Recalls Focus on Brake-fluid Polymer


Toyota will recall more than 1.3 million vehicles globally in November, and Honda will recall 471,820 vehicles in the United States because a brake master cylinder leak could occur when using replacement brake fluid that lacks a key lubricating polymer.

In the United States, Toyota will recall 740,000 model year 2005 through 2006 Avalon, 2004 through 2006 Highlander (non hybrid) and Lexus RX330, and several 2006 Lexus model vehicles. In Japan, the recall will include nearly 600,000 vehicles, including a variety of Lexus models made between 2005 and 2006, and several Toyota models manufactured from 2003 through 2006. Toyota will also make recalls in Europe and other markets, including 15,400 Lexus cars in the United Kingdom built between 2003 and 2005.

Toyota said its brake fluid used during vehicle assembly for vehicles contains special polymers.

The polymers act as lubricants for certain brake system components, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. stated. 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 the brake warning lamp has illuminated, and the driver continues to operate the vehicle without refilling the master cylinder brake fluid reservoir, Toyota cautioned, the driver will begin to notice a spongy or soft brake pedal feel. Braking performance may gradually decline, it noted.

Toyota will notify owners of the involved vehicles by mail. Toyota and Lexus dealers will replace the brake master cylinder cup with a newly designed one at no charge.

Meanwhile, Honda will recall certain model year 2005 to 2007 Odyssey and Acura RL vehicles. As with Toyotas recall, Honda said the polymer in the brake fluid is critical, and warned that damage may occur if Hondas genuine brake fluid is replaced with a brake fluid that either lacks the special polymer or doesnt have enough of it.

The polymer content affects the amount of lubrication the brake fluid provides to brake system components that are exposed to brake fluid, Honda stated in its Oct. 21 recall notification letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If the brake fluid is replaced with a low polymer brake fluid, and the brake fluid is subsequently subjected to a manual brake fluid bleeding procedure, as opposed to an automated brake bleed procedure, it is possible for the seal at the end of the brake master cylinder primary circuit to become twisted within its retention groove. If this seal becomes twisted, it can result in a leak of a small amount of brake fluid each time the brake pedal is applied.

Should the leak occur, a low brake fluid indicator light will illuminate. Braking performance may eventually be impacted if the brake fluid reservoir isnt refilled, Honda noted.

Honda dealers will replace the brake master cylinder seal free of charge. The company had not yet provided NHTSA an owner notification schedule.

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