Buying decisions - Gen 2 Prius or another car for reliability?

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by Paprius9, Feb 4, 2021.

  1. Paprius9

    Paprius9 New Member

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    Hi. So I test drove a 2008 Prius last week and am hooked on getting one. I’m going to look this weekend at a couple Prius’s. Both 2009. One has 72k miles, good maintenance but has had four owners. The other has 98k miles, one owner, and a good maintenance record up to 2 years ago. Then no oil changes (of course maybe it just didn’t show up on carfax). The cars are $7500 and $8000. I’m getting this car for my teen daughter who will start to drive this year, but also as a back up vehicle for our two high mileage cars, and something my whole family can drive to save gas money. I settled on a gen 2 (2009 because of stability control) because of the lower insurance cost and we would have to get a 2012 or newer to avoid other reliability issues. We want the car to be reliable for a 3 - 5 years. Does it make sense to get an 11 year old lower mileage Prius, or should we be looking for a car like an Accord, or Corolla, Fit, or similar? Thanks!
     
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    the latter imo, unless you're a very good diy'er. do you even know a hybrid mechanic?

    what will you do if the brake actuator goes south? a/c compressor? hybrid battery?
     
  3. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The OTHER One Percenter.....

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    +1.
    Some people cannot afford to drive cheap cars, and are better off just making car payments until they're deep enough to buy cars for cash.
    Of course....making car payments for your entire life is contrary to good financial stewardship, but that's one of those delicious little ironies that make life so much fun. :D

    The G2's are VERY reliable, but decent examples are getting harder and harder to find since they're now all pre-teens....and you KNOW how wonky things can get after that.

    If you're something of a tinkerer, have a place to work on your car, have a spare car, and you can stroke a check for the car AND another check with a comma in it for any repairs, and if you don't have a transportation-sensitive job - then I'd recommend that you indulge your Prius Passion!!!

    OTOH.....
    Most Accords, Civics, Corollas, etc do not have regenerative brakes, inverters, traction batteries, or stator windings to sweat over IN ADDITION to all of the other stuff that you have to attend to in a car that's about 60-70 percent through it's life cycle.

    Me?
    I'd buy one in a heartbeat if I needed a car and I could find a clean example with a quasi-verifiable service history.
    I'd even pay over street value for one.
    HOWEVER.......(comma!) if your part of Pennsylvania is anything like my part of the Deep South, there are about 12,467 (est) used car emporiums within an easy drive of your location that are ALSO looking for a clean example with a quasi-verifiable service history.

    All of this btw...will also be true of the all of the other 11-year-old econoboxes out there.
    It's just MORE true with Priuses and some other niche cars.

    Your call.
    Don't be a stranger.
    Let us know what you wind up with.

    Good Luck!
     
  4. mr_guy_mann

    mr_guy_mann Senior Member

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    +1 to bisco

    The Gen2 Prius is a neat but complex little car. Overall it has demonstrated good reliability - for the first 10 years. Either of the cars you are looking ar MIGHT be fine for several more years, or not. The Prius has more on it that COULD cause a problem, compared to a normal car.

    It's difficult to say because here on this forum we see a high percentage of Prius owners who join because they have some type of problem. So we don't know how many older Prii have problems overall, but we do know many of the things that CAN go wrong that are "unique" to this model. Many of those things are pricey or require decent DIY skills to repair.

    So if your primary consideration is reliability, then I would look at a Corolla, Civic, Yaris or Fit.

    Posted via the PriusChat mobile app.
     
  5. mpg_numbers_guy

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    Too much for a G2 unless the hybrid battery has been replaced with a new one.

    Two main issues that came up from owning a G2 - the fuel tank is a bladder so it shrinks in the winter and becomes essentially a 6 gallon tank, and you never want to run the car below 3/8 bars or you may just run out of fuel.

    Secondly, the 2nd gen Prius handles horribly on super icy roads, even with quality Michelin X-Ice winter tires. You can pick up a 2012-2014 with only slightly higher miles for that price.

    I wouldn't pay more than $6k for any G2, regardless of mileage, unless it was some pristine condition one owner vehicle with all maintenance records, <100k miles and a new hybrid battery.
     
