really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
11,896 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.

2009 Toyota Prius brakes problems

brakes problem

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2009 Toyota Prius Owner Comments

problem #15

Jul 052010


  • 25,000 miles


My 2009 Toyota Prius, since I first purchased it April 2009, the anti-lock brakes seem to fail. When I brake and hit a bump in the road the anti-lock brakes engage and release the brakes. It feels as if I am sliding on ice. I discussed this with the Toyota dealer last month, who dismissed this as normal anti-lock brake activity. I feel these cars need to be recalled and repaired.

- Mohrsville, PA, USA

problem #14

Feb 012010


  • 25,000 miles
It is a recurring incident/problem with my 2009 Toyota Prius. Braking at the same time one is going over a bump in the road or during intermittent slippery conditions. When braking at the same time the car is going over a moderately abrupt bump or parkinglot driveway entrance the anti-lock braking engages but there appears to be delay - possibly in connection with the switching from the regenerative brake mechanism - causing the sensation that the brakes have failed for about 1 second or 2 - quite a disconcerting feeling and concern that is potentially dangerous if the same road conditions were present during a panic stop. During intermittent slippery conditions - e.g. snow over the road, partially plowed snow or icy conditions - the anti-lock braking/traction control is over-active, cutting power abruptly to one wheel then the other causing a whipping action from side-to-side. This ranges from annoying to terrifying including one incident that the car spun out 3 times on one section of a rural snowy road - fortunately no on-coming traffic was present and the car did not go into the ditch. When the dealer was asked about these tendencies they stated that this was normal - so no adjustment to a part or software has been able to be made.

- Reedsburg, WI, USA

problem #13

Mar 122010


  • 8,300 miles
When braking on the Prius if you hit a pothole the car loses traction and skips ove the pothole. Loss of feeling for the control of the vehicle of a second or two. It happens every time when braking and hiting a pothole or manhole

- East Amherst, NY, USA

problem #12

Mar 092010


  • 17,000 miles


I have a 2009 Prius that is not a part of the "braking/traction" recall, however I've experienced the same exact problem from day one of driving the vehicle. On wet or uneven surface the traction control kicks in and car seems to lose power in the brake and accelerator for a few seconds and it is not possible to control the vehicle. In other words, you should be able to either brake and prevent a bad situation or accelerate your way out, and neither are possible for a few seconds. This happens nearly every day on the 2009 Prius. Looking at consumer blogs, it is obvious this has been a consistent problem with the Prius, and not just the 2010 model.

- Chester, NJ, USA

problem #11

Mar 032010


  • 1,000 miles
2009 Toyota Prius: When driving over pot-holes, bumps, or uneven patches of road at all different speeds, the car's "traction light" will flash and the car will momentarily surge forward. It seems at this time that the brakes also temporarily lose power. This happens several times a week. This worries me as I feel this could lead to car accidents or put pedestrians in danger. Spoke with many other Prius owners and they report the same problem. Contacted the dealership where I bought the car and the service manager told me this was a "normal function" of the ABS. I still feel this is a safety issue that is not being properly addressed. I've driven many other cars with ABS and none of them behaved this erratically.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #10

Jul 312009


  • 6,700 miles
In addition to the traction control, ABS, gas pedal/floor mat problems with the Toyota Prius there is also a safety issue with the power button. In an emergency situation, like the door coming open, throttle getting stuck, etc. You can't power off the vehicle quickly. You must hold the power button for some amount of time before the car will shut off. Unlike the Toyota Camry example where they suggested turning off the ignition, you can't do that on the Prius. You also can't remove the key/fob to turn the vehicle off or power it off. There is also an extreme under steer problem with the vehicle which is a safety concern. In wet conditions it is exacerbated. It can be observed on clover leaf overpasses and general cornering.

- The Woodlands, TX, USA

problem #9

Feb 132010


  • 19,985 miles


Loss of engine power in 2009 Toyota Prius. When accelerating into traffic in wet or low traction conditions every time one of the front wheels looses traction, the engine abruptly goes to idle for 3 seconds and the car severely decelerates. Only by removing your foot completely from the gas pedal and reapplying throttle will the car start going again. This extreme over-reaction of the traction control system is very dangerous in traffic. This over-reaction is most pronounced if turning to the right when a front wheel starts to slip. There should be a way to turn off the traction control system manually.

- Elgin, IL, USA

problem #8

Feb 132010


  • 10,000 miles
2009 Toyota Prius my 2009 exhibits similar braking issues to those being recalled on the 2010. At least weakly during slow braking over a bump, pothole, or damp surface, the "slip" indicator comes on and the car lurches forward for approximately one second.

