22 Cents per mile - The used, high mileage Gen 3 experience

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Main Forum' started by Lightning Racer, Feb 4, 2019.

  1. Lightning Racer

    Lightning Racer Active Member

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    My Prius ownership will be over Monday when I sign it over to my insurance company. I collided with caribou in middle of nowhere east of Whitehorse a bit over a week ago while driving across Canada.

    I didn’t stop at the scene, it being in middle of nowhere, cold, and out of cell phone range (reported collision to RCMP later when I rolled into Whitehorse). It drove like normal - no check engine lights and went straight, a busted headlight the only sign of damage from the driver's seat. I didn't try to open the deformed hood until Haines Junction later that night. There, I discovered a nearly empty engine coolant expansion tank with a crack in the top at the return line. I MacGyvered a repair best I could with Gorilla tape and a section of foam pipe (leftover from grill blocking), then took a calculated risk to top it off with water and drive on to evaluate the loss rate. I'd turn around and go back to Whitehorse if necessary, otherwise I'd look for coolant at every possible place ahead on the road, which was not many possible places. It turned out to last 1.5 hours of driving before needing topping off. Fear of freezing the diluted coolant meant I never turned the car off until I got home, but I had been camping "hunkered" in the car all week, so the last night was no different. The next morning, a trucker I encountered in Beaver Creek was kind enough to gift me a jug of coolant, which was just enough to get me home.
    IMG_20190124_200137.jpg

    I purchased my Prius in January 2016 in California. It was a fully loaded 2010 IV with solar roof and a good dealer service record, but it had 150K miles and was in below average condition - filthy, stinky, and some minor front end damage, though all original body panels. I bought it for $7200, but spent quite a bit more to bring it up to very good condition (excellent, save for some paint chips and scratches).

    I'll loosely follow @ATHiker 's format in his thread to evaluate my total cost of ownership from 150K miles to 185K miles (working from my phone, so no tables):
    100,000 Miles @ $0.365/Mile | PriusChat

    Depreciation
    • Sale price $7200
    • CA tax, registration, transfer fees $481
    • Fix busted seam in driver's seat $150
    • bumper/body repair/new spoiler/respray/brakes/alignment $1588.81
    • Trans fluid, spark plugs, engine coolant, and oil change at Luscious Garage (this was before I was started to do more DIY) $372.56
    • Total cost to get it to very good condition $9792.37, maybe a bit more. Might seem like I overpaid, but it was still on par with all the deals I saw in a month of car shopping. Chalk it up to CA prices and demand at the time. Coming from Alaska, I couldn't believe how many Priuses I saw in San Francisco when I went to Luscious Garage. On the other hand, look at the settlement I got from the insurance company. I guess I didn’t overpay.
    • Insurance settlement was very fair. I didn’t catch the exact figure over the phone but it is between $7000 and $7100. Let's call it $7050. That includes subtracting my $250 deductible and subtracting for some prior damage, mainly three places where the car had been severely keyed. It also included $150 for the unused portion of my Alaska car registration.
    • Counting my initial work to get the car into decent condition as part of the acquisition cost rather than operating cost, the total depreciation over 3 years was around $2742. Compared to ATHiker's $21K for 3 years and 100,000 miles on his Gen 4, that's why I have always bought my cars used with higher mileage.

    Operating Costs
    • gasoline. I was at about 50 mpg on Fuelly until the last month, but that decreased to 47.5 with the last cross country winter drive with heated car camping in temperatures as low as and lower than - 40C/F (the car thermometer's lower limit appeared to be - 40). The Canadian fillups over the years makes adding the costs up too tedious. Since the car camping is really not car ownership costs, rather motel substitution, I’ll just estimate it out at 35,000 miles, 50 mpg, and about $3.00 per gallon =$2100
    • Alaska Registration ($150 of this will be refunded in insurance settlement) $385
    • full coverage insurance for 3 years, approximately $1500
    • Other oil changes, two by others, one DIY at $67.89+$44.70+$24.47=$137.06
    • Cracked windshield $180.34
    • DIY inverter coolant change $23.87
    • A couple quarts 0W20 for topping off $20-25?
    • New Nokia WR G4 tires that I had just put on before the last cross country drive. If it had been summer, and I could have predicted the demise of fhe car, the tires that came with the car when I bought it would have lasted to the end. $395.16 for the tires, $185.65 for the installation and alignment.
    • Total operating costs were about $4929.58

    Depreciation plus operating costs totalled about $7672 for the 3 years and 35,000 miles. That's $0.22 per mile. The federal mileage reimbursement rate for business use is $0.58 for 2019, so 22 cents is pretty good. If I had gone more years/miles without the collision, I think I would have gotten it down to the mid-teens cents per mile.

