Guidance on how to maintain and phase out my fleet of gen2´s.

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by Brace, Jan 20, 2019.

  1. Brace

    Brace New Member

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    First of all, i would like to thank you so much for all your contribution, i have been reading this forum for months and all your insights have brought me and everybody immense value, it´s incredible the amount of learning one can do here, thank you so much for that!

    Background:
    I live in California, in the bay area, and i own a fleet of 8 gen2 prius and counting.
    They are rentals.
    I humbly declare that there is still a lot i dont know about this incredible cars as i have had them for only half a year.
    I do only light maintenance and repairs myself, replace wipers, air and cabin filters, refill fluids, replace ECM, brake control power supply, brake pads, light bulbs. For tires and oil i go to Midas, Jiffy lube etc.
    When i have codes i use my blue bosch obd reader and troubleshoot with priuschat google and the toyota manuals and if i cant resolve it, i finally take the car to an independent mechanic.

    2005 red 160k
    2005 new 165k
    2005 grey 200k New Toyota hv batery at 137k - Burns 1 quart 3500k
    2005 silver 210k
    2006 165k
    2007 215k refurbished hv battery 193k - Burns 1 quart 2000k
    2008 230k Burns 1 quart 3000k
    2008 los gatos 150k

    Some of them are burning a lot of oil and sound like they could use a valve job and i just dont know when would be the sweet spot on what mileage to phase them out before they just blow in my face?
    I dont do preventive maintenance but i fix everything when it comes up. i use the regular 5 30 oil.
    I am also been getting frequently a lot of codes.
    For example the 2006 just died with: P0171,P3190,C1310,C1259 and i cant handle such complex situations. i always think about Luscious garage, i believe they are the place where they really know the prius in such depth like nobody else, and they will be experienced and know the answers for every problem,unlike independent more affordable mechanics who dont know the answers, but i cant afford to pay such high rates... Is there an alternative to Luscious garage but very experienced and expert like them?

    So as the fleet starts getting old i dont really know whats the best approach anymore, until know i have been DIY myself on the cheap with a lot of ingenuity and trial and error, but it´s starting to get everyday more complex with bigger costier problems that i cant handle.

    I would like to ask some advice and guidance and know the insights of some of you who know well high mileage gen2 and or have managed taxi or rental fleet to be able to understand when "enough is enough" and at which mileage more or less should i replaced them, age wise i need to replace ate 15 years max, meaning i will phase out the 2005´s at the end of 2019 but mileage wise i couldnt still figure it out.
    Average miles per year seems to be around 35k.


    And also the definitive answer for the hv battery fix:
    Use prolong? ( I Dont have garage to let it charge for days )
    Have someone replace cells?
    Have someone replace with refurbished pack? which kind? i have seen 300$, 750$ 1200$ confusing...
    (cant afford toyota or OEM)

    I am also available to chat on the phone or ideias to setup some fleet account somewhere or with someone you can refer me to help take care of these cars.


    FUN FACT: i get better MPG on the 2005s than the newer ones. i just got 59.2 mpg on the 2005 grey over 108miles( it must be the toyota new battery), all of the other go over 40mpg.

    thank you very much indeed and all your input will be very appreciated!
     
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    art's automotive, berkeley
     
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  3. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

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    Welcome to Prius Chat (y).

    If you do most of the work yourself, why not oil changes:whistle:?

    But Arts Automotive in Berkeley is another option, but their labor rates are probably just as high:(.

    Do you have Techstream? All you need is an old laptop and $20 and you have a very powerful diagnostic tool;).

    Each car will be its own challenge as age alone is a poor judge. Good luck and keep us posted (y).
     
  4. padroo

    padroo Senior Member

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    Are you officially a business where you can write off expenses that come up with high mileage cars?
     
  5. Brace

    Brace New Member

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    for me it´s not worth, i prefer that the customer takes the car himself somewhere cheap, and he doesnt have to come to my place and i dont even have to deal with it.

    not yet
     
  6. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

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    You do realize that as the Gen2’s age and pile on the miles, they consume oil. How often do you see your rental Prii?

    While the Jiffy Lube may seem cheap and “one less thing” for you to worry about, I’d worry more that those that are renting something from me that is making me money is taking my car where ever they want to have the life blood of the car changed. And Jiffy Lube won’t tell you if the oil is low when it comes in, so that knowledge is lost.

