really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
6 / 0
Average Mileage:
77,349 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.

2005 Toyota Prius electrical problems

electrical problem

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2005 Toyota Prius Owner Comments (Page 3 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #94

Mar 082013

Prius 4-cyl

  • 65,000 miles


Dashboard information suddenly turns blank -- no fuel level, speed, etc., but headlights work (although no indicator on instrument panel) as well as turn signals, air-conditioning, and radio. I drove straight to the dealer thinking that it was probably a fuse. The service department reports that although they have rarely seen this, it's a problem with a component behind the power switch. The part is in short supply and may take as long as four weeks to arrive. They said it would be covered under warranty and the dealer will be paying for the cost of a rental car in the interim. The service from the dealer is superior and...I love my Prius..

- Riviera Beach, FL, USA

problem #93

Jan 022012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 115,000 miles
The driver side headlight intermittently goes on and off without warning. This began over a year ago, but we cannot name the specific time. We initially thought it was just a light bulb, however, we learned that it can be reactivated by briefly turning the headlight switch off and on. This is a safety hazard if driving at night. It can happen several times during one trip or not at all. We have taken it to a few Toyota dealers and they have indicated that it could cost 400-800+ to repair the problem, which we believe to be excessive so for now we are tolerating the problem.

- Jamison, PA, USA

problem #92

Jan 032013

Prius 4-cyl

  • 101,000 miles
Front right headlight is intermittently going out. I can get it to go back on if I turn switch off and back on but it may fail again within 10 or 80 minutes. Replaced bulb, but still have problem. Dealer said it was the bulb but replacing it has not fixed the issue.

- Mill Valleuy, CA, USA

problem #91

Feb 012013


  • miles


I started up the car this morning, put it into reverse, and a second or two later, it shifted itself into neutral. The shift lever felt like there was more resistance to it than usual. This happened several times and also happened when I tried to put the car into drive. After about 15 minutes of turning the car on and off and trying to shift several times, the car finally stayed in gear. The problem is the same as described in this thread: www.toyotanation.com/forum/62-Prius-forum/343977-08-Prius-wont-stay-gear.html, with the only difference being that it was a rather cold day (0 degrees F) while most of the posts in the thread mention the problem occurring on a hot day. While the malfunction on my car was problematic but not life-threatening, I am concerned that the car could shift itself into neutral while I am driving (as described by several posters in the above thread), which would be a dangerous situation.

- Ames, IA, USA

problem #90

Oct 122011


  • 135,000 miles
Since about the fall of last year or so, we've been noticing that the headlights have been going off intermittently. The right went out and then came back on. Then another time the left went out and came back on. I've read about this occurring on many other Prius' and that there was a class action suit? anyway, I need to figure out how to get this fixed as it is a serious safety issue.

- Pflugerville, TX, USA

problem #89

Nov 012011


  • 78,000 miles
The headlamps repeatedly burn out, which repair people have said indicates an underlying electrical problem. I now have to replace one of the headlamps for the fourth time in just over a year.

- Takoma Park, MD, USA

problem #88

Sep 012012


  • 56,000 miles


The contact owns a 2005 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to start. In order to start the vehicle, the emergency brake had to be engaged. The contact also stated that the headlights failed intermittently but would function normally after attempting to activated them several times. In addition while driving at various speeds, the transmission would erroneously shift into neutral and all of the contact's attempts to shift back into drive failed. The vehicle was taken to the dealer but the failure could not be diagnosed. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was contacted about the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 56,000. The current mileage was approximately 57,000.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #87

Dec 102012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 149,709 miles
Outside temperature approx 32 degrees F. gear shifter on dashboard would not electrically seal-in or stay in position after going into reverse, the first time. Backed car out of driveway and shifted into drive, it immediately went back into neutral position and would not stay in drive - electrically. The only way to keep the car in gear was to physically hold the gear shifter into desired position. Physically held shifter in drive position and pulled back into driveway. Once in driveway, tested shifter and found it would not go into any gear and "stay". after work, temperature was 60 degrees F and shifter then functioned properly. Drove to Toyota dealer and left car. They stated a technical bulletin was issued by Toyota on this item as described. Ticket # 490621; part number 33560-47023 "lever assy. Shift, was replaced. Part cost $164.93 and labor was $416.14 for a subtotal of $581.07 plus tax of $34.33 for grand total of $615.40 usd. This is obviously a cold weather and age related issue. Plus, this is not the first Toyota electrical system design flaw issue I've encountered, but the first related to drivability and possible safety issue.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #86

Sep 272012


  • miles
Headlights (one or both) will randomly turn off while driving. Turning the switch off and back on will turn them back on.

