Advice for first time Prius buyer - which Prius to look for?

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Main Forum' started by KciN, Jul 20, 2019.

  1. KciN

    KciN New Member

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    I have never owned a Prius before but my family is thinking of buying a used Prius. We are looking to spend 10k or under (preferably more like $7500 if I can find what seems to be a reliable car), so I've been casually browsing used 2010-2013 models. (I'm open to other suggestions but those seem to be the more common ones priced under 10k). We aren't in a rush.

    I noticed a few people talking about oil burning issues, I believe I've seen it in 2010 and 2011 year models. My question is this: Are there certain years I should avoid, or years/models that I should target, given my price range?

    I also read a little about age of car versus mileage. For example, if I had to choose between a newer model (ex. 2013) but with more miles (ex. 110,000 miles) versus a older (2011) with less miles, (ex: 65,000 miles), all else being equal, is one better than the other? Is it better to target low miles, or focus more on the year and getting a newer year?

    Overall I'm just looking for some advice on avoiding any potential pitfalls. I'm pretty new to all this. Thanks for any input you can provide!
     
  2. Lovec1990

    Lovec1990 Junior Member

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    Based on my lookings for a Prius:
    Avoid 2010s they are the ones that have the most reports about oil burning issue i would look for facelift version so 2012 or newer.

    About your dilema 2011 or 2013: while 2013 is newer facelifted version it may be bad choice if you do alot of miles or want too keep it for long time.
     
  3. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    welcome!
    start with this:

    will you be doing your own maintenance?

    if not, do you know a good hybrid repair mechanic?
     
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  4. frodoz737

    frodoz737 Top Wrench

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    If you just want a GEN III Prius, get a low mileage 2015. If you are buying based solely on budget, get a late model Corolla or Civic.
     
  5. KciN

    KciN New Member

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    Thanks everyone for your replies and input.

    To answer your questions:

    Maybe it's somewhat anecdotal, but my Uncle drives a 2011 prius and has the oil burning issue. Thanks for your thoughts, so it seems if possible I'll look for 2012 or newer. In that case, in my price range, it seems more likely I'll have to get a little higher mileage car to make up for the fact that it's a newer car. For example, I've seen a 2012 or 2013 Prius for $9900, but it had something like 125000 miles.


    I won't be doing my own maintenance. A couple thoughts: My father-in-law is a car mechanic with his own business. He does all our maintenance currently, however we don't have a hybrid (We have a subaru). I'm not entirely sure that: a) "normal" car mechanics know how to work on Prius/hybrids and: b) even if he could work on it/knows how, I know he hates Priuses. (prius'? prii?) It is what it is, I have heard him talk about them like they are the worst thing in the world. He's an older, old-school, burly, somewhat "macho" man who drives only American muscle cars. I'm not of the mind to try to persuade him of something he's convinced of (namely that Priuses are terrible). So anyway, there is a mechanic who works on hybrids not too far from my house. I've seen his signs/shop. And awhile ago I met someone with a prius who said he takes his prius there and it's a good shop. So I suppose we would take ours there.


    We don't necessarily just want a GEN III Prius. We just want a Prius (any "reliable" prius that we can keep for a long time), doesn't necessarily matter which generation. My budget is the way it is because I'm trying to buy older than a couple years old to take advantage of some of the depreciation that naturally comes with cars. And we have extra money in case the car needs maintenance and/or a new battery. Obviously nobody wants to have to get a new battery. But rather than buy a $20k prius, for example, I'd rather spend $8-10k and take the chance it needs maintenance, even if it costs a few thousand in maintenance down the road.

    So we prefer to stick with a Prius.
     
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  6. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    1) 2010-2013 are all the same. the egr starts clogging when it leaves the lot, and by an average of 100,000 miles some start having issues, unless someone cleans it properly and adds an oil catch can. $1,000.-$1,500. at a dealer, almost free if diy.
    2014 got upgraded rings, and 2015 got upgraded pistons

    2) there is an inverter issue

    3) there is a potential brake actuator issue.

    4) there's always the looming hybrid battery issue

    5) would educate myself on these issues by researching threads here, then go have a talk with the hybrid mechanic and get his thoughts.

    6) all the best!(y)
     
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  7. Grit

    Grit Senior Member

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    Well so far we don’t know what your commute is like. A lady once posted here she bought a Prius and live on hilly areas, she got around upper 20 and lower 30mpgs. You should also read the threads that cover inverter failure, all gen 3s inverters will eventually fail when accelerating hard and be dead on highway on fast lanes. I’d hate to put my family in that situation
     
  8. KciN

    KciN New Member

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    Regarding our commute:

    We both work at the same place and it's only 1.2 miles away. It's fairly flat, no hills around our house or work. We run our kids around town but overall it's fairly flat around here. Some small hills but nothing too major. We are thinking of moving but we'd say in this same area but our commute my change to 2-3 miles from work is all.

    Regarding all the potential issues with Prius (inverter failure, oil problem, battery, brake actuator, etc):

    Part of the reason we started looking at making our next car a Prius is because I thought they are deemed very reliable? Consumer reports always seems to give Prius pretty good ratings I thought? Or maybe compared to other cars a Prius is very reliable, but you guys are just trying to make sure I'm aware of any of the issues that could come up?
     
