Putting the Brakes On

It was a 2004 Saturn SL.

It was a 2004 Saturn SL. Our first car with ABS.

It was winter. The residential street was snow covered with packed down wheel ruts. A stop sign ahead. Brakes were applied. . . and suddenly it sounded like sound effects from one of those old-tyme radio shows when a drawer of forks, knives and spoons clatters to the linoleum floor.

What the ----!

It was the ABS engaging. Well, that was the retrospective realization. But not having had that experience—whew!

Yesterday Ford announced a “customer satisfaction program.”

The purpose: “to update the software of the regenerative brake system of some 2010-model Ford Fusion Hybrids and Mercury Milan Hybrids.”

 

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The reason: “We have received reports that some drivers have experienced a different brake feel when the hybrid’s unique regenerative brakes switch to conventional hydraulic braking.”

And note this well: “While the vehicles maintain full braking capability, customer may initially perceive the condition as loss of brakes.”

Perceive. It’s not happening. The brake system is still on the job, doing what it supposed to do.

So Ford is making a software fix. This will reduce the occurrences of switching from regenerative braking to conventional hydraulic brakes.

Every driver knows what the hydraulic brakes feel like. Not all that many are familiar with regenerative brakes.

So even though “There have been no injuries related to this condition,” there are some people who expressed concern. And Ford is getting ahead of any PR problems.

While the problems may be entirely different, the reports of issues with the Toyota Prius brakes come to mind. Maybe there are serious problems. Maybe their software is completely out of whack.

Or maybe people are experiencing a different brake feel.

Maybe they’re sensing an irrelevant momentary pause and thinking “What the ----!”