really awful
Crashes / Fires:
4 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
70,934 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2008 Toyota Prius Owner Comments (Page 4 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #79

Mar 112013

Prius 4-cyl

  • 89,966 miles


Intermittent headlight failure. Headlight will go out. Usually, if lights are turned off and back on, headlight will come back on. Sometimes the headlight will turn on, sometimes it won't. this has happened several times (3 or 4) since I have noticed the failure two months ago.

- Dexter, ME, USA

problem #78

Mar 082013

Prius 4-cyl

  • 78,396 miles
My car had hesitation issues since shortly after I bought it. It would bog down, and almost die in traffic. I would lose speed on the hwy/road & nearly get hit. Previously, the dealer replaced the gas tank because its "bladder" was bad @ 54,057 miles on 08/05/2011. The factory split the cost on this repair (which appears to occur more than they are admitting). The performance improved for a little while, but there has always been funny noises coming from my vehicle and the car would not power on at times. Other times, it would freeze or power off. The maintenance warning lights would come on and then turn off. Infrequently, air would come through the backseat vents like it is supposed to. Frequently, I would smell unusual smells after stopping my car. My car ate up the inside of a new set of tires very quickly despite being properly aligned. The HVAC blower motor was cutting on and off at times and making funny noises. Many times when it would cut off, I could open and slam the hood and the HVAC blower motor would engage, as if there was an electrical short in it. When the HVAC blower motor quit altogether, I took my car to the dealer. The dealer said that the mower had gone out. There was an actual problem with the hv electric water pump as well as a factory recall. Interestingly, the dealer discovered tat the engine motor water pump was also leaking. What a coincidence! now that all of these components have been replaced, my car appears to work normal again like it has not worked since I first bought the car.

- Jacksonville, AR, USA

problem #77

Jan 062013

Prius 4-cyl

  • 168,000 miles
On three separate occasions I started my Prius by using the electric start button without the key. The car starts and runs but the instrument panel does not light up. Once I arrived at my destination the car will not shut off. It take approx. 1 hr of running before it will turn off. My dealership indicated they had not heard of this issue but after a diagnostic test, discovered that a computer chip communicating with the start button was the issue. The part is not available for 4 to 6 weeks and they will not release my car to me since they consider it a safety issue. They indicated its part of a recall issue..never heard of it! hummm. No cost for the fix since it is part of the recall and Toyota has provided me with a rental car.

- Hilliard, OH, USA

problem #76

Feb 172012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 1,001,001 miles


Both headlights go out without warning, I can turn the headlights back on by turning switch off and then back on. In doing research I have found this is a common defect with the Toyota Prius years 2006-2009. Why isn't this a recall? when getting an estimate to fix is up to a $1,000. I feel like Toyota needs to step up before someone is hurt or dead from an accident pertaining to this issue.

- Fall River, MA, USA

problem #75

Jun 082012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to start unless a particular warning light was cleared by disconnecting and reconnecting the battery. The contact was unsure of what light illuminated. In addition, the vehicle stalled when speeds exceeded 50 mph. The contact also stated that the failure may be due to the engine plug-in battery add-on kit that he personally installed. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the contact was informed that there was a low battery indicator problem that caused the failure. The technician informed the contact that once the add-on was removed, the failure ceased. The failure mileage was 60,000 and the current mileage was 70,000. Updated 02/12/13 the consumer stated his complaint was against the makers and distributors of the phev conversion kit, he had installed in his vehicle. The battery kit was used to provide additional electrical battery power to the built in battery of the hybrid. The consumer stated occasionally, the phev kit would cause the engine to shut down while driving on the highway at speeds of 45 -65 mph. When the incident occurred, there was a warning beep and the general warning triangle would appear on the dashboard. Once it happened, the consumer was unable to re-start the vehicle, until the general warning triangle was cleared. He had to clear it, by disconnecting the 12 volt battery for a minute and the re-connecting the 12 volt battery. The consumer stated after the engine shut down for a third time, he removed the phev battery kit. Updated 02/13/13

- Hickory, NC, USA

problem #74

Jan 242013

Prius 4-cyl

  • 140,121 miles
This morning when I started my car the dash panel lights would not come on. I drove seven miles to top off the gas(I could not tell how much I had because of the dash being off.)I then could not shut the car off. I drove for about a half hour and my dash lights just came on. When I got to my destination I was able to shut the car off and the dash lights are fine now. This happened once before about six months ago. I see on line that several people have had this same problem.

