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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
32 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
8 / 0
Average Mileage:
20,374 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.

2008 Toyota Prius brakes problems

brakes problem

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2008 Toyota Prius Owner Comments (Page 1 of 8)

problem #157

Dec 012011


  • 39,000 miles


Whenever I'm braking the vehicle and it goes over a bump in the road the anti skid braking system engages and blinks on the dash and there is a brief several second loss of braking and I can feel the brakes disengage.

- Lemont, IL, USA

problem #156

Sep 192011

Prius 4-cyl

  • 56,900 miles
While entering a highway onramp in my company's 2008 Toyota Prius, the car suddenly began accelerating out of control without application of the gas pedal. I had to press hard on the brake just to hold the car at 65 mph. The car was surging and lunging forward, and I worried I wouldn't be able to find a place to pull over before losing control completely. For the next 5-10 minutes, as I approached traffic in front of me, the car continued to accelerate, even though I had my foot on the brake the entire time. At one point I noticed the car was reaching speeds in excess of 95 mph. A loud rattling noise ensued and an electrical smell filled the car. Eventually, the brake completely failed to have any effect, and, barreling down the highway at 90 mph, I put the car in neutral, but it continued to accelerate. At this point I had my right foot on the brake pedal and depressed the parking break all the way to the floor with my left foot, this slowed the car slightly, but not enough to regain control. Finally, I turned the car off completely, and with my hazard lights on, managed to pull the car away from traffic and off on the shoulder of the highway, where I coasted for a long distance, speeds decreasing gradually until eventually it stopped. Smoke and a burning electrical smell filled the car. I filed a police report with an officer who happened to also be on the shoulder, giving someone a speeding ticket. My company towed the car to a dealership, and an investigation is supposedly underway, though I'm not optimistic about any sort of resolution based on the testimonies I have read from others who have experienced the same thing. Luckily, in my case, this didn't result in an accident, and noone was killed.

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #155

Mar 312011


  • 30,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Prius. The contact was braking from 15 mph and entering into a parking lot but the brakes did not respond. The contact continued to apply pressure to the brakes until the vehicle came to a stop. The contact stated that the vehicle sustained scratches due to being in close proximity to a building. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where the contact was awaiting a diagnosis of the failure. The manufacturer was contacted and stated they would send an inspector to investigate the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 30,000.

- Lakeside, MI, USA

problem #154

Jan 052008


  • 21,000 miles


The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Prius. The contact stated while applying the brakes after driving over a bump, the vehicle lunged forward. The anti-skid light turned on and then off. The vehicle was taken to a dealer who could not duplicate the failure. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 21,000.

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #153

Dec 232010


  • 18,000 miles
What happened on 12/23/10 was that I was going to turn around in a short driveway, approximately 6 ft long, that was on a steep incline. As I came up to the driveway, I took my foot off the accelerator to move it over to the brake. My foot was completely off the accelerator and, when the car hit the incline, it sped up really fast. I had to jam on my brakes to keep from crashing into a garage door. My main complaint, though, is that there is some sort of override system built into the 2008 Prius so that, when you drive over certain potholes or bumps in the road -- but not all of them -- and your foot is on the brake to slow the car down, the car automatically speeds up to move you out of the pothole or over the bump. This overrides the brakes so that there is a possibility that you could run into the car in front of you if it was stopped or into something blocking the road or a garage door. It happens when you are braking to slow the car down, whether you are going down a hill, around a curve or coming up to a red light or stop sign. You have your foot on the brake and the car speeds up momentarily. There is a square metal plate that is slightly lower than the tarmac in the road about 1/2 mile from my house. The road is a canyon road so it is a hillside road that is very narrow. Every morning when I drive to work, I have to drive over that plate and, every time I do, my car speeds up. This happens with other 2008 priuses that friends have, it's not just mine. It is very scary and everyone I know who has a 2008 Prius knows that it is a bad design flaw that could possibly cause an accident or injury. Something needs to be done to stop the override system. It's very dangerous.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #152

Jun 012008


  • 40,000 miles
The contact owns 2008 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that when driving at any speed over a road bump, the brakes would fail momentarily. The vehicle was taken to a local repair shop but the contact was advised that the vehicle would need to be diagnosed by an authorized dealer. The manufacturer advised that the vehicle would be inspected within sixty days. The vehicle was repaired. The VIN was not available. The failure and current mileage was 40,000.

- Bellingham , MA, USA

problem #151

Dec 102010


  • 31,000 miles


2008 Toyota Prius, when I hit a bump or pothole at relatively low speed, the car sometimes goes into "anti-skid" mode, leading to a brief disconcerting period of lurching/acceleration/loss of braking ability before the car returns to normal. This problem is usually accompanied by the yellow anti - skid icon indicator on the dash.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #150

Jul 302010


  • 30,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Prius. The contact heard a squeaking noise when he applied pressure to the brake pedal, whether driving the vehicle or while it was stopped. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the contact was told that the failure was common but it was not repaired. The failure mileage was approximately 30,000 and the current mileage was 60,743.

- Highland, CA, USA

problem #149

Apr 062009


  • 25,000 miles
1. in the K-mart level parking lot when starting to press on the brake pedal the car shot forward about 6 feet. Note that the driver's side has never had a floor mat. 2. brakes were tested at the dealership where the preowned car was purchased and the dealer said that there was no problem with the brakes. 3. this problem recurred four other times, the most recent of which was on the way to the car dealership where the Toyota gas pedal recall work was done. After the gas pedal recall service was completed the service manager road tested the car and then had the brakes checked and informed me that the brakes were okay and told me that I didn't know what anti-lock brakes felt like in a hybrid, although I had owned three other cars with anti-lock brakes.

