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Strategy for buying a very used Prius?

Discussion in 'Newbie Forum' started by Roger Sisler, May 2, 2024.

  1. Roger Sisler

    Roger Sisler New Member

    May 1, 2024
    Other Hybrid
    Hi there, It seems to me that a Prius will go for many miles much better than it will go for many years. Gen I Prius' are about non non-existent. I also understand that they should be driven often, or even daily for best results. As such, they are perfect as a taxi.

    I'm considering buying an older Prius, maybe Gen 2.

    There is no shortage in Priuses for sale. Most have 200k or many more miles. I have to wonder why all of them are being sold at similar high mileages. Low mileage Priuses are either very new or very rare.

    I was thinking of finding one that was not used often(battery surely had problems) and put the needed repairs into it. Gas and mechanical issues almost get forgotten when the electrical issues are so important. Don't want to buy a 200k car. All kinds of mechanical parts need replacing by then, and emissions and inspections need to be met.

    Is it a viable approach to be looking for an older, little used Prius and put money into it? I think most issues are commonly inverter, battery, brake ABS actuator. Being a YouTube mechanic, I think I can do all these electrical repairs. I'd like to avoid the bottomless money pit of repairing a car mechanically with 200k+ miles, like most for sale seem to be.
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    May 11, 2005
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Plug-in Base
    absolutely. we see people quite often here finding 2008 and 9's with lower mileage.

    @Tombukt2 is a bit south of you and deals with them all the time.

    all the best with your search!
  3. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

    May 12, 2018
    2018 Prius c
    You're just seeing averages at work. The average 2nd generation Prius is 17.5 years old. That times the USA average of 15,000 miles per year = 262,500.

    You should also understand that the only way a Prius can appear to save money is through utilization. The more you drive a Prius (instead of another car) the more you save.

    In other words, these cars were built to be driven. Many buyers knew that going in and put them to work as such.

    It's a little like the extreme rarity of classic work trucks: the only reason people bought them in the first place was to make money doing work. So now they're all used up and gone.

    You might have a play here. I don't think this will save you money or aggravation vs. just buying a simpler secondhand car, but... if you really want a Prius this is a pretty good approach for getting a good one.

    The battery is the component most sensitive to age. After that it's all the soft parts like the tires, door gaskets, pressure seals in the A/C, suspension bushings. Dash & interior soft bits if the car was stored in sunlight.

    The downside is that a low miles "barn find" 2nd generation Prius has an elevated likelihood of rodent damage. With the complexity of the wire loom in these cars, that's a big deal. This would be high on my list of concerns for candidate cars. Sometimes you crack the door open, one whiff and you know it's a goner.
  4. Sharol

    Sharol Member

    Sep 3, 2023
    Kansas, USA
    2023 Prius
    I wrestled with this last year after we sold my 2012 w/120k miles on it for a good price, and the "shared" use of our Camry was not going well. (I HAVE to have my own car). All I could find were the gen 4's and I don't care for the styling (though for the right price I would have considered one). One thing that kept coming up continually was to check the condition of the traction battery FAN. I seriously doubt the one in the 2012 had ever been checked OR cleaned due to my ignorance. My dealer was clueless about the fans, and thought you had to take the seat out to check it - sheesh. You certainly want to look at that before buying any used Prius.

    Leadfoot is certainly right about the drive often comment. Those batteries are meant to be used constantly and letting the car sit for months or years can be harmful to the long time use of them. My 2012 still got 50 mpg at 11 years old, and had caused no problems, but I drove it every time I went anywhere, nearly daily. He is also spot on about the rodent damage. Storing a car is tricky if it isn't in a controlled environment.

    I had a local used car dealer looking for a 2-3 year old Prius for me just before I found my Gen 5 listing and ordered her. One of the cars I found was a 2020 (I think, might have been a '21) with 30,000 miles on it, and it sold at auction for within $3000 of the original list price of that model (and it was seafoam green or blue or whatever they called it that year). I decided to get what I wanted rather than settle for the gen 4 and regret it. I had also considered finding a 2015 used, but there just weren't any around that fit my requirements.
  5. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

    Oct 17, 2010
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    2010 Prius
    There is a mid ground, between “months or years” and “nearly daily”: I figure a goodly drive every week or two, will keep both the hybrid battery and the engine in good condition.