. I feel its a combination of ABS sensitivity, and the lack of weight of the car which causes this problem. . . but I can't prove anything at this point.
  • Success!!! Got it to happen without causing an accident. After reading all of these messages I decided to try this with our 2007 Prius. I've never put the car through its paces until I heard news of a recall. I didn't need wet conditions like reported on this site, just going down a hill over a speed bump at about 22-24 mph I slammed the brake and the car did not stop normally on first try. I'll need to videotape this to figure out how long before the brakes acted normally, but I experienced about 1 to 2 seconds of weak braking before I felt normal brake action with the car finally coming to a halt.

    I was also able to replicate in an empy parking lot in a spirited turn at about 20 mph. Every panic (stomp the brake like your life depends on it) brake application results in extremely weak braking action. When I hit the brake less violently the car stops normally under control also.

    I did not feel the ABS pulse in any of these tests until the last few milliseconds before the final stop. The anti-skid light came on in many of these tests so I suspect that the system is overriding my panic stop. In my mind this is clearly caused by a system (software & hardware) malfunction, or design flaw, not mats, hitting the wrong pedal etc.

    While my tests were certainly not standard I you should know that I have experience autocrossing with the Porsche Club of America and know how to test a car and see how it should react to driver inputs. In my mind there is no question that the Gen II Prius could be deadly in a panic stop. While I would be comfortable in my ability to handle a panic stop in this car I would gauge it as being dangerous for general public use until Toyota reprograms or redesigns the braking systems.

    My next step is to contact Toyota and find out if they have a solution. Otherwise I will have to video tape my tests as evidence should it be needed.
  • Please forward your comments and test results to the National Highway Traffic Safety Board. There needs to be corrective action and a recall before someone is killed by malfunctioning software. (I don't believe the problem is mechanical).
  • Fantastic job on the testing. I have performed similar tests which resulted with the same conclusion. I was appauled with the attempt to create a campaign to pitch the problem being the floor mats. Almost as if they had planned it from before the vehicle release.
    I have attempted to contact Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Board -- but, have not yet recieved a repsonse.

    Please continue your exposure of this plight with aggression...
  • I had a problem with my 2009 Prius a few days ago, scared me to death. I was driving down a hill and the roads were wet. I was going about 30mph. The car in front of me hit the brakes due to the guy in front of her decided he wanted to turn right. Anyway, I hit the brakes and the car started jumping! It felt like it was in slow motion. I had 2 1/2 to 3 car lenghs in front of me yet the car kept stopping and then jumping. I had plenty of time to look around. I looked at the floor mat, it was fine. My foot was hard on the brake, I looked to make sure the car was in drive and it was, I then put both feet on the brake and still the car keep jumping until I hit the lady in front of me. I'm really scared to drive this car, living in Seattle there are a lot of hills and the roads are always wet! I must say when I test drove the Prius what sold me is the sales guy was bragging about the brakes and that they could save my life someday. We drove the car up to 50mph and slammed on the brakes and it stopped on a dime. Now with that said the roads were dry. I've called Toyota to complain, haven't heard back yet.
  • I have been able to carry out a couple more test with our car over the Thanksgiving holiday. I've found that the brake delay symptom is harder to evoke on a full fuel tank. Also we had rain recently and I took our 2007 out and easily provoked a 1-1/2 second brake delay going downhill on a wet road coming off a speed bump, and after passing over a storm drain. The ABS came on hard only after the delay and I was able to stop with no further problem (My wet road tests were with full fuel tank).

    I'm presenting my findings in writing to Toyota and will document their response to the ODI office of the NHTSA if I judge it to be irresponsible in light of the public risk. In the meantime I've found someone with an accelerometer that I can borrow to get some hard facts on this, and remove subjectivity. I'll post the results of our g-force tests here when I get that done.

    I hope that the Anti-skid system interference in Prius braking is easy to fix (without causing other problems).
  • Has anyone who has experienced the Prius brake failure/delay reported it to one of the Toyota dealers in the Dallas, TX area? I called all the service managers in the Dallas area and all of them denied this problem exists and said they had never had anyone report it to them. A few of them claimed all of these were made up stories from people who didn't want the Prius to succeed. Even after pointing out all the reports on the NHTSA website these few still denied the problem exists and still thought people were making these up. Given that the 5 other cars we've considered have a sum total number of brake failure reports of zero and I counted 50 for the 2004-2009 Prius in just a few minutes there is obviously an issue with more than just a few cars. I even called the regional Toyota Service Manager and got the infamous "since we can't duplicate it there is no problem and it is user error" crap.

    The one question I could not get answered by either the service managers or the regional manager was if the 2010 Prius brake system was redesigned to solve this problem. I was hoping to confirm this was the case since we're really interested in the 2010 Prius.
  • Certainly the rear brakes have changed, but I don't know that this requires a software change, and it is the software that I believe is the problem. One change they did make to the software (it is noted in the owners manual somewhere) is to record (black box style) information which would help diagnose what happened just prior to a crash. While having this information is a very good idea, it makes me suspicious that they cannot figure out what the problem is, or how to duplicate it, and are looking for data.

