Just bought my first Prius! Any advice?

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Main Forum' started by kanobe, Aug 18, 2017.

  1. kanobe

    kanobe Junior Member

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    I bought my first car this week! I had been driving a 2000 Camry that my parents got me in college, and decided it was time for an upgrade. I went with a 2012 Prius Four with the solar roof package that had 44,800 miles on it. I'm loving it so far! But since this is the first time I've had a Prius or known anyone with a Prius, I was wondering if there's any advice out there for things I should know or secret pro tips that the dealer wouldn't have thought to tell me?
     
  2. davecook89t

    davecook89t Senior Member

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    Welcome! You'll find much useful information by browsing through the threads in this forum, but here is a couple of tips:

    For the health of the main battery:

    1) Try to keep the interior of the car as cool as possible in the summer by setting the A/C at a level that is comfortable for you and leaving it there whenever you are going somewhere. Your solar fan is a neat solution for helping to keep the car cool while it's sitting, but that should be combined with windows that are tinted to the maximum legal level and sun shields for the front and rear windows. (There are some available for sale in the store that is part of this forum.)

    2) Try not to let the car sit unused for long periods of time. If you are going to be away from it for weeks or months, have a trusted friend or relative put the car in 'Ready' mode for half an hour at a time once a week or so. (Make sure there is enough gas in the tank before you leave that it will not run out when your friend is doing this, of course.)

    Other than that, enjoy the ride and especially the gas mileage.
     
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  3. Johnny Cakes

    Johnny Cakes Active Member

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    I'm a semi-new owner so this is new to me. I understand that excessive heat can deteriorate a battery.
    Are you saying that heat from the interior of the car is sufficiently transmitted to the main battery to cause deterioration?
    Does the about 40 degree difference on a hot day make a big difference?
     
  4. Aaron Vitolins

    Aaron Vitolins Senior Member

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    Congats on the Prius!

    You know what they say... once you go hybrid, you never go back! In all seriousness though, don't wait 10,000 miles to change the oil. Oil is so cheap, and with only a little over 4 qts of it, it really isnt worth it.
     
  5. davecook89t

    davecook89t Senior Member

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    It will take some time for the interior heat to penetrate the panels surrounding the battery, but there is no doubt that using sun shields and tinted glass will keep the interior cooler and that will preserve the battery. I would guess minimizing heat in this way becomes more important as the battery ages, so those of us with Gen 2 cars need to think about it more than those with later models.
     
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  6. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    congrats and welcome!

    you might consider changing the tranny fluid. other than that, just follow the maintenance in the o/m.

    it's a good idea to learn about the 12v battery. it's small, and back in a corner of the hatch under the floor.
    there's a jump point in the fuse box under the hood, where you can test the battery voltage, and jump the car if necessary. to avoid jumping, learn how to test the voltage, and keep an eye on it periodically.
    if you're not going to drive the car for several weeks, consider a battery minder, or disconnect the neg cable.

    did you get two key fobs with it? now is a good time to learn how the mechanical keys come out, and try locking and unlocking the drivers door with them.

    all the best!(y)
     
  7. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    Welcome, and congratulations!
    Here's a good thread in the sticky section of the Gen 3 forums.
    3G Prius Features Explained | PriusChat

    And there's lots of good info here on @john1701a's web site.
    John's Stuff - Toyota Prius and more

    There are things you can do to make the Prius battery last longer and things you can do to shorten its lifespan just as with a conventional auto engine. First, though, just drive it and enjoy it while you learn about it.
     
  8. tonycd

    tonycd Member

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    While I think the advice about keeping the interior cool is sound and does no harm, I wouldn't obsess over it. Most Prius owners take no special precautions in this (or any) regard, and its reliability survey results are absolutely tremendous – it's one of the most trouble-free cars ever made.

    I agree with the poster who advised changing your oil more often than the prescribed 10,000 mile interval. Some Priuses have started to consume oil after about 100,000 miles, and there's an unproven anecdotal suspicion (which I believe) that this is part of the problem. An ounce of prevention, as they say.

