Should I go for a Prime??

Discussion in 'Prime Main Forum (2017-Current)' started by Isaac Zachary, Dec 27, 2020.

  1. Isaac Zachary

    Isaac Zachary Active Member

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    We've always hung around a $10,000 loan budget on my cars. It just seems to fit what we make as a family. Usually around $180 for the loan payment, $150 for insurance and then around $200 in fuel. After you add on maintenance it comes to $600 to $700 a month average.

    We started out with a used 2013 Nissan Leaf with a $9,000 loan. Of course this car didn't have any maintenance, other than tires, nor were "fuel" costs anywhere near $200 a month. But we did have to have a reserve for the occasional car rental or for other forms of long distance transport, so it still would eat up into our $600-$700 per month budget.

    But then about a year later we started having to drive far a lot more, too far for the Leaf (I had to call a tow truck once half way to my destination due to cold weather), and so we sold it, paid off our Leaf loan and got a used 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid with another $10,000 loan.

    We put on 30,000 miles on the Avalon in the first year, but then stopped needing to drive so far. Then COVID shortened that even more. So now We're back to short trips.

    When we got the Avalon we were actually looking at the Prius Prime as a Prime candidate. But we just couldn't find one that was cheap enough even with tax incentives, and they only had 4 seats back then, which we need at least 5. (Where did all the front bench seats go?).

    So now I thought I'd just look around on Autotrader and found a 2020 model (only 30 hours away) for just under $20,000. Assuming we can sell the Avalon for as much as the loan that's left, then put a down payment of $10,000 on the Prime, recoup all that via tax credits (it was something like $4,500 federal and $5,000 Colorado state, but I'd have to look into that) and get the rest in a loan... we should be back on the same financial track as before, only with a plug-in hybrid that would fit our short then long distance needs a bit better.

    Any reason not to try to go for it?
    • I do: use my Avalon to tow a trailer, so I'd need to be able to do the same with the Prime. That's how we avoid needing a pickup. Would the Prime not be able to haul a 1,200lb trailer sometimes over mountain passes?
    • We live where it's very cold, which is part of the reason the Leaf didn't work out. Is the engine going to have to start every time I drive the Prime because of the cold? Do Primes have a cabin pre-heat function like the Leaf that can heat the cabin up before driving so I don't need to use the heater while driving my short distances (around 5 to 10 miles per day)?
    • How much different is the Prime in size compared to the Avalon? Is it like our Gen 2 Prius, or is it more Avalon like?
     
  2. Washingtonian

    Washingtonian Senior Member

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    Keep the Avalon until it is paid off. Unless the 2020 Prius Prime is a new car, you will not get the tax writeoffs. The prime is Prius like, not Avalon like. It will pull a trailer better than a Prius.
     
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  3. Isaac Zachary

    Isaac Zachary Active Member

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    It's a new 2020, according to Autotrader. But I do think that waiting is probably a better idea.
     
  4. Storm88000

    Storm88000 Member

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    If you want to save the most $ get the LE.

    If the stereo is important to you and you like the giant 11.6” screen go for the higher trim.

    If you prefer physical buttons instead of a touch screen, get the LE w/ the 7” screen. You only get 6 speakers though as opposed
    to 10 in the two higher trims, however you can easily upgrade the door speakers with aftermarket ones to sound just as good.
     
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  5. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    With your use case that we discussed in the Gen2 hijacked thread lol, Yes, PP would work very well as an only car although towing on PRIME may be a bit more work than on Avalon Hybrid. If you are closer, I would try to sell you my 2020 PP, but generally in our region, buying a brand new PP is cheaper than buying a used one.
     
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  6. Isaac Zachary

    Isaac Zachary Active Member

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    Well the brand new 2020 PP I saw for just under $20,000 on Autotrader was in New York. That's where I usually look too when I'm looking for PP deals.

    Here in Colorado I can't find a new PP for under $29,300! That's about $10,000 more! So ideally I'd buy a new, last year sale PP for around $20,000.

    But I think I'll wait. For one, I hear there's some sort of virus going around named after a Mexican beer that makes it a bit unsafe to travel clear across the country. And then two, it's still cheaper in the long run to just pay off the Avalon, then see what to get next. Having the Avalon paid off will let me start saving for a down payment instead of barely scraping by and then getting hit by taxes.

    One question about the Prime... what kind of wheel well material does it have? The Avalon has this strange fabric wheel well material in the rear wheel wells that's a PAIN to deal with when snow and ice build up in there. I've already knocked a few holes through it trying to get the the ice out. Thankfully yesterday it was warm enough (28°F) to wash off all the ice with hot water. I don't really want another car that has that kind of material.

    Also, by chance do you still need Techstream to change to different TPMS sensors (like with a set of winter wheels)? Sometimes dealing with flashing TPMS lights because I have no way of changing the sensor codes over is about enough to make me look to getting a VW next time around. VW has the TPMS sensors outside of the rim so there's no need to reprogram with two sets of wheels.
     
  7. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    Yeah, under the circumstance, I would not recommend any air travel. The return drive home may be much longer but at least well self-isolated. Your state incentive of $5000 is fantastic. Ours is only $1000 and is running out quickly. It's too bad you can't find a deal like we have here in NE.

