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

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2008 Toyota Prius:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2008 Toyota Prius Owner Comments (Page 6 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #39

Jul 102009


  • 15,000 miles


On 3 separate days, 2 during the summer of 2009 and 1 during the summer of 2010, our Prius transmission has automatically and repeatedly shifted from D (drive) to N (neutral) without warning while the car was moving. All incidents happened on extremely hot days (temperatures near 100) in the afternoon after the car had been parked out in the sun and without us having made any accidental contact with the shifter / drive selector while driving. This created dangerous situations several times as the car erratically slowed as we entered intersections or pulled out onto busy streets. Our initial response was to depress the accelerator, but when this had no effect, we discovered the transmission light had moved from D to N. it was especially dangerous when making left hand turns on busy streets with oncoming traffic. We discovered that we could keep the car moving by constantly holding the shifter / drive selector lever in the D position. Turning off the air conditioner did not help the problem. After the first time this happened, we took the car to the dealership to investigate the problem, but the service technicians there were unable to reproduce it. This glitch remains a concern to us because the loss of power and acceleration is unpredictable and therefore dangerous, but at least we know we can keep the car moving by holding the shifter in the D position. Because the car is so computerized, I suspect an electronic component of the drive system may malfunction at high temperatures. The mileage number I gave is an approximation since I didn't record the actual mileage when this first happened, but the dealer who serviced the car shortly thereafter should have that information.

- Denver, CO, USA

problem #38

Dec 152010


  • 61,000 miles
TL - the contact owns 2008 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that while trying to turn off the vehicle it would not shut off. The contact mentioned that the failure had occurred several times before, he was not able to turn off the vehicle until it was warm. The vehicle was taken into the dealership and they were not able to duplicate the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified. The failure and current mileage was 61,000.

- Castro Valley , CO, USA

problem #37

Nov 152010


  • 43,000 miles
Headlight goes on, then goes off. Won't stay on. I was informed the other one could go out at any time, so I should replace both, at great expense. I was told by Toyota that the hid headlights were covered under the regular warranty, but not the extended warranty. Bulbs (especailly those costing $300) should not burn out or randomly flicker on a two year old vehicle. To prevent future/additional problems, I had to replace both headlights, including the one that was working. This is a definitlely safety issue...I check bulbs regularly, and all are working when I turn the car on. Obviously, I can't check while I'm in motion - which is when they flash off - and was fortunate that both bulbs didn't burn out at the same time, which could have resulted in a crash, injury or accident (or worse) that I would have been liable for.

- Newington, CT, USA

problem #36

Nov 122010


  • 56,000 miles


The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that while driving approximately 65 mph on the freeway the hybrid warning light illuminated on the instrumental panel and the vehicle suddenly stalled. He was able to drift the vehicle onto the side of the road. The vehicle was towed to a dealer. The diagnosis determined that the air flow sensor failed. The VIN was not available. The vehicle was repaired. The failure mileage was 56,000.

- Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #35

Nov 132010


  • 45,750 miles
The instrument panel on a 2008 Prius decides not work at varied times. It is a sporadic problem which occurs then goes away. You could be driving down the highway at night then you see that you have no display telling you: 1) how fast you are going, 2) how much gas do you have, or 3) distance traveled. It's too difficult to troubleshoot because the problem would goes away.

- Livonia, MI, USA

problem #34

Sep 242010


  • 51,832 miles
Prius starts when the power button is pushed. There is no dashboard lights and since the dash board is digital there is no way to tell what gear the car is in or what speed you are traveling. Car drives without an operational dashboard which the dealer does not recommend. Car is under 2000 mile warranty. Dealer unwilling to repair combination meter which is the cause of the problem because they could not replicate the problem while at the dealership. Problem is well documented on Prius chat. Cost $1600.

- Castro Valley, CA, USA

problem #33

Jun 092010


  • 62,010 miles


Hid headlights unexpectedly shut off while driving. When I turn them off, then back on, they work perfectly fine, but I don't know when they'll go out again. This is clearly a safety issue. It does appear that the hid headlight equipped Prius has some electrical or design defect.

- Huntingtown, MD, USA

problem #32

Jun 082010


  • 61,890 miles
Hid headlights unexpectedly shut off while driving. This is clearly a safety issue and appears to be a defect with the electrical system or design of the lighting components other than the bulbs because if I turn them off they come back on fine every time like there's nothing wrong with them.

- Huntingtown, MD, USA

problem #31

Jun 052010


  • 61,853 miles
Hid headlights that unexpectedly shut off while driving, but come back on when manually turned off, then on. Appears to be problem with the electrical system, not the lights, or a design defect.

- Huntingtown, MD, USA

problem #30

Apr 252010


  • 12,000 miles
Severe safety concerns with a 2008 Prius are the following: The answers and solutions to the following are necessary before anyone could be considered safe driving this 2008 Prius: 1.why did our Prius have a power failure on April 13th while driving at 60 mph on a flat stretch of hwy 101 going North at the blithedale exit in mill valley, ca" 2.why while driving up divisidero around 11:30 or 12 noon on April 25, 2010 did the car begin beeping loudly when going up the hill in pacific heights? 3. why did it then start making two different beeping sounds? we then pulled over and found that the transmission indicated that it had jumped into reverse even though the car was still going forward. We had not touched the shift lever, both hands were on the wheel. It jumped into reverse by itself. 4.why, after we then returned the shift to drive, were we able to go further up the hill and the loud beeping started again while the transmission was still in drive" we stopped the car and kept a foot on the brake pedal until help arrived. Aaa came. Aaa drove the car without beeping to a more level part of the street to load it upon a truck and carried the car to the san francisco geary Toyota service center. They have yet [5.20.10] to accurately diagnose and correct these problems so it is safe to drive.

