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Toyota Prius Brake Problems



  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    There are NO brake system failures all over the country. That's a gross exageration. The system is different and it feels different to new operators but they stop as they should. If the feel is not to your liking then the vehicle might not be for you but for your single experience there are literally hundreds of thousands of others who a) have felt it but know how to handle the feeling or b) have never felt it.

    In my 140,000 miles or so if I ever felt it the sensation was so minimal that I adjusted immediately and continued without any reaction.

    If the sensation is too severe for you to handle then you should unload the vehicle rather than be unhappy. I on the other hand plan to put another 140,000 miles on mine.
  • hal_cathal_cat Posts: 11
    OK, I have probably only driven 800,000 miles, and I only took advanced driver training on the GM Proving Grounds once so that I would be qualified to drive on the test tracks there, including skid control with anti-lock brakes, so it could be that I didn't know what I was feeling when I stepped on the brakes in my 2007 Prius, at a fairly low speed, and the car kept rolling right into the rear bumper of an Imperial that was stopped in the road. Having driven that Prius for 2 years did give my some feel for knowing when the brakes were applied, but perhaps I should drive one some more to fully understand the difference between brakes applied and brakes doing absolutely nothing. I do know that I had my food on the brake pedal and not the accelerator since the engine did not rev up. I also know that the floor pads were not the problem, since the next time I tried to use the brakes they worked just fine. I will have to admit that I don't know how a brake failure feels on other cars, but the brake failure on my Prius was definitely not to my liking.

    When someone posts a message that they had a problem with their brakes on a Prius, I am very tempted to believe them since I've been there and know quite well how it feels. And having talked to the people at the NHTSA I know that they are taking it seriously too.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    No one ever said anything about floor mats. At this point the main discussion seems to be revolving around the transition from regen braking to hydraulic braking and the feel of that transition.

    Loss of braking entirely? If there are instances like yours then they appear to be very very isolated in a population here of Prius drivers totalling several hundred thousand. Why your case resulted in an accident once but not every time you braked is certainly curious. Now that they work again, curious again.

    These sporadic anomolies that cannot be repeated are the worst kind to try to resolve. If there doesn't seem to be a problem when the vehicle is brought in, what is it that the techs or the engineers should attempt to fix?
  • I had a similar experience with my 2009 Prius and have been driving it for months. The braking system is different than my previous Corolla- but I have adapted to it and there was nothing I could have done in my accident in Dec. 2009 where my brakes failed to work at a low speed. When I applied my brakes there was no response, no acceloration no slow down. I tried everything I could to avoid the accident but ended up rear-ending the car in front of me. Even my coworker who was in the car was suprised that the brakes just stopped working and the car was able to drive fine after the accident. Toyota came back with nothing and this really upsets me that there is nothing that they can do about it. And it scares me that other people have posted similar incidents and it is so difficult to replicate.
  • I am a high mileage driver and have been through many cars through the years. I have had my 2010 Prius for 5 months and love it but I have experience a problem twice now. Both times I had gone from park to drive so was a dead stop. What happens is that I engage the break, put the car in drive, and as I release the brake it accelerates forward - it is like in the old days when an engine would rev up but being in electric mode it is silent - at the same time the brake pedal locks at a very high level and the slightest release of pressure causes the car to lurch forward. The most recent time I was in the maintaince gargage after just getting my 5000 servicing. The guys inside started laughing because they thought I was afraid to approach the automatic doors as I lurched forward and stopped a few times before I just stopped and waved them over. When I put it in park I could feel the brake pressure release to a normal level and it was all over. I don't think the guys believed me and said they did nothing to cause it. I explained it was the 2nd time it happened. This is not something I'm willing to give up my car over just something that I am now aware of since it has happened twice. I was wondering if anyone else has experience similar problems.
  • I've had both of these events occur. I have tried to bring it to the attention of Toyota with no avail. I've was a valet for 4 years w/o a fender bender - then, after 6 months in my '09 Prius I had a low speed break failure and hit the car in front of me. This deserves a recall with an actual fix.
  • I have a new 2010 Prius, one month old and have experienced the surge problem mentioned above at least three times. It happened at slow to moderate speeds, and at least twice downhill over moderate bumps. This surge or acceleration increase is unacceptable and may be a warning of a complete break failure in the future. Toyota should take this one seriously.
  • I have the 2010 Prius, within a month of having the car I was in the dealer having the brakes checked- I have been a total of three times, all with issues relating to feeling of brake failure while slowing down on a bumpy road..they sent a "specialist" on the third visit, and we could not duplicate the issue. I was told to remove my floor mat which which we did- bottom line you can stop the car, you do not actually loose the brakes, there is a delay, if you slam on the brakes you will stop hard and potentially have the car behind you slam into your rear..there is a braking issue, the latest complaints are going to be good for us Prius Owners- perhaps now they will acknowledge the issue and address it...still I love my car...
  • 2010 Prius. First Prius, about my 5th Toyota, 20th car. First the lurch when going over a pot hole. I live in the mountains and have experienced this twice, and I am sure I can repeat it whenever I'd like, which I wouldn't. It was disturbing, but I was non-plused noting immediately that it did not effect my braking distance, but it is a "spooky" feeling - like hitting ice without the attendant slide into the embankment. I let my wife know about the "quirk" so she wouldn't freak if it happened to her. In the mean time, we avoid holes in the road.

