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 5 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #54

Jan 012008


  • miles


I had been pulled over on several occassions for faulty tail lights. This has been ongoing since I bought the car. Then my children told me of the front head lights going out for no reason. I did not believe them till the went out on me. After taking it to several Toyota dealers and said that there is nothing wrong, on 09/10/2009 I filed a complaint with a "monica" from the NHTSA in DC. I have yet to hear anything to this date and I am afraid of a serious crash when the lights go out without knowing why. I also have a check light that has been on since before my warranty went out and no one wants to correct the problem. I hate this car, it scares me and there are other issues and I have to date only received one recall and that is on the mats.

- Eure, NC, USA

problem #53

Apr 022010


  • 69,186 miles
2005 Prius no problems except water pump until now. 69,000 miles. Went to start the care and while in neutral idleing the brake pedal pumped up and down and the ps light came on. The red triangle danger message came on. I did not drive it but Toyota told me to tow it in. They say the computer is shot and needs a new skid control ECU. I was not in an accident

- Alameda, CA, USA

problem #52

Sep 102009


  • 150,000 miles
My 2005 Prius headlights are brand new and the lights go on and off. I went to the dealer and he told me that they could not detect whether it is the hib headlights or the ECU to gives it power. They told me that it will cost me a thousand dollars to get both done. The lights go off in the middle of driving and present a hazard in darkness and inclimate weather.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #51

Feb 282010


  • 136,488 miles


My 2005 Toyota Prius have left and right hid headlight problems. The passenger side headlight goes out intermittently, then both headlights goes out with no warning. This is an expensive problem, there are major safety concerns linked to the sudden loss of headlights. There should be a saftey recall on all Toyota Prius headlight assembly. The headlights and the electronics cost more than $1,000 to replace.

- Upper Marlboro, MD, USA

problem #50

Mar 242005

Prius 4-cyl

  • 61,800 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Toyota Prius. While the contact was driving approximately 20 mph the brake light, anti-lock brake system and stability control warning light indicators illuminated on the instrument panel. The failure occurred one time. An authorized dealer and manufacturer were notified; and the contact was displeased with the lack of response. The failure and current mileages were 61,800. Updated 05/10/10 the consumer stated Toyota has taken care of the problem free of charge. Updated 05/12/10.

- Great Falls, VA, USA

problem #49

Apr 012006

Prius 4-cyl

  • 3,370 miles
I have reviewed my service records and it is quite clear that I have had problems with the "electrical" system in my car since April 2006 @ 3,370 miles. This was also the same time it began to accelerate from a stopped position for the first time, when I noticed that the braking system began to "feel" different, when the car began "slipping" on perfectly dry roads, and when my steering wheel would lock up. I find it difficult to believe that the failure of my brakes and my intermittent acceleration issues are not somehow related to the cars "computer" system and not mechanical issues. I have filed complaints with Toyota for these issues (cases # 200807100210, 200811030088). I experienced my first braking issue on 27-Jun-2008 (25,133 miles). While I was able to bring the car to a stop eventually, the slowing of my car was a very gradual process requiring heavy pressure on the brake with minimal braking response. I went to the Toyota dealership. The dtc code at the time was C1247 with "code 179" stored, there was "no brake assist." The dealership reset the memory and reinitialized the linear solenoid valve and calibration. The brakes were reported to have returned to "normal." On 09-Jul-2008 (25,551 miles), I returned to the dealership because my brakes failed again. This time my brake failure resulted in a car accident (the person I hit stated at the time of the accident he had whiplash but he never contacted me afterwards). Toyota replaced the skid control ECU and rechecked operation reassuring me once again that the brakes had returned to "normal." On 03-Nov-2008 (29,575 miles) as I was driving over 65 on a major highway my brakes again failed (dtc C1247, code 179). Toyota case #08300402. At this point the repair shop replaced the brake stroke sensor. I am concerned because my car had an acceleration issue on 13-Feb-2010 and I find it to be "slipping" again on dry roads. Similar problems to those I had before my brakes failed. Please help. Updated IVOQ 04/02/10 updated 04/08/10.

- Berkeley, CA, USA

problem #48

Mar 122010


  • 10,360 miles


Driving at night and the head lamps on Toyota Prius malfunctioned; not aware that they were off. I was on a dark winding road, heavy rain showers. Was alerted by another motorist that my lights were off. Got out of car, tapped the dome, one came on... I was able to drive home. Happened unexpectedly, no warning. Very concern with my safety. They could have been an accident. Checked with other Prius owners. Found out, it's a widespread issue with the Prius. Toyota is aware of the problem and needs to address it before someone gets seriously hurt or killed. Overall the car is fine but this headlamp issue needs to be addressed from a safety perspective. There are no deaths /injury in my case but prevention is the key. Thank you.

