2nd gen Prius a safe reliable buy?

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by blargity, Jan 21, 2019.

  1. blargity

    blargity New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2019
    28
    10
    0
    Location:
    TX
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Model:
    Four Touring
    I'm looking at a 2007 Prius Touring with 145k miles for $3600. Owner assures me battery is in excellent condition and is up to date on regular maintenance. Obviously I'm gonna have a Toyota dealer do a prebuy inspection; my concern is more with TCO and maintenance/QC surprises over the next 5 years or so. I expect to drive around 12k miles a year. I live in north Texas now; might be moving to LA later this year - so mostly warm climate with variable humidity.

    Reviews like this one from Edmunds are a bit concerning:

    "I got a 2007 Prius about 1 1/2 years ago. I had always wanted one and I already had a 2000 Honda Insight. I had to fix the melted hatchback opener since Toyota acts like the problem does not exist. I also had a bad experience one morning early in pitch dark when both of my headlights went out simultaneously. I was scared to death. I never drive in the dark any more. Toyota also acts like this headlight problem does not exist. Toyota will never do any work on my car unless they are the last straw. I have lost faith in Toyota. I always thought they were a good car company. Now I know better."

    I have a mechanic I like but the idea that Toyota doesn't support their cars kills half the value imho. Is stuff like the above a random fluke or a real issue?

    How should I expect the 5yr TCO to compare to a similar model year Civic?

    I'm also seeing a 2010 Prius I hatch for 6200 with 150k miles... is it worth the extra $2600? Don't care about creature features, just want a solid reliable vehicle with low maintenance and no surprises.
     
  2. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2004
    38,804
    10,104
    40
    Location:
    Canada
    Vehicle:
    2018 Prius Prime
    Model:
    Technology
    All else being equal, the Gen 2 is really reliable as it was built at a time when Toyota had to prove naysayers that hybrids were just a reliable as any Toyota.

    Note that the Touring model does come with HID headlights which have been a thorn in an otherwise reliable car. The base halogen is better for reliability.

    The 2010s have an oil burning issue (or at least a higher number of owners here have noticed it).
     
    srellim234 likes this.
  3. blargity

    blargity New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2019
    28
    10
    0
    Location:
    TX
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Model:
    Four Touring
    I see they've had several recalls as well; can I trust a Toyota dealership to be forthcoming if there's any recall that hasn't been serviced yet?

    How bad is the oil burning issue? Expensive fix? Toyota pretends there's no problem?

    I assume I can just swap out the HIDs for an LED kit?
     
  4. srellim234

    srellim234 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2015
    882
    963
    0
    Location:
    Alta Loma, California
    Vehicle:
    2008 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    While some problems exist, I'll point out a few things.

    1. Toyota sold 181,000 Prii in 2007. You're looking at one review of one car by one customer. Yes, HID headlight versions can be problematic but even though I paid a mechanic to replace one of mine a year ago (water got into it; it never showed any signs of the haphazard shutoff problem) my 2008 Prius is still clipping along at a rate of costing me less than 47 cents a mile. That includes every penny including purchase price, registration, insurance, repairs, fuel, tires, Prolong battery conditioning system, etc., etc. That figure has gone down every year as the purchase price gets spread out over more years. I bought mine three years ago so a lot of the price per mile is still the purchase price. Take that out and it's under 30 cents per mile.

    2. It wasn't too long ago I saw something from ISeeCars.com indicating that among cars still being driven by their original owners after 15 years, the Prius was #2 (behind the Toyota Highlander) with 16.2% still with the first purchaser. Actually, Toyotas dominated the top 15 on the list. Older Prii are obviously still reliable enough and still cheap enough to operate that people hang on to them.

    3. One thing I've found is that although people complain about Toyota's interactions and lack of customer support on some issues, there is a great community here and a wonderful network of people who are more than willing to help with tips, physical help repairing things, warnings and the like. They more than make up for direct contact through the manufacturer.
     
    #4 srellim234, Jan 21, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2019
    VFerdman, SFO, Skibob and 1 other person like this.
  5. blargity

    blargity New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2019
    28
    10
    0
    Location:
    TX
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Model:
    Four Touring
    I've seen a fair number of similar reviews; just picked that one as indicative. Of course, the plural of anecdote isn't data. Just wondering if people saw the mentioned issues as significant or just a blip.

    Fair enough on the rest of your points - if it was a perfect car it'd be costing me a hair more than 4k I imagine. :)

    Last major question is just whether it's worth an extra $2600 or so to upgrade to a gen3 with similar mileage. Given that cars are purely utilitarian to me, it sounds like not? A significantly more reliable battery/better engineering/lower maintenance would be worth money up front to me, but a push button to toggle EV/efficiency/performance is not. It's just gonna sit in efficiency mode all the time anyway.
     
    srellim234 likes this.
  6. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    77,132
    32,446
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    welcome!

    there is no such thing as a reliable $3,600. car
     
  7. blargity

    blargity New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2019
    28
    10
    0
    Location:
    TX
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Model:
    Four Touring
    Really? I've been driving a 95 Civic for the last 4 years. Got it for $1800 and been averaging under $400/yr on fixits. Only upgrading because my wife can't drive stick and wanted a bit more space for our dogs.

