Looking for a car, found a Prius

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by MaybeAPrius, Feb 4, 2022.

  1. MaybeAPrius

    MaybeAPrius New Member

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    Hi all, I am a student in a tight budget but I finally decided to buy a car after several frustrations with uber and buses in my area. This week I searched my school's listings, facebook and craigslist, and the most interesting option I found was a Prius.

    Luckly I found this forum which has helped me gather some information in the past few days and based on what I found here, the Prius might not be a good purchase, but since it is much cheaper than similar regular cars (corollas, accords, civics and etc) in my area, I am still not sure if I should just let it go and keep looking for something else.

    It is a 2007 prius, 210k miles, and seems to be under regular use, with clean title and etc (also, OEM battery still running). The owner seems to be moving out of the area, bc he has some other craigslist posts of furniture and household items and is asking for $2500.

    I am looking for a cheap car to run errands like 3-4 times a week, trying to keep it cheap and selling after graduation in at most 2 years. Definitely not a mechanics expert.

    Is there any chance this can be a good purchase?
     
  2. rjparker

    rjparker Tu Humilde Sirviente

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    Not much chance but if you put away $2.5k for a repair fund you could handle the high voltage battery or brake booster when one of them fails and then rebuild your repair fund. But first spend $150 at a Toyota dealer for a good inspection realizing some repairs are likely.

    There is a good reason why the Corollas and Civics cost more. When buying a high mile used car they will cost you less overall.
     
  3. MaybeAPrius

    MaybeAPrius New Member

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    Thanks for the advice!

    Wouldn't it just make more sense financially to just try to sell the prius for parts or to some mechanic if something that costs more than $2k fails? How much can I expect to get out of it in this case?
     
  4. Moving Right Along

    Moving Right Along Senior Member

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    Typically, a well maintained Prius will cost slightly more than a similar Corolla or Camry. If this one is less, it would be a good idea to look into it a bit more. It could be a wonderful car, and many are. But I’d insist on seeing the repair and maintenance history first. You want to make sure all regular maintenance has been done. At that age and number of miles, you can’t take anything for granted.
     
  5. MaybeAPrius

    MaybeAPrius New Member

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    Wouldn't that be true only for lower (<100k) mileage? What do you think of the $2500 price of the Prius? Does it sound cheap or the other cars that are actually too expensive?
     
  6. Another

    Another Senior Member

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    Get the service history from either Toyota or CarFax and ascertain what service needs to be done., e.g., oil, coolant and other fluids. May cost a few hundred dollars to get them done but it’s well worth the expense in the long run. Plan on regular oil changes. Do not skimp on this. Many Toyota deals charge less than the Jiffy Lube type places. The fact that the OEM battery is still going is a plus and may mean the car was driven regularly and well maintained.
     
  7. rjparker

    rjparker Tu Humilde Sirviente

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    $500 maybe. My guess is the expensive catalytic converter is already gone. "If" something expensive fails is not the issue. "When" something fails is the question. One fix will cost the same as the car. There is 90% probability something is wrong if they are selling for $2500. Having Toyota inspect it before buying is the only way to go into this. Records don't matter and changing fluids after its yours does nothing for an expensive battery or brake booster.

    I would feel better if the battery and brake booster were already changed with new within the last four or five years. New means brand new, many sell used batteries as "reconditioned", "refurbished" or "repainted" (Dorman) all of which will fail quickly.
     
    #7 rjparker, Feb 5, 2022
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2022
  8. rogerthat

    rogerthat Active Member

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    Inquire about any and all issues with the car - original battery, recalls, etc. Maybe you'll get an honest answer. Then, besides checking with Toyota about service history etc... Here's what I would do:

    Take it for a nice long drive to see if any warning lights are triggered. During your drive pay attention to the MFD to see if the state of charge of the hybrid battery fluctuates wildly - this might be a sign that the battery is on its way out. This might be difficult for those unfamiliar with the Prius, but listen to check if the internal combustion engine is always running. Also listen if you can hear the hybrid battery fan constantly running - the vent is to the right of the non drivers side passenger seat.

