pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
142,800 miles
Total Complaints:
31 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (29 reports)
  2. headlamp bulbs and modules replaced (2 reports)
2005 Toyota Prius lights problems

lights problem

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2005 Toyota Prius Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #31

Apr 092018


  • Automatic transmission
  • 170,141 miles


Started with the passenger side headlight randomly going off while I was driving. Turning the lights on and off would fix the problem but it would soon go out again. Now, sometimes the driver's side will go out or the passenger's side or even both. This is extremely dangerous!!! The car was a gift, so I have been saving to get fixed, hopefully, a permanent fix. Toyota wants to charge me to just diagnose the problem(even though this seems to be a very common problem), before giving me an estimate to fix it. Not very happy at the moment.

- Kimberlee J., Rocky Mount, NC, US

problem #30

May 092018


  • Automatic transmission
  • 170,000 miles

Headlights unreliable - they don't turn on at all, or turn off after they have been on. It can be one side or both. It's intermittent. I went to the mechanic's today and everything was working fine. The problem is I'm a little afraid to drive at night, not knowing when it could happen and whether I'll get stranded somewhere unable to drive home. Mechanic said to look up what the common source of the problem is, but so far I haven't found anything except replacing the bulbs, and the bulbs are working fine (when they turn on).

- Kathryn M., San Diego, US

problem #29

May 012017

Prius 1.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

The drivers side headlamp randomly turns off while driving. I have replaced the lamp and when that didn't work I went back through and checked to see that it was installed correctly. I didn't find any thing wrong with the installation. Problem is not fixed.

- anthony7732, Mora, US

problem #28

Jun 062017


  • Automatic transmission
  • 170,226 miles


I found out that there are over 200,000 vehicles with the same problem and its a safety problem since the beginning when these vehicles were rolled out from factory. How on earth there hasn't been a recall for these is beyond my comprehension. The lights goes dim first after a minute then completely off and it has to be turned back on.

- Sandy T., San Jose, CA, US

problem #27

Nov 222016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,650 miles

I was alerted to the problem by another driver on a well-lit city street at night, where I found my left headlight was out. When I turned my lights off and then back on, the left headlight came on again. It was not as bright as the right headlight, and it became even dimmer very soon. When I turned the headlights off and on again, it regained brightness but repeated the pattern of dimming, and sometimes going out.

I found in an online search that this is a common problem for the 2005-2009 models, but has been fixed with the 2010 model. From other reports it seems the problem is not in the headlight itself - replacing it never fixed the problem. What isn't clear is whether the problem is in a simple a faulty connection or in the computer (circuit-board) that controls the headlight. The computer seems more likely, but how do we find out? WHAT DID TOYOTA DO TO FIX THE PROBLEM IN THE 2010 MODEL?

- John M., Washington, DC, US

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problem #26

Feb 102017


  • Automatic transmission
  • 152,000 miles

The lights on our prius go out randomly. First it was only the left headlight. Last time it was both lights. Turning on the high beams did not fix the problem. Turning the lights all the way off and then on again made them go back on. This is dangerous on the highway. I've learned how expensive it is to have a dealer look a fixing/replacing lights on a prius. It is stupidly high. Love my toyotas but this is pathetic. I may never buy another one and share my story with everyone considering a prius.

- Dean P., Monterey, US

problem #25

Oct 052016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 210,100 miles


Passenger side headlight goes out. Turn off and then turn on headlights solves problem temporally. Light went out 10-15 times on a two hour trip on the highway. Light goes out intermittently. Turning headlights OFF / ON fixes problem TILL THE LIGHT GOES OUT AGAIN.

- Geo N., Saratoga Springs, NY, US

problem #24

Jun 012009

Prius 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

Replaced the Headlights at the dealership, as they said that the lights going out on their own was a sign that the bulbs were going bad. Problem persisted afterward. Dealer wanted to replace the bulbs again on next visit and charge for them. I declined, bought new bulbs on my own, and problem persisted. Have read online that there is a ballast up under the plastic bulb enclosure that over heats/similar issue that causes the bulb to go out. Replacing the bulb is not the fix. Toyota should recall all of these headlights starting with Gen 2 Prius. Mine is a 2005.

- andrewwa, Puyallup, WA, US

problem #23

May 182016


  • CVT transmission
  • 112,000 miles

I was driving west through Nevada at 11 PM at night towards Reno (approx. 180 miles away) on I-80 at 75 mph when suddenly my headlights went out. I immediately tried turning the lights off and on manually with my left hand, and the lights came on again (I couldn't see anything in the dark, scared out of my mind). Then, about 2 minutes later the same thing happened (I was driving slower this time). I did the same turning off and on again, and the lights came back on again, although somewhat dimmer. A few minutes later (5 minutes?)

