Prius Won’t Start – Why Is This Happening To Your Prius?

Prius Won’t Start – Why Is This Happening To Your Prius?

Are you experiencing a problem with your Toyota Prius? The Prius won’t start issue? If this is the case, then you are at the right place because we are going to learn quite a bit when it comes to this problem and how you can solve it quickly and effectively.

Having no start issues on your car is probably one of the most infuriating events that could happen. Imagine that you have to go on a date and the Prius won’t start problem happens. This could ruin your plans and you will be forced to get an Uber or a cab to get to the club or restaurant. But this isn’t the thing you wanted. So, your whole evening could be ruined.

But it is what it is. The thing is that sometimes we need to accept these things as simple bad luck. The car didn’t want to leave us like this. But it did. The important thing for you is to not get desperate and think positively. Why my Prius won’t start? What are the possible reasons? Luckily for you, we are going to list them all in this article.

First, we are going to learn what is the Prius and why is it so popular. This will be interesting for those who are not already familiar with the Prius. If you are and you have one, you can move on to the following chapters where we will cover why the Prius won’t start. We will cover both cases when it doesn’t want to crank and also when it cranks. Lastly, we will focus on the costs involved in fixing this problem. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.

What Is Toyota Prius?

The Prius is probably one of the most controversial cars out there. And not by its fault but because it was a “green” vehicle. There was so much criticizing and ridiculing on the Prius. But this wasn’t all that bad since this was better than advertising.

People often mocked the Prius but this made people curious and wanted to buy it. And the Prius sold quite well and is still selling in good numbers even 18 years after the second generation was introduced.

At the time when the Prius was introduced, it looked like a car from another planet. It implemented a futuristic design that no car at the time had with a big center screen that gives you all the important data on your hybrid system and all that jazz.

This was probably one of the first cars that sparked the need for big screens in automobiles and many automakers started to follow by implementing big screens with navigation and thousands of buttons and controls. The ’00s were fun years when it came to cars, to be honest. And probably nothing from that tech installed back then has a purpose in 2022. Now everything is different and so is the Prius.

Even though, the last generation was released back in 2015. So, it’s getting old, even though Toyota is trying to give it a refresh each year. And so are the batteries. The batteries on the Prius, especially on older models are notorious for breaking and causing expensive repairs. But can a dead battery cause the Prius won’t start problem?

Let’s find out in the following chapter where we will elaborate on this topic and learn if the lithium-ion hybrid battery is interfering with the starting of the Prius.

Does The Battery Affect The Driveability Of The Prius

So, your Prius won’t start and you are probably asking yourself the question of whether this can be caused by the hybrid battery installed in the Prius. Can this battery make your Prius not be able to start?

Well, the answer is no. Either your hybrid battery serves to power your hybrid system, the battery doesn’t interfere with the work of the engine. Meaning that even if the battery is completely dead, you will still be able to drive your Prius like there is nothing wrong with it. Just like a regular car.

But you will be constantly notified that the battery is dead and has to be serviced. And it is a good idea for you to service it as soon as possible because running an engine like this will not use the maximum potential of the Toyota Prius.

Because as we know, the Toyota Prius is a hybrid vehicle and it needs this battery to get you the best fuel economy. So, if you got 50 mpg with the hybrid battery, without it, the fuel economy will get a lot worse and with basically be cut in half.

Not to mention that you will be left without power. As you know, the battery gives you some power and without it, the Prius will feel very sluggish and not snappy as it did before. And honestly, driving a car like this will deliver no pleasure. Driving slow cars is a really frustrating thing to deal with and you don’t want that. That’s why you should always replace the battery on time.

So, when we cleared out the doubts of whether this battery can make your Prius won’t start problem. Now let’s move on to the things that can make your Prius won’t start.

Prius Won’t Start – Why Is This Happening?

Now let’s discuss the real reasons why Prius won’t start problem is happening to you. We will focus primarily on two scenarios. The scenario is when you insert the key into the ignition and nothing happens or only a small click-click sound is heard from the engine.

Prius Won't Start

The second scenario would be if the engine is cranking but the Prius doesn’t want to start. Remember that based on these scenarios you should focus on solving the problem accordingly. So, let’s get into the situations

Scenario 1: When Prius Won’t Start And Don’t Crank

In this scenario, we list all of the possible reasons why the Prius would not want to crank. These are usually some minor things. But we are going to explain in detail in the following chapters.

Drained Key Fob Battery

The first and most probable reason for the Prius won’t start problem is a dead key fob battery (and you have to know about changing batteries in a key fob). So, what does the battery have with the ability to start the engine? Well, they have quite a lot in common.

Inside the key fob, there is a transponder. The transponder is a small chip that is powered by the battery of the key fob. Without the transponder active, the immobilizer in your car will not recognize the key that you are trying to insert. Meaning that the car will think that you are a thief. So, you will not be able to turn over the key.

