Where do you find a mechanic to inspect a used Prius before purchase?

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Main Forum' started by RebL, Apr 26, 2021.

  1. RebL

    RebL Junior Member

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    Hi all,
    I have been offered a 2012 Three with 40K miles on it, driven in FL by an elderly gentleman* and garaged every night. $13,000. I have never purchased from a private party before; when I googled "questions to ask" all the sites suggest bring ing the car to a trusted mechanic for an inspection before buying. I've pulled the Carfax and it appears well-maintained, every five months at the dealership regardless of the mileage.
    So who would you take it to, a dealership? Will they have an incentive to expose all the problems so that you buy a car from them, or an incentive to hide problems so that you take it to them for fixing? The guy who would do things like replace the struts for us was not a Prius guy.
    I live about 15 miles west of Boston.

    Thanks,

    Rebecca

    *My 93 year old stepfather (not the owner in question) drives like he's behind the wheel of a getaway car with the police closing in, so not necessarily an indication of caution or a gentle foot
     
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    yes, a dealer is your best bet. they would love to find problems to repair.

    the price seems very high, have you shopped around?
     
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  3. RebL

    RebL Junior Member

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    Correction on the maintenance: it looks like nothing was done between 3/2020 and 4/2021, during which it was driven 1100 miles. Does this mean I'll need to worry about gummy gasoline or any other issues related to the car sitting with little use? Since the last maintenance, the owner's daughter drove the car from FL up to Boston.
     
  4. MelonPrius

    MelonPrius Active Member

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    Assuming the vehicle is in excellent condition (3% of used cars), the price is on the high side but within parameters. If you purchase a carfax report, it will help identify the accuracy of the miles, the number of owners, status of the title, and the accident history. This is also very important when purchasing a car from an area where flood damage could have occurred from a hurricane.

    I believe that many used cars are traded in because of pending repairs. The used car dealers that purchase these cars from auctions and then sell them are probably not putting in much money for repairs and maintenance. They might only detail the car and change the oil. So, I don't think the risk is that much greater for private party sales over a local used car dealer- as long as you have some kind of vehicle history.

    The advantage of the private party seller over a dealer is the private party seller can hand you a folder with all of the receipts for repairs and maintenance. But at 40,000 miles, there's a chance that the only work done were oil changes and possibly air/cabin filters. I purchased my Prius via a private party sale at 29,000 miles and asked for the repair records. The owner shrugged his shoulders and said he only changed the oil twice and it's now due for another oil change.

    But to answer your question- yes, a dealer works. But I'd probably bring it to my trusted mechanic, especially if the Prius is still within the warranty for the hybrid battery. Where would you bring the Prius to be inspected if you were purchasing from a used car lot?
     
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  5. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    the lack of maintenance over a year and 1100 miles is of no concern. if it is running fine, the gas isn't a problem. run it low and refill.
     
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  6. RebL

    RebL Junior Member

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    I've purchased a used RAV4 but both the 2009 and 2019 Prii were purchased new. Are hybrids are specialized enough that I'd need a Prius expert? Joe, our mechanic, was not comfortable doing everything on the Gen2, so I'd bring it to the dealer for that stuff. But Joe was fine with the RAV4 and the manual transmission Subaru, RIP (the Subaru). He's having some health issues, so I'm not even sure he's available for the RAV4.
     
  7. RebL

    RebL Junior Member

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    Only on the internet. I'm in New England, so most cars up here have been exposed to road salt. This one was in Ocala FL - so exposed to constant high humidity, but the Carfax said no floods etc.
     
  8. RebL

    RebL Junior Member

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    So the dealership I have used for service said they'd need the car for two hours and it would cost $290*. Three other area dealerships quoted 1-1 1/2 hours and $130. A local "foreign motors" garage that told me they work on Prius cars quoted 30 minutes and $75.

    Is the $290 for 2 hours a rip-off or an indication that they are using a finer-toothed comb than any of the other places?
    Is the $75/30 minutes mean he is very efficient or that it will be a cursory inspection?

    *they have also told me I needed a new sparkplug in the Gen 2 when it had been replaced elsewhere 20K miles prior, but they are conveniently located
     
  9. Prodigyplace

    Prodigyplace Senior Member

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    Depending on how far, Tampa Hybrids is known here as an excellent Prius expert. In fact they sell used too. @jerrymildred here has bought several vehicles from them over the years.

    In fact, his site has a 2012 Prius IV and a 2013 Plugin Prius for about that same price. Or a 2014 IV Deluxe with Solar Sunroof.

    Listings - Tampa Hybrids Inc.
     
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  10. bettergolf

    bettergolf Active Member

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    I would go for the 30 min and $75.....at 40k miles all you need to do is have them look for obvious problems. Odds are nothing is wrong with the car anyway and you have records of maintenance visits twice a year. .
     
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  11. RebL

    RebL Junior Member

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    Alas, I am in Massachusetts. The car used to live in Ocala but is up here now. Thanks anyway for trying to help!
     
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  12. Prodigyplace

    Prodigyplace Senior Member

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    Sorry I was hoping you were still looking.
     
  13. RebL

    RebL Junior Member

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    Yes, still looking (both for a car and for a mechanic near to the 2012 Three), just not looking in FL. But I do appreciate the suggestion.
    Are there any issues specific to the Southeast I should look for? I assume mold is a problem(no smell of it in the Three). I remember that the Takata airbag recall rolled out in the Southeast first because the humidity was a factor.
     
  14. Priusjames

    Priusjames Member

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    A fun anecdote; I sold my first Gen 2, bought 10/03, a couple of years after I bought it to a private party. The market was still new/hot and so was the whole Prius concept...even to dealers. No aftermarket parts to speak of yet...even here on Priuschat yet (I’ve been a junior member since 2004) and non-Toyota mechanics were terrified of the cats overall and kind of refused to work on them.

