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Buying advice needed for 2015 Prius v with bad engine.

Discussion in 'Prius v Main Forum' started by Tommgb, Jun 23, 2024.

  1. Tommgb

    Tommgb Junior Member

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    Hello,
    I am looking for advice on possibly buying a 2015 Prius v, grade 4 with a bad head gasket and damaged passenger side front fender. I have heard that the best Prius v's are from 2015 to 2017. The VIN is JTDZN3EU6FJ030287.
    The mileage is 127,000 miles, there is coolant in the oil and there is passenger side front fender damage which affects the bumper. The damage is relatively minor and the car can probably be driven as it is, but I would fix that as well. The father is selling his daughter's car. He said he made sure she did the oil changes every 3000 miles and that there were no other problems or damage. He also mentioned that they are not the original owners. He's asking $3500 for the car, as is.
    One big problem is that I am about 100 miles from the car. If I buy it, I am thinking about having the car towed by AAA to a local hybrid repair shop for an engine replacement. That's about as far as I've got.
    As far as engines go, am I better off replacing the engine head gasket or replacing the engine with a used one from 2015 to 2017? Doing a little research, I can get a used Prius v engine from the Japan market for about $1200.00. I suspect a hybrid repair shop would want to get a used engine they would order (and markup) that they would guarantee. Now that I think about it, maybe a new engine. I've never owned a Prius before so I'm learning as I go. All of my cars are from the last century, so I wanted to get something newer with much better gas mileage that I can take on the road.
    Suggestions, advice and real world cost information would be appreciated. Thank you all very much, Thomas
     
  2. rjparker

    rjparker Tu Humilde Sirviente

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    Used JDM engines are not always good or even used in Japan. There is no way to know the year so you could get a 2010.

    A head gasket is too little too late with water in the oil.

    Go to Hybrid Pitstop in Buena Park and talk to them about a rebuilt engine installation.

    While you are there (don’t just call) ask their opinion about the damage and show them detailed pictures. That is a big wild card.

    Unknowns:
    Hybrid battery
    Brake Booster
     
  3. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    That’s somewhat unusual head gasket symptoms, considering both the miles and whats where. More typical is coolant leaking into cylinder(s), usually starting with cylinder one, sometime between 150k~200k miles.
    Any more details, say the miles at which they acquired it, it’s history?
     
  4. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    I'd be amazed if this project cost less than $8k in the first year, $3500 to buy + 4500 in "oh, by the way..."

    A 2015 hybrid battery should still have some life left in it, but if you haven't had a hybrid before you need to learn that these batteries start degrading the moment they are built, and the eventually go completely useless.

    They do not care how much you use them in between. 1 mile or a million, go for it. But once the clock runs out, you need to go buy another one, and they aren't cheap. They aren't on a super-precise schedule, but as used in the Prius v model they seem to last at least 10-12 years.

    2015 + 10 (or 12) = ????.. That's when you need to be ready for that major expense.

    This all screams "money pit, run away" to me, but I'd be thrilled to be wrong, you know?
     
    #4 Leadfoot J. McCoalroller, Jun 23, 2024
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2024
  5. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    Toyota’s a little less gloomy, rightly or wrongly.

    our 2010 was built in august 2009, sat in a dealership display shed, with about 10 kms on the odo, till we bought in November 2010.

    First few years it got maybe 12k kms yearly, with my wife and I getting out more, and she using it for work.

    We’re both retired now, and with COVID and fixed income, we’re lucky to put 3k kms on it yearly. The car sees use once or twice weekly on average, but they tend to be extended drives, and we’re diligent to incorporate errands (grocery shopping for example) with the driving days.

    I’ve seen no change in the hybrid battery’s behaviour so far. I suppose something is happening gradually, more’n likely, but so far so good.

    Toyota’s recommendation is something like “do a good drive at least every 3 months”.

    just one car, maybe charmed, who knows.

