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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
94,141 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.

2005 Toyota Prius drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2005 Toyota Prius Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #24

Aug 192015


  • 174,000 miles


The contact owns a 2005 Toyota Prius. After the vehicle was shifted into the park position, the contact exited the vehicle as it began to roll away. The vehicle struck the contact. The instrument panel failed to illuminate. A police report was not filed and there were no injuries reported. The failure recurred numerous times. The vehicle was taken to a dealer, where it was not diagnosed or repaired. In addition, the contact attempted to turn the ignition to the off position, but the key failed to eject from the vehicle. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer, where it was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 174,000.

- Santa Clara, CA, USA

problem #23

Aug 202015


  • 174,000 miles
The car jumps out of gear, or it won't go into park. But it started to drives away after I got out of the car, or as I was getting out. This happen twice, once at the dealer. The display for transmission position was broken. The same display that shows speed, fuel level and other items was not working. Also, I could not shut off the car or remove the key. The first time it happen was 8/19/2015 at a car wash. The display went dead during the wash. Wile trying to fix the problem, the car drove away in reverse and knocked me over. I had minor injuries. I might have some other problems as a result of that accident. The next day I want to the dealer. Without looking at the car (no computer analysis), the service man told me the display and computer was bad. He said it happens a lot. He also quoted me a price of around $700. I went back to my daughter house to look for another dealer and to research the issue. (I was visiting from ca). At her house, I noticed the car would not shut off and I could not get the key out (the dealer rep told me to put the key in the slot). So I just went back to the dealer to have them fix it and pay the price. (it should be noted that the dealer and its employees never gave me the same information and they wanted me to get so frustrated, that I would leave with the car not repaired. They suggested that I take it somewhere else. At one point, they claimed that I told them I was going to take the car away without the repair. I never said that! they did everything they could to make me mad and so would not fix the car). When I went back to the dealers, the car drive away, again in reverse. I had to hop on one leg to keep up and get back in to stop it. In ether case, I could have been killed. No display, can't shut it off and it jumps into gear!! that is a safety issue! life and death issue it is!

- Santa Clara , CA, USA

problem #22

Apr 192015

Prius 4-cyl

  • 141,000 miles
Bought one-owner 2005 Prius 11-26-2014 after paying for a pre-purchase inspection at a Toyota dealer showing complete service record including all recall campaigns. 4-19-2015 without warning on the expressway, the entire 'combination meter display' simply turned off, leaving the car running in the blind, no gauges/meters/guidance of any kind. The car continued to operate and I drove directly home and parked it. Internet search revealed that this as a known safety issue by Toyota affecting 2004-2009 Prius models. Toyota issued a 'warranty enhancement-ztv' and warranty policy bulletin (bulletin no. Pol12-05) to effect the necessary safety repairs, but only applies if one discovers (meaning suffer the panic of having the entire panel go blank) the issue before either '9 years with no mileage limitation or before September 30, 2013', whichever is longer. In our case, it expired just before our pre-purchase inspection/purchase of the Prius and the dealer indicated/Toyota confirmed that this is not something that a Toyota dealer service department could have discovered through Toyota records. Instead, the owner has to wait for the failure to occur. In our case, Toyota corporate, with full knowledge of this safety defect, said our joint 'plan of action' was (a) if the display does not illuminate, under no circumstances drive the car, and have it towed to the Toyota dealership for necessary repairs, or (B) if the display illuminates, immediately drive it to the Toyota dealership for necessary repairs, but that (C) Toyota would 'decline to further participate or contribute' to the repair. This should be a mandated, required safety recall; by its own measure, up to 669,000 Prius models may be at risk to this known defect, yet Toyota refuses both the recall and the repair. How many out there are ticking time bombs?

- Akron, OH, USA

problem #21

Feb 102015

Prius 4-cyl

  • 177,000 miles


I purchased my Prius used in June 2014 this was my first winter with it obviously. Any time it about 10 below zero in mn this winter I had to hold my car in drive or reverse, sometimes as long as 5 miles+.

