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Toyota Prius: Problems & Solutions



  • Thanks John, I'll trot off to Toyota next week and see what they can do about my filler neck. Where are you getting your low-sulfur gas? Here in LA, where I thought folks were pretty green-minded, I haven't seen any advertised. Fred.
  • My 2004 Prius (13,400 miles) has exhibited several bothersome troubles which both of my local dealerships cannot solve because the troubles cannot be replicated or the warning lights go off before I get to the dealership. First, sometimes cruise control does not function at all. Second,after taking off from a stop, the car continues to wind out as if accelerating. And last, the red exclamation point, engine, and csr (?) lights all came on when the gas gauge showed one bar left. This car is driving me crazy with all of its signals. But I do get 54 mpg tops in ideal conditions.
  • My suggestion: If at all possible when any of these things happen drive straight to the dealership, pull up but do not turn the car off and have them go for a drive with you. I know this may not always be possible/convenient but that is the best way I've found to make sure they see the problem. Now we just have to hope that these things happen when you are able to go by there.
  • I have a 2004 silver Prius (package 6) with 13,500 miles. For the first 10,000 miles I averaged between 47.5 and 52.1 miles per gallon. After I brought in the Prius to the dealer for the 10k check (oil change, brake check, tire rotation) I noticed that my MPG has dropped off significantly. For the last 3500 miles I now average between 43.5 and 47.1 miles/per gallon. I realize that this is still great compared to some out there that are also having problems.

    I spoke to the dealer and he assured me that they didn't do anything with respect to the engine or timing. My driving habits have not changed, so I suspect something has happened.

    Has anyone had this problem before and if you have, did you find a solution?

    Thanks in advance.....Dave
  • rfruthrfruth Posts: 630
     Good thinking that something has happened, wonder if they adjusted the tire pressure ?
  • Check engine air filter. It robs horsepower and fuel economy by not allowing enough air flow to the ICE. I know most Toyota maintainence said to change every 30k miles. If you drive in dusty road, maybe you should check how dirty the filter look like.

  • Of the 3 things that you mentioned done on your Prius during the 10K service, oil change and tire rotation may have a direct effect on your mileage.

    Oil change - Your engine may have to work harder on a dip stick that show a full indication rather than a 3/4 indication. Some people in this post recommend a 3/4 level for optimum mileage performance.
    Tire rotation - If you look at the tire info sticker by the driver's side door, the front tires is 2 psi higher than that of the rear tires. If upon rotation, the service guy failed to readjust tire pressure, the front tire will be 2 psi less than the recommended tire pressure. This will create some sort of a drag and affect mileage.

    Recheck these items yourself after the service and don't always assume the service guy did it right.
  • Re: previous post about warning lights. Thank you for that advice. I did that. I took my car to the dealership where I bought it (Merced Toyota CA), and the service clerk told me he couldn't help me because they were booked through the entire week with battery recalls on the 02 model. Can you fathom? He actually told me to take my car to a dealership one hour away. I said I was afraid I would damage my car and he said, "It'll probably be okay." When I called the other dealership, they were stunned. Apparently the car sometimes throws up the engine, warning, and VSC light if the gas tank is very low. I had one bar left on the tank gauge. It's okay now, but I am most disgusted with the run around I get at this one dealership. Even if the lights go off, can't they put the car on some kind of system to check it out?
  • I can't comment on some of your problems but I can suggest a possible reason for losing cruise control. It happened to me twice. The first vtime, I turned off the engine and the problem disappeared on restart in "D". The second time, I checked everything and discovered that I had inadvertantly shifted into "B" where cruise control doesn't work. As soon as I went into "D", it came on. Eprupis.
  • I want to say "you have to be kidding" but I'm sure you are not. ANY service department that would not check out an "occuring" problem when there is a history of it being intermittent is just plain rude. I don't know if you did this or not or if it is the dealer where you bought the car or not but maybe it might work.

    If you are able to run by the (a) Toyota dealer again while it is happening drive into the service area and if, after explaining why you would like them to, at the very least, get in the car and see/feel the problem while it is happening since it is intermittent, they refuse, demand to speak with the Service Manager. If the car really is undrivable, then it is a legitimate emergency. If it is fine to drive at least you would have them on record (make sure they write down what they see) stating that they saw/felt the problem. Then you can make an appointment to have it looked into.

    Short of moving, is there any other Toyota place you can go to? These guys are awful.
  • rfruthrfruth Posts: 630
    I agree if at all possible use a different dealer but if you must deal with these bums again park in the middle of the service drive blocking as much traffic as possible, who knows they might get to push it out of the way ... oh and get their name and let Toyota corporate know just how you feel.
  • Thanks a lot for your reply. I think I have picked up on another piece of my puzzle. In response to your comment, the oil level is currently Full (I will suggest not filling it up to full next time), and the tire pressures match what is on the driver side door.