    The "surge" has happened twice too, and I expect it will happen again. It has only occurred to me after the car has gone through the car wash and is on the down hill grade driveway at this particular car wash. The other car wash I use is flat and I have not experienced it there. It's alot like when a very stiff clutch is let out too fast and then you push it in, let it out, etc. Hoppity hoppity. The first time it happened I wasn't too worried as the first time my G35 Coupe came out of the wash I had NO brakes for a second or so. Now that was scary (the car's a rocket)! But knowing the Prius may buck and jump, I now just be sure to use "light" pressure and not try to inch my way across the sidewalk. I just make sure the road is clear and drive away. Ditto informing the Mrs.

    I have no worry Toyota will issue a recall if it's needed. As a student of the TPS and a 6 Sigma black belt, I have high confidence in Toyota to resolve the issue, if it is more than just a quirk of the series. It is interesting to note that the people below reporting low speed brake loss all seem to be in 2009 models. Is that a common trait (I haven't read all the thread, just a dozen or so).
  • Karen_SKaren_S Posts: 5,095
    We are receiving requests from reporters/journalists seeking to interview Prius owners with this issue. If you're willing to be interviewed, please send an email including a phone number and the best time(s) you can be reached to


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  • I had my first experience with my Prius sliding on wet roads today. I have an 06 Prius with 65,000 miles. I was driving all day in the rain. Car was going about 25 mph on a curve with brakes slightly engaged. The Prius did a complete 360 degree turn as I watched in amazement and fear. The ABS never engaged. By incredible luck, there was no one else in the road at the time (2:00 p.m.) My gas tank was nearly empty (I noticed someone mentioned this in earlier post.) After the 360, the car drove normally. It is a strange coincidence that this occured in the timeframe when all of the publicity about '10 Prius brakes and other Toyota problems has come out. Up until now, I was a strong Prius advocate, sometimes wondering if I should get a paycheck for adverstisement. The advocacy stops now. All advice would be appreciated.
  • I just found this forum. I thought I was insane. I've had two episodes on ice where I've hit the brakes and nothing has happened while driving my prius. No anti-lock kick in, no staility control kick in, no sliding to indicate that I was swerving and no change in speed at all. I was driving at a low speed (about 12 miles an hour) and was very lucky to be alone at the time. I've driven my 2007 for almost three years now. I'm very comfortable with how the breaks feel, I didn't fell any change in pressure when I hit the brake at all. My minnesota driving skills kicked in and I tapped the brake several times and eventually they kicked in again. It worked both times. I know you aren't supposed to do this with anti-lock brakes but it's better than having an accident!!!
  • sleshslesh Posts: 1
    There is definetly a brake problem with the 2010 Prius.I have one that is 3 months old.I like the car a lot but the brake problem is there.When brakes are applied and the car goes over a bump,man hole cover or railroad tie the brakes disengage and the car continues on forward.I had a Chevy Suberban with the same problem and after almost hitting the 3rd car,took it back and turned it in.I would never let my wife drive that car either.There will be a recall I am sure.
  • We purchased a 2006 Prius and on multiple occasions, my wife infomed me of a braking problem. When she would come to a stop, the brakes would not work…and she would end up in the middle of the intersection. This started happening once a month. I would test drive the vehicle, and nothing would happen, for me. Until one day I was driving with the wife and two small children in the car. I was approaching an intersection and the brakes would not work. I ended up rear-ending a truck who was parked at the intersection, causing apprx. $1,500 in damages to our Prius. Luckily, the truck stopped me from getting T-Boned in the intersection.
    I immediately drove the car straight to the Toyota dealarship in North Arlington, TX and left it there. They ended up driving it for minutes and could not get the brakes to fail. I had informed them that they would need to drive it for a month (since it happened once per month). They ended up sending me packing, with a $1,000 rental car bill as well as a damaged Prius that they claimed no responsibility for.