    Just some things to consider (y).
     
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  7. padroo

    padroo Senior Member

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    Good point Ray, how often does he change oil then?
     
  8. Brace

    Brace New Member

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    Users report the mileage weekly and i log everything and i know at which mileage the oil need to be changed and they go there and change it at that mileage minus a safety margin.
    But i normally see the cars in between and check oil usage and top up if needed, or have them check or top up.
    so i know more or less how much each car is burning.
    But some cars are burning so much oil that its hard to control, thats one of the reasons i would like to understand at which point should i commence phasing them out...
    as i understand over 200k miles burning a quarter every 3000 to 5000 is quite common.
    Should it be when they burn a quarter in less than 3000 miles?
    i use 5w30 but according to luscious garage the best thing when they burn too much is to change to 10w30, i will try that in the meantime.

    Should it be when the depreciation curve drops drastically? Which i am still trying to understand when that would be.
    but sourcing on craigslist it seems after 220k+ miles there´s no interested buyers anymore, even with very low prices, like 2500 2000 1500 dolars for years 07, 06, 05 . sometimes i see prius with 250k 270k 300k on craigslist sitting for months...

    as for the MPG they are all above 40 so i dont feel any mpg dropping which seems to be a good sign of hv battery health.

    another thing i would like to know is if a given car has had a battery replaced or its still the original one.
    is there any way of knowing that?
    carfax does not state it, the previous owners did not give me that info, so i dont really have how to know...
     
  9. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    You mentioned you already troubleshoot with the Toyota manuals, which is a good start. Once you're familiar with where to find the "detecting condition" for each code, you'll start noticing that a lot of these "complex situations" simplify immediately:

    C1259 and C1310 are both codes that the skid ECU will set, just to tell you that it has been notified of a problem by the HV ECU.

    P3190 is a code the HV ECU will set, just to tell you that it's been asking the engine for a certain amount of torque and getting less than a fifth of the amount it's asking for.

    P0171 is a code from the engine ECU saying the mixture is way too lean. That's where to look.
     
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  10. 2k1Toaster

    2k1Toaster Brand New Prius Batteries

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    Not sure the rental side plays in to your choices. What kind of rentals are these? I rent cars alot. Like top tier of Hertz every year, always upgraded for free, etc. There is a reason why the big boys only use 1-2 year old cars. The downtime of a car being out for service plus the extra cost of getting the car from where it broke, giving a new car to the person who had it break on them, and the negative rep for being given a jalopy, all are more expensive.

    But if you are renting cars to a different market than your "normal" rental clientele, then it may not matter.

    The Prius is an extremely good car to have as a fleet vehicle. If your fleet is 15 years old, do you want to make it 10 years old? 5 years old? What's the game plan? A Gen-2 if well maintained will do well. Replacing with Gen-3's and then Gen-4's would be a good plan. Pick them up as you find them.

    Also FYI, since you're a commercial entity, lots of warranties are voided including the HV battery like the brand new Toyota ones.
     
  11. 2k1Toaster

    2k1Toaster Brand New Prius Batteries

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    What you're seeing is the short sightedness of the American car buyer. Cars and especially hybrids like the Prius aren't selling as well in general because everyone wants an SUV. With gas prices being so crazy low, it just exacerbates the problem. Meaning now is a good time for you to buy more Prii for your fleet before the inevitable happens. Gas prices rise, people panic, and fuel efficiency is again a selling point.

    There is no way to know without opening up the pack and looking. And even then it could be a junk yard swap and it would be very hard to tell that it was replaced.
     
  12. exstudent

    exstudent Senior Member

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    You are brave for running a small vehicle rental operation. More power to you.
    YouTube "rental vehicle abuse". This is only known public evidence of people "enjoying" their vehicle rental.
    IMO, fleet rental vehicles should be on the list of "things to NEVER buy used."


    You are paying for their expertise and reputation to do the job correctly. Thus the difference as you pointed out: "unlike independent more affordable mechanics who dont know the answers." You get what you pay for.


