Prius Reliability and Safety

Discussion in 'Newbie Forum' started by Gborohoo, Apr 8, 2018.

  1. Gborohoo

    Gborohoo New Member

    Apr 8, 2018
    2009 Prius
    Hello all,

    I'm currently in the process of searching for a new vehicle for my daily ~60 mile/1 hour commute. I am also currently in college and therefore cannot purchase my own vehicle, so it had to be one approved by my dad. I have mentioned the Prius as a possible great car fur to the gas mileage, but he is hesitant for 2 reasons:

    1) Safety, since the Prius is such a small car. 2) Reliability, since my last vehicle was constantly breaking down, and the Prius' battery pack just adds another possible expensive part that may need to be replaced down the road.

    As such, I know that there are multiple other posts regarding all of the questions that I have, but I'd rather get my own responses. My questions are:

    1) Despite the great safety ratings, is a Prius a car that can be relied on to keep me as safe in an accident as a larger vehicle would?

    2) Despite being a Toyota and also having great reliability reviews, would a Prius built any time within the last 8-10 years be something that would have to be worried about in terms of replacing parts (assuming the car has been at l as maintained regularly. I know this varries depending on past care, but I'd rather ask owners of Prius especially themselves rather than assuming a car review is reliable).

    3) Next, how well does a Prius serve a daily commuter? I can assume that due to the outstanding mpg, the affordability is high, but in terms of comfort and other areas, how viable is
    a Prius in this use, especially in terms of reliability.

    4) Finally, my budget is aound 10 k for a used Prius, and I have seen many different models with no significant difference between each. Do you have any recommendations for a model that I should look at for my specific needs?

    Thank you in advance!
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    May 11, 2005
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Plug-in Base

    prius is an extremely safe and reliable car. that being said, there is always a small possibility for a very expensive repair, such as the battery, brake actuator, a/c compressor, inverter, tranny and etc.

    if you are not prepared for that small possibility, a non hybrid might be a better option.

    there are 5 different packages on the generation 2 (2004-2009) iirc, and they vary quite a bit.
    for safety, you would want the full airbag package. not sure which it is and might depend on the year.

    try the toyota owners site for the package options if googling doesn't produce anything.
  3. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The OTHER One Percenter.....

    Oct 28, 2010
    Redneck Riviera (Gulf South)
    Other Non-Hybrid

    Safety is no factor, since the Prius will be about as safe and reliable as any other small egg-shaped front-wheel drive car, and any car that would be more real-world safe would be more expensive than your budget would allow, both in terms of efficiency and initial cost.
    Reliability is another matter altogether!

    I think (and most experts agree) that Priuses are more reliable than their contemporaries........HOWEVER (comma!) you have to remember that a $10,000 Prius will be over half way through its service life, and you're going to be putting (on average) more miles than normal on this car based on your OP.
    So....this means that you're GOING to be facing maintenance and repair issues which may or may NOT be exacerbated by how well the previous owner took care of the car.
    This will be more or less true for any college kid car, but a little more so for Priuses since they have a higher buy-in cost, and since their packages are structured towards up-optioned rather than base model. What I mean by that.....and at the risk stereotyping you, you're probably more concerned about trim packages and color than the average committer.

    This is understandable!
    You're going to be spending a lot of time in the car.
    Just remember that with your commuting profile you're going to be adding 30,000 miles a year to the odometer. This means that at this point in your life that years and miles are larger value adders than sunroofs and fake leather interiors.

    See if you can swing $15K and go for a newer base non-hybrid (Yota, Mazda, Nissan, Honda....)

    If you want an argument for up-optioning your car, tell Dad that it's 2018.
    The thing that's going to keep you safe out on the roads isn't necessarily girth and mass.
    Yeah......those things certainly help, no matter how you bend the numbers but up-optioned, newer cars have more safety features with a bunch of incomprehensible initials (TSS,TPMS, ESP, DSC, M-ATSC) that will help AVOID an accident, and as Mr. Miagi always says the best way to avoid an accident is not to get into one.
    Happily for you, car makers are greedy.
    They put their best safety features in the up-optioned packages which also have the eye-candy that young buyers like.

    Good Luck!
    Study Hard!!!