I was passed by a vehicle, that then slowed down and came in behind me, and then turned on the police lights and I immediately pulled in an exit ramp (fortunately there was one right there). After the policeman checked my license and registration, he informed me that one of my headlights was out. He asked me to try and flick on and off the lights a couple of times, and to try the brights, but none of this brought it back into working order. He then out of the blue mentioned to me (without me bringing this up) that the Prius was notorious for having intermittent issues with the headlights, especially on the passenger side of the car (which is the side that was out, coincidentally). He let me proceed using one headlight without ticketing me.

A few miles later I pulled into a rest area and turned off the car for a few minutes while I went to the bathroom, and when I got back into the car and turned on the headlights they both came on, but within 20 seconds the passenger side light went out again. When I got home the next day and turned on the headlights they were both working again. This intermittent failure of the passenger side headlight has occurred a few times in the past, and I have had the Toyoto dealer look into it and they claimed that it was fixed.

However, this time it was life threatening.

- Michael L., Berkeley, CA, US

problem #22

Mar 012016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 197,479 miles

Toyota must not ignore this safety issue and it is in their best interest to provide a recall so that people will continue buying toyota cars in the future.


problem #21

Apr 112016


  • Manual transmission
  • 206,643 miles


headlights will randomly go out while driving. Most of the time it is only one headlight but sometimes both go out. To "re-light" them you have to turn the headlights off and then back on. Replacing the bulbs does not solve the problem. At night this has almost led to disastrous effects and, from a risk management perspective, it is only a matter of time before something bad does happen as a result of losing your external headlights while driving at night. It happens whether the car is stationary or in motion. Some element of this happens every time I drive the car (Multiple times per day).

- kalel15, Cincinnati, OH, US

problem #20

Oct 262015

Prius 1.5L Dohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,254 miles

I was on the 87 to north Highway 101 overpass in San Jose at 8pm (so it is dark) heading to San Fransisco airport to drop my husband off for his flight. In the car was my husband, my 1.5 year old, and myself. Both headlights turned off, yet the indicator on the dash said that they were on. We tried to turn the lights off and on again several times, but they would not come on. We took the next exit and stopped in front of a hotel. We turned the car off, counted to 10, and then restarted the car. Voila! The lights turned back on. We turned on the fog lights, just in case the lights went out again. They stayed on all the way to the airport. On the way back however was a different story. Down the freeway they stayed on, when I took my exit they were on, took my first turn, they were on, on the second turn, they were off, and they stayed off up until I got two house from my home, when they turned off again. On the Wednesday before, I was following a friend to brunch. She said that she had seen my lights turn off, but since it was daylight, and I have those horrible foggy headlights, I thought she was mistaken, boy was I wrong.

- Jamie M., San Jose, CA, US

problem #19

Dec 062015


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,800 miles

Left headlight goes out while driving. If I turn the lights off then on, it comes back on.

Last night I had a couple hours to drive, so I started keeping a stopwatch running. 59 seconds, 58 seconds, 1 minute 28 seconds, 1 minute 3 seconds, then there was a 7 minute gap, and I wasn't sure if it was off or on, so I flicked it off and on, the next outage was 2 minutes later.

If I don't notice that the driver side light is out (usually when there's oncoming traffic I can't tell - but I have been pulled over for it) the passenger side will go out and I will be left in the dark. The first time this happened, I didn't yet know the trick for flicking it back on, and was doing 65mph on the highway - SUPER DANGEROUS! I pulled over and turned off the car, when I turned it back on, both lights were back! So I kept going.

- Ark L., Vergennes, VT, US

problem #18

Apr 012015

Prius 1/56

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

We have a family of 3, one car and can't drive after 4p. This is devastating for us. I have stage 4 cancer and not only would like freedom to enjoy life when I can, but we also need to drive to and from medical appointments. My husband has been going in early and leaving early to work, but was told this is no longer possible. We can't afford to fix the headlights, nor can sell the car with this problem, nor can buy a new car. This is very difficult for us. It is also dangerous. Please help.

- Teresa F., Nashville, US

problem #17

Jun 012015

Prius Hybrid 1.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 178,000 miles

The headlights go off by themselves. Some times the left, some times the right, then some times both. It will scare you bad.. I have heard and read that this happens not only in the 2015 year but others. Why is there not a recall for the problem?

