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Old 07-08-2012, 08:03 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Arrow What to look for when buying a used Prius



I have started this thread hoping that others can submit tips and advice on what to look out for when buying a used Prius. ( Similar to the thread MetroMPG created on buying a used Honda Insight, 1st gen. )

Feel free to add any suggestions at all on what to check when buying used.

I'll start with a few questions of my own :

1) Battery pack health: Since so much of this car is related to the battery pack, are there some early warning signs of a pack going bad ? How can a person check the battery condition of a car when buying from an individual seller ? Can a standard garage do this check, or must a dealer visit be scheduled for this? What is the most harmful to a batteries life - cycles used ( miles traveled ) or time ( age of car ) ?

2) Pack replacement/refurbishment: What is the cost of a replacement battery pack ? From what i understand, it may be possible to refurbish. What is an honest rate for this service ?

3) From what i understand, unlike an Insight 1st Gen, a Prius cannot run at all without it's battery pack. Is this true ?

4) What things break and wear out most often on this car ? ( Things to check when buying )

5) What tires does the Prius use, and if non low rolling resistance tires are installed, what kind of a mileage hit is to be expected ?

Thanks folks, and I may edit this post from time to time to add new questions

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Old 07-09-2012, 06:43 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cd View Post
How can a person check the battery life of a car when buying from an individual seller ?
Every Prius I've seen has had the battery charge level displayed in bars on the center LCD. Using a Scangauge II with the appropriate X-Gauge programmed in is another option that will give you a hard number. However, that is just the current battery level, not necessarily the battery's health. (I usually try to park my Escape with the battery low so it can just be charged during the warm up period the next time I drive, when the engine has to run anyway)

Quote:
What is the most harmful to a batteries life - cycles used ( miles traveled ) or time ( age of car )
I've heard of hybrids used as taxis doing well over 300,000 miles with the stock battery.

Quote:
What is the cost of a replacement battery pack ? From what i understand, it may be possible to refurbish. What is an honest rate for this service ?
I've seen around $3000 for a new pack thrown around a lot, but I don't know if that is from Toyota or a third party.

Quote:
From what i understand, unlike an Insight 1stGen, a Prius cannot run at all without it's battery pack. Is this true ?
That is true. The electric motors are essential to the transmission's function, without them, you're going nowhere.

Quote:
What tires does the Prius use, and if non low rolling resistance tires are installed, what kind of a mileage hit is to be expected ?

They came with LRR from the factory. You'll lose a few MPGs with regular tires, but it shouldn't be too much if you pump them up.


I recently bought an Escape Hybrid, which uses a hybrid system very similar to the Prius's. I was in the market for any small SUV that would return respectable mileage and be reliable. Of course the Escape Hybrid destroyed the competition with its fuel economy, but it also destroyed them in reliability (at least in my mind). I got mine with 130,000 miles on it and didn't even think twice.

From what I've seen, the Prius looks to have about the best reliability you can find. I wouldn't worry about the battery too much. Chances are probably greater that the tranny would die on another car than the battery on a Prius.
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Old 03-07-2015, 10:54 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Bumping this thread! I'd be interested in hearing from owners about red flags to watch out for in either the 1st or 2nd gen Prius. (I've been perusing mostly 2nd gen Prius ads recently, but haven't gone to look at any yet.)

Or are these cars as bulletproof as I've been hearing/reading, and if it drives OK with no warning lights, it's basically safe to pull the trigger?

Is there a Toyota equivalent of the dreaded Honda "IMA light" that indicates a problem pack?

I've seen multiple 1st gen cars advertised with dead or replaced packs, but zero 2nd gens.
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Old 03-07-2015, 03:17 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cd View Post
...

1) Battery pack health: Since so much of this car is related to the battery pack, are there some early warning signs of a pack going bad ? How can a person check the battery condition of a car when buying from an individual seller ? Can a standard garage do this check, or must a dealer visit be scheduled for this? What is the most harmful to a batteries life - cycles used ( miles traveled ) or time ( age of car ) ?
I will only speek about the gen 2 or gen 3. The HV pack is divided in 14 groups. You can monitor the 14 voltages and the 14 internal resistances. For example use torque and a bluetooth dongle. Or a mini vci and the official program: techstream.

Quote:
2) Pack replacement/refurbishment: What is the cost of a replacement battery pack ? From what i understand, it may be possible to refurbish. What is an honest rate for this service ?
Here, in France replacement with a new one is about 1900€, add labor.
Some diyers have changed one or several blocks using second hand one. You can not buy new blocks from Toyota, only the full battery.
On priuschat you have several threads, this one for example.