    Importantly, check if the original cat(s) is still present (very easy to do). If there are no other obvious issues and the original cat is still installed, then I'd throw out an offer like $1800 and see how he responds. If you strike a deal, buy an aftermarket cat ($120) to replace the original. Then sell the originals (you should get close to $1000, but I haven't checked prices lately) and if everything goes according to plan the car will cost you more like $1k which makes the gamble much more attractive. Check if NC is a non emissions testing state. If so, then there is no real worry if the aftermarket cat fails you (Me and others have had good success with aftermarket cats).
     
    #8 rogerthat, Feb 5, 2022
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2022
  9. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    Don’t buy a Prius G2.

    There is nothing cheap about the end life of a Prius G2. It takes $$$ and car repair skill and lots and lots of tools.
    And electronic skill and a covered place to work At the end of its life. You probably don’t even own a voltmeter.

    The car your looking at is beat to death the engine eats oil like crazy and the
    $$$$$ hybrid battery is on its last legs. And the day you buy it the cat will get stolen lol.

    Based on what i see here is most people that own an old ailing Prius are the last people in the world who should own an old ailing Prius.

    There stuck taking it to the dealer for everything at $185 an hour.
    What’s your capacity for a $1200 repair bill because that’s coming pretty fast.
    And that’s nothing at the dealer.

    Buy a regular car with no hybrid battery. So at least a independent repair shop has a shot at fixing it reasonably. There’s no reasonably at a Toyota dealer.
     
    Robert Shields and JohnPrius3005 like this.
  10. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    Go find our old 2007 Hyundai Accent. (sorry, we already sold it... but they made more than one!)

    You could fix almost anything on it with grocery store tools and cheap parts from amazon. Even when we took it to the pros the bills were cheap compared to any hybrid.

    A simple car with minimal features built from older technology is the way to go when the budget is that low.
     
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  11. MaybeAPrius

    MaybeAPrius New Member

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    Thanks everyone for the insights. It seems to me that the Prius may be a good option but it is quite a gamble.

    I just came across a 2000 Camry with 300k miles on it for $1000 from another student in my school. It seems like a much better option because everything on these old Camrys seems to be repairable at low cost, unlike the Priuses.

    Definitely worse than the 2007 Prius in comfort and technology, but for short errands and focusing on low costs in the short term, it seems like a no brainer.
     
  12. pasadena_commut

    pasadena_commut Active Member

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    Is Zipcar an option where you are? It is often a good option when only occasional car usage is required.

    I do not recommend old hybrids, any old hybrid, for people just starting out. There are just too many multi-thousand dollar repairs which can show up. If you absolutely must have a car look for a Civic or Corolla, in the current market possibly even as old as a late 90's model. Preferably one mostly used in the Southwest (so no rust), otherwise, inspect carefully for rust, signs of flood damage, or previous collision. Those models are super reliable and independent mechanics can repair them for substantially less than a dealer would charge. You might also look for a car which has been hail damaged. It will be ugly but that damage is mostly just cosmetic (the replaced windows might leak though, check that carefully.) Underneath that golf ball skin those cars are often in very good shape.
     
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  13. MaybeAPrius

    MaybeAPrius New Member

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    Unfortunately not, I considered it, but the closest one is like 20 miles away
     
  14. Moving Right Along

    Moving Right Along Senior Member

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    For cars of similar age and miles, a Prius is typically more expensive than a Corolla or Camry. After a quick online search, I did find a similar model Prius to the one you’re looking at that’s similarly priced, so it still might be a fair deal. Then again, the one I found has apparently been on the car lot for over a year, which says a lot (of bad things) in the current market. Locally, I don’t see one for sale for less than $5k.

    This forum has a surprising number of people who regularly advise people to stay away from the cars the forum specializes in. On average, a Prius and a Corolla will have similar repair costs throughout their operational lifetimes. You just can’t tell for sure about any car at 15+ years old and over 200,000 miles, which is why I would recommend a mechanical history and/or check for any car with those parameters.
     
    #14 Moving Right Along, Feb 5, 2022
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2022
  15. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    Well... that's becasue we see what the OP is going through all the time on this site.

    The Prius G2 has a great reputation as a solidly engineered car. Except 15 years later there all beat to death. Engine eats oil bad and needs a hybrid battery and its #1 on the hit list for cat theft and you have the ABS failure hanging over your head. The ABS failure alone will bust you out that's like $3000 at the dealer and there dropping left and right.