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  9. bettergolf

    bettergolf Active Member

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    There are thousands of Gen3 "prii" on the road with 100k, 200k and never had any problems. Don't let people scare you into not getting one. Those may be legit problems, but they are by no means happening on a majority of the prii being driven. Some people want a Prius to help the environment, etc...but I wanted one because I moved out into the country where everything is a 30-40 mile round trip so I needed the gas mileage.
    I first bought a 2006 with a rebuilt hybrid battery (people here will advise against that too) and drove it a while and was so impressed with it I went to a 2015 with 24k miles with a rebuilt title (again, people advise against that too). . I expect mine to run till I can't get in and out of it any more, lol.
    With a 1.2 mile trip to work, I'd think about a plugin Prius, or a Chevy Volt. You may not need the gas savings if you're not driving a lot of miles.
     
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  10. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    we don't know the numbers or percentages, we just get the complaints here. the egr is pretty common, but under the radar.
    the inverter is a national story, and toyota just lost in court.

    the brake actuator may have an extended warranty, iirc.

    it doesn't sound like you drive enough to make a prius worthwhile, the engine won't even warm up
     
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  11. NewHybridOwner

    NewHybridOwner Active Member

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    I think the inverter problem was mainly (only?) with the 2013-2014 models; that's why we went for a 2015.

    the brake actuator may have an extended warranty, iirc.

    I thought I just read something here about a "Thermos"-type container in these cars that keeps the coolant hot for three days. No? (I only read it a couple of days ago, and I haven't yet gone looking on ours.)
     
  12. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    there is a thermos, but no, it doesn't work like that.

    i think gen2 was a thermos, 3 is a coolant loop around the exhaust, and 4 is something new?
     
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  13. KciN

    KciN New Member

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    Thanks everyone. I also just realized there is a newbie area in the forum. Somehow I missed that section before, so I apologize that I may have posted this in the wrong area of the site.

    Regarding our commute, I wasn't being very clear. I was interpreting commute as just to and from work, but as far as our total driving we actually drive somewhere in the range of over 1000 miles every month. Our kids are involved in lots of activities, and we have a lot of family around but they all live 29-30 minutes away.
     
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  14. Lovec1990

    Lovec1990 Junior Member

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    Gen 4 has also Exhaust Heat Recovery unit, but unlike Gen 3 it also has active grill shutters
     
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  15. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    keep your eye out for a pip (plug in prius) 2012-2015

    they can sometimes be found for the same price as non plug in.

    you get the best of both worlds, ev driving up to 10 miles and fabulous mpg's beyond.
     
  16. KciN

    KciN New Member

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    Good to know. I actually thought the plug in Prius just came around in the last year or two - I didn't know there were versions as far back as 2012. I mostly check craigslist and haven't noticed any older plug-ins there, but I'll keep my eye out. That's always a possibility, if I were able to find one.
     
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  17. mjoo

    mjoo Senior Member

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    Right, gen 4 is also a coolant loop but with a stronger heat recuperator and a modified cooling circuit.

    Some use a block heater to improve fuel economy and engine wear @Mendel Leisk.

    With lots of short trips your hybrid battery is more prone to becoming unbalanced and lose capacity. I would consider doing hybrid battery reconditioning/rebalancing. Check out Hybrid Automotive's website
     
    #17 mjoo, Jul 22, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2019
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  18. KciN

    KciN New Member

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    Seems like if I stick to my originally intended price range ($7-10k) then a 2012-2014 Prius will be fine - I do appreciate everyone's input on the possible issues they may have. As long as we are aware of what could go wrong, we will be making the most informed decision possible when buying.

    It seems if I am okay spending more money, a newer (2015 or newer) Prius would be "better." Although just like if you bought a new 2010 Prius in 2010, you wouldn't have known about the oil issue until much later (or any potential issues), it could be that a brand new Prius or late model Prius will eventually have an issue that becomes a known issue, but not for another 5-10 years.

    Maybe my wife and I will just stick with our Subaru Forester. A little more background:

    My wife bought the forester brand new in 2011 (it's a 2011 forester) before I met her. In 2013 I sold my car and we become a "one car family" with just the Subaru. Since 2013 we have been just driving the Subaru around. It now has over 106,000 miles. It's a great car. Our only gripe is the gas mileage. Gets about 22 mpg around town, around 25-26 on the interstate. With two kids now we seem to be driving more, and we were just thinking of getting a Prius instead for the gas mileage. So we don't have to change cars, the Subaru is fine. We just wish for a little better gas mileage. Some days we go on 4 random trips around town and put 50 miles on the car, and lately have been filling up the gas tank every 5-7 days. We have actually been thinking about a Prius for a few years now, but since the Subaru is reliable we have never pulled the plug and bought a Prius. So we will see.

    Thanks again everyone.
     
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  19. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    financially, you may not be better off with a prius. do the math. are you driving about 12k/year, at $3./gallon?

    540 gallons x 3 = $1,620.

    240 gallons x 3 = $ 720.

    saving $900./year optimistically?

    of course it all depends on what you buy, and what you get for the subie, and how much money they require down the road. no predicting that.

    is yours one of the ones with the bad head gasket around 140,000 miles history?
     
  20. Grit

    Grit Senior Member

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    In general, cars are reliable on the terms of that the car is not driven abusively, maintainacne services performed at their intervals & tune up as needed.

    With short distance driving, info you provided, Prius will never reach normal operating temperatures which is 190-204F. You’re better off with a regular ICE vehicle or older Nissan Leaf on that budget.
     
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