First car, considering 13’-15’, help!

Discussion in 'Newbie Forum' started by Capa, Sep 13, 2020.

  1. Capa

    Capa New Member

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    I am a total, utter, absolute newbie, with a stir crazy toddler in a middle of smokey CA and I need to buy my first ever car. I’m reading around the forum but with limited time on my hands, I could really use some help.

    We can probably afford a 13’-15’ Prius with around 100.000-110.000 miles. We’re currently trying out a friend’s Prius C (prob 14’) and are interested in Prius for environmental reasons. There’s no daily commute, rather we’d use it for weekly shopping runs, weekly visits to spots and friends in and around Bay Area, and hopefully once the fires stops, a couple of NoCa camping trips and one larger road trip within CA per year.

    Here’s my current mental pileup...

    Other than trunk size (see below), the only other concern is safety - so *safety features* like assist would be great, but I’m not sure how common those are and what’s actually useful?

    *Trunk size:*
    - I’m keeping my eye out for Prius Vs, but I’ve noticed some models of non-Vs have slightly larger trunks - any tips appreciated as the naming and models and trims still confuses the heck out of me.
    - do all models support that storage bin that goes on top of a car? small trunk has me worried.

    *Cost and maintenance:*
    - how big of an issue is buying a 5-7 old Prius with around 100.000 miles? I understand they’re pretty low-maintenance for the first couple of years, but is there some sort of huge plunge to expect?

    - any reason we should rather choose an older model with less mileage?

    - I’ve seen head gasket, EGR and oil issues mentioned in many threads - at this point I still have no idea what those are (will try and google) but how expensive are they to fix as I’m seeing these are normally addressed around 120.000 mile mark?

    - battery life related, how soon would it need to be fixed/replaced?

    In case it’s relevant, considering the prices around here we might go through CarMax. Dealerships are much more expensive.

    Thank you all!!!
     
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  2. SFO

    SFO Senior Member

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    Welcome to PriusChat!!

    Please tell us more about this 'assist' feature, is that hill start, parking, or something else?
     
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  3. Capa

    Capa New Member

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    So I guess I’m referring to things that would be part of the Advanced Technology Package - which I’m not yet sure whether it’s a matter of trim or something else.

    But honestly, I really don’t know much more than having enjoyed cruse control, lane assist and a rear camera in cars I’ve rented before.
     
    #3 Capa, Sep 14, 2020
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2020
  4. vvillovv

    vvillovv Senior Member

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    I'm unaware of any prius that have more trunk/storage space than a V? If you list where you read that some other prius have larger trunk space than V - I'd be grateful.

    the battery is always an issue. How long will it last? We all deal with that question. Toyota has a long track record of decent traction pack life. But there are issues that can present as the cars age. And any pack issue can be frustrating to deal with when and if it happens. Just one thing to keep in mind about any hybrid choice.
     
  5. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    Ignore odometer; the calendar is what (eventually) makes a Prius turn into a money pit.

    Very, very broad generalization: they're all good for about 15 years before the most expensive things happen. So plan your cycle around that.

    This is not to say you are guaranteed to have trouble after that time or be free from it up until then. Again, just a very broad generalization.

    Get the youngest one you can afford and have a good time!
     
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  6. sam spade 2

    sam spade 2 Senior Member

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    Do some math on the fuel you are likely to use.
    And consider that the DIFFERENCE in environmental impact from the fuel burned by a vehicle that gets 45 MPG isn't really that much less than one that gets 35 or 40 (non-hybrid).
    Given your low estimated usage, a hybrid might not be your best choice.
    Producing the batteries and extra electronics has an environmental impact too.
     
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  7. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    in your situation, i would avoid hybrids
     
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  8. vvillovv

    vvillovv Senior Member

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    I have to agree with Sam and Bisco somewhat in respect especially the usage model you list above. Toyota's are the best mass produced hybrids on the market presently in my opinion, but they are not the end all of efficiency for very short drive cycles. Both fuel economy and systems health fail for prolonged multiple short trips. It may take a while to notice, but it will show up. If you can drive it 50 miles give or take once a week or 15 miles a few times a week it should be fine. Anything less and the car doesn't have enough ON time to work it's auto magic.

    The other side of the coin is that you list CA for location. And there are a lot of Prii in CA for whatever reasons, possibly offering some unique benefits we non CA ians don't get.
     
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  9. Capa

    Capa New Member

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    Thank you all for your input and reality check! Much to (re)consider.
     
  10. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    ^ Count me in on that dogpile.

