2018 Toyota Prius Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Windshield cracking, brakes and electrical issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

The 2018 Toyota Prius is often a model that made up some of the best-selling cars over the past decade. The newest models claim to help owners “find your element,” but drivers wish it would just work properly. This vehicle suffers from a defective electrical system, faulty service brakes, poor visibility and malfunctioning exterior lighting.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019   2020   2022

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2018 Toyota Prius

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Unknown Or Other
Exterior Lighting
Air Bags
Electrical System
Fuel/propulsion System
Power Train
Service Brakes
Vehicle Speed Control

Problems with the Electrical System

The electrical system is woven in and out of every system in the Prius. When something begins to malfunction, it creates problems that most people don’t want to deal with.

Here is an NHTSA complaint to read. “Error codes P0113 and P0102 and warning messages for Check Engine and ICS Malfunction appeared when starting the garaged vehicle in approximately 55°F room temperature. [Dealer] and Toyota’s Customer Care Telephone Center explained that they will not inspect (although under the 3-Year/36,000 Mile warranty) without a service fee. Online, reports that a failing 12V battery may cause multiple codes to be triggered were also met with a request for a $110 diagnostic fee. The battery is also under the 3-year/36,000-mile warranty.”

Aside from this electrical problem, there is also a dangerous recall issued on this model. NHTSA Campaign Number 18V579000 states that the engine wire harness may chafe and short, which can lead to a fire. This affects nearly 200,000 vehicles. If Toyota wants users to “find their element” it should start by getting the basics in check – such as having a vehicle that won’t explode into fire.

Problems with the Auto High Beam

To see clearly on the road, drivers must have superior exterior lighting, but the Prius is struggling to keep up in this department.

One NHTSA comment states, “Auto High Beam feature intermittently cuts out and then resumes, especially frequently in rainy weather. While off, I cannot engage the high beam without first shutting off the AHB feature. Many similar reports regarding Toyota vehicles.”

Of the Toyota communications, there is nothing talking about the high beam malfunctions or offering a resolution, but that seems to be the norm for this automaker. Instead, the company continues to boast about its lineup of hybrid vehicles hoping to deceive customers into believing it is the best. The original leader in any industry is often overtaken by successors who did it better. That’s where the Toyota Prius is at – it will soon be seen as the dinosaur when it becomes extinct.

Problems with the Brakes

It doesn’t matter what type of car is being discussed, the service brakes are a common system that should be perfected by now. Yet, the Prius is struggling to maintain proper stopping power.

Here is yet another NHTSA comment. “I was driving up to my garage on the side of my house on a clear day, early afternoon. I was traveling about 3 mph and tried to stop to park in front of the garage door. I depressed the brake pedal and it did not engage, but lurched forward into the garage, crashing into the garage and causing damage to both the garage and the auto.”

There’s a larger problem that is discussed throughout the manufacturer’s communications. Service Bulletin #J0R_Region Email states that the Intelligent Clearance Sonar (ICS) has faulty software programming that could activate while the Prius is in the car wash. When the ICS activates in the car wash with the vehicle in neutral, it can cause significant damage to the Prius and the car wash. Wonder if Toyota is handling the repair bills for that? For owners who want to “find your element” with the Prius, it might be best to hand wash the car instead.

Problems with the Windshield Cracking

Seeing out of the windshield is essential to on-road safety. This piece of auto-glass must be free and clear for drivers to see where they are going, but many Prius owners are facing trouble.

Take a look at this NHTSA review. “While driving on the highway in the rain at 55 mph, a very small pebble/bug struck the lower right windshield below the wiper. It was not very loud but did create a crack in the windshield within a few minutes. Within a few days, the crack has spread across the entire windshield.”

Sadly, many customers also discuss how Toyota isn’t covering this defect, leaving the responsibility of the bill in the hands of the owner. August Strindberg once said, “Sometimes not seeing things can be a blessing,” but it’s clear he didn’t mean from behind the wheel of a car. Not seeing things because of windshield defects is just a disaster waiting to happen

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Toyota pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones

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