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.

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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
32,122 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2004 Toyota Prius Owner Comments

problem #12

Jan 082011


  • 52,700 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that he applied the brakes and depressed the shift button to shift into park. As he removed his foot from the brake pedal, the vehicle then rolled forward until pressure was reapplied to the brakes. The contact noticed that there was a malfunction in which the vehicle was not actually shifted into park after he engaged the park button. The failure recurred intermittently. The vehicle was not taken to have the failure diagnosed or the vehicle repaired. The failure and current mileages were 52,700.

- College Park, MD, USA

problem #11

Jan 032011


  • 50,500 miles
The contact owns 2004 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that while driving the gear shift became stuck between drive and neutral. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and where the shift lever assembly was repaired. The manufacturer was contacted and they told him they were aware of the problem. The failure mileage was 50,500 and current mileage was 50,656.

- Arlington, MA, USA

problem #10

May 302010


  • 50,000 miles
My 2004 Toyota Prius has left me stranded for 15 minute periods of time while parked on my street. All the dashboard lights come on as well as the following red warning "caution - transmission "P" lock mechanism is abnormal. Park in a flat place and apply brake." I was parked on a mild incline and I always use my parking brake. This however makes me suspicious of whether the parking brake is hardy enough to work when parked on the crown of a street parking space. I applied and re-applied my parking brake without success. I open and closed the hood without success. I open and closed my door without success. I placed all my passenger seat items on the floor without success. I held the ignition button without success. I placed my key fob into the ignition without success. And when trying to remove my key fob so I could go call a tow truck, the entire dashboard housing for the ignition key came loose and dis-articulated in my hand. I just carefully pushed the plastic housing back into the dashboard.... however, that was depressing to see. Finally, after all the tinkering for 15 minutes, my car finally turned off. I was then able to turn it back on and drive away without a problem. In retrospect, this has happened on at least 4 occasions since December 24, 2009 and I just assumed that during the bout with my injured leg that I was not adequately placing enough force on the parking brake..... but should this happen so easily?? I have seen many other similar complaints online. I would like to know if this is part of the whole safety issues with cars not being able to stop while running. Thanks.

- Arlington, VA, USA

problem #9

Feb 092008


  • 80,000 miles


I have a 2004 Prius. The shift lever began to stick in the select gear position instead of going back to the neutral position. When this happened, the park button would not work, causing the car to move forward if the brake was released. I called Toyota and complained twice. The gear select lever needs to be modified so it doesn't stick and the software changed to allow the park function to work when the car is stopped regardless of the position of the gear select lever.

- Riverside, CA, USA

problem #8

May 202009


  • 42,000 miles
Twice my Toyota Prius has "surged" unexpectedly. I was coasting into a parking space both times, so was able to stomp on the brake and stop the car. When the first recall was issued I knew it wasn't the floor mat. Mine was the original one and was firmly attached. It did not move and "entrap" the pedal and I did not have my foot on the gas when the surges happened. I did not bother to report it at the time, as I am an older female and have been treated like an idiot at the dealership when I spoke with the service people. The car has been fine in every other way. I believe this is a throttle or computer/electronic problem and I believe that they know it.

- Ashland, MA, USA

problem #7

Aug 012008

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2004 Toyota Prius automatic transmission control problems. Consumer states that transmission control lever became worn. Sometimes the vehicle began to the roll with this defect. The consumer stated the internal spring that moves the transmission lever back to the previous position became worn and now it doesn't return to it's normal position when putting it in reverse or drive. The shifter lever was sticking in drive or reverse.

- North Hollywood, CA, USA

problem #6

Oct 182007


  • miles


2nd occurrence of Toyota Prius acceleration. While wife leaving daughters school, car accelerated (pedal off the accelerator!), she jammed on brakes, but was close in provoking an accident on main street. This is the second occurrence. First time, she hit a taxi while stopped in a red light. Accident was reported by police (no injuries). First time took car into the dealer (no apparent problems). Planning on taking car again to dealer tomorrow.!

- San Juan, PR, USA

problem #5

Sep 052006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,500 miles
When shifting from park to drive, car sometimes goes into reverse instead. Dealer confirmed problem and offered to replace shifting mechanism for $50 deductible on extended warranty. Will try to obtain old part.

- West Hollywood, CA, USA

problem #4

Aug 072005


  • Automatic transmission
  • 13,961 miles
3 months ago, all of the check engine lights in my Toyota Prius 04 came on. I brought it straight to the dealer. They took it for a test drive, but the lights had gone off and they refused to check it, saying it was okay. Then, yesterday, all of the lights came on again. I was on the san francisco bay bridge and could not pull over anywhere. Then, the accelerator stopped working and the car rolled to a stop. I called 911 and tried to turn off the car. The car would not turn off. The accelerator still wouldn't work and I was stuck in the middle of heavy traffic on the bridge. Finally, caltrans used a tow truck to push me off of the bridge. I was then towed to the Toyota dealer. The Toyota dealer checked the car and discovered that I had a bug in the software control unit. He updated the software and, supposedly, it now works. I asked him if it was the same issue that was reported in the news as a potential recall and he said yes.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #3

Aug 022004

Prius 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 18,800 miles
2004 Toyota Prius internal combustion engine failed to start but vehicle operated in electric mode. When battery failed, the vehicle shutdown in park so we were unable to push the vehicle out of the street. Failure of a component should not make it impossible to move the vehicle. Vehicle should not fail in park.

- Aloha, OR, USA

problem #2

Jul 142004


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota Prius. The car goes into a mode where it will not let the consumer shift into gear and because it is electric shift, the consumer does not know that he was unable to shift into gear. If he is on a hill this condition would make the vehicle coast down hill. When the consumer gets into the car, presses the brake and presses the power button the car goes into the ignition on mode instead of the ready mode. If he is looking at the dash he can tell this has happened but if he does not look at the dash he would not know that he was unable to shift the car into gear. If the car is on a slope it will go down the slope as soon as he lets off the brake and stepping on the gas does not make a difference. Obviously if there is anything in front or behind the car and there was something in the cars path down the hill he would run into it. Also, two visits to the dealer unable to duplicate or fix the problem because it is intermittent.

- Renton, WA, USA

problem #1

Sep 302004

Prius 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The consumer owns a 2004 Toyota Prius. He says that he is having problems with the vehicle because it will shut off while in traffic. Also the park mechanism will disengaged and the lock button does not unlock the doors as specified in the owners manual. Also the start button does not consistently start the vehicle properly. The vehicle experienced: Inoperative brake light, the fuel door spring was replaced, dome light remained on, engine would disengage, lights would remain lit after the vehicle was started, vehicle would not move until the vehicle was shut off and restarted to get the brake light to go out, rattling as if it were going to stall, the alarm sounded on one occasion when the door was opened, fuel door spring malfunctioned and fuel door would not open. The technicians were unable to verify the door lock malfunction. The consumer would like the vehicle replaced with a 2005 model equipped as detailed on the original invoice including aftermarket items paid for.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

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