My First Post: Looking for advice when purchasing 2008 Toyota Prius

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by fazio767, Aug 9, 2020.

  1. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    The legend for reliability and low cost operation tends to last longer than the truth, for any car.

    It just isn't prudent to bring young/reliable car expectations to an old car no matter how good the history.
     
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  2. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    You're wrong! I mean, maybe in the early days when Prius were new cars, you'd of been correct, but people who can afford new cars have long since left this forum, as they should, as they have no business advising the majority of us poor folk who have to make do with older cars as best we can.

    The purpose of this website/gen2 forum is most valued by DIYers and granted there's no shortage of mechanically unskilled hangers on who are wealthy enough to finance one upside down new car loan after another, but those folks aren't the ones helping people, just discouraging/trolling us for being poor and not being able to afford other options. The projections of those kinds of "feelings and philosophy" on here is counter productive to the purpose of this website/Gen2 forum.
     
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  3. Isaac Zachary

    Isaac Zachary Active Member

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    Dumb question here. Other than the battery and perhaps the inverter pump, what else is "worse" about a Prius than any other car? If you buy a 12 year old car with 200,000 miles on it it's going to need some TLC.

    Some buy new cars because of the warranty.

    Others buy 3 to 5 year old cars because they're cheaper than new cars and last pretty well because the previous owners sell them to buy new ones.

    Cheaper than that, the cars on the market tend to be there because they have problems or could have problems.
     
  4. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    It's not a dumb question...

    Only real major other issue of concern is the brake system which has some components that are as expensive as the value of the car if you buy them new, but in the couple hundred dollar range if you buy used. And of course that's more challenging work to do compared to non-hybrid car brakes.

    There's also an issue with electric motors failing, but most of all that went away with Gen 1 Prius as Gen2 Prius has proven quite reliable in that regard.
     
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  5. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    • Smaller pool of experienced diagnosticians- lots of smaller, cheaper shops just shrug and say "Oh, we don't work on those" as a matter of policy. So more people feel pressured to go back to the dealer, which typically charges top-of-market hourly rates.
    • Sophisticated brake actuator- expensive part and a successful repair thereon benefits from a Prius-experienced technician with a real Toyota Techstream diagnostic computer.
    • 2010+ Prius can suffer from a clogged EGR circuit which snowballs into a blown headgasket, which itself can snowball into a hydrolock situation that bends a rod, destroying the engine altogether.
    In my mind, it's mostly a question of granularity. Those other 12 year old cars with 200k may bring you down "death by a thousand cuts" style. You're certainly going to have problems, but they are problems that every cheap mechanic in town already knows how to fix blindfolded.

    The Prius will smoothly cruise along for many years and miles and then WHAM problem #1 is going to cost you 20% of the then-present value of the car. And problem #2 could only be a month behind it, because old cars are like that.

    Another angle on the example- Putting in a new hybrid battery or a brake actuator would fix each of those respective systems for another decade and many thousands of miles- the problem is that most drivers are unlikely to actually keep the car long enough to realize the value of those repairs.

    Usually you get one that old, somebody wants a cheaper fix that gets "just 2 more years" but those options are rarely on the Prius repair menu. You have to go whole hog at full price and hope somebody will believe you when you try to sell it for top dollar with all those new parts in it.

    Not stupid questions at all.
     
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  6. Isaac Zachary

    Isaac Zachary Active Member

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    Thanks for the list! However, I fail to see how clogged EGR circuits, blown head gaskets and hydrolocked engines are only a Prius thing. If you get any +200k car, plan on cleaning out the EGR system.

    Still, I do see how the HV battery, inverter and inverter pump, along with the sophisticated brake actuator, are all potential problems specific to the Prius. I think as long as a buyer is aware of these and can accept them, there's no reason not to buy a Prius. IMO, an old Prius is a good car for a do-it-yourselfer who's also wanting to save on fuel.

    Personally, not having shops that can work on a Prius doesn't concern me. Maybe it's just me or where I live, but I never have found a good mechanic shop, especially one that is "cheap". The shops in town charge just as much as the dealers do, and a lot of times do a far worse job. I prefer to do what I can myself, and recommend anyone looking to save money by buying a +10 year old car to learn how to do it him/herself as well. If you're going to be spending a few hundred dollars every few months at some shady mechanic shop, you might as well as take out a loan on a much newer car.

    If you know a good mechanic and plan on using him for your mechanic needs then ask him what kind of car you should buy since he'll be the one working on it.

    Or maybe there's a good Prius mechanic in Washington State that would be willing to help the OP out with his endeavor.
     
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  7. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    If an old Prius represents the composite balance of advantages and problems you want, there's nothing stopping you.

    For non-DIY types looking for a car who don't want to be receiving Audi-grade bad news from a stranger at a service counter when they least expect it? I think there are better choices down in the cheap/old used end of the car universe.

    Old Prius when it was new: extremely likely to run for a very long time with minimal service cost, saved money against expensive fuel.

    Old Prius today: All the trouble-free miles used up, ready to spend some money! And fuel happens to be cheap now.

    I'm a big believer in getting one anyway because they're nice to drive- but if money were tight I'd scratch it off the list fast.
     
  8. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    There's also the gambling aspect... From my experience with Prius reliability, as well as learning how to fix them, it's the first car I'd pick if I had to take a chance on buying an old car. However, before I got my gen2 in 2012, it was something I didn't know enough about and from what I read online I was not willing to take that risk then compared to now.
     
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  9. fazio767

    fazio767 New Member

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    Hi everyone -

    Thank you for your continued guidance with my problem. I have been in contact with the owner of the Prius in question, and have been informed that the battery has never been replaced. The owner pretty much admitted that he would be willing to go a little cheaper because of this, and I've been able to locate someone who can install one of these infamous "reconditioned" batteries for about $900 total. I think we might offer the owner $2,000, accounting for the fact that it will cost another $900 to get the battery problem ironed out.

    Do you guys think I should just walk away and explore other cars on the market? I know that a lot of people thought $3,000 was a little high. I think $2,000 would be more appropriate, but I don't know how the owner will feel about a "low ball" offer. I think that is the maximum we could possibly justify spending on a 200,000 car with hybrid battery issues.
     
  10. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    This comes down to your goal.

    If you say "I want to drive a Toyota Prius!" then I think you've found something reasonable, and you now have a useful understanding of how the deal can and should go.

    If you say "I want a cheap car to help me save money!" then I strongly suggest looking for something other than a >10 year old Prius. Simple, low-tech cars always win that battle.
     
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  11. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    If you can get it for even $2500 that'd be a great price... And no reason to rush off and buy a replacement rebuilt, it may well be that with the proper care the hybrid battery in the car, once cleaned up and reconditioned for a few hundred bucks, will last more years than the $900 dollar one you're looking at. In general the rebuilt batteries are going to buy you a few years but not much more... As long as existing battery pack has never thrown any error codes you're getting a great opportunity here, even at $3K, as long as the car is well cared for.
     
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