    Addendum: Toyota's recommendation, from page 30 of the 2010 Prius, North American Owner's Manual:

    upload_2024-6-23_9-30-0.png

    I guess it could be argued that Toyota's not addressing the "no matter what you do the battery's ticking downward". All I know, I've notice no changes on ours; low usage, for more than hafl it's lifespan, hasn't seemed to change the battery performance.
     
    #5 Mendel Leisk, Jun 23, 2024
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2024
  6. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    Sure, and there are still a few 20+ year old 1st generation cars running on their own original batteries. Fair to expect a similar sample size of the other models surviving that long. Lottery tickets are cheaper.

    The v fleet hasn't been around long enough to see their batteries fully age out, so we don't know the whole picture yet- similar to Prius c introduced in 2012.

    The two points I'm making:

    1. The battery is a life-limited item, and there just isn't any way around that. Eventually somebody is going to buy another one, or lose the use of the car because of it.
    2. When you find a Prius with end-stage blown headgasket/ruined engine plus unrepaired body damage, it's pretty fair to assume that there's already some other drama going on in there, be suspicious.
    I sure would not buy that car as my first hybrid. Maybe not as my third or fourth either.
     
    #6 Leadfoot J. McCoalroller, Jun 23, 2024
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2024
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  7. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    Yeah I would thumbs down on OP’s purchase as well, some things not adding up. Especially at 127k.
     
  8. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    o/p, what would a similar vehicle in good working order cost?
    can you do any major diy?
    do you know a good hybrid shop and how much things cost to repair?
    saving money on gas is great, but that's rarely the case with a hybrid.
     
  9. Tommgb

    Tommgb Junior Member

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    Hi Everyone,
    I read rjparker's post yesterday and replied to that, but I missed the part where it said "NOT to reply to this post, but to go to Priuschat and reply". That's embarrassing, so sorry about that. Anyway, I went back and reread the seller's post which I'm putting here:
    "Selling this 2015 Prius V Gen 5 wagon. Our daughter had a double shot of bad luck. First, she had a fender bender which damaged the front right quarter panel, and then while waiting to get the damage repaired the engine blew its head gasket. This obviously is a project car for someone. I priced out rebuilding and replacing the engine but I just don’t have time to deal with all of it. Message me and I can give you the details. The interior is in very good condition. The car runs and is drivable but I don’t recommend driving it very far. It could also use a nice wax job. Additionally, we discovered through CarFax that there is a potential rollback of the odometer which was not disclosed to my daughter when she bought it a few years ago. We are selling as is and will create a bill of sale stating that the car cannot pass smog at this time and is not the actual mileage. If someone has the skills and/or connections to repair it, I think you could end up with a nice car for well below it’s value. Our daughter has the title but we will have it on Monday June 24th."
    Upon rereading this information, the thing that caught my eye was the Carfax odometer rollback issue. At the very top of their listing, they described their Prius v as having 200,000 miles. A picture of the odometer reading shows it as having 125709 miles. I don't know a lot about modern cars, but I would have thought that it was a very difficult procedure, if not almost impossible to roll back the odometer. Shows how much I know. So, apparently the daughter bought the car a few years ago with a lot less than the 200000 miles the seller is guessing this car really has. Mendel Leisk mentioned that bad head gaskets seem to happen in the 150k - 200k mile range. Mendel seems to really know his stuff. And that's why I'm here.
    PriusChat member, rjparker suggested visiting Hybrid Pitstop in Buena Park, which is a bit of a drive, but there's a well-reviewed hybrid repair shop about 3 miles from me called Electric Avenue in Silverlake. I would probably go there.
    The seller seems to be an honorable person and has been upfront about the mileage discrepancy. I am a little leary of buying a car with a mileage discrepancy like the seller has mentioned so I went over to CARFAX and entered the VIN JTDZN3EU6FJ030287. It said, "Bad News! Odometer Fraud has been reported to CARFAX, get the CARFAX." I'm starting to see this as a real Red Flag kind of a deal. It might all work out, but on the other hand.... What do you all think? I'm starting to think the $3500 price would need to be a lot less for me to take a chance on an uninspected as-is car with much higher mileage.
    I know about the battery life and what that entails, but can someone tell me about brake booster problems? Thank you all for your time answering my beginner questions. - Thomas
     
