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3 Things 3rd Generation Toyota Prius Owners Dislike About Their Cars

Thinking about getting a Gen 3 Toyota Prius? Hold off until you see what owners say about theirs before you pull the trigger on one for yourself.


I recently bought myself a 2010 Toyota Prius. It has a bad head gasket, but the price was right. I am well aware that it may need an engine, and if it does, so be it. These issues are something I dislike about Generation 3 Prius. As a matter of fact, there are several things that I generally hate about it.

As I was asking around, I found out there are some everyday things that many Gen 3 Prius owners experience that they dislike. I want to cover what they are and what to do about the issues.

My Gen 3 Prius Consumes Oil
Well, Yes, you and probably thousands of others have this same issue. When the Gen3 Prius came out, the whole car had been through a redesign. That means Prius had a new (but similar) powertrain. The engine was now a 1.8 Liter, the inverter was more compact and efficient, and the body had changed quite a bit also.

These changes amongst a myriad of other things made Gen 3 Prius incredibly appealing over the Gen 2. Promises of higher fuel economy. The future was bright until it was not, and the new famed hero of the Prius world became a problem child.

BG Hybrid Repair Kit Restores Engines

Oil consumption started happening to many Prius owners (many who did not service the car as they should), and claims began to rack up at Toyota dealers across the nation. Prius owners were livid that these new and "better" cars were exhibiting this kind of behavior.

If your Gen 3 Prius is consuming oil, you have options. You can try these things found in this article here about products or repairs you can do to slow the flow.

My Gen 3 Prius Headlights Are Terrible
Yes, I am sure they are. You and thousands of others loathe the headlights that came on your Gen3 Prius. The headlight design had changed from the previous generation to this monstrosity that we have starting in 2010. The idea was great of having projector headlights, but the idea did not work so well.

Issues that many have complained about is that the light does not seem to be as bright as it could. It also does not seem to have the same coverage either.

Cloudy Headlight From Honda Civic Hybrid

There are some things you can do about it. If you want to try and upgrade the halogen lights to a brighter LED counterpart, you can check out a highly recommended one here that I have used with excellent results.

You can also swap out the headlight units themselves for new ones. There are two reasons for doing this. First, the headlights themselves may become clouded over time due to oxidation. If you a whiz with a drill and a 3M kit, you can clean them up. However, sometimes they are too far gone to restore in which you would need to replace the units. Note: These lights are NOT from a Gen3 Prius but they are to show what you can do with a 3M headlight kit.

Honda Civic Hybrid Cleaned Headlight

The clean, unblemished lens can now transmit light much better than before and should give you what you are needing. If not, well, let me know, I may be interested in buying your Prius from you. Whatever you choose to do, know that you have options.

My Gen3 Prius Needs More Repairs Than My Last One
When I say that Gen 3 Toyota Prius needs more attention than the previous generation here is what I mean by that. Gen 3 Prius has several things that seem to always give owners issues.

The EGR Cooler is one of the problems that many 3rd Gen owners face. The problem can happen for several reasons, but what happens is you get hard carbon buildup in your EGR cooler, and it has to be cleaned out for the car to run as it should. Fixing this issue can be time-consuming and costly.

Head gasket repair failure. More common from 2010 to 2012, the head gasket on Gen3 Prius is a common issue. While there are Prius owners who have reported well over 300,000 miles on their cars with no signs of problems, this problem still happens. One thing you can do to prevent this from happening is to stay on top of your maintenance. If you change your coolant on time, and your engine oil, and make sure your EGR pipes are clean, the likely hood of this problem occurring goes down significantly.

Inverter/Converter Failure is another issue that Toyota has been under fire. The new design for the 2010 model year in Prius has had significant problems for owners. Luckily Toyota Motor has stepped up and taken care of many owners that have had a failed inverter, but not everyone has been taken care of.

Toyota Prius Inverter Converter

These issues are common failure points that Gen3 owners regularly tell me they have with their cars. I believe them, and one reason I bought a Gen3 is to confirm these issues and help people fix them.

Do you have something that drives you crazy about your Gen3 Toyota Prius? Drop me a line on Twitter @the_hybrid_guy or a message on Facebook in the Toyota Prius owners club.

I hope that I can help you enjoy your Prius as much as I appreciate all of mine (I have owned six now). My goal is for all of us hybrid owners to love our Prius and help the environment in which we live. Have a beautiful day. I will be looking forward to seeing you in the next story. Is The Toyota Prius Worth It?

Watch this Toyota Prius truck with a nice little bed and click to subscribe to Torque News Youtube for daily automotive news analysis.

Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter is also an Instructor of Automotive Technology at Columbia Basin College. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting. Read more of Peter's stories at Toyota news coverage on Torque News. Search Toyota Prius Torque News for more in depth Prius coverage from our reporters.


Dan (not verified)    April 7, 2020 - 10:40PM

Gonna call you out again Peter. You are totally capable of writing decent, informative and helpful articles. Then again you have to add in the illegal and blindingly dumb idea of converting your headlights to LED. Why don't you give a shit about the glare you inflict on others? Get back on the high road and stay there will ya.

