2020 Toyota Prius Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Tire, brakes, and electrical issues are among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

The Toyota Prius was one of the original hybrids — and the first hybrid vehicle to be mass-produced. So, it’s been around a long time. The automaker’s tagline for the 2020 Toyota Prius is that “the future is advanced — and fun” in this “hybrid-electric ambassador.” But how advanced and fun can your 2020 Prius be when the brakes fail, tires blow, or you experience malfunctions that cause you to crash?

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

Common Problems Summary

The most common problems owners of 2020 Toyota Prius hybrid vehicles are complaining to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about relate to brakes, the electrical system, and tires.

Other components and systems mentioned in complaints include backover prevention, electronic safety control, the engine, fuel/propulsion system, powertrain, structure, vehicle speed control, and wheels of the vehicle.

There is also a recall that affects the 2019 Prius and 2019-2020 Prius Prime. A total of 6,925 Toyota vehicles are affected by the recall that alerts owners to the possibility of brake booster pumps failing. When this happens, it can cause the vehicle stability control system to fail as well as a loss of braking assist. This increases the risk of a crash.

2020 Toyota Prius Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Electrical System
Power Train
Service Brakes
Back Over Prevention: Warnings
Unknown Or Other
Vehicle Speed Control
Air Bags

Electronic System

In a hybrid vehicle, the electrical system is more important than ever. Not only does it run the battery for recharging, but also all of the electrically powered convenience features.

An owner from New Jersey tells how the multi-information display that shows the speed, fuel, and other driving metrics stopped working. “I am not able to see how fast I am going, how much fuel is left, (the) odometer, or other items that are displayed there.”

An owner from California had a more dramatic experience when his 2020 Prius crashed. In a complaint listed as an electrical system, engine, and fuel/propulsion system issue, he states that it happened while he “was slowly driving out of a market parking lot.” Suddenly, the car accelerated, full throttle, and sped across the street, crashing head on into a fence.

“Immediately after the crash, the dashboard displayed the following: ‘Check Engine (!) A malfunction in the electronic control of the engine, throttle, or automatic transmission has been detected. Contact your Toyota dealer to have your vehicle inspected’.” The owner “received whiplash, small bruises on my chest and left hand, and a scraped shin. I was taken to Alta Bates Emergency by ambulance.” The vehicle was towed to a body shop selected by his insurance company.

That certainly wasn’t much fun!

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Brake System

If the Prius was about to get into an accident because of these faulty systems, it would be helpful to know that the brakes work properly. Yet, that seems to be an issue with the brakes as well.

When an owner from New Mexico was trying to park in his garage he overshot the turn. “The brakes then failed to stop (the car) and I dented my garage outer wall. I reversed my car and tried to reposition it to go inside the garage, putting it on drive. However, the brake pedal made the car accelerate and the car went into reverse. It then crashed into the neighbor’s garage and crashed the door and car inside.” Both the car inside the garage, the garage part of the house were damaged.

An owner from California was driving at about 5 mph when a similar issue occurred. “Making a right turn, the vehicle suddenly accelerated, jumped the curb, and crashed into the bushes.” even though he tried to bake, the brakes didn’t respond.

Another owner of a 2020 Toyota Prius also crashed because the brakes malfunctioned.

“My dad was driving on the highway. He said that he stepped on the brakes and the brakes did not work. He got into an accident in which all the airbags were deployed and the car was totaled. The car only had 700 miles. I believe this was the second time that my dad drove this car on the highway. My mom, who was a passenger, said that the car accelerated very quickly. Prior to purchasing this car, my dad had driven a Prius (2010-2012?), so he was very familiar with the feel of the Prius.”


The Prius is not the only Toyota that appears to have tire problems. An owner from Vermont describes ballooning on the sidewall of the tire. “When brought to (the) dealer, they indicated that three other tires had (the) same problem but not as obvious.” This Prius had only 24,000 miles with half on these tires. The rest of the time he’d been using snow tires. The “dealer reported that this was a serious danger.”

An owner who experienced an incident when traveling at 5 mph is concerned that if it had “happened on the interstate system, the results to me, my wife, or other drivers could have been very different.” He was told by the dealer that the sidewall of the tire had blown and couldn’t be repaired. They couldn’t provide a cause and kept the tire. “It was original equipment on the Toyota Prius as built in Japan. I have found that the tire has no manufacturer’s warranty.”

Recurring Problems: What Can You Do?

It can be traumatic when someone buys a vehicle that turns out to be a lemon. If the problems you are experiencing affect your use and/or the value of your 2020 Toyota Prius, there’s a good chance it could be a lemon.

Did you know that every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners? You could be one of them. Call the Lemberg Law Helpline or fill out a contact form. You’ve got nothing to lose because the law makes Toyota pay the legal bills for lemon law cases.

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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