If this is happening to you and the red blinking light is active. Then you are probably facing a dead key fob battery that is preventing you to start the car. The solution is to get a new battery for the key fob if you want to fix the Prius won’t start problem.

Bad Fuse Can Make The Prius Won’t Start

A bad fuse can also make your Prius won’t start. Why is this the case? Well, this is the case because fuses are installed for security. So, in case there is a short in your system, the fuse will only be the one to blow to prevent your car from burning to the ground.

Fuses are lifesavers. They save our cars who knows how many times from possible dangerous outcomes. So, in this situation precisely, maybe the fuse has blown. The fuse is in charge of the ignition. Meaning that you will not be able to start the car if you don’t fix this fuse.

Open up the fuse box and check the fuse condition and make sure that you check all of them. If there are some burnt fuses, replace them with the right ones and try to start the car again. Then your problem with the Prius won’t start would be solved.

Loose Battery Contact

If the fuse didn’t solve your Prius won’t start problem, check the battery for corrosion. Make sure that there is proper contact. Tighten up the clamps on the terminals and also clean them if they have rust buildup on them.

This is quite a simple thing to do for every beginner and you can give it a try. If it doesn’t solve your Prius won’t start problem. Move on to the next probable cause.

Bad Battery

A bad lead-acid battery can also make your Prius won’t start problem appear. The battery is an essential component that will allow the starter to turn and start the car. If the battery is drained and doesn’t hold power, then you might experience these difficulties with clicking sound and the car not starting to happen.

Another thing that you might experience is the lights in the cabin will start to flicker and the accessories inside will turn off and will start glitching. This is a clear indication that the battery is dead and doesn’t hold power. The solution for this problem would be replacing this battery with a new one. The average cost for a new battery is about $100. This is the most probable reason for the Prius won’t start to happen.

Starter Solenoid Or A Bad Starter

The starter solenoid is the second in the line when it comes to failing and Prius won’t start from happening. The solenoid is there to transfer the electricity from the battery to the starter motor. So, whenever your car has a clicking sound and the battery is ok, then the solenoid is probably broken and needs replacing. The solenoid is located on top of the starter and they work in pairs.

Sometimes even the starter can fail as well. This rarely happens but it could happen. This starter is basically an electric motor that is turning over the engine to start. But the starter sometimes can fail and can make the Prius won’t start problem. The starter is quite more expensive to replace than the solenoid. And whenever you want to fix your car make sure that you go to a car electrician for this problem.

Bad Alternator

Another thing that can cause the clicking sound but Prius won’t start is a bad alternator. The alternator as you know is the unit that is charging the car battery. So, whenever this alternator doesn’t do its job properly, the battery will not be charged and it will not have enough electricity to start the engine.

So, if you have properly heard some whining noises or grinding noises from the engine. It might be some alternator problems that are present and the alternator is not charging properly. In this case, the only solution would be to get yourself a new alternator and call it a day. This will hopefully fix your Prius won’t start problem.

Car Was Flooded

Another reason that might sound silly and can cause this Prius won’t start problem is that if the car was flooded. Imagine that you get to a car auction and you don’t know anything about it. You check the interior and everything is good. You try to start it and you only hear a click.

This is the case because the engine is hydro-locked. Meaning that will not turn over until it is properly rebuilt. This engine is basically done and will not run in the near future. There is still about a 40% chance to save one. But the longer the Prius won’t start sitting, the worse the rust inside gets.

Engine Coil Was Removed

Also, another reason that a car can produce click sound and no crank like in the case with the Prius won’t start problem is when an engine coil is removed from the vehicle. The engine coils are essential for the car to crank.

If there are no coils, the car will simply not crank. Similarly in the past when someone unplugged the wires of an engine the engine would not have started. So, make sure that everything under the hood is properly working and there are no problems. Now, let’s move on to scenario number two.

Scenario 2: When Prius Won’t Start But It Cranks

Now let’s discuss scenario number 2. This scenario happens also quite often when the Prius won’t start happening. And this involves when the car is cranking but the engine simply doesn’t want to start. This continuous cranking often drains the battery and makes things even worse.

So, understanding the reasons behind this action will help you out in uncovering what is causing Prius won’t start and solve the problem in the right manner. So, let’s get into it.

Bad Camshaft Sensor

The primary cause for Prius won’t start but it loves to crank is the bad camshaft positioning sensor (aka the camshaft sensors). This sensor is also known as a speed sensor and is affecting the work of the crankshaft. So if the sensor is not good, it will not start the car.

Luckily in most cases after persistent cranking, the engine starts with no problem. But you will probably drain the battery completely if you are starting a car like this all of the time. Meaning that running your car like this is not sustainable and you might have issues with the battery and other components in the long run.

So, your best bet would probably be to replace this sensor with a new one. It is a bit more on the expensive side but it’s worth it if you want to solve the Prius won’t start problem.

