really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
51,011 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2004 Toyota Prius Owner Comments

problem #17

Jun 162010

Prius 4-cyl

  • miles


Vehicle slips into neutral and/or will not revert back to drive or reverse. The problem is most prevalent when weather gets extremely hot (99 degrees +). the only way I was able to get moving was to physically hold my shifter in drive position; the second I let it go, the vehicle automatically reverted back to neutral. I had my vehicle over to a local Toyota dealership about this issue. The technician at that time did acknowledge this was strange and witnessed the problem on site. After diagnosing the vehicle, he could not find anything wrong; I was told to leave the car with the dealership for a few days to try to replicate the problem; no other means of transportation was offered. I felt it would have been an unfair expense to rent a car for an undetermined amount of time while Toyota diagnosed my vehicle for several days; that said, I did not return to the same dealership for this specific matter. Given that this seems to occur only in extreme hot weather, you would have to replicate the same environmental conditions to diagnose it. Moreover, given the spontaneity of this issue it could take a very long time to diagnose it. This is truly a safety concern especially when the vehicle is in motion. I have attached two youtube video links that demonstrate this problem other owners are exhibiting with this same issue that demonstrate that I'm not just an isolated consumer with this issue. www.youtube.com/watch"V=qfxeeuc761E www.youtube.com/watch"V=hwt-hvn5eh8.

- Dacula, GA, USA

problem #16

Nov 142013

Prius 4-cyl

  • 149,472 miles
The basic problem: The gear shift selector sticks in drive or "B" (engine braking mode). If the driver stops the vehicle, with the brake depressed, and then presses the park button to put the vehicle in park, the vehicle remains in drive mode. The vehicle will move as soon as the driver lifts their foot from the brake pedal, even though the driver believes they have engaged the park mode. The driver has to place the normally spring-activated gearshift lever into the home position before the car will shift into park. Danger to the driver and others who drive the car. This is very dangerous, as the driver gets very used to being able to place the car into park by pressing the park button. Others who drive the car, like parking attendants or friends, will not suspect a problem. The failure of the park mechanism when this happens is going to cause accidents. Toyota's response. The Toyota dealer's technician says it is a broken spring in the gearshift mechanism, but wants me to pay for it. Toyota's customer care center says they will not fix this design flaw because of the age and mileage of the vehicle, unless I pay for the $565 gearshift module. Although the vehicle now has over 165,000 miles, this is a safety issue, and the design seems unreasonably dangerous. I have seen other complaints about this problem on chat sites, and another on this site.

- Berkley, MI, USA

problem #15

Jan 112012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that the gear shifter could not be shifted into park. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the shifter assembly needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 120,000 and the current mileage was 150,000.

- Pasadena, CA, USA

problem #14

Nov 192012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 117,322 miles


Car shifts to neutral upon shifting to drive or reverse when starting car (O mph) car shifts back to neutral when driving (25 mph) prob. Seems related to cold ambient temperature.

- Lafayette, CA, USA

problem #13

Oct 212012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
A combination of 2 issues. For several months the gear shift selector has been sticking in the D position instead of automatically returning to the N position as it should. It is documented by other Prius owners that the dust cover inside the shifter can begin to warp over time causing this sticking. priuschat.com/threads/gear-shifter-sticks.38199/ I thought this was just a nuisance issue until last month and on one other occasion where the shifter stuck in the D position and I hadn't noticed and when I attempted to put the car into "park" by pressing the separate P button the car would not go into park. It is now apparent that this is related to the shifter sticking in the D position and preventing the car from going into park. There is one report of a near incident of the car driving away when the driver didn't notice that the car failed to go into park which is a clear safety problem: priuschat.com/threads/2004-park-button-intermittent-failure.118257/.

- Nixa, MO, USA

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problem #12

Sep 082012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 69,135 miles
The dash gear selector (common to 2004 - 2009 G2 Prius) began clicking when I changed gears (R-D-N) I researched the subject and learned that this can lead to the shifter locking in D or R, a hazardous condition. I also learned that some diy owners have discovered a warped dust plate in the shifter component. It causes this problem. Their solution is to remove the plate, trim it, and reassemble the part. Link 1 below is a google search that reveals the other two links I included. Not all of the hits are relevant. The third link has a video with clear images of the problem and the diy 'solution.' Https://www.google.com/search?num=100&hl=en&safe=off&complete=0&site=webhp&Q=Prius+%22gear+shift%22+click+sticking&oq=Prius+%22gear+shift%22+click+sticking&gs_L=serp.3...2446378.2449925.0.2450814. priuschat.com/threads/gear-shifter-sticks.38199/page-2 priuschat.com/threads/how-to-replace-2G-gearshift-lever.65102/ I am believe that Toyota should be asked to recall these cars to replace this dust plate (or the shifter module.) unfortunately the gear shift module included with the car does not have a lifetime consistent with the 10 year/100,000 mile warranty on the traction battery. It is dangerous to have owners make this repair themselves. This could be avoided if Toyota were required to do it instead.

