Looking to buy a 04 Prius. What do I need to look for?

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by t0ny, Nov 29, 2014.

  1. t0ny

    t0ny Junior Member

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    My current car is in the process of dying so I am looking into buying a 04 Prius. I found one near-by that has 136k miles and is $6k.

    One of the things that worries me is the HV battery. How do I check to see if it is in good shape before I purchase this car? My friend's dad says he will help me check a car before I buy it but he has no experience with hybrid cars.

    I looked at the carfax and the battery was replaced in 2012 but I am guessing that probably means the 12v battery. It looks like it has had regular maintenance.

    Anyways what should we check before purchasing this car.

    Thanks for the information,
    Tony - Hopefully future Prius owner.
     
  2. writes123

    writes123 Junior Member

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    yep. only the 12v battery was done in 2012. potential issues is old check engine light dealing with catalytic converter. also, spark plugs, engine coolant, inverter coolant, serpentine belt, PCV valve, water pump (ICE).

    looks like it was decently maintained. only major issues i see besides keeping up with Preventative maintenance is cat converter and possibly the HV battery due to age. hook the prius up to techstream and check arts automotive site to see about HV battery life and testing. read the codes as well to see the recently cleared ones.
     
  3. writes123

    writes123 Junior Member

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    got all that by registering the car on toyota owners website. check it out.
     
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  4. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Regarding the traction battery, its ultimate life is highly uncertain. It might last another 150K miles, or it might die tomorrow. A test will only tell you whether the battery is good today.

    You need to be prepared financially to pay for the traction battery replacement if you own an older Prius. For that matter, the inverter or transaxle might fail and typically there will be no advance warning since the failures are electrical in nature.

    If you can DIY install used parts, the repairs won't cost too much because the overall Prius failure rate is low which leads to correspondingly low demand for these used parts. If you have to depend upon dealer service installing new parts, have a healthy four-digit repair budget available.

    You may want to have your local Toyota dealer service dept check out the car after your friend decides it is in reasonable condition. Good luck with your purchase.
     
  5. JimN

    JimN Let the games begin!

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    Something is either blocked or has been removed.

    Tony, welcome to the site. In a CARB state that car would be just coming off warranty. During the test drive notice the behavior of the battery bars. If they fluctuate between fully charged and discharged in a short period of time expect an HV battery failure sooner rather than later.

    Are they the original brakes? Brakes last a loooong time but they do need to be replaced eventually.

    Is this a private party sale?
     
  6. t0ny

    t0ny Junior Member

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    I have nearly no budget at the moment as I am unemployed. So do you think it is a bad idea to buy a Prius? I have a family member that is going to loan me the money so I can get a new car because my current car is failing. My current budget for a car is $4-5k plus what ever I can get out of my current car. The car was at a Toyota dealer but they sold it already. :(

    How short of a time period should I look for? Also the car was at a Toyota dealer but they sold it. :(

    Thanks for the advice.
     
  7. JC91006

    JC91006 Senior Member

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    good thing the dealer sold the car, without a budget of at least $2000, you should not get into a used Prius. A blessing in disguise.
     
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  8. JimN

    JimN Let the games begin!

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    A failing traction battery can be indicated by the bars fluctuating between fully charged & discharged within a couple of minutes.
     
  9. johnjamis

    johnjamis Junior Member

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    "I have nearly no budget at the moment as I am unemployed. So do you think it is a bad idea to buy a Prius? I have a family member that is going to loan me the money so I can get a new car because my current car is failing. My current budget for a car is $4-5k plus what ever I can get out of my current car. The car was at a Toyota dealer but they sold it already. :("

    In your situation, consider buying a newer used Corolla. No expensive battery or inverter, but still a fine car.
     
  10. Aaron Vitolins

    Aaron Vitolins Senior Member

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    As a 18 year old kid with a tight budget, I bought a 05 with 223,000 miles on it in may. Now that car has 235,600 miles no problem. I would advise you to still be careful though, the one I bought was a really nice one owner car. Most people will tell you to run from an old/high milage prius, I say go for it.. if/when the hv battery fails, buy a battery from a 2008-2009 prius from a salvaged yard($800). When your on a budget you can't be to picky. Check the car fax
     
  11. Aaron Vitolins

    Aaron Vitolins Senior Member

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    Keep checking auto trader and cars.com
     
  12. stonerider

    stonerider Junior Member

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    I bought two Priuses in the last 3-4 months, after not buying a car for the last 12 years. Both of them are 2007, one with 87k and the other 104k miles at the time I bought. The first one, a green (silver mica pine?) cost $9000 in late August 2014, the second one, a silver Prius, cost $8000 in middle November 2014.

    I love the Prius. I never buy from dealers, but I do take my Prius to them for oil change and fluid changes. With the help from the knowledgeable members on the forum, I was able to replace air filters and spark plugs as well as clean throttle body and maf sensors. I plan on doing more preventative maintenance myself.

    When buying a used Prius, the key is finding a one owner car with dealer maintenance record. If the exterior and interior are kept clean and in good condition, you can bet it is a well-running car. I bought my second Prius without a test drive. I met the owner at his home, he was just returning back home from work in the Prius.
     
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  13. Kutanks

    Kutanks Member

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    I drove an '04 Prius from 70,000 to about 140,000 miles. I averaged about 45MPG. I got rid of it for 6,000 but it wasn't in the best condition cosmetically. The thing about the Prius (and most Toyotas) is that they tend to hold their value really well even with high miles. My family has a 2001, 2010, and 2014 plugin Prius. I liked the '04 the least of these cars. I would get stuck way more often in snow than my mom in the 2001 or my dad in the 2010. Also the steering feel isn't there. How long do you plan on keeping the car? My Prius was due for its third set of tires when I dumped it. It also needed new shocks/ springs. At high mileage you are going to need to set aside money for normal routine maintenance and budget in case you do have to replace something major like a battery. If you really want a Prius and can afford it then go for it! I drove one for 5 years as my first car and it was a lot better/ more reliable than the crapboxes my friends had.
     
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