Less than two weeks after the problem was cited in a lawsuit, Toyota USA announced Tuesday that it will repair at no cost to car owners a "brake pulsation" defect that surfaced on many of the 380,000 Camry models sold in the United States between 1983 and early 1987.
The company also said that its dealers will compensate car owners for the cost of earlier repairs that did not solve the problem, which is caused by the unintended movement of brake pads as they pass over the brake disc.
In a press release, Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. said that brake pulsation is an annoyance that affects neither brake performance nor steering control.
But in a class-action lawsuit filed April 20, the Los Angeles-based Center for Law in the Public Interest and the Center for Auto Safety contended that the shuddering induced by brake pulsation can result in "severe" steering difficulties and "grossly uneven deterioration of the tires."
"This was a classic example of a secret warranty," said John R. Phillips, a co-director the law center, "where they tell the dealers, 'If people come complaining about this problem, we will fix it.' But they don't tell the (car) owners."
A Toyota spokesman said the company has no "secret warranty" policy.