Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety.

10.0

really awful
Crashes / Fires:
4 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
50,549 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2004 Toyota Prius electrical problems

electrical problem

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2004 Toyota Prius Owner Comments (Page 3 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #99

Mar 012006

Prius

  • 25,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Regarding my 2004 Toyota Prius: The 'multi-information display, I.e., computer display, does not function frequently, at which time a message saying the air conditioner is disconnected. Simultaneously, when this message appears, the radio instantly turns off. When this occurs access to the computer is impossible, controls of the air conditioner system are unavailable except through those on the steering wheel which continue to function. The computer function later randomly is restored for brief to long periods but remains subject to random failure again. This failure has existed for years. Dealerships refused to take responsibility for repair or replacement of the equipment. This defect is a major distraction to safe operation of the vehicle. For example, during computer shutdown periods, it is impossible to alter air conditioner fan speed during freezing ambient weather.

- St. Louis, MO, USA

problem #98

Mar 062008

Prius

  • miles
2004 Toyota Prius with computer problem. Started getting an error message that air conditioner wasn't working. Then the computer would not give the gas mileage. Then the temp wouldn't show. Then couldn't use the radio (it would come one but you couldn't see what the station was), now it is all blank. It does not work at all. Then it works for 5 minutes about once a quarter. Can't control air/heat, radio, can't see mileage, can't see the temp. Took it to dealer and they said that it would cost hundreds of dollars to diagnose it. Read on Toyota board online that this is common problem that Toyota does not stand behind. I have owned Toyota since 1980S and have 5 now (kids, work, adults). I am satisfied with all but the 2004. I have a 2005 Prius also but no problems (so far).

- Leesburg, VA, USA

problem #97

Jan 112010

Prius

  • 144,679 miles
I own a 2004 Toyota Prius. Just last week the touch screen that controls the heating / air conditioning, the radio, the current mpg information and condition of the ni-metal hydride battery and the gas engine interconnections, began to fail. Sometimes it works for a while, then it stops for some time then it might or might start working again before I get where I am going. It is extremely intermittent in its correct operation. I have read on the internet that many other 2004 and early 2005 Prius owners have encountered this problem, but that Toyota is refusing to issue a recall. The new part is very expensive (~$4,000). Refurbished parts are not readily available for the Prius, I suppose because it is a relative new model to Toyota. I wanted to report this to you, in the hopes that you might have some way of letting toyotal know that one more owner is having this problem. I did not know if you can force a manufacturer to issue a recall when a certain number of owners complain, or if this is only the case where safety is involved. Regards, dale w. howard

- Jonesboro, GA, USA

problem #96

Nov 192009

Prius 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 31,999 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

The contact owns a 2004 Toyota Prius. While driving between 40-45 mph the gasoline motor would fail, and then cause the vehicle to stall without warning. The vehicle was taken to the dealer twice. The battery was replaced first, and then the fuel system was flushed. The second repair corrected the problem, but the problem of the vehicle locking in park was not addressed. The current mileage was 32,100. The failure mileage was 31,999. Updated 01/12/10 all of the alarm lights on the dashboard had illuminated when accelerating. When the consumer stopped the vehicle and switched to park, he was unable to shift the vehicle into neutral. After about 15 minutes, the consumer was able to shift to neutral. The instrumental panel did not display a clear explanation that the internal combustion engine was not starting and that the vehicle was running on the battery only. Updated 01/15/10.

- Ocala, FL, USA

problem #95

Sep 012009

Prius

  • 60,000 miles
Failure of dashboard multi-display, along with all its functions, including nav, climate, radio, fault notifications. And bluetooth phone operation. On the latter, the phone will connect, but not operate, making this a safety issue. There is a tsb on this issue. Display was replaced by dealer under extended warranty. Replacement took about 4 weeks to arrive. Dealer said Toyota was switching to a "out-of-warranty exchange" policy for this repair, meaning that the owner would have to put up with a big hole in the dashboard with loose connectors while the unit was being repaired.

- Tarrytown, NY, USA

problem #94

Oct 162009

Prius

  • 64,000 miles
The information screen on '04 and '05 Toyota priuses fails. Toyota has known about this for some time (their technical service bulletin el 005-02). Not only is it no longer possible to fully control the sound system and the heating/cooling controls, but the nav system no longer operates. And most important from a safety point of view, the warning that sounds and shows when a door is opened and the transmission is still engaged (something easy to do in a Prius) no longer operates. Nor does a message show when the system detects something wrong with the engine management system. Nor does the low fuel message show. I have two friends with early 2004 priuses and both of them have had the same problem. The cost of a fix for this defective part is over $800!