    I keep track of the actual miles per gallon versus what shows up on the display. Prior to my 10k checkup, the difference between the real and the displayed mileage ranged between .4 and 1.9 miles per gallon (in every case the actual mileage was less).

    What I did not notice was that since the 10k checkup the difference between the real mileage and the displayed miles per gallon has significantly increased. I just filled up my tank this morning and the displayed MPG was 49.1 but the actual mileage was 42.6! Most of the other differences were in the 2.8 to 3.9 mpg difference.

    I accept the fact that perhaps the prior time I filled up the tank it might not have been completely full. However the average difference between the real and estimated mpg has more than doubled since the 10k checkup.

    I called the service department and they said they would be happy to check out the car. I have my Excel spreadsheet printed out so they can see how dramatically the MPG has dropped

    If you have any suggestions as to what is going on, I would appreciate hearing any theories.

    Thanks in advance.....Dave
  • I find the front map lights to be too dim. Anyone know if the bulbs can safely be replaced with brighter ones?
  • The following link shows similar results in the first 1-2 years of Prius ownership. That fuel efficiency drops from high 40s to low 40s.

    It's making me think twice before I purchase a Prius. My main question is, will the Prius perform just as well as say a camry after 5-6 years and 100k miles?

    Anyone out there have that many miles on their Prius?

  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    A lot of that is A/C usage. Notice on that chart where the summer months show large decreases? That's using the A/C in Arizona, and as a Phoenix resident I can tell you that has a HAMMERING effect on MPG.

    Important NOTE: They are also most likely just driving these Priuses "like a regular car" i.e. NOT using Hybrid driving tricks like pulse driving, coasting, etc. ANY driver under ANY circumstances will have lower MPG if they don't drive "less wastefully." (is that a word?)

    Over on, there are first generation Prius drivers with 45K and 55K on their cars who have averaged 45.2 and 46.0 MPG over the life of the car and have NOT seen "over time" decreases.

    Each owner will get their own MPG based on how they drive, where they live, what kind of driving they do, etc etc ad infinitum. The credo "Your Mileage May Vary" is one of the truest statements around....

    One government study will not be the last word on anything....:)
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,086
    I wonder if they changed tires around 10k miles. The early Prius were hell on tires. At least the OEM tires. If they went to a better wearing tire that would account for some of the loss in mileage.
  • I just purchased a 2005 Prius. My husband drove it for less than 200 miles in less than 24 hours after driving off the lot. After work the following day, he attempted to start the car, and got nothing. I also attempted to start the car with my fob; also nothing - dead, dead, dead. We had it towed to the nearest dealer, who has had our car for several days. Latest news is that four of eleven engine computers are not talking to a scanner - three associated with starting the engine and one associated with a fuel pump.

    Could anyone tell me how much of this is BS and if these guys know what they're talking about? I see that this is not news to many of you. Thanks!

  • This is quite interesting. Can you be more specific on your problem. There are questions I have that I'd like to ask you.
    1. Do you have the Smart Entry Function? Are able to open the doors to let you in? If you have one and are able to unlock the door, then someway the key fob is communicating with with car.
    2. You mentioned about atempting to start the car with your fob. Do you mean inseting the key fob into the slot and pressing the start button? Did any of the indicator lights on the display panel lit up? If the power mode does not change to "ON", then there could be a number of suspected areas. It could be just a power wiring harness, a fuse, the power switch itself, or the Power Source Control ECU.

    Answer these questions first before we could go further down thru the diagnostic process. The dealer's technicians telling you about 4 ECU not talking to the scanner may be somewhat extreme and exagerated. It they have no idea yet of what's going on, then maybe they may have it escalated to the district Toyota Prius service tech.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,024
    A reporter is wondering if anyone has had trouble getting parts for cars and trucks from the 1985-1997 model year. If you have a story to share, please send it to by Friday, November 19, 2004.


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  • My father ordered an 05 Prius that should be arriving sometime in late February or early March? He is going overseas for six weeks at the end of March to visit relatives. In the meantime the Prius will be sitting in the garage and no one will be driving it. Is there any special precaution that needs to taken so that the car will start when he comes back?
  • I have an 04 (Aug 04)and have never been able to put more than 7 gallons in the tank. Last tank with low fuel light flashing only took 5 gallons. Dealer told me to bring it in for three days to order and install parts. He then called me to say my car was built after the problem and has new parts so he would not do anything. He wants me to bring it back when the low fuel light is flashing so he can evaluate.

