really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
63,568 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.

2008 Toyota Prius drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2008 Toyota Prius Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #31

Jan 012016


  • 150,000 miles


I have had my 2008 Prius since it was new and I have taken meticulous care of the vehicle with documentation to prove it. The vehicle is burning oil to the extent that I have to put a quart of oil in every 700 miles. My local dealership confirmed it is an issue with the vehicle but Toyota usa said they won't do anything about it because there "has not been enough complaints". however, the Toyota Prius chat website has numerous complaints about oil consumption. Toyota did an extended warranty for the corolla and Camry but refuses to do anything for the Prius. Numerous attempts have been made with Toyota usa to correct this issue but they refuse to do so. They did say they corrected the issue in the newer models...but yet don't want to acknowledge that is it an issue! so, they corrected an issue that they currently don't acknowledge is an issue!! second to this issue is that the back window can only be closed by the driver's window button and will not close for the person sitting at that window in the back.

- Lake Ariel, PA, USA

problem #30

May 282016


  • 92,000 miles
What's wrong with Toyota and NHTSA? today in hot weather with the air conditioner on my 2008 Prius once again suddenly dropped itself out of drive into neutral without warning and in the middle of the highway. One has to hold the shifter in drive to get out ofeveryone's way. If this isn't a life-threatening safety hazard then I don't know what is. Unless you want a few folks to die before anything gets done about this. The internet and Prius forums document this is not an isolated defect. The dealer throws up its hands┐ not our problem!!

- Kentfield, CA, USA

problem #29

Aug 012015


  • 80,000 miles
On a warm/hot day the vehicle drops suddenly itself out of drive or reverse. This can happen from being parked or crucially while one is driving. Usually the air conditioner is on. You can be driving down a city street or highway when the car drops itself out of gear, ┐ very dangerous and scary. One has to hold the shift mechanism in drive continuously to avoid an accident. The internet documents this exact defect in other 2008 Prius'. visits to the dealer are met with shrugged shoulders.

- Kentfield, CA, USA

problem #28

Jul 292015


  • 168,200 miles


Vehicle was off and in park. Vehicle was started and shifted into drive. In less then 1 second, vehicle slipped out of drive and into neutral as described in the technical service bulletin issued by Toyota (T-sb-0142-11). Problem as reoccurred multiple times since, including while driving at speeds above 45 mph.

- San Marcos, TX, USA

problem #27

May 012014


  • miles
When I tried to shift my car into gear, it automatically went to neutral. This has happened several times in warm weather. I have had to drive holding the lever in the appropriate position. This is both cumbersome as well as extremely dangerous. I did call my local Toyota dealer to report the problem, but was never called back. Since this occurs sporadically, I just let it go. It happened again yesterday, May 6, 2015, when I tried to put it in reverse. It jumped to neutral & got close to rolling off a drop off in a parking lot. I held the lever in reverse, & luckily prevented my car from going off a cliff. Frightening!

- Great Barrington, MA, USA

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problem #26

Feb 042015

Prius 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 148,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Prius. While driving 5 mph, the vehicle shifted gears into neutral. The failure recurred multiple times. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, where it was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 148,000. Updated 04/07/15 the consumer was unable to shift into gear and popped into neutral. The next day, everything worked normally. Updated 06/30/15

- Woodland, CA, USA

problem #25

Jan 042015


  • 73,500 miles


The car moves from drive to neutral mode. I put the car in "D" and it suddenly moved back to "N". keep the lever held on "D" and you can drive, otherwise it switches back to "N". happened 3 to 4 times today. Very scared if this happens when driving on the freeway or getting started at a traffic light as the car behind may not have enough space or indication of the vehicle slowing down because of loss of accelerator.

