Several Toyota hybrids have been involved in accidents after their brakes failed, starting as far back as June, 2014. Yet, Toyota has not issued a recall notice on any of them. Now, the owner of a California Toyota dealership is taking matters into his own hands by filing a request for an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Citing, among others, an accident in which a driver accidentally hit three teenagers in a crosswalk after claiming that the brakes on his rented Prius failed, the petition asks the NHTSA to look at:

  • The 2010-2015 Prius Liftback
  • The 2012-2015 Avalon Hybrid
  • The 2012-2014 Camry Hybrid
  • The 2012-2015 Prius Plug-In Hybrid

The brake defect, if true, could increase a vehicle’s stopping distance, deactivate the “brake assist” feature and reduce the hydraulic pressure within the braking system itself. Toyota has already issued two previous safety recalls involving brake components since 2013 — but it hasn’t addressed these particular hybrids.

About one million cars need to be recalled, according to the petition’s sponsor, who was quoted saying, “This brake defect is causing crashes that are injuring people — and Toyota is mishandling it.” Indeed, Toyota recently lost a multi-million dollar lawsuit for retaliating against the petition’s sponsor for previously revealing defects in the manufacturer’s vehicles.

Toyota says that it will fully cooperate with the NHTSA inquiry — but it has yet to issue any voluntary recall. In the meantime, the petitioner’s dealerships have put a hold on their inventory of Toyota hybrids on the list.

It’s always worrisome when auto manufacturers turn a blind eye to consumer complaints — and even seek to keep evidence of a problem out of the public’s eye. A defective braking system in a vehicle puts drivers, passengers, other vehicles and pedestrians in danger that they aren’t even aware exists. Often, the only way to force a car manufacturer to accept responsibility for a serious car accident and the resulting injuries is through some sort of legal action.