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Classic Prius: A decent first car?

Discussion in 'Generation 1 Prius Discussion' started by vacputer, Dec 3, 2011.

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  1. vacputer

    vacputer New Member

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    Location:
    Mooville, MN (Sadly, that's not quite a joke...)
    Your Vehicle Year:
    Other Non-Hybrid
    Model:
    N/A
    Hi! This is my first post here, so the inevitable :welcome: from a moderator is appreciated.


    Anyway, I am nearing my 16th birthday, and fully intend to purchase a car, as I need to drive reasonably long distances while hauling equipment for work (I do IT consulting around St. Cloud in Stearns County, MN) and I don't want to have to deal with the mid-80s rustbucket of a pickup that my father is letting me use. I really like the fuel economy and reasonable price-of-entry (about $6000 in my area for one in very good condition) of the Classic Prius, but I have seen reliability statistics that concern me. This would be quite a sizable investment for me, and I want to know that it would still be running 7-10 years on.

    What are your opinions on this?
  2. w4y

    w4y Junior Member

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    There are three major reliability issues with the Prius Classic. Each would be $2-3k in repairs.

    1.) Traction battery - Make sure you get a Prius with new or reconditioned (with Gen II modules) battery. The old one is likely on it's way out.

    2.) Steering Rack and Pinion -- Luckily, Toyota has extended the warranty on this until 2013, for most Gen 1 Prius.

    3.) Inverter -- see if you can get a detailed history of the inverter fluid changes. It's often forgotten by owners.
  3. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    Location:
    boston
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    buy a civic or corolla.
  4. JimboPalmer

    JimboPalmer Nadir of Wrongness

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    Location:
    Greenwood MS USA
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2012 Prius v wagon
    Model:
    Three
    I am a networking tech in MS, I need more room than a Gen 1 Prius can provide, I also worry about winters in Frostbite Falls MN. I would recommend Ford : Escape Ford : Escape | eBay if you want a hybrid. You can get a ladder in that.

    (no I do not sell anything on ebay)
  5. seilerts

    seilerts Battery Curmudgeon

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    Location:
    Santa Fe, NM
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2005 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    4) Transaxle (also a $2K-$3K repair)

    I'm getting to the point that I would only recommend a used 01-03 to a DIY type/mechanic, since the aforementioned #1-#4 problems can easily leave you with a choice of spending thousands to have someone else fix it, or trading/junking it.

    I recommend a RAV4 AWD, specifically 04-05. There are virtually ZERO issues with them, and all replacement parts are cheap. I have only done brakes, plugs, PCV, and the water pump on mine. I have 160K on mine, and it will be passed down to my son in two years as his first car. AWD and cargo capacity makes it go 99% of the places on 99% of the things that you want to do, for the only downside being 27 mpg.
  6. vacputer

    vacputer New Member

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    Location:
    Mooville, MN (Sadly, that's not quite a joke...)
    Your Vehicle Year:
    Other Non-Hybrid
    Model:
    N/A


    How much space are we talking about? My normal load consists of a few mid to full tower PCs or around 6U of rackmount equipment and 2 fairly large toolbags stuffed full of stuff. I take no issue with using a client's ladder when pulling wire, not that I do much of that. I will mention that after about 2 years of balancing said bags on bike handlebars or paying for gas when someone else drives, I'd be perfectly happy with using rear seats for hauling space.

    Regarding weather, can you (or anyone else) provide a rough temperature at which the ability to run well would be impeded?
    Would I need to worry about snow in the battery's vents?
    I know the second generation Prii store hot coolant in a sort of thermos-y apparatus, but if I could get away with a regular block heater I'd be happy to install one. The real issue is the battery... I don't know what I'd do about that.
  7. JimboPalmer

    JimboPalmer Nadir of Wrongness

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    Location:
    Greenwood MS USA
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2012 Prius v wagon
    Model:
    Three


    My situation may be complicated by not having a computer store more 'advanced' than Walmart in my service area.

    [​IMG]

    I have a tub for network electronics, a tub for tools, a tub for PC parts and a tub network hardware. 3 laundry bags of network cables and 4 convention bags of PC cables. 1000 feet of cat 5 and a 17 foot ladder. That configuation still holds me and 2 passengers.

    [​IMG]

    You may find you can 'run out and get one' when you need a part, but I can't.
  8. fthorn

    fthorn From gas hog to greenie to gas hog

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    Other Non-Hybrid
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    I like the Fuel Economy of the Prius, specifically for first timers.
    I like the 70 HP (weak) engine ... for teens.
    Not ideal in other ways.

    I am looking for a very large, very slow, one or two seat car, with visibility of that like an AMC Pacer, and all the safety devices of today's cars, and parental control of Ford's MyKey to allow me to set limits.

    I'm not asking for much! :)

    (one or two seater, non-bench. No distracting friends; nor opportunities for significant other activities)
  9. Rebound

    Rebound Senior Member

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    2012 Prius Plug-in
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    Plug-in Base
    If you have $6,000 in cash, consider a fairly small loan that will put you in a newer vehicle. Look at Craigslist for Prii, and get a feel for their going prices. You might want to consider looking here in California, where there are lots of them, and the weather causes no rust. I'm no expert, but I'd guess that in the $8,00 - $12,000 range you can find some excellent vehicles that will give you a lot of reliability.

