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Hidden Benefit - Toyota Hybrids Like Prius Go 100K Before Needing Brakes

Hybrid regenerative braking means that you won’t be buying brake pads and rotors for a long time in your Toyota.


One benefit of Toyota hybrid and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles like the legendary Prius and hot-selling RAV4 Prime is brake life. All hybrids and electric vehicles use regenerative braking to generate electricity that can charge the vehicle’s traction battery. Since the electric motor is slowing the vehicle, the brakes do not need to work as hard. We polled Prius owners in the Facebook Prius Club to see how often they have had to change brake pads and rotors. What we learned is that owners typically go more than 100,000 miles before needing to perform this maintenance.

How Long Do Brakes Last In a Toyota Hybrid?
In our poll, we asked that only original owners reply. We posted up various mileage numbers for owners to choose from. 60% said that their brake rotors and pads had lasted over 100,000 miles, 20% said that the brakes had lasted over 200,000 miles, and 6% said the brakes had lasted between 160K and 200K miles. No owner chose any option under 60,000 miles.

One owner of three Prius cars offered this comment: “Brakes? What’s that? 250,000 miles on two Prius cars 95,000 on the third.” Another member posted a comment saying, “Just had mine checked at dealer.... 160,000 miles on original pads and rotors with 50% left! Amazing!”

Related Topic: Toyota RAV4 Prime vs. Tesla Model Y Maintenance Cost Analysis - A Surprising Outcome

Hybrids Rival Battery-Electric Vehicles For Total Cost of Ownership
As we recently detailed in a pair of stories, Toyota Hybrids have low maintenance costs that rival all-electric vehicles' (BEV). Since Toyota hybrids have no starter, no alternator, no power steering pump, no accessory drive belt, no engine timing belt to change, and a spark plug service of 120,000 miles, it is rare that a Toyota hybrid or plug-in hybrid requires repairs or expensive service. Toyota also makes filter changes for the cabin super easy and inexpensive. You can do these yourself for under $20 and without using any tools.

Toyota Hybrid Powertrain Maintenance
Even Toyota’s hybrid vehicle transmissions are unique. Since there are no gears and no CVT belts, Toyota’s transmissions don’t require routine fluid changes. The transmissions have proven very reliable. Toyota Prius, Highlander Hybrid, RAV4 Hybrid, Venza, Sienna, and RAV4 Prime are all available with all-wheel drive. However, Toyota eliminated the transfer cases and rear differentials. Instead, Toyota uses zero-maintenance electric drives.

The Prius ranks at the top of all vehicles overall for reliability on Consumer Reports’ most recent list. However, it isn’t just a lack of unexpected problems that make Toyota hybrids and plug-in hybrids so popular. It is that Toyota has designed-out most of the common failure points associated with traditional internal combustion engine vehicles.

If you own a Toyota hybrid or plug-in hybrid, feel free to comment on your ownership experience in the comments below.

John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. Following his engineering program, John also completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin


Mark Stlouis (not verified)    December 21, 2020 - 3:47PM

2020 AWDe 40,000 miles in one year we only change oil and filters the car is very strong with no issues. It’s run hard on toll roads 85mph and in city. We are happy so far in the first year.

jg (not verified)    December 21, 2020 - 5:47PM

I’ve previously commented that I had the original brakes on my 2001 Prius when I traded it in at 330,000 miles. I learned early on that applying then letting up a bit on the brakes performed almost entirely regenerative braking. The most dangerous aspect of this technique was that the regenerative braking would “shut off” if the car hit a bump too hard so every once in a while you could be slowing down fairly dramatically and suddenly have NO brakes. Of course a bit more brake pressure solved the problem but it could certainly make for a dramatic few seconds, depending on what you’re pointing at and how close you are.

Arthur LeBlanc (not verified)    December 21, 2020 - 8:20PM

I would like more information about extending the life of the battery in my 2013 Primus. It has 130,000 miles and everything is fine.
Thank you.

DeanMcManis (not verified)    December 21, 2020 - 10:14PM

It is nice that you are highlighting this point John. Having had three Chevy Volts, and now a Cadillac ELR (all plug in hybrids) that is one point that quickly because apparent. Most of the car's braking is done with regeneration. Meaning that the actual brake pads are rarely used, and the brake rotors look brand new even after years of driving. On a similar point for plug-in hybrids most of the driving is using the electric motor. So a car with 100,000 miles on it may only have 15-50K miles on the gas engine/generator. This is one big reason why legacy auto dealerships try to NOT sell EVs. And why Elon Musk did not want to have a dealership model for selling Teslas. Because dealerships make more money on maintenance work than off of the profits for the sale of new cars.

James T. Kirk (not verified)    December 24, 2020 - 3:44AM

I'm on my 4th Toyota Hybrid in 15 years. I have never bought brakes for any of the cars. I replaced all of them at 80K miles. I currently have a '17 Rav4 Hybrid Limited. It has 34K on it. The only thing I do is bring it them in for recalls or oil changes, and front end alignments. I have only bought one set of tires in 15 years. I brought my Tacoma in a month ago for the fuel pump recall. The dealer gave me a Prius Prime to drive. That is a great car. I keep my Rav 4 set on ECO and get 36 MPG no matter what. Oil changes are performed at every 10K miles. I wouldn't trade my Rav4 Hybrid for any Tesla. I don't want a full electric car.

