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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 1 of 7)

problem #139

Aug 152015


  • 170,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that the combination meter failed, which caused the instrument panel and dashboard lights to not illuminate when the vehicle was started. The contact stated that the failure was intermittent. The vehicle was not taken to be diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 170,000....updated 02/19/16

- Tuttle, OK, USA

problem #138

Sep 252015


  • miles
The front right side headlight keeps going out. Already replaced it twice and it seems this is very common with the Toyota Prius. Fuse also keeps burning. This is a very dangerous situation at night. Driving with one head light is becoming to common for this type of vehicle.

- Stockton, CA, USA

problem #137

Mar 152015


  • 106,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota pruis. The contact stated that the brake warning light on the instrument panel intermittently illuminated. This was a recurring failure. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic for diagnostic testing. The technician was unable to determine the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The approximate failure mileage was 106,000.

- Arlington, VA, USA

problem #136

May 092015


  • 45,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Toyota Prius. When the vehicle was started, the instrument panel would not illuminate. The failure recurred on several occasions. On several occasions, the vehicle would not power off after the on/off switch was depressed. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and was diagnosed that the multi functional display multi-meter and the power switch were faulty and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and stated that the extended warranty no longer applied to the vehicle. The approximate failure mileage was 45,000.

- Waban, MA, USA

problem #135

Jul 092015


  • 200,600 miles
Speedometer & other control information display went blank. Pulled over to side of road but unable to turn off engine. Contacted Toyota & was told problem is known & warranty extend to 9 years & unlimited miles. However, my vehicle is older than nine years, so I must pay estimate $1400 to fix & car will be unavailable for estimate 2 weeks. The vehicle is unsafe to drive, prior to this known problem occurring car was operating perfectly ( averaging 50 mpg per tank of gas, documented). This appears to be a safety problem that was known by the manufacturer, however they seems to be trying to hide this by making the statistical estimate that by extending the warranty the majority of these cars would be off the road and their lawyers & legal insurance would cost less than the few humans kills after this arbitrary 9 year risk period. I could have been killed as a result of this failure! fortunately I was not, however I am left with a vehicle that is undriveable (with no warning!) and can only be repaired by Toyota at a cost I am not able to afford!

- South Pasadena, CA, USA

problem #134

Mar 132015

Prius 4-cyl

  • 156,654 miles
The dashboard display failed to light up, but the car turned on. It did go into drive, so I drove my daughter to school, then stopped to call coggin Toyota at the avenues to report the problem, but the car would not turn off. They said it was the instrument cluster, a known problem with the Prius and for which there was a technical service bulletin and a warranty enhancement, although that "enhancement" ended 9 years after the vehicle went into service. I brought the car in right away since I couldn't turn it off. My car is 10 years old. I called Toyota to complain that I had not been told about this when it was still under the enhanced warranty period (although they have records saying they mailed something) and that if I had known about this (and apparently dozens of other problems looming out there for which there are tsbs) one week earlier when I paid over $3,000 to have the hybrid battery array replaced, I might have made a different choice. My biggest complain centers on being told what I believe was a lie by the Toyota customer service rep --[xxx] -- when I pressed for why, if the manufacturer knows the part has a high failure rate that it's willing to take responsibility for, does that enhanced warranty period end? she told me the government of California and other states limits that period to 9 years. She could not provide documentation of that government regulation, and it doesn't sound right that regulations in California (or other states) would limit the time it would allow a company to offer repairs to its product with an enhanced warranty. Has this happened to anyone else and what can be done about it? information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #133

Jan 032012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 105,000 miles


I have been having a problem with my Prius combination display (digital display that shows the speed, mileage, fuel level, current gear selection, etc.). sometimes when I turn on my car, the combination display is blank and will not turn on. The rest of the car turns on, but that display remains blank. I can drive the car, but I can't see my speed, mileage, or what gear the car is in. This usually happens when it is cold outside (below 50 degrees or so). When the problem first came up in 2012, I would turn off the car and turn it back on and the display would then work fine. It was very hard to repeat the problem and it was quite intermittent. This winter (2014-2015) the problem has come back, but now the display will often not turn back on even if I power cycle the car. There is another new related problem. Whenever the car shows this display problem, I then cannot turn off the car. I press the power button and nothing happens. I even tried to hold it down for 3-10 seconds. The car will not shut off. I have to usually disconnect the battery to get it to power down. This problem has me concerned. Not being able to see my speed is my biggest concern. Also since the gear shift lever always returns to a reset spot (it doesn't stay in the gear position after you select your gear) it's impossible to see what gear the vehicle is in. Also very concerning. I took it to the dealer and they confirmed the problem/defect. It appears that many other owners have this same problem. I believe there is a defect in the manufacturing of the display/circuit board. Toyota did initially offer to fix the problem, but by the time I could actually repeat the problem to show to the dealer, the offer had expired for me to get it repaired. It's a serious issue that I wanted to report to the NHTSA. Thank you.