- Manahawkin, NJ, USA

problem #148

Aug 212010


  • 37,200 miles
I own a 2008 Prius. I have complained twice to my Toyota dealership that at times, when braking on a bumpy road it feels as if my brakes momentarily release. Some times it will take your breath away. I will not allow my daughters to drive this car because of the uncomfortable sensation. I know the car will stop (it always has) but for a split second it is frightening. Both times I have been told by my Toyota dealer that it is the anti-lock brake feature kicking in. Once they test drove it for about 15 minutes and said there was no problem. I drive it daily and I may only experience it twice a week. 15 minutes will not tell them anything.

- Marlboro, NJ, USA

problem #147

Jun 102010

Prius 4-cyl

  • miles


2008 Toyota Prius with unintended acceleration. An inspection was performed on the vehicle. According to the dealer, the front and rear brakes were completely worn, the rotors were also worn and were in need of replacement. The brake fluid was within normal limits and there was a fluid leak from the impact damage. The accelerator pedal was in good condition and moved freely with no binding or sticking. The drivers side floor mat was an aftermarket all weather mat, not properly secured. It was positioned forward where it could interfere with the accelerator. According to the letter the brakes caught on fire and a motorist extinguished the fire. Updated 12/30/10 updated 01/07/11

- Glen Aubrey, NY, USA

problem #146

Jul 112010


  • miles
My 2008 Toyota Prius touring edition has had a consistent problem with the skid light going on under the most innocuous of conditions. I now have 34,000 miles on it, and after it happened again yesterday, and I saw this website address, I decided to report it. Often, when I drive at any speed, especially on city streets, if I go over a tiny bump, a small pot hole, a minor moist spot, not to mention snow and ice, the yellow light comes on while the car seems to become airborne for a few seconds, seems out of control, and skids when the tires grip the ground again. My heart lurches along with the car, and it makes me afraid to drive it (in addition to the general recalls that have eroded my confidence in the car). In some cases, I have actually skidded into a curb before I could regain control with the brake. (I was told by my dealership 1) they haven't heard of such a problem; later: 2) well, it is because of the tires, which had only 20,000 miles on them; and when we replaced the tires with michelins and it still happened: 3) the car is supposed to do this and it's good that the braking system is so sensitive.

- Fox Point, WI, USA

problem #145

Apr 232010


  • 35,000 miles
I drive a 2008 Prius. When braking and driving over a pot-hole, bump, or other road work the anti-lock braking system engages, and the brakes release for an extended period of time (>1 second) causing the car to coast during this time. I drive on busy city streets and on highways with stop and go traffic, and this uncontrolled brake release represents a safety hazard. I have driven vehicles with anti-lock brakes before, and this kind of braking release is much longer and results in a much greater loss of vehicle control than in other vehicles I have driven. In a specific recent incident, I hit a car immediately in front of me. In the incident, I was driving over bumpy pavement and the car in front of me stopped abruptly. As I tried to brake sharply to avoid hitting the car in front, the braking released because the anti lock brakes engaged, and instead of stopping safely, I hit the car. Although there were no injuries and damage was minor, the incident (and the regularity with which the brakes release under normal driving conditions) seems to me to represent a significant safety problem for the vehicle.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #144

Jun 212010

(reported on)

Prius 4-cyl

  • miles
2008 Toyota Prius. Consumer states problem with brakes disengage when braking. In addition, the brakes disengaged when the tires rolled over a tar strip or any other type of bumps. Also, the heating system was not adequate during winter conditions, the automatic dimming rear view mirror did not work because it was blocked by the rear window frame. Consequently, the consumer was blinded by the lights of other vehicles behind him.

- Michigan City, IN, USA

problem #143

May 212010


  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that on May 21, 2010, while driving at 20 mph, the contact applied the brakes but the vehicle did not stop. As a result, the vehicle rear ended another vehicle. There were minor damages to the vehicle but the contact suffered a leg injury and was he taken to the hospital. There was no police report filed. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealership but the failure could not be duplicated. The contact called the manufacturer who later sent him a letter stating that no failure was found within the vehicle. The current and failure mileages were approximately 60,000.

- Stevensville, MD, USA

problem #142

Jun 022010


  • miles
On my 2008 Toyota Prius, when I hit a bump or pothole at relatively low speed, the car sometimes goes into "anti-skid" mode, leading to a brief (~1/2 second), disconcerting period of lurching/acceleration/loss of braking ability before the car returns to normal. This problem is usually accompanied by the lighting of the yellow skid icon indicator on the dash.

- Fairborn, OH, USA

problem #141

May 112010


  • 30,000 miles
1. while driving and braking over potholes or rough road, the car veers forward even though brakes are being applied 2. happens ever since we received our 2008 Prius maybe once a month or so: Results in scary few moments, although no accidents yet have occurred 3. dealer claims cannot re-create the issue.

- Madison, WI, USA

problem #140

May 212010


  • 120 miles
2008 Toyota Prius - braking system. Braking on a rough or bumpy road, the brakes will disengage and cause your braking time to increase by 5-10 ft without notice. When this disengagement happens, you feel for a few seconds as if you have lost control of the car and the skid light comes on as well.

- Anderson, SC, USA

problem #139

Jan 012010


  • miles
In my 2008 Prius, when I am braking and go over a bump, the anti-lock braking system kicks in. However, when it does, it feels like the brakes disengage for a second and the car speeds up. I feel like I am losing control of the car for a few seconds.

- Pittsford, NY, USA

problem #138

May 152010


  • 10,000 miles
When I step on the brakes, and the road is bumpy, the brakes feel like they are not working for a second, and then they grab. This happens every time I am braking and there is a bump in the road.

- Minneapolis, MN, USA

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