really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
33,747 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.

2002 Toyota Prius brakes problems

brakes problem

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2002 Toyota Prius Owner Comments

problem #13

Dec 232010

Prius 4-cyl

  • 43,561 miles


Applied brakes while car was moving slowly, less than 10 mph, and heard loud grinding sound coming from left front as car stopped. Shifted to reverse and car barely moved, about 1 foot, which was accompanied by the loud grinding sound, then stopped. Turned car off and could find nothing interfering with the wheels but did find pieces of brake pad on the ground along the path the left front wheel had followed. The left front wheel appeared as if the calipers were holding whatever remained of the brake pad and/or backing tight against the rotor. Brake function had been normal for prior 7 11/12 years, ie, since I purchased it as a new car. There was a bothersome grinding, sometimes rattling or squealing noise from the left front wheel since the first year of ownership and I was repeatedly told by the dealer that nothing was wrong. Brake rust had gradually accumulated on the left front aluminum wheel but not on any others and the dealer blamed that on winter salt. It was towed to a different dealer and the front brake pads were replaced along with the front rotors being resurfaced. Despite my request, the brake pad from the other side was not kept nor was its thickness recorded. Nothing I told the service manager was relayed to whoever worked on the car and that person only recorded that the tow truck driver said the left front wheel was frozen fast. The car, 2002 Toyota Prius, had 43561 miles on it when this occurred and should not have had significant brake pad wear given the hybrid braking system and braking gear as well as my driving style. After the above repair was done, I learned that there was a recommendation that the left front rotor be replaced. I will have this done by a private mechanic so that the part will not be discarded.

- Manheim, PA, USA

problem #12

Jun 042010


  • 24,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Prius. She stated while pulling out from a driveway and applying the brakes, the brakes did not engage and caused her to crash into another vehicle. The vehicle sustained extensive damages to the entire front structure and was towed from the scene. A police report was filed. The dealer was not contacted. The manufacturer was contacted and a complaint filed. The failure and current mileages were 24,000.

- Beaumont, TX, USA

problem #11

Jan 062010


  • miles
2002 Toyota Prius accident the consumer stated she was leaving a meeting when she attempted to release her emergency brake. She was parked on an incline and has parked there once a month for over a year. Before she knew what was happening, the vehicle started to roll backwards at such high speed that she was unable to control it by braking. Therefore, she side swiped another vehicle and caused over $10,500 worth of damage to both cars.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #10

Jan 152010


  • 5,000 miles


Brake pedal position sensor. Intermittent failure. Cannot start car even though foot is on brake. Sometimes required as many as 20 tries. Condition persisted from 2006 until repaired Jan 2010. At first once every few week and progressed to several times a day.

- Eastchester, NY, USA

problem #9

Jan 012002


  • 100 miles
Since I purchased my Toyota Prius in late 2001, it has intermittently surged when the brake is pressed. While I do not have the high speed surges that other drivers have reported, periodically when I am at low speeds and press the brake to stop, the car will slow to a stop, then lurch forward, requiring me to press the brake harder to maintain control. I reported this to Toyota in 2001 and 2002, but I was told that this was normal for a hybrid, which was fairly new technology at the time. I am concerned that in the future I may have a higher speed surge. So far my surges have been low speed, and I have been able to control them by pressing the brake harder.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #8

Mar 102010

(reported on)


  • miles
2002 Toyota Prius braking problem the consumer stated he didn't see the issue as a braking problem; rather a control conflict. Whenever the problem occurred, the vehicle was moving down a slight grade on a road surface having its share of paving patches, frost heaves, etc. The slight downgrade causes the vehicles speed to increase, or perhaps an intersection appeared ahead and for whatever reason the brakes were gently applied in order to slow the vehicle down. When the problem occurred, the symptom was a brief interval and the vehicle seemed to accelerate and then normal braking resumed and the vehicle slowed down. Just prior to the brake activation, the vehicle is in regeneration mode, in which the electric propulsion motors are acting as generators, where energy motion is being extracted and converted to electrical energy to be stored in the vehicles battery. Whenever the brake pedal is activated, the first thing that happens is that the motor now become generators are forced by the control system to convert significant energy of motion into electrical energy. The consumer believed that the normal braking system shuts down. The consumer believed the problem was with the ABS.

- Rockport, MA, USA

problem #7

Dec 082009


  • miles


2002 Toyota Prius. Consumer states he experienced temporary brake failure in cold weather. The pedal felt as if it were frozen or blocked and would not go down no matter how hard the consumer applied it. Normal brake function returned after a few minutes.

- Denver, CO, USA

problem #6

Jun 102003


  • 15,000 miles
My 2002 Prius has braking problems when it hits a rough patch of pavement or encounters small bumps. This has happened since it was purchased (new). If you are slowing down and hit a bump or a series of bumps, the braking power literally disappears for a moment or two. The braking power does return, but it adds considerably to your stopping distance. I never realized how serious it could be until I heard about the other Toyota recalls involving brakes.

- Dunstable, MA, USA

problem #5

Jun 062008


  • 40,000 miles
I believe Toyota has known of the braking problem all along. I purchased new, a 2002 Prius. In 2008 my anti-locking brake system went out. The service mgr. Told me it needed a new relay, and he could fix it for $1700. I have never in my life seen a relay costing $1700. My brakes still worked, just not properly so I didn't spend the $1700. As long as Toyota can get their customers to spend $1700. There is no need to have a recall. I have around 47000 miles on the vehicle and am on my third set of rotors and brake pads. My tires actually last longer. I believe this braking problem has been around from day one. I think ray lahood should check frequency of this repair against customers records, it might reveal a consistent fault.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #4

Feb 022010


  • miles
I have a 2002 Toyota Prius that exhibits the same acceleration as in the 2010 recall. During braking if I am to hit a man hole cover or pot hole the car seems to lose the ability to brake and skips forward. This happens every time I hit a bump in the road while braking. I have owned the car for over 2 years and have had the brakes replaced without resolve.

- Winthrop, MA, USA

problem #3

Oct 232009


  • 81,050 miles


Right front disc brake pads were inspected on 9-3-2009 but on 10-23-2009 grinding noise began. Pads and rotors on front brakes were replaced. Told metal to metal contact had developed and vehicle was unsafe to drive.

- Freeport, NY, USA

problem #2

Aug 012008


  • 100,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that the brake indicator on the instrument panel remains illuminated, regardless if the brakes are engaged or not. The vehicle has been to the dealer three times and they discovered a leak in the brakes. Brake fluid was added to remedy the failure, but the indicator illuminated again a few days later. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer and they informed him not to worry about the failure. There was no attempt to repair the failure. Weeks later, the contact took the vehicle back to the dealer and they discovered that the brake activator failed. The vehicle was out of warranty; therefore, the contact would be responsible for the repairs. He refused to pay for the repairs and the manufacturer will not assume responsibility. In addition, the check engine lamp in the vehicle has also illuminated. The dealer stated that they would have to replace the fuel tank, but was unsure if that would permanently remedy the issue. Both of the defects have not yet been repaired. The failure mileage was 100,000 and current mileage was 120,000. Updated 3/11/09 updated 03/16/09.

- Rio Rancho, NM, USA

problem #1

Jan 022009


  • 130,000 miles
Brake and ABS light came on. Brakes lost complete braking ability. Luckily we were on a hill off the interstate exit when this happened so the car could not go further, though it almost crashed into the person in front of us (that person turned off road). This is 100% dangerous! the car currently sits at my house. Too dangerous to drive. When brake pads were checked last I was told brakes were 80% new, so it is clearly not the pads.

- Albuquerque, NM, USA

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