Shookercookrr (not verified)    December 24, 2020 - 12:50PM

I had a 2003 Prius that I replaced the front pads at 250,000 miles and had never touched the rears until it was totaled by an old college professor in an old Buick. My 2008 Prius has 276,000 miles with fronts done at 200,000 and rears still going strong.

Robert (not verified)    December 25, 2020 - 12:52PM

2007 Prius, 144000 miles, brakes still at 50%, amazing car, hybrid battery died at 130000 but it was an easy fix, 3 modules replaced from eBay at 30 dollars each, still getting 48mpg in a daily basis. Best car ever

Kathy Day (not verified)    December 28, 2020 - 8:29PM

Original owner of a 2014 hybrid Prius with 140k miles. Had to change air filters, oil changes, tires. That's it. Still runs like the day I got it. I've never had a car that hasn't had to have a brake job by 80,000 miles. The only way I'd say goodbye to this car is if it were totalled.

Rod Poland (not verified)    February 8, 2021 - 8:03AM

205000 on brake change.Original 12volt battery.Only maintained cheap 1 0 2 sensor..knock knock

Dan Trieloff (not verified)    March 10, 2021 - 8:09AM

Not impressed with the brakes on my 2020 rave 4 hybrid. 7500 that’s right 7500 miles and my brakes look like there 20 years old and 70000 miles on them.

John Goreham    March 10, 2021 - 11:36AM

In reply to by Dan Trieloff (not verified)

Tell us more, Dan. How many mm left on the pads? What percentage of wear do your estimate based on that measurement? Does the vehicle have any sounds from the brakes indicating a wear point has been reached? Have you had them looked at by your dealer since the vehicle is still under its 24,000-mile included service as well as the warranty?

Justin Morgan (not verified)    April 7, 2021 - 11:53AM

This has not been my experience at all. 2014 Prius - 116,000 miles. I have replaced Front Brakes 4 times, and literally today picking it up from the mechanic after 3rd rear brake replacement. Worst car I have ever owned for brakes. Had a humble Hyundai accent that lasted 90k miles before I needed to replace front brakes. Will probably never purchase another Toyota after this vehicle.

Ian Breckenridge (not verified)    July 14, 2021 - 12:50PM

My experience is quite the opposite than the view expressed in this article. I have a 2018 Prius Prime and live in southern Ontario, Canada. At 24,000 miles my vehicle required rotors and pads all around. After some discussion, the dealer agreed to cover the full cost. The odometer is now at 37,000 miles and the car needs rear rotors and pads while the fronts are acceptable for now. Corrosion is the enemy of brakes on hybrids. Because of regenerative braking the mechanical brakes rarely get a good workout and rust can buildup and eventually eat away at the rotors. Environmental conditions, road salt and having the car sit too much can make the situation worse, as in my case. We owned a 2008 Prius for 10 years and over 200,000 miles and, although our experience wasn't as extreme, it required brakes more frequently.

Michael Flores (not verified)    March 16, 2022 - 3:32PM

I’m the original owner of a 2010 Toyota Prius now with 186k miles. The front brake pads have 40% and rear pads 50% remaining; engine braking shift lever helps. Now for the Cons.
Unfortunately the owner’s manual has a liberal maintenance schedule. Since Prius are mainly driven in cities where MPG shines, stop and go are still hard miles and oil should be changed at 5k intervals not 10k.
I suspect damaged fuel injectors and rings a factor
in MPG of 33. The touted lifetime coolant should be replaced every 50k miles otherwise turns acidic
eating head gasket and water pump.
The ‘lifetime seal’ CVT oil should be drained at first 30k miles and thereafter every 60k. CVT exhibits high rev spikes likely a factor in poor gas mileage.
The traction battery failed just after warranty expired at 150k miles.

Pete D (not verified)    December 2, 2022 - 4:30PM

2016 Rav4 hybrid

Brakes: I have 85k miles on the car. The (original) brakes are at about 80%.
I fell like the article downplays other cost of ownership items. There are fluids to change. I change the oil every 5k. I've had the transmission fluid changed (front and rear "differential"). I've also had the engine coolant and the inverter coolant changed.
I'm not complaining at all about the maintenance, I'm just saying you shouldn't pretend there's nothing that needs to be done.

Judy Garfin (not verified)    June 7, 2023 - 9:34PM

2018 Toyota Rav 4 Hybrid XLE:
There is a light rhythmic rubbing sound that starts as I drive slowly and speeds up with acceleration. My mechanic says it is because of rust build up on the discs...the brakes are not worn down...pads have 60-70%. We live in a cold damp climate and roads are salted in winter. If I put the car in neutral when approaching a stop, he says that when I brake, I will use the full brake capacity and that will help remove the rust build up. Any comments please are welcome!