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Investigation Reveals Prius Brake Problems May Precede 2010 Model-Year

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SEE ALSO: Latest Official Toyota Recall Information

Will earlier models require recall or service actions, as well?

DETROIT, Feb. 9 -- Toyota officials face a grueling day of testimony before Congress about the company's ongoing recalls and quality problems. Meanwhile, the automaker is preparing a third action, this one to address a serious brake problem with its 2010 Prius hybrid.

But if Toyota focuses solely on the current model-year, will it be addressing only part of the problem with the world's most popular hybrid? An investigative report by finds evidence to indicate problems with the Prius brakes may not be limited to the 2010 model-year.

Owners such as Jeff Zuhlke of Wisconsin, Susan Yonish of North Carolina, and others report numerous occasions when their own Prius hybrids experienced issues similar to unintended brake release. As with the now documented problems with the 2010 Prius, these and others owners have filed a significant number of complaints with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that appear to identify problems dating back a number of years before the current model-year.

Though it appears that the brake release lasts for as little as a second on the 2010 Prius, the problem is potentially still quite dangerous. At 30 mph, a car travels 44 feet in one second, or three car lengths.

For its part, Toyota pointedly states that the problem with the 2010 Prius is caused by overly aggressive programming of the vehicle's anti-lock brakes and that the problem is limited to the current model-year. However, as with other reported problems with older Prius hybrids, including problems with headlights and stalling, complaints about braking on earlier models cover a wide gamut of possible causes.

It will be up to the automaker, working with federal regulators, to ultimately identify the problems noted in the exclusive report by - or to rule them out. But the online automotive magazine stresses that simply denying there is a problem could prove to be a big mistake, especially considering the steady escalation of Toyota's ongoing safety crisis. serves as the voice of the automotive world, and delivers a mix of news and reviews, "spy shots," features, buying guides and more. Its editors and reporters are among the most widely quoted - and honored - journalists in their field. For more information, contact Paul A. Eisenstein, Publisher, at 248-613-8700, or Editor Ken Zino, at 248-543-4092.

SEE ALSO: Latest Official Toyota Recall Information