How to find rare model...sources, visual cues, websites, etc.

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Main Forum' started by angus, Jul 10, 2021.

  1. angus

    angus Junior Member

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    I'm on the hunt for one of two cars between the years of 2012-2015: a four with solar sunroof package, or a five with the Advanced Technology Package. I have been looking for weeks, and it's incredibly hard to find such cars, because they are so often coded incorrectly into the major search sites: "fives" are often wagons, or any car with leather seats or any kind of upgrade; 40% of cars that are coded as having a sunroof don't actually have one; sunroofs are hard to spot in photos unless the car is white or the photo is taken from a high angle, requiring tedious clicking through multiple images before you spot the sunroof or the dash button on the left of the steering wheel that shows the car being vented; etc. I know about looking for the headlight washers on a model five (the little button on each side of the bumper below the headlight), and the extra buttons on the steering wheel for the Advanced Technology Package functions, plus the aforementioned vent button for a car with the solar sunroof. I'm curious to know two things: are there other visual cues (interior or exterior) I haven't mentioned that will help me spot the cars I am looking for (Oh, yeah, I also know about the flat front emblem on a five, but that's very hard to spot)? Are there any specific sites that people have found useful? I'm looking for a bargain (I'm currently a full time student), so I'm skipping Carmax, which does at least have an accurate solar package filter, but which also charges extreme top dollar. I'm mostly using cargurus, autotrader, Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist. Anybody have any tips to help me find this car?

    Distance is no problem, as I figure I will need to fly somewhere to pick this car up.
     
  2. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

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  3. angus

    angus Junior Member

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    Checking the VIN is something that can only be done after the car is found. I'm asking about sources and methods of recognition on sight. The VIN doesn't help in either case
     
  4. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    Looking for a bargain on a very specific car while all cars are in short supply is... a more difficult challenge than usual. Now is a great time to be flexible about your needs.

    If "bargain" is the most important part, stop looking on the internet. Yeah, it'll be harder for you to find a car, likely impossible to find the exact one you want- but it eliminates a lot of competing buyers and keeps the prices low.

    I was also recently searching for a secondhand Prius with the ATP. cars.com and autotrader seemed to be able to identify the feature well enough, but there were only a handful of equipped cars actually available. Those are the ones people keep forever.
     
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  5. Grit

    Grit Senior Member

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    o_O
     
  6. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    your focusing on bells and whistles, and that's fine, but i would focus on head gasket, oil burning, egr valve and brake actuator
     
  7. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    Even if distance isn't a problem for you... If you can indicate a zip code or what region you live in it's way more likely you'll get some help. For example I'm in the Seattle, WA. and Portland, OR region and if someone is looking for a Prius in my area I'll start messaging ones I come across to help them find one. But if someone on PriusChat won't indicate where they live, myself and others will just keep scrolling.
     
  8. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    Just to add detail to my earlier suggestion:

    There are cork bulletin boards in the entryways of many grocery stores, laundromats, restaurants, and other small businesses.

    I always see cars advertised on them, and they're nearly always put up by people who didn't list the car anywhere on the internet because they didn't know how or weren't comfortable with the idea. So they're taking a hit on the price because many fewer shoppers are seeing their ads- but for the bargain hunter this is how you get it done.

    Obviously the selection represented by that form of advertising is quite poor and you'll spend a lot more time on the hunt, but it might be something you can train yourself to notice/check whenever you go out for groceries & laundry anyway.

    And regarding the poor selection? It's not just old Priuseses, it's everything. I did some shopping looking for what I really wanted, saw how bad the markups & premiums were and promptly decided to kick the can down the road. I bought something else that will still serve the family just fine, and we'll trade up when the market settles down in a couple of years.
     
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  9. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

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    Its the only way to know especially before you travel any distance. Even if it were across town, checking the vin will tell the story. Sourcing it is using all the normal accesses. A Prius is not a cult or club car, it is an econo box with baggage, eg high complexity. Generally the gen3s are not a highly recommended used Prius from a reliability standpoint. I would buy a gen2 if I "had" to have a Prius on a budget. A conventional used Corolla, Civic or Camry would be my budget choice.
     
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