really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
84,541 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.

2004 Toyota Prius brakes problems

brakes problem

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2004 Toyota Prius Owner Comments

problem #13

Jan 022011


  • 110,000 miles


I was coming off of an onramp and intending to turn right at the light. I needed to get into the left lane as I was turning left at the next block. I applied the brakes to slow down and make the turn and nothing happened when I pressed on the brakes. I ended up going up over the curb and the plants stopped the car. The engine was off when I came to a stop, though I didn't turn it off. If there hadn't been a meridian in between the cross traffic, I would have gone into the lanes ahead of me. Very scary. I had my car towed to Toyota to check it out first, but there looks to be thousands of dollars of damage to my Prius. The whole lower front is smashed and crunched, the two left side tires are flat and the rim is partially torn off on the front tire.

- Los Gatos, CA, USA

problem #12

Jun 012010


  • 86,831 miles
We own a 2004 Toyota Prius and have been very pleased with it until it recently experienced a sudden brake failure. After stopping at a rest stop and preparing to return to the interstate, my wife experienced a complete brake failure as she drove the vehicle in reverse from the parking area. She then drove the vehicle forward to get it out of the traffic lane and continued to not have brakes. The vehicle was towed to amarillo, tx where the Toyota dealer repaired the vehicle by replacing the stroke sensor (scanned system code C1247).

- Soda Springs, ID, USA

problem #11

May 122010


  • 104,000 miles
While driving on city streets (low speed, under 30 mph), I attempted to brake. At first there was no response from my brakes, then the ABS kicked in and stopped my vehicle. Road conditions were dry and there was no apparent reason that the ABS system should've kicked in. At that time both the ABS warning light and the brake light came on and remained on. While sitting at the stop light I attempted to shut off my vehicle and restart it. After doing this both warning lights were still on. I drove very slowly to a safe place to pull my car off the road. Each time I attempted to brake the ABS system engaged resulting in a jerking braking motion. At that point I looked at my car's manual and followed the instructions to have my car towed to the nearest dealership. The dealership hooked my car up to the diagnosis machine which rebooted my car's computer. Once off the diagnosis machine, they were unable to recreate the error and sent me home in my car. No further service was done and I was instructed to bring it back to the dealer if the brakes failed again.

- Nipomo, CA, USA

problem #10

Mar 152010


  • 135,000 miles


I was turning my 2004 Prius into a parking garage at between 2-5 miles an hour, applied the brakes as I was going in over a small lip/bump in the pavement, and the car accelerated on it's own. I was lucky enough to swerve and reapply the brakes in time to avoid hitting an oncoming exiting car. It was very scary and I almost hit the other driver. I have never had this happen before. There has been a couple similar incidences where I was braking while coming up to a stop, hit a bump or pothole in the road and the brakes felt like they stopped working for a split second and then seemed to have resumed. It is a strange sensation when you are expecting a stop. The car has always been serviced at a Toyota dealership every 5,000 miles since it was new and will be due again in about 2 weeks.

- Oakland, CA, USA

problem #9

Aug 152009


  • 86,000 miles
2004 Prius on several occasions, while braking, there was no initial response to the application of the brake. I thought it was because I had not pressed the pedal firmly enough, but given the publicity about braking hesitation, I wonder if these were vehicle problems.

- Oak Hill, VA, USA

problem #8

Mar 202009


  • 90,000 miles
I complained about a year ago to Toyota about my car losing braking on the ice. I drive a 2004 Toyota Prius. I read they are recalling the 2010 model and I believe the problem goes much further back and needs to be investigated.

- Pierre, SD, USA

problem #7

Jan 302009


  • 53,000 miles


The brakes suddenly seize when attempting to slow at times after going through a puddle or when the road is wet from rain. This poses a risk as I fear that if another car were close behind I could get rear-ended as the car rapidly slows as if one were slamming on the brakes. The brakes "let go" after taking my foot off the brake pedal, but this occurs unpredictably, except that it happens on wet roads.

