2019 Toyota Prius Prime Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electronic stability control, wheels, and electrical issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

The 2019 Toyota Prius Prime is a plug-in hybrid that is designed to maximize fuel economy. It has achieved many accolades, including becoming an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety TSP. However, customers find that this model is putting them at risk, with the defective electronic stability control, poorly-built wheels and a malfunctioning electrical system.

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2019 Toyota Prius Prime

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Wheels
4
Service Brakes
1
Electronic Stability Control
1
Steering
1
Electrical System
1
Latches/locks/linkages
1
Tires
1

Problems with the Electronic Stability Control

With electronic stability control, people are expected to handle their car with ease, but the system in this Toyota is causing trouble.

One NHTSA review states, “When I drive the vehicle on the freeway, it feels unstable. It goes left and right. The vehicle is brand new. We just bought it last week. Tire pressure is good and the dealership said there is no recall on the car.”

Actually, there is a recall on this Prius model. NHTSA Campaign Number 19V544000 states that a faulty brake booster pump could fail and deactivate the Vehicle Stability Control system. If this occurs, keeping the Toyota on the road becomes harder than ever and could lead to an accident. Knowing this, one has to wonder how it earned such exceptional safety ratings. Maybe it doesn’t matter if a car runs off the road anymore – isn’t that what the shoulder is for?

Problems with the Wheels

danger if something were to go wrong.

That’s what is shown with this NHTSA review. “Car had 27,540 miles on factory original Toyo Nano Energy tires when the rear passenger tire blew out. I was 22 miles into my drive home. No TPS warning and I had visually looked at my tires before heading home. The entire tread separated from the sidewalls. The sidewalls stayed with the rim and I was able to safely stop the car on the grass median. This type of sidewall blowout has never happened in all my years of driving. I was on US-320 Northbound just after the exit going 70 mph at time of blowout. Not in a turn but nearly straight line driving. Weather was mostly sunny and 65 degrees.”

This situation is scary and should never be experienced. However, the 2019 Toyota Prius remains as a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS, even with blown out tires. When looking to Toyota for guidance as to why this would happen, there’s nothing mentioned. The automaker has failed to warn anyone about a tire malfunction that could leave people stranded. What’s worse – this car doesn’t come with a spare. Maybe it’s just a ploy to get more people using roadside assistance.

Problems with the Electrical System

A look at the electrical system of the 2019 Toyota Prius should reveal plenty of advanced features that make life easier, but that’s not the case.

This Edmunds user says, “The lack of CarPlay and navigation system are terrible. I wind up looking for phone holders again even with an 11’’ screen. That is essentially useless. There are no ETune apps, note they were pretty much dropped. The car runs etune 2.0 non plans for updates, no plans to allow adding 3rd pet apps, such as Waze, no plans to allow updates to etune 3.0, no plans to allow retrofitting post production to the 2020 head unit which supports car play. I regret buying this car.”

What’s worse is how much more defective the electrical system can be. Service Bulletin #T-SB-0062-20 states that there could be an excessive buildup of lint, debris and dust on the HV battery intake filter and cooling fan. When this occurs, it reduces the efficiency of the 2019 Toyota Prius’ battery’s cooling system. As one of the premier plug-ins, the construction of the battery and cooling system should have been perfected a long time ago. The good news is – while this car is sitting on the side of the road because of the stability or wheel concerns, there is far less dust making its way into the system.

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.