- Mill Valley, CA, USA

problem #29

Apr 012010


  • 100 miles


The 2008 Toyota Prius has a strong smell that resembles a electrical burning smell it makes your eyes water and your cloths smell like it long after you have left the vehicle. The dealer is not sure where it is coming from. There are other reported claims of the same smell on the internet.

- Southfield, MI, USA

problem #28

Apr 012010

Prius 4-cyl

  • miles
2008 Toyota Prius. Consumer states fault in vehicle the consumer stated he backed out of a parking space, shifted into drive and the vehicle refused to respond to drive as he pressed the accelerator. It seemed the brake was on. A master fault appeared on the screen. It said batteries will not charge if let in the neutral position. After several tries, it finally responded.

- Apache Junction, AZ, USA

problem #27

Feb 062010


  • 8,500 miles
Hello....I just received a notice from Toyota entitled customer support program..(no mention of recall). In it, they say that there is a problem with headlights going out...and while they've been charging for them at 300 dollars each, they now realize that it's some kind of electrical issue....that causes the lights to fail...now, in light of everything else, it seems that this is a potentially serious problem and should be a recall...not a "hide the problem" kind of customer support letter......someone should be monitoring this one too....if Toyota can hide something that is a recall-warranted problem, what next..? it worries me....

- Corvallis, OR, USA

problem #26

Mar 092010


  • 39,055 miles
I left my 2008 Toyota Prius running and had to run back into a home where I'd just left a sales appointment. Eventhough I had the key fob in my pocket, I noticed out of the corner of my eye as I was crossing the street back towards the house that my car was careening into the Buick parked across the street. I ran and jumped in and steered it away from T-boning the parked Buick, but could not keep it the driver's side of the Prius from scraping along the driver's side corner of the Buick's rear bumper.

- Cardiff, CA, USA

problem #25

Dec 062009


  • miles
2008 pruis- twice in cold weather the computer dashboard indicators wouldnt show any info including speed of car and the car would not turn off. I called the dealership and they said they had never heard of this before. After about 30 minutes of driving around the dashboard came on and I was able to turn the car off. I looked this up online and others have had this problem in cold weather with the pruis.

- Clever, MO, USA

problem #24

Jan 122010


  • miles
Our office owns a Toyota Prius that I drive occasional to work assignments. I took the car on a trip to see a work project but stopped to pick up another employee before heading to the site. When I pulled up to pick up the employee the Prius's entire dashboard display went blank. I pulled the car into a parking space and tried to turn it off. The "key" would not come out of the receiver. I realized the car was still running so I tried repeatedly to turn it off by pressing on the power button. The other employee showed up so we drove the car back to my office (2 blocks) got another vehicle and I drove the Prius to the office service garage. The garage staff couldn't turn off the car either. So I left it there. Later the garage called to say the car was ready. I asked them what was wrong with the car. They say it just had to be re-booted by holding down the power button for 10 seconds. After hearing about people getting killed driving Toyota products and Toyota saying there is nothing wrong with the vehicle computer I thought I should write and tell you it is the computer! if you are interested in hearing more details or picking up the vehicle for inspection you can E-mail me. I can fill in a lot of details when I get back to the office. I used 1/12/2010 to get through this form but I can check the date when I get into the office.

- Sebastopol, CA, USA

problem #23

Mar 012010


  • 44,000 miles
I purchased a 2008 Prius with hid bulbs and they both started going out a couple weeks after owning it while I was driving home at night. In just a matter of minutes, I had no lights at all! I was in a urban area, so the street lights were there so that I could see. But if I were in the country, as I usually am about once a week, I would have been in big trouble.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #22

Mar 052010


  • miles
2008 Prius regularly thrusts forward after about 30 seconds from starting the car. Then, car looms back into position. It has always scared me and makes me insecure to drive the car. This has been going on since I bought the car in December 2007, so the date of the incident below is inaccurate. I felt I should report this in light of the recent reports of defects, etc. Thank you.

- N. Hollywood, CA, USA

problem #21

Jan 052010


  • 30,000 miles
I N a 2008 Prius, three incidents turning right and left while on an incline. Two times in the last 3 weeks, loosing power with brake/wheels lights on when slowing to turn left on pine street at taylor...another time, also in san francisco slowing going uphill at post and leavenworth(no turn) but hill and slowing and loosing power. In carmel, about one month ago, turning downhill to the right, from highway #1 to carpenter street(again, brake lights/wheels)loss of power. Told tech's when serviced...told it was normal!

- Carmel, CA, USA

problem #20

Feb 102009


  • 11,870 miles
A. dash lights would just disappear (no display for speed or gear) B. key "bob" wouldn't release and car wouldn't turn off. - twice C. car would "rev-up" when engine cool while in gear applying brakes 1. took to dealer to resolve - couldn't recreate the problems and was told to keep the key in my pocket. 2. second time was able to take to the dealer while the problem was happening. After 30 minutes came back with the solution of not to insert key bob. The lights and the "key bob" problem happen twice. The engine "rev-up" happen when the car was cold and I would need to make sure to firmly apply the brakes. The last time it happened I wasn't so lucky - going at a speed of 40 I started a turn to go under the freeway when the engine "rev-up" and forced me into a concrete wall... totaling the car.

- Decatur, GA, USA

Read the next 19 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?