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considering a Prius

Discussion in 'Newbie Forum' started by feh, May 27, 2011.

  1. feh

    feh New Member

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    Hi folks.

    My wife and I need a new (or slightly used) car, and the Prius is on our list.

    Could somebody point me at an online FAQ regarding the Prius? I've never owned a hybrid car. Some of my questions (if you feel like answering):
    • how does maintenance differ from a regular car?
    • what's the expected lifetime of the drive train?
    • does it make sense to buy a used one, or does the standard new car depreciation not apply to a Prius?
    • are there generations to avoid?
    We drive our cars until they die, if that affects your answers.

    Thanks!
     
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    1) similar maintenance
    2) well over 100,000
    3) used is fine, the more mileage it has, the less you will have
    4) don't buy anything before 2004, first year of gen II
    5) all the best!
     
  3. JimboPalmer

    JimboPalmer Tsar of all the Rushers

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    I am going to answer a related question instead, what kind of owner should NOT own a Prius and changes you will need to make to be a happy Prius owner.

    When you cold start the Prius, it tries to get the pollution control gear warmed up and ready, so extremely small commutes are not amazingly better than other cars. You are better off driving a long way as the first leg, then making all your stops getting home.

    The Prius HV and 12 volt batteries dislike not being used. If you routinely park your car over 3 weeks at a time, this can be a problem. Drive it every week, no problem.

    The Prius does not recharge in Neutral. Do not spend extended time in Neutral, and minimize electrical use in Neutral. Also try not to gain speed in Neutral above 42 MPH from below 42 MPH, as the engine cannot turn on in Neutral and you may over rev the Motor/Generator1.

    The traction control prevents wheelspin. If you need wheelspin in your lifestyle, (snowy slopes, gravel driveway, etc.) the Prius is not a good choice.

    The Prius is a poor car to run out of gas in. If you do not pull over you can run down the HV Battery trying to travel without the engine running. If your lifestyle involves frequently running out of gas, your HV Battery may be damaged. Once you do run out, you need 3 gallons added before you attempt to restart. Restarts with no gas can trip a failure code requiring a tow to the dealer, draining the HV battery will need a charger not even the dealer has, it will (eventually) come from Toyota regional.

    The Prius is low hung, both front and back, I am amazed anyone 'lowers' their Prius.

    800 pounds of passengers and cargo, and 0 pounds of towing is not a great deal of cargo flexibility. Eight foot lumber is easy, ten foot lumber is possible.

    The 12 volt battery is sized small, as it does not run a starter motor, sadly every 4 years you need a new one at $140+ Being that small, leave the car in Ready when consuming electricity. Toyota placed the batteries in the passenger compartment with your loved ones. Only use AGM batteries with external venting. Since it does not run a starter, you may find you are inexperienced at telling when a car battery is dieing if it never makes that slow starting noise.

    Toyota has tried innovative technologies to reduce pollution, The North American fuel bladder in the Gen II Prius prevents vapor buildup. It also makes predicting when you will need fuel challenging. Get gas when you get to two pips if you have passengers who will never let you forget when you stranded them. One pip is fine if you drive solo and never have to admit you ran out. Get gas NOW if it starts blinking, trust me.

    Many new owners try to get better mileage by not accelerating hard, a far better approach is to organize your driving so you do not brake hard, if at all. Gentle braking saves some energy in regeneration, not braking saves it all.

    Brake pads last about 3 times longer, but any work on the Brake fluid should be a dealer item. There are two coolant systems, anytime you would change the engine coolant, also change the inverter coolant. Most every thing else is the same.
    My last Toyota lasted 20 years, I expect this one to do so as well. The HV Batteries seem to average 200,000 miles, but there is a lively market for used batteries. (More folks total their Prius than wear out the batteries)
    I am no expert, but expect a used Prius to have high mileage, the Prius makes the most economic sense if you drive a lot.
    The HV Batteries in the Gen2 Prius are improved over the Gen1 batteries. If you buy a Gen1, consider using Gen2 batteries if when the originals wear out.

    Gen1 2001 to 2003
    Gen2 2004 to 2009
    Gen3 2010 on
     
    #3 JimboPalmer, May 27, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2015
    Starship16, Stacied., sardog and 9 others like this.
  4. mikewithaprius

    mikewithaprius New Member

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    Even within the second generation (2004-2009), I believe some small improvements were made around the 2007 model year, so 2007-2009 is sort of the sweet spot for used ones.

    Regarding your first question, when I've interacted with technicians at the dealer, they often say they feel the Prius is the best made of the bunch, they rarely have to do any serious work on them.

    I just recorded my savings over the first six months of ownership. Most people can't expect such drastic savings, since I drive specifically for good mileage, but still, going from 25 mpg to 50 mpg at 12,000 miles a year will save $1000 in fuel costs per year. If you're looking to keep the car a long time that number is obviously non-negligible.

    Mike with a Prius: Hybrid as a sound investment
     
  5. F8L

    F8L Protecting Habitat & AG Lands

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    The used GenIIs can be found at a good price but it appears the GenIIIs are still so high that used may not make good sense.