    As for the budget you have for a car, I do very similar analyses with my cars (either new or used and with or without trade-in). Your $600-$700 per month budget for a car cost seems high to me. You may be paying more on insurance or other fees, but my average true cost to own (and operate) a car has been $344/mo on HCH, $682/mo on Gen3, $331/mo on 17 PP. Those three cars were all used for my daily drive 40 miles/day, 15Kmiles/year and the cost includes everything. That is the cost of the car paid - car sold, and all tax, fees, fuel or electricity paid, insurance, maintenance and repair cost, accessories bought, and even small cost like car wash. Any money that I spend on the car is included. I did really bad on the Gen3 (2015 Two) because I did not get a very good deal on the sales price and was really priced down on the trade-in making it almost $5000 more than what I paid for the 2017 PP. I am trying to sell my now only 10 mo old 2020 PP with only 3K miles. I already have a firm offer for it for $22K. What is amazing is that if I go through the sale, my monthly cost to own and operate the 2020 PP is going to be -$180. Yap, minus $180. I can actually make money on this car after driving it for 10 mon if I sell it now.

    It is regular black plastic material the same as the under body cover. Very slushy snow can get stack, but it usually melt and drops after worms up even in sub freezing temp,

    Yes, AFAIK, all Toyota cars require special TPMS tool or Techstream to change the TPMS sensor registration information. For my PP, I just use the external TPMS (~$30 at Amazon) on my winter tire and wheel. I did not bother to buy and install the internal TPMS sensors. For PP, the TPMS warning light is way to the right of the dash and inconspicuous. Having this on does not bother me much. However, since we have three cars all Japanese requiring OBD TPMS re-learning for wheel swap, I bought the Autel TS508 TPMS tool very cheap on Ebay. It is very easy to use and takes 15 seconds to reprogram the ECU after the tire swap. I do the swap myself and the used wheels I bought on Ebay for our other cars came with OEM TPMS, so this tool saves me at least $60 for each tire swap.
     
    #7 Salamander_King, Dec 28, 2020
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2020
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  8. plug-one-in

    plug-one-in Junior Member

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    As much as I love my PP, I agree with keeping the Avalon.
     
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  9. GregersonIT

    GregersonIT Member

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    A prius prime can tow up to 2,000 lbs as long as the tongue weight doesn't exceed 300lbs but it's not going to be fast by any means. I would likely upgrade the prius tires if you plan to tow just for the sake of grip as the stock ones are made for economy, not emergency braking.
     
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  10. Storm88000

    Storm88000 Member

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    Seriously check out Carvana. They offered me more than that on my ‘20 Prime LE and I have almost 12k more miles. No idea what trim yours is though.
     
  11. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    The offer I have is from Carvana. Their price is regionally adjusted. PP sells for less in NE, but still, Carvana's price is the highest compared to dealer trade-in appraisal. But, if I am purchasing a new car, then the dealer trade-in will reduce the amount of sales tax on the purchase. That can be more than $1300 for PP, thus, I have to compare the deals carefully.
     
  12. Storm88000

    Storm88000 Member

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    Nice! Good thinking. Another quick Carvana story - back in August I decided I wanted the new, current (4th gen) 2020 Mazda MX-5 Club (approx $31k). At the time I had a 3rd gen 2012 Mazda MX-5 Grand Touring. It was immaculate and had 32,940 miles.

    Went to Mazda to trade it in, they wouldn’t offer me more than $12,500, and that was after rejecting offer after offer (they started at $10,200 - lol.

    I said no and went on Carvana that night and I was astonished they offered me $16,450. So I did that and then bought the 2020 model without the trade. Easiest transaction ever, they showed up, I signed some stuff, they handed me a check and then towed it away. That’s approx $4,000 more than the dealers best offer.

    Uploaded pics of both the sold silver 2012 & the current red 2020 - (it’s basically in storage now until the spring).
     

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  13. Isaac Zachary

    Isaac Zachary Active Member

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    Ya, I wasn't quite figuring true cost to own. Just average monthly until I either finish off paying the $185/month payment or sell it. After that the cost would be significantly different.

    I also consider all the insurance for both cars as this car's insurance since the 2006 Prius actually decreases my insurance premium since the multi-car discount is more than it is to insure it.

    I probably spend a lot more on tires too. Colorado requires tires to have 3/8" tread or greater (brand new is 5/8"). So to keep two sets of tires with that amount of tread and doing as much as 30,000 miles a year means I'm changing tires a lot more often then the average person.

    (y)

    (y) Thanks! I'll definitely look into one of those! I've tried to get Techstream to work on an old laptop I picked up but keep having lots of problems with getting it to run. Maybe it's because it's an old AMD laptop.

    I got a set of Avalon wheels off a burnt Avalon for cheap since it's now $135 to swap tires at the local tire shop. And traveling 70 miles over steep mountain passes to the next town to get snow tires put on isn't practical. So a tool like this will be handy!

