Educate Yourself on Toyota Prius Transmission Problems and the Fixes

The Toyota Prius us a parallel hybrid car – it runs on a gasoline engine along with having an electric motor. They are separate from each other and each can run on its own. The car is unique in the sense that you can drive it on electric power when running out of gasoline. However, there are some Prius transmission problems that make them fare poorly among consumers. You should know about them if you are thinking of spending money on a brand new Prius.

Common Prius Transmission Problems

The hybrid shifter can face plenty of problems but we’ve scoured through the forums to find out the issues exclusive to Prius. The Prius transmission problems that have been mentioned frequently are:

1. Failure of the transmission before time

Premature transmission failure is not only annoying but also expensive. Replacing or rebuilding it is going to cost a fortune. One possible reason could be not changing the transmission fluid according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. You should change it at least every 30,000 miles to prolong the shifter’s life. There is a small square-shaped pan on the bottom of the transmission. Remove it every time during an oil change to allow more fluid to drain.

Prius transmission problems
The transmission can fail without any warning. Source: Toyota

2. Transmission stops working suddenly

Suppose you are driving on a hilly road and the transmission suddenly stops working! You can’t put the gear in any mode and have to use the emergency brakes to park the car in a safe place. It is downright scary and will leave anyone with a traumatic experience. It could happen in cars that have less than 100,000 miles on them and have been regularly maintained and serviced.

This scary problem can be the result of a bounded R axle that damages the transmission’s sleeve. It’s a rare complication and an expensive one.

Let’s take a look at Toyota Prius PHV in the video below

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3. Engine response is slow

It’s one of the common Prius transmission problems related to the models having a CVT shifter. The issue causes the engine rev when you press the gas from a stop but the response is sluggish. It almost feels like a slipping clutch because the Prius shifter does not have any clutch, fluid coupling, or torque converter.

What causes this hiccup? It happens due to the computer system commanding the ICE (engine) to drive faster in situations where increased torque is necessary. The same issue could occur in extremely cold weather – something between minus 15 to 45 degrees. In that case, warming up the fluid for five minutes will solve it. However, it will affect the fuel economy.

Prius transmission problems
Regular maintenance will lower the chance of failure. Source: toyota

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4. A whining noise

A noisy engine is one of the annoying Prius transmission problems. The whining will increase with the speed escalation. It could be the aftermath of a failed transaxle but this component is durable and is unlikely to break or wear out before 100,000 miles or unless you really beat up the car. A failed wheel bearing could also be the reason, which you can fix at less than $500. However, be ready to write a cheque for around $5,000 if it is the transaxle.