  6. Paprius9

    Paprius9 New Member

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    Thanks everyone for your thoughts. A lot to consider. 7500 - 8000 is a lot for a gen 2, I agree. Especially since I just found a 2012 and 2014 for 9500 and 10000 respectively. Both with under 100k miles. It’s not that much more really. The Accord I was thinking of in my mind was a 2010 with 139k miles and a great service history for $6800. Bottom line is I want a reliable car for five years if possible. Of course I’m not against maintenance. Well, sooner or later I think I’ll join everyone here so I’ll let you know when I get!
     
  7. oldtechaa

    oldtechaa Active Member

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    A family member just bought on Wednesday a 2009 with 99k with two owners who had it dealer-maintained all its life for $5500. The only two issues: bad 12V battery ($240 or less fix) and an apparently bad connection for the hatch release switch. If you look carefully and $1000 is a big deal to you you might be able to find an even better deal.
     
  8. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

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    Actually after driving 350,000 miles combined in two Prii, one a gen2 and the current a gen3 (see sig) I always say no to this very common question. Between the two, the gen2 was more reliable. A 2010-2015 is a double no for reliability. 2016-2020, sure, but you are close to the price of a new one because the new Prius has low interest rates available and they are not that popular in the current SUV world.

    Prii are great for reliability and mpg when you are first owner. Particularly good for a high mile driver who changes the oil every 5k instead of the recommended 10k. Otherwise buy the best used Civic, Corolla, Camry or Accord you can afford. They are a budget car that are unlikely to give you a $2500 used Prius repair every two years.
     
    #8 rjparker, Feb 5, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2021
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  9. chronon

    chronon Active Member

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    On my 2005:
    Yes .. the hybrid (if you're in the south) -- the traction battery will likely 'go south' between 130k and 140k .. depending .. but prob. is ave. and it is no fun task extracting the bad and acquiring the replacement ..

    a/c hasnt failed yet (for me) ... ? ..

    brake actuator .. (i have been delivering food with the car for last ~10 months with it ... - heavy brake use) --
    about 165k on the clock --- this is a real b*&*^ of a DIY .. more $ for labor - (min 5 hours mechanic at min $70/hr) .. (not exactly cheap part used but < a hybrid bat) between about $175 and $350 used part (junkyard pull) ...
    less likely but possible is the invertor .... these are 'the big 3' that go bad
     
  10. Aaron Vitolins

    Aaron Vitolins Senior Member

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    I would personally try to buy a cheaper gen2 for around $5k and put away $2k for when it needs a battery one day.

    That being said I have a 2004 Prius with a battery out of a 2007 Prius. The battery came out of a family members Prius when it was wrecked with 250k The battery still works very well still netting 50 mpg.


    Definitely avoid a early gen3 or all gen3 if you can. Headgaskets, oil consumption, inverter, and possibly abs issues like the gen2. We’ve personally experienced these with gen3’s in the family.

    Or maybe consider a Corolla, Camry, fit.


    Best of luck!
     
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  11. Moving Right Along

    Moving Right Along Active Member

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    I bought my 2009 Prius just over 4 years ago with a verified repair history at 105,000 miles, and it’s performed well since. I think it’s a good idea to set aside $1000 a year for car repairs no matter what you buy, and I have had to pay for a few costly ($500+) repairs. But a Prius is certainly equally or better reliable that the Corollas or Accords that others in this thread are recommending. Overall, my cost all in (including insurance, gasoline, repairs, and the cost of the car) has been 42 cents per mile, and of course that will keep dropping the longer I own the car.
     
    #11 Moving Right Along, Feb 6, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2021
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  12. Aegean

    Aegean Active Member

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    I have owned 2 Gen 2 Prius. I still have the one I bought new in 2006. The Prius has been a very reliable car especially the first 10-12 years. However, a 15 year old car with excellent reliability now is worse than a 4 years old car with just good reliability. That’s why I replaced my green 2006 Prius with a 2016 Mazda 3. Of course I paid $8200 which is double the price of a gen 2 Prius but in the next few years I would have paid the difference easily in typical Gen 2 repairs like hybrid battery, brake actuator, combination meter, water valves and pumps, etc. I still keep my red 2006 Prius as secondary vehicle but only because I do the repairs myself DYI on my own pace. I would not recommend a 15 year old complicated gen 2 Prius for primary vehicle.
     