    Good to know! The Avalon hitches available are for up to 3,000lbs tow. I welded up my own since I wanted it to come through the bumper and not be a drag problem like the ones available. But I also got a trailer that has a GVWR of 1,200lbs on purpose. No need to haul more than a half ton truck can with a four cylinder atkinson engine.

    I'm definitely a tire freak so you can bet I'd be looking for the best tires I can find for both winter and summer.
     
  14. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    I did a similar on-line sale, not Carvana but a company called Peddle.com for our 12 years old minivan that still run but needed a major repair. KBB number was something like $4000 as is, but a dealer I took it offered me only $1500. I tried to sell it on Facebook, Craig's List, and CarGurus. I had a lot of inquiries, but after two months, no offer. Not a single person actually came to take a look at the van. So, I decided to just get rid of it. Used Peddle.com, they gave me an instant offer for $2500, I took it. A truck came to pick it up and handed me a check. All in a matter of a few minutes. I envision Carvana is similar, but unfortunately, we don't have the Carvana hub nearby. They only come to pick up a car within 50miles from their hub. So I have to arrange a drop off if I go through the sale through them. With a local dealer, I can just drop it off when I trade-in and buy a new car.
     
    #14 Salamander_King, Dec 28, 2020
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2020
  15. Storm88000

    Storm88000 Member

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    Ahhh gotcha. They literally came right to my house, there’s a Carvana “tower”‘ with their gimmicky coin in slot and you get a car thing about 50 min away in Philly-
     
  16. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    Oh, I see. Yeah, if you subtract the resale value at any point even before the loan has not been paid off, the number would be lower then. I try to keep my true cost to own a car to be $300/mo or less. So far I have not been able to achieve that number with my previous three cars, but my 2020 PP will beat it easily, of course, that is because I have not driven the car much and with large incentives and discount and relatively high resale value, I can profit by selling it. If I keep the car for 2 more years and drive it more regularly, I expect the cost to be higher.

    One experience I had, when I bought my Gen3, I use to have auto insurance from Met Life which has some discount from my employment. I really never did comparison shopping on the insurance carrier. When I asked for a quote for adding the Gen3 on my policy (no trading since I kept the HCH I was driving before. The premium went up more than $1000 for 6 mo. I then immediately started to do comparison shopping. I ended up with Geico which gave me the lowest premium and everything can be done on-line with no agent to speak to. Adding the new Gen3 to my policy, instead of paying $1000 more if I stayed with Met Life, the total premium actually went down compared to before. Since then, almost every year, I have done a comparison of premium quotes from various insurance carriers, but so far there has not been any company that comes even close to what Geico is offering. After the COVID restriction went into effect, GEICO offered me a 15% discount on my current premium. I was well prepared to pay the regular premium after this 15% discount period, but the very recent renewal policy premium actually went down even farther than 15% off from the last year. Now, I am paying only a ~$400 for 6 mo premium on two cars with a maximum liability and medical full coverage and collision/comprehensive with no-deductable.

    Wait... I think there is something wrong with the numbers. 3/8" is 12/32" inch. Not many new regular All-season tires have that much tread depth on them. 5/8" on a brand new is 20/32", that's off-road tires on a monster truck. PP comes with All-season tires with 10/32 treads.

    Yap, I tried three different cheap miniVCI with pirated copies of Techstream on three different laptops, but none worked for me. I don't plan to do any in-depth diagnosis or repair DIY. The Autel TS508 TPMS tool I mentioned and OBD Link LX with a few different apps are all I need for now.
     
  17. Isaac Zachary

    Isaac Zachary Active Member

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    I don't know why insurance is so expensive for me. I've had one ticket in all my life more than 5 years ago, and it was a single point ticket for going 9 MPH above the speed limit. But I've shopped around and can't find anything cheaper.

    My bad! I meant 3/16. And both the brand new set of all-seasons and the brand new set of winter tires both came with 5/16, measured with my tread depth indicator. The law used to be 3/32, which is about when the tread depth indicators are worn to.

    I wish I could do more in-depth diagnosis. Like fix my radio and GPS that don't work. And looking through the pile of receipts that came with the car I see that this isn't the first time this has happened.
     
  18. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    Yeah, insurance pricing is a very strange business. I really don't know how actuarial science works, but I know for sure the variation is huge in some cases. If you did comparison shopping and found the numbers to be similar, then it is most likely relating to where you live. Our auto insurance premium price decreased by over 70% when we moved to the current location from a major metropolitan area in NE for the same drivers (no age change) and for the same cars.
     
  19. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    3/16" is 6/32", is that required for non-winter tires as well? I try to keep my winter tires above 6/32" to be effective, but I would let the non-winter tires to go down to 4/32. More often than not, I buy newer tires not due to tread depth, but for other reasons, such as a non-repairable puncture or increased road noise. The legal limit of 2/32 is a bold tire.
     
  20. Washingtonian

    Washingtonian Senior Member

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    Interesting story about the Miatas. I had a 2012, same model and color that I traded in 2017 for my PP. At that time I got $12K for it and saved another $1K on taxes by trading it in. I know the market for used cars has been good this year, but it looks like I got screwed. BTW, what is the advantage of the soft top 2020 over the retractable hard top 2012?
    Ray
     
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