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Toyota Prius Engine Problems



  • stevegoldstevegold Posts: 185
    I couldn't do anything in the dark last night so I purposely left the lights on to fully discharge the small battery. This morning, I jumped the small battery, using the easy to get at terminal under the front hood. It started right up like normal. (It probably re booted the various micro processors.) I will have Toyota check the error codes later this week.
    If it didn't start this morning, I was going to disconnect the battery (in the back, right side) to force a re boot. I think because I let the battery run out, that wasn't necessary this time.
    This could have been a major problem if my wife was using the car and/or was out of town.
    I will downgrade my Prius from the best car I've ever owned to just OK because of this. (unless Toyota has a good explanation or there was a service bulletin that I did not take care of.
  • chadxchadx Posts: 153
    Just a clarifying are talking about two oils of the same operating weight. 30 weight. The fact that one is a 5w and the other a 10w contributes nothing to their breakdown (at least not in the length of time oils are normally used in an engine). All engines can only benefit from using the lowest winter weight available. Meaning the first number in the name. 0w-30, 5w-30, and 10w30 in a good synthetic oil like mobil 1 all perform the same at operating temperature (like a 30 weight). The first number is how it acts when at room temperature. And then, the lower the number the better because it will flow through your engine faster on startup (in both hot and cold weather).

    A 5w-30 (vs. 10w-30) oil will not make an engine have knocks or other oil starvation sounds on startup. Just the opposite. You are more likely to hear that from the heavier oils because your oil pump can't pump the thicker oil as easily to your engine components. Use a good synethetic oil of the lightest weight your vehicles owners manual recommends. That is usually a 0w or 5w. I don't know of any modern engines that recommend a 10w although they can be run in hot weather. It's just not nice for your poor engine to have to try and pump that 10w on a 32 degree day. Do your Pathfinder and change to 5w-30 (or even 0w-30) in your preferred synthetic. Easier on the engine that 10w-30, even in hot weather, but especially in anything less than 50 degrees.

    On a note unrelated to viscosity or weight. another reason synthetic is better because it leaves a film on internal parts, after shut-down, longer than conventional oils, so it is easier on an engine at startup (which is when, arguably, all engine wear occurs).

    Though some drivinge mileage increase may be apparent in certain engines, most of the mileage gains are from the time of first startup and then the miles put on until the engine warms up. This is also why, in many vehicles, the mileage improvements, when using a synthetic vs. conventional oil, are higher or more noticable in the winter time. Of course the biggest mileage killer in the winter time is people idling their cars for 15 minutes before they leave. Park your car in your garage (rather than having it full of junk) and think how much gas the country would save every winter day! hehe.
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Posts: 1,015
    Actually, you are correct in theory, but in practice, with non-synthetic oils, breakdown of the oil film did occur with 5W30 in the Pathfinder and a previous Landcruiser. Once I switched to 10W30 -standard- oil (non-synthetic) film breakdown did not occur. This film breakdown never occurred at startup, only when the engine was hot and idling. A rough rumbling/grinding sound that would start after a few seconds of idling.

    I currently use 5W30 in my Prius and don't see any evidence of breakdown, but I'm using Mobil 1.
  • You can sense my outrage. Traded in my completely reliable 2000 Honda Civic for a more responsible Prius and now it won't start after a measly 6,000 miles.

    All the dash lights go on, including the check engine (I got an oil change etc at the recommended 5,000 miles) and nothing happens. Had it towed and of course did not hear from the dealership all day.

    I'm sorry I didn't buy another Honda. What I want is reliability AND responsibility.
  • Sorry to hear about your problem. Kindly post what happens here when it's finally fixed. I have had 2 or 3 similar experiences but was able to get them cleared myself without being towed but not without a lot of stress.
  • On a recent trip to Mammoth Lakes the car drove well but when I came out next morning, the engine would not run after an initial 15-20 seconds. Trouble lights came on. If I accelerated in the initial start period it would continue to run but lights stayed in alarm. This continued and engine would not operate properly. The next morning I decided to take it to Bishop, the nearest dealer and wait until they opened Monday morning. 15 miles down the hill, it began to operate correctly and has not had another problem. Is it sensitive to the cold or perhaps altitude?
  • Hi, I was at 7,000 feet in about 20 degree weather with my 2002 prius and all the emergency lights went on and the gas engine wouldn't kick in. I had it towed back to Berkeley, at sea level and 60 degrees, and the next morning it started right up. The dealer replaced some electronics because a code had been tripped, but I don't have a lot of confidence to return to the mountains. Any one had a similar problem, or a suggestion. thanks.
  • mm517amm517a Posts: 3
    After turning on my 2002 Prius, 4 warning lights came on although the engne was running. I looked in the manual and it said to take to a Toyota dealer. The lights did not go off for a distance of 5-10 miles. I was told that they need to replace the start relay motor. Has anyone else had this problem and does this sound reasonable at a cost of $230 for parts & labor?
  • kimfckimfc Posts: 1
    2004 Prius has started making a sreechy noise only when the gas engine is running. Maybe a belt or bearing? It seems too soon for these parts to be going. Any ideas?
  • I have a 2008 Prius with about 5200 miles. At times when the brakes were applied I had the sensation that the car accelerated. When I took the car in for initial service they could not duplicate the problem. I don't know if it is a coincidence but 2 weeks later my car would not start. When the power button was pushed the information screen came up but the car did not turn on. If I held the power button down for a 2nd time the warning lights came up for brakes, check engine, etc. The car would only shift into neutral. I started over several times but could not get the engine to start and it was towed to the dealer. I am awaiting a response, but if anyone has a similar problem I would appreciate your feedback. Really concerned !!!
  • The dealer can access the data in the computer and can tell if she had accidently put the car in nutral and steped on the gas to drive. This error is most likley driver error. The service sales department most likley did not inform her how to opperate the vechile and she should go back to her sales person to review with her how to opperate the car properley. The sales department sometimes goes a little quick and depends on service to pick up the slack. Mabey you should go with her just to be sure everything is explained properley just to remove all doubt. This is toyots most trouble free vechile. good luck
  • doug75doug75 Posts: 2
    Does anyone know what would cause my engine warning lights to come on my car has 106,000 miles on it i was taking a trip from tenn to mich the warning light s came on i pulled over checked oil radiator batterys could not find anything wrong sat on the side of the road for 30 min then started the car back up it ran fine for 38 miles then it did it again i sat for 30 min then drove for 87 miles the warning lights came on again it did this for 400 miles the last 80 the lights never came back on any ideas anyone ?
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    There may be hundreds of reasons just like any other vehicle on the road now. As always the first thing to check is if the gas cap is tightly screwed on. After that it could be the 02 sensors, cat converter, misfiring, bad fuel, etc. just like any other vehicle. The best solution is bring it into a Toyota dealer that can plugin a scanguage. When the check engine light comes on it 'throws a code' so that the tech can run down the problem.

    When you get this info go onto a site like PriusChat and post the problem along with the 'code'. There are Master Techs and very smart people there that can give you straight info.
  • doug75doug75 Posts: 2
    well see when the light comes on it says to tow to the nearest dealer but the light might not come on at all thanks for the info
  • I have a 2003 prius. My lights have come on many times. I have to pay $80 just for them to test it and then what ever the cost is to fix it. I love the car, but I'm also frustrated with on much control the dealer has. The last time it went off, they said they "thought" it had something to do with the fuel line. It went off again 2 days later. I've owned the car 1 year, and the light has come on about 5 or 6 times. Good thing I bought a service contract.
  • It's been very cold lately. A few evenings ago, after a long day shift, my wife came out and couldn't start our 04 Prius. All the dash warning lights came on and stayed on. The car would not go into any drive gear only Park & Neutral. She shut down the car, got out and had to lock the door manually as it would not respond to the keyless.
    It was eventually towed to our mechanics - he diagnosed a frozen parking brake. Oddly, he had the same "problem" with his Prius that morning. A day later, on a cold morning, I couldn't get the car door to open with the "keyless." I opened it with the key and started up the car. All dash lights came on and the car would not go into any drive gear. I shut down the car got out, locked it with the key, went inside. Three minutes later I came out. The car responded to the "keyless" and started normally and drove normally. A day later I took it to our local dealership where they were "not able to duplicate the problem."
    The diagnostic gave some various indications of a low 12v battery but the battery itself was strong. So, unless the dealer has the car hooked up to diagnostic and the problem occurs, I'm outta luck.
    Service records show an ECM update was done on the car - we bought it used in 06.
    Any ideas?
  • spiakspiak Posts: 2
    I have a 2002 Prius with 161,000 miles on it. It has been a great car. A problem I am having is when it is cold (below 32 degrees F) When I start the car in the morning it starts right up will run for about 10 to 15 seconds then shuts off and all warning lights come on. Then when I try to re-start the engine will not turn on for three more attempts but it will always start on the fourth try. Always! Then the car runs fine. The warning lights will remain on until the next day and then will go off, or I can turn the engine on and off four times and the warning lights go out always on the fourth restart. Any info would be greatly appreciated
  • acdiiacdii Posts: 753
    I stand corrected, Mobil 1 does increase fuel economy. When I posted that I had a Prius, I have since traded to a Hyundai Veracruz with the V6. The first oil change I used Mobil 1 and did see a 20% increase in fuel economy. I Also now have a 2009 Camry Hybrid and Mobil 1 did not show any improvement in economy. Even so, the peace of mind from using Synthetics over regular dino is worth it. Longer times between oil changes, means less waste oil, better protection for your engine, and better fuel economy for larger engines.

    BTW did you know that part of the oil used to make Synthetic oils comes from rendered animals?

    "Mobil 1 0w-20 is what I use in my Ford. They want 5w-20, and this is an official substitute."

    Just so you know, the Ford motorcraft 5-w20 is a synthetic blend, it is part dino, part synthetic. Using a 0-20 over 5-20 gives better protection in cold weather starts and meets the manufacturers warranty requirements and CARB. If you use 10w-40 Mobil 1, you are still protected, but will not meet CARB, and your cold protection is not as good. THe higher the numbers, the thicker the base oil. The thicker the oil, the more effort to get it where it needs to go, and the harder the engine works due to fluid dynamics. The thicker fluid offers resistance as opposed to friction, it still protects well, but requires effort to get past that resistance.

    The reason slick 50 had to pull teflon out is due to two things, one is when burned, and it does get burned, it pollutes something fierce, and second, it tends to expand when heated and has been known to clog oil filters.
  • spiakspiak Posts: 2
    I'm responding to my own question. I broke down and brought my 2002 prius in to the dealer. It turns out that the throttle body was very dirty. They cleaned it and everything is fine. Posting this in case someone has the same problem. They say it should be cleaned every 15000 miles or once a year. Apparently I clean mine every 162,000 miles.
  • Wool948Wool948 Posts: 5
    I was driving my 2008 Prius (24500 miles on the odometer) on the hwy at 60 mph, the low fuel indicator light starts flashing, since i was only 12 miles to my destination and the vehicle averages 44 t0 48 mpg, no worry, I figured there is perhaps 2.5 to 3 gls. left in the tank, I can go another 100 miles If was in the middle of nowhere. All of a sudden the engine shuts off, I pulled over thinking that I ran out of gas and called AAA for help. But after a while, I was able to start the engine, I could not drive foward but I was able to back up. The vehicle was taken to the dealer on a flatbed. They claim that the car ran out of gas, that my problem had nothing to do with the perfomance of the engine, it's not a warranty work. The same inccident occured 2 weeks earlier on a full tank of gas, then I pulled over for a few seconds and continue my trip, at the time i thought nothing of it, just a freak thing. Has anyone experienced that problem? Your input will be greatly appreciated
  • There is a common problem with a sticky throttle plate after 3-4 years. Every fall I clean it and no problems for the rest of the year.

    Sticky Prius Throttle Plate

    Bob Wilson
  • stevegoldstevegold Posts: 185
    Is this a common problem on the 2004-2009 Prius? I've never heard of this before.
  • Wool948Wool948 Posts: 5
    Thanks for your input, starting the engine is not the problem, it just shuts off while driving at high speed.
  • chazz5chazz5 Posts: 3
    My Prius has 65,000 miles on it and it is a 2007. I was waiting for my wife and I had the dome ( interior) lights on and the radio on. I went to press the start button and the car would not start.
    No dash lights would light up. My key fob would not lock or un-lock the doors I had to do that manually. My interior lights and brake lights would work, but no dash lights and the car just would not start.What could the issue be anyone know?
    Prior to starting my car, my 2 year old was near the gas, break peddles. Could I have over looked the emergency break being pushed in or could this be another issue all together
  • stevegoldstevegold Posts: 185
    This has happened to my 2004 twice. The fix is to jump the small battery located below the trunk floor FROM the special terminals located under the hood. All it needs is enough juice to fire up the computer. After the first time, I fixed the front cigarette lighter to be on all the time and bought a small 12VDC booster battery from Autosport. Plugging that in will start the car if you remember to keep the booster charged.
  • chazz5chazz5 Posts: 3
    Thanks, but what do you mean by having the front cigarette lighter to be on all the time I don't understand.
  • typesixtypesix Posts: 320
    Common problem on many cars, not just Prius. It's carbon buildup on the throttle valve.
  • chazz5chazz5 Posts: 3
    I found the issue.
    My 2 year old was playing near the gas and break peddles and must of hit one or both buttons underneath the steering wheel. One button says ( Key) the other says (Reset). I never use my Key Fob in the so called Key ignition so I put in the key fob and pushed in the Key and Reset buttons and pushed the start button and the car is running fine now.
  • cathie2cathie2 Posts: 2
    I'm responding to Wool948. I have had a very similar situation, but not with the gas light. The last 2 weekends I've been driving approximately 86 miles one way. On the way home at about 133 miles all of a sudden all my dashboard lights come on and then the car kind of "hiccups" and I lose all power. The first weekend I had it towed and they had the car for 4 days. They said they couldn't figure out what it was and looking at the warrenty work, only 2 other cars came in with a similar problem and never returned again for it. So I picked up the car. The next Saturday night I went to the same place and again on the way home, it started it again. At 65 miles an hour the car dashboard lights came on and the car 'hiccupped" and then lost power. This happend 3 times on the highway because I was so far away from home, I wanted to continue to drive it as far as possible. Everytime it happens it's taking longer and longer to re-start. The dealer came and towed it again. They are now saying they think it was the "crank saft sensor". I have to tell you, once this is fixed, I'm trading in the car. It is totally unsafe and I will not feel comfortable taking it on the highway again. There is one other issue, while I'm at it, if you are where there is snow, be very careful. If you go into a skid, you lose power and can't get yourself out of it.

    I hope this helped. Tell your dealer to look at the crank shaft sensor.

  • dono0034dono0034 Posts: 1
    A few days ago my 2001 Prius (147,000m) started running hard and vibrating pretty bad anytime I hit 60mph, today it seems to happen at 50mph. It's an automatic, but almost feels like it's not going into the appropriate gear for that speed. All the fluids are filled and tires have recently been rotated. Not sure what this could be, any ideas??
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