- Herndon, VA, USA

problem #85

Nov 092012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 115,995 miles
My 22-year-old son had a scary incident in which our 2005 Prius stalled spontaneously on the bronx river parkway (valhalla, NY) with several dashboard warnings lighting up. The hybrid shifted to battery mode in traffic. Luckily he was able to get off highway. Car was towed to dealer. We're very concerned because the car never had problems and because, on an internet search, we see the failure was precisely like the one described in NHTSA report that resulted in a Toyota action to service many cars in 2005: J.mp/nhtsaprius05problem.

- Garrison, NY, USA

problem #84

Sep 252012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 139,000 miles


I am sure that you won't believe this is true. On Oct 25th 2012, I got home and turned off the car after work. I took the bag contained the key and left in the family room which is about 40 feet away from garage. After the dinner, I went to garage to throw trash. I smelled gas and heard music and car engine was on. Suddenly, it reminds me, in the morning when I turn off the car and left, the car started by itself and all electronic system was re-set. I specifically paid attention to turning off the car and locking the door in the evening because of what happened in the morning. The car was turned on by itself again and had been running in the garage for more than 2.5 hrs based on the clock re-set information. I could not turn it off and the car showed error message that the key was not in the car. Of course, since the key was in the family room at that time. I brought the key in the car and still could not turn it off. I tried to insert the key and still no luck. I called aaa and they sent a technician and a toll truck to my house. He could not turn off either initially and eventually turned it off after move the wheel, step on breaks really hard and shook the car. I sent the car to Toyota dealer right away. The service center could not identify any issue and Toyota refuse to acknowledge there is anything wrong with the car. I was scared and also glad that I went garage to throw garbage today. Otherwise, I don't know what is going to happen! we have furnace with igniter light on in the garage. The house can be on fire with a reason no one will expect and believe! the carbon monoxide could filled the garage and emerge in the house! I called in the customer care center (case # [xxx]) and they told me there is anything they can do about it. What is really upset me is that Toyota does not even acknowledge there is anything wrong with the car! information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #83

Jan 202012


  • 50,000 miles
While driving on the highway at 70 mph, the following symptoms occurred on my 2005 Toyota Prius: (1) car would not accelerate, (2) engine light came on, (3) problem light came on, (4) battery went red, (5) car stalled and would not accelerate/drive any further. After turning off the car and restarting it, I was able to drive it back and the battery recharged itself to green. After taking it to the dealership and having this problem "fixed", the exact same situation happened two more times, again 6 months later and then 2 weeks after that. The second time I was driving again on the highway at 70 mph, the third time I was driving at night at 40 mph.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #82

Sep 012012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 163,000 miles
My Prius dash keeps going black, the car won't shut off. Also had it in park engine revved and started to drive away. I jumped in and it wouldn't shut off I had to rip the key out. The rear taillights go out all the time. The doors and hatch locks won't unlock half the time. I had a new battery put in but it still happens.

- San Tan Valley, AZ, USA

problem #81

Mar 272012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 61,000 miles
The hid headlights fail and turn-off without warning. This leads to dangerous driving conditions especially at night. This is related to a hid headlight leveling sensor failure. Toyota reports this issue in their "technical service bulletin" number EL004-06, dated 28th April 2006. Toyota recognizes the problem in the oem part and is providing replacement only on failed parts under 36months, 36,000 miles warranty. However, my vehicle experienced this "safety issue" past the warranty period and hence is not replaced by Toyota. Nevertheless, Toyota has generated a customer program to replace this defective module in 2006-2009 models even if not under the warranty. My 2005 model experiences the exact same problem but Toyota will not cover this safety issue. Furthermore, the 2006-2009 models are covered under the "class action lawsuit" for the exact same problem as my 2005; however my 2005 model is not covered. Please do the needful to include 2005 model Prius (with hid headlights) in the safety issues addressed in 2006-2009 models. Thank you.