    The only other note I'd personally interject is that your car is now five years old. It's starting to enter the window of time where it's normal for the smaller, 12-volt battery to fail due to old age. It's one of the few failures that can strand you, so I personally think it's worth it when you have a few spare nickels and dimes to pre-emptively replace it. Note that because this battery lives in the back of the interior, for safety reasons you can't use just any battery that's sized to fit – you need one made expressly for a Prius. However, a couple different makers offer aftermarket Prius 12v batteries that fit the bill, and there are terrific DIY videos online to save the labor charge; it's a very easy job. All of which means you need not pay a Toyota dealer $250 when you can DIY a third-party brand and pay $130 instead. Check this forum for more information about it.
     
  9. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North
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    Congrats and welcome to PriusChat!

    For new hybrid owners, we usually tell them to "just drive it!" to begin. IOW, don't worry about all the hybrid stuff, just drive it normally first to get a feel of the car. Once you do, then we can get into the nitty gritty stuff of how to improve mpg and such.

    Right off the bat, just basic maintenance stuff. You can browse over it and see what needs to be done and what can wait. I don't know the condition of your car so I'm just going to cover everything and you can decide what needs to be done.

    1. When was the last time the 12V battery (regular car battery) has been changed? Check the condition. Mine lasted 7.5 years but the typical interval is 4-5 years (esp. if you don't know how the previous owner has treated the battery or how long the car has sat at the dealership and whether they were prudent enough to keep the 12V battery charged)
    2. Oil change (look at your records and see when the last time it was changed. The official OCI is 1 year/10,000 miles but oddly enough in Canada, it was still 6 months/5,000 miles even for your 2012). The oil is 0W-20 (as stated in the owner's manual). 5W-20 is ok but at least my 2010 manual says to return to 0W-20 for the following oil change. It may be different for 2012.
    3. Change the transmission fluid. It's not a required service by Toyota but owners here have noted that it's a worthwhile service interval to ensure longevity of the parts.
    4. You should be ok with the coolant (there are two reservoirs - one for engine, one for inverter). I believe the initial change is 100,000 miles and then every....2 years/20,000 miles thereafter?
    5. Note that your tire pressures are different front and rear. The front is 2 PSI higher than the rear (to account for the heavier front bias). For 15" wheels, it's 35/33 PSI.
    6. Your Prius Four w/ SR has the "Premium 7" HDD Navigation" so it actually runs the navigation off a hard drive. If you use the nav, you may want to update it (it's expensive at about $190) or you can choose to use the nav of your choice (like Waze, Google Maps, a PND etc).

    Your Prius Four is equipped with a solar roof which has two functions - Solar Panel Ventilation System and Remote A/C. Both are found in the link that jerrymildred has in his post - it's near the bottom.

    Also note that your Smart Key System works for locking AND unlocking on both front doors AND the rear hatch. (It's come to my attention that some owners are unaware of how the SKS works!)

    Other tips/tricks?

    • Your head unit can play DVD movies
    • Your head unit has a split-screen capability to display nav and audio
    • You have two underfloor bins in the trunk - a small one on the left and the large one right in the middle)
    • The roller tonneau cover in the back can be stored underneath the floor of the cargo area. It spans both small and large bins). Note that there is a "TOP" marker stamped into the ends of the tonneau cover so when you put it back behind the rear seats, ensure that TOP is facing up.
    • The rear seat headrests can be folded down - There are two releases. Press the inboard one to raise the headrest and then it should just fold forward. This allows you to fold the rear seats down without having the headrest hit the front seats. If you want to remove it, then press both releases after you raise the headrests
    • The rear seatbelts can be taken out of their guides when you fold the seat so that they move out of the way, instead of having them stretch out as you fold the seat (remember to put them back afterwards!)
    • The USB feature for the audio only allows 255 songs per folder - keep that in mind when you're loading a USB stick.
    • You can pair your phone for both bluetooth handsfree calling and bluetooth audio (or pair a music player that has BT as well)
    • Your footwell lighting under the dashboard stays dimly illuminated when you're in Drive (and bright when you're in Park) when the parking lights or headlights are on
    • If you're parking in a dusty place or parked near a place with a lot of smoke (e.g. BBQ), you can turn off your SPVS so that the car doesn't draw in the air and fill your car will the smell of charcoal. (There is an air filter but still, it's nice not to smell charcoal)
    • Your moonroof has a one-touch open feature (but you have to hold to close. It'll stop partway. Release and press again to fully close)
    • The 12V battery (regular car battery) is located on the passenger side in the cargo area.
    • Your HUD is adjustable in both brightness and height.
    • Touch Tracer is a feature where if you put your finger over the grey soft-touch buttons on the steering wheel, a duplicate will show up on the dashboard highlighted in orange. This allows you to find the button you want without having to look down at the steering wheel (great when you're using thin gloves in the winter!)
    • If you're wearing gloves in the winter and can't lock the doors using the touch-sensor on the outside, you can palm your hand over the door handle near the touch sensors and that should be able to lock the car without having to take your gloves off.


