Prius 3rd gen common issues before buying

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Main Forum' started by Haschwalt, Jul 31, 2019.

  1. Haschwalt

    Haschwalt Member

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    So I'm looking to buy a '12-'15 Prius - would go newer but I hate the newer gen looks. The third gen is, imo, the pinnacle of Toyota's quality and design - modern but not trying too hard like the 4th gen.

    I am aware of the 3rd gen 2010 model having possible issues, know about the rodent infestation problems with this (and all Prius gens), and also know to generally buy a car that is lower mileage/newer when possible.

    I am mainly interested in the highest trim/options for the Gen 3 (solar roof package) - and around 50-70k miles.

    Partially concerned about the 8 year warranty period for the '12s going out in about a year which makes the '15 a little more appealing (but more expensive).

    See some 80k '15s at a pricepoint that's appealing, but not sure on battery.

    I have read that the HV battery degrades more in the south due to temp, but this is balanced by the fact that where I live (upstate NY) the roads will ruin the body thanks to rust and corrosion (salt and water do not do well).

    If I buy from a Toyota dealership (not certified) should I still get the car inspected elsewhere?

    Any other advice, or known issues to be aware of for this car gen would be appreciated.
     
  2. topshot

    topshot Member

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    Both of our's, which were/are 2012, have come from near Chicago but didn't look that bad overall. Only odd rust was related to accident repairs, but you can see perhaps a bit more corrosion on brackets and such than you would in a non-salt area - no big deal.

    I have learned Prius' have weak wheel bearings since they are made to be so efficient apparently. Replaced a rear one after only 70k miles.

    I think your best bet for the battery is to get a cracked version of Techstream so you can run a drain-down test. Techstream has the added benefit of showing you any DTC that has ever occurred apparently when you do the health report. Borrow a friend's Prius to try it out first so you know the software and drivers have been loaded properly and how to accomplish that test.

    As for an inspection, if you don't know what to look for or inspect, then a trusted mechanic or dealer would be good. I do know what to look for but was not familiar with all the Prius electronics and battery so I did take the first one to a Toyota dealer (it was being sold by BMW dealer) for their 150 point inspection or something like that. It was around $160 I think and did point out the brake pads were apparently worn more than you would expect for the mileage. After that car was totaled, we got the second from an individual but I knew what to expect at that point so inspected it myself.

    BTW, I agree with you on the 2012-2015 though I also like the black alloy wheels. :p I don't like the Gen 4 looks as well.
     
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  3. Grit

    Grit Senior Member

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    the highest trim doesn’t include solar roof. Even mid level have solar roof. Advice: read up on solar roof to know what it really does.
     
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  4. Lovec1990

    Lovec1990 Junior Member

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    Well 3gen 2012- are very reliable, but that does not mean something cannot fail. 2015 would be best bet becouse its last year of 3 gen so most issues older models have exspecialy 2010(oil burning issue) have been fixed plus car is young so you have least chances of battery failure.

    One coment either you buy 2010,2012 or 2015 you are buying 9 year old tech,
     
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  5. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    The HV battery is more sensitive to the calendar than the odometer. Get the youngest one you can afford.
     
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  6. royrose

    royrose Senior Member

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    Another option is to get an OBDII bluetooth adapter and run the Dr. Prius App which does a run down test that estimates % of battery life left. Doesn't do everything that Techstream does but is inexpensive and easy. I would use one or the other before buying a used Prius.
     
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  7. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    i think the gen2 was the pinnacle of quality, downhill ever since
     
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  8. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

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    Quality or reliability ;).

    I’d say reliability (y).
     
  9. Grit

    Grit Senior Member

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    I seen posted on numerous time that it’s not good to buy a low mileage 2010 because it hasn’t been on a regular charge discharge cycle, and a higher mileage would be better.
     
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  10. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    battery, inverter, brake actuator, a/c compressor, oil burning, head gasket, egr circuit, inverter pump, 12v battery, rear brakes, oil flap, interior rattles, headlights, the hits just keep on coming
     
    #10 bisco, Aug 4, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2019
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  11. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    doesn't quality lead to reliability?
     
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  12. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

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    I’d argue the quality parts and programs haven’t changed for the worse, but the reliability has changed ;).

    To me they are mutually independent entities (y).
     
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  13. Lovec1990

    Lovec1990 Junior Member

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    perhaps is just complexety of systems more complex the parts easier is to fail
     
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  14. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    and i would argue that the engineering (no offense) to reduce cost has lead to defective or call it shorter lasting parts, vs quality of workmanship.

    to be fair, it might also be the relentless pursuit of lower emissions and higher mpg's.
     
    #14 bisco, Aug 4, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2019
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  15. Lovec1990

    Lovec1990 Junior Member

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    well 4 gen is still too young too prove this point
     
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  16. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

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    I agree that pushing the limits leads to finding them;).