Bad Engine Coils

Another thing that could make the Prius won’t start are bad coils. The coils are the ones that are pushing the electricity to the spark plugs. So, these coils are also known to fail. Less often but they know to do this and make the car continuously cranking without starting.

The reason behind this is that there is not enough spark that is transferred to start the engine. Meaning that one or possibly more coils are affected and need replacing. The way to diagnose this problem is with an OBD2 scanner tool. With this tool, you will be able to access the computer and read the codes. If there are any codes related to the coils. This means that they are due to be replaced. And then you will possibly fix the Prius won’t start problem.

Bad Spark Plugs

Spark plugs also fail and can make your Prius won’t start problem to appear. Why is this the case? Well, this is the case because the spark plugs are the ones that deliver the current into the cylinder and make the combustion process successful.

Without a spark, you can expect the car to crank a lot and not start. This might be frustrating to deal with. That’s why it is often advised to check the condition of the spark plugs. If you haven’t replaced them replace them and try again. They are very cheap and you will not lose a lot of money on them. Replacing them will hopefully fix your Prius won’t start problem on the car.

Bad Fuel Pump, Bad Fuel Filter, Or No Fuel In The Tank

The last thing that can cause your Prius won’t start but it cranks problem is fuel delivery issues. Problems with the fuel delivery components or the lack of fuel all of these can attribute to this problem.

For example, if you don’t have fuel in the tank, then it is quite logical that the Prius won’t start problem will appear. So, make sure that you have enough fuel in the tank.

Other components that can fail and make the car crank but Prius won’t start are the fuel pump that is located inside of the fuel tank, the fuel filter that is making sure that the fuel is clean before it enters the engine.

When the fuel pump fails it stops working completely so you can’t start the car while the car keeps cranking. When the filter fails the car might start at some point but again it will stop working.

Overall, these components can create major headaches for car owners. Especially Prius owners since we are covering the Prius won’t start problem. And unfortunately, they can cost a lot of money to fix. But how much money do they cost? Well, that’s what we are going to cover in the next chapter.

Cost To Fix Prius Won’t Start

So, what about the cost of the problem Prius won’t start? How much is it? Well, the cost of fixing this problem depends a lot on the problem itself.

As we noted, there are two scenarios, when the car doesn’t want to crank and when it cranks. The first scenario when the car doesn’t want to crank is cheaper to fix. Why is this the case?

Prius Won't Start

Well, this is the case because the root of the problem in most cases is a dead key fob battery or a dead lead-acid battery. They do not cost much to replace. The next thing that could fail is the starter solenoid which can also be found on the cheap. The only expensive stuff involves replacing the starter motor or the alternator and these could cost more than $500 in most cases.

When it comes to the second scenario. It is worth noting that these components are more expensive. Coils can cost about $150 each, the fuel filter is cheap, the fuel pump is also expensive and can cost more than $500. The crankshaft sensor is also expensive and can cost $300.

Prius Won’t Start – Facts:

  1. Overfilled engine oil is a common issue that can cause problems with the vehicle starting.
  2. The owner’s manual provides instructions on the correct viscosity and quantity of oil to use in a Prius.
  3. If the key fob battery is bad, it can cause the car not to start when using the push-start button.
  4. Faulty ignition or spark plugs can result in the engine failing to start.
  5. A blown fuse is rare but can be a reason why a Prius won’t start.
  6. Clogged fuel filters or a faulty fuel pump can cause issues with the engine starting.
  7. Prius security systems can prevent the car from starting, and a warning light will indicate the problem.
  8. Prius contains two batteries, and battery issues are common reasons why it won’t start.
  9. Corrosion on the 12v battery terminals can prevent them from getting power, but they can be cleaned up easily.
  10. Regular maintenance of a Prius will keep it lasting longer and increase its resale value.

Conclusion To Prius Won’t Start

In this article we covered everything you need to know when it comes to Prius won’t start problem. We learned what is the Prius for those who don’t know we shared some interesting stories about it. Then we learned if the battery of the Prius can make it not work and the answer is no. If the battery doesn’t work the Prius will still drive without a problem.

Then we covered the probable scenarios that you will face. One of them is when the car doesn’t crank at all and the second is when the car cranks but doesn’t want to start. The first scenario is more likely to happen to you and in 99% of the cases, the reason is a dead key fob battery or a dead lead-acid battery. Sometimes the solenoid fails but this is less frequent. Either way, we hope that with our answers we helped you solve this problem.


  1. James Jerrell Martin

    Lately I have been getting an intermittent clicking noise like mad squirrels from the front right dash when driving my 2002 Prius, and yesterday it would not start at all though the dash lights came on. The noise sounds similar to what I remember a bad starter solenoid made in regular gas cars, but I did not think the Prius had a regular starter. Any thoughts?

    1. Harry Gibson

      I think you might be right, looking into the starter solenoid clicking. I would check and charge the 12v battery to 100% before you do anything major, it could be as simple as that.


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