- South Pasadena, CA, USA

problem #6

Nov 042009


  • 5,000 miles
When going over uneven pavement, or hitting debris or driving over a pothole, when pressing on the brakes, the pedal goes to the floor, with no braking power. This has happened ever since we got the car, many times. The dealer told us it was the anti-skidding system and that there was nothing to be done.

- Woodland Hills, CA, USA

problem #5

Jan 012010


  • 80,000 miles
I have a 2004 Toyota Prius that experiences braking problems when traveling over bumpy surfaces, railroad tracks, potholes, etc. I can feel the car lose braking power and the car seems to skip/ lunge forward and then suddenly seize to a stop. For years I just thought it was an issue with anti-lock brakes in general but now that I've heard descriptions of the problem identified with the '10 models, I know that's what my car does. I've learned to anticipate and compensate when approaching road surfaces where this occurs and so I brake in advance to avoid danger.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #4

Dec 152008


  • 50,000 miles
My 2004 Toyota Prius does have an acceleration issue. Just wanted to bring to notice that the acceleration issue does not only effect the 2010 model. When ever traveling around 40 mph and you brake -- there is a sudden acceleration for lest than 30 seconds -- this is very much intermittent. This started happening in Dec 15th 2008. The car always stop with no other issues. I have learned to be cautious and slow down well ahead.

- Moon Twp, PA, USA

problem #3

Oct 232009


  • 95,000 miles


Driving approx 35 mph. Applied brakes lightly to slow before a sharp right turn. Brakes "froze" and required extreme pressure to slow and then stop the car before reaching an intersection approx. 100 feet beyond the curve. The car stalled and lost power during this maneuver, which was accompanied by very strong smell of burning rubber and multiple warning lights. Upon restarting the car, it felt as if the brakes had seized such that it was difficult to proceed through the intersection to a safe place to pull over. I then turned the car off and on repeatedly until the warning lights extinguished and normal operation resumed. My local shop (not a Toyota dealer) said there was a code for communication failure with the brake system but no indication of damage to the brakes or wheels. This was the first instance for this problem, which has not occurred subsequently.

- Laurel, MD, USA

problem #2

Dec 222009


  • 104,200 miles
I purchased a 2004 Toyota Prius new in June of 2004. In the last month I have had 3 incidents where the brakes failed while driving. Suddenly the brakes go to the floor, the car loses power and the warning lights go on. The last incident also included a high pitched tone which persisted until the car was shut off. The first incident happened on Nov.19, 2009. I was driving at a low rate of speed and noticed a slight hiccup in the engine while turning a corner, then about 500 ft. Later, the warning lights went on and the brakes went to the floor. I shut off the engine, then turned it back on and drove slowly to the side of the road with the warning lights on and called my dealer, who told me to have it towed in. They had the car for 3 days, and replaced the ABS ECU with actuator, the actuator assembly and brake for a total repair bill of $3383.69. On December 22, 2009 the same sequence of events occurred in the morning. I was able to drive the car home at a low rate of speed with the warning lights on, then took it to the dealer, who could not find the problem and told me to bring the car back next week. Later that day, the car experienced the same brake failure while driving at a low rate of speed. I had the car towed to the dealer. They now tell me they cannot find the problem and the car is not displaying the warning lights at this time. They plan to keep the car for a week or so to see if they can duplicate the problem. I have a 50 mile round trip commute to work on the freeways of southern ca. If the car dies on the freeway in rush hour traffic an accident would likely ensue. The dealer has treated me very well through this, but I am concerned that they are unable to get information from Toyota to diagnose this problem. You have one other complaint for my model year with this same problem. Surely there are others, as I have seen similar postings on the web. Toyota must know about this defect, which I will bet is a programming error.

- Fullerton, CA, USA

problem #1

Nov 042009


  • 100,000 miles
Driving on bay bridge, sf, ca at 10:00 am going 50 mph. The following lights showed on dash, care lost all baking ability. Brake light, ABS light, exclamation light, and whining sound. Had to use emergency brake to stop car and have it towed.

- Martinez, CA, USA

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