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Old 05-20-2015, 10:53 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: 1000 Islands, Ontario, Canada
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Blackfly - '98 Geo Metro
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Last 3: 70.09 mpg (US)

MPGiata - '90 Mazda Miata
90 day: 53.78 mpg (US)

Winter beater Metro - '00 Chevrolet Metro
90 day: 61.98 mpg (US)

Fancy Metro - '14 Mitsubishi Mirage top spec
90 day: 58.72 mpg (US)

Even Fancier Metro - '14 Mitsubishi Mirage top spec
90 day: 66.29 mpg (US)
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Cheap used (C.R.A.P.) Prius hunting adventure - UPDATE: got one!

Yessir, I'm on the hunt for a Prius.

Last year I decided to quit subjecting my Firefly/Metro to the annual 3 to 4 month long salt bath otherwise known as Eastern Ontario winter. Rolling into its golden years, the Flea has earned a gentler life.

You may have followed last winter's adventures of a 2007 Honda Civic 5-speed that I picked up to drive & modify. For a winter beater, it was actually a very nice car (probably the nicest I've owned), and it returned a respectable 48 mpg (US) / 4.9 L/100 km -- over the nasty half of the calendar. Not horrible! I even stuck a ginormous aerodynamic tail on it.

But I have sold the Civic, and I'm now looking to up my nerd quotient by hunting down a Prius.

UPDATE: July 23, 2015
Finally successfully hunted one down! See post #135 for all the details.


My most ambitious goal
is finding a good enough deal that I can reasonably expect to re-sell it after a year or two and break even at least, like I did with the Civic. That includes recovering the 13% sales tax, inspection fees & any repairs/maintenance too. No small feat!

Price range: ~$4k or less, which is going to make this relatively challenging, since they're fairly uncommon at that price. That means a 1st gen (2001-2003) or early 2nd generation (2004-2009) model, probably with higher kilometers and/or cosmetically wanting.

But the $2-$4k ones aren't all turds!

Very occasionally, the seller is just clueless, and sometimes they have already bought another car and are just very motivated to sell, eg...

1st gen or 2nd gen?

I missed out on this nice 2003 for $2500 asking. The owner bought a Volt, and the dealer probably offered her peanuts for it.

I'd prefer a 2nd gen:
  • They're more efficient (46 mpg US EPA combined for the gen. 2 vs. 41 mpg for gen. 1).
  • They're more practical (hatchback)
  • They're more reliable (it's not uncommon to find gen. 1's with failed battery packs; rare to find gen. 2's). Gen 1's also appear to rust more (and not only because they're older).
  • In another year or two, a 1st gen will be that much harder to re-sell than a 2nd gen.
  • Occasionally, very cheap 1st gen's turn up with dead packs, but they're problematic because they can't be driven home, like I did with the 1st gen Insight I picked up with a "dead" pack.
  • Also, it's easier to stick a ginormous aero tail on a 2nd gen!
But I won't ignore a decent 1st gen if the price is right.

The above pic is of a 2003 I was ready to pull the trigger on just last week: 220k kms (137k miles), good shape, and the seller had just dropped the asking price from $3500 to $2500. She had already picked up her new car: a Volt. Unfortunately the Prius sold, right after the price drop, before I got a chance to see it.

A week prior, I was ready to pull the trigger on another 2003 with similar kms for $1400: the exhaust system just fell off it, and it had a bad wheel bearing. But the seller was frustratingly terrible at returning messages/calls, and I gave up.

Supplies are limited! Act fast! No... FASTER!

Shopping at the "screaming deal" end of the spectrum has been educational. The lesson repeatedly driven home is: you snooze, you lose!

I've been actively watching the ads for a few months, and have now lost out on 5 very enticing prospects (including the 2003 pictured above). Every one that was listed for a good price that wasn't an ex-taxi or salvage title sold within hours (2) or by the next day (3).

Today, I called about this 2008 literally within half an hour of the ad being posted:

It's a one-owner, with extra set of winter wheels/tires, high kms (300k / 186k miles) and unspecified cosmetic damage to the driver's seat & arm rest (I'm guessing dog) for $3000 asking. The woman owner said someone was already on their way to see it, and she told me she was amazed that I was the eighth call on it in half an hour.

Aren't you scared of buying a used Prius with high kms?

Nah, not really.

To be continued...

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Latest mods: 3-cylinder Mitsubishi Mirage. EcoMods now in progress...
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has launched a forum for the efficient new Mitsubishi Mirage - fuel efficiency info for Geo Metro owners - electric car conversion on a beer budget
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