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  13. chronon

    chronon Active Member

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    I second that -- it is a complexity level -- if u dont have techstream .. u cant even see some of the codes unless u want to fool with the blinkity light operation ..
    There is 10 pounds of dooo doo shoved into a 5 gallon bucket under the hood .. its a nightmare to workaround in ..
    Caviat: if you have a newer 'primary ' vehicle or other backup vehicle and have the time to foool around with repairs and research and acquiring reasonable boneyard parts .. then ok .. but dont give this car to a new driver .. dont give it to a very old person and dont give it to someone that depends on the transport for a very important job they have to get to -- past 10 yearsand 100k miles and reliability has just dwindled to the point that the above people cant count on it ..
     
  14. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    Buying a complex hybrid car that’s 13 years old for your daughter will be a disaster.

    What’s your plan when the very expensive hybrid battery dies and she’s without a car till you figure it out? Yes you because you got Her a g2 Prius and in hybrid years is ancient.

    All the g2 battery’s are dying it’s just age and not driving much. Car won’t start without a healthy hybrid battery, and that’s just the beginning.

    Start reading all the posts,
     
  15. pasadena_commut

    pasadena_commut Active Member

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    This is what you want your daughter's first car to be: Civic, Corolla, or Mazda 3. Maybe consider the Hyundai Elantra, their reliability has been better in recent years, but do not go too far back because the early ones were super unreliable.

    An old Prius is not a good starter car. There are too many items which cost a fortune to replace if they break or are stolen. Worse, the car is not particularly informative when things go wrong. How is your daughter going to deal with a big red triangle and no other information? The car doesn't even have a temperature gauge, for Pete's sake. A common failure mode, if it has not been fixed by a previous owner, results in the whole dash going out and the car will not turn off normally. That failure mode is awful for an experienced driver, it is not something a beginner should ever face.

    If you are still hellbent on getting her a Prius anyway, be aware:

    1. There is a rash of catalytic converter thefts for this particular model. If the car does not have a cat shield of some type, and preferably also an alarm system, expect the cat to be stolen. If you live in CA (or I suppose other CARB states) the repair with labor is in the vicinity of $3K, and the car may be sidelined for weeks while waiting for the back ordered part. Other states you can put on a cheaper catalytic converter - but you won't be able to sell (or register) the car in CA like that.

    2. If it is on the original high voltage battery it is living on borrowed time. We have a 2007 and the battery is clearly on the way out. If you can replace it yourself the part is $2000 for one from Toyota. There are refurbs if you like to gamble. Does it make sense to spend $2000 on a 13 year old car? Only if you expect to be able to drive it for a long time afterwards.

    3. Given the age of these cars the A/C may be on the way out. We bought ours from a Toyota dealer with a super duper 90 day warranty, which was a very good move (for us) since the A/C went out almost immediately and it took numerous trips back to get it fixed. I do not recall off hand the mileage but it was in the vicinity of 120K, so not a high mileage car for its age. The ultimate problem was a leak at the evaporator, an extremely difficult to replace part located in the middle of the dash. It cost us nothing but time and inconvenience because of the warranty. Otherwise, it would have been many thousands of dollars in parts and labor.

    4. How far will she be driving on an average trip? If it is < 4 miles to school one way don't expect the car to get 47 MPG. That only happens once it is fully warmed up, which will take most of that distance. (Note, for that sort of short trip driving a full electric or a plug in hybrid like a Volt is a better choice. The plug in hybrids are even more complicated than a regular hybrid but can get very high MPG on those short trips. For what it is worth, the conventional cars listed at the top will also return crappy mileage in that sort of driving.)
     
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  16. Rph74

    Rph74 Active Member

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    I guess I’ve been lucky. Bought my 2006 Prius with 92k back in 2013. Now it has 239,000 miles. It’s been the car with the lowest cost of ownership I’ve ever had. Just made a 1000 mile trip with it last month. Best car I’ve ever owned. I’ve owned 32 cars in my life and the Gen 2 is my GOAT.

    That being said, I’m aware that a lot can go wrong, and eventually will. Like others have said, with ANY car you buy, you need to have a repair fund in place because all cars break at some point.
     
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