- Le Center, MN, USA

problem #20

Feb 242015

Prius 4-cyl

  • 86,600 miles
Car would not stay in drive. When I put the car into drive, it would immediately revert to neutral. The car might only advance a couple of feet and then it would pop back into neutral. Sometimes it would immediately pop back, never really staying in drive. Holding the sifter in drive would allow the car to drive. After the car would pop back into the neutral position, the car could not put it into park as well. I could reverse. Only after putting it in reverse, would the car go into park. The car seemed to have resolved itself when next checked, near an hour later. Weather was very cold, in the single digits, now it is 15.6 F and the car seems ok.

- Somerville, MA, USA

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problem #19

Apr 302010

Prius 4-cyl

  • 102,000 miles
The traction control override repeatedly engages arbitrarily under various circumstances, including hitting bumps/potholes at 35 mph and accelerating from a stop on both wet and dry roads. I have seen reports online of people expressing their concern about this feature in snow, but our Prius does it frequently. Aside from the inconvenience, this is a clear safety hazard when attempting to pull out into traffic. We have been told by the dealer that this feature cannot be disabled, but it would seem to me that it needs to be to avoid potential collisions.

- Asheville, NC, USA

problem #18

Oct 302013

Prius 4-cyl

  • 130,000 miles


Shift lever plastic shield warped, preventing going into park. Car can roll forward when you think park is engaged.

- Bend, OR, USA

problem #17

Feb 072013


  • 130,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that he attempted to shift into park but the gear shifter failed. The contact had to turn the vehicle off in order to shift into park. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for inspection and they stated that the gear shift unit needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 130,000.

- Arlington, NE, USA

problem #16

Feb 012013


  • miles
I started up the car this morning, put it into reverse, and a second or two later, it shifted itself into neutral. The shift lever felt like there was more resistance to it than usual. This happened several times and also happened when I tried to put the car into drive. After about 15 minutes of turning the car on and off and trying to shift several times, the car finally stayed in gear. The problem is the same as described in this thread:, with the only difference being that it was a rather cold day (0 degrees F) while most of the posts in the thread mention the problem occurring on a hot day. While the malfunction on my car was problematic but not life-threatening, I am concerned that the car could shift itself into neutral while I am driving (as described by several posters in the above thread), which would be a dangerous situation.

- Ames, IA, USA

problem #15

Jan 212013

Prius 4-cyl

  • 166,524 miles
The electronic(?) shift mechanism in the car malfunctions/does not stay engaged in temperatures approximately 28 degrees fareheit & below when car has sat idle for periods of time. The night of this incident I was returning from a business trip where my car had been sitting out in the weather for approximately 28-30 hours. The temperature this particular day was 9 degrees; however, I have had this happen in the past with temperatures ranging into the mid to upper 20's. {due to our mild winter last year I don't recall it happening much if at all-- it did however occur the winter year prior [2010-2011] and I reported it to my Toyota dealer. They looked at me and told me they were unaware of any such problem.} when I position my shift select from the center position & select either drive or reverse, the car transmission disengages upon pressing the gas. The other night I had previously mentioned I had to physically hold the drive selector in the "D"/drive position for 28 minutes before the selector remained engaged. (in past incidents I have had to hold the selector in position from 5-10 minutes- the problem seems to get worse in rlation to lower temps. Are there any other reports of such a problem?

- Lexington, OH, USA

problem #14

Sep 012012


  • 56,000 miles


The contact owns a 2005 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to start. In order to start the vehicle, the emergency brake had to be engaged. The contact also stated that the headlights failed intermittently but would function normally after attempting to activated them several times. In addition while driving at various speeds, the transmission would erroneously shift into neutral and all of the contact's attempts to shift back into drive failed. The vehicle was taken to the dealer but the failure could not be diagnosed. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was contacted about the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 56,000. The current mileage was approximately 57,000.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #13

Nov 012012


  • 148,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that while driving 60 mph, the vehicle independently shifted from drive to neutral. The contact mentioned that the failure recurred several times. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure but did not offer any assistance since the vehicle was not included in any recalls. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was 148,000 and the current mileage was 150,000.