Complaint Data

CategoryService Brakes
DateMay 17, 2021
StateCA
Description
I've have to take my 2019 prius prime (with 20,000 miles total) in twice for brake issues in 6 weeks. Each time the dealer had to deal with a rotor heat issue. The first service was on 3/29/2021, the initial reason for appt was hearing squealing from the front. Upon inspection dealer found major heat marks and deep scratches/grooves as well as the rear rotors had deep scratches as well . All 4 rotors were resurfaced and the brake pads were “scuffed” during the service. At that time all brakes were inspected with the front brakes having 9mm and rears having 8mm of pads. I started hearing grinding a grinding sound about 2 week later. I took my car in for service on 5/11/2021 where the dealer found a “rusty” color on the rotors as well as a cracked and chipped front brake pad. They started a tas case after which they resurfaced the rotors again and replaced the front brake pads. I am concerned about this issue with my car only having 20,000 miles on it and the rotors being resurfaced twice in less than 2,000 miles between services. The rotors and pads are supposed to be designed to have a longer life than standard gas non-hybrid vehicles. Rotors are only able to be resurfaced a limited number of times, which can cause future repair costs to soar. I am in need of toyota's assistance in making any fixes so this does not continue to occur. As well as looking into if there is a larger brake issue within my vehicle.
CategoryWheels
DateOct 26, 2020
StateCA
Description
Passenger side behind the driver's seat's tire blew out. Started to drive and car was moving slower and eventually had to pull over because car felt unstable. Was not given an alarm that the tire was blown and flat. Was driving less than 30mph, in a straight, flat street.
CategoryWheels
DateSep 26, 2020
StateCA
Description
10/19-left rear tire kept loosing pressure, I took it to the mechanic, they couldn't find anything, I again took it after 2 weeks, they changed the tire. Miles 7014. On 9/26/20-miles 16430, the same tire left passenger blew out on the freeway. No indicator of tire pressure being low came on. The tire was completely blown out. I lost control of the car, thankfully it stopped on left side. It was very scary. No was hurt, but I could have died. I was driving about 70mph.
CategoryWheels
DateNov 27, 2019
StateCA
Description
2 toyota complaints: 1) my 2019 prius prime 11,597 miles: on hwy 85 south 11/27 10:30pm got flat tire & drove to side lane on hwy. Called toyota tow service @ 10:37pm which is in georgia not calif. Tow not show until 1:16am 11/27 and towed car to dealer. It took 20 min. For call center in georgia to initiate tow 2) the prius prime does not come with a spare tire but has a tire puncture repair kit. My tire beyond puncture repair. A car with no spare tire of any kind is extremely dangerous situation for anyone. 2019 prius primes don't come with spare tire. This hazard feature needs to change. I have expended warranty and service contract and tire was not covered so besides the unsafe condition my husband endured we also got a bill for 8. 19 to replace and install the damaged tire. I will write to toyota roadside assist. Regarding georgia center dispatching tows in calif.? & toyota to complain about no spare tire and a design instead of lift back maybe side opening like jeep so spare tire can go on back like jeep spare. I have read on yelp about other toyota owners complaining about no spare tire.
CategoryElectronic Stability Control, Steering
DateAug 31, 2019
StateCA
Description
When I drive the vehicle on the freeway, it feels unstable. It goes left and right. The vehicle is brand new. We just bought it last week. Tire pressure is good and the dealership said there is no recall on the car.
CategoryElectrical System, Latches/locks/linkages
DateAug 22, 2019
StateCA
Description
Tl* the contact owns a 2019 toyota prius prime. While charging the vehicle's battery, the doors abruptly locked on their own. The contact called roadside assistance to have the doors unlocked. The manufacturer and dealer were not contacted. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The failure mileage was 1,080. The vin was invalid.
CategoryTires, Wheels
DateApr 22, 2019
StateNC
Description
Car had 27540 miles on factory original toyo nanoenergy tires when the rear passenger tire blew out. I was 22 miles into my drive home . No tps warning and I had visually looked at my tires before heading home. The entire tread separated from the sidewalls. The sidewalls stayed with the rim and I was able to safely stop the car on the grass median. This type of sidewall blowout has never happened in all my years of driving. I was on us-321 north bound just after the hardin rd exit going 70 mph at time of blowout. Not in a turn but nearly straight line driving. Weather was mostly sunny and 65 degrees.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 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.

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