- Wellesley Hills, MA, USA

problem #7

Mar 122009


  • 100 miles
I live on a dirt road 2 miles long with 1 mile uphill. I bought my new 2009 Prius on March 10th 2009 and on March 12th could not drive out. Going up the hill when ever the drive wheel slipped the traction control would brake the wheel until, with many brief braking, the Prius came to a stop. I was unable to go forward and had to back down the hill till I could find a place to turn around. This created a very dangerous situation. I had the car towed out and Toyota checked it and said all systems were working properly. I asked for an off switch and they said impossible. When I came home the same thing happened again and was towed out and again Toyota refused to deal with it. I went to arbitration and presented my information along with articles I found on the Consumer Affairs website about this same problem affecting people all over the nation, some with bad results, especially on ice, stranding them, in intersections. Toyota said this was not covered in the warranty so all my information and my case were totally disregarded. This is the same thing that has happened to others with the same problem. Toyota refuses to acknowledge the problem or add an off switch. I also called the manufactures of all other hybrid or electric cars with traction control and they either have an off switch or offer one just for this reason. I was lucky that my road association spent $16,000 on the road shortly after this happened but as the road is deteriorating and there wont be enough money for several years I may be stuck again in the future. Every other car can get up the road, even at its worst, including a 2003 Prius without traction control. This happened again on another dirt road but I was able to get out thru the use of ropes and rocks and a shovel. Is there anything you can do to help as I don't want to hire an attorney to follow through. Thank you

- Chico, CA, USA

problem #6

Feb 092010


  • 11,850 miles
On a daily basis, my 2009 Toyota Prius loses control, skids, (the traction light goes on), fishtails and has brake failures on ice and snow. When I hit potholes or big bumps, the car accelerates and I have to quickly brake. The northbrook Toyota service manager drove it today. The car lost control, skidded, the traction light went on, it fishtailed, and the brakes failed on the ice and snow. His comment was "that's the way the car is. It doesn't drive well on ice and snow". we couldn't find a good pothole for the car to demonstrate the acceleration today. I was told by an automechanic that works on our other cars that the 2009 and 2010 Prius have problems with their brakes. Presently there is no recall for the 2009 Prius. I am afraid I am going to kill someone at an intersection when I can't stop. Yesterday I had 2 catholic nuns in the car and the car failed to turn left at an intersection, almost fishtailing into an embankment before it righted itself. A Lexus SUV behind me almost hit me while trying to avoid me. I am hoping that no lives will be lost, or severe injuries occur, before these problems are acknowledged by Toyota and fixed.

- Northfield, IL, USA

problem #5

Jan 032010


  • 0 miles


2009 Toyota Prius vehicle slid into intersection, no collision occurred. Approx 3 ft past stop point. During moderate to hard braking, if a wheel hits sand or a pothole, the "traction control" system engages, causing the brakes to release for approx.25 to.75 second. It is very unnerving (to say the least) to be out of control of my vehicle. It is also repeatable when accelerating on a short entrance ramp around a corner. This ramp is very uneven. The traction control engages and the car seems to steer straight, towards the outside of the curve. I spoke to the dealer about the issue, and was told that the vehicle is behaving normally, and there is no way for an operator to disable the traction control. I thought I would have to live with this, and assumed it was something about this vehicle... but now with the investigation on 2010 I am wondering if my report is similar and if the investigation should be expanded to include 2009.

- Lincoln, RI, USA

problem #4

Jan 132010


  • 20,500 miles
My 2009 Toyota Prius is exhibiting the same braking behavior as previously identified in the 2010 models. There is a manhole cover on a street I frequently drive near a stop light. On numerous occasions when I apply the brakes to stop I have hit the manhole cover and at which point the car seems to loose control. While most days this is not an issue because there is no one in front of me, on occasion I have come close to rear-ending the car in front of me because of this issue. At first I thought it was due to the design of the hybrid, but the recent articles about the 2010 models have pushed me to bring this issue to the forefront. It might not be simply the 2010 models.

- Rochester, MN, USA

problem #3

Nov 282009


  • 17,000 miles
2009 Prius displays erratic braking behavior when brakes are applied on irregular surfaces...rr tracks, gravel etc.

- Hendersonville, NC, USA

problem #2

Dec 162009


  • 16,000 miles
2009 Toyota Prius. Strange behavior of antilock brakes/traction control system when hitting a single pothole or small patch of ice on otherwise clear road surface. Vehicle significantly dampens brake response and does not recognize that the tires are now on a good contact surface and continues to be in tc mode for excessive time period. Only way to assure you will stop within reasonable distance is to lift up on brake pedal and redepress (now out of tc mode car will stop quickly). This problem presents itself regularly when road conditions are right. The problem is the most noticeable at moderately low speeds I would estimate 5-25 mph but likely occurs at higher speeds which is less noticeable. It seems to be a factor of distance or the fact that the car does not realize the wheel is getting traction again.

- Milwaukee, WI, USA

problem #1

Jan 012009


  • miles
Applying light to moderate pressure on the braking pedal of my 2009 Prius while simultaneously going over a pothole at low to moderate speed (such as in traffic) causes the braking system to release and the car will fail to stop. Removing pressure from the pedal and reapplying pressure to the brake pedal usually regains braking function but causes a few seconds of lost braking. This is easily repeatable and frequently occurs in the same spots on a daily commute for the past year I have owned this car. On two occasions soon after purchasing the car in October 2008 I was still unfamiliar with this braking "quirk" and rear ended two separate cars on different occasions. There was minor damage to both bumpers of the vehicles. Both occasions were in heavy traffic traveling under 10 miles per hour, attempting to brake with unwittingly hitting a pothole at the same moment.

- Shirley, MA, USA

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