    But the equation also changes too. The definition of lifetime comes to mind. Now with better technology, this can be estimated and tested more accurately, which leads to certain decisions :cool:.

    But the drive to continuously improve does have unintended consequences (y).
     
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  17. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    agreed
     
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  18. Lovec1990

    Lovec1990 Junior Member

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    guys i think we should alittle hold back we might scare OP away from buying car he wants
     
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  19. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    I've heard every charge/discharge cycle "ages" the battery some, or did I get that wrong?

    I do know the Owner's Manual says protracted down time can be detrimental. Excerpt from the manual:

    upload_2019-8-4_7-49-44.png
     
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  20. Haschwalt

    Haschwalt Member

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    lol, it's fine. Every other manufacturer is plagued with issues too - even Honda. Honda's quality has gone downhill too. Toyota's quality decline happened about a decade ago per Phil Edmonston when the company's leadership switched from quality focus to profitability focus. The best cars I've had were a 1990 Honda Accord LX, and a 2001 Toyota Camry LE. The former was sold b/c of its age and some rear fender rust, and the latter was totaled thanks to another driver causing minimal damage to the front end.

    It's funny you folks mentioned the 3rd gen Prius has some issues - Consumer Reports ranked it the most reliable passenger sedan even more than the Camry - although Consumer Reports isn't perfect. The biggest issue seems to be the oil burn problem, but honestly, it doesn't seem like a big deal so long as you check your oil levels 1-4x a month & it's nominally more expensive in maintenance costs. That said, I am going for a '15 to try to avoid this issue.

    I'd actually prefer a 2017+ but it hasn't reached a good level of depreciation yet. The 2016 is a 1st gen and carcomplaints.com seems to suggest more problems for 2016s presumably due to new gen. It also suggests the 2010 & 2011 were bad years.

    upload_2019-8-4_12-43-8.jpeg

    The other major dealbreakers are that I need the 12V battery for use with a 1200 W inverter, and that would be problematic with the 2016+ since it's in the front hood with the engine. Also, the solar panel is cool as **** and the heat reduction in the car on a sunny day is a cool gimmick (pun intended).

    Whatever money I spend on maintenance on this car, however, will be neutralized by the fact that I will not be spending $1500-2000 a month in NYC or the Bay (I'm a software engineer and cost of living is more than mortgages from my neck of the woods). My inspiration is A 23-year-old Google employee lives in a truck in the company's parking lot and saves 90% of his income | The Independent and ideas like this: https://thebolditalic.com/i-moved-to-san-francisco-and-lived-in-my-car-7cf186507f64 . Having already lived in the Bay for several years, it would be a fun experience for me to live in a Prius for a few months, save up on rent, break even on the car's cost, have short commute, etc.

    –––––––––––––––––––––

    Incidentally, I don't know if any of you have heard of the book "Lemon-Aid" by Phil Edmonston. He recommends the Prius, & mentions the oil burning problem, but mentions broadly speaking about the Prius that:

    "Toyotas hold up well over many years, are forgiving of owner neglect, and have reasonable servicing requirements. Lemon-Aid has recommended Toyota models since the early ’70s, when they started gaining popularity in Canada. Their vehicles were reliable and cheap, and the company paid most warranty claims without forcing customers to file small claims court lawsuits. All this came to an end more than a decade ago when bean-counters took over the company and adopted the mantra that profit and market share trump quality, in Toyota’s quest to become the Number 1 automaker in the world...

    Toyota’s Quality Decline
    Ten years ago Lemon-Aid warned readers that Toyota quality was declining. Reports of “runaway” cars were coming in through NHTSA owner-complaint and Internet postings and Lemon-Aid lowered its ratings on many Toyota models. A perusal of Lemon-Aid readers’ letters and e-mails, as well as NHTSA reports, shows that some 2005-2010 Toyotas were plagued by engineering mistakes. These include cars that pull to one side or require constant steering corrections; Corollas that wander all over the road; and Prius hybrids that temporarily lose braking ability. Other safety failures include engine and transmission malfunctions; fuel spewing out of cracked gas tanks; and electrical system glitches that can transform a powered sliding door into a guillotine. The ever-popular 3.5L V6 used in many Toyota and Lexus models adopted a rubber hose to direct hot engine oil to the camshaft – an engineering bungle that predictably saw many engines lose their oil and grind themselves to smithereens in 2005 to 2008 models.

    “Lag and Lurch”
    Toyota has rejected owner complaints over drivetrains that could affect some vehicles in its entire 1999-2014 lineup. A look at NHTSA’s safety complaint database shows complaints alleging these vehicles have an electronic module glitch that causes a lag and lurch when accelerating, decelerating, or turning. Toyota knows that if it confirms the defect is electronic in nature, it could re-open the sudden acceleration debate.

