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2007 Toyota Prius - Click above for high-res image gallery

We'd wager that the last thing Toyota wants in the midst of the super-important launch of its new third-generation Prius is a negative stigma attached to the previous model. Unfortunately, that's exactly what the Japanese automaker may have on its hands as a number of owners of the 2005-2008 Toyota Prius with the HID headlight option are banding together on online forums, message boards and in possible class action lawsuits against the automaker in relation to failing headlamps.

According to Advertising Age, these HID headlight bulbs and their associated electronics can sometimes cost well over $1,000 to replace after they've gone faulty, and Toyota is unwilling to pick up the tab. At least one lawsuit has reportedly been filed last month by Girard Gibbs in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on behalf of a Putnam County, N.Y., Prius owner. The suit contends that the problem is a "dangerous but undisclosed safety defect" and alleges that "Toyota is concealing the problems from owners" despite having been "long been aware of Prius' HID headlight problem." It's possible that the suit will get class-action status.

The NHTSA has reportedly filed a preliminary investigation into the issue and contacted Toyota on May 13 regarding 338 complaints it has received so far from Prius owners about the HID headlamps. Spokesmen from Toyota have said the automaker is cooperating with the NHTSA investigation, which may or may not end up calling for an official recall.

[Source: Advertising Age]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Toyota is going to give each owner that has a bulb complaint, a large flashlight they can hold out the window. So when you see a Prius coming your way at night, don't hug the center stripe, you just might break some poor owner's flashlight........"Oh what a feeling Toyota".
      • 5 Years Ago
      Soccer moms unite!
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's a Prius, it's a feature..

      low your carbon foot print even more--with the no headlight feature. Only available with the expensive HID option. Increase your fuel mileage with no headlights. How's that for moral superiority?

      J/K Prius--love the car, hate the person behind the wheel.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have a 2006 Prius with 28000 miles. I noticed this issue and mentioned it to my regular mechanic yesterday. He said to check with Toyota and that they might do it under warranty. I called today and the service advisor said that if they can duplicate the problem, they should be able to do it under warranty. I set up an appt for next week. We shall see and I will report back.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I am having to take our Prius back to the local dealer for the 4th time. They can't seem to correct the problem.
      • 5 Years Ago
      HID headlights are a pain in the ass anyway. The massive increase in cost doesn't (IMO) justify the supposed lower energy usage. Hopefully LED headlights will be suitable for the mainstream sooner rather than later, and we can chuck both incandescents and HIDs in the rubbish bin where they belong.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'd like to see an LED solution too. HID's just seem far too costly and complicated for this purpose.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Any thoughts on whether this might include other Toyota vehicles with the same HID bulbs? A coworker had a similar crappy experience with a 2 year old Solara.
      • 5 Years Ago
      toyota does have a problem with there hid bulbs in the prius and they know about it. there is a tsb out to learn out to test and see what the problem is. i am an ASM at a toyota dealer. bulbs are $175 each for customer to buy. it has been reported to toyota many times when we did them under warranty and had customers call for assistance when there vehicle was out of warranty and we could not offer assitance.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Toyota does not seem to be the bastion of quality anymore.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Definitely the case. Man have times changed where if you wanted the most reliable car, only a Honda or Toyota will do. Honda has managed to stand above, but Toyota and even Lexus now are just not what they use to be.
      • 5 Years Ago
      In some obscure way, does this shed any light [sorry] on why nearly every one-eyed monster turns out to be a VW, since forever, until the present day? What's up with that?

      On another note, I think there should be hefty fines for cars with mis-aimed headlamps, and/or ALL cars should be required to have auto-leveling lamps, like my MINI and BMW all have. It's so fricking annoying getting blinded all the time. Granted I'm lower to the ground than many cars, but MY headlights behave. Why can't theirs?

      When I bought my MINI, I was "promised" that my HID lamps would not burn out. So far, they have not. I know nothing's forever, but that was a selling point for me, besides compensation for being a "little guy" on the roads.
      • 5 Years Ago
      You don't think people will mind at all replacing $1000 headlights 1-2 years into ownership?!
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ Vizel...

        "I hope people aren't stupid enough to believe buying a toyota prius (which is yes, a 12K range vehicle with a hybrid engine) is going to give them a flawless, faultless vehicle."

        Well, it IS a Toyota, so I'm sure they expect a fault-free vehicle. At least that's what the Toyota ads claim.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Vizel - well, as long as the warranty or recall covers them, yeah."

        It says right above, "Toyota is unwilling to pick up the tab."
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't think the headlights themselves cost so much but I'm wonder if basically the wiring harness is getting fried..or worse to the rest of the car.
        • 5 Years Ago
        well, as long as the warranty or recall covers them, yeah. I hope people aren't stupid enough to believe buying a toyota prius (which is yes, a 12K range vehicle with a hybrid engine) is going to give them a flawless, faultless vehicle.
        • 5 Years Ago
        They're not really $1000-2000 headlights, the dealership just wants crazy amounts for the bulbs. You can just buy them yourself elsewhere for a lot cheaper-if you look around you can even get a pair for $100, and nicer bulbs go for $100 each.

        It's still more money than halogen but only an idiot gets HIDs and thinks that the bulbs will never wear out. If you want a car with cheap replacement bulbs then stick with halogen, but if you want bright HIDs you gotta pay the price when it comes replacement time.

        And it seems to be that at least some people did some stupid stuff to their cars and tried to run the entirely wrong bulbs. The Prius uses a newer 42V HID system, so if you tried to make it run the older higher voltage variety it's a quick way to kill the ballasts.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm a 2006 Toyota Prius Owner - YES I've had to replace my bulbs at about 40,000 miles.

      Sometimes 1 light would turn out..then the other. Simple to fix, I would turn off the lights and back on and they would work fine. But there was NO reason it was just going out. Sometimes they would stay on in the rain for hours while driving. Other times I would be driving 5 mins and they would go out.

      I called Toyota Dealership. (I bought the Platinum Warranty 100,000 miles for $900) and they said bring it in.

      They replaced the bulbs for free. Said there was some bulletin. I was afraid to buy ebay bulbs because I remember putting in Hyper Blue lights in my Gixxer back in 2000 and headlight harness melted. Suzuki wouldn't honor any warranty. So I was afraid if I shorted out the whole electric system they would trace it to my bulbs.

      Luckily my car was done by lunch time. They dropped me off at work and picked me up. $0! Well actually I asked them to change the oil after they called me at 10ish and told me it was finished. That costs me $32 with taxes.

      I also own a Maxima and from what I heard on their forum that they ALSO had a problem with their HID lights around the same time. They think it was a bad batch as they used the SAME bulbs as the Prius.

      Lastly... replacing the HID's in the Prius isn't as easy as my Maxima or my MR2 spyder. You can't access the headlamp (from what the forums say) without removing a bunch of clips etc from the bumper etc.

      Has Toyota done right by me? YES.. but others quite possibly not. I think some dealers are trying to keep warranty claims down by denying things and maybe they get a bonus based on how much warranty work they turn in???

      I hope Toyota rights their quality.. because I would really love to trade in the old Maxima in 1-2 years and buy the 2011/2012 Prius when I'm ready..
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