    Potential buyer wanted to have it checked out first by a mechanic before he drove from San Francisco to buy it...he’d pay for it. The *only* place either of us could find to do a pre-sale inspection was dealerships. His local Bay Area dealership quoted him $100 for an inspection so he offered to pay an OC dealer if I’d take the car. “Sure,” I said.

    I drove it to South Coast Toyota, where I’d bought it (but had used a different dealership for service), since buyer asked I use “independent dealership” from my own mechanic. The service advisor was confused about what I wanted...which seemed weird...but his answer was perfect (still stands for Gen 2’s!).

    Service writer: “Did you drive it here?”
    Me: “Yes.”
    SW “Then it’s fine...I just saved the guy a hundred bucks...get out of here.”

    It was a weird hybrid world out there in those early days...enjoy your new Prius!
     
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  15. ASRDogman

    ASRDogman Senior Member

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    Wow, I would have went somewhere else!
    There are so many things that "could" have been wrong with it, brakes, head gasket, lights out,
    bad radio, low on oil, no service ever done, worn tires, 12v battery dying, hybrid battery dying...
    but if you drive it there, then it's fine...

    Not saying YOUR's was like this, just that he turned away business, money.

     
  16. ETC(SS)

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

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    $13,000 US dollars????

    I know that my beloved government is spending money like drunken sailors (I'm subject matter expert!) but I didn't realize that it was having that much of an inflationary effect on car prices.

    Here's the thing with 9 year old hybrids....
    If you "have to have it inspected", you may be venturing onto a vast sea in a tiny boat, and while this is true of any used car, it's more true of cars equipped with things like inverters, regenerative brakes, traction batteries along with the USUAL stuff that can go wrong with a pre-teen car.
    Also......it's 2021.
    What is a Floridian car doing being sold in the Bay state?
    Aren't people migrating in the OTHER direction these days?

    Was the car auctioned?
    If so, I would give it a hard pass.
    If not I would still be incredibly suspicious.

    To be clear, a 2012 Prius with only 40,000 miles on the clock CAN BE an opportunity to have a very reliable, very economical car.....but for $13,000 it better come equipped with about $4000 cash in the glovebox for ME to take a second look.

    Private Party Value for this car in Bean Town is $11,500 for an exceptionally clean example......with a verifiable pedigree.

    YMMV
     
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  17. JohnPrius3005

    JohnPrius3005 Member

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    Hi Rebecca, Speaking as an owner of 3 old problematic Prii, one ok Prius, a few other beat up cars, a former owner of a lot of old cars, and one new one, and having been involved in both sides of many aircraft pre-buy inspections, I'll give you my opinion. Which is worth no more than 0.05c

    The only "safe" car purchase is buying new and negotiating the highest level of absolutely free maintenance while under warranty. And then selling before the warranty expires. Other than that you're on your own.

    Buying used from a private party is absolutely my preference. Used car dealers make a sometimes very good living ripping people off.

    If you can negotiate a price which is acceptable to you, then 40k miles is great!

    If you want the highest level of no surprises, and you're able to negotiate it, take the car to a dealer and request the "next major service which will become due on the car". (even if it would only be due at 120,000 miles for example). (not just an oil change and tire rotation). This might be based on time or mileage. Agree that you will pay for the service if and only if the seller agrees to pay to have the dealer fix any and all discrepancies which are unearthed during the service. (this might include worn or old tires, etc). While none of this is any guarantee it does give the dealer the incentive to find rather than gloss over any "issues". Of course the risk, for you, is that the dealer tears the car apart, finds some big issues, the seller refuses to pay for them and demands the dealer put the car back together and you are out the money paying for the service, so you should negotiate that you only pay for the service if the seller fixes issues, otherwise the cost of the service is on him.

    The market pretty much determines how much sellers can get for their used cars. And their anxiety to sell comes into play too.

    In short, if the price is right, this could be a good deal with only 40k miles. If it was me buying, I'd plug in a scanner, look for any codes, be aware that the seller might have just cleared any which were there, and if the car looked good, offer $11k cash, and settle on $12k tops. People are wandering around with a lot of cash these days, but not too many have $11k immediately available.

    Of course I might be wrong about every single point!
     
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  18. Prodigyplace

    Prodigyplace Senior Member

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    Hurricane / flood damage?
     
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  19. Priusjames

    Priusjames Member

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    100% THIS.

    People went *way* out of their way to keep their insurance/carfax from learning about flood damage. In many areas, every car was underwater for many miles around...even those at dealerships and rental car fleets.
     
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  20. Priusjames

    Priusjames Member

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    My story is from back in the day when Prii were still really new and there was only Gen1 (which was practically unknown to general public when Gen 2's came out) and one-model-year-old Gen 2's...and none of those ever really had any problems by 2005. If it had been serviced by the dealer (mine had, and nobody else would service them anyhow), it was fine. Funny how confident they were.

    I was on Priuschat back then, too, and other boards and almost *nobody* had problems we didn't cause ourselves by trying to mod. I realize it's a different world now with all the models/generations. In 2005 there were really nothing failing on Prii Gen 2's at all (and there was a 100,000 mile warranty), enough that I couldn't find a dealer to "inspect" it before another buyer snapped it up (for the same price I'd paid for it a couple of years earlier!) That's what makes it a fun anecdote compared to doing it now.

    Sold it because I had moved on-campus in 2005 and my commute was .25 miles...there was no reason for a $500/month payment anymore and gas mileage tanked(!). I loved that car so much I bought a 2006 model 5 years later! That's the one I have now, and I'm about to start the lifting/overlanding process...will probably do a thread here along the way.
     
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