To Junk or Not to Junk?

Discussion in 'Generation 1 Prius Discussion' started by GDonald, Jul 15, 2015.

  1. GDonald

    GDonald Junior Member

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    Prius Chat friends, advice, please. We're wondering whether to replace a traction battery in our 2002 Prius--157K miles; no rust; diligently maintained--or to junk the car and move on. There's no indication the problem lies any other place but battery cells, and we are not going to debate battery repair vs. replacement. That issue's decided: We'd buy a new battery.

    However, we are wondering what mechanical failures--and, thus, costs--we can anticipate in the future. For instance, is it a sure thing that the stators will fail, and is there, in your experience, an expected life span for them? What else is there in the Gen 1 Prius we can anticipate needing to replace in the next 1-5 years? (We put 20-30K miles on a car per year--as distinguished from the previous owner who put on 10+K/year.)

    Is there anything we should have assessed fully before committing to the cost of a new battery?

    If these questions have already been fully discussed elsewhere in this chat room, would you, please, point me to it? And, lastly: Thanks for all your help.
     
  2. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

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    I'm one of the 'keep the car till the wheels fall off.' But it is not unlimited. My rule of thumb is every car gets one major repair provided the accumulated fiddlee bits are OK. After 10 years, the vehicle depreciation pretty well 'flat lines' and every year there after is free. Just replace the consumables: oil, coolant, tires, lights, cracked glass.

    Replacing the traction battery with a new one should run about $2,500-$3,500 depending upon who does the work. Of the other risk items: (1) brake controller, (2) transaxle stator, (3) hydrocarbon converter valve, (4) steering jitter, or (5) catalytic converter. These are risks but so far, nothing that really indicates these are anything but 'sh*t happens.' But there are limits, the "wheels fell off."
    1. Engine failure
    2. Interior falls apart
    3. Reverse 12V toasts the controllers
    4. Wire harness 'smokes'
    Now that $3,000 could take a nice bite out of good, 2009, best-buy, or down payment of a 2012, 1.8L Prius. Either one would be a significant improvement over the NHW11. They have more space, power, and improved systems over the NHW11. I would avoid 2004-06 and 2010-2011 since these were early model year Prius. Later model years have a lot of factory installed improvements.

    Bob Wilson
     
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  3. strawbrad

    strawbrad http://minnesotahybridbatteries.com

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    What Bob said.:(

    I believe that for anyone that does not do their own repairs a new car can be cheaper in the long run. Someone that does do their own repairs will buy your car as is. $500 would be easy to get. $1000 would be pushing it.

    30K a year is allot of miles. A Gen II is perfect for that kind of use. My son has a 2006 with 345K. It rides like a new car. My 2005 is just broken in at 277K. I am going to put another 500 miles on it tomorrow.

    Brad
     
  4. 3prongpaul

    3prongpaul Hybrid Shop Owner, worked on 100's of Prius's

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    If you like your Gen1 and it's reasonably healthy I suggest keeping it, especially if you can find a local Hybrid shop that is not a dealer or do some of the work yourself. New "dealer" battery should be available $2500 or so from an independent shop. That will be better than any refurbished battery and should last 5-10 years.

    We have quite a few customers with 300k+ miles on their gen1's. They are really well built cars, and people really love them. I've had 8 Gen1 customers lose their car due to accidents etc and commission me to find them another one!

    Install a new inverter coolant pump if you haven't done so already (big failure on Gen1's, we've installed close to 100 pumps, pretty much any Gen1 that comes in our shop gets one)

    Surprisingly the Gen1's don't burn engine oil as fast as Gen2 and Gen3 as they get older. Not sure why but that is what we have seen.

    I suggest you change transaxle fluid, drop and clean the pan if not done before. Other than that car will hold up pretty well, especially if you can get recycled parts. I don't know any Hybrid specialty shops real close to you, but there is Michael Powers in Greenfield MA, about 150 miles away from you (413) 531-9164. Might be worth getting AAA with the 200 mile tow option just in case you have a major failure and cannot find anyone closer.

    AdoptAPart in Denver has lots of rust free Gen1 parts cars (Colorado cars are really nice; no salt and dry air) if you need clean used parts.

    Bottom line, if you like the car and it's costing you less than $2500/year in repairs keep it....and stay away from the dealer.

    Gen2's are great cars as well, but they handle differently and have their own set of problems, biggest being the hybrid battery are now failing on Gen2s fairly often now.
     
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  5. 3prongpaul

    3prongpaul Hybrid Shop Owner, worked on 100's of Prius's

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    Something else to think about, if you buy a brand new battery and have a catastrophic failure or wreck within a year or two and decide to junk the car you can always sell the "near new" battery for a decent price and get at approx 1/2 of your investment back. I'd rather buy a 2015 dealer battery with 30k miles than a "remanufactured" battery. I think it would be easy to sell such a battery to Gen1 owners via this forum.
     
  6. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

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    The NHW11 is quieter than our 2010 and the turning radius very nice. It remains my daily commuter even though the 2010 has a better air conditioner. But at 167,000 miles, the NHW11 still delivers great service.

