*waves* Possibly buying a Prius, a few questions!

Discussion in 'Newbie Forum' started by AJP, Nov 22, 2011.

  1. AJP

    AJP Junior Member

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    Hello all! After browsing PriusChat for a week I thought I'd actually drop in to say hi (and ask a few questions). I'm a female college student and am looking to buy my first car (I'm retiring our family's 1994 Honda Accord which has given its all during the past seventeen years). I want to stick with a Honda or Toyota because I'm familiar with them (my sister has a Camry and my family has always driven Hondas). I don't know much about cars in general, hence wanting to stay in my comfort zone. Plus both dealerships in my town are honest and provide good service.

    A month ago if someone had said "hybrid" to me I would have run the other way. However, a visit to the dealership resulted in a short test drive in an '08 Prius and I was intrigued. I have read many online articles, consumer reviews, and forum posts about Prii and feel like I could probably tell the dealer a thing or two about them now! ;)

    Anyway...I've narrowed my choices down to a Prius, a Matrix (2009+) or a Honda Fit. All slightly different cars, and I'm not 100% certain which will best fit my needs. I'm going to a dealership this weekend that has all three. I cannot afford a new Prius and have been looking at used 2006-2009 models at dealerships and on Craigslist. Despite being safer buying from a dealer, buying from an owner seems more affordable.

    The Prius is my first choice right now, despite much nervousness about owning a hybrid. I wondered if the experienced Prii owners here could answer a few questions?

    1. I've read all the posts about NOT letting the gas tank go empty. I know mileage will vary depending on the car and terrain, but about how long can you go with a half a tank? (That seems to be the "safe point" to fill up again). Half a week? A week? More? Are you constantly looking at your gas gauge in fear that it is low?

    2. What color is the undercoat paint? I've heard that Prii tend to chip and scratch easily and I would like to know if I'm better off with a light or dark color.

    3. How many of you put on aftermarket molding strips on the body, and how much does this really help the chipping/scratching/denting?

    4. How distracting is the touch screen? The dealer told me climate control was automatic but how often do you have to reach over and fiddle with the screen while you're driving? Surely that can't be terribly safe? (I believe the 2012 model is changing them back to standard knobs but that could be misinformation).

    Thank you all for your advice! Something I like about the Prius (verses, say, the Matrix) is that so many people own them that you can easily find answers and support online. :)

    ~Alissa
     
  2. JimboPalmer

    JimboPalmer Tsar of all the Rushers

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  3. Roadburner440

    Roadburner440 Member

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    Well depending on what year Prius you get the running the gas tank empty thing is trivial. Granted I think what you are referring to is on the Gen 2 (03-09) Prius they have a bladder that is sometimes varies your refueling abilities and causes weird readings on the gauge. As long as you refuel when you get the low fuel warning from what I see you will have no issues. If you look at a 2010-11 Prius I usually get between 500-600 miles to a tank with no issue, but the 10-11 ones do not have the fuel tank bladder either.

    Coming here and asking what care to get you are bound to get a bias response. I say it is a no brainer to go for the Prius! However the Fit and Matrix are good cars in their own right. It all depends on how much money you want to spend up front vs money down the road in fuel costs.

    The only areas you need to watch out for in buying a used Prius really is the transaxle fluid, and the larger battery as those are your 2 big ticket items that fail. The HV battery will set you back $2500-$3500 or so on average to get replaced, and the transaxle will set you back slightly more than that. Failure of either of those is rare, but like with everything else it is always a possibility. There are quite a number of people with over 200,000 miles, and a few over 300,000 with no issues on the car at all so do not let that scare you off.

    Probably the only draw back to owning a Prius that I can tell is in the winter your fuel mileage goes down cause it runs the engine more.. In the summer you will get high 40's to low 50's, and in the winter that will go to high 30's to low 40's. That is about the only thing I can think of off the top of my head. Normal maintenance is easy, and most of the regular parts like tires and stuff are far cheaper than other cars.
     
  4. El_Spectre

    El_Spectre Junior Member

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    I suppose this varies driver to driver (and screen to screen), but it doesn't distract me much at all. I generally leave it either on Media/Radio (which is no more distracting than a standard radio) or split Map/Media if I'm using the GPS.

    Also, you can turn the screen off (at least in my v) if you want to.
     
  5. AJP

    AJP Junior Member

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    Of course! Everyone seems to love their Prius. This week I saw three of them parked on a tiny street. Which is why I'm not asking which one to get - just had some questions about them to help me make a more informed decision. :)

    I have read, though, that an spare parts battery from a totalled Prius is far, far less. True?

    @Jimbo - well, that's about the only thing on your list I can check. My commutes are extremely short. :(
     
  6. Roadburner440

    Roadburner440 Member

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    You can get a salvaged or rebuilt battery. You said you do not know much about cars so I amcjust giving you the worst case scenario. I know I hate surprises. You can get a salvage battery and install it yourself for slightly over 1000 from what I have read. Again though it is a rare event, but something to be mindful of.