Quote:
3) From what i understand, unlike an Insight 1st Gen, a Prius cannot run at all without it's battery pack. Is this true ?
If the battery is dead before starting, the car is bricked. If this occur during driving you wil go to your destination. A battery usually don't dead suddenly. This is the computer (the hsd) that decide that some thresold had been reached. Usually you have the so known red triangle displayed. This will hapend at each trip until you solve the problem. With torque or other program you can get the dtc code. The problem may come not from a cell but a copper tab oxidezed.

Quote:
4) What things break and wear out most often on this car ? ( Things to check when buying )
The most known is the 12v battery dead. Very old prius use engine oil.

Quote:
5) What tires does the Prius use, and if non low rolling resistance tires are installed, what kind of a mileage hit is to be expected ?
The gen 2 in US use 15" tires. We use 16". The gen 3 use 15 or 17". Mileage depend upon temp, cross wind, rain, speed and so on...
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Old 03-07-2015, 03:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Old 03-07-2015, 05:51 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I had similar questions in my thread on buying a reconstructed title Prius. As pointed out, the Torque app, a $10 bluetooth Elm237 device, and download of the correct PIDs for the Prius will give you more info than you know what to do with. I inspected individual bank voltages to see that they were similar. My concern was that the battery might have been damaged from sitting too long while being auctioned and repaired. For a car that hasn't sat for a long time, I don't think there is much reason for concern about battery health.

I suspect that my lack of LRR tires is responsible for maybe a 3 mpg hit, although it's just a hunch of mine. It will be interesting to see what happens to fuel economy when I finally wear out the tires and install LRR.

I'm not very educated on the Gen II, and have no interest at all in the Gen I. I do know that in model year 2007 and newer, Prius rearranged the package options and made more features standard, if that is important to you.

EDIT: The forum has unreasonably small upload limits, so I have linked files I found useful to my Google Drive.

Gen III Prius User Guide

Gen II Package Guide

2010-2011 Package Guide
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Old 03-08-2015, 06:46 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Just 2 tires changed

Quote:
Originally Posted by redpoint5 View Post
...

I suspect that my lack of LRR tires is responsible for maybe a 3 mpg hit, although it's just a hunch of mine. It will be interesting to see what happens to fuel economy when I finally wear out the tires and install LRR....
Last year I have done some testing. Previously I had 4 michelin energy saver (We have 16" tires here).
I drive at constant 70 km/h (44 mph) with this 4 tires and used 570,9 Wh on 5430 meter. This is not a good surface road but it is in a forest then absolutly no cross wind.
I changed the 2 front tires with Toyo nano 2. On the exact same distance, same day ... used 525,9 Wh. So 7,9 % less energy used ! Temperature was 23C, no Wind. With my P2 plug-in so 55% load on front tires.

Of course now the 2 rear michelin energy saver being used have been replaced with 2 toyo.
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Old 03-08-2015, 09:22 AM   #8 (permalink)
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There was an 05 on Craigslist locally for $1200 with a bad hybrid battery. A Dorman replacement is supposedly a little over $1300 with free shipping available through NAPA auto parts.

I jumped on that one contacting the seller by email (through cl) and my cell phone. No response and this morning the ad is gone. Probably decided it was worth more. It was not one of those ads you KNOW are just a fishing expedition.

I think now that the firist of the gen 2 (04-09) is passing the ten year mark you are going to see battery failures. They are probably more predominant here where there are military deployments and cars sit for months.

Taxi service with almost continuous operation and much higher than average yearly mileage is actually an ideal situation for battery longevity, so take all of those claims with a fairly large grain of salt. Frequency of use and time both affect longevity but sitting idle for longer periods of time can really killthe hybrid battery (bricked).

Not sure how a Prius responds to "coasting in neutral" but it might be away to test battery capacity, using neutral to prevent regen, not sure. On my Insight when the battery capacity had reached it's lowest level, it took two coast in neutral cycles then fairly rapid acceleration to set the light indicating battery failure and after replacement. it was a huge difference in capacity. My guess would be at least a 500% increase in capacity and possibly twice that.

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Old 03-31-2015, 10:21 PM   #9 (permalink)
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How much would you guys give for a 2005 Prius with 285,000 miles ( ackkk ! )

Two- hundred - and - eighty - five - thousand miles. ( What was this thing a taxi ?? )

The car is on Craigslist for $ 3,500 and is about a block or two down the street from me.

My first thought is, well if the battery doesn't crap out soon the engine might too... or so many other parts that fail with that many miles.
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Old 03-31-2015, 10:28 PM   #10 (permalink)
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There's a taxi company that runs Camry hybrids in the next city down the river. Similar story: they sell them with high miles, low price. Personally I wouldn't bother.

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