    I don't think inexpensive = junk.
     
  8. TomB985

    TomB985 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2014
    137
    62
    0
    Location:
    Isanti, MN
    Vehicle:
    2006 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    That's just not true. There are plenty of cars that are reliable at that price point as long as they're taken care of.

    My wife and I purchased an '07 Kia Optima with 105K for $3,500 miles three years ago. I sold it last year with 178K and had nary a problem with it during that time. Tires and brakes for over 70,000 miles of otherwise trouble-free operation. Nobody can say with a straight face that it wasn't a reliable car.

    I paid $3,800 for my Prius in immaculate shape back in November, and it's easily the best-driving 170K car I've ever been in. A review of the maintenance records shows that it's had one mechanical failure in its entire life...a water pump at 120K. I have no reason to expect it not to be reliable...I'm a picky mechanically-minded guy, and I can't find anything to fix on it.

    My 2017 Pacifica has been in the shop more than both my Kia and Prius have combined over a 3-year period. And I paid $25K for it.
     
  9. eljefino

    eljefino New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2018
    10
    5
    0
    Location:
    Maine
    Vehicle:
    2005 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    It can be, if you know cars. But I'd hesitate to recommend something as complex as a Prius, with the warts of a 12-year old car, to an internet stranger who appears to want to gas n' go. That's as much as I'd hesitate to recommend a conventional car past its warranty period-- too much "nurture" vs "nature" at this point.

    Read this site, know what to look for, empower yourself. There will more than likely be a shake-down period as you get to know it and its quirks. It'll be similar to but different from a conventional car of similar vintage and price.

    Getting techstream from ebay ($15 now) will let you run a health check on the HV battery and some other stuff. If you stay within the Toyota/Lexus/Scion universe it'll be useful for that stuff too.

    IDK how objective a dealer would be doing a used-car inspection. Would they overshoot the car's problems so you'd buy one of theirs instead? Would they point out a couple little things hoping you buy the car that would then become a money pit to their benefit? I haven't been in the situation of having to rely on a 3rd party evaluation.

    The cars themselves are nice-- you'd like that the AC runs as fast at idle as it does on the highway.
     
    SFO and Leadfoot J. McCoalroller like this.
  10. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    77,132
    32,446
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    a guy just took my daughters 08 prius she is trying to sell to a dealer for an inspection. they came up with $1300. worth of work, none of which needed to be done
     
  11. srellim234

    srellim234 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2015
    882
    963
    0
    Location:
    Alta Loma, California
    Vehicle:
    2008 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    I think in terms of sheer number of cars affected by the headlight issue it's most likely a blip but if you happen to be one of those unlucky souls who gets one of those cars it's quite significant. As for paying that much extra for a Gen 3 with similar mileage, I'm kind of torn. Given the reliability of the 2007, 2008 & 2009 I definitely wouldn't go Gen 3 if the Gen 3 is a 2010. I'm always leery about the first year or two of a new model or new generation as they tend to have problems and the upgrade kinks need to be worked out. The 2010 is no different from what I've read. If the Gen 3 you're looking at is 2012 or later I would probably get the newer car. It's 5 years younger wear-and-tear wise and has a battery system that's still under warranty.
     
  12. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2016
    7,500
    9,914
    0
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    Vehicle:
    2019 Prius Prime
    Model:
    Prime Plus
    Did she forget to fill the blinker fluid :p.

    Didn’t realize the price for that had gone up so much :cool:.

    How could she possibly drive it with that much expense being required (y).
     
    SFO and bisco like this.
  13. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

    Joined:
    May 22, 2009
    8,235
    4,638
    0
    Location:
    Undisclosed Location
    Vehicle:
    Other Non-Hybrid
    Model:
    N/A
    Hmm....

    I have to say, as a generalization, it's probably fair to say there is no such thing as a reliable $3,600 car. Even though I myself have owned vehicles I paid far less for, that turned out to be very reliable.
    One of the most reliable vehicles I ever owned was a $600 Toyota Corolla I bought, that was far, far past it's prime.

    But in general? All vehicles are machines, and age, condition, and upkeep catch up with all of them. And the truth is once you are looking at vehicles a decade or so old, and for under $5000, there is no way to guarantee reliability.

    Prius...have a very good reputation and I think reality, in regards to reliability.
    In this case? You could buy the 2007 or the 2010, and possibly get many more years of operation and reliability, but obviously it simply can't be guaranteed.
    So maybe more precisely I'd say, at $3,500, at a decade or more, and with 150,000 miles, there is no way to guarantee reliability.