- Northborough, MA, USA

problem #80

May 262011


  • 103,000 miles
I rolled slowly (<1 mph) uphill to the parking slot (L.a. code, 2%grade down away from buildings) up to the parking cement stop, and was ready to shut it down. The engine started to race, about to go over the cement stop when I put my foot on the brake. The car continued over the cement stop. I pushed harder on the brake and the car started to drive over the sidewalk. Then the car drove through the plate glass of the studio and then came to a stop inside. I put the car into neutral and tried to turn the car 'off'. the car's engine was still on after several tries to turn it off and I had my foot off the brake and on the floor. Then the car took a turn to the left and drove through the wall (my foot was still on the floor). I got out of the car without taking it out of neutral and it was still "on". I took the key with me to the middle of the room (I used the keyless ignition) so the car should have "chimed" because; the passenger side door was open, I was out of the car, and the car was still left "on". however, the car did not chime (indicating it did not detect I was 12 feet away). My teacher came up to the shattered glass window of the studio at the same time the security officer for the MINImall a few minutes after I got out of the car. I was looking for my insurance card in my purse when the three of us witnessed the car "rev" again and the wall began to shatter with plaster and wooden studs falling around the car with no one driving (the car was in neutral). Because of the movement of the car, without a driver and in the wall, the security guard tried to get people out of the building. The towing company could not 'pull' the vehicle out of the wall with their tow truck for more then 20 minutes so, I gave my car key to the police officer and he gave it to the towing company. The man from the towing company drove the car out of the wall and out of the studio.

- Pasadena , CA, USA

problem #79

May 012011

Prius 4-cyl

  • 60,000 miles
The right, passenger headlight goes out and by turning the headlight switch off and back on, the headlight comes back on. It will go off again and I will have to perform the same procedure to get it to come on again. This happens repeatedly during any given trip.

- Shaker Heights, OH, USA

problem #78

Dec 022011

Prius 4-cyl

  • 100,500 miles
We were driving on the highway at night and suddenly, without warning, the engine stalled completely, the car died, and all of the warning lights came on, including a red triangle, check engine, brake, and some others. The Prius lost power and I had to turn on the hazard lights and coast to the shoulder. We called the aaa towing service and 911 (as the shoulder was very narrow and we could not get out of the car). The officer and the tow truck driver checked for all possible driver errors, including gas, but did not find anything out of the ordinary (the gas gauge showed 5/8 full). The car was towed to the Toyota dealership in sunnyvale who are working to determine the cause. This was a very dangerous situation as we were driving on a highway, with a child in the car, at highway speeds at night and the car suddenly died. It has left us shaken and we will be contacting Toyota to see if they have a fix for this.

- Los Altos, CA, USA

problem #77

Oct 252011

Prius 4-cyl

  • 42,500 miles
I was driving on the highway when my vehicle's check engine light came on. Shortly after I saw a large amount of smoke coming from the engine. I pulled over and shut off the car. Car smelled like burned plastic and smoke. I was worried that the car could catch on fire or blow up! I had the car towed to my nearest Toyota dealership.Toyota claimed that the three way coolant control valve had failed and the steam came from a ruptured line in the coolant system. The job cost me $422.32. I didn't mind paying the service but after careful research into the problem with the 3-way control valve on the Prius I had learned that this is a wide spread problem.apparently the valve tends to stick causing no flow of the coolant fluid. I feel Toyota should fix this problem before someone gets hurt either by getting burned from a ruptured line or the car catches on fire.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #76

Oct 122011

Prius 4-cyl

  • 44,200 miles
Headlamp would go out at random intervals. Always came on when first switched on but would go off while driving. Would reproducibly come back on when the switched was flipped to off and back on again. Would then go off again at later time. No way to tell whether operational while driving.

- Potomac, MD, USA

problem #75

Oct 012010

Prius 4-cyl

  • 60,000 miles
2005 Toyota Prius with hid headlights which has self leveling feature. Have noticed for a while the headlights are shining low, can't see sufficiently ahead of car. Headlights can not be manually adjusted. Found online several reports indicating the control module that sends the leveling message to control the headlights which is mounted on the driver side rear axle fails when water enters the device and corrodes the unit. Poor contruction of this unit lead to water infiltration and has resulted in a dangerous situation due to the poor headlight performance. Toyota has been contacted and they have not answered if a recall is warrented even though apparently the malfuncioning unit has been redesigned to stop water infiltration nor will they provide the necessary repair without charging for it.

- Harrisburg, PA, USA

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