I need help buying a used car

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by Theel, Sep 30, 2020.

  1. Theel

    Theel New Member

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    Hi whoever reads this! I'm new.

    I've been reading around on these forums trying to study and get informed, but the amount of information is overloading me at this point. I could use some help picking a car and trying to anticipate upcoming costs.
    I am trying to spend less than $6000 on a used car.

    I'm trying to buy a "short term" car for a cheaper price point, while i save up for a newer "long term" vehicle. If I keep it under $5k, I have $3k saved on the side as a car emergency fund that I hopefully don't have to use. Getting 40-50,000 miles out of the car would be enough.

    I'm in Northern California. For $4300-5k, I can definitely get an 06-07' Prius with anywhere between 150,000-250,000 miles and at least a new, replaced (not refurbished) Hybrid battery. For the same price, I can also get an 09' with lower mileage (110,000-150,000) and the original battery.

    This will be the car I drive full time. Which year would be the better option in that price range?

    I only realized the 2009s were a realistic option in the past couple of days, so the car owners that I've made contact with are all for 06-07.

    My main options right now are these 4:

    1. Light blue 2006
    - $4500
    - 147,000 miles
    - new tires
    - Hybrid and 12v battery both have been replaced
    - regular maintenance and oil changes
    - some dents
    - 1 key fob's buttons don't work
    - fabric interior. door panels stained

    2. Beige 2007
    - $4500
    - 229,000 miles
    - new catalytic converter
    - Hybrid battery replaced in 2016 at 180,000 miles
    - All maintenance done at Toyota dealership
    - some dents/paint on roof beginning to fade
    - leather interior

    3. Red 2006
    - $4000
    - 126,000 miles
    - already installed catalytic converter shield
    - Current owner says the previous owner replaced the Hybrid battery at 100k.
    - fabric interior
    - current owner has only owned the vehicle for 1.5 years. He bought a newer Prius and is getting rid of this one.
    - paint beginning to fade on rear spoiler

    4. Green 2006
    - $4500
    - 209,000 miles
    - Green Bean battery installed last week
    - new tires
    - regular maintenance done at dealer
    - some dents on passenger side panel

    All of these owners' have said they are okay with taking the vehicle to a nearby Toyota dealership for a pre-purchase inspection. I would rather not pay for multiple pre-purchase inspections, so I'm trying to narrow it down to which 1 or 2 vehicles that I want to invest my purchasing energy into.
    I'm also trying to take into account the cost of getting a cat cover installed, likely tint the car's windows, and I would prefer to get some seat covers or something rather than dealing with worn out, stained car upholstery.

    I'm sorry if this is a really long post! Hopefully someone stuck around to the end and can help me. Thank you for anything (y)
     
  2. SFO

    SFO Senior Member

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    Welcome to PriusChat!!

    Before any purchase, check the mileage and history by running (a carfax or) the VIN at : Welcome to Toyota Owners

    Make sure that any cat replacement is with an factory OEM cat, else the vehicle will likely fail CA smog now or in the future.

    I would avoid anything with a refurbished (used) battery, and serious consider anything with a "new OEM battery".

    If buying something with an older original OEM battery, then you would want to balance or recondition it before failure.
     
  3. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    don't buy a hybrid, unless you can fix it yourself, and set aside plenty of time and money for repairs and parts
     
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  4. Moving Right Along

    Moving Right Along Active Member

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    If you want to buy a cheap short-term car, don’t buy a Toyota. You want a fairly reliable car from a company that people don’t think is reliable. Like a Pontiac Vibe - it’s the same car as the Toyota Matrix but without the Toyota name.

    Toyotas carry a price premium, which is fine if you want to keep them for a while, but not worth it if you just want to drive one while you get more money for something better.

    However, a Prius can be a good car for the long run. So if you do want to get one, I’d trust a 2009 with an original HV battery far more than an older model with a replaced battery. Most replaced batteries are not actually new, but cobbled together from used cells from previously failed batteries. And at this time, I’d absolutely count a cat shield as a necessity. I just paid $304 for one installed. If you don’t get one, you could quickly be out $3000 for a new catalytic converter.
     
    #4 Moving Right Along, Sep 30, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2020
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  5. Theel

    Theel New Member

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    Thank you for the response! Yes, I was only looking at options with a well recorded history, factory oem cat, and new factory oem battery. I was surprised that there were options in that price range.
     
  6. Theel

    Theel New Member

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    Can you guys explain more of why I shouldn't get a hybrid? I figured 50,000 miles or 2 years is a short but solid amount of time to drive a car, so I should go for something with a great reputation. Hybrids, specifically Priuses, are becoming more attractive the more I research them. I'm thinking I will save up for a newer one after this car.

    I was excited about getting an older hybrid in the meantime and fairly set on my decision. I would appreciate the reality check and being spared of money and drama haha.
     
  7. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    two problems:

    1) prius has several very expensive systems compared to non hybrids. hybrid battery, electric a/c compressor, electric brake actuator, inverter, etc. several thousand dollars each.

    2) most private mechs don't know how to repair them. if they do, they charge as muc as a dealership. so you wind up getting gouged by the dealer and lying about what is wrong with the car. and even if it's the truth, it's mucho denaro.

    if you are a serious diy with all the tools, you can fix these cars with salvage parts for cheap.

    50k over two years would be great for a 2016 with 100,000 miles, but it's all a matter of risk. odds are, you won't have any major problems. but if you do, it's mortgage the ranch time.
     