- Redwood City, CA, USA

problem #93

Jul 102009

Prius

  • 127,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I am having the same problem described here: The multi-function display (mfd) failed. (cross reference NHTSA complaint #10173892). This is a known design defect (cross reference analysis on web: techno-fandom.org/~hobbit/cars/mfd/compare.html and techno-fandom.org/~hobbit/cars/mfd/). Toyota issued a technical service bulletin (either el-002-04 or el-002-05 - conflicting info on this) on Jan 10, 2005. When the mfd fails, one cannot control the amount of airflow to the windshield (defroster). This presented me with visibility problems during the morning commute. As such, I consider it a safety issue. Toyota has been aware of this for 3 years, given the date of their tsb. The root cause appears to be an undersized solder pad on one of the electronic cards of the mfd. This results in a cracking of the solder joint. Because my problem was intermittent, coming and going on a frequent basis, I presume it was a micro crack. This does not help when the windshield is fogging over. All of the various error messages that were displayed on the mfd were consistent with the information on the above referenced web url's. the problem is with the release F of the electronic card assembly and was corrected with release G. there are pictorial comparisons between the two releases on one of the web url's. given that this has an impact on visibility during the winter months, I am shocked that Toyota chose to sit on this problem. The supplier of this part to Toyota is fujitsu.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #92

May 162009

Prius

  • 124,000 miles
On my 2004 Toyota Prius, the lights go out randomly. Of course, at night. I took it to two Toyota dealerships, and the first couldn't replicate the problem. The second dealership said the fix for one light would be an astonishing $850 because it's a defective electronic controller. Since my lights worked intermittently or after being turned on and off...and after searching the internet and discovering this defect is common. I'm thinking lights cutting out while driving, is quite dangerous, and it's a potential hazard for both drivers and pedestrians. Many Prius owners believe this is a product defect in need of a recall from Toyota before someone gets hurt.

- Springfield, MA, USA

problem #91

Feb 112008

Prius

  • 75,000 miles
I own a Toyota Prius 2004 and the headlights go on/off whenever they feel like it. When they go off if you turn the switch they go back on. Are there any other complaints on this issue?

- Merced, CA, USA

problem #90

Feb 032009

Prius

  • 46,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota Prius. While driving between 65-70 mph, the vehicle suddenly stalled and shut off completely. The electronics of the vehicle were still operating, but the vehicle itself could not be restarted. The vehicle then shifted itself into park. The hazard lights in the vehicle began running off the auxiliary battery, which is a low power battery. In addition, the hazard lights turned off. The contact called Toyota, but they were unable to assist. The vehicle was towed to a dealer. The battery was jumped and the vehicle was restarted. A diagnostic was performed and the vehicle ran normally for six weeks before the failure recurred. The vehicle was towed to a local dealer again and they stated that there was smoke coming from the fuse box, which meant a fuse was blown. After replacing the fuse box, the vehicle performed normally. The technicians were unable to find any other failures with the vehicle; however, the contact does not want to drive it due to fear of the failure recurring. The vehicle has been repaired, but is still at the dealer. The failure mileage was 46,000 and current mileage was 47,500.

- Cincinatti, OH, USA

problem #89

Jan 072009

Prius

  • 34,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Multi-function monitor display intermittent blank out. No display for multi-function display unit. It occurs very often since January 2008.

- Mountain View, CA, USA

problem #88

Jan 142009

Prius

  • 63,300 miles
The digital dashboard which includes the speedometer, odometer/tripmeter, shift indicator and fuel gauge goes blank. This creates a safety hazard especially during night or poor weather driving, and when shifting. My local Toyota service department manager acknowledged that Toyota knows this is a common problem, but refused to fix it at no cost. The service manager also told me that he must impound my car until the new part is installed. He said that federal law required this as the new odometer must be set at the distributor before being shipped to the service department. This would cost approximately $800. Luckily for me the display came on during troubleshooting and I refused further service at that time. Now, a month or so later, the display shut off again and I am only driving the car during daylight hours.

- Huntington, WV, USA

problem #87

Aug 012008

Prius

  • 135,000 miles
High intensity discharge headlights intermittently going out. No rhyme or reason as to when the outage occurs but turning the circuit off and back on again will re-illuminate the hid headlight...but for how long??