    Somebody needs to check how many people have perished from driving into intersections because their brakes have failed.
    I almost lost my wife and kids on multiple occasions, because of their faulty brakes.
    And yes, I immediately traded the car in on a new car that was not a Toyota.
  • OK, this is weird, because I had the SAME EXACT problem with a 2005 Camry. I brought it to the dealer twice, and they insisted that the brakes "conformed to standards," and was never able to get any satisfaction. Amazed to hear these latest complaints.
  • I have also experienced on quite a number of occasions that when I tried to brake the car surged forward. I brought the car into the Toyota dealer and they said they could not replicate the problem and they said they have never heard of the problem. They were obviously lying. I am glad that the problem is being looked into now. I have a feeling that Toyota is aware of the problem, but is trying to stonewall. Terrible experience and I will have serious reservation of buying another Toyota.
  • Like many others on here I thought that I was crazy. At least a dozen or more times I have tried to apply the brakes while driving on a rough surface with absolutely no brakes. Several times it has occured when approaching an intersection and there are indentations on the road that maybe trucks or heavy traffic have made. There is no indication of the ABS being applied and the pedal is still firm but the brakes just don't work. Once you are past the rough areas the brakes kick in.
  • ssagessage Posts: 1
    I've had 3 occurances of my brakes reacting excessively to the point of being scary. The brakes are designed to automatically increase when you step hard on the pedal, but I have been in traffic situations where I needed to just tap the brakes after merging into highway traffic. Instead of a tap result, the automatic function has taken over and slamed the brakes hard. This has created a serious risk of having the car behind slam into my rear. So far I have not had an accident and I have learned to be REALLY careful about touching the brakes, but I have no doubt there is something wrong. I have an appointment with the dealer to have it checked.
  • chucko3chucko3 Posts: 793
    Believe or not. It happened to my Lexus 07 GS350 AWD as well.
    One time to my wife last year when the road was covered with 3 inches of wet snow.
    Going home from work she told me every time when she tried to brake and make the right turn, the car wouldn't slow down and she missed the turn. She missed a couple
    turns. Luckily there wasn't any body on a snowy road.
    And I thought her driving skill in the winter wasn't that good. She does not drive in
    snow storm often.

    Happened to me twice this winter and I thought the tires don't have enough tread depth.
    On each occasion, the road was covered with 1/2 inch wet snow and on a slight slope.
    The car just wouldn't stop when I applied the brakes.
    I posted this problem on Lexus GS350 board more than ago,
  • I cannot speak for those with 2010 Prius. My 07 Prius has 62K on the odometer now, and no brake failure. I do notice the weird movement(slips?) when I brake going over a pothole, but only momentarily about a second or less. The stability control light lighted up for about a second while this is happening. I take this as a normal function of the car and nothing more. This has never caused I or my wife to get into any accident. Let's not get paranoid and blame Toyota for everything that happens. I know for a fact that Toyota/Honda/Subaru/Nissan/Mazda cars that I have owned have been very reliable, especially Toyota and Honda. I would take these cars over the 4 POS American cars I have owned in the past.
    Sometimes accidents happens due to circumstances beyond our control, poor driver skills or judgment. Those of you that are truly unhappy about your Toyota, trade it in for a GM or Ford. Both these companies are offering $1000 extra rebate for a Toyota trade.
  • Those who have experienced unexplained braking problems should file a complaint with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). If they receive enough complaints they will do something. And from reading this forum, it seems there are a lot of scary failures.
    I have 45,000 miles on a 2005 Prius, with no braking problems until this last month when twice my lady has reported to me that the brakes grabbed hard when she pressed the brake pedal lightly. Someone else reported a similar thing in this forum.
  • Now we know why