    If our commutes are short the Prius does get substantially worse mileage. It is still better then most gas cars. For my 2011 it seems a 11 mile drive is about the shortest you may want to do. You can always get the block heater though for 100 bucks and that helps keep the coolant warmer for short commutes. It also is very nice in winter cause you have instant heat. You just need a regular power outlet near where you park to use it.
     
  7. tumbleweed

    tumbleweed Senior Member

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    Prius is one of 5 or 6 cars with really great online support from other owners.
     
  8. JimboPalmer

    JimboPalmer Tsar of all the Rushers

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    Then do not base your expectation on MPGs from posters like me who average 110 miles a day. You are going to do much less than that, so be sure you want a car that excels at long distances.

    The Nissan Leaf is a wonderful short distance car.
     
  9. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North
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    1. It depends how much you drive in a week. It's more distance than time. There's still a low fuel warning light (the last pip on the fuel gauge will blink) but the lower half of the tank will greatly vary because of the flexible rubber bladder inside the traditional metal fuel tank that was used to reduce emissions. This can reduce your tank size in the winter (depending on temperature)

    2. I think it's grey or white? The bumpers are black.

    3. I don't have any

    4. Not very. On the 2004-2009 Prius, the frequency used controls are all on the steering wheel - temperature, recirc, front/rear defroster, volume, mode, track up/down, even the on/off switch for the climate control is on the steering wheel so you really don't need to look at the screen if you don't want to.
     
  10. car compulsive

    car compulsive Active Member

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    Welcome! You will only be a college student for a short time (hopefully) and you should think ahead of what kind of car you will need for the first few years of your career. If you're going to be in sales, calling on customers in the midwest, you may want to consider a mid-size domestic car. If you're going to work on the coasts or won't be calling on customers, buy what will best fit your needs. For many young adults, an economical wagon such as the Fit or Matrix are great choices and usually makes more economic sense than a Prius.
     
  11. cwerdna

    cwerdna Senior Member

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    1. That's true of any car of not letting it go empty. You can't drive anywhere on conventional car w/no gas. Weeks/half weeks or whatever are irrelevant. It depends on how much you drive and what mileage you're getting. At one point, I was putting so few miles on my two cars (at the time), I was filling up once a month. I would get gas pretty soon at 2 pips and get gas really soon at 1 pip and get gas NOW at 1 blinking pip. Normally, I fill up when down to 2 pips, sometimes 3.

    (http://priuschat.com/forums/gen-ii-prius-main-forum/79235-299-999-mile-club-43.html#post1409391 probably fills up daily, if not more often w/over 436K miles on his 09 Prius.)

    2. Never heard of claims that the Prius tends to chip and scratch easily. My silver 02 Maxima's hood got stone chips VERY easily. I got 8 stone chips on the front of he car within a few months of buying it new. (Was a common complaint on maxima.org)

    3. Nope. Beats me. I always park further away and away from crap cars.

    4. It's not distracting. I agree it's a bit more work than systems w/a bunch of buttons or knows and can't be done as easily by feel. 2010+ (3rd gen) Priuses have gone back to conventional buttons and not a touchscreen for the HVAC. You can also control some of the HVAC settings from the steering wheel like temp up/down, defrosters, auto and fresh/recirculating air. If you have the nav system, you can say some voice commands too like 75 degrees.
     
  12. Rebound

    Rebound Senior Member

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    The Prius warranty varies somewhat by state. Here in California and other CARB states, the bumper-to-bumper is 3/36,000, and the transaxle is 60,000 miles, and the hybrid battery is 10/150,000 miles!

    As for dealer versus private seller, the main difference is convenience, and the dealer can extend the warranty. But they charge more and you have no idea who owned the car before you, and how well they treated the car. I'm planning on selling my 2010 this Spring, and it's a beautifully-maintained vehicle, and I want to sell it to somebody I know who will have a great 200,000 miles with it.

    It is, in some respects, like buying a puppy. If you don't personally meet the people who raised the dog, then it was probably raised in cages in a puppy mill. We bought our puppy from a loving local family, and that's my philosophy with cars as well.
     
  13. richard schumacher

    richard schumacher shortbus driver

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    If you want cheap reliable transport and mostly drive short trips, a used Civic probably has a considerably lower total cost of ownership than a Prius in comparable condition. If you intend to keep it forever and will have a longer commute for years after school then a Prius makes more sense.
     
  14. cycledrum

    cycledrum PSOCSOASP

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    You mentioned your commutes are very short (I'm guess from off campus housing to campus). It might be better to suck it up for now and just get a used Fit of Matrix. Or not. The Fit will always be judged as more fun to drive of the two, but Matrix is a solid car too.

    One positive note is when your out of college, you may be driving a lot more and in position to get 3rd gen Prius at discount. It has a more solid driving feel than the 2004 - 09 non-touring models.

    But if you will be driving even 6k miles / year, a used Prius would be a decent choice. They hold resale value pretty well.

    Prius paint is as good as others. I had a dark blue 2009 and chips on the hood showed a little bit as it is aluminum underneath.

    Light colors are nice because they don't absorb heat much from the sun. Touch a black car in the sun and they are hot.
     
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