Chicago Prius owners talk about brake issues

February 5, 2010 8:51:10 AM PST
There are more problems for Toyota. The car company is now looking into an issue with the brakes on the 2010 Prius. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation.

As dealerships ramp up repairs for the brake pedals on some Toyotas, the Prius is being scrutinized. There have been complaints about inconsistency in braking in the popular hybrids -- 124 in the U.S. and 77 in Japan.

On Thursday, some Prius owners showed ABC7 what they think may be troubling some new Prius owners.

Wayne Mitchell is on his second Prius. It's a 2010 he bought last year, mainly for the great gas mileage. When his coworker Felipe Torres was looking to dump his gas-guzzling truck, he also bought a 2010 Prius. They took ABC7 for a ride to show us something Prius owners have to get used to.

"The sensation you have is like your accelerating, but in actuality you're just coasting," said Mitchell,

Mitchell is also the cofounder of a local Prius chat group, He says new Prius owners often have questions about the brakes. He explains that the brake pedal doesn't feel engaged going over an uneven surface, even though it is.

"If you were just to push a little further into your break pedal, the brakes -- the regular brakes -- are there. They'll come on and they'll stop the car," said Mitchell.

Torres recalled feeling a bit out of control the first time he tried braking while going over a bump.

"It felt like it was hydroplaning, felt like it was skidding, like it was slipping on ice just for a minute," said Torres.

On Thursday, Toyota USA and federal regulators announced an investigation of the 2010 Prius braking system due to inconsistent feel of braking on rough or slippery surfaces.

Riding on Chicago streets riddled with potholes and bumps, Torres and Mitchell say they have had plenty of experiences with the odd braking feel, but now they are used to it.

"It would be beneficial if they were to adjust that, but I don't think it's a big concern," said Torres.

"You always have braking power, you have the ability to stop the car, but it might make people more comfortable not having that sensation on occasion," said Mitchell.

Toyota says the problem was identified and corrected in Priuses built since January.

It has been reported that Toyota may recall the Prius in the US, but no announcement has been made.

Toyota did not respond to ABC's request for an interview regarding the cover-up allegations.

The automaker is now investigating possible brake problems with its luxury Lexus hybrid. The Lexus hybrid uses the same braking system as the Prius.