- Palo Alto, CA, USA

problem #11

Dec 012011


  • 87,691 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that the gear shifted from drive into neutral several times independently. The contact had to hold the gear for it to remain in drive. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who performed a diagnostic. The failure was located at the gear shifter. The vehicle was not repaired and the manufacturer was made aware of the failure, but denied assistance with the repair. The failure and the current mileage was 87,691.

- Farmington , KY, USA

problem #10

Nov 012011


  • miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota Prius. The contact stated the vehicle would shift from drive to neutral when accelerating. There was no warning prior to the failure. The vehicle was not inspected to determine the cause of failure. The failure mileage was unknown and the current mileage was 80,000. The VIN was not available.

- Farmington, KY, USA

problem #9

Sep 012011

Prius 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Automatic transmission control problems. The transmission control lever became worn. Sometimes the vehicle began to the roll with this defect. The internal spring that moves the transmission lever back to the previous position became worn and now it doesn't return to it's normal position when putting it in reverse or drive. The shifter lever was sticking in drive or reverse.

- Trabuco Canyon, CA, USA

problem #8

Apr 192010

Prius 4-cyl

  • miles
2004 Toyota Prius. Consumer asserts that vehicle accident was caused by a computer malfunction the consumer stated prior to the accident, on one occasion, the vehicle bolted and jerked slightly as she stopped the vehicle. When she attempted to take off, the vehicle responded sluggishly and then accelerated quickly. The day of the accident, as the consumer approached the stop sign, the vehicle started bucking and jerking violently. After she pulled off from the stop sign, she crashed into a large SUV. The consumer stated she saw the SUV pass, so she purposely waited so she could make a left turn, but ended causing severe damage to her vehicle.

- Monte Rio, CA, USA

problem #7

Jan 242007


  • 37,294 miles


I was entering a major highway from a parking lot when the engine suddenly accelerated at full speed. Visibility was good. There was a small pothole so I did touch the accelerator. Next I was in the middle of the highway & hit by a car going 65mph. I do not think I hit the accelerator rather than the brake although that was the only explanation at the time.

- Culpeper, VA, USA

problem #6

Jan 042008


  • 100,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota Prius. While driving in clear, normal road conditions at speeds of 50 mph, the contact attempted to accelerate into the flow of traffic. She then applied the brake pedal, however the vehicle did not decrease in speed. The brakes would not engage and the rear of the vehicle spun out of control or fish tailed. The contact could not maintain control of the vehicle and crashed into a guard rail and a nearby tree. The vehicle was destroyed. The VIN was not available at the time of the complaint. The current and failure mileages were 100,000. Updated evoq. 05/27/10

- Mequon, WI, USA

problem #5

Sep 062006

(reported on)


  • miles
Consumer complaint concerning 2004 Prius transmission. The consumer had problems starting in low gear on a hill. The consumer received a notice regarding the intermediate shaft, however when he arrived at the dealership, he was told there were no parts available. The dealer eventually replaced the steering shaft.

- San Juan, PR, USA

problem #4

Aug 162006

(reported on)


  • miles
2004 Toyota Prius hesitates when trying to accelerate. Instrumental panel light and slip indicator came on, then vehicle resumes full power. *****

- Berkeley, CA, USA

problem #3

Jun 082005


  • 9,286 miles
2004 Toyota Prius-while driving various warning lights came on including go to a dealer immediately which I did. Propulsion power almost vanished in one mile of driving. Dealer fixed the problem at no charge saying they "reprogram engine ECU"

- Placentia, CA, USA

problem #2

Feb 152005

Prius 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles
I have had 3 'stalls' of my 2004 Prius which I drive 150 miles a day and it has 48K miles on it. All of the engine stalls have been at low speed (under 20 mph) and have been preceeded by a red warning triangle light and the screen displaying something like 'critical problem'. on one incident I was in heavy traffic and managed to use the electric motor to get me to the side of the highway before the engine/motor stopped with no power. When I turned the power on/off several times the engine would start but there was no power. I did notice that on all three stalls my gas gauge was low (one or two bars) but I have run the car for thirty miles after the last bar started to flash so it's hard to tell if there is a connection. I did report this to the dealer but they had no information on it and the car reset each time after a period of time.

- Ossining, NY, USA

problem #1

Mar 192005

Prius 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 6,982 miles
My daughter was driving my 2004 Prius on I35W at 55 mph when several red warning lights came on and the car chimed. We were able to exit the interstate and left the car running while we consulted the owner's manual, then called the dealer. We started to drive to the dealership, but the car's power diminished noticeably at each red light or stop sign. It finally stalled about one mile from the parking lot where we had initially paused. The car was blocking a bus route/highway exit/surface street connector at that point. A bus driver and passenger had to push the car to a safer location, out of the bus' way! the ignition locked and the fob couldn't be removed until at least 30 minutes passed. The car was towed to the dealer, who said it was "a software glitch" and that there was nothing we could have done to prevent it, as they had to reprogram it. No parts were replaced.

- New Brighton, MN, USA

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