- Tucker, GA, USA

problem #47

Oct 062009


  • 93,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Toyota Prius. The vehicle was parked all day until the driver pushed the power button and there was no power in the vehicle. The vehicle was towed to the dealership for diagnostic and testing. It took the dealer two weeks to perform a diagnostic test on the vehicle. The technical support team had to replace the power E.C.U. the contact was concerned that the vehicle would continue to lose power. The failure mileage was approximately 93,000. The current mileage was approximately 98,000 miles.

- Monrovia, CA, USA

problem #46

Jun 152009


  • 40,000 miles
The problem is engine surging when I am braking. The regenerative brakes seem to send power to the motor that the computer does not handle properly and the engine surges, making it difficult for me to slow the car down to make turns or to stop. The car feels out of control. This problem seems to be random. I have contacted the Toyota dealer several times about the problem over the years since I purchased the car in January of 2005. They said they had received no other complaints of a similar problem. It happens more frequently in the summer than in the winter. I talked to the service manager at my Toyota dealer last month and he again said that there were no other complaints of a similar problem and that it might be the fault of the ethanol in the gasoline. I think it is a problem of the electronics and that the shield protecting the electronics is not capable of protecting against electro-magnetic problems in the area or in my car.

- St. Louis Park, MN, USA

problem #45

Mar 012009


  • 33,000 miles
In March of '09 I drove my car to a local shopping center. When I returned to my car 10 minutes or so later, I tried to start the engine by pushing on the start button. The entire dashboard display lighted up, including all of the warning lights, but the car wouldn't start and I wasn't able to turn to turn off. I am not sure if the engine actually came on. I also wasn't able to put the car in gear.. at some point, all the display lights, including the gear shift box, started flashing.. after trying for about 5 minutes, I called my Toyota I10 dealer in indio, ca who said he had never heard of this happening. While talking to him I kept pushing buttons and finally, I was able to turn the car off and then back on and everything worked from that point on. I was not told by the Toyota technician to bring the car in and I didn't. the second time it happened on 4/3/09 the same problem happened again. The car was parked in my garage and when I went to start the car, all of the above happened again, but I believe I was able to turn off the ignition. I called aaa, they jumped my 12V battery, and I immediately drove the car to my Toyota dealer. They recharged the battery and said that the battery tested high after the recharging. That battery did not have to replaced until 10/22/09. I have another complaint which may or my not be connected to this complaint, . on approximately 1/6/10 while driving my car the lights displaying my speed and fuel gauge went out. I thought it might be a blown fuse so had that checked. The fuse had not been blown. I continued to drive the car for about another week or so before calling to make an appointment with my Toyota dealer for the next day. On that day, 1/20/10 I called I drive my car to do several errands, one of which was quite near the area when I first had the trouble with the car starting. In this case, as I was leaving the area, my display lights came on and I have not had any trouble with them since.

- Palm Desert, CA, USA

problem #44

Feb 132010


  • 40,000 miles


I have a 2005 Toyota Prius. It has never been in an accident or had any damage. For the past couple years, I've been noticing a problem with the gear shifter. Usually in cold weather (below about 40 degrees F), the gear shifter does not change gears. For example, I'll put it in drive, release the gear shift, and it immediately reverts to neutral. Same thing happens when I put it in reverse. To go anywhere, I have to hold the gear shift in the gear I need. Sometimes, if I hold it in drive for about a minute, it finally stays in drive when I release it. So far it hasn't jumped gears while driving - only when I first turn the car on. I took the car to the dealer today and he said he's seen several cars with the same problem, and said I have to get the entire gear shift mechanism replaced, which costs ~$700. I'm nervous that if I don't get it replaced, the gears could jump while driving and cause a safety hazard.

- Chapel Hill, NC, USA

problem #43

Jan 252010


  • 182,367 miles
My 2005 Toyota Prius has a problem with the headlights going out, it started in December 2009 and as of today they go out about every 5-10 minutes... I called Toyota customer service and they implied there was no wide spread problem with the headlights on the 2005 Prius... I have an associated press article in front of me that says (the Prius is a highly computerized car and has had many problems in the past... in 2005 Toyota repaired 75,000 Prius that had a software problem that caused the car to stall and the Prius also has had problems with the headlights going out since 2001 ) is there a fix that they would not tell me about... thanks.

- Speedwell, TN, USA

problem #42

Jan 042010


  • 160,000 miles
In my 2005 Toyota Prius, one or both of the headlights spontaneously go out while driving. If you turn them off using the switch and then turn them on, the re-illuminate so the bulbs are not burned out.