    These days, a hybrid's best benefit to the environment is for somebody who needs to roll hundreds of miles per day without having to take breaks to charge a battery.

    For the usage you've described, I 53rd the suggestion to get a simple car. There are environmental benefits in selecting a machine that doesn't contain exotic batteries or rare earth metals, even if you are burning fossil fuel to operate it.
     
  11. Yazoo

    Yazoo New Member

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    Hi all, I’m in a similar position to OP regarding short trips around town mostly and the occasional road trip.

    On the environmental front, isn’t it still a net positive to burn less gas? Also, if buying used, it seems a stretch to say that the battery is having an environmental impact given it’s already been produced … repairs and replacement are another factor, of course.

    Anyway, I’m most curious about this “minimum mileage” concept.
    What is the ultimate effect of this kind of driving? Reduced efficiency?
     
  12. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    Here's the catch:

    Let's say you want a vehicle for low-miles occasional use. You think you want a hybrid to reduce gasoline usage. You realize you won't be driving it much, so you get an older one and save some money.

    This works fine for a while. Then one day your ~15 year old hybrid won't go; the battery pack has failed and you need a new one.

    Do you send it off to the crusher as is, even though you know "most" of the car is in fine shape?

    What if you bite the bullet and put in the new battery? Are you really going to keep it another 15 years to use up the value of this new battery? Or are you using 30 years worth of batteries to keep the car going for 18 total years only to junk it for unrelated reasons?

    Everything with a gas engine (hybrids included) is built to the same principle:

    Burn extra fuel during the first few minutes of operation to rapidly raise engine temperatures so that all remaining operation will be done at peak efficiency.


    This is an automatic, programmed, deliberate sacrifice of fuel efficiency, and it works very well for overall fuel savings.

    The problem is that if your total trip is short relative to this warm-up phase, you can potentially do all of your driving in this more wasteful mode without ever reaping its benefits. In those situations the classic answer is something with a smaller engine, and the new answer is something with no engine at all.

    You've got an ideal case for getting a little electric runabout + renting a gas car for the road trips. Trying to find one car to satisfy both roles is likely to cause more waste than any other point of selection criteria.

    Late Edit: Just to put this out there another way... if you only drive a mile to the mailbox and back each day, you'll be hard pressed to see a difference in gasoline usage between a Prius and a plain gas car, because they're both eternally in warmup relative to the journey.
     
    #12 Leadfoot J. McCoalroller, Sep 23, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2020
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  13. Yazoo

    Yazoo New Member

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    Thanks for the detailed reply, @Leadfoot J. McCoalroller.

    LMK if this is too off-topic, but I am curious about how the PHEV (Plug-in/Prime) fits into this usage model.
     
  14. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    Not off-topic.

    A PHEV like the Prime or PPI would improve things for you considerably in the sense that you could do your short trips electrically with no gas engine warmup penalty, and yet you'd still have that gas engine for your long trips.

    The obvious problem is that they haven't been around very long, so you aren't likely to find any depreciated down to what a 2013-2015 "regular" Prius costs.

    Never say never.
     
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  15. davecook89t

    davecook89t Senior Member

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    You won't find a Prius Prime in your price range, but the Prius Plug-In, which was produced from 2012 to 15 should fit the bill. With the Prime now on the used car market, I would think the older Plug-In could be obtained for a minimal price premium over the regular Prius.
     
  16. Kramah313

    Kramah313 Active Member

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    I was actually going to suggest the Prius plug in model for that year range. It’s not a pure EV but it will switch into regular Prius mode without a fuss for longer trips and will do better on the short ones. My MPG has fallen at least 5 MPG or so during this quarantine while working from home and just doing the occasional short trip and I have a 2012 Prius 4.
     
  17. vvillovv

    vvillovv Senior Member

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    @Yazoo
    It's impossible to give a definitive answer that covers all usage models. It depends on a whole slew of other variables.
    drivers style of driving those few miles a day
    ambient temperature range
    speed range
    charging frequency
    battery usage range (how much available EV is used per day week month)
    how many times the car shut off and turned on for each short trip
    wind speed and direction in relation to direction traveled
    traffic patterns during each drive session
    owners ability to detect service needs
    owners ability to understand the computers and gauges

    lock down your usage model and you'll get plenty of advice.
     
    #17 vvillovv, Sep 29, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2020
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  18. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sand Pounder

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    Thats good advice! (y)
     
  19. Tim Jones

    Tim Jones Senior Member

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    in your situation, i would avoid hybrids

    I Totally agree....!
     
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