Buying Prius - Serious considerations

Discussion in 'Newbie Forum' started by nbutani, Apr 30, 2008.

  1. nbutani

    nbutani New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    2
    0
    0
    Location:
    CA
    Vehicle:
    Other Non-Hybrid
    Hello,
    I am a newbie to this forum and need some advise......

    We are in the market for a car and consideration of cars is boiled down between Prius and E-class Benz. I know this is a wrong place to mention E-class. BTW – we are a dead heart Toyota owners (4 Camry, 2 Corolla and 1 Celica and current owner of a 2007 Camry) and first time considering a Benz.

    My wife has done a decent research about Prius performance and this what are her findings are –

    1. At 50,000 miles - the transmission is going bad.

    2. Costs $8,000 to fix automatic transmission

    3. Service/parts can be done at the dealership only - parts turn out to be pretty expensive at the dealership.

    4. Batteries of Prius cost $3000 - a Toyota dealer mentioned the cost runs at $7,000.

    We want to save (like all of us) and help in saving the environment but have to weigh against some the above cost points.

    Greatly appreciate all your serious advise/recommendation in the matter.

    Thanks in advance
     
  2. efusco

    efusco Moderator Emeritus
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2003
    19,885
    1,155
    9
    Location:
    Nixa, MO
    Vehicle:
    2004 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    Let's start from this point..
    The Prius is the number one rated car by Consumer Reports for Reliability...period.

    Parts can fail on any car, but reports of premature transaxle (aka transmission) failures in the Prius are exceptionally rare...not even where she found the report you mention as it doesn't spring to my mind.

    The battery costs $3000...if you ever have to buy one...which is very unlikely. Did she price out the cost of an engine or transmission for a Mercedes E-class? Bet it's in the same neighborhood cost wise. The battery is expected to last the life of the car and only a tiny handful have ever failed on the second generation Prius....

    Would you allow someone other than the dealer to work on your Mercedes? While I would have any repairs done by the dealer simply b/c I know they'll have far more experience than a private auto repair place there are specialty shops opening up that can take care of the Prius and other hybrids. Routine service can be done anywhere by any mechanic. I do my own oil/filter in the Prius and we use Jiffy Lube for our Highlander Hybrid. Out of warranty parts may be pretty expensive...if you ever need them for the most reliable car on the market...just like they would be for a Mercedes.

    I think you're going to be money FAR ahead with the Prius.
     
  3. nerfer

    nerfer A young senior member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2006
    2,469
    195
    28
    Location:
    Chicagoland, IL USA, Earth
    Vehicle:
    2006 Prius
    First, the Prius purists might not agree with that the Prius has a transmission. There's an ECVT with a planetary gear system, but no traditional transmission and clutch plate type assembly. That said, I've been on this forum quite a bit and haven't heard any complaints about the planetary gear set. Overall Consumer Reports gives the Prius very high marks in the reliability category, I think they would mention something as well if this was a problem.

    I can't speak to how much it costs or who can do it, since I never heard of anybody needing it fixed.

    And you bring that up because...?
    Nobody needs to replace their batteries except in two cases: 1) an accident that somehow damages the bottom midsection of the car without totalling it, and 2) running out of gas and continuing on electric-only past the safety turn-off level.
    Otherwise, there are multiple cases of the Prius going past 250,000 miles on the original battery. The record is a Gen 1 Prius (pre-2004 model) going 349,500 miles on the original batteries before being totalled in an accident.

    In rare cases a battery cell will go bad. In that case the one cell can be replaced without replacing the whole battery pack. Also, there is a warranty on the hybrid components up to 96,000 miles (farther in California).
    The only time I would recommend against spending the money for a Prius is when your commute is less than 4 miles, and you won't see nearly the mileage you expect, particularly in cold climates (in warm weather for such short distances you might as well bike), or for somebody who can't afford the payments. But I would also advise against anything expensive in those cases, so the fact you're considering a Benz would seem to imply the Prius would fit your situation nicely. Plus it has a lot more interior room and configurable storage area than an E-class. Just not the handling & power. Just remember, $4/gallon is the start, I guarantee gas prices will be more expensive in two years than today, and it will only continue going up. Will you be comfortable putting $6/gal gas into your Benz?
     
  4. nbutani

    nbutani New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    2
    0
    0
    Location:
    CA
    Vehicle:
    Other Non-Hybrid
    Thanks. Great post :) !!!
     
