A total of approximately 31,000 units are impacted by the recall with the Japanese automakers saying that the collision-avoidance system could be too reactive when encountering certain objects that do not pose an immediate threat. Those objects include steel bridge joints or plates on the roadway, which can inadvertently trigger the automatic emergency braking system. Vehicles affected by the recall are the 2013-2015 Toyota Avalon, Avalon Hybrid, Lexus ES350 and ES300h.
One complaint filed to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) described the issue: “The pre-collision system abruptly and for no apparent reason activated on a freeway in Charleston, SC. No car or other obstruction was in front of the vehicle. The seat belts forced us into our seats and immobilized us, and the vehicle did a panic braking maneuver — it could not have braked more forcefully. If someone had been behind us we would have been killed.”
To address the problem, service technicians will temporarily disable the collision-avoidance system in the affected vehicles as an interim remedy. To avoid future problems, Toyota and Lexus will have to install new hardware components rather than simply updating the vehicles’ software.