    Toyota says Prius had brake design problems
    Toyota says Prius had brake design problems, already fixed on some models but not on others

    that was in the news today
  • SO, according to the news, Toyota fixed the brake problem in some 2010 Prius cars as of late January.
    I am supposed to get delivery on my newly purchased Prius this Friday.
    How do I know which cars were fixed?
    I dont want to relay only on the salesman knowledge.
  • I have 110,000 miles on a 2005 Prius, with braking problems which I attempted to report within a month or two after my purchase but was led to believe there was no problem they could find. Today, I just avoid braking over bumps or pot holes because of the surging it creates. At least now I know I am not losing my mind. Don't get me wrong I love my Prius and will get another real soon however, Toyota should fix these issues for all that are having troubles. I will be waiting for that re-call letter in the mean time. Happy motoring Dennis
  • I was very interested in Juro Osawa’s article in the WSJ yesterday on Prius brake failure. I am an American in New York State who recently (November 13th, 2009) had an accident in my 2009 Prius that totaled the car, though no one was hurt. I had always credited this crash to a problem with my brakes. I was in a situation where I had to stop very quickly and braked as hard as I could. The car slowed to a point than seemed to plateau until my car just cruised right into a truck. I never heard or felt the “ABS sound” or vibration, and had always suspected something was not right with the brakes, but did not know what I could do about it. How interesting now to hear now of Prius brake failures; I can attest to the fact that it is not confined to 2010 models.
  • Thank you for your post. I have 2005 Prius with 73,000 miles on it. I know now that I am not unique and do not do anything wrong. A week ago while approaching a busy intersection, I pressed my breaks, but the car hit a bump, speeded up, and I ended up almost in the middle of the intersection. Luckily, nobody got hurt. The jump like this was not the first one, but this one was very scary. I am going to my dealer, but I do not think they can do much. You cannot really avoid bumps on the road, and we never know when we need to push the breaks. Other than that, I am happy with it, but I will not recommened it to my children.
  • I filed my complaint today with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) through their website. I first noticed the issue when approaching a traffic light that had turned red. I was braking as I hit a small unavoidable pothole, and to my surprise, my car lurched forward nearly hitting the car in front of me. For almost two month I have had to routinely drive that road, and consistently when I am braking as I hit the pothole, the brakes give out for a brief second. I now give myself a rediculous amount of space to stop whenever I approach this intersection - that has saved me from getting into a wreck - but I am now familiar with that intersection/pothole scenario. It's far too easy to get into an upredictable stop scenario. Hit a bump - and you might not be able to stop in time - leading to a possible brake related fatality.

    I called my dealership today - they offered me a rental car while they wait for a fix from Toyota. I am nervous about that - they have no concrete word from Toyota as to when the fix will be released.

    Please! For your own safety, if you have a Prius (especially 2010), do the following test:

    1. Find a street or parking lot with a small pothole or uneven pavement (doesnt have to be huge - just enough to cause a good bump as you drive over it) where you can safely test the brakes.

    2. Drive over the pothole at about 20mph - making sure brakes are applied before you drive over the bump

    3.) As soon as you hit the bump, you will feel your car 'lurch' as the brakes shut off.

    4.) If your car exhibits this behavior - file a report as soon as possible with NHTSA.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Unless you need to make stearing corrections ABS is ALWAYS detrimental. IMMHO ABS should NEVER activate unless VSC indicates a need.
  • Thank you for all the information. I definitely will do the test as you said. And Toyota just announced recall for Prius. Now I am wondering what I should do with my car and the resale value of the car. :sick:
  • I just found this forum, too. I thought I was alone.

    On the morning of June 9, 2009 I was traveling South on I-93 near the town of Medford, MA. I was on my way to Logan Airport to return the 2009 Toyota Prius I had rented that previous Wednesday. It was approximately 9:30 AM; the freeway was still bumper-to-bumper with rush hour traffic. I was in the left-hand lane of the highway and traffic was stop and go.

    A gap opened up in traffic and I accelerated. The car in front of me (approximately 60’ ahead) suddenly stopped. I slammed on the brakes but my car kept going. There was nothing I could do as my car plowed into the car in front of me, at the speed of approximately 10 mph. The impact was sufficient to dislodge my license plate. There was no apparent damage to the car in front of me, however the two passengers were extremely shaken up.

    There was a Massachusetts state trooper on the scene who took all the information but did not file a report. As soon as I could, at about 11:00 AM, I called my insurance company, USAA to report the accident, and I explained all of the details to them.

    It is unfortunate that these problems are just now getting attention. Think about how many accidents could have been avoided if this issue had been brought to light sooner.
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