  5. MontyMan

    MontyMan Prius Driver

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2008
    31
    1
    0
    Location:
    Houston Texas
    Vehicle:
    2001 Prius
    I cannot speak from the perspective of your means and budget, but I can address some of your longevity issues regarding the Prius. Mine is a 2001 which makes it at least 7 years old, calendar time. It has 124k miles on it. It has the original CVT (transmission thingy) and I've had no problems with it. It has the original main battery (that's the high voltage battery) and I am only just now getting an OCCASIONAL warning light because some of the battery blocks are getting weak. I am working on a plan to replace them. I have been driving it well over a year, with a pretty serious commute, and have not had to put a set of brake pads in yet, just because it wears the brakes so little. I have had no trouble with the cooling system, motor-generators (which not only propel the car but also act as starter and alternator) and I haven't even had to put a belt in! I had to replace the accessory battery (that's the 12v battery) at $171 a little steep for a battery but all things considered I'm very happy with it, and would buy another.

    Oh almost forgot, I'm running about 25% alcohol and getting 50mpg and excellent performance.

    Best
    ......MontyMan.
     
  6. Boo

    Boo Boola Boola Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2007
    5,051
    472
    97
    Location:
    Flushing, NY
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    The Hybrid System warranty is for 96 months/100,000 miles.

    In addition, the Hybrid Battery warranty is for 120 months/150,000 miles in California (and this also applies to Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont vehicles equipped with a California Certified Emission Control System).
     
  7. gerlando

    gerlando New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2008
    14
    0
    0
    Location:
    Sammamish, WA
    Vehicle:
    2008 Prius
    You didn't mention how long you would be owning the vehicle or what your main buying points are. It's hard to guess what those might be when you're cross shopping such different cars. Being a former BMW enthusiast I can tell you a german vehicle will drive better and have way more "soul" than the Prius. As long as it's under warranty and free maintenance you should be golden and your biggest non-financed expense will be fuel. That fuel, however, WILL be significantly higher. My wifes 330xi averaged 17-19 mpg in real world city driving. We saw about a $150/mo savings switching to the Prius.

    After the warranty period is up your maintenance costs will go up significantly with the Benz. German cars like A LOT of preventative maintenance to keep things running smoothly. I cannot state that strongly enough and its the reason you can find them cheap out of the warranty period. It's also the reason why we've sold our BMWs and gone back with Japanese brands, but I can understand the allure of an E-class ;-)

    BTW: A replacement engine or transmission on a MB will easily be in the range of $5k as well, but just like the Prius battery, replacement is the exception,.. not the rule.
     
  8. JimboK

    JimboK One owner, low mileage

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    2,817
    180
    49
    Location:
    Chesterfield, VA
    Vehicle:
    2005 Prius
    One more point about transaxle failures: There have been several reported in the previous generation Prius (2001-2003). I'm betting it's one or more of those that she discovered in her research. Here's a lengthy discussion for more background.

    Toyota made some design changes with the current generation transaxle, with which I recall seeing no reports of failure. If there are, like others suggest, they're rare.
     
  9. patsparks

    patsparks An Aussie perspective

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    10,664
    562
    0
    Location:
    Adelaide South Australia
    Vehicle:
    2004 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    I have heard of a HSD trans-axle failure but the failure was attributed to poor repairs. It had a crimped transmission coolant hose after a crash repair causing the larger electric motor to over heat. Correct repairs and maintenance is always good. We do recommend trans-axle oil changes at 60,000 miles or there abouts as a precaution but the oil isn't very expensive from Toyota.

    I had a Mazda 626, 7 years ago, spent $3000 on a transmission rebuild for it just before it was stolen. Replaced it with a Toyota.

    Battery failure, almost unheard of even in vehicles with 400,000 miles on them. Don't drive the Prius if you run out of petrol though, it isn't an electric car. I'm referring to the traction battery, the 12 volt battery is as reliable as any and replacement price is under $200 I believe.

    I have driven Toyotas for the last 25 years, if people didn't tell me parts were expensive for Toyotas I wouldn't know. Toyota drivers don't buy many parts for their cars. I'm a motor mechanic and the reason I drive Toyotas is because I am sick of repairing cars so I drive cars that don't need fixing. I also got out of the trade.
     
  10. patsparks

    patsparks An Aussie perspective

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    10,664
    562
    0
    Location:
    Adelaide South Australia
    Vehicle:
    2004 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    fair enough Monty but what does your car run on?:D
    sorry OT.
     
  11. dogfriend

    dogfriend Human - Animal Hybrid

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2007
    7,512
    1,156
    0
    Location:
    Carmichael, CA
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    The others have given pretty good answers, but I felt like adding my input

    I haven't seen any reports to this effect, the only transaxle failures seem to be for the Classic Prius (2001-2003) and even those seem to be quite rare. Powertrain warranty is 5 yrs/60K miles, so a 50K failure should be covered under warranty.

    With new parts from the dealer, it might cost this much. However, there are used transaxles available from salvage for considerably less, if you are out of warranty.

