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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
4 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
23,495 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 2)

problem #40

Apr 012011

Prius 4-cyl

  • 87,000 miles


I have reported this issue to this website in the past. The traction control disables the drive wheels inconsistently and arbitrarily under many circumstances, often resulting in a real safety hazard. It can happen when starting from a stop on dry or wet pavement or when hitting small bumps/holes at low speeds (25-45 mph). This is extremely frightening when trying to pull into traffic from a stop on dry pavement - power is cut, slowing entry into moving traffic and increasing accident potential. The local Toyota dealer tells us that nothing can be done about it. Surely it's a serious enough hazard that needs to be addressed.

- Asheville, NC, USA

problem #39

Nov 182013

Prius 4-cyl

  • 180,000 miles
When I brake and also go over a bump my 2008 Prius lurches forward. The traction control light illuminates. The brakes become ineffective. This caused me to have an accident last night. The cars before me came to a sudden stop. I was driving 15-20mph but unfortunately I hit the brakes while unknowningly simultaneously going over a bump. The faulty traction control system sent me into a 1-2 second lurch forward with zero brakes. When I finally was able to have brakes I had to maneuver the vehicle to the left of the car ahead scratching the aura and denting my front right panel. This is not the first time the brakes have failed but it is the first time I was involved in an accident because of it. Toyota drivers need to leave a 4 sec. Space between cars to make up for the 2 sec. Lapse in brakes.

- Cleveland, MN, USA

problem #38

May 152008


  • 25,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Prius. While attempting to accelerate, the contact noticed that the vehicle would pause and the tires lost traction. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who stated the vehicle was performing normally and could not be repaired. The current and failure mileages were 25,000.

- Asheville, NC, USA

problem #37

Sep 022010


  • 30,050 miles


I own a 2008 Toyota Prius and have experienced braking problems since I purchased the vehicle. Any time I go over a bump/pothole, while turning, results in a floating sensation, surge forward, and momentary loss of steering. I almost had an accident 2 weeks ago at an intersection when this occurred. Serviced my vehicle yesterday and they claim the skid control system is working as it was designed. There is definitely a fatal flaw in this system and likely a chip issue. Toyota is not doing anything.

- Maitland, FL, USA

problem #36

Jun 082010

Prius 4-cyl

  • miles
2008 Toyota Prius. Consumer states problem with traction control the consumer stated she was driving in the rain at a speed of 40 mph when she noticed the traction control light was flickering on and off more than she previously experienced. She also smelled an odor similar to something burning. She opened the windows to let it clear. However, the smell seemed to linger in the vehicle for at least a mile. As she approached a town, the speed limit was reduced from 45 mph to 25 mph so she slowed down and continued to experience the flickering of the traction control warning light while driving on wet pavement. As the consumer approached a controlled intersection at a speed of approximately 20 mph and was applying the brakes to stop for the red light, the vehicle suddenly shut down as she was unable to steer and had no brakes or traction. As she was about to hit the vehicle in front of her, she slammed on the brakes one last time and was able to stop at the last second. When the light turned green she proceeded to drive in the rain at a maximum speed of 40 mph and the traction control warning light came on only one additional time until she reached her destination 20 minutes later.

- Jackson, WI, USA

problem #35

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 #34

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 #33

Jan 012010


  • 20,000 miles
When I am braking and go over a bump in my 2008 Prius Toyota, it feels like the brakes disengage for a second and the car goes faster. I noticed this mainly during winter driving in snow and ice.

- Minoa, NY, USA

problem #32

May 182010


  • miles
2008 Prius. Often when I go over a bump the anti-lock braking system kicks in and it feels as if I have lost control of the car. I don't think I could stop suddenly. I haven't had an accident but I am uncomfortable driving sometimes even in good weather. The service department was no help.

- Greenwich, CT, USA

problem #31

May 162010


  • 300 miles
Frequently while driving on dry, clear and clean roads, my car braking system will seem to fail and feel like the car is going into a skid. The ABS warning light comes on as well - although there is no reason for brake trouble. Seems to be happening more and more frequently lately.

- Wauwatosa, WI, USA

problem #30

Apr 302010


  • 40,000 miles


My 2008 Toyota Prius loses braking power every time I brake when going over a bumpy or uneven surface and it takes 1/2 to 1 second before they re-engage. Took car to Toyota dealer and had service technician go on a test drive with me. When the service technician experienced this loss in brakes, he explained that the traction control system was designed to release the brakes on the tire (during bumpy road surface) to prevent lock-up, but if I kept my foot on the pedal long enough the brakes would re-engage. My complaint is the length of time it takes for the brakes to re-engage was too long and might result in an accident. The technician stated that the time lapse was normal/standard for ABS and Prius drivers needed to adjust their driving habits to allow for it.

- Glastonbury, CT, USA

problem #29

Mar 092008


  • 52,500 miles
I have a 2008 Toyota Prius that experiences the same hesitancy and shaking while braking that the 2010 recalled models have. I initially took the vehicle to Toyota within the first year of ownership and they claimed to not be able to duplicate the problem. They also told me last week at the dealership they have had other 2008 owners state the same problem, but since the vehicles are not under recall, there is no recourse for these cars. I have never had a crash due to the problem, but it makes handling a bit difficult when the brakes shake. I feel the recall fix should be made available to other model years as well.