- Laconia, NH, USA

problem #73

Oct 132010

Prius 4-cyl

  • 41,000 miles


High density headlight on passenger side burned out quickly, after only 2+ years of driving. Dealer garage replaced at no cost - since it was still under the full extended warranty. High density headlight on driver side went out while driving. It went back on later that day, and has been intermittent since, but mostly not working. Just started researching replacement bulb prices when I found out how many people have been having this same issue. Passenger side tail light went out. Wiggling the bulb, socket and wiring got the light working again.

- Kent, WA, USA

problem #72

Jan 172013


  • 68,000 miles
Recently purchased used 2008 Prius. When driving at night I noticed that the headlights shut off intermittently. They go back on by turning lights off and on. This happened three times when driving for 10 minutes on a dark road. Very dangerous!

- Broomfield, CO, USA

problem #71

Mar 012012

Prius 4-cyl

  • miles
When starting the vehicle the dashboard lights that regulate speed, gas level, oil, odometer, etc do not light up. During this time, the odometer reading is also disabled and not calculated. The dashboard area is completely dark. The back up camera is also disabled and the information for mpg, electrical engine also do not work. Took it to the dealer to have the issue checked but the problem could not be recreated. The current work around that I discovered is to turn on the light switch before turning on the vehicle. This situation is very dangerous since you are unable to determine your speed, gas, and oil level as well as any other potential problems. After some online research I determined that many other consumers have been affected by the same issue.

- Granada Hiils, CA, USA

problem #70

Jan 192012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 31,000 miles
My vehicle is having the same problems at described in the Toyota warranty enhancement - ztv for the combination meter, where the display panel won't light up when the car is started in the morning. The car will also not power down when the power button is pushed. The car can be driven, but since you can't see the speed, mileage, or fuel levels it's not safe to drive the car. Eventually after several miles of driving the car can be powered off and the panel will light up after starting the car again. My car calls within the 2004-2009 years listed, but my specific VIN is not part of the recalled cars. Toyota said I would have to pay for any repairs myself.

- West Haven, CT, USA

problem #69

May 202010

Prius 4-cyl

  • 11,966 miles


On 20 May 2010 at 11,966 miles every brake/stability warning light came on (including the warning for the parking/emergency brake which was not engaged), regenerative braking appeared to have failed, and hydraulic/friction brakes behaved as if ABS was acting at a very slow pulse rate, approximately a 5-second cycle. For about 2 seconds during the "off" portion of this cycle the brakes were effectively inoperative, with the parking/emergency brake the only source of braking. This behavior persisted after shutting down and restarting the car. The dealer's service department reported that three errors had been logged: C1247 - stroke sensor C1300 - ABS ECU malfunction C2318 - low voltage error resetting the computers cleared the warning indications and restored normal brake system behavior. At my behest, the dealer worked with Toyota engineering to identify why a low voltage would cause a computer failure which could cause substantial loss of braking ability. They kept the car for 8 days but did not appear to complete any sort of root cause analysis of the failure. On 17 December 2012 at 27,324 miles the brakes again failed with the same set of warning lights illuminated. This time, ABS does not appear to be active at all. For the first 2-5 cm of brake pedal travel, in the regime where regenerative braking would be active, no braking is evident. As the pedal is further depressed, the hydraulic/friction brakes abruptly engage. Pressing harder does result in increased braking though braking is rough. No pulsation as might be expected from ABS was noticed. No attempt was made to brake hard enough to lock up the brakes. The vehicle is currently at the dealer.

- Mountain View, CA, USA

problem #68

Aug 012012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
The right headlight on my 2008 Prius went out while driving. I noticed the next morning that it was back on. I figured out that if I turn the light off then on again, it will come back on, for a while. I eventually had it replaced, to the tune of $120 parts and $40 labor. But after a couple of weeks it's doing it again. Not only that, but now the left headlight is doing the same thing. I'm very concerned about driving at night because changing the bulbs doesn't fix the problem, so it seems like it's only a matter of time before they both go out at the same time!

