really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
58,718 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.

2001 Toyota Prius electrical problems

electrical problem

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2001 Toyota Prius Owner Comments

problem #17

Feb 162014

Prius 4-cyl

  • 160,000 miles


2001 Prius was parked in garage ~6hrs, fire started and smoldered, apparently using up oxygen inside the car. I went in the garage for something else, noticed the headlights were on and opened the car door to turn them off. When the door was opened, acrid smoke poured out, and the fire was given fresh oxygen, and it took off. Windshield cracked from heat, left front dash melted. Fire dept put out the fire quickly, but the car is ruined and the cause unknown. Thankfully no damage to garage, house or people. I had smelled a funny smell hours before, but thought it was something outside, so the fire had been smoldering for some time. Lights apparently went on because the fire/heat had shorted something.

- Northborough,, MA, USA

problem #16

Jan 012003


  • 15,000 miles
Driving on the freeway early am, still dark, gas engine failed, ECU failure shown on screen. Electric motor was going at maximum with no "gas" pedal applied. Pulled over, turned off. 300V batt already fully discharged when it got to the dealer. They charged it and it has not happened again before selling in 2006. 2001 Prius. Later on had two bad rack & pinion, the 2nd one failed a couple months after replacement on a long freeway trip at mile 300. Very hard to steer even at highway speeds. Toyota replaced again.

- Oceanside, CA, USA

problem #15

May 012001

Prius 4-cyl

  • 2,000 miles
2001 Toyota Prius. We had a Toyota Prius hybrid gas/electric car the first that came into the usa. The car would reach a certain mileage and the computer which controlled everything in the car would go bad. We would get a few miles from home and the car would not work. It would shut off. We would have to sit for a few minutes and than the car would only go 35 miles an hour or less and we would have to turn around and go home. On one trip to California, when we got to Colorado the screen said the go to a service dealer. We had to spend the night in northglenn Colorado and went to the dealer. We had to take the car into the dealer so many times. They would replace the computer and all the parts, even the gas tank. The car would also lock you inside and you could not get out. The computer and the electrical system in of this model are all bad. They reach a certain mileage and bad. They were doing all the recalls from our car. They promised us a new Prius signature Toyota in benton harbor mi, and never got it. Finally in 2005 they said they would trade our Prius car for another car corolla, but they charged us $8,000 more. Please help us get our money back. No lawyer will take it since comes from Japan. We had tried everything and could get no help. Wrote Toyota and never got them to reply to us. Tried their mediation and they held the papers until the time ran out than sent us a paper saying not valid any more. Help us get our money back. Let people know that Prius cars are bad. Do not buy. The consumer also stated the gas pedal would become stuck at times, which caused the vehicle to increase in speed. Updated 04/27/10 updated 10/29/10

- Berrien Springs, MI, USA

problem #14

Aug 252006


  • 32,000 miles


The contact owns a 2001 Toyota Prius. While driving 65 mph, the vehicle lost all power and all of the instrument panel lights illuminated. The vehicle began to lose speed and the contact was able to safely maneuver it to the shoulder. While on the shoulder, the vehicle restarted without warning and reversed full throttle into the guard rail. The contact sustained head and eye injuries and a broken rib. A police report was filed. The vehicle was towed to the dealer and they performed a diagnostic, which did not produce any error codes. The failure could not be duplicated. The body damage was repaired at the cost of $500, but the failure was not corrected. The manufacturer stated that if a failure occurred, the vehicle would correct itself and would not display any failure codes to determine the cause of the failure. The contact was advised to take the vehicle back to the dealer for further inspection. The contact has experienced multiple failures with the vehicle since it was purchased. She is currently not driving the vehicle and it is at the repair shop being inspected for the reversing failure and for resetting the computer memory. The failure mileage was 32,000.