- Antioch, CA, USA

problem #12

Dec 102012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 149,709 miles
Outside temperature approx 32 degrees F. gear shifter on dashboard would not electrically seal-in or stay in position after going into reverse, the first time. Backed car out of driveway and shifted into drive, it immediately went back into neutral position and would not stay in drive - electrically. The only way to keep the car in gear was to physically hold the gear shifter into desired position. Physically held shifter in drive position and pulled back into driveway. Once in driveway, tested shifter and found it would not go into any gear and "stay". after work, temperature was 60 degrees F and shifter then functioned properly. Drove to Toyota dealer and left car. They stated a technical bulletin was issued by Toyota on this item as described. Ticket # 490621; part number 33560-47023 "lever assy. Shift, was replaced. Part cost $164.93 and labor was $416.14 for a subtotal of $581.07 plus tax of $34.33 for grand total of $615.40 usd. This is obviously a cold weather and age related issue. Plus, this is not the first Toyota electrical system design flaw issue I've encountered, but the first related to drivability and possible safety issue.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #11

May 262011


  • 103,000 miles
I rolled slowly (<1 mph) uphill to the parking slot (L.a. code, 2%grade down away from buildings) up to the parking cement stop, and was ready to shut it down. The engine started to race, about to go over the cement stop when I put my foot on the brake. The car continued over the cement stop. I pushed harder on the brake and the car started to drive over the sidewalk. Then the car drove through the plate glass of the studio and then came to a stop inside. I put the car into neutral and tried to turn the car 'off'. the car's engine was still on after several tries to turn it off and I had my foot off the brake and on the floor. Then the car took a turn to the left and drove through the wall (my foot was still on the floor). I got out of the car without taking it out of neutral and it was still "on". I took the key with me to the middle of the room (I used the keyless ignition) so the car should have "chimed" because; the passenger side door was open, I was out of the car, and the car was still left "on". however, the car did not chime (indicating it did not detect I was 12 feet away). My teacher came up to the shattered glass window of the studio at the same time the security officer for the MINImall a few minutes after I got out of the car. I was looking for my insurance card in my purse when the three of us witnessed the car "rev" again and the wall began to shatter with plaster and wooden studs falling around the car with no one driving (the car was in neutral). Because of the movement of the car, without a driver and in the wall, the security guard tried to get people out of the building. The towing company could not 'pull' the vehicle out of the wall with their tow truck for more then 20 minutes so, I gave my car key to the police officer and he gave it to the towing company. The man from the towing company drove the car out of the wall and out of the studio.

- Pasadena , CA, USA

problem #10

Dec 022011

Prius 4-cyl

  • 100,500 miles
We were driving on the highway at night and suddenly, without warning, the engine stalled completely, the car died, and all of the warning lights came on, including a red triangle, check engine, brake, and some others. The Prius lost power and I had to turn on the hazard lights and coast to the shoulder. We called the aaa towing service and 911 (as the shoulder was very narrow and we could not get out of the car). The officer and the tow truck driver checked for all possible driver errors, including gas, but did not find anything out of the ordinary (the gas gauge showed 5/8 full). The car was towed to the Toyota dealership in sunnyvale who are working to determine the cause. This was a very dangerous situation as we were driving on a highway, with a child in the car, at highway speeds at night and the car suddenly died. It has left us shaken and we will be contacting Toyota to see if they have a fix for this.