- Truckee, CA, USA

problem #67

May 012010

Prius 4-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
Multiple occurrences over the past 3 years of headlights (one or at times both) going out unexpectedly without warning. You go into partial lighting or total darkness. After a few minutes you can turn the headlights back on and they may stay lit for few minutes or several hours. I have had dealerships look at the car and say that it is just the bulbs failing (bulbs that are suppose to last 10 times longer than conventional bulbs). The car is now 4 years old and I have had to replace the bulbs yearly. Dealership costs that was originally $350 plus installation per bulb. Toyota has now dropped their price to $150 per bulb. Aftermarket bulbs now available but you still only get a life of 7 months to a year per bulb lots of talk from dealers but no solution. I went to after market bulbs thinking that the problem was Toyota bulbs. The same problem occurs. The problem is not the bulbs, the problem is in the vehicle wiring. This is a severe problem that must be looked into in that it putting a lot of Prius owners along with others on the highway at risk.

- South Jordan, UT, USA

problem #66

Oct 172012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 124,157 miles
When the headlights are first turned on, both work. In a few minutes the driver's side hid light dims and then goes out. This happens repeatedly. If I turn the lights off and then turn them on again, the same thing happens, both are lit, the driver's side dims and then goes out again in a few minutes.

- Statesboro, GA, USA

problem #65

Nov 202012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 40,000 miles
Turned on car and no dash lights came on. No speedometer, no odometer, no fuel gauge, no gear shift indicator. Broken combination meter. Toyota has issued a tsb - T-sb-0172-09 but will not repair under warranty.

- Boulder, CO, USA

problem #64

Sep 112012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 98,000 miles
2008 Toyota Prius. The right hid headlight turns off intermittently without warning. When I turn off the lights and turn them back on, the headlight lights up again but sometimes turns off a few minutes later. I paid over $500 to replace both lights, but the problem is still occurring. I contacted the dealer and they said they can't help me, other than to replace the entire headlight system, presumably at a cost of a few thousand dollars. I notified the manufacturer and they told me to contact a local dealer. I believe this to be a manufacturer defect that should be recalled and corrected by the manufacturer. This is a serious problem that can cause injury to me and others on the road.

- Costa Mesa, CA, USA

problem #63

Oct 272012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 72,000 miles
The front headlights intermittently shut off. Sometimes it's the left and or right headlight separately and sometimes they shut off together. If I toggle the lights on and off, they may or may not turn back on. It was very dangerous driving at night on the highway.

- Irvine, CA, USA

problem #62

Oct 252012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 56,700 miles
While driving at any speed, the hid headlights intermittently cut off. This usually happens one at a time, and mostly on the passengers side. I am unable to tell when they go off until either I get pulled over and warned which has happened once already or I pull up and see reflection off back of another car. The lights will work for short periods then off again then on again. This appears to be a known issue with this make/model and the manufacturer (Toyota) is not taking responsibility and charging upwards of $600 for repair. In my opinion this is a big safety issue which I believe Toyota should take responsibility for an obvious defect. I have also read this has occurred to many owners of this vehicle. After a further lengthy research my understanding is there is actually a class action lawsuit for this, of which I would rather see the NHTSA take action and have Toyota make good on these defects, and recall to resolve this problem. Thank you

- Land O Lakes, FL, USA

problem #61

Jun 012010

Prius 4-cyl

  • 40,000 miles
Our Prius headlights go out intermittently. Usually one at a time, but several times they have both gone out at the same time almost causing a crash. I took it to the Toyota dealer it was purchased from while still under warranty, they claimed it was a light bulb "going" out, that was 3 years ago and the bulb still isn't out.

- Harrisonville, MO, USA

problem #60

Oct 232012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 77,000 miles
While parked at the local post office the vehicle suddenly started to roll back. It rolled approximately 4-5 ca lengths. The vehicle drug me but came to a stop. The vehicle had to be "engaged" into drive in order to move the car. Not sure if this is an electrical problem or not but obviously the parking did not stay engaged.

- Dunedin, FL, USA

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