- Trout Run, PA, USA

problem #86

May 102008

Prius

  • 20,000 miles
The multi-function display (mfd) failed. (cross reference NHTSA complaint #10173892). This is a known design defect (cross reference analysis on web: techno-fandom.org/~hobbit/cars/mfd/compare.html and techno-fandom.org/~hobbit/cars/mfd/). Toyota issued a technical service bulletin (either el-002-04 or el-002-05 - conflicting info on this) on Jan 10, 2005. When the mfd fails, one cannot control the amount of airflow to the windshield (defroster). This presented me with visibility problems during the morning commute. As such, I consider it a safety issue. Toyota has been aware of this for 3 years, given the date of their tsb. The root cause appears to be an undersized solder pad on one of the electronic cards of the mfd. This results in a cracking of the solder joint. Because my problem was intermittent, coming and going on a frequent basis, I presume it was a micro crack. This does not help when the windshield is fogging over. All of the various error messages that were displayed on the mfd were consistent with the information on the above referenced web url's. the problem is with the release F of the electronic card assembly and was corrected with release G. there are pictorial comparisons between the two releases on one of the web url's. given that this has an impact on visibility during the winter months, I am shocked that Toyota chose to sit on this problem. The supplier of this part to Toyota is fujitsu.

- Sebastopol, CA, USA

problem #85

Sep 272008

Prius

  • 77,000 miles
I was quoted $466 just for the price of my bulb for the headlight of my Toyota Prius. For a non luxury car it so expensive that a lot of people will choose to make due with their flickering one. It is outrageous that Toyota did not give a more affordable choice. It is going to be more dangerous out there.

- Tallahassee, FL, USA

problem #84

May 012008

Prius 4-cyl

  • 45,000 miles
Erratic loss of pc use, touch screen, audio deactivated, no picture at all dealer wants $980 to replace with refurbished and $4000 for new. Worried about all the other dot troubled listings of total electrical power loss.

- Appleton, WI, USA

problem #83

Dec 252007

Prius 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles
On December 25, 2007 when I started my car it locked up with a christmas tree like effect all of the lights came on and I could not shut the car off. All of the gears were engaged according to the display and the car was in slooooow motion forwards. Not even a crawling speed. Imperceptibly slow forwards. It would not shut off nor would it do anything that would allow me to control the motion of the car except use the brake to hold it in place. I had a scan gauge connected to the obd port and was able to pull the following codes from it: U0293 and P0A1D. I have been told that the first code means lost communication with hv ECU and the second code means hv ECU malfunction. The outdoor air temperature was about 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Only the use of the scan tool code reset allowed me to power the vehicle off. Otherwise I would have had to place the vehicle up against an immovable object to keep it under control.

- Franklin Park, IL, USA

problem #82

Apr 202007

Prius

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,800 miles
While driving Prius on major highway in dfw metroplex during evening rush hour the warning light came on, then a couple seconds later, entire dash board information screen and all warning lights flashed. Car engine continued to run, and would not turn off, but no power was available to steering or brakes. This problem occurred at the apex of a bridge. However, was able to coast the car into the median between the merge ramp of the major highway and the interstate. Very dangerous situation if it had occurred before apex of the bridge. )called the dealership, who in turn, called a tow truck. Had to basically play with power button, brake, and gear shift to get it into neutral so the car could be loaded onto the tow truck. Took dealer three days to diagnose the problem. It was blamed on a short in auxiliary battery. However, it seemed to be working okay. This was the third time occurrence such as this happened to this car, as well as a non-functioning driver information screen, that if the car was hot inside then information screen worked, if no, then the screen stated no connection to air conditioning, which occurred since first time the shut down happened. Thought this problem was supposed to be fixed with the software upgrade that they installed after the last occurrence. It appeared that this defect happened every 18,000 miles. Now there is 79,000 miles on the car.

- Forney, TX, USA

problem #81

Jan 012007

Prius

  • miles
2004 Toyota Prius having problems starting.* the consumer stated after several tries, the vehicle started, however when he shifted into the drive, the engine raced and the vehicle lurched forward rapidly, even though the accelerator had not been applied. The consumer was unable to stop the vehicle by using the brakes. The vehicle continued forward about 25 feet and crashed into a garage. The consumer received minor scratches to his knee. The consumer also noted that the air bags did not deploy.

- Madison, WI, USA

problem #80

Nov 242006

Prius 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
: the contact stated the vehicle did not start after being parked overnight. There was no response from either the engine or electrical system. The vehicle was jump-started and taken to a service dealer, where the vehicle failed again. The dealer was unable to determine the problem. The manufacturer was notified, who stated that the failure was due to driver error.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

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