- Sunnyvale, CA, USA

problem #24

Dec 012008

Prius 4-cyl

  • 100 miles
When making a turn from a stop and trying to accelerate quickly the car jerks and hesitate as the anti slip system light flashes and engages. You cannot accelerate quickly into traffic from a dead stop making a turn as the car refuses, jerks and acts like it will stall. Pavement is dry and no gravel. Happens each and every time since I purchased the car. Easy to replicate. Come to a complete stop, then turn right while pressing the accelerator down quickly and the slip system kicks, car jerks, hesitates and then very slowly starts to eventually accelerate.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #23

Jul 252014

Prius 4-cyl

  • 50,050 miles
Gear shifted into neutral without use of gear shift control. Happened several times and wasn't able to shift into reverse or drive. Kept going back to neutral. Park also wasn't working. Powered car off which did put in park. Restarted and drove home without issue. Tried to recreate at home and same problem occurred. Was able to manually hold gear shift in drive or reverse to move car into driveway. Have left car at Toyota service center today for inspection. Did not occur when tech tried it day after incident at 7am. Initial incident occurred on hot afternoon at 5pm with 100 degree temperatures. Have read online of similar problems related to hot temp. Have had car for 5 years with no problems like this. Just crossed 50000 miles and am covered under warranty until Oct. I hope it can be repaired. And hope it does not happen while I am driving at faster speeds. So far only happens when parked and recently started. Starter battery was replaced around 2 years ago.

- Sunnyvale, CA, USA

problem #22

Jul 252014

Prius 4-cyl

  • 116,123 miles
1 - after being parked the car will go into reverse or drive, but when you let off of the brake, it will go into neutral. 2 - if left running in park, the car will go out of park and go into neutral. This will allow the car to roll, if it is not on exactly flat level ground. 3 - while driving, the car will jump out of drive and go into neutral. 4 - in all of these incidents, you can hold the shifter lever in the desired mode and the car will drive fine. 5 - talked to a Toyota repair facility and I was told that they have never heard of this. Did some research on the net and found many of these same incidents. 6 - this is definitely a safety issue, that apparently Toyota don't want to admit.

- Amarillo, TX, USA

problem #21

May 162014


  • 112,000 miles


The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that while driving various speeds, the vehicle would independently shift from drive into neutral. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where the failure was unable to be replicated. The technician informed the contact that replacing the shifter may rectify the failure but was unable to guarantee it would be a permanent fix. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure and current mileage was 112,000. The VIN was not available. Remailed 08/20/14

- Goldsboro, NC, USA

problem #20

Apr 182014

Prius 4-cyl

  • 135,000 miles
My 2008 Prius won't stay in gears occasionally gear jumped back from D to N mode. Fortunately, it didn't happen when I drove 70 miles per hour. I went to Toyota center and they said I have to pay for the shift lever. I don't know why I should pay for it, it is a defect of this car, not because how I drive this car. Plus, I don't have this money, so I didn't repair for it. I need to report this before someone get killed. I think Toyota should recall 2008 Prius, to make sure our (customer) safety.

- West Columbia, SC, USA

problem #19

Jan 072014

Prius 4-cyl

  • 36,318 miles
On occasion the vehicle will pop out of D or will have a problem getting into D. this day I parked, left the vehicle running (on) since it was cold in boston and my wife was sitting in the passenger seat. Existed the car, retrieved a package I was delivering from the back seat and left. About 5 min later, my wife said that all of a sudden she feels the car moving forward and before she can stop it the car crashed into a truck with a very large tow hitch assembly. The crash nailed my front hood virtually dead center. Dealer could not replicate but seems from other online comments that this is not unknown about gear difficulty although popping out of P seems like a new add-on or maybe few of us ever leave a car running.