    Can anyone help me solve this problem?
  • bjrichbjrich Posts: 125
    you have become accustomed to your Pruis, and are indeed driving it as you did the old have taken the edge off of the mileage way of driving.
    So, do this; return to the way you drove it when you first got it...and . wash and wax it, and it will have less drag as the air passes over it...and air up the tires...I am very sure if you do these little things, your mileage will increase..
    In the early 80's I bought a Nissan Maxima diesel wagon to get off the the poor mileage of my Ford Squire wagon..the Maxima gave me 33 miles per gallon but I was soon pushing it over 80 on the highwawy..the mieage dropped.
    After every oil change, washing and checking the tires it incrseased the mileage back up dto the 33....
    If you =___________make the effort to improve the mileage, I am sure it will increase
  • My 2001 Prius wouldn't start, and the lack of any lights coming on indicated a dead starter battery. The Toyota dealer said not to try jumping it, but to have it towed in to them. I did so and now am told I need a new battery, to the tune of almost $300.00! This (plus the towing charge) is shocking. The car has 48,000 miles on it. Could someone tell me if this is likely - the requirement of a new battery at this point and the exorbitant price? This is the third time I've had to have a tow in the last 6 months. (The other things related to the still under warantee hybrid system, fortunately. But this is still a bit scary, as I get closer to the warantee being up.) Thanks!
  • rfruthrfruth Posts: 630
    I would have thought people would be all over this, seen on The Car Connection, daily edition: Nov. 19, 2004 then scroll down - snip - Toyota will recall twelve vehicle lines and a total of 544,172 cars worldwide, according to a late report from Reuters. Among the vehicles included in the recall is the hybrid Prius. The vehicles have brake lights that could fail as a result of faulty switches. The vehicles affected by the recall include those manufactured from January 1999 to August of 2004. - rticle=7756
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,086
    Welcome to the forum.
    I would say 3 years and 48k miles is about the life of a standard OEM lead acid car battery. $300 seems like a very big ripoff. You can get the best car battery going for under $100 with a 6 year unlimited mileage warranty. Unless Toyota has put in some oddball battery I would go to Sears to have it replaced. I have not had a vehicle towed for over 15 years. I have only had Chevy Trucks which are very reliable. Three times in 6 months and I would be looking for the lemon law lawyer.
  • aropcaropc Posts: 1
    This question is regarding 2002 Prius, which has about 30000 miles. What happens is, when I drive the car on a slight uphill (which Corolla or Camry climbs easily at around 50 miles per hour), Prius makes noticeable noise and seems to struggle to climb..the speed limit in that segment of the road is 45 mph, and Prius seems to have great difficulty climbing at that speed. Does any one have similar experience? Is this a normal behavior, or should I take this to the dealer and try to get something fixed? Any insight would be very much appreciated.
  • rfruthrfruth Posts: 630
    I don't have hybrid yet but would like to think alot of the troubleshooting is the same, can you tell if noise is related to engine speed (loose belt etc) or not (wheel bearing, tire related) ?

    Any out of the ordinary service needed, visual under the hood okay (no loose/cracked vacuum hoses or corroded cables) this a new problem or always been there, A/C or defrost etc needed to dup problem, any idiot lights on, code stored, noise coming from engine, CVT, front or back, fluid levels okay ?
  • Just got notified via mail about this Navigation FREE update . There were reports of localized anomalies in the map details of this model year compared to 2003 models?? Anyway my vers now I checked is Ver 03.3 (hit the MAP DVD) button on menu screen. They say this FREE offer will run till Dec 31,2005. Oh shoot I thought it said 2004! lol I might as well wait then cause there may be another update available by Dec 2005. I think I will take it in in the Spring of 2005...It says it is a ONE TIME software update so might as well wait the year .
  • We have a 2001 Prius with almost 92,000 miles (we drive alot!). We have had 2 computers replaced ( under warranty) and in Sept. 04 we paid $600.00 to replace a faulty accelerator sensor. Just this past weekend we were on vacation and our engine light came on. A Toyota dealer in Chico,CA., said our catalytic converter was going out and it would cost $2,100.00 to replace. Although we love our car we are becoming very concerned about future, expensive repairs. Does anyone have any recommendations for us? Has anyone had any luck getting Toyota to pay for something that is out of warranty? Reportedly, the converter is covered for 8 years or 80,000 miles.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,086
    Does anyone have any recommendations for us?

    First welcome to the Forum..
    For Toyota to claim AT-PZEV in CA, they have to warranty the emissions for 15 years or 150k miles. This is a good case to find out how well that law is enforced. Without the catalytic convertor there is no clean emissions. The car will not pass inspection. I would give the Toyota dealer a chance to fix the problem under warranty. If they refuse, go to CARB that set the standards. Toyota is using this car to get away with horrible pollution on their big dollar cars. They need to be held accountable. Hope to hear more on this case... Good Luck
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