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Toyota Prius: Problems & Solutions



  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,086
    After doing additional reading. I do not think the 2001 had AT-PZEV rating. If it had only SULEV you are on your own after the Toyota Warranty. In other words you are screwed. This is what many of us have asked. What happens when all the high tech complex hybrid gear goes bad. We get a lot of hype how it will last forever. Sounds like you are the guinea pigs that Toyota is looking for. It is a shame that so many people that are trying to be good citizens are going to be taken advantage of by big corporate greed.
  • bjrichbjrich Posts: 125
    Dear gagrice;
    What dribble!
    "many of us have been asking"
    who are the many?
    You better go buy a Ford, IMO.
    or better yet, a Chrysler product.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,086
    Dear gagrice;
    What dribble!
    "many of us have been asking"
    who are the many?

    Would you like me to name the posters that have questioned the reliability of the hybrids? I can research that for you. My reference is to this person that has already found that the hybrid is expensive to own after the warranty is gone. Do you you consider these charges fair on a 3 year old vehicle? A $600 sensor & $2100 catalytic convertor. I just replaced the catalytic convertor on our 1990 Mazda 626, along with the muffler and tail pipe, and the total was $154 with a lifetime warranty. We have spent less than $2100 on that Mazda over 15 years including brakes, batteries & tires. I'll tell you what I tell all the leading edge hybrid explorers "Good Luck" your going to need it.
  • bjrichbjrich Posts: 125
    please accept my apology for my dribble was out of line.....My 90 Mazda also had the converter go bad at 148,000 miles and Mazda replaced it at no charge...I would expect no less from Toyota. have a much more optimistic outlook on cars... usually on the Nissan, Toyota, Mazda and Honda etc., and much less on the American names as a result of many many years of experience with all of them and many many cars..I have also learned the importance of how I deal with the individual dealers as being a most important item in how problems were handled..I suspect that the dealer who told the owner with the bad converter that it would cost him $2100.... was being very prompt in jumping on a fast buck...and that the real replacement cost from a proper dealer would be much less if handled correctly. In speaking with management at a dealership, I was told that the Prius has had the lowest cost warranty repairs of all their cars....I suspect that the car's converter didn't just "go out" all of a sudden....As I said, I am optimistic on how this car will be treated by the Toyota Co. and each dealer.The rise of Toyota, Honda, Nissan etc is not just an accident, no more than the fall of GM, Ford or Chrysler is just and accident..If it is the big greed of the big company's it's the latter that have allowed it. Toyota, Honda etc have done a whale of a job in product and service. The Toyota Prius has been beautifully conceived and very well marketed.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,086
    Apology accepted. I know you are excited about the Prius as I was 4 years ago. One of the things that would have clinched the deal in 2000 was the bumper to bumper 8 year 100k mile warranty. As I said before my now ex-wife hated the looks and that ended it. Now on the realistic side. It would be difficult to get anyone except a Toyota dealer to work on the Prius. I am reading where dealers are charging $300 for a new 12 volt battery for the Prius. I don't know but that sounds steep to me. $600 for a sensor that I assume was essential for the car to run. $2100 for a catalytic convertor. This may be a case of greed at the dealer level. Hopefully it is an isolated case. We have not seen too many Prius with close to 100k miles. I don't expect, as some do, that we will have lots of expense just because the car passes that milestone. Especially in 3 years.

    I never even thought of asking Mazda to replace our convertor. We only have 84k miles on our 1990. It has been very reliable. We use it to run errands and as a loaner to friends and relatives that come to town.
  • My wife and I also live in the Sierras. Specifically in the foothills, around 5000 ft., but anyway. We recently purchased a 2005 Prius, and the only problem noticed is that the tires have bad traction when wet. Easy enough to fix. The car itself has performed quite well. There's enough power to handle the climbs, and we haven't had any problems starting it in the cold, going down to single digit (still positive) temperatures. Haven't had anything lower yet, so no experience there. The gas mileage (expectedly) drops when going over piles of snow, or going up an icy hill, but even with that, we've still averaged ~45 mpg for almost 1000 miles. When watching the energy monitor, I haven't seen the battery drop much below half charge at any time.

    I hope this helps, if you need any more info, just ask.
  • Our 2005 Prius is in the shop for the 2nd time. After having the entire computer replaced, we noticed that the horn would honk intermittently by itself. There seems to be no particular pattern to this honking. It occurs when turning, on the straightaway, going over bumps, or on smooth pavement. It involves single or multiple beeps, long or short. Service has not heard the honking after nearly a week, but they aren't driving it. Anybody know what's causing this - a short or computer programming?
  • I had the same issue with my 2001 Prius. I know I left my interior lights on before it happened. It's something I do somewhat frequently. My neighbors usually tell me when this occurs.


    The cost to fix it was about the same as yours. My dealer is only 2 blocks away, and it was only afterwards that i realized I could have rolled it into the dealership myself, given that the car is so light.
  • I purchased a 2004 Prius in July of this year after having owned a 2001 Prius for almost 4 years. Compared to the old one, I have had numerous quality problems with the 2004. A list of issues include:


    - Replacement of navigation system

    - Work on dashboard to stop noises coming from center speaker

    - Additional noises coming from dashboard that dealer cannot find or fix

    - Vibrations coming from hatchback that makes car sound like an old pickup truck going over bumps

    - Check engine light coming on for no reason

    - Left rear seat having to be locked in place every once in a while to keep noises from occurring

    - Outside thermometer has a wide margin of error

    - I think the driver side mirror warped the first time I took it to a car wash


    Nothing major unfortunately. I'm hoping for the transmission to fall out so I can press a "lemon law" case.


    Has anyone else had these problems? I bought Option Package #9 which is $26K MSRP. I find the fit and finish of this car at that price to be terrible. I never had those issues with my old Prius. Would love to hear others' experience.
  • carln3carln3 Posts: 1
    How about tis: Rav 4 catalytic converter $1000

    Volvo ABS sensor $650

    1990 Cutlas cierra A/C compressor $900

    1990 Cutlass cierra alternator $450


    Prius parts are all made and imported from Japan..

    Good luck to all of us...
  • bobo44bobo44 Posts: 1
    I own a 2002 Prius with 39,000 miles. For the last year I've had this problem:

    With the engine cold, start the car. Engine runs for a few seconds and dies. I can usually re start the engine on the next try and drive to work. Of course all the engine warning lights are on. After the car starts successfully three more times, the warning lights go away and the display returns to normal. I've had the car into the deal and they couldn't find anything wrong since the engine codes has cleared by the time they got the car. The frequency of occurrence is increasing. Has anyone seen this problem?
  • ahurstahurst Posts: 2


    I'm sorry to hear about your troubles. I have a 2004 and now have over 20,000 miles (33,000 km) on mine. I have had none of your problems and have been generally very pleased. Unfortunately it sounds like your vehicle may have been a victim of Toyota's push for more volume when the backlog of buyers was at it's worst. Yours is the first such story I've heard. If I were in your position, I would be starting talks with my dealer and Toyota about a replacement, lemon law or not, Toyota is successful because they have generally done the right things to maintain a reputation for consistent, reliable, well built vehicles - yours is clearly an anomoly. Good luck.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,092
    You should leave your Prius overnight with Toyota dealer and have them try it in the morning. If they can't fix it three times, then you can claim Lemon Law protection.
  • findirfindir Posts: 2
    I am very sorry to hear of your experience. We purchased our 04 Prius in January 2004 (our first Toyota) and now have 12000 miles on it, with no problems whatsoever. We have taken it from CT to Fla and back, and use it as a daily driver, and other than oil changes/tire rotations, it has required nothing. We would not hesitate to buy another one, and I too believe your experience is an anomaly.
  • engin2engin2 Posts: 8
    My wife drives our '02 Prius around town, mostly short trips like shopping,etc...We live in the SF Bay Area. She parks her car outside. The car only has 17K miles on it. Last week she couldn't start it because dead battery. The warranty expired just two months passed three years' coverage. After jump started car and took same to dealer, I was told these gel-type batteries don't last much longer than that. I had the shock of my Toyota life. The dealer contacted Toyota and they gave me a heavy duty upgraded battery on a good-will gesture, no charge. Though I appreciate their PR move, I've never paid more than $100 for a good, 6-year warranty battery in my entire life. This new battery only has two years' warranty on it. However, I still had to pay over $200 for new installation kit to accomodate the new battery.




    We're a family of devoted Toyota cars in the pass and my wife's '93 Tercel's battery lasted over 8 years, never dies and starts every single time.


    Now We're beginning to have second thoughts about our '02 and '04 Prius that costs an arm and leg just for run-of-the mill item replacements. The heavy duty battery itself would have cost me over $200.


    Would anyone out there who may have similar starter battery problems share some light and experiences on this. It would be much appreciated as we may end our relationship with Toyota hybrids. Thank you in advance.
  • stevewastevewa Posts: 203
    Methinks your dealer is blowing smoke.


    We have 55000 miles on our '02 and have had no problem with the 12v battery.


    It's critical that the car be run for at least 30 minutes (without turning the key off) every week or so to allow enough time to recharge the 12v battery. While the HV battery can recharge very quickly the 12v battery is recharged at a slower rate to prevent it from overheating. It's not necessary for the gas engine to be running, but the key must be in the "on" position so the inverter's battery charger function is running. Your owner's manual should have something to say about this.
  • tempusvntempusvn Posts: 119
    "Now We're beginning to have second thoughts about our '02 and '04 Prius that costs an arm and leg just for run-of-the mill item replacements. The heavy duty battery itself would have cost me over $200."


    The Car Giveth and the Car Taketh Away


    Yeah, the 12v battery is one of the things in the Prius that is more expensive, and touchier than in other cars.


    But, by the same token, there are some things that you either have to do regularly or can expect to do at least once over the life of a regular car that you don't have to worry about with the Prius.


    The Prius is very good on brakes. So, you don't have to do that brake job every 35K miles. Maybe you'll do it at 100K, maybe not :)


    The Prius doesn't have a transmisison per-se, so if you're someone who keeps cars a long time (like me), it's nice not to have to sorry about the huge cost of modern transmission repairs.


    On the 04 at least, the entire exhaust system is Stainless Steel, so hopefully I won't have to visit MIDAS for that either. On my other cars, living in the Salt Belt, the most you can expect to get out of mufflers and such is 50K.


    Taking a look at the big picture, I think it's likely that it's quite likely the Prius lifetime repair/maintenance costs for things that wear out may be less than other cars.


    But yeah, the Battery is a potential annoyance :)
  • I purchased my 2005 Prius in November of 2004 after waiting 8 months from the day I ordered it. So far after 1,800 miles I love the car. The only thing that bothers me is the milage is lower than promised. I'm averaging 35 to 55 miles per gallon & seem to get better milage on the open road. I'll be happy to get 40 to 45 mpg. I understand the Toyota dealer that provided my car gives outstanding service. I certainly hope to get many miles of trouble free driving from my Prius. I do have an automatic transmission.
  • engin2engin2 Posts: 8
    A BIG THANK YOU for that suggestion. I'll certainly keep that in mind and try and see if my battery works the same way as yours. You may have save me from defecting to Honda!

    I thought I've checked my manual, but found nothing about the subject. I have a stinking hunch that maybe Toyota just wants to sell more after-market items.


    Again, a BIG THANKS!!!
  • Hey! Got a '05 and, although pleased in general with the car (av 48MPG - 500+ Miles per tank) I have a terrible issue. The CD player wont display titles of songs!


    Seriously, anyone know what it takes to get titles to display? I've not gotten it to work on any CDs, either store bought or self-burned. Is there some format my CD burner needs to use?


    Also, anyone know what the letters RDS on the CD player stand for? (I have a type 1 system, no changer)


  • Hi,

    I'm in the market for a Prius and was able to test drive one today. Loved it, except for the somewhat obstructed view out the back window. Has anyone found it to be a problem, or is it something you get used to? Any advice about working around it? Thanks!
  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 18,337
    Yeah, actually there is a pretty solid way to work around it. Yes most folks have thir mirror array adjusted incorrectly. Basically it involves adjusting your side mirrors and rear view mirror.
  • cobicobi Posts: 2
    I have an '04 Prius with 9,800 miles. I seemed to get better mileage before cold weather set in. Has anyone else noticed this? Thanks!
  • tempusvntempusvn Posts: 119
    All cars get lower mileage in cold weather. It's just more noticeable in the Prius.


    Lots of factors can contribute to lower mileage in the cold.


    1) Check your tire pressure. Your tire pressure will drop as it gets colder and if you don't keep checking it and compensate, you will wind up running on under-inflated tires, which will kill mileage (and may be unsafe).


    2) See if your locality uses oxygenated (Reformulated or RF) gasoline in the winter. This gas formulation contains less energy and results in lower mileage. This alone can drop mileage by 2-3% minimum and more in some cases.


    3) Cold air is denser than Warm air, making it harder to push the car through and decreasing mileage.


    4) The Engine takes longer to reach operating temperature, and cools off faster due to cold air over the radiator, meaning it must run more often. Lots of people block a portion of the radiator in winter to cut down on this effect.


    5) The Engine is also providing your cabin heat, so it has to keep the coolant hot for you too.


    6) The Engine is also keeping the catalytic converters up to effective temperature, so even if the engine is warm, and you are warm, if the catalytic converters cool off, the Prius will run the engine to heat them back up. Remember, the Prius is tuned to minimize emissions, not maximize mileage. It will sacrifice mileage if necessary to keep the emissions system working at peak performance.


    7) The HV battery gets cold too. It's warmed by cabin air, and by charge/discharge cycling, so it won't be as efficient initially either.


    8) Short trips that don't let anything warm up will be even worse on mileage in the cold than they are under normal conditions. Gasoline doesn't combust as efficiently in a cold engine, so there's a double hit for short trips, which are bad enough even in warm weather.


    If you think your mileage drop is way out of line, get your dealer to check, but a drop of 5 MPG or more when going from 80 degrees to 20 degrees isn't surprising depending on all the possible factors.
  • cobicobi Posts: 2
    Thanks for the great info! Come on warm weather!
  • stevewastevewa Posts: 203
    QUOTE: Hey! Got a '05 and, although pleased in general with the car (av 48MPG - 500+ Miles per tank) I have a terrible issue. The CD player wont display titles of songs!


    ANSWER: Audio CDs don't normally contain the title and artist information. There is an exception, some CDs have a "CD-Text" logo which indicates they can provide this information on the display, but not many CD players support it. Your PC can display the titles because it looks at the CD and based on the tracks and times it looks up the info on the internet. Since we don't have internet in our cars yet, that doesn't work on the road :-)


    RDS is a system that sends short text messages from FM radio stations to your receiver. Many FM stations use this to display song titles and artists which you can see on your display when you bring up the audio screen. It also can indicate the "format" of the radio station which can allow you to categorize all the stations in your radio, but many stations change format often enough that the format info in the RDS stream may or may not match what the station actually airs :-).
  • Thank you for your message. I had thought about this occurring because of the desire to get more cars out. I think it's an anomoly as well, though there was a Wall Street Journal in Fall '04 talking about some difficulties Toyota is having in maintaining the culture of quality throughout the world. But I wouldn't expect this to happen in the plant where the Prius is manufactured.
  • Thanks for your reply. Glad you are having a good experience with your Prius. I loved my '01, so I'm a little envious.
  • Go to your dealer ask if your vehicle is included in the VIN break for TSB that is ther to resolve this issue.


    There is a redesigned "filler neck" to address the issue you are having. Only if your VIN applies if it is after counter measure you already have the latest part. If in that case you may have a defective gas tank (the tank is made up a metal body with a rubber bladder that expands and contracts, it may be defective).

    Consult with your dealer.
  • rab2rab2 Posts: 1
    Ironically, I replaced my 2002 Prius starter battery today! I have 24K miles on mine. I had problems with the started battery while it was under warranty (late last year). If I did not drive the car for over 4 days, I found my battery dead. This year, I left for a week (and had to charge the battery), left again for 4 days (and had to charge the battery) and finally gave up.

    I told the dealer that I had had the problem while under warranty, but to no avail. The new, heavy duty battery cost about $165 plus an additional $130 for the mounting kit. Then, yet another $60 to install it. So, consider yourself lucky that you only paid $200.

    I have a 2005 Prius on order. I hope it already comes with a heavy duty battery.

This discussion has been closed.