- So Weymouth, MA, USA

problem #18

Jun 072013


  • 57,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that while driving 30 mph, the power train moved into neutral independently. The contact moved the gear shifter back into drive. One week later while the contact was driving 60 mph, the failure recurred. The vehicle was taken to a dealer for diagnosis and the contact was informed that the gear shift mechanism would need to be replaced. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The vehicle was repaired. The failure and current mileages were 57,000.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #17

Jun 032013

Prius 4-cyl

  • 25,770 miles
Last week I went out driving with a friend, I was delivering meals on wheels to various homes in my area. At one house I brake the car to a stop and shifted into park and left the motor running. I then got out of the driver's seat, went and opened the back door, took out the necessary meals, closed the door and then went into the house for the delivery. In the meantime, my friend sat in the parked car and after a very few minutes got out of the car to look at something in the neighboring garden. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the car creeping forward. She rushed to the car and tried to stop it but couldn't and so began to scream my name" just at that time I finished my delivery came out of the house and noticed the car was not parked where I left it and heard her screams. I ran to the driveway and saw the car moving forward. I ran after it, managed to open the door and pushed the power button to turn off the motor. This stopped the car just in time before running either into a tree, into another car or off the driveway down a cliff. We were, obviously very shaken up by the incident. No one knows why or how the car went out of park into drive. Both my friend and I are sure the car was stationary when I left it and when she left it. It seems to have suddenly shifted. I have gone back to that site to check if there was in incline or anything that would have caused the car to move. The ground was flat, dry and nothing was there to account for this incident. I am writing this to see if this is a problem for the Prius. Is it something I must be aware of? is there something that must be done to prevent this from happening again? and I would like this to be noted and made a record of by the company and the board of transportation. I would be interested to know if anyone else has had this problem"

- Hanover, NH, USA

problem #16

Oct 052012


  • 92,000 miles
When I put the car in drive, it slips back into neutral. In order to drive the car, I must hold the lever in the drive position. The dealer is charging me $500 to fix but I believe this is a defect and a safety problem and should be addressed by the manufacturer. I have read many examples of this problem on toyotanation.com under "2008 Prius won't stay in gear".

- Redlands, CA, USA

problem #15

Sep 282012


  • 71,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Prius. The contact stated while driving the gear would shift into neutral on its own. The contact shifted back into drive gear but the failure recurred. The vehicle was taken to a dealer for inspection and they stated that the lever assembly needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure but provided no assistance. The failure mileage was 71,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Richmond, VA, USA

problem #14

May 162012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 66,500 miles
The car shifts from both R (reverse) and D (drive) to N (neutral) for no apparent reason. This usually happens after first getting into the car. I'll shift into R, and it will drop to N. same for D. this can happen a few times each time. Usually, when I hold it in place long enough to start moving over 3 mph, it seems fine and I do not need to continue holding the shift lever. However, lots of reports online, and I am a bit concerned that this will happen more often. This has not happened while actively driving (always in parking lots so far). It may be related to heat, as most occurrences have been on hot days, but not exclusively. This seems to be a defect in the 2008 Prius.

- Park City, UT, USA

problem #13

Jun 052012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 41,876 miles
After 10 minutes of city street driving, the car was idling in park for 2 minutes. The car was then put into drive and the brake slowly released. As soon as the engine turned over to assist the battery drive, the shift knob bounced into neutral and the dash indicated neutral as well. With the brake on, the shift knob could be placed back into drive and the dash indicated drive. The car stayed in drive for the first second before the engine turned over then slipped back into neutral. This repeated 4 more times. Placing the car in park, turning off the air conditioning, and powering down the car did not prevent the car from slipping into neutral. The car stayed in drive only by holding the shift knob in the drive position. After the 3 minute drive home holding the shift knob in drive, the problem did not repeat. Later that evening and the next day the problem did not repeat. It was approximately 80 degrees F on the afternoon of the occurrence and the car had been parked in the sun for 7 hours, the air conditioning was running at the time of the occurrence.

- Roseville, MN, USA

problem #12

Jul 152011

Prius 4-cyl

  • 79,359 miles
Vehicle will not stay in gear, usually hot days when it happen. Weather its in rev or drive it will shift back to neutral. It started July 2011. Took it to dealer they could not duplicate. Now yesterday May 27th it happen again. You would have to hold down or up gear shift to have gear stay in place.

- Hogansville, GA, USA

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