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Long-term maintenance and cost of ownership

Discussion in 'Gen II Prius Main Forum' started by hahvahdsquah, Nov 4, 2012.

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  1. hahvahdsquah

    hahvahdsquah New Member

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    Hi - I'm new to the forum and a potential Prius buyer. We are looking at the Prius C, but since this is its first model year I figured this forum might be better to get opinions from long-term Prius owners. Specifically we are trying to figure out the long-term cost of ownership (~10 year lifespan, so well after the original warranty has expired) of a Prius including maintenance and repair costs, and how much, if at all, those costs eat into savings from fuel economy, relative to a small gas car like the Honda Fit or the Nissan Versa.

    I've skimmed through the stickied "Reliability" thread, and see that they rate the frequency of repair trips, which is "better than average", but not the cost of those trips. Google results for things like "Prius repair costs" bring up several hits about a study that concluded something like "hybrids cost about 8% more to repair but the repairs are less frequent than average".

    We (my fiance and I) also have an issue with the definition of "average" in claims like this - we'd rather compare the Prius directly to other highly-rated small cars like the Honda Fit, and not to an average over the entire four-door hatchback class that can be dragged down by the lousier cars, artificially inflating the Prius's relative score.

    My general understanding is that the "myth" that "owning a hybrid will actually be a nightmare and it will cost you a bazillion dollars to replace the battery" has been dispelled, but I can see there being a legitimate claim that owning a small gas car that gets 40mpg highway is still cheaper in the long run if maintenance is slightly less expensive.

    Any personal stories or pointers to references about this would be greatly appreciated.
  2. cwerdna

    cwerdna Senior Member

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  3. JimN

    JimN Let the games begin!

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    Welcome. Maintenance should be lower. I expect the brakes to last 100,000 miles as most of the braking is regenerative. It doesn't have an alternator or the belts that other cars use. Expect to pay for fluid changes: coolant & transaxle.

    How many miles are you planning on driving?

    If you are comparing a $25000 Prius to an $18000 something else you probably aren't going to save $7000 worth of gas & maintenance presuming the something else can stay on the road as long.
  4. hahvahdsquah

    hahvahdsquah New Member

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    I think my fiance (primary driver) currently averages around 12,000-15,000 miles a year, combination of daily commute and long trips to visit family.

    We're looking at the base package of the Prius C which is only 18k-19k starting; compared to base package Fit or Versa which are 15k-16k, so not that big of an initial price difference.
  5. jadziasman

    jadziasman 72K miles to go before the odometer stops

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    IMHO, you should only buy a hybrid if you drive many more miles than the average motorist.
    I drive 25K miles per year on average. It makes sense for me to have one. And I was lucky to buy mine in 2010
    when used car prices were relatively benign.

    There are many vehicle in the $20K-25K range to choose from that have decent highway mpg. A mid range Prius C will cost you about $21K out the door. That's a lot of coin for a small car.

    Our 2010 Nissan Versa 1.8L hatchback only set us back $14K in March 2010. It's basic transportation that we haven't needed to use (it only has 13K miles on it) because our other two cars (the 05 Prius and an 04 Chevy Malibu Classic) continue to be surprisingly reliable despite their ages and odometer readings (184K miles and 189K miles). We will eventually tap the Nissan when one of these two die. It's nice to have a new car as a spare.
  6. Munpot42

    Munpot42 Active Member

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    The battery warrenty is a long one either 100k miles or 150k miles depending on where you live. I've got 24k on my Prius and no problems. I would expect that to hold true for the 100k I intend to own it. Also resale value is very good.
  7. CAlbertson

    CAlbertson Member

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    I just bought the Prius C. I think it is a great value if you do two things
    1) buy the "1" level trim. A GPS is not worth the extra $3,000. Always the base level trim is the best value
    2) Keep the car for at least 5 or 6 years. If you trade cars every 3 years you will never save enough gas to make up for the higher price.

    About maintenance: That is one of the best parts about the Prius C. There is almost no scheduled maintenance. Toyota gives you the first 2 years. At first I was excited about then I found out all they do is change the oil and rotate the tire.

    The Prius C has no external engine driven belts, no internal timing chain (no cam shaft for it to drive) and the fuids other then engine oil are basically "life of the car". These are a couple $12 air filters to change every two years.

    One day the battery will fail. It has an 8 year warranty but maybe after 8 to 12 years it will fail. Today the Toyota dealer wants $3K to change it out but you can have it done for close to 1/2 of that price.

    So much of the "heavy lifting" is done by the electric motors (there are two in the Prius) that the gas engine just does not see the stress that it would. Also because it is operated by a computer and not the driver it is subject to MUCH less abuse. You can't over rev it. You can't push it hard before it is warmed up, the engine does not even run much of the time. The gas engine is only used when it is really needed and then shuts down. Even if you drive with a "lead foot" the gas engine is operated conservatively. I'd expect very low maintenance and well over 300K miles from it

    The electric motors have a gap between the moving parts so there is zero wear, they don't touch and the entire hybrid drive system is flooded in light oil so I doubt it will ever corrode.

    Even if it cost $3K after 12 years (which is reasonable) that is only $250 per year. Fuels savings will more than pay for a battery. My Prius C uses $1,000 per year less fuel then a Ford Fiesta.

    Expect to get a bit BETTER then EPA estimated mail age. I get about 60 mpg in mixed city freeway driving on trips over 10 miles. The prius does not get the claimed mpg on very short one mile or less trips. If you typically drive only a mile end-toend get a plug-in model. The Prius C is a "commuter car" that is ideal for 20 to 200 mile trips.

    Also look at re-sale value. All models of prius hold their value because buys know the even with 80,000 miles the car is just "broken in".

    All the taxis in the "beach cities" around here are required to use hybrid or electric vehicles. I think almost all or the Prius. Many have 300,000 miles on them as they are driven nearly 24x7. After 300K miles most are repporting no throttle with just oild changes and zero other maintain ace. The brakes might last "forever" on the "C" as the friction brake almost never engage, if you drive for economy.
  8. jadziasman

    jadziasman 72K miles to go before the odometer stops

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    What!!!!!!! The Prius C has a 1.5L engine with dual overhead cams. Where in the world did you get the idea that the Prius ICE had no camshafts!

    Sorry, I just can't let an egregious error like this slip by.

    1.5-Liter Aluminum DOHC 16-Valve with Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i), EV [1]/ECO modes; 73 hp @ 4800 rpm (54 kW @ 4800 rpm), 82 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm (111 N•m @ 4000 rpm); 99 hybrid system net hp (74 kW)
  9. Britprius

    Britprius Senior Member

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    Plus a timing chain. CAlbertson,s post is full of misinformation.

    There are wearing parts in the transmission, what about bearing that carry the motor/gen rotors, the planetary gear set and differential.

    The coolant fluids are long life but should be changed at about 100,000 miles and we all know that the transmission oil needs changing at 30,000 to help give the transmission longevity.

    The Toyota hybrids are very reliable and it is reasonable to expect 150,000 miles or more of almost trouble free life but lets have real facts.
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