In recent Consumer Reports, the second generation Prius has shown to have issues with the electrical reliability of the vehicle despite its overall high reliability ratings. As an owner of the second generation Prius (2005), I have experienced electrical issues with the vehicle concerning the combination meter and the braking system. The hybrid regenerative braking system is dependent on the electrical reliability of the vehicle and is an important factor in the safety and reliability of the vehicle.
Because of the complexity of the Prius, it is difficult to determine the source of an electrical issue without spending an ample amount of money. A reasonable fix would be to repair the faulty combination meter that misfires codes related to the electrical components of the vehicle.
I have seen multiple forums about faulty combination meters on the Toyota Prius, and it appears that about 3% of Prius owners have experienced a loss of braking when the dash lights (combination meter) are out.
In my experience, when the combination meter has failed the brakes are still power assisted, but the ABS won't kick on in a "panic stop" extending the stopping distance. I still had some control over the wheel, but lost power steering. I did still have some braking power with the brake all the way to the floor mat and I reactively resorted to the E-Brake out of fear of not being able to stop. Fortunately three of the four times this has happened I was only going 8-20 mph. The other time I was going apx. 65 mph and had enough time to slow the car down to get off the side of the road. Fortunately when this has happened I have not been on the highway and there was no snow or it could have been very dangerous.
The braking issue has happened to me 4 of the 100+ times my dash lights were not working. I have never had an issue with the braking of the vehicle when the dash lights are functioning normal. This issue has only happened when there is a malfunction with the combination meter.
I understand a malfunctioning combination meter may create many issues within the vehicle including braking difficulties. The response of the Manager at my local Toyota shop said "well, at least you have brakes, you just won't have them in an emergency stop." This seems completey irrational to me as I have read accounts of people going 65 mph and losing brakes when this has happened which could be very deadly.
I'm surprised at Toyota's response with this possibly fatal issue. I'm also surprised that the Combination Meter Failure has not been recalled. At what point does a "warranty" become a "recall"? Please note that this issue is separate from the "accelerator recall".
In 2012 Toyota released an extended warranty of the combination meter. Recently I was denied coverage of the extended warranty as I am one year past the nine year extended warranty. I have also been denied a Goodwill warranty to repair this part that has been faulty since 2012 (which was the same time they initiated the extended the warranty in the fall of 2012.) According to the warranty enhancement, this covers this failure for a period of the longer of 9 years from date of first use (DOFU) (no mileage limit) or before September 30, 2013 (whichever is longer for the condition described).
Technically I was in the shop to address this concern before 2013, but two of the dealerships I went to were unaware of such an issue and did not fix it. I only recently discovered through my own research that other Prius owners experience this same problem and now have been quoted a cost of repair for $809.37.
It’s unfortunate the Toyota would not offer a Goodwill Warranty given that I have had these issues within the time period of coverage, but was overlooked as a Manufacturing defect. I hope Toyota will reconsider their decision for this potentially hazardous issue.
Reason of review: Warranty issue.
Monetary Loss: $809.
Preferred solution: To cover my vehicle under the extended warranty for the combination meter..