- Los Altos, CA, USA

problem #9

Jan 022011

Prius 4-cyl

  • 64,000 miles
We own two 2005 Toyota pruis. We bought the first at sunrise Toyota and six months later we bought the second at a Toyota dealership in Virginia. The former pruis (car #1) had 96,000 miles on it when the lever to change the gears began to slip from the drive or reverse mode into neutral repeatedly. Fortunately we were stopped with the engine running when this first occurred. On the latter Prius (car # 2), with 64,000 miles, we had not used the car for a few days, went into the car started the engine allowing it to run for few minutes as it was cold outside and attempted to shift. Like the former Prius (car #1) the lever kept moving from the drive or reverse position to the neutral position consistently. I went to sunrise Toyota with car #1. they repaired it without charge as I had extended warranty insurance on that car. When I spoke with them about car # 2) they said they would need to do a diagnostic before the repair, repair it and then charge me. I returned home to call Toyota corporation saying that I bought two Prius' months apart but the same year car, from two different dealerships and am experiencing the same problem with both cars just a few weeks apart. I mentioned my concern that the car might shift into neutral while driven on the highway causing a dangerous situation. I asked if other drivers have reported similar problems and what if any assistance they could give. They stated that they do not have a record of this problem and will not be recalling the cars at this time. I again stressed my safety concerns. They again stated they do not have any immediate plans for recall for this issue. The cost of the repair is close to one thousand dollars. My safety concerns remain as far as driving this car for myself and other drivers who own a Prius. I was told by the company and dealership that my problem is specific but I do not understand how you can buy 2 cars, same make and year at different dealership and have the same issue.

- Patchogue, NY, USA

problem #8

Jan 312011


  • 116,002 miles
We were traveling along a familiar country road on a warm sunny day. When we arrived at a rural store there was only one other customer there. I slowly eased into the designated parking area which was situated about 17 inches above the lawn below. I was probably traveling less than one mile an hour. When I braked, the car accelerated and propelled itself over the blocks and railroad ties that are found in front of parking spaces, and we literally flew about 7 feet out and down onto the grass stopping just a few feet from a tree and a fence. While in the air, all I had time to do was put my foot down hard on the brake because there was not enough time to turn off the engine during the 5 seconds this was happening. Our first reaction was that I might have hit the accelerator instead of the brake, and though I found this inconceivable because I had never done anything like that before and because the two pedals are so different, I could not consider another explanation. However, as time passed, we came to the realization that this could not been the case because even if I had pressed the accelerator by mistake I would have had to have "floored" it to get that kind of acceleration in such a short distance, and even mistaking it for the brake I wouldn't have "floored" the brake because I was only about 18 inches from where I was to stop. Even under normal circumstances, the Prius just does not have this immediate kind of acceleration we experienced. I cannot help but think about this event occurring as I stopped at a crosswalk. This is a dangerous automobile that I loved driving for 5 years, and now I will not drive again.

- Mendon, UT, USA

problem #7

Oct 082010


  • 120,573 miles
2005 Toyota Prius stalled on an overpass with no shoulders. The transmission became stuck in park, and the vehicle could not be pushed since the front wheels were locked up. The car was eventually towed, and it had to be dragged onto the flatbed wrecker since the front wheels would not roll. The problem was determined to be a failed pump for cooling the inverter. The pump failed such that it blew a fuse that also controlled the transmission shifter, preventing the car from being put into neutral so that it could be pushed out of traffic lanes. This is a very unsafe failure mode.

- Little Rock, AR, USA

problem #6

Jan 272005


  • 2,000 miles
2005 Toyota Prius brake failure over bumpy or icy roads reported to NHTSA in 2005 with no response. Toyota denied failure and we were told to sue.

- Surprise, , AZ, USA

problem #5

Jan 272010


  • 61,000 miles
My daughter was driving our 2005 Prius at about 30 miles an hour at approximately 3pm when she saw a truck stop approximately 300 feet ahead of her. She applied the brakes but the Prius did not stop and collided with the truck causing a total loss of the Prius. The road surface was wet from snow and the temperature was approximately 34 degrees. Although the car was heavily damaged the air bags did not deploy. This crash could have resulted from a brake problem or unintended acceleration.

- St. Louis, MO, USA

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