    $2,000 Dashboard Repairs
    After a pummeling from owner complaints mounting class-action lawsuits, Toyota has extended the warranty on 3.5 million 2003-2011 cars with sticky, cracked, and melted dashboards. The warranty extension allows owners to replace their dashboards free of charge at Toyota and Lexus dealerships. For owners who already paid out-of-pocket to replace their dashboards, Toyota will pay up to $1,500 per dashboard. The extended warranty only applies to dashboards that were damaged by heat and humidity. If the dealer determines that the dashboard was damaged by other means, the extended warranty won’t apply, unless an independent expert refutes Toyota’s appraisal."

    "Choose a used vehicle with a conventional hydraulic automatic transmission, or a manual gearbox if you are comfortable with a gearshift. Be wary of continuously variable (CVT) automatics in used vehicles. With the exception of Synergy Drive transmissions used in the Prius and other Toyota hybrids, all the automakers selling vehicles in North America with CVT automatics have been bedeviled by poor durability. Nissan CVT-equipped vehicles were so failure prone that the company extended its warranty for up to 10 years on vehicles produced until 2010. Nissan’s transmission subsidiary, Jatco, has supplied the same CVT transmission to other makes, such as Jeep. Fortunately, new vehicles with CVTs have become somewhat less risky, as materials, lubricants and computer programming have evolved to address durability concerns."

    upload_2019-8-4_12-17-37.jpeg upload_2019-8-4_12-17-37.png

    "A used Prius is expensive and hard to justify based solely on fuel savings. A good strategy to stretch you dollar is to look for an older car (six years plus) with low mileage and service records... For 2018, a new Hyundai Ionic or Kia Niro are lower-priced alternatives, but neither has the proven track record of a Prius, and the Kia dealer network is too weak to support a high tech vehicle in the event of a complication...

    RELIABILITY: Fanatical assembly quality, low service and running costs. The Prius mostly avoided the decline in quality that hit other Toyota vehicles in the period between 2005 and 2010. The conventional disc brakes can seize. They don’t get much use, because the regenerative braking system charges the batteries when braking, reducing the need to apply brake pressure. Have the brake calipers freed up and lubricated annually to postpone expensive brake repairs. 2004-2009: HID headlamps may shut off without warning, then turn on again. Usually one lamp will show symptoms, but if both lamps play dead on a rural highway the experience can be unsettling. The centre multi-function display can go dark, caused by poorly soldered internal connections. The power inverter coolant pump may conk out, resulting in the Check Engine light illuminating. Other irritants include short-lived conventional batteries (every Prius has one) and faulty air conditioners and brake actuators – both rare but expensive fixes. 2010: Excessive oil consumption starting at around 150,000 km. 2010-2015: Braking responds unpredictably to pedal pressure; Toyota recalled the model worldwide in 2010 to fix an antilock brake software glitch, and more recently to fix a brake pressure accumulator, and to reprogram software to correct a hybrid control unit glitch that could cause the car to revert to limp-home mode. Some brake booster and master cylinder failures. Other irritants include faulty sound systems and backup cameras and conventional batteries that drain mysteriously. The EGR valve can sludge up and the exhaust manifold costs a king’s ransom when it needs replacement on high-mileage models. Replacement battery packs are priced reasonably; about $3,500 from Toyota and about half that amount for a rebuilt pack from independent providers.

    INTERNAL BULLETINS, SECRET WARRANTIES: All years—It is surprising that with so complex a vehicle and several recall campaigns, most Prius service bulletins don’t point to significant deficiencies. 2000-08—Multiple warning lights on; vehicle won’t shift out of Park. Steering pulls to the right. 2002-14—Remedies for vehicle pulling from one side to the other, requiring constant steering corrections. 2006-17—Evaporator drain hose clogged due to insect intrusion. 2010—Warped engine cover. 2010-14—A/C evaporator drain hose clogged by insect nests. Cleaning tips to keep the HV battery cooling fan at peak efficiency. Troubleshooting rear windshield ticking. Excessive oil consumption. 2010-14—Excessive oil consumption. 2012-13—Warm air comes out of the A/C vents. 2012-15—Free fixes for a host of infotainment functionality failures. 2012-15—Engine misfire upon acceleration; replace the intake manifold assembly. 2016-17—Reduced power when accelerating from a stop."


    Here's Consumer Reports' latest (2019) update on Priuses:

    [​IMG]

    20 Most Reliable Cars of the Decade According to Consumer Reports

    #1 is 4Runner
    #2 Prius
    #3 Camry
     

    Attached Files:

    #20 Haschwalt, Aug 4, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2019
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