    Horrible idea to do module replacement or buy a "refurbished" HV battery for your rental fleet. Breakdowns/tows will quickly eat up the miniscule cost savings. Can you afford to have the rentals be down/out of service?

    READ post #9 & #11. Covers the reality that many people don't consider outside of price.
    Indianapolis area battery repair? | PriusChat
    If you can't find a local dealer to sell for $1600-$1800, 2k1toaster's cylindrical kit is a viable option.

    Check the VIN on Toyota.com, or ask a local dealership to run the VIN. If this does NOT show any HV battery replacement, possibly original still.

    Confirmation of original battery is to remove top cover of HV battery case and examine serial numbers of all 28 modules: should be sequential. IF not sequential, then you have a pack that has been band-aided.


    You are too trusting of the renters "checking" and correctly replenishing the engine oil.


    These have probably lots of engine damage due to numerous and prolonged running with insufficient engine oil level.
    The vehicle should be replaced or the engine should be rebuilt or replaced.


    2K1toaser points out why big commercial vehicle rental companies rotate cars by 2 years: they recoup a big chunk of their money, auctioning or selling late model vehicle w/ low mileage, with a factory warranty.

    You are operating cars that have very little value ($2k-$4k at best). You are way past the point of depreciation/diminishing returns. Also, you noted no body really wants a high mileage Prius, which is your entire fleet. Your realistic buyer pool will be small: piss poor, hobbyist, or salvage yard.

    Maybe assess replacement time in terms of profitability. When repairs/etc eat into its profit, OR a cost prohibitive repair arrives, time to replace. Sell on Craigs or call salvage yard.
     
  13. Brace

    Brace New Member

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    Thanks for the input you all!

    ChapmanF
    Your info is very useful! i was also reading about these codes earlier and i know what needs to be tested but i dont have the hand held tester and dont know how to perform the tests and dont know how to fix things even if i could identify the problem. its too complex for me.
    There was other times, i managed, when i identified i need to replace the ECM i did it, and the brake control power supply i did it also, some caliper work i also did it, but for example i tried to change the skid control ecm and could not, same with the combination meter. i just dont have enough tools and cant manage when the access is to deep inside the car. My ability to do repairs is limited.
    so do you think the lean mixture is the problem causing the battery fail? or the other way around?


    I contacted arts automotive they say they dont do fleets. and Luscious garage made me a discount but still needs to charge 120 dolars for every diagnostic and does not provide warranty on repairs with parts sourced by me.
    I would like to have quality service on the cars and be able to rely on them for longer because they would be taken care by experts, but thats just impossible with their high rates, and expensive oem parts.
    last time i needed a coolant control valve i asked 2 shops one quoted 500 and another 350, i managed to buy the part for 50 and get a guy who did it at his place for 120 totaling 170.

    2k1 toaster

    Maybe i just have to rely on Prius reliability and start flipping the cars earlier instead of spending money in repairs.
    so instead of letting the cars go to 240k 270k 290k.
    Just trust that they will survive well without problems until 180k or so and flip them by then.

    As to age i dont find any problem with that, generally the older ones i find them more reliable with better mpg, but maybe thats because of the mileage, my 05´s have less mileage than the 08 07 that give me problems.

    xstudent

    i cant really afford a 1000+ dolars battery, i would rather sell the car and buy another one if selling a and buying wasn't such a time consuming and risky thing, trying to avoid hidden codes etc...
    but it seems nobody believes replacing the modules is a good solution, but thats what mechanics and dealers do, they replace it one by one as they die. i guess it makes only sense when you diy which i cant. so probably the best in between solution would be a refurbished battery like these:
    12 Month or 20000 Mile Warranty
    Replacing Whole Battery Pack
    $745

    my 2007 had a 450dolar refurbished pack installed 23k miles ago and its working.
     
  14. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

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    If I had a fleet of Prii to manage out here, here’s what I would do:

    • Buy an old laptop (or use one I had lying around) and buy either a mini vci cable for ~$20 off of Amazon or a ~$70 VXDIAG cable off of Amazon
    • Prolong equipment for battery maintenance and rebuild needs
    • Call around to the local cab companies and see where they get their work done
    Labor rates will put you in the poor house at the independent shops but the fleet of taxis that have to be maintained need to be done somewhere and that somewhere is probably knowledgeable enough to get you by. Managing and running your own diagnostics along with sourcing parts from places like HP Motors in Rancho Cordova would be let in my mind to reduced costs along with finding the mechanic for jobs you don’t do yourself.