    Other
    • Before I got it to the shop, I was guessing it would probably be totaled, though not far from 50/50 chance, mainly because I was very aware it had 185K miles. The insurance guy assumed that it would be repaired before he started adding things up, probably not realizing the value right away because the car was very clean. Turned out to be a somewhat close call, about $700 in repairs over the threshold. I would have been happy to have it repaired because I know the car well (was wanting to go 300K miles) and it will be a lot of work and some risk looking for a good used car replacement and getting it to good shape.
    • I missed some other minor costs - clips, small missing body parts like rubber hatch bumper, a rear splat, oil catch can, oil filter, another set of spark plugs, wipers, specialized tools I might never use again and so on. I also didn't count some accessories like phone holder and fitted window shades.
    • No failures on the road. I drove it across the US/Canada five times in the 3 years I had the car.
    • Priuschat was a great resource to make sure I did everything possible to keep a high mileage car on the road reliably. I ended up DIYing more as I acquired more tools.
    • It only drank minimal oil. I checked the level every fillup and used 2 quarts to top things off over the 35K miles.
    • Misfires occurred two times while I had the car. First due to EGR circuit (enhanced warranty replaced the EGR valve with improved, less likely to stick update, later I cleaned the rest). Second time was a bad spark plug.
    • My catch can was needing daily checks in extreme cold weather during the last cross Canada drive. Mostly water getting condensed out. It got more than half full in one day of driving in - 30 to - 40F plus car camping with heat on in that - 40.
    • Original 12V battery lasted life of car. HV battery too. I think I would have had many more years of HV battery life, it was still great.
    • Never changed the brake fluid. Test strips showed it was fine.

    Here’s my case for running your Prius forever if you like DIY and want to save money. I don't think it ever would have been a money pit if proactive care is given in DIY maintenance, the goal is low cost miles, not resale value, and large expenses planned for and seen as costs spread long term. Depreciation was minimal over my ownership and only gets lower because there's not enough value left to have a large loss. Add in a new $1600-2500 HV battery when the time comes, and you wouldn't have to worry about it for another dozen years, so it averages out to a very low number. A headgasket or new engine could probably be avoided with the EGR care and OCC, but even if it came to that, it can be done cheaply and well (see Gen4 engines in Gen3s) that would again just ensure a doubling in total years of service. Things like wheel bearings, brakes, struts, are rather minor costs too, when looked at as an investment in long term operation, certainly cheaper than a new car. A new HV battery and new engine averaged out over a decade would be a tiny cost, $500 per year over ten years, compared to the $7k+ per year depreciation of a new car in its first three years. The original owner of my car had a depreciation cost of $23K in 5.5 years.

    Next car? I'm not in a hurry, since I have my '96 Subaru still. One local option is a car almost like mine that I haven't seen in person yet. It's a 2011 III, I think, same winter gray as mine, with solar roof and about 130K miles that I could probably bargain down to my insurance settlement amount of around $7K. That would be get me a Gen 3 a year newer and 50K+ fewer miles at no cost. I'd have to hope it burns minimal oil, and get on the EGR circuit right away.

    Or I might shop the lower 48 states for a 2015 with high miles (but no more than about 130K miles) for around $10-11K. The 2015s have the new pistons/rings designed to solve the oil burning.

    Or I might go with a 6 spd Honda Fit 2015+ for aound 10K. It would be a downgrade in many ways. The interior has more plastic and has more of an econobox vibe. It has worse fuel economy. It's smaller to camp in, and doesn't cycle the engine on/off for camping. On the plus side, it should drive and handle better, be more sporty and fun. I like the large windows, and unobstructed view for driving (I don't like the thick A pillars on the Prius). I like that it harkens back to classic little '70s-'90s Civic hatchbacks in shape. I think the EX has Android Auto. The Gen 3 haters always say get a Corolla or Fit. Maybe extra cost of gasoline would be offset by no HV battery to replace, but actually probably not if you really intend to keep a Prius going long term.

    Or I might go with another old (but not as old as my '96) Subaru, so I can pare down my cars and sell my old Subaru. I'm eyeing potentially a' 04 Forester XT (turbo) with go fast bits for $6.5K, but that's probably on the unreliable and low fuel economy side to be my only car. Or 2006, 2007 Legacy wagons (non-Outback version preferred) in 5spd manuals, but the examples for sale now are mostly beat up.
     
    #1 Lightning Racer, Feb 4, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    sorry about the quick end, but i'm glad you weren't hurt. great write up, thanks!(y)
     
  3. Greenteapri

    Greenteapri Member

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    Sorry about the loss. Glad you are OK.

    May your next car last longer than this post.(y)(y)(y)
     
  4. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    Paranoid DIYers do well with them. Everyone else blows them up. Check your dipstick every fill-up. Oil loss is nonlinear in those; it goes faster the longer it's been in. Shearing action of the high-RPM turbo bearings. 22mpg on a good day. Strictly premium gasoline.

    Not sure about Canada, but there's no such thing in the USA. The Legacy wagon was discontinued after the 2005 model year.
     