    If you live in the SF Bay Area, there are two independent shops which repair hybrids: Luscious Garage in SF, Art's Automotive in Berkeley. They both have very informative websites with examples of repairs that they have performed. I recommend checking out both websites as part of your research.

    List price is 3K, but used batteries are available through salvage for much less. You shouldn't need to worry about that until 10 yrs / 150k miles since you indicate that you are in California.

    If you compare emissions and mpg of the Prius vs. E-Class (or most other vehicles) its no contest. The only other vehicle as clean as the Prius is the CNG version of the Civic unless you consider a full electric (BEV). And the Prius currently has highest mpg for any new vehicle in the US.
     
  12. richard schumacher

    richard schumacher shortbus driver

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2004
    7,656
    983
    0
    Location:
    United States
    Vehicle:
    2004 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    Where did she find that story? I have not read of anyone who even needs the brake pads replaced at 50,000 miles, never mind the transmission.

    Prius is unique, complicated and uses a Toyota-proprietary diagnostic system, so it does need to be serviced by a Prius certified tech; most but not all of them are at dealers. Eh. This is not a big deal. For example mine had it's 30,000 mile service yesterday at a dealer; they charged me $10.79. I supplied the three quarts of oil. I bought the engine air filter at their parts counter for $19.42 and installed it myself.
     
  13. JRMurray

    JRMurray Magnetic Gray is the only way!

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2007
    54
    0
    0
    Location:
    Surrey, BC, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2008 Prius
    An interesting choice: a Prius or an E-class Benz. In Canada, the base Prius costs CAN $29,500 plus tax, while the base E-class (E300 4matic) starts at $65,800 plus tax--more than double the cost of the Prius. Of course, that may not be important to some people....

    For what it's worth, I'm a former Mercedes-Benz owner. In fact, I owned a 2004 Mercedes-Benz C230 Kompressor sedan, which I bought new and put 130,000 kilometers (about 81,000 miles).

    While I enjoyed the C230 for the cachet of the Mercedes nameplate, and while I could have easily afforded a new 2008 Mercedes (I was actually considering another C-series), I was happy to trade it in on the Prius. I got tired of the skyrocketing cost of gasoline, and the very high cost of maintaining the car at the dealership.

    Of course, the workmanship of the C230 was impeccable--for the exterior and the interior. However, the quality of the mechanical end of things left a little to be desired. Check out Consumer Reports: Mercedes isn't exactly know for its reliability ratings, with the E-series reliability being stated to be "below par" (subscribers to the CR website can see that here: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/models/new/mercedes-benz/e-class/overview.htm). The reliability of the Prius, on the other hand, is excellent.

    Aside from the difference in reliability, the overall cost of ownership of the E-series will be much higher than that of the Prius: keep in mind that for an E-series, you'll be filling it with either diesel fuel or premium gas, so you'll be paying a premium there (pardon the pun), and the maintenance will cost a fortune. For example, the E-series will probably require synthetic oil (my C230 required synthetic oil, which in Canada sells for more than $10 per litre--1 litre = approximately 1 quart. Oil changes for my car ended up costing more than $100).

    If you have a high tolerance of mechanical uncertainty, and if for you the cost of ownership is not important, then by all means, buy the Mercedes. As I mentioned, the cachet of owning a Mercedes is wonderful. People actually look at you differently.

    However, if polluting much, much less and using far less fossil fuel is important to you (it was very much so for me), then buy the Prius. There is actually a certain cachet to owning the Prius; it's just a little different from that of owning the Mercedes.

    Good luck with your decision.
     
  14. Genoz World

    Genoz World ZEN-style living

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2008
    797
    19
    0
    Location:
    La Canada
    Vehicle:
    Other Hybrid
    Model:
    N/A
    WOW.......................

    i also had a similar thought process before i got into my 06 cadillac sts, but here is what i know as a fact.....................

    i had two fellow salesperson/broker associates that have owned MB's

    #1) 05 MB E320 - very bad electrical problems. in the dealer almost 4 times for similar problems, transmission gone bad.

    #2) 07 MB E350 - motor rattling, electrical problems and did not start due to electrical system shorting out

    #3) 02 MB S500 - electrical problem from day 5 on. had MORE vertical miles than horizontal ones. had to file a lemon lawsuit to force the dealer to take the car back.

    I know, because they all got rid of their MB's in a relatively short amount of time. MB is NOT what it used to be. they break down...........

    now, you compare the MB to the toyota prius?????? hands down, the prius wins with overwhelming results.

    i have some friends with the prius I with over 250,000 miles and they still run strong. transmissions gone bad? NONE that i heard. Batteries needed replacement? NONE that i heard.

    good luck.
     
Loading...