    When I took my car into the dealership in Michigan, I came in with the many page printout of customer complaints posted at . I appreciate that they took me seriously.
  • I have a 3 month old 2010 Prius II and applied the brakes on snow/ice this morning and the brakes completely locked up. I felt no ABS at all. I had let off the brake and pump it myself. I don't have much experience with ABS except our 2003 Honda Odyssey has them and when they pulse you feel them. Anyway, I'm near 5k miles and am going to take it to the dealer to change the oil, disable the incredibly stupid beeping while in reverse, and now report the ABS isn't working. I'm sure I'll get a bunch of bull-crap from them about the ABS. I'll repost once I see what they say.
  • whitey9whitey9 Posts: 138
    ABS has no effect on snow, ice, sand, or loose gravel. If the road surface is loose or unstable ABS does not respond as it does on a wet, or dry road. The more advanced anti-skid ( ASR ) systems help prevent skidding and even spinning around, but NOT plain-old ABS.
  • That's interesting... I was driving my 2010 Prius on snow/ice near South Bend Sunday AM, and the ABS kicked in quite nicely when I did a panic brake maneuver. I have had the ABS work nicely under snowy conditions in my 1998 Saturn. And I learned the effectiveness of ABS under simulated icy conditions during a training program at the GM proving grounds in 1996. Granted, in these cases it was quite slippery, more like icy conditions rather than loose snow or gravel. One of the paradoxes of our technologies is that we tend to depend on them and therefore don't learn how to respond when they can't cope with the situation at hand, and we take bigger risks assuming they will cope.
  • I've had my 2007 Prius for almost a year now. Back in Feb I experienced the total brake failure problem. The parking break light was on (but the peddle was up), the ABS light came on, and the excamation point light was on. I aimed for some grass on the side of the road and coasted to a stop, and had the car towed to the dealership. They poked at it, and said there was a code (didn't tell me what) and that they had cleared it to fix the problem. Good as new.

    4 days ago it happened again. same exact scenario. I managed to limp it home and take my wife's car to work that day. We took the car in again Sat driving about 25 mph the whole way. Wouldn't you know it, by the time I got to the dealership, the error lights went out, and the brakes were magically working again.

    I told them to take the time actually figure it out this time. I didn't even get back home before they called me up to tell me they were ready for me to pick it up again. (Really? Full in depth investigation into a critical system failure in less than 20 minutes). I went back to pick it up and was told that the error this time was the error from 14000 miles ago that for no good reason the computer "pulled back up from cache". They said they did a hard-reboot on the computer and that it is now totally fixed.

    This sounds like BS to me, and my wife won't let me drive my car anymore. Has no one figured this out yet? I love my car, but if I can't drive it, I might as well trade it in for something else.

    The one thing I can add is that in both failures, it was very cold out. I have a tendency to leave the parking brake engaged when not in the car, and the first indication of a problem in both cases was that the brake light did not turn off when I released the parking brake. I don't know if that might help a gear-head figure out what is really wrong, but it might be a suggestion that Prius owners always do the same, and not leave the parking lot if the brake light stays on when they release the brake.
  • Although not directly related to the exact brake issues in the past few posts, please see this article published today about other braking issues with the Prius. rids/#more-17003
  • One thing I think everyone should do is make sure they know the basics of driving.
    What I mean by this is you should know how to drive a good old fashioned car with none of the bells and whistles or any of the electronic "crutches" that newer cars have. All the new "safety features" on newer cars are depended on way to much, resulting in drivers not having the requisite skills to drive the car safely if something fails. Any car that has ABS brakes will revert to good old fashioned standard brakes if something fails in the ABS.
  • whitey9whitey9 Posts: 138
    They will not disablew the "beeping while in reverse gear" system, as this is a safety system, and in doing so, leaves not only you, but them W-I-D-E open to litigation. In other words, if someone one gets hurt or dies, they will change the name on your house deed, and the auto dealership sign to the victims' survivors.
    As stated previously, ABS has NO effect on snow/ice/sand/loose gravel. Also, pumping the brakes is not recommended, just light constant braking way before the situtation becomes dire. Drive safely.
  • I agree in most cases with the author of Take Responsibility For Your Own Driving, krasht. However, in the case of the Prius brake system failures occuring all across the country it is not something that falls under the "improve your driving and predict your next moves" category of accidents (or near accidents). I have been driving valet in busy downtown areas for years and never had more than a rim rub on the curb. After having my '09 Prius for 6 months I found my self in a situation that I have maneuvered my way out of tens of times before. But, with the braking being completely trumped by the recharge system for a few seconds there is nothing anyone can do to stop besides running into an object. A few seconds is a life time in such a situation. And in that lifetime of seconds we all hope to God that that object is not a pedestrian.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    As noted just above by whitey the ABS has nothing to do with stopping you in a shorter distance. It's Brake Assist that does that. Brake Assist is activated by the manner in which the brake pedal is hit.
    BLAM>>> hit it hard and hold it down, then BA activates and you come to a screeching stop. I've done it many many times.
    PRESS it normally and then jam it down to stop and BA doesn't activate.
    It's the same in all vehicles.

    ABS will not help you to stop shorter in a panic situation. That's a common misconception that needs to be clarified. ABS only keeps the brakes from locking up the wheels so that the operator can steer out of danger. It has no other function. When it's activated you feel the vehicle and the pedal pulsating.

    Wet and slippery roads will make stopping longer, there's no way around that.

    The issue being monitored by the NHTSA is being discussed and analyzed by very knowledable engineers and techs over on the major Prius sites. Apparently from what those who've encountered it can explain it seems/feels like a surge as the braking switches from regen to hydraulic/friction braking. It only occurs at moderate to slow speeds and only when the tires hit good-sized bumps or defects like potholes. The sensation lasts about a half a second, but from what the various testers are discovering there is no increase in braking distance. It's a sensation to the operators but the vehicles stop as they should.
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