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  8. donbright

    donbright Active Member

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    There's a lot of sad stories on this forum about people all excited to buy the invincible reputation cheap 180,000 mile Prius, then they find out about all the stuff bisco said above.

    "The seller told me they replaced the battery" is the sentence that has launched a thousand ships of regret.
     
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  9. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    Just 50,000 miles over 2 years? Lol...

    I saw your location then saw your list. Scratch the G2's off the list because sooner or later your cat will get clipped. I don't let my g2 out of my sight now. Wife is up to speed on it too. One cat theft the car is basically totaled.

    So many people on this site way way too late to the prius party. It was the best little car ever when it was new and for many years but now 13 years later there all pushing 200,000+ miles most owned by people who have never opened the hood on it. And now most are money pits. Still to this day so many indie mechanics are still afraid of it.

    if you have 3 big rolling tool boxes in you garage full of mechanic tools and know the difference between ohms-DC-AC-Ammeter on your fluke and own some electronic test tools you have a chance. A chance that will still require hours of reading on this site.
    meanwhile your walking.

    yeah it gets good mileage if its tip top tune but one repair $$$ will blow out years of gas savings. And trust me you will get one of those those.
     
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  10. Theel

    Theel New Member

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    LOL. That 3rd paragraph was like reading another language.
     
  11. Theel

    Theel New Member

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    Sigh. Ok. Thank you all for your honest input. I really appreciate it.

    What is the oldest Prius that you would deem trustworthy to someone who is not mechanically skilled? Maybe I'll up my budget to $7-8k.

    I drive 16-22,000 miles/year (depending on the year). I could get a car sooner than 2 years, but I'd like to make it stretch. People have suggested I finance a vehicle but I'd rather just buy a cheap car in cash.

    OR, does anyone have suggestions for a non-Prius vehicle close to $5-5.5k? That is also comfortable for someone with almost 40 inch long legs? And at least decent on fuel economy? :whistle:
     
  12. oldtechaa

    oldtechaa Active Member

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    I'm not too familiar with Prius ownership in California, of course, other than what I read on PC, but I've got to say I agree with some points above. A 2nd gen is best for a DIYer. I am one, and happy to be. But some others aren't willing/able/etc to do that. I kind of agree with the Pontiac Vibe suggestion. A whole bunch of Toyota engineering, devalued by a name. (I have to wonder what Toyota was getting out of the NUMMI deal. Seems like GM was getting all the benefits of it.) But not to scare you away from a Prius, I think it could still be a viable option.

    I'm concerned about number 4. Is this a refurb Green Bean battery or brand new? They just started offering new cells not long ago, but if it's a refurb, scratch it off the list. It should come at a steep discount for a refurb.

    It seems to me number 3 is the best option, not seeing the cars myself, of course. Otherwise, number 1 looks nice, although it depends on how long ago the battery was replaced. They're all very similar otherwise though.

    Here's a thought for you. These all cost more than they would elsewhere in the country. I don't know how soon you need the car, but do you have anyone a state or two away that you'd like to visit when the pandemic dies down? You could visit them and shop for a new car outside California (keeping in mind OEM cat and all) and drive it home. You might get a thousand or so off. Or just somewhere you want to vacation to.
     
  13. orenji

    orenji Senior Member

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    For 5k you can find decent Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic that will easily give you 2 years of low cost and maintenance. The Prius is a great car, but as it ages one needs to keep up on the maintenance and oil changes. Unfortunately many of these older cars have changed owners and who really know what has or has not been done with them. If they were newer no big deal, 10 years plus your rolling the dice.
     
  14. SFO

    SFO Senior Member

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    Be sure to double check every claim (new OEM battery, new OEM catalytic, etc), trust but verify. If it isn't dealer installed with paperwork or recorded at Welcome to Toyota Owners - it could be shenanigans. Make sure the mileage claims are realistic, since rolling back the odometer is quite easy, and I've personally seen doctored salvaged titles that also looked legit. Got a real carfax?

    Also check the service history of the above vehicles to see if any had the transmission fluid changed, and if the brake fluid was ever flushed. Both are bigger ticket items if they were to fail, and though the transmission is mostly bulletproof (except when climbing mountains with a low HV battery), it just shows a level of knowledge and vehicle care.

    Given the above choices, and not having *ALL* the info, I would lean toward #2, mostly because of the newer OEM battery and new OEM catalytic converter $$$$.$$, and updates that the 06's don't. Then you would only be looking at the brake actuator going out.

    Tell us more about those 2009's. As mentioned above, trust but verify.
     
  15. Isaac Zachary

    Isaac Zachary Active Member

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    My way of buying cars, Prius and otherwise, is to get the cheapest one possible and then do work too it. For an example I got a $300 Prius because the hybrid battery was bad. If I get a brand new battery from Toyota for $2,000 or so, then I'm still only $2,300 or so into the car. If another couple $1,000 parts fail then I'll be over $4,000 into the car. But the difference will be I'll have a couple brand new Toyota parts with guarantees, meaning the car should last another 10 to 15 years.

    On the other hand, you're not looking for a car that's going to last you another 10 to 15 years.

    My other option is to get a semi used car. I got my 5-year-old 2013 Avalon with 50k miles on it a couple years ago with a $10,000 loan and have been very very very very happy with it.

    It's the cars in between semi used and dirt cheap that scare me. I've owned a lot of cars and have gotten a couple that were around the $5,000. They ended up needing a lot of work and by the time I got them fixed up I felt like I might as well as have gotten a much newer used car.
     
    #15 Isaac Zachary, Oct 1, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2020
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