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  5. Lightning Racer

    Lightning Racer Active Member

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    I'm more worried that the used turbo Subies are in the verge of blowing up from aggressive lives than doing any bad to them myself. A good pre-purchase inspection is probably essential.

    The Legacy wagon went through 2007 in the US. In my opinion the 2005 to 2007 Legacy wagons are the nicest looking wagons ever (skipping 2005 due to engine changes). The body cladding (often tacky two tone) added to the Outback wagon of the same years makes those much less attractive to me, plus I like the normal or low ride height rather than lifted (I drive in snow and ice but never off road). I know they exist in the US because that was what I was shopping for before I ended up with the Prius. Autotrader has 18 turbo and non-turbo Legacy wagons listed in the US at the moment, for example (link says unavailable but works):

    Autotrader - page unavailable

    Problem with the old Subies is that I can't buy sight unseen, and can't really travel all over the country to find a good one, so I'd have to be lucky something pops up locally (not likely in Alaska, maybe when I visit my folks in California)
     
  6. ThebigK

    ThebigK New Member

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    Sorry about your crash, luckily you're okay! That is pretty affordable per/mile cost. I am of similar thinking as yourself...looking for 2015's at higher mileage.
     
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  7. Lightning Racer

    Lightning Racer Active Member

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    I'll probably wait until summer. Should be more 2015s to choose from on the used market by then.

    I drove by and looked at the 2011 that I mentioned, and a quick glance was enough to eliminate it. The moonroof rubber edging was all shredded. I guess the solar roof option is only good if you live in CA or have a garage, because the freeze thaw cycles really did a number on it. My moonroof was good until the last month when I had it parked outside in New England. It just started to show a little separation of rubber from the glass, but with nothing torn yet. I was going to fix it myself with contact cement, but no need now.
     
  8. Montgomery

    Montgomery Senior Member

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    Moving forward, wishing you the best!
     
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  9. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    So it did... I've gone back to consult the old bible, and you're right. Makes sense though, that's the same time they discontinued the Outback Sedan. It was the 5MT-turbo-Legacy-wagon four way combo that vanished after 2005.

    I do readily agree that the BL/BP body style is their best effort to date. I've got a 2006 Outback (turbo) and though it's gotten particularly cranky lately I don't think I'm ready to retire it. I bought 8 years ago it with 100k on the clock and nearly doubled it before the first significant problem.

    I've told other turbo Subaru shoppers: the proof is in the paperwork. If the seller can't cough up a detailed maintenance history, then the car is mystery meat and should be priced as such. Far too many of them chew up a turbo, get a new turbo strapped on blind, and then blow up all over again on the way home from the used car lot because nobody ever flushed the old turbo chunks out of the crankcase oil. You're absolutely right, can't do it sight unseen. I'm in the lower 48 now, but I used to live up there and I know how that changes things.
     
  10. 2k1Toaster

    2k1Toaster Brand New Prius Batteries

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    Driven that area lots before, those big racked rats can be annoying. Glad you're alright. The Prius actually looks really good for hitting such a big creature at speeds.
     
  11. Lightning Racer

    Lightning Racer Active Member

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    I'll add the 2005 XTs to my watch list then. I know the XTs seem to avoid the head gasket problems the NA ones have had. My '96 Legacy that I've had at since 2000 has the "good" EJ22, but its become a beater, in appearance anyway.

    Thanks, and yes, it didn't really sustain that much damage, and would have been repaired if the car was just a bit newer. I would trust the safety of the repair if this shows up as a salvaged vehicle, though I wouldn't buy it back at this point. I'm taking this as a chance to upgrade or try something else entirely.

    There was a line of caribou across the entire road width when they appeared in my headlights. I might have hit more than one. It was surreal to see one flip into the air, lit up by my headlights, and go right over the top of the car. Poor thing.

    This 2012 Prius that I just scanned on craigslist is very tempting. 75K miles fewer, and only a small amount over my insurance settlement to buy, especially if they are willing to negotiate. I'll probably have to go take a look. Not the 2015, but already in Alaska, and very clean looking in the photos. I checked the Toyota Owners site, and it was dealer serviced for oil change about every 6K miles until 85K (can't beat that!) then presumably still oil changed at other places at similar intervals the past couple years too. It's a one owner car and people don't change personality to suddenly be neglectful of car care. There's a pretty good chance it doesn't burn substantial amounts of oil yet, and I'd get in there and clean out the EGR system, do the OCC.

    Going from Trim level IV to Two, I think I would miss the 3 door SKS, back up camera, heated seats, and Homelink most.

    2012 Toyota Prius - cars & trucks - by owner - vehicle automotive sale
     
    #11 Lightning Racer, Feb 8, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
  12. kenmce

    kenmce High Voltage Member

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    So you've lost your car and didn't even get to keep the caribou?? The car gods must be unhappy with you...
     
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