NHTSA closes Toyota Camry hybrid investigation

David Shepardson
The Detroit News

Washington — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Tuesday it will close an investigation into power braking issues in 100,000 Toyota Camry hybrid cars after the Japanese automaker said it will offer extended warranty coverage to address braking complaints.

NHTSA said it was closing its preliminary investigation into 100,491 2007-2011 Camry hybrids after it had reviewed 734 complaints and field reports along with 864 warranty claims for a variety of braking issues.

Toyota said it will extend warranty coverage for the brake actuator assembly and skid control unit/brake pedal stroke sensor in 2007-2011 Toyota Camry hybrid vehicles. Toyota’s program covers repairs related to two conditions: internal malfunctions of the Brake Actuator assembly; and overly sensitive monitoring logic for the Brake Pedal Stroke Sensor.

The warranty extension will cover all related repairs until November 2015 and then will continue coverage for vehicles for 10 years or 150,000 miles of use.

Separately, Toyota in July issued a service campaign to replace the brake reservoir tank in 2007-2011 Toyota Camry hybrid vehicles. The new tank will be available until June 30, 2017.

NHTSA said its analysis showed that "each condition provides warning prior to any reduction in power assisted braking, with less than 10 percent of all reports and claims involving diagnostic codes or complaint narratives indicating increased braking effort or reduced brake effectiveness."

NHTSA also said most reports "in which reduced braking assist appears to have occurred involved operation in a reduced assist mode and not a sudden, complete loss of power assisted braking."

The auto safety agency said less than 1 percent of reports and claims with evidence indicating a complete loss of power assisted braking occurred and "this mode requires operation for a significant period of time with multiple audible and visual warnings."

Most completes cited repair expense — with some owners saying repairs cost more than $3,000. The only crash resulted after an owner learned of problem but declined to get it fixed for eight months after learning of the high costs to fix it.