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  10. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    sounds like $1,500. max, and the risk of losing that
     
  11. Tommgb

    Tommgb Junior Member

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    Bisco,
    Thank you for your reply.
    I am a very mechanical person and have done repairs on my cars for many years. It's just that all of my cars are much older. My newest car is a 1991 Nissan Pathfinder. Today's newer cars, especially hybrids are full of new technology so I was willing to use a shop to get the car sorted out with the intention of doing most, if not all the the repair/maintenance work myself.
    In looking at cars in general, it appears that used car prices are falling and repossessions are way up. People are stretched thin financially and are having trouble with the basics like shelter, buying groceries and keeping the lights on. I may be able to get a good deal on a fully running car in great shape for a lower price than I would have paid a year ago. Maybe I should wait and see what the car market is like down the road a bit. - Thomas
     
    #11 Tommgb, Jun 23, 2024
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2024
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  12. rjparker

    rjparker Tu Humilde Sirviente

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    Rollbacks are easy and there is even a vendor advertising here to do it.

    It is a brake by wire car which requires an elaborate “master cylinder/ecu/abs”. They were faulty and had a 10 year 150k special warranty but your car being damaged and a rollback would not qualify. About $2500 at a dealer.

    Hybrid Pit rebuilds their own engines. Another shop would likely buy from them and mark it up.

    The hybrid battery in a v is the same as the 2010 -15 hatchbacks. $2500. High miles (150k) and ten years is what Toyota believes they will last and guarantees that long on a gen3 in Calif. Not on a rollback.

    With the wreck repair and engine now and a hv battery and various old car issues in your future ownership, an extra $8k-$10k should be budgeted.
     
    #12 rjparker, Jun 23, 2024
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2024
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  13. BiomedO1

    BiomedO1 Senior Member

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    That's very generous of you @bisco. I used to flip cars in my younger days and that's definitely a $500 car and I'll drag it off your driveway today!
    1. You've got smog issues, possibly requiring a Ca. certified CAT. $
    2. Right fender damage may have damaged the electronic AC unit. I think it's in that corner with possible frame/alignment damage.
    3. Possible battery pack issue. $$
    4. Since you never driven a Hybrid before, It's like driving an overheating air cooled VW bug only no benefit of a manual transmission.
    5. Everyone will cut you off in LA traffic because they know you can't do anything about it.
    6. IMHO, get a rebuilt engine instead of rolling the dice on a used one - It a little bit more money, but you know what your getting. $$$
    7. The electronic brake booster and traction pack are potential issues. $$$$
    8. It has a BRANDED title. Lost of resale value. $$$$$ - usually when the odometer is rolled back, it no longer functions.

    I can go on, but I think you get the gist - buy a Corolla - they're getting 40 mpg.

    Good Luck.....
     
    #13 BiomedO1, Jun 23, 2024
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2024
  14. Tommgb

    Tommgb Junior Member

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    rjparker, Thank you for the reply. This mileage rollback thing could be a much bigger deal than I thought to the point of making a Prius v ineligible for brake booster or battery warranty work. The good news is that I now know that it's easy to go to CARFAX and check the mileage on a possible Prius v purchase.

    Also, thank you for the information about Hybrid Pit rebuilding their own engines. That's good to know.
     
  15. Tommgb

    Tommgb Junior Member

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    Thank you Biomed01 for your advice. I'm learning a lot from you all. That's why I came here. As much as I like a good deal, the risk here can be many thousands of dollars. I will keep my eyes open for a running car (a 2015 to 2017 Prius v) in good shape with lower mileage. If I find a car that I like, the one thing I will do is pay for an inspection by people who know these cars inside and out. That would be money well spent.
     
  16. Tommgb

    Tommgb Junior Member

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    Hello All,
    Just a short note to say thanks to you all for your help and buying advice for this 2015 Prius v. I checked the listing the other day and noticed that it has been sold. I'm in no rush, but I think I'll keep my eyes peeled for a ready-to-go Prius v rather than a mechanic special with questionable mileage.
     
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