- New Braunfels, TX, USA

problem #28

Dec 242008


  • 6,500 miles
I was involved in a accident in my 2008 Toyota Prius. I was traveling East on greenback lane in citrus heights ca on Dec. 24 2008 slight sprinkling at the time at about 35 mph when the cars in front of me began to stop I couldn't get the car stopped and rear ended a van. The brakes didn't work for a second or so and I kept pressure on and finally they started to work but to late to avoid the collision. I hit a minivan and it pushed him into a 2005 Chevy trailblazer. I didn't realize at the time my car may be defective until all the news started to surface and now many others are having the same symptoms. Everyone else said they weren't injured at the time but now the driver in the trail Blazer says he has whiplash injuries.

- Citrus Heights, CA, USA

problem #27

Sep 012008


  • miles
Reproducible lag in brake response when driving over bumpy conditions at low speeds (8-20mph) on dry road conditions. If I brake before a sharp bump (e.g., pothole before stop sign), there is a delay in brake engagement on the order of second(s), and the traction control light flashes on the dashboard. The brakes will eventually engage. This is most noticeable and reproducible when I am driving on a university campus that is in the foothills of salt lake city on a declining and curvy road. However, I have encountered this brake issue periodically when hitting potholes or sharp bumps on slight declines at other venues. However, this has led to several episodes of the car stopping later than anticipated, and I worry that my scenario represents a "sentinel event" for future safety issues. I inquired about this at a dealership, and their response was that "you just have to adjust to the brake feel compared to your old non-hybrid car."

- Holladay, UT, USA

problem #26

Jan 012009


  • 1 miles
We have a 2008 Prius which has a couple of dangerous things about it which the dealer says is ¿the way it's designed to work¿. 1.I believe they are recalling the 2010 Prius for this problem, but the 2008 has it also. The cars braking system completely releases all the brakes, so far I've just noticed it in the rear wheels, when going around a curve and the wheel hits a bump and looses traction. The traction control light goes on and all the brakes are gone for a short period of time. It feels as if the car is also accelerating during this period of time, but that could just be a result of loosing the braking system. 2.the engine ¿completely shuts off¿ when the front wheels spin. In snow on a grade which can easily be driven on with a vehicles slipping from time to time, the Prius motor shuts down when a driving wheel spins and all forward momentum is lost ¿ ie after spin, no engine, power, spin, no engine several times the car comes to a stop in the road. I also can¿T get up my neighbors driveway if it rains because of this. If crossing a lane of oncoming traffic from a stop sign and the wheel spins we are in ¿mortal danger¿ of being hit.

- Potter Valley, CA, USA

problem #25

Dec 152009


  • 23,000 miles
Driving on snowy or slippery road conditions can cause my 2008 Toyota Prius to lose power completely. In December I was going up a very slight incline, in approximately 2 inches of snow. The Prius lost a little traction going up the incline and then shut off completely. I had no control at all as my car went backward down the incline and then straight into a snowbank, where I was stuck. Luckily there was no car directly behind me. It was very scary. I looked online for information about this problem, found a ton of it, then went and bought some very expensive snow tires. Now I'm using those and hoping I will not lose any traction at all with them.

- Saint Louis, MO, USA

problem #24

Feb 112010


  • 1,000 miles
Most recent failure was a few days ago but this has been a problem since I purchased the 2008 Prius in March of 08--- I thought it was a quirk in the car --- something that just naturally happened when I would go over a pot hole or bumps in the road --- the car would lurch forward --- I had no control over the car --- no brakes --- I didn't realize that this was not a "natural" response until I heard the description on a news broadcast a couple weeks ago. Model years prior to 2010 should be included in the investigation. I am going to make an appointment with my dealer. Thank you

- Buchanan, VA, USA

problem #23

Feb 152010


  • 12,000 miles
2008 Toyota Prius with anti-slip rear-wiggle upon hitting small bumps in road. The anti-slip electronic system is way too sensitive as it is responding to small bumps in the road. I can understand how this may be helpful at high speeds or icy conditions, but at slow speeds the blinking yellow skid-control dashboard light and rearend wiggle as the system tries to recover does seem annoying. The system is overly sensitive.

- Hoffman Estates, IL, USA

problem #22

Jan 012008


  • 0 miles
Traction control issues with 2008 Toyota Prius. The traction control makes the car almost undriveable on snow covered roads due to power being removed from driving wheels. Suggest adding a switch to disable the traction control.

- Parma, OH, USA

problem #21

Dec 302008


  • 200 miles
We own two (2) Prius cars. One is a 2008 touring model Prius; the other is a 2010 Prius V purchased in December 2009. Both cars have the braking issue when the antilock brakes are used on rough roads such as potholes. I have made this known to caldwell Toyota - I was told both cars operate within specifications. Both cars "jump and lurch forward" when the brake pedal is "slammed on". I know that the 2010 Prius should be recalled and repaired. My concern is that the same issue exists in the 2008 Prius. Why is the 2008 year not being recalled?

- Nutley, NJ, USA

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