- Robert E., Hickory, US

problem #16

Mar 112014


  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

I have been pulled over twice and got a ticket once.

- Tara D., Monroeville, AL, US

problem #15

May 082015


  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,752 miles

A policeman and a Courtesy Patrol have both given me notes, not tickets, to get this left headlight replaced as it is extremely dangerous driving at night with only one headlight. I have paid to have a new light bulb and a new ballast installed. Neither fixed the problem - cost $186. Toyota in Pueblo, CO gave me an estimate of $587.99 to replace the ballast assembly but warned that it may not do the job and they might have to install a complete new headlight. I had the ballast and bulb done for considerably less than that with Toyota parts but it did not fix the problem.

In talking to three other Prius owners they have all had the same problem and their costs varied from $600 to $1,000. Then I heard that there is a recall but it only covers cars from 2009 to 2015. Granted my car is much older. I have had no problem at all with my wonderful little red car. Put a new battery in at 51,000 miles and new tires when needed. I love that car. I want it fixed and am willing to pay half to have a complete new unit installed because I do think it is a design flaw and not a reasonable wear problem.

- bbabb, La Junta, CO, US

problem #14

Dec 202014

Prius Hybrids

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

The problem started more than a year ago the Dec. 20, 2014 is not right. The drivers side head light would go off and then come back on a day or two later this continued for some time. Until April when I drove to Indiana. I do not know when the head lights (Both Lights) when of , the head lights indicator on the dash was still on. As I was on 465 going around Indianapolis lots of street lights so not sure when but when I got on highway 69 we could not see very well, no street lights. When we got to an exit we pulled in to a gas station and both head light were out, dash indicator still showed they were on. We turned off the lights 3 times and back on then they came on.

Later while I was driving the lights just stopped working 3 time in about 1 hour. This was over a1,000 mile trip. Coming home no problem. I had to have some work done on my car, I was hit by a car so I ask the body shop to check if I had a loose wire. They said the light bulb tested bad, they replaced it. It worked fine, the following week I when to the Toyota dealership where I purchased my car. They told me the ballast was bad that was why my light was not working. I told him, (I don't remember his name.) that the light was working and as he was not 100% sure that was the whole problem. because when they installed the new headlight, the dash lights would go out when I turned on the headlights again turning off the lights 3 times and back on. Then the dash light would come on.

- nlsw6198, Gulf Shores, AL, US

problem #13

Nov 012014

Prius Hatcback 1.5L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 152,000 miles

I seem to have the dreaded "random headlight outage" issue with my 05 Prius. Usually it's just my driver side light that will turn off randomly but as of late, the driver side or passenger side will turn off and one two separate occasions, they BOTH went out at the same time while driving on the freeway at 11pm!

Thank God they came back on when I turned the headlight switch off and than back on but it scared the crap out of me when it happened.

According to my research, this issue was recalled by Toyota however, it's for 2006-2011 models only. This really ticks me off as it's happening with my 2005 model! There a lot of videos online that show you how to replace the bulbs yourself but I've run into problems because I have very large hands and can't get them in the confined space to remove the rubber boot and replace the bulb and worse, what if it's not a problem with the bulbs but the module itself?! Oh man. This blows. This was the first car I ever bought brand new, it had .8 miles on it when I took it home. It's run like a champ for me for 160,000 miles. I can't believe that Toyota won't honor their recall because my car is a one year older than their recall states.

- clshep, Modesto, CA, US

problem #12

Apr 012014

Prius 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 190,000 miles

click to see larger images

headlights turn off on their own

I experienced an auto accident in March, 2013. The front of my car was repaired in April and the headlights were replaced at that time. I had never had any problems with the headlights prior to that time.

About 8 months later, I informed the repair shop that the right head light was going out intermittently. I asked him to check it. He said it may be a bad bulb and that I would need to pay out of pocket. I said I would wait. I continued to drive the car and would just turn the lights off and back on. Now both lights are going out completely and frequently while I am driving. Thank God the fog lights remain on. I have to turn them off completely and turn them back on again to get them to operate.

Toyota said the filament is going out and when it gets heated up it will go and and when it cools down, it comes back on. The costs would be $325 to replace. These brand new lights only lasted 8 months. Their conclusion is not true. The lights come back on when I turn them off and back on. I hope I do not have to replace these headlights every 8 months to a year after replacement. I have not replaced yet, I just keep turning them off and back on.

- fchill10, Powder Springs, GA, US

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