    Oh.....and tell your dad that you're going to be picking out his nursing home.
    That ought to be good for an extra few thou in the budget!
    RCO and jerrymildred like this.
  4. JimboPalmer

    JimboPalmer Tsar of all the Rushers

    Apr 14, 2009
    Greenwood MS USA
    2012 Prius v wagon
    Parts of this hurt my head:

    Imagine going out to steal a car, drive manically through the streets, and ditch it before the cops get you. Was that car in your mind a Prius? It most likely was not. Some part of being a safe car is being a car it is no fun to be unsafe in. Some part of raising my daughter was getting a rental car. (my Daily driver for 19 years had 26 HP per driven wheel) was accidentally renting a v8, she took over choosing my rental cars. Never again did she want to be pushed back into the seat like that! You will notice that the prius never evokes that "I am accelerating fast" effect as it never shifts gears and pushes you back into your seat. This depresses Car magazine editors and joyriders, (one group or two?) but makes the Prius safer than a Corvette statistically, even if the cars are actually made as safe. The Prius would be safe even if it was not made well, it is too boring to chose to be unsafe in.

    My safety anecdote: At 9:30 PM some fall night I was waiting for the light to change so I could turn left on to US 82 (45 MPH Speed limit). It did and I turned left, but a semi to my right coming down US 82 could not/chose not to stop for the light, but tried to change from the left lane to the right. The cab suceeded and missed my 2009 Prius, but the trailer was still changing lanes. My passinger rear door got a sharp crease in it. My passenger front door sheet metal was folded up and the side window broke. My passenger front fender and bumper were ripped off the car, dragging it about 2 blocks in the process. The passenger front wheel was detached. (The insurance company totalled the car while I was on the phone with them)

    So I was hit by a semi and was not injured and the cabin remained intact. (Due to high levels of Adrenalin the Police had to take me home) The car protected me as best it could. And i went out and bought another Prius. (a v this time)

    Now i need to discuss reliability. On average a Prius is a VERY reliable brand. (I have driven two Prius 224,000 miles and have only done routine maintenance) You will not get an average Prius, you get one example. If you have no fund of emergency cash, (dad?) then repairs are too pricey to make the Prius a good car for a starving college student.

    Because the prius is a hybrid, and change scares folks, including mechanics, many repairs are really replacing entire subsystems, rather than individual parts.

    $5000 new Transaxle (minimize this by draining and filling the ATF WS every 90,000 miles along with 2 washers)
    $4000 new Inverter (minimize this by never jump starting another car and avoiding jump starting your Prius, get a new 12 battery after the first time)
    $3500 new High Voltage Battery (minimize this by keeping the Battery cool; Use A/C, sun shades, park in shade, on long descents, use B mode on drops of over 600 feet, like in the Great Smokeys)

    None of those is likely, and routine maintenance, staying cool, and a jump pack can lower your odds of them happening soon. But unless you have financial resources I never did in college, a nice used Corolla may be a safer choice.

    Welcome to PriusChat! I hope you do not mind some honesty, rather than just fanboy drooling over our cars. (We do that, too, but right now we are trying to get you through college)
    #4 JimboPalmer, Apr 9, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2018
    RCO and jerrymildred like this.
  5. Munpot42

    Munpot42 Senior Member

    Mar 12, 2012
    Santa Monica, Ca. 90405
    Other Hybrid
    I would vote for the idea of having Dad spring for a new cheap car Toyota yaris, Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent, etc. Not great cars, but should last you through college with minimal repairs. (Years ago I got my college bound daughter a new Sentra, it lasted for 8 years until she could buy a new car. As a Dad I loved not having to worry about car repairs while she was in college.
    RCO, bisco and Raytheeagle like this.
  6. Lucifer

    Lucifer Senior Member

    Aug 23, 2015
    2017 Prius Prime
    Plug-in Advanced
    Prius is midsize, safest car on the road;) buy one put in a new toyota traction battery, brakes and rubber, and then, yes commute for five years, or get a carolla, non hybrid prius, give it brakes and rubber and enjoy. Still amidsize, still the safest car on the road.
    Set a budget, decide if you want to get a prius and new battery, or just a carolla, buy one.
  7. MelonPrius

    MelonPrius Senior Member

    Apr 13, 2017
    Las Vegas
    2014 Prius
    For $10k, you'll be looking at a Prius that is coming to the end, or has passed it's hybrid battery warranty (8 years/100k miles). That's the major expense that the other cars won't have.

    If you're really set on getting a Prius, then call your local Toyota dealership and find out the cost of an installed hybrid battery. Subtract that from the $10k budget and start looking at that range. The pickings will be slimmer but you might find a cream puff. When looking, don't be impressed by a recent battery change that was rebuilt and not OEM.
    RCO likes this.