If a car is “dealer maintained” how important is a pre-purchase inspection?

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Care, Maintenance & Troubleshooting' started by macmaster05, Dec 7, 2017.

  1. macmaster05

    macmaster05 Senor Member

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    Just as the title says. I’m thinking about purchasing a Prius from a private seller. I’ve never done it before but want to make sure everything checks out obviously. Title is clean and seller claims it’s been dealer maintained and assuming he has the paperwork to show it, that begs the question, is that good enough? How important is a pre-purchase inspection? Do they look for more than they do during a standard maintenance? Should I take it to the same dealership myself or a independent mechanic? Every website says “take it to a trusted mechanic” but this isn’t 1950; I don’t know know a trusted mechanic outside of whatever yelp says. Any insight would be appreciated.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Elektroingenieur

    Elektroingenieur Active Member

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    To me, “dealer maintained” just means that the owner took the car to the dealer for maintenance, not that the dealer maintained the car to any particular standard. If the repair orders show that all of the scheduled maintenance items were completed at the times or mileages recommended in the Warranty & Maintenance Guide, it suggests a conscientious owner, but it’s no guarantee of a trouble-free car.

    Keep in mind that you may not be seeing a complete history. There may be no documentation, for example, of services or repairs that were recommended but declined, repairs that were done separately from scheduled maintenance visits, or problems that were simply not reported to the dealer.
    Many dealers use the “Multipoint Inspection” process and form suggested by Toyota during routine service visits, but there is no assurance that all of the items on the form were checked thoroughly or at all, especially the ones that aren’t likely to result in additional service sales. This inspection also doesn’t involve a road test.

    The scope and value of a used-car inspection depends completely on the knowledge, skill, and diligence of the inspector, your budget for the work, and what the owner of the car allows. This could range from “we drove it around the block and none of the wheels fell off,” at one extreme, to a full disassembly and internal inspection of the engine, transaxle, and battery, at the other, or something in between, like Toyota’s Multipoint Inspection or the far more extensive inspection required for a Toyota Certified Used Vehicle (see their 160-Point Quality Assurance Inspection Check Sheet and Inspection Standards Manual).

    A car sold privately isn’t eligible to be certified, but if you’re not sure where to begin, you might use the TCUV check sheet as a starting point to discuss with the dealer or mechanic which items should be inspected, considering your budget and risk tolerance. They may suggest other items to examine, too.
    If it’s an independent shop, it would be best to use one that is familiar with hybrid vehicles and has a Toyota Techstream diagnostic system or a third-party scan tool that can communicate with all of the car’s computers, including the Hybrid Vehicle Control ECU. An scan tool designed only for engine or emission-control diagnosis really isn’t sufficient to do a through check for stored diagnostic trouble codes.
     
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  3. Kenny94945

    Kenny94945 Active Member

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    I agree with above...dealer maintained means service/ maintained done on schedule per book.

    I would not go to the same dealer for a PPI.

    It's a crap shot. Find a local independent.
    PPI to include: Leakdown test, coolant and brake life test, brake pad thickness, rust or collision, computer code search, all dash buttons/ screens function, even more.
    Labor rate in my area is $150 an hours. A limited PPI would be $300 plus disclaimers as it is no guarantee the transmission will not blow up as soon as you buy the car.

    Your call, if seller appears good, has all paper work, car is clean...well its a crap shoot.
    Option, utilize a Toyota dealer for the sale to see if you can purchase some type of extended warranty.

    Good luck.
     
  4. macmaster05

    macmaster05 Senor Member

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    Thanks a lot guys for the thorough responses. I did find a good local mechanic who charges $100 for a pre-purchase inspection. I live in LA so mechanics are saturated and $100 seems to be the going rate. The guy takes it for a test drive, checks for frame damage, mechanical issues, engine, accessories, etc. and emails a report and pictures. I would definitely take it to an independent mechanic now.

    However, I was wondering how truly prevalent of this excessive oil consumption issue was on 2010 models. It seems like a widely reported issue. The car I am interest in is under 100k miles and so I'm not sure it would show up in any inspection.

    2010 Toyota Prius Excessive Oil Consumption: 107 Complaints
     
  5. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Lapsed Cargo Cultist

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    Is there any way to check for oil consumption, on the spot?

    To answer the question myself: one warning sign I can think of, if the seller in bone-head enough to not ensure the oil is at the top mark, that a check of the dipstick reveals barely any oil.

    Other'n that that, is there anyway, short of a month-long test drive?

    You could just ask the seller, watch their reaction.

    A possible sign of chronic neglect: mondo dead leaves in the cowl corners, when you pop the hood.
     
  6. JC91006

    JC91006 Senior Member

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    I bought a 2005 a while back and when I asked the seller about oil burning, he said car didn't burn oil because he changes oil every 3000 miles. Who changes oil every 3000? (Mendel) This car had 155k miles on it.

    I was a bit skeptical but still bought the car. Sure enough car didn't burn much oil at all. But I thought he was lying just by his answer. But I got myself a gem
     
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