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Toyota Issues Recall Concerning Brake Fluid Leaks

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On: Thu, Oct 21, 2010 at 12:14PM | By: John Welch

Toyota Issues Recall Concerning Brake Fluid Leaks

Here we go again; Toyota announced today that it will recall 1.53 million vehicles that may be equipped with faulty braking systems. The recall cover models built between 2004 and 2006, and include several Lexus vehicles. The RX330, GS300, IS250, and IS350, as well as Toyota Highlander and Avalon models, are all included. Seems like I just took my Avalon in for a new steering rack . . .

The actual issue is fairly innocuous. Toyota says it is concerned that "a small amount of the brake fluid could slowly leak from the brake master cylinder, resulting in illumination of the brake warning lamp." So, no one is going to die, and there are no zip-ties required. Because of this recalls less-than-immediate nature, Toyota will notify owners of the affected vehicles next month.

The actual cause of the recall is sort of elitist; Toyota once again finding a way to blame owners for dumb design. If, when servicing the brake system on any given Toyota, the mechanic or owner failed to use Toyota genuine brake fluid, then they may be responsible for causing the master cylinder to leak. Toyota brake fluid contains a certain amount of polymers that lubricate and maintain rubber seals within the braking system. Use some cheapo, off-brand fluid, that does not contain the right amount of polymers, and the Toyota seals within the master cylinder could begin to break down and leak. Hmm, convenient.

As Toyota puts it: "The polymers act as lubricants for certain brake system components. If during vehicle maintenance, brake fluid is used that does not contain such polymers or only small amounts, a part of the internal rubber seal (brake master cylinder cup) located at the end of the brake master cylinder piston may become dry and may curl during movement of the piston. If this occurs, a small amount of the brake fluid could slowly leak from the brake master cylinder into the brake booster, resulting in illumination of the brake warning lamp."

If that happens, "the driver will begin to notice a spongy or soft brake pedal feel and braking performance may gradually decline."

Because it is not yet an official NHTSA recall, there is no recall notice for us to post. As stated, Toyota will begin alerting owners to this issue next month.

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