- Honey Brooke, PA, USA

problem #13

Nov 152008


  • 183,233 miles
Hv battery failure, prior to failure of hv battery vehicle exhibited error codes indicating that at least two battery modules had a greater than 1.2 volts between max module voltage and min module voltage (hv battery consist of 38 battery modules 7.2 volts each). However, vehicle still operated although in a fail safe mode (no cruise control in fail safe mode, etc). Upon attempting to start vehicle heard loud explosive pop sound and vehicle would then not start. After removal and disassembly the hv battery pack I discovered tha two battery modules, out of the total of 38, had a circular burn between their ajoining plastic cases and the top of one of the two modules had exploded open -- exposing the battery plates inside (both burned cells no longer measured 7.2 volts, but about 0.32 volts). Burnt smoke residue showed on top of the hv battery pack inside metal housing as well as on the one battery module that had an exploded top. I replaced the hv battery pack no further error codes have been noted since replacement. Damaged modules showed evidence of an explosive force occurring and burning or shorting between battery modules.

- Stockton, CA, USA

problem #12

Nov 252008

(reported on)


  • miles
Ltr from senator brown on behalf of constituent, re problems with his 2001 Prius. A safety alert was issued for the failure of the main computer, which resulted in the engine shutting itself off. The consumer stated the computer failed on his vehicle after 1 year of service. It took Toyota 18 months to identify the problem. After a costly replacement of the accelerator pedal, the ECM was finally replaced. The consumer discovered a technical service bulletin had been issued regarding the replacement of the ECM. The consumer stated the ECM was defective when it left the factory, however Toyota was not willing to take any responsibility for the repairs, because the car was too old. The power steering had to be replaced twice.

- Big Prairie, OH, USA

problem #11

Apr 142008

Prius 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 190,000 miles


In 2007 I had a side impact with my vehicle. I told Toyota to check for any damage with the computer components in the car. They said they checked everything out and said it was fine. Monday I had the computer and inverter go out on my 2001 Toyota Prius and I asked my insurance company aaa to check if it could be related to the accident. There response said it was internal shorts in the system not caused by the accident. The hybrid computer and electronic system just decided to short out. The cost to get it repair it is $4,800. The mileage is 190,000, past warranty. Nothing is wrong with the engine part just the computer electrics part. I don't have that kind of money and I still owe $10,100 on it yet.

- Racine, WI, USA

problem #10

Jun 032007

Prius 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles
The contact owns a 2001 Toyota Prius. The contact walked outside and noticed that the vehicle's windows were black. She opened the door and smoke billowed out of the vehicle. She shut the door and called the fire department. The weather was dry and sunny. The purchase date and powertrain were unknown. The current and failure mileages were 79,000.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #9

Jun 152006

Prius 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles
On June 6, 2006 I took our 2001 Toyota Prius to a local Toyota dealer because it had been losing power while driving. The Prius mechanic told me that it was "normal" and that there was "nothing wrong." I responded that I knew that something was wrong with the vehicle. On June 15, 2006 on the way into work, the car completely lost power while driving on the interstate. Fortunately, we were able to pull over at a relatively safe spot. Had it stalled in heavier traffic or in a different lane, we could have died there. The screen showed "main battery failure, " and the car wouldn't move. I had it towed to the dealer. The technician tested it and the only code shown was an "accelerator assembly pedal." Neither I nor the technician felt that this was the problem; the technician felt that the problem is in the inverter--the part that cycles power back and forth between gas and electric. However, Toyota regional refused to replace the inverter, saying "we are not just going to throw parts at the problem trying to solve it." I was told by the dealer that I would have to replace the accelerator assembly pedal at my expense, even though that will likely not resolve the problem, because Toyota "will not do anything else unless you do." This type of powering down and stopping is a known issue with Toyota Prius cars, more so with 2004-05 (for which an NHTSA investigation has been opened), but also with 2001-03. There were fewer of the 2001-03 cars on the road, so the number of reported instances is less, but the internet contains many complaints from Toyota Prius owners regarding this issue. This is a very serious safety issue. As Prius cars age, this safety defect will become increasing apparent and hazardous.

- Cedar Hills, UT, USA

problem #8

Apr 082006

Prius 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 400 miles
I own a 2001 Prius purchased July of 2001 my wife and I have had a near stall so many times we have lost count. The first time was in the first week of purchase 2001 and we have had the car checked and have been told they cannot find the problem since they can not recreate the problem. I guess we have been lucky our Prius does not stall completely just slows to 15-37 miles per then we have to stop and wait for the lights to clear. It has gotten to the point where this is happening almost daily. The last time we took it in for service and had them check to find the problem they did not inform us that there has been a problem all along. We love the car as far as mileage and enjoy driving the Prius. We have always spoken highly of the Toyota corporation but we are getting rather annoyed they cannot fix our problem or the problems of other pruis owners. We would like to know if Toyota has sent out a warning to all owners. We have never been notified of any problems and we have owned this car for five years. We had one recall the batteries were redone, but no stall warnings. Thank you for your time peter kalous.