- Burbank, CA, USA

problem #132

Mar 032014


  • 280,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota Prius. After starting the vehicle, the instrument panel failed to illuminate and the gauges were difficult to read. The failure occurred intermittently. The contact mentioned that when the failure occurred, the key failed to be removed from the ignition and the vehicle failed to turn off. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the combination meter needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was 280,000.

- Providence, RI, USA

problem #131

Sep 012012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 155,000 miles
The right headlight keeps going out and after we turn the switch back and forth it goes back on. This past weekend in a driving rain storm at night, the lights went completely out on a windy mountain road. I flicked them on and off several times and they would go on and then go out shortly afterwards. Neither dim or bright would work. I ended up having to pull the bright signal on the column back manually and hold it while driving the last 45 minutes to home. It was very dangerous for about 20 miles in the rain at night the lights going in and out on curves or against on coming traffic, a head-on could have occurred easily.

- Redwood Valley, CA, USA

problem #130

Dec 142012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 121,000 miles
I purchased this vehicle in December 2012. Ever since I have had this Prius, I have had issues with the front drivers side headlight turning off randomly. Whenever I turn the car on, both headlights are always on, but while driving, the drivers side headlight turns off. I took it to carfix in garner, nc and they thought that it could be the headlight, so they recommended changing it. I ended up having it changed by a family friend because it was cheaper to do it that way. The headlight was still giving me problems after being changed, so I took it to the leith Toyota dealership in raleigh, nc and they said that the headlight that I purchased from autozone was not the correct type of headlight, so they changed it again. Even after they changed it, the headlight was still going on and off randomly. I took it back to the Toyota dealership today and they said that it sounds like some kind of wiring issue. I have done some research on the issue and have seen recalls for 2005-2009 Prius' for the same issues, but since mine is a 2004 it does not fall into the recall category. I believe that it should based on my issue compared to that as well as the number of other complaints on the internet and blogs that I have found.

- Garner, NC, USA

problem #129

Nov 252013

Prius 4-cyl

  • 150,900 miles


Passenger headlamp goes out while car is being driven. Driver side headlamp remains on (illuminated). Turning headlamp switch off and on causes passenger and driver side headlamp to illuminate. On re-illumination, passenger side headlamp sometimes appears normal and at other times appears to be dimmer, more yellowish. Dealer quoted replacement hid bulb and labor to replace will cost $225 total.

- Wilkesboro, NC, USA

problem #128

Oct 222013

Prius 4-cyl

  • 299,999 miles
Odometer stops working at 299,999 miles. Toyota says there is no fix.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #127

Oct 162013

Prius 4-cyl

  • 118,000 miles
Same intermittent headlight problem posted here hundreds of times. Why is Toyota only fixing 2006+ model years? the same problem plagues all model years.

- Tacoma , WA, USA

problem #126

Aug 262013

Prius 4-cyl

  • miles
My 2004 Toyota Prius's hid lights are going off intermittently and coming back on when I turned them off and back on again. The driver's side is going off again and will come back on again when I turn it off and then back on. Also, my headlight leveling system warning light is coming on. When I drive on the highway light goes off, I feel very unsafe. I have to turn them off and back on in seconds to avoid a possible accident. Dealer can't find the issue. They recommend to change the bulbs but it doesn't solve problem.

- North Arlington, NJ, USA

problem #125

Dec 202012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 235,000 miles
Both headlamps go off and on sporadically, as follows: Approximately thirty (30) days after buying this used car, the left hid headlamp appeared burnt out. Both left and right headlamps were replaced on or about January 8, 2013, as recommended for this type of light. On installation, either light would flash on but then go out again, but turning the headlamp switch off then on agan seemed to rectify the problem. Both headlamps then remained on for approximately two weeks, at which point the left headlamp was sporadically out for approximately two weeks, when it would go on only if the headlamp switch were turned off them back on again. Both headlamps then worked for approximately six weeks, at which point the left headlamp went out for approximately four weeks, but then came on after approximately one month when the police found the right light to be out. They said it needed to be fixed; that it is a safety hazard, at which I explained the history of Toyota Prius headlamp issues and that I would pursue an appropriate remedy for this manufacturing defect. The right headlamp remains out to this date, but did come on for approximately one week in the interim. Turning the headlamp switch off then on again has not helped since the day of installation.

