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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
35,913 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2008 Toyota Prius Owner Comments

problem #12

Jun 022011

Prius 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles


The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that the vehicle could only be shifted into neutral. The contact also stated that the vehicle shifted into neutral independently and would not shift into drive, reverse or park. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer but they were unable to replicate the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer a year later for the same problem, where the gear shift assembly was replaced the manufacturer was made aware of the failure and offered no assistance. The failure mileage was 52,000. Updated 07/25/12 updated 7/26/12 updated 07/30/12 the consumer stated the vehicle would not go into park or drive. The consumer stated a piece of clear, flexible plastic attached to the lever behind the knob with the R/N/D seemed to stick to the lever guide. It happened more when it was hot, either because the clear plastic became more sticky, or because it expanded a little or both. It would then prevent the lever from returning completely to its right most position, and the lever would stay in the middle position. The consumer stated she tried to slide the clear plastic back with her fingers towards the knob, so it was in less contact with the guide, it made the lever slide more freely and she has not experienced any more problems since then. Updated 08/02/12 updated 08/08/12.

- High Point, NC, USA

problem #11

Jul 202011

Prius 4-cyl

  • 70,100 miles
My 2008 Toyota Prius will not stay in D when shifting or R it pops back into N it does it on hot days. Need to replace the gear shift lever assembly. When its hot outside it binds up and goes back into N while shifting or driving. Has happened 2 times so far in the last week. In order to drive the vehicle you have to hold the lever in R or D to go anywhere.

- Reeseville, WI, USA

problem #10

Jul 022011

Prius 4-cyl

  • 57,700 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Prius. While parked the contact stated the gear shift would not move from neutral to drive. The failure occurred intermittently. The failure would occur when the gear shift was also in reverse. The contact shut the vehicle off and after several attempts was able to move the gear shift to the desired gear. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 57,700. Updated 8/30/11 the consumer stated the dealer replaced the gear shift assembly. Updated 09/23/11

- Seminole, FL, USA

problem #9

May 092011


  • 94,000 miles


The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that the gear shift interlock had to be depressed in order to unlock and shift the vehicle into any gear. If the button was not depressed, the vehicle would not recognize he gear and place the vehicle in neutral. The contact stated that in order to drive forward or in reverse, the button had to be abnormally held down while driving until the vehicle was shut off. If the button was not depressed, the vehicle would shift into neutral independently. The vehicle was not inspected or repaired for the failure. The failure and current mileage was 94,000.

- Menomonie, WI, USA

problem #8

Jul 212010

Prius 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 19,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that he shifted into reverse gear and the vehicle moved forward. He was able to apply the brakes in order to stop the vehicle. The contact stated that the failure occurred approximately ten times but he did not take the vehicle to an authorized dealer. He stated that the failure occurred in a parking lot when the brakes were applied and crashed into another vehicle. No damage was done to either vehicle. The driver sustained a knee injury. He called the dealer and they referred him to the manufacturer. The manufacturer was called but they have not returned his call. The failure had been on going for six months. The failure mileage was 19,000 and the current mileage was 22,300. Updated 10/05/10 updated 10/07/10

- Misschon Vieja, CA, USA

problem #7

Jun 162010


  • 85,800 miles
I am having a recurring transmission problem on a 2008 Prius that seems to be a very similar problem to one described by other Prius owners. When the car is warm (warm day, drive for longer than 15 minutes) the transmission can slip out of drive (or reverse) into neutral. It will do this repeatedly and not allow to proceed in gear until you turn off the ignition for some minutes. The car will operate if you manually push the gear shift lever into driver and hold it there continuously until you reach your destination. I will take it into Toyota for service but I do think it may be an engineering or design flaw with the transmission. The experience of other drivers (including a video link for the same exact problem) can be found online here:

- Stillwater, MN, USA

problem #6

Apr 252010


  • 12,000 miles


Severe safety concerns with a 2008 Prius are the following: The answers and solutions to the following are necessary before anyone could be considered safe driving this 2008 Prius: 1.why did our Prius have a power failure on April 13th while driving at 60 mph on a flat stretch of hwy 101 going North at the blithedale exit in mill valley, ca" 2.why while driving up divisidero around 11:30 or 12 noon on April 25, 2010 did the car begin beeping loudly when going up the hill in pacific heights? 3. why did it then start making two different beeping sounds? we then pulled over and found that the transmission indicated that it had jumped into reverse even though the car was still going forward. We had not touched the shift lever, both hands were on the wheel. It jumped into reverse by itself. 4.why, after we then returned the shift to drive, were we able to go further up the hill and the loud beeping started again while the transmission was still in drive" we stopped the car and kept a foot on the brake pedal until help arrived. Aaa came. Aaa drove the car without beeping to a more level part of the street to load it upon a truck and carried the car to the san francisco geary Toyota service center. They have yet [5.20.10] to accurately diagnose and correct these problems so it is safe to drive.

- Mill Valley, CA, USA

problem #5

Mar 102010


  • miles
After reading about the run a way Prius in san diego Monday, I attempted to put my Prius in neutral. Neutral does not exist or does not work. While accelerating one cannot put the Prius in neutral. This is a concern. I called the dealer and the rep said that Prius' are a breed all there own and pretty much agreed that the neutral did not work. People should know this.

- Murrieta, CA, USA

problem #4

Aug 122009


  • 18,000 miles
I own a 2008 Toyota Prius. Several months ago I started to experience a problem with the vehicle. When I travel in reverse and then stop to go forward, the vehicle doesn't move when I shift it to forward. When stopped, I have returned the shifter to reverse and it doesn't move. If I turn off the car and place it in drive, it moves. I believe it's a electrical problem because the shifter doesn't have linkage and its electric. It doesn't happen all the time and has occurred on four different occasions. When I brought the car to the dealer for service, nothing was found because it wasn't occurring at the time.

- Uxbridge, MA, USA

problem #3

Jan 152010


  • 22,000 miles
With the motor running, the transmission in park and the emergency brake set, the car lurched forward. The engine was warm at the time. On another occasion with the transmission in reverse and the brake pedal depressed, the car lurched rearward almost striking a pedestrian.

- Simi Valley, CA, USA

problem #2

Jan 282009


  • 300 miles
2008 Toyota Prius loses all power when traction control engages.

- Greensburg, PA, USA

problem #1

Sep 152009


  • 55 miles
Sep. 1st I was driving my 2008 Prius and it started shifting by itself from drive into neutral and one time even from drive into neutral into reverse. This happened after I pulled off the highway on an exit ramp and then slowed to a stop in order to get onto the local road. On the Prius, when you put the shift into the drive position, the shifting knob then returns to its starting position, but the car is supposed to remain in the drive gear. My car wouldn't do that. About 2 seconds after I put it in drive and then applied the gas, it would shift out of drive and into neutral.. the only way I could drive the vehicle was by manually holding the shifting knob in the drive position the entire trip home (25 miles). When I got home and tried to put it in park, it wouldn't do it. It did go into park however, when I powered off the vehicle. The next day I was able to drive the vehicle by hanging a heavy metal shop clamp around the shifting knob in order to hold it in the drive position. I called the nearest Toyota dealership, which is griffith motors in the dalles, Oregon. They said they had never heard of this happening before and to bring it in. I also called a much larger (and farther) Toyota dealership in gresham, Oregon. They said no one had ever heard of that happening either. I waited until the following day to taken the car into the closer dealership in the dalles (Sep rd), but the car was no longer doing its weird thing. They said they checked it out thoroughly with the computer diagnostic system and could find nothing wrong. They said there were no codes in the system indicating that anything was wrong. It drove fine until Sep 15th, when at approx. 4 pm it suddenly started shifting into neutral at a busy intersection in kennewick, wa, and I then had a collision with another vehicle. No one was hurt, but the car is now in a body shop. I googled this problem and found a person on who's Prius is doing the same thing. Suggestions.

- Goldendale, WA, USA

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