    For example (and I'm no expert), there's a blue 2005 Prius in Berkeley with 100K mi and leather, and the owner wants $10K. I think you could negotiate down to $9K, maybe $8K.

    Keep checking Craigslist. If you want to stick to $6,000, look and look, and you'll find a private seller who likes you and gives a student a great break on a beloved car.
  10. V8Cobrakid

    V8Cobrakid Green Handyman

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    Location:
    Park View, Los Angeles, CA. U.S.A
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2004 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    my brother just purched an 05 fully loaded for 4k....

    i consider a prius to be an excellent 1st car. my 1st car was an 85 318I bmw... after replacing the transmission after 3 months.. and then replacing expensive idle controllers... i sold the car for my next POS... an 87 lincoln mark VII... rwd with no traction control equals death trap in wet climate... that car worked for a while... repairs were as expected (not too expensive)....
  11. seilerts

    seilerts Battery Curmudgeon

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    What was wrong with it? High miles, salvage title, bombed trans, ???
  12. V8Cobrakid

    V8Cobrakid Green Handyman

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    high mileage. (200k) i wouldn't consider anything wrong with it. for that purchase price.. even buying a new battery or inverter would still put it cheaper than some of the low mileage prii i see around here (almost 10k)

    it's definitely cheaper than the complete overhaul my brother has to give to his truck.. turbo problems... cooling problems... oil seeping out of rings into the water turning the water into a gel/oil like mess... (like spun honey)
  13. bobofky

    bobofky Junior Member

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    My 2001 that I bought in 2003 with 17,000 miles was wonderful until 197,000 miles when the hybrid battery failed. My mechanic installed a new one for under $2,000. At 225,000 miles I started having electronic problems and now I am ready to junk the car. If you buy one of the Gen 1 be sure that its main battery has been replace recently. Time is the enemy of the battery, not miles. About 8yrs is a normal battery life.
    I like the 2001-2003 models better that later ones, but they are reaching the end of their life.
  14. Ryan256

    Ryan256 New Member

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    Location:
    Central Minnesota
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2001 Prius
    Model:
    I
    Howdy,

    Consumer reports recently found a 2001 Prius to be performing well after 206,000 miles. The title of the article is:

    "First Generation Prius Still 'Young' After 206,000 Miles"

    I bought an '01 Prius with 190,000 miles (and no accidents according to the website AutoCheck) and I've had no problems. It now has 210,000 miles and is still running strong. I've been averaging about 40 mpg in the winter and 45 mpg in the summer. You can improve on those numbers, but those are very realistic long-term averages.

    Last winter I did not use an engine block heater (and I don't have a garage), and it started every time despite the brutal weather. I'm also from central MN.

    Cheers,

    Ryan
  15. kgray1

    kgray1 Junior Member

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    Location:
    Mountain Park, GA
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2013 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    My classic 2003 bought new and now with 147K miles has been great for me and has saved me thousands of bucks in fuel costs. I have had very few problems but instead of relying on antidotal evidence you should read what Consumer Reports has to say. The irony of buying for a first time is that probably you can only afford something used but are least able to handle the more frequent repairs any used car will have. Some problems I've had- The main computer was replaced under warranty at 60K. The fuel pump failed and required that the fuel tank bag tank where the pump lives was all replaced costing $900. A main fuse blew when the pump filter clogged and cost me about $500. My drive battery is fine i.e. all cells checked well recently. However, I intend to trade in for a plug-in Prius soon. I want to get rid of my 2001 Toyo Highlander 1st. I don't know
    what I'll replace the SUV with. It has given me no problems at all and also has about 147k on it. It only gets around 20mpg. My Prius gets between 55 and 48 mpg in combined city/Hwy driving. Hope this helps but I'm afraid there are no easy answers. Like many I lean toward high gas mileage for environmental health and foreign policy reasons as well as the economic ones. I hope this helps.
  16. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

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    Location:
    Kunming Yunnan China
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2001 Prius
    Older threads here document several problems that typically arise in 2001-2003 Prius. One must realistically accept that the used Prius buyer is likely to get tagged with at least a few of them over time.

    Meanwhile you will find posts from sycophants ( I was one of them so I can say that) along the lines of "a zillion miles and not one problem, what are you guys talking about?" Even with a detailed pre-purchase inspection, it is hard to assure that you are buying one of those jewels. I know of one in Santa Fe NM but it ain't for sale :)

    Time indeed is the enemy of the NiMH battery, but excessive heat more so. I routinely used the A/C to help cool it whenever I was driving in conditions that would build up heat 'back there'. I actually believe that it helped, but an unreplicated experiment.

    Conventional fueled compacts remain an excellent used car choice, especially if you plan to run it only during the era of $4-5 gasoline. When we enter the era of $8-10, even those will present a poor money proposition.

    But the earlier Prius will only get rarer, and at some point will require great creativity in terms of repair and parts replacement. Some would say we are there already.
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