- Key West, FL, USA

problem #7

Jan 132006

Prius 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles


: the consumer stated there is an investigation PE05029 concerning the electronic control module. The vehicle displayed the same problems as indicated in the investigation, but was excluded from the special service campaign due to the VIN. The vehicle stalled at highway speed, operated at a reduced speed, and ultimately stalled out. When this occurred, various warning lights on the dash panel illuminated. The engine did not restart and the vehicle was towed to a dealer. The dealer replaced the electronic control module.

- Signal Hill, CA, USA

problem #6

Oct 102005

Prius 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,365 miles
The following has happened on 4 different occasions, 3 times I have been driving on the interstate several hundred miles from home at speeds of 65 to 70 miles per hour. On these occasions the dashboard warning lights have come on and the gasoline engine shuts down. The vehicle's electric motor will continue operating in a limited capacity, so I can steer to the side of the road. The engine will start working again when I try to restart the vehicle, but not for a considerable amount of time, this has been very frightening, as I am usually alone in the car. The last time this happened I had to wait approximately 30 minutes on the side of the road at dusk before the car started again. I had called several tow trucks, but they told me they could not come for another 45 minutes to 2 hours as they were that busy. I have had my car into the Toyota shop every time this happened and they keep telling me nothing is wrong. Well, something is wrong...I can't believe I am the only person having this trouble. Is there anything that can be done to make them fix this problem. I bought this car used and in good faith, obviously because of gas prices. But now I guess I know why it was traded in after only 2 years. The last time this happened was October 10th, 2005.

- Arlington, TX, USA

problem #5

May 152003

Prius 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles
While driving vehicle shut down and would not restart. All 3 times that this happened consumer was on the freeway. Consumer owned the car for 1 year before it started stalling, and it has stalled two more times since then. Each time the car was taken to Toyota, and each they time they were unable to figure out what the cause of the problem was.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #4

May 122005

Prius 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,200 miles
I own a 2001 Toyota Prius. On 05/12/05 I was driving to work. I was driving about 65 mph on the 405 freeway. The car suddenly hesitated, then lost most of its power and the warning lights came on. I was barely able to get it to the side of the road and turned the car off. I restarted it. The lights stayed on, but it drove ok. I took it to a dealer. They reset the warning lights and told me the gas pedal sensor was bad. I did not get it replaced. Car has run ok since then. This is the second occurence. It also happened about one and a half years ago. Simular symtoms. Took car to dealer and they reset the warning system. No other work was done or performed. They said they couldn't find anything wrong with it. Very hazardous. Car just stumbles and loses most of its power. A second major defect was the front end, which started to have steering problems Toyota replaced entire front end under warrentee.

- Irvine, CA, USA

problem #3

Nov 012004

Prius 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles
While coming down a steep mountain coasting, the vehicle electrical system showed a failure and I was able to resume after a tech told me to shut it down and restart. Additionally, when in stalled slow traffic the battery seemed to drain excessively on only one occasion. Neither of these events has recurred.

- Pasadena, CA, USA

problem #2

Mar 192004

Prius 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles
Gas motor failed to continue operating while driving on the road twice. Once in August,2003, again March,2004.vehicle lost power both times-created a serious safety hazard because I ccould not maintain speed on roads where speed limits were 40 and 50 mph.there was traffic around the vehicle in both instances. On second incident-narrowly avoided a collision from the rear.other vehicle swerved to avoid my vehicle. Dealer replaced defective computer in 2003 and defective accelerator sensor unit 2004.

- Orange, CA, USA

problem #1

Aug 112003


  • miles
Vehicle description: Passenger vehicles. Insufficient electrical contact can occur in the torque sensor that controls the power assist operation of the electric power steering gear box. The torque sensor could send improper electrical signals. Dealers will repair the electric steering gear box. Right turn signal does not cancel after a hard right turn. Vehicle would pull out in front of the consumer because they think he's going to make a right turn.

- Salinas, CA, USA

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