Sujan (not verified)    August 26, 2020 - 11:18PM

I love the Prius I say Prius every time I see one however my first Prius was a 3rd Gen One Owner at 145k Miles plagued by this egr/ head gasket issue sold to me as is, really ruined the Prius for me but I still want one. Is the 2nd gen the most reliable?

ronny (not verified)    June 24, 2021 - 4:13AM

In reply to by Sujan (not verified)

I do not think 2nd gen is the most reliable but 400k miles is easily achievable. The 3rd generation has much less failure in transmission than 2nd gen, practically almost 0 case. But 3rd gen pre-2013 has problem with head gasket, newer 2013+ has redesign headgasket and last much longer, often beyond 300k miles. But you still need to clean your EGR valve at about 150 k miles if you drive it in highway or 90k miles if you are uber driver.

jack gonzalez (not verified)    October 11, 2020 - 6:12PM

I own a 2015 3rd gen Prius. I out on 150 k miles in 4 years doing Uber. this car is practically indestructible. The only thing I've done myself for maintenance are these:

Oil change and filter every 10 k miles.

Transmission fluid, converter coolant and engine coolant replacement at 90k miles.

Spark plugs replacement, brake pads and rotors at 150k miles.

EGR valve, intake manifold cleaning and oil catch can installation at 165 k miles.

This car has been the best car and lowest expensive to maintain ever.

Forgot to say I made 8000k miles roundtrip from South Florida to Washington state and only spent $ 450 in gas.

Craig Currie (not verified)    April 9, 2021 - 6:52AM

I have a 2009 Prius gen 3 I-Tech, here in Australia, it also has a solar panel for A/C and have not had any issues mentioned above in the last 18 months I have owned it

Gareth Baus (not verified)    June 24, 2021 - 9:30AM

I have a gen 3 Prius, and I haven't been bothered by any of the issues you mentioned, I primarily drive at night and haven't had any viability issues I am almost at my next scheduled oil change interval and the oil looks pristine with no noticable drop in it's level, my car was built after they fixed the head gasket issue so that won't be an issue. So far the only issues I have had are the annoying beeping sound when in reverse, and that the steering wheel doesn't pull out very far forcing me to sit so far forward that I am constantly pushing buttons with my knees.

ronny (not verified)    June 25, 2021 - 9:41AM

In reply to by Gareth Baus (not verified)

That's beeping sound is very easy to be disabled with Prius Dr. Apps from your phone with a capable OBD2 scanner like Carista. The software is free and it can monitor your battery health too (voltage and internal resistance). Don't need to buy the subscription unless you want to reprogram TPMS or other complicated Dealer level programming. Beeping sound, lock and unlock behavior, battery check, are all free with Dr. Prius

Blake Ingram (not verified)    August 17, 2021 - 11:16PM

I don’t own a Prius, I have a 2009 Scion xD, but I will say, I don’t think a lot of Toyota headlight designs are good during this design era for them. Mine suck terribly, though, I did just get the car used a few months ago, and plan to replace them soon. They aren’t projector style, but they don’t work well enough, and my high beams are dimmer than my low beams, which is a problem. I’ll update after I replace them, but just from what I’ve seen, Toyota headlights do suck.

Frank Paiano (not verified)    January 12, 2022 - 11:58AM

In reply to by Blake Ingram (not verified)

We have a 2004 Scion xA and the headlights eventually were incredibly dim. Here in Tijuana, Mexico, our mechanic scrubbed (?), polished (?), or cleaned (?) them without even asking us when we took it on for an oil change. Now, they seem just like new.

Pete D J (not verified)    October 11, 2021 - 11:57AM

2010 Prius 3 with 211,500 miles never any drive train or traction battery issues. Shocks replaced at 190,00. Some rust. Bought used in 2012 with 8,000 miles, then driven daily combination of highway and city(Chicago). Mileage at 48, mostly because of high traction tires for safety. These cars just need to be DRIVEN.

John (not verified)    January 22, 2022 - 3:01AM

In reply to by Don (not verified)

That is a good news. What is the mileage in your 2012 Prius? Do you drive mostly highway and minimal 15 minutes? I am a bit sceptical with Prius pre 2013 because of head gasket issue. But I found there are more oil consumption issues than head gasket in pre 2013 Prius.

Don (not verified)    January 22, 2022 - 3:32PM

It has about 110k miles. The biggest problem I've had is mice ate the soy based insulation on one of the wiring harnesses. Most trips are over 10 miles.

Carlo esc (not verified)    February 17, 2022 - 12:49PM

I have a 2013 Prius v five no problems with the car.
I purchased the car with 17000 miles on it. The only thing the car needs is sound proofing it's very noisy on the Freeway. I travel to Oregon often and I wish I can sound proof the car.

Kent (not verified)    August 8, 2022 - 2:19PM

I have a 2010 Prius (3rd generation) and it has been the most cost effective vehicle I have ever owned. It has 197K+ miles but I just hit this dreaded gasket issue. I heard the knocking and thought it was something else (I am not a car person). I'm wondering if it is worth paying the $3700 to replace the gasket especially with replacement cars so expensive. We bought this car new in July of 2010.

Owen Lin (not verified)    January 12, 2023 - 4:34PM

This article identifies 2010-2012, however a link from your other article (3 Reasons To Steer Clear Of A 2010-2013 Toyota Prius) includes 2013. Is this a notorious failure for 2013's as well?