2010 Toyota Prius – Click above for high-res image gallery

Toyota has received a lot of negative publicity for its sticking accelerator pedal and floormat recalls, and now brake problems with the Prius can be officially added to the list. While there were reports of some serious concern about the brakes in the best-selling hybrid, Toyota has now admitted that there are indeed known problems with the car's anti-lock braking system.

A Toyota spokesperson said on Thursday that Prius models sold before the end of January have this brake system design problem, but that the problem has been corrected on models sold since then, according to the Associated Press. The announcement follows Japanese and U.S. officials ordering the company yesterday to investigate around 180 claims of braking problems in the 2010 Prius.

The Japanese automaker's explanation for what causes the braking issue seems right in line with the possible explanation we posited yesterday. Long story short, the Prius has both a regenerative and friction braking system, and can apparently experience a short, temporary loss of braking during the transition between the two on slick or bumpy surfaces. Toyota calls it a "slight unresponsiveness" and it usually lasts under a second.

While 2004–2009 Prius models are included in Toyota's floormat recall and none are affected by the sticking accelerator pedal recall, the new third-generation model had remained above the fray completely until yesterday. And while a recall to fix the brake issue on these models has not been announced yet, it is being considered.

UPDATE: The U.S. Transportation Department has opened an investigation into brake problems with the 2010 Toyota Prius after the company admitted it knew of the problem earlier this morning.

Related GalleryReview: 2010 Toyota Prius

[Source: The New York Times]