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NHTSA probes possible Camry malfunctions

In a move that could end up affecting some Camry owners in North Carolina, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has made a preliminary evaluation of possible brake defects in 2007 and 2008 Camry models. The agency has identified 59 complaints related to faulty brake actuation in these vehicles, 40 percent of which occurred at speeds greater than 40 mph. Brake failures at those velocities could lead to a dangerous car accident. Thus far, two accidents have been linked to the possible defect and the NHTSA is investigating whether any injuries or fatalities may be related.

Although the investigation has not yet risen to the level of a general recall, media sources have advised that Camry owners have their vehicles checked out at a dealership as soon as possible if any odd behavior occurs. According to the NHTSA, the potential problem has to do with an estimated 30,000 Camry Hybrids experiencing intermittent assisted braking loss, and the agency has posted a warning on its website regarding the issue. A Toyota representative has released a statement saying that the manufacturer intends to fully cooperate with the NHTSA's actions.

An auto accident can lead to serious injury and death for those involved. In addition, medical expenses incurred in their aftermath often threaten the financial stability of affected families. While many such incidents are in some way caused by a negligent driver, the NHTSA's investigation shows that manufacturing defects can sometimes play a role as well.

As part of their assembly and distribution process, companies like Toyota are required to abide by government safety regulations before selling their products. Owing to the increasing complexity of modern automobile systems, the possibility of hardware or software errors has necessarily risen, and while such errors may be wholly unintentional, the manufacturer may well be held liable if one of their customers suffers injury as a result.

Source: Edmunds, "Feds Probe 2007-'08 Toyota Camry Hybrid After Reports of Brake System Malfunction", Anita Lienert, January 27, 2014

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