    And the absolute worse is these posters usually have no car repair skills at all no tools no experience and no place to work on the car. And you want to start on this car?

    I will bet the OP does not even own a volt meter.

    Its a 14 year old very high tech car for its age and it can have bewildering issues for the uninitiated. I am doing the OP a huge favor by being realistic and waving him off.

    All I can say if you are dead set on an old Prius get the VIN from the prospective seller and go on toyota.com/owners forum join the forum and enter that cars vin and you will see every time the car has seen a toyota dealer service center what was done what was the estimate.
    It may give you some insight on the prospective car.

    Many have gotten a death sentence at the dealer then the car was traded in on the spot off to auction it goes soon to be found at a used car lot all fluffed up ready to drill the shit out of the next guy. We see that guy...real soon.

    2000 Camry is a great car. I refer you to the Toyota Nation Camry/Corolla Forum for more info.
     
  16. Moving Right Along

    Moving Right Along Senior Member

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  17. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    I guess I don't get the surprise. When you learn something well enough, you learn its failure modes as well as its benefits.

    When a car is sold private-party, the maintenance history is available- and sometimes good. When you get it from a dealer lot, they deliberately get rid of that info and let the car do the talking.

    More and more of these cars are going to be traded in, where they'll go through the auction process and be stripped of all maintenance history, and then re-sold.

    Some of them will be okay, but not everyone has the cash to spin the wheel again when it doesn't work out.
     
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  18. Another

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    This forum sometimes is like watching the news about a lottery winner. Everyone that watched the lottery news item thinks gee, that could be me.

    Buying an older car is always with risk. People usually come to this forum because they have a problem which is a biased sample. Millions of people own Prius cars. Not that many complain. Taxi drivers swear by them, not at them.

    If you want absolute security get a new car with a warranty or buy a used car that has been owned by one person who can demonstrate maintenance and has a plausible reason for selling it.

    The best used car is often one you buy from someone that really doesn’t want to sell it but because of life’s circumstances has to sell it. Most often they just want a new car or their kids don’t want the used car. They are out there but these days they are harder to find.

    There are relatively simple due diligence actions one can take before buying a used car. Often these are things some people find too difficult and those people should go elsewhere.
     
  19. rjparker

    rjparker Tu Humilde Sirviente

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    Forums are full of fan boys who want to affirm their vehicle choice when asked about quality and reliability. What seems to be "unusual" to some of these guys is all members are not like them. Others will share negative facts about hybrids and warn about the most complicated cars available.

    It is disappointing when you see a prospective used car buyer asking for advice and the fanboys simply repeat platitudes about their Prius as seen through rose colored glasses with selective memory.

    Yes we know taxi companies use Prius vehicles and often keep them running past 400,000 miles. We also know companies think nothing of putting replacement engines, batteries and accessories into those high mileage hybrids. Downtime is not a concern because their managers have spare vehicles ready and contract for discounted high volume repairs.

    We also know that 90% of mechanics can not evaluate a hybrid system prior to purchase. There is no easy way to judge oil burning, a brake booster or hv battery in an hour. But each of these common high mileage failures is well over $2,500. That applies to dealer mechanics as well; most are not trained well enough to work on a hybrid.

    So in this thread we get a student who needs a car. He finds a 15 year old gen2 for $2,500 in today's market where a $5,000 car in good condition is a smoking deal. The car has 210,000 miles. Warnings are appropriate.
     
    #19 rjparker, Feb 6, 2022
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2022
  20. Another

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    Prudence is always a good thing, paranoia is the issue. I’m not talking about taxis with replaced engines. That is a red herring.

    I don’t think anyone should buy an old Prius like mine, a 2007 with nearly 200k miles with original battery and no other issues after past owner who drove it regularly and maintained it according to specifications. It’s just too boring to own. Drives me crazy looking for something to complain about.

    Also I think people should all change their own oil, it’s fun especially in the winter and what the hell, what could possibly go wrong? And it’s too hard to check the level after the dealership change just to be safe. There are three Toyota dealers in my area. One shop looks like something I’d not tell my worst enemy to go to, so I got to the guy who’s been in business for many decades and who I’ve known for decades.

    Think you’re in over your head, then bail out. Like the line from the movie, Ronin, “If there’s any doubt, there is no doubt. That’s the first thing they teach you.”
     
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