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Toyota Prius Owners Tell of Braking Scares

TORRANCE, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- Drivers of the Toyota (TM - Get Report) 2010 Prius are telling TheStreet.com that they regularly were frightened by braking problems long before last week's recall.

"I was afraid I was going nuts after I purchased the car, so I started keeping a spreadsheet with the times that I experienced the issue," wrote Healy Jones, who noticed that his 2010 Prius didn't always slow down when he stepped on the brakes.

Toyota said on Feb. 8 that it will recall about 133,000 of the 2010 Prius models and 14,500 of the 2010 Lexus models to update software in the anti-lock braking system. It said the system engages and disengages rapidly when the control system senses and reacts to tire slippage. So far this year, Toyota has recalled nearly 9 million vehicles, most as a result of sticky accelerator pedals.

On Wednesday, CEO Akio Toyoda said he would not testify at congressional hearings probing Toyota's response to problems with its cars, a decision that could diminish the automaker's image if consumers take the view that he is dodging his responsibility to address their concerns.

Jones, who bought his car in October, is vice president of marketing for Pixily.com, a Cambridge, Mass., document scanning company. He soon found that potholes triggered problem. Unfortunately, "New England has a lot of potholes," he wrote.

In particular, one afternoon Jones was driving home from lunch with two Pixily.com board members. "I was slowing and hit a huge pothole," he wrote. "The car jumped and both the directors let out gasps. I tried to brush it off as 'Wow, that was a big pothole,' but inside I was thinking, 'Man, I hope these guys don't think I'm trying to kill them right before our board meeting."

Specifically, Jones' problem is that when he brakes normally, and then hits a pothole, the car stops slowing down. "The car goes faster than you think it should," he said. At that point, he must slam on the brakes to slow the car. He plans to take his vehicle into the dealer, who so far has not notified him of the recall, "although they did call me just before the recall was announced asking me if it was time for me to have an oil change."

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