    The traction battery was upgraded with a "ReInVolt" rebuild in 2009 because I knew the later modules are much improved even used from a salvage. But I would have been just as happy with a new pack although at least $500 poorer. The traction battery is part of the automatic transmission and should be evaluated against what rebuilding an ordinary automatic transmission would cost.

    Bob Wilson
     
  7. ETC(SS)

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

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    OK....so you're in VT.
    You actually drive a lot of miles in a year, and you're in an area with diverse weather, and the car has been diligently maintained.

    Here's the thing:
    This is a super easy problem to solve.
    1. Determine what an 02 with 157miles is worth on the street, WITH a good traction battery. My guess in your case would be about $3-4K. Cut that in half if you trade it in, since the dealer is naturally expecting to make a profit on both sides of the transaction.

    2. Determine what an 02 Prius with 157,000 miles and no traction battery is worth on the street. (Junk fee)

    3. Get a quote for a battery replacement. You can get a re-manufactured unit and self-install for as little as $1000. If you find some hippie Prius shop up in VT to do it for you that might get it done for $1500-2000. Do NOT go to a dealer with this one.

    My thinking is that if your car is worth $3k with a battery and $1K without it and it costs $2k to put your car back in battery (pun almost unintended) then this is a wobbler. If you can DIY the battery install for $1K, then it's a no brainer, since the car can then be sold (NOT traded!) for a value that would exceed the cost of the battery replacement.....or maybe driven for another number of years before you have to address the fix it or junk it question again.
    That's what I would have told the previous owner than only drove 10K/year. Your situation is a little different.

    If I woke up in your shoes, I'd repair the car.....but I'm more debt averse (now) than the average American.
    I'm more interested in retiring without having to live in my kid's bedroom than I am in making car payments, but I don't adopt a scorched-earth "all debt is bad" policy.
    Sometimes you need good wheels, and an 02 getting to be a little long in the tooth for a 25K/year driver who might not be able to withstand 3-4 transportation disruptions a year.

    Fix the battery cheap.
    Sell the car privately for the KBB private sale value if you're uncomfortable with it afterwards.....but don't trade it in.

    Good Luck!!!
    Let us know how it shakes out.
     
  8. usnavystgc

    usnavystgc Die Hard DIYer and Ebike enthusiast.

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    Wow, that is a tough call. I am partial to the Gen I but, I'm not sure I would replace a battery in one at that mileage. Your car is 13 years old and the safety advances alone would stop me from continuing to drive it. The Gen I battery is also the most expensive to replace due to the 38 modules it has and it gets the worst mpg of all Prius.

    It really just comes down to a personal decision and an array of other factors that only you can know. A well maintained Gen I can last a long time but even the best maintained vehicles can expect problems after 13 years. The bottom line question is, is it worth it to you?
     
  9. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    1. It is not a sure thing that the MG stators will fail. As previously suggested you can help the transaxle longevity by changing the ATF periodically (30K mile intervals) and cleaning the transaxle drain pan which accumulates a tremendous amount of metallic debris.
    2. The hydrocarbon absorption chamber (HCAC) within the exhaust system is subject to binding of the vacuum valve and failure especially in areas using winter salt on roads. The catalytic converter also will eventually need replacement.
    3. The front struts and rear shocks are wear items and need replacing periodically.
    4. The engine should provide a very long life if the engine oil/oil filter is changed at regular intervals and the oil level is not allowed to drop below the lower dipstick dimple. Keep an eye on oil consumption which may increase as the odometer continues to log miles.
    5. The inverter might fail but you can install a used unit from an accident victim.
    6. The brake actuator pump may eventually fail and need to be replaced. A used part could be installed.
    7. The air conditioning system will need repair like any other vehicle - the compressor clutch may need adjustment or replacement from time to time.
    8. Keep up on routine maintenance like replacing the serpentine drive belt, PCV valve, iridium spark plugs, brake fluid, and coolant.

    If you have to depend upon a Toyota dealer installing new parts then the maintenance costs will be pretty high. If you can DIY or have an independent who can install used parts where appropriate - like the inverter - then the maintenance costs would be more reasonable.

    It is always fun to see a Classic Prius cruising around, especially if it is in great cosmetic condition. Only 57K units were sold in the US over the three model years. Now that ~12 years have passed since the last new vehicle sales, it's not that easy to find them. Good luck with your decision regarding whether to replace the traction battery and keep the car on the road.
     
    #9 Patrick Wong, Jul 17, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2015
  10. GDonald

    GDonald Junior Member

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    Weeding out some hanging files this morning, I realized I'd ignored a request by one of you who said, "Let us know what you do." So, here you go: We sold the car for $600 to someone who wanted it very much. I can't say enough how much I appreciate the generosity of all of you folks. A (very) belated thank you.
     
  11. ETC(SS)

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

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    You're welcome!

    All the best....
     
  12. Dion Kraft

    Dion Kraft Member

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    We look forward to your next car investment: ALL THE BEST as well.
     
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