really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
13,058 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.

2012 Toyota Prius drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2012 Toyota Prius Owner Comments

problem #8

Jul 292014


  • 14,000 miles


After Toyota power management software recall installed "power management upgrade" software in my car I immediately experienced serious problems with my ignition /start of hybrid/gasoline engine. After pressing ignition, I had to wait 15 to 20 minutes and press start button on/off repeatedly until the gasoline engine ignite but hybrid failed to start. It is not normal because a Prius hybrid engine starts first not the gasoline engine. Toyota has disabled some important functions in its power management recall software update that affects the hybrid engine performance and failure to start. I drive my Prius 3-4 times a month and I did not have any problem before the recall software upgrade because Prius owners manual clearly says that the battery with be disconnected by battery saving function when your car is parked for long time, several days, weeks. In fact, when your car is parked for just days, Toyota power management software (recall) is draining the car battery and reconfiguring the relays to power up the gasoline engine. Toyota owners manual clearly states that when you are parked, "power management software disconnects the auxiliary battery from the hybrid system." However, after the recall, not only auxiliary battery is not disconnected but there are lots of "activity" in hybrid engine that drains the batteries. I called the Toyota service and they now say you have to keep the car on a charger all the time when parked for several days. Of course, it is a huge safety problem to keep the car on a charger all the time when parked for days because the battery is housed in the cabin and the ventilation does not exist unless you park your car outdoors. At the same time Toyota recommends keeping the car on a charger, it also warns of explosion caused by charging the batteries in a garage.

- Scotts Valley, CA, USA

problem #7

Jan 082014


  • 25,300 miles
After starting the car, it would not go into gear. The dashboard was lit but I could not get the car moving. After fiddling around for sometime, it finally clicked and I was able to go into reverse. The car functioned fine until later that day I made a drop-off stop and the same thing happened. The dash board was lit but I could not get the car moving. I was stalled almost in the middle of the road. The next day I took it to the local dealership and they did the most extensive computer generated diagnosis on the car but could find no indicators of the problem. I reported this to Toyota headquarters who said they'd investigate but there is no internal system for reporting back to me on their findings. I did research on the consumer reports website and saw others have reported similar problems. My fear is getting 'stuck' in unwanted times and undesired locations. The fact that the company doesn't recognize the problem is troubling. I plan to get a new car rather than worry about this one.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #6

Oct 012013


  • 15,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that after the vehicle was parked, it rolled away in reverse independently. As a result, the vehicle rolled over the contact's leg and crashed into a building. The air bags failed to deploy. The contact sustained a broken leg, a fractured knee that required medical attention. A police report was filed. The vehicle was towed to a body shop where the technician informed that the vehicle was operating as designed. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 15,000.

- Ravena, NY, USA

problem #5

Jul 252012


  • 500 miles


When going from park to drive forward, the car slips into reverse!!! I've taken it to Toyota multiple times and they say they find nothing wrong! I have to be very careful to be sure the car is actually in drive before moving it or I could back into something or someone by mistake.

- Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #4

Jun 172014

Prius 4-cyl

  • 22,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Toyota Prius. The contact stated that while traveling 45 mph, the vehicle accelerated without warning. The contact stated that the vehicle jerked and made a loud noise. The vehicle resumed to its normal acceleration after the brakes were applied. The failure occurred on three occasions. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure and current mileage was 22,000. The consumer stated when she applied the brake lightly, the engine revved up and the vehicle did not slow down. The consumer has since sold the vehicle. Updated 09/23/14

- Fairfax, VA, USA

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problem #3

May 222014

Prius 4-cyl

  • 8,800 miles
I was getting ready to pull out of a parking space in a parking lot. The car was in park, so I pressed on the brake, started the car and put it in reverse. All of a sudden there was a loud roar and the car shot full speed in reverse, completely out of control. It clipped the bumper of a parked car and some shopping carts, then backed into a wall which stopped the car. Miraculously no one was injured. The car has been totaled.

- Manhattan Beach, CA, USA

problem #2

Apr 072014

Prius 4-cyl

  • 16,000 miles
I pulled up to a car wash and once I was on the track I tried to put the vehicle into neutral and it would not work. The automatic car wash track started to try to pull the vehicle forward. As im frantically trying to make it go into neutral, the vehicle started to hop off the track and was getting violently thrashed around as it was getting pulled forward causing the person running the wash to have to manually hit a panic button to stop it. Fortunately there was no damage to either the vehicle or the car wash but it is very disturbing that it would not work. It took several employees to be able to figure out how it worked. It should be simple... it's not!!! way to complicated and I'm still not 100% sure after trying to put it in neutral how it works. It just sometimes will go into neutral after trying it over and over....very unsafe.

- South Bend, IN, USA

problem #1

Jul 312012

Prius 4-cyl

  • 2,865 miles
Car becomes immobile - will not shift into reverse or drive. Computer keeps sending the message to put it in park and depress brake, but once that is done, any attempt to shift into reverse or drive triggers the message, endlessly. The problem is apparently intermittent. Occurred for two hours yesterday, after occurring to a lesser extent in preceding days (in the days preceding the total breakdown, I was able to shift after a slight delay and a few attempts). The dealership to which I had it towed said it was fine today. Everything checks out. This is a safety hazard because the car can be in an unsafe position when it becomes immobile. I was partly out of a parking space, somewhat blocking traffic. The problem involves the computer and the transmission - at least

- Pomona, CA, USA

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