    Good luck and keep us posted (y).
     
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  15. Brace

    Brace New Member

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    Thats really good advice, i just dealt with some prius specialists and they were all using techstream. i just dont know if my brand new windows laptop works with that? why wouldnt it?

    i went to arts automotive and they said they never heard of prolong... they said they built their own charging machine...

    I had my first battery failure after a customer crash my 2007 and all that was damaged was the headlight and the coolant control valve which was leaking all coolant out.
    do you guys believe it could have raised the temperature inside the inverter and damage 2 modules?

    Car was fine, after the crash, 2 modules suddenly failed.... its too much coincidence....
     
  16. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    Nah. The inverter's in the front of the car. The modules are in the back. The cooling systems aren't connected.

    It wouldn't be too much coincidence for me ... old cars can have problems crop up any time.
     
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  17. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

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    It sounds like they are industrious lads at Arts if they built their own:rolleyes:.

    If your curious to see Techstream run or talk shop with some locals (as well as see the Prolong equipment) we have a meet up going on in Fairfield today:).

    We have 2 egr circuit cleanses to perform (which is not Gen2 related) so it could give you some insight into the Gen3’s;).

    Fun starts in a couple of hours(y).
     
  18. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    From 2005 to 2008, and all at 150,000 miles or more?
    Technically I'd say for most businesses they ALL are way past the point of phasing them out.

    If you are using them as part of a personal business? My concern would be reliability and safety for your customers.

    It would be different if you were using them as your own personal vehicle, but a fleet of 8 in service? IMO...that's too old. As noted, big name rental companies switch out their vehicles in usually less than 3 years. That way they are renting out new and safe vehicles and also selling vehicles when they still have good value.

    At this point IMO you have a line of tired horses at the glue factory.
    I might pick one, maybe two that I liked the best for my own personal use, but then I wouldn't continue to try to maintain and run a in service fleet that old.
     
  19. exstudent

    exstudent Senior Member

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    It can. BUT, for simplicity and cyber security, it is still recommended to acquire an obsolete Windows 32bit laptop running XP, Vista, or 7. Use this laptop only for vehicle diagnostics and maintenance; no logging into email, banks, credit cards, etc. The Techstream set-up from Amazon/eBay contains hacked software (thus the recommendation to use on a spare laptop), the OBD2 cable is an imitation J2534 from Drew tTechnologies (MoongoosePro cable).

    Ask friends/family/coworkers/neighbors if they know of anyone in IT (Information Technology)? Someone will and this person will have access to, or know another IT person who has access to, obsolete Windows 32bit laptop(s) collecting dust. They can probably give it to you free, w/ the hard drive, or w/o the hard drive (for data security reasons). Hard drives are cheap, BTW.

    Remember, Techstream is the official diagnostic and maintenance software written for Toyota/Lexus/Scion, and approved by Toyota. Thus anyone who is anyone will be using Techstream, like those Prius "specialists" and all Toyota/Lexus/Scion dealers.
     
  20. Brace

    Brace New Member

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    I understand, but the point is that we shall not see this business as a normal rent a car for normal people, but as a cab rental for uber workers.
    What i am trying to understand is when does the prius becomes a money pit and not cost effective and worthwhile anymore?
    Basically, at what stage would a cab company with a fleet of prius would get rid of them, and replace with new ones?
    i bet they lasted all more than 300k or 400k hehehe

    So far they are proving to be very reliable and i have had zero breakdowns.
    my 2007 had 2 failed battery modules imediately after an accident who cracked the coolant control valve, which i believe somehow led to the 2 modules failing. because the day before everything was just fine.

    I am also unhappy about some of them burning too much oil, some people say its normal, some people say its not and i should change the pcv valve... not really sure... my worst case is burning 1 quart every 2500 miles.
    which is the second biggest expense after depreciation, together with insurance.

    i noticed one good timing to sell would be before renewing the registration or when needing new tires.
    I also saw that california allows to sell only 6 cars per year?
    i am thinking about get rid of them all during this year and next year. too many accidents and damages....
     
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