    The others have covered your questions appropriately so all I can say is I bought new and now have 135,000 miles on my 2005 and I have had zero issues other than tail light bulbs going out occasionally. :)
     
  6. cyclopathic

    cyclopathic Senior Member

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    Prii in such high demand that buying used isn't gonna save match the blue book retail on used ones above MSRP! Check the listing but if you keep cars until they die, more reason to buy new.

    Ours is 2010 model, has 55K. So far needed a) oil changes b) filter c) new tires d) visit to dealer to update ABS bug in firmware. You usually need new brake pad ~60K but these look almost new.
     
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  7. macmaster05

    macmaster05 Senor Member

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    Even after lowering I still have 6" of ground clearance. It's not low enough! :D

    OP-
    1. Maintenance is same, if not less
    2. Lifetime ranges from 1 mile - 1,000,000 miles depending on how well you maintain it. Keep in mind those are extremes.
    3. Used is good, although not necessarily cheaper in this market.
    4. I'd get a 2007, 2009, or 2011. I like car years w/ odd numbers. I think it's auspicious.
     
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  8. Ryanpl

    Ryanpl Active Member

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    You just like being odd :D
     
  9. Stinker bell

    Stinker bell New Member

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    Hi:
    I have a few questions as I am a newbie to Prius and the gas my SUV is using is killing me. I read that it is best to get the 2007-2009 used prius if considering used. What mileage should I consider? Most I have seen are high mileage but still pretty high in cost. Should I wait for the plug in Prius? Has anyone heard how much those will be? Are Prius safe in accidents? I saw some posts but just want to make sure. I am a safe driver just worry about the other guy. My husband just hit in 45 mph accident he was broadsided and we need to get another car. Considering Prius buy my friends say no they are not safe and too light. How soon do batteries need replacing in Prius? Are the seats comfortable? What mpg should I expect to get in city? Lots of stop and go traffic. Do the Prius do well in wind/rain? Thanks so much!
     
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  10. JimboPalmer

    JimboPalmer Tsar of all the Rushers

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    If they sold a Prius air lift kit, so I could raise it about 1.5 inches, I would lower mine an inch, and pump it up in towns. I scrape front and back at my two most frequent clients.
     
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  11. cwerdna

    cwerdna Senior Member

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    We have no idea how much the PHV Prius will be. Since you're in CA, if you buy an 04 or newer Prius that was bought, registered and operated in CA or other CARB state, then it'll have a 10 year/150K mile HV battery warranty.

    You can lookup crash test results at 1990-2010 Vehicles | Safercar -- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and IIHS-HLDI: Crash Testing & Highway Safety.

    As for "my friends say no they are not safe and too light", source? What is "too light"? There's an astounding amount of Prius and hybrid misinformation coming from non-hybrid and non-Prius owners such as http://priuschat.com/forums/gen-ii-...ti-hybrid-anti-prius-folks-3.html#post1265753 and http://priuschat.com/forums/gen-ii-...ti-hybrid-anti-prius-folks-3.html#post1266083.

    You can see what CR got on the 2nd gen Prius (covers 04-09 model year) at Most fuel-efficient cars. As long as you have a sufficiently long drive (>5 minutes), you will see better mileage than CR's very low city figure.

    See Best & worst cars review, fuel-efficient vehicles for a larger set of vehicles, for comparison. The Prius there is a 2010 (3rd gen), though.

    CTV British Columbia - Hybrids prove very reliable - CTV News didn't need a new HV battery until 700K km (~434K miles). There are some folks who have >300K miles on the original battery, but we've definitely seen some fail before that, like one guy here who had his fail ~190K miles.

    Also see The 200,000-mile question: How does the Toyota Prius hold up? and Video: Second-generation Toyota Prius still reliable, efficient after 200,000 miles.
     
  12. F8L

    F8L Protecting Habitat & AG Lands

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    The Prius equipped with rear side curtain airbags scores very high in passenger safety. This includes 2004-2010 vehicles. I'd post the links but it's tough to do on my cell.
     
  13. twittel

    twittel Senior Member

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    Welcome to PriusChat.:welcome: Looks like you got all your questions answered.
     
  14. Corwyn

    Corwyn Energy Curmudgeon

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    The Prius should warm up better than most any car out there. So, while Prius on a short commute is not amazingly better than other cars are in long commutes, I would expect the other cars would do even worse on short commutes.

    The exception, of course, being EVs, which excel at short commutes.
     
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  15. MinixPri

    MinixPri New Member

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    A little off topic but would anyone recommend sites like truecar or carsdirect? how about toyota dealerships in massachusetts, any of them recommended?
     
  16. luckyboy

    luckyboy Member

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    Not sure about everything on this list. My 2007 has the original 12v battery (now well over 8 years old) and I routinely don't drive the car for 2-3 weeks at a time and have never had a problem. This is by far the most reliable car I've ever owned, other than some minor trim issues and a couple recalls, nothing has been repaired on this vehicle. I should also note I live in CA and don't have to deal with traction issues or cold weather that is harsher on batteries...