- Plymouth, MA, USA

problem #41

Sep 172009


  • miles
I own a 2005 Toyota Prius, and the headlights have both gone out. They are supposed to last 10 years. For a while, when I turned off the headlights and turned them back on, they would work. However, they do go out when I am on the road quite often. I have been quoted by the dealership that replacing a single lightbulb will cost over $400 including parts and labor. This is a safety issue because I drive to work in the early in the morning and late at night, and my headlights do not function reliably. I have heard this complaint from other Prius owners, who are otherwise happy with their vehicles. For a lightbulb that is supposed to last 10 years, this is definitely a faulty and dangerous part issue.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #40

May 112009


  • 19,300 miles
Fire and total loss of 2005 Toyota Prius, 19,300 miles after returning from work, the vehicle was parked as usual with engine power cut in the owner's driveway. A few minutes later, smoke was noticed inside the car with flames showing from underneath the vehicle. The fire department extinguished the fire about 10 minutes after it was first noticed. The main damage is in the rear left (driver's side) of the vehicle, with the cargo compartment completely destroyed, tire completely melted, all plastic in the area melted, door blackened, the rear bench destroyed, the ceiling carpet destroyed and big heat marks on the roof of the car. The vehicle was not modified as a "plug-in hybrid" which have been reported in at least one incident of fire. The external temperature was moderate, around 70-75 degrees. Updated 06/05/09

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #39

Feb 272009


  • 62 miles
On 2/27/09, my 2005 Toyota Prius' brakes completely failed. I was going downhill in an highly transited urban road (rte 123 in va, close to tysons corner). Thankfully I was only going about 40mph when the light changed to red. The 2 vehicles in front of me stopped. I pressed the brake pedal and my car accelerated initially, and then nothing. Brakes are meant to work. Always. I kept pumping the pedal hoping to engage the breaks, but they did not engage. What stopped me was the rear of a BMW X5. Thankfully I was the only injured party, and my injuries are mostly muscular. I could have died or I could have killed someone. In January, I had taking my car to the dealer because all the alert lights on the dash would sporadically go off. They kept the car for a week and claimed that the secondary battery needed to be replaced. I got my vehicle back and on 2/23/09 the issue restarted. I was due to take my car back to the dealer the day of the accident. I called a lawyer to see if I had a case, and was told no. I am still researching the issue because someone should be held accountable and future tragedies should be avoided. If anyone has started a class action suit, please do let me know as I would like to join you.

- Burtonsville, MD, USA

problem #38

Dec 272008


  • 94,000 miles
On three separate occasions my headlamps have gone out. Each time it has been the right or left side. The fourth time. The lights came on using the hi-beam only. Numerous incidents have taken place. This is the second time my wife has been pulled over for this. I have replaced these myself. However, this last time it is not the bulb. It is the electrical system. According to the forum. Costs have been from $300 - 2K. Some dealerships assume some responsibility and others don't. this is a safety and expense issue. Driving home is very difficult at night and using the hi-beam is blinding to on coming traffic and against the law in most circumstances.

- Battle Ground, WA, USA

problem #37

Nov 222008


  • 120,000 miles
Left headlight keeps going out in Prius. Turn off then back on to reset both headlights went out one night and almost caused a wreck it reset once I turned it off and back on.

- Mobile, AL, USA

problem #36

Oct 012006


  • 13,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Toyota Prius. For the past two years, the vehicle has emitted an odor inside the passenger compartment, which sticks to the contact's clothing and hair. The odor has been recognized by Toyota as an odor that originates from the rear battery which is found under the back seat. The odor is triggered by extreme heat and while pulling heavy loads. The contact lives in Arizona so the vehicle is subjected to extreme heat. Toyota stated that the odor was non-toxic and that there was no current remedy for the defect. The contact believes that the chemical may be toxic and feels uncomfortable driving the vehicle. The failure mileage was 13,000 and current mileage was 45,000.

- Surprise , AZ, USA

problem #35

Jul 142008


  • 80,000 miles
I own a 2005 Toyota Prius. I purchased it in March 2005. Last week, my multifunctional display (mfd) ceased to operate correctly. The mfd initialized to the mpg screen but had unusual colors. I attempted to change the display screen by selecting the audio, climate, display, and info buttons but to no avail. The screen would go blank and then show the "Prius hybrid" initializing screen and then return to the mpg screen. As I was nearing my 80K service, I contacted my dealer and reported the problem. They diagnosed the mfd as being unserviceable that next Saturday. The service representative made the comment that it was common for the mfd to go bad. To replace the mfd with a new one, it is $4,000 plus installation. That is 19% of the cost of the vehicle when it was brand new! I began researching and found that Toyota had issued a technical service bulletin on 10 January 2005 title: Multi-display functions are inoperative; tsb# EL002-05 which identified issues with the mfd. Also in browsing the web specifically www.priuschat.com and autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/Prius-2G/ and saw that I was not the only one with this problem. One electronically gifted person disassembled his mfd and diagnosed the problem as improper soldering on the circuit card (see techno-fandom.org/~hobbit/cars/mfd/compare.html ). it seems that Toyota corporation was aware of the problem and were not disclosing it hoping that the faulty mfd?S would not be discovered until the vehicles exceeded the 3 year 36,000 warranty. I know I am outside the mileage warranty, however, I am just passed the 3 year window. I purchased and use my car as a commuter vehicle driving almost 100 miles per day. As a maintenance officer in the us army, I know there are components that are mileage dependent (engines, transmissions, differentials) but this is not one of them. Electrical components are built to last the majority of vehicles life, not just until the warranty expires.

- Manassas, VA, USA

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