    With either choice that would be my biggest concern. And even with sincerity, once a HV battery reaches 10 years old, I don't know how anyone assures the future reliability of the battery. IMO...10 years on the Hybrid Battery, it could be excellent today, and need replacing tomorrow. Or you could get several more years of operation,- really impossible to predict.
     
  14. JC91006

    JC91006 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2013
    13,472
    6,036
    0
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Vehicle:
    2005 Prius
    Model:
    II
    I soon will be selling all my reliable gen 2 for $3000 each. But I can't guarantee them to be reliable once they leave my hands
     
    scona, VFerdman, SFO and 4 others like this.
  15. blargity

    blargity New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2019
    28
    10
    0
    Location:
    TX
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Model:
    Four Touring
    From what I've read around 85% of 2nd gen HV batteries make it to 250k miles, and there are refurbs for $500 and new for around $2500 available... have to check around locally but I'm in DFW; things are usually pretty available here.

    JC91006 sounds like a good deal; would be happy to take one off your hands if I wouldn't have to drive it 1000+ miles home ;)
     
  16. blargity

    blargity New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2019
    28
    10
    0
    Location:
    TX
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Model:
    Four Touring
    Update - I can also get a 2014 Kia Rio 5dr hatchback for $4000 with 68k miles, 1 owner and up to date maintenance. Gets 30mpg instead of 50, but having roughly have the mileage and 7 years of general engineering advances is pretty tempting. My wife also has a 2013 Rio sedan and we've had very good luck with it... had to do a couple minor to moderate structural fixes (CV joints I think?) but no biggie. It's generally been very reliable.

    Which way would you guys go? The small cost difference is no biggie; I'm just concerned with a cheap reliable gas-n-go car after maybe 1 round of fixes after purchase.
     
  17. Skibob

    Skibob Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2018
    1,530
    728
    0
    Location:
    Northern California
    Vehicle:
    2006 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    2 things stand out to me. First is the battery, if it’s the original no one here is going to guarantee it’s going to last 5 more years. It might but it might not. You mentioned dogs, what kind? The Prius traction battery is cooled by air in the cabin from a vent next to the passengers rear seat. Dogs that shed can cause reduced airflow and kill the battery.
     
    SFO likes this.
  18. blargity

    blargity New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2019
    28
    10
    0
    Location:
    TX
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Model:
    Four Touring
    Ack, didn't think about shedding issues. Will the Prius generally have issues in hot climates like Dallas or LA? I've been known to roadtrip through Joshua Tree and some other very hot areas as well...

    We've got an 80lb lab that sheds like crazy twice a year and we're about to get another one. I do keep my cars pretty clean but the fur can definitely build up crazy fast even in a single road trip.

    500-2500 for a battery somewhere down the line is definitely not ideal but ~50% mpg improvement over say a Rio would pay for that.

    Rio at 10k miles/yr, 30mpg, gas at $3/gallon: $1000/yr
    Prius at 10k miles/yr, 50mpg, gas at $3/gallon: $600/yr

    $400/yr savings means I could buy a refurb battery every 2 years and be money ahead, or a new battery every 6 years or so.

    On the flip side, I do not know how much extra stuff the Prius might need over a Rio just being 7 years older. Again, wife's 2013 Rio has been very reliable.

    Thoughts?
     
  19. Skibob

    Skibob Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2018
    1,530
    728
    0
    Location:
    Northern California
    Vehicle:
    2006 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    2 large shedding labs? I would say no myself but others have more experience in these matters. I defer to them.

    Also a 500 dollar battery is a waste of money. My motto is “new or nothin”
     
    frodoz737 likes this.
  20. srellim234

    srellim234 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2015
    882
    963
    0
    Location:
    Alta Loma, California
    Vehicle:
    2008 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    The shedding issue is easily overcome. For a couple of dollars you can buy a package at Home Depot of a light foam home air conditioner filter. It's very easy to cut many small sections out of them that fit nicely behind the fan intake cover in the back seat. I change mine every oil change and am still working on the original $2 package I bought a couple of years ago. For your dogs I would change that filter more often than I do for my pugs.

    Heat is tough on batteries but if the car is garaged most of the time it's all right. I run through the Mojave Desert or down to the Palm Springs area at least once a week all summer. Mine winds up parked outdoors there while I play a round of golf or visit my son. Granted, the car is not showing the strength of battery numbers I see from people in less extreme heat but the car is still going strong. It is important to keep up with the cosmetic, mechanical and electrical maintenance. Cosmetic and mechanical is standard with any car and I use the Prolong battery maintenance system to keep the battery in as good shape as I can.
     
    Skibob, SFO and blargity like this.
Loading...