    Looks like I need to make one for Gen 4 :) Standby...
     
  10. NutzAboutBolts

    NutzAboutBolts Senior Member

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  11. kanobe

    kanobe Junior Member

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    The windows are already tinted and I park in a garage. Are sun shields really necessary for the times that it'll be parked in a parking lot or something?
    How often do you recommend?
    I'm guessing I can learn about the battery in the owner's manual? I haven't started reading it yet...

    I did get two key fobs. One of them has a low battery, at least according to the car display when I powered off with both keys inside. After reading your post, I pushed the button on the side and the rest of my keys fell off! I had no idea there was a secret key hidden there!! But I have no idea where it would go..?
    The battery still has some warranty time on it. Should I replace it before that warranty expires? Would it be covered if it hadn't gone out?
     
  12. NutzAboutBolts

    NutzAboutBolts Senior Member

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    Change your oil every 10k miles, there is nothing wrong with changing it every 10k miles. I've been doing it since brand new and it has 140k miles, no oil has been burned. You only read a lot of oil burning on the 2010 and 2011 Prius, somehow their engine has those issues, but for the 2012, there hasn't been any of the issues the later model has been experiencing, such as brake booster, egr, oil burning, head gaskets, misfiring issues etc.. etc.. My 2012 has been no issue for me, and your year, and model is the exact same as mine.

    As for the HV battery, don't worry too much about it since over time, it'll eventually die and you'll need to replace it. Just make sure to clean the HV battery fan to prevent over heating due to clogged battery fan.

    Honestly, the solar panel roof is a waste of money and the fan that runs it is useless. It won't keep the car cool because you're just circulating hot air inside the vehicle, the AC is not on so its not keeping the car cool at all. I've used it once and I don't see a difference in temp. and so I never used it again.
     
  13. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    the metal key goes into the lock on the drivers door handle. if the 12v dies, you can't open the hatch, or the doors electrically, so it's a good idea to know how to use the mechanical keys, and find the jump point under the hood.
    learning about the 12v can be found here, not in your o/m. toyota would never admit to having an insufficient product in their vehicles.
     
  14. NutzAboutBolts

    NutzAboutBolts Senior Member

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    you can still open the hatch manually from the inside.

     
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  15. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    yes, but it's much easier to put 12v to the charge point.
     
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  16. NutzAboutBolts

    NutzAboutBolts Senior Member

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    sometimes I don't feel too safe using those points, but that's just me, I like to go straight to the source :D
     
  17. Marine Ray

    Marine Ray Senior Member

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    The solar roof package was an expensive way to get a sunroof.
     
  18. NutzAboutBolts

    NutzAboutBolts Senior Member

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    Yeah basically... they hyped up the solar AC as if it was the best thing ever, I tried it and I thought, what a useless function lol... I guess the engineers didn't think this through since you need freon to keep car cool and not just the fan running.
     
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  19. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North
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    Well it wasn't meant to actively cool the car, it was meant to reduce the build up of heat (which it does) by drawing in outside and and venting out the hot air (it doesn't recirculate). I find if you use a windshield sunshade, it helps as the air coming through the dashboard is cooler and doesn't get heated up by the black dashboard.
     
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  20. kanobe

    kanobe Junior Member

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    So now my question is: when I got the car, I agreed to the warranty. It's for 4years/50,000 miles (starting from the odometer reading date at purchase date). Should I keep it? What are the repair costs for the 2012 Prius if something fails?
     
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