- Marion, IL, USA

problem #124

Jul 222011

Prius 4-cyl

  • 143,056 miles
Dash board controls and light went off. I have informed Toyota and the dealers of this issue several times that the dash board lights go off and then the car doesn't shut down for a long time. I finally diagnosed the issue myself (bad combination meter) and informed the dealer. They informed me that although Toyota had an extended warranty on the meter that my car was out of warranty. Eventhough I had complained about this issue before, it was not documented properly and therefore not the dealer or Toyota itself would fix the issue. This is an extremely dangerous issue. As the car drives without any of the dash board lights on. You have no way to know how much gas you have or how fast you are driving. And if you find yourself outside the warranty period they are unwilling to fix the issue. Help !!!! I can die driving this car !!!! I am in the process of selling it but I have to drive it to and from work. This needs to be a forced recall !!!! call me I have details of my conversations with Toyota ! this should be in the news. [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #123

Mar 012013

Prius 4-cyl

  • 118,000 miles
My 2004 Prius has a touch screen display that controls many functions including climate controls. On a recent morning I started my vehicle and got an error message saying "no external connection to air conditioner" at the same time I could not access heater, defrost, navigation, hybrid monitor or hands free phone. Fortunately, I had a rag in the car and could keep my window clean. After 20 minutes of driving, the radio cut out and then all controls came back. Another 10 minutes of driving and the controls cut back off. This problem now occurs each time I drive the vehicle. When I researched this issue on the internet, I discovered this is a widespread problem with the displays on the 04 and 05 Prius. Toyota issued (tsb) EL002-05 dealing with this issue but offered no recall. The problem lies in the circuit boards that were supplied to Toyota motors. I live in Maine and not having access to my window defroster is a huge safety concern. I have to keep a rag in the car to keep my window clean. Toyota customer service refuses to fix this because I am beyond the 3 yr / 36000 mile warranty. This is a manufacturing defect that causes loss of visibility while driving. Absolutely should be a recall campaign for vehicles manufactured with this defect.

- West Gardiner, ME, USA

problem #122

Oct 152012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 140,422 miles
Water intrusion caused corrosion of the main engine wiring harness which caused a fault in the auxiliary 12V battery and has made the vehicle undriveable. Toyota cannot determine the source or cause of the water intrusion even though I have brought in the vehicle for routine maintenance since I purchased it and I have complained about a problem which is related to the auxiliary 12V battery several times in the past. This seems to be a flaw in the 2004 Prius design.

- Elgin, IL, USA

problem #121

Sep 252012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 249,000 miles
2004 Toyota Prius with hid headlights is used as a taxi cab. On September 25th, 2012 the drivers side headlight would begin to flicker and turn off after around five minutes of operation. The hid bulb replacement did not resolve the matter. Headlights must be turned off and then on again in order to resume their operation.

- Carmichael, CA, USA

problem #120

Oct 102012


  • 141,000 miles
. 10/09/2012 I went to start my 2004 Prius I hit the power button and the dashboard lights had not work. You did not know the status of the car. Actuated the power switch and the brake peddle numerous times to no avail. I tried to select the gear and the car would move. But dash board display did not light. The lights and turn signals work fine. I drove 15 miles home with on display. I selected the park button and the car parked I went to turn off the power button and the car would not turn off the was in the battery mode. I tried to shut it off by disconnecting the 12 volt battery to no avail. I found a fuse that if I pulled it out the car would shut off. I tried the power numerous times and the car turn on and with the dashboard display working. On the morning of 10/10/2012 I tried go to work and when the power and the brake are pushed the dash board lights would not light. The car would move if selected to drive now the engine was running because the car was cold. I placed the car in park and selected the power button to off now the engine will shut off. Again I tried the power and the brake numerous times to no avail. I tried the fuse trick again it worked the engine stopped. Replaced the fuse and tried the power button it work and the dash display were lighted with numerous lights because I shut the down in unapproved mode. Turned the power switch on & off. Numerous times all light were normal except the check engine was on I drove to the Toyota dealer. I was told that is a normal issue the dashboard displays go bad. I understand the dashboard display can go bad. My issue is the safety problem that when the display fails the power button does not shut car off in the battery mode or the engine mode. That's a big issue.

- Laurel , DE, USA

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