Federal safety officials are looking into a possible brake defect in some Toyota hybrid dealers. According to a news report in the East Bay Times, this review was launched after a Southern California franchise dealer called for an investigation and a safety recall earlier last year. Among the vehicles that are being looked at is the 2013 Toyota Prius Liftback, one of which crashed into three Oakwood School teens in a North Hollywood crosswalk, seriously injuring them, in June 2014.
What the Petition States
Roger Hogan, owner of Claremont Toyota and Capistrano Toyota dealerships filed the defect petition with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in September. In that petition, Hogan said that this brake defect was causing crashes that were injuring people, and that Toyota was not handling the situation correctly. His petition also called for a safety recall of about one million vehicles including several models of Toyota hybrid vehicles.
He added that because many of the affected models are only covered by a warranty repair, the brake components have to fail or malfunction before they can be replaced. He said he wants Toyota to repair these faulty brakes because lives are at stake. Hogan’s petition identified more than 115 complaints made to NHTSA since 2010. Sixty crashes linked to the issue were reported.
NHTSA has said it is reviewing Hogan’s petition and will “examine the petition and corresponding data to determine if there is evidence of a safety-related defect.” It is not clear how long the agency’s review might take. But, if the defect petition is granted, a formal probe could be launched. Toyota has issued at least two safety recalls on hybrid vehicles over these brake components since 2013. The first recall came in 2010 and involved 2010 model year Prius vehicles and was launched in 2013. Another recall came last year involving the 2019 and 2020 models.
Auto Product Liability Issues
We commend Hogan for filing this petition with NHTSA and continuing to follow up on it. The fact that Toyota has not recalled these vehicles, which might potentially have defective brakes, is appalling. These defects not only endanger the lives of drivers and vehicle occupants but also others on the roadway such as pedestrians and bicyclists.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective auto, an experienced auto defect lawyer can help you better understand your legal rights and options. You may be able to seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, cost of rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress.