Hybrids & Electrics

The Most Annoying Toyota Prius Problems Owners Complain About

The Toyota Prius is the most popular hybrid out there mostly because it was the first commercially available gas-electric hybrid vehicle for sale in the United States. The Toyota Prius came on the scene in 1997 in a compact sedan-like form that has morphed into the sleek vehicle we know and love today. 

Although Toyota didn’t invent the gas-electric hybrid engine, they were the first to bring it into mass production. Environmentally conscious drivers love the Prius for its incredible fuel economy. However, there some annoying Toyota Prius problems that cause a lot of owner complaints.

Excessive oil use

The 2019 Toyota Prius with all-wheel drive is shown at the auto trade show, AutoMobility LA
The Toyota Prius | David McNew/Getty Images

Excessive oil consumption in the 2010 and 2011 Toyota Prius was both the No. 1 and No. 3 owner-reported complaint on CarComplaints.com. This got a severity rating of “Pretty Bad” on the site, and we agree, considering many owners had to replace the engine because of this problem. The issue occurs at an average of 110,650 miles and had a high average repair cost of $4,000.

The problem was due to oil leaking out of the timing cover gasket. Occasionally, just replacing the gasket was enough to repair it, but many times, the entire engine would need to be replaced. Owners were so unhappy about the excessive oil consumption in the 2010 and 2011 Prius that there is a class-action lawsuit

Toyota Prius headlights randomly turn off

2007 Toyota Prius owners reported their headlights turning off without warning while driving. This also earned a severity rating of “Pretty Bad” as suddenly being unable to see or be seen is a dangerous situation. The problem occurred on average at 97,000 miles, and drivers reported having to replace the bulbs, ballast, and the lighting control module. 

The Prius windshield cracks easily

Owners of the 2016 Toyota Prius complain that their windshields crack easily. This problem has a severity rating of “Fairly Significant” since windshields are an important part of the driving experience. Some owners have reported that they’ve had to replace their windshields up to 4 times, and the average repair cost was $850.

The average mileage at which the 2016 Prius windshields cracked unexpectedly was 18,350 miles, and owners complained that even tiny pebbles hitting the windshield at low speeds would cause it to crack.

There have been two recalls on the Toyota Prius. The first was in 2016 for a curtain shield airbag inflators. A weld in one of the side airbag inflators could crack, causing it to eject into the vehicle’s cabin. This recall was for Prius and Prius Plug-In Hybrid model years 2010-2012 as well as 2011-2012 Lexus CT200h models. The second recall was because the hybrid system could shut down and cause the vehicle to stall. The problem, caused by excessive voltage, existed in certain 2010-2014 Toyota Prius and Prius V models. 

The 2020 Toyota Prius models have corrected these problems. Its technology continues to advance every year with a giant 11.6-inch media display, driver-assist features like blind-spot monitoring, a pre-collision system, and available electronic all-wheel drive.

The 2020 Prius is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gas engine paired with a permanent magnet AC synchronous motor. This hybrid system lets the Prius get up to 58 miles per gallon in the city, which is better than both the 2020 Honda Insight or the 2020 Hyundai Ioniq. Also, starting in 2020, Toyota is offering an enhanced hybrid battery warranty, extending it to 10 years or 150,000 miles. 

Overall, these are relatively few complaints about a vehicle that’s been around for so long. Despite these reported problems, the Toyota Prius remains one of Toyota’s most popular models.