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Cd 07-08-2012 08:03 PM

What to look for when buying a used Prius
 
1 Attachment(s)
http://ecomodder.com/forum/attachmen...1&d=1425739418

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


RELATED THREADS:
Thread: Gen II Prius Life Expectancy

vskid3 07-09-2012 06:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cd (Post 315907)
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.

MetroMPG 03-07-2015 10:54 AM

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.

planetaire 03-07-2015 03:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cd (Post 315907)
...

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...

MetroMPG 03-07-2015 03:38 PM

Merci, planetaire.

redpoint5 03-07-2015 05:51 PM

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

planetaire 03-08-2015 06:46 AM

Just 2 tires changed
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by redpoint5 (Post 470862)
...

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.

user removed 03-08-2015 09:22 AM

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.

regards
mech

Cd 03-31-2015 10:21 PM

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.

MetroMPG 03-31-2015 10:28 PM

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.

user removed 04-01-2015 12:05 AM

At 300k miles, you might consider the CRX HF in the for sale section on this forum. The problem is trying to bring a car up to a reliable state of condition. If you KNOW the maintenance history from day one maybe, but I have always told people that when you are talking about older higher mileage cars, the best choice is the minimum complexity.

The most modern car I would put in that category is a Toyota Echo, and many members here do very well with them.

Some members here amaze me with their dedication to their vehicles. I was there a while back but that dedication faded with age and aches.

regards
mech

Cd 04-13-2015 08:56 PM

So what is the cheapest 2nd generation Prius you guys have seen that didn't need a new engine, or wasn't over 250,000 miles ?

I can't find any under $5-6,000. I saw one that had crash damage in the rear and thought ...boattail it !, but it most likely has frame damage.

MetroMPG 04-13-2015 09:03 PM

(Moved your question to this "used Prius thread".)

I've been watching for a few months and have seen two somewhat local 2nd gens with cosmetic damage (crushed rocker panel damage on one, cold-shattered front bumper cover on the other) and only moderately high kms for $3k & $4k each.

I called on the rocker panel one, but it sold within hours of the ad going up. I snoozed, I losed.

Another undamaged '08 with 300k km / 186k mi. sold quickly (within half an hour) at $3k.

Those are the exception, though. I have also seen some very high miles or ones with more than minor collision damage for much more than that.

But deals do come up once in a while. (And yes, I check the ads every day.)

A more typical price: there's an auction site for former Canadian federal government equipment I've been watching, and there's currently an '05 on the block with lower than average kms for the year. Starting bid is $5k. We'll see how that ends up. (I'm just watching.)

Cd 04-13-2015 09:15 PM

Thanks Darin !
So I'm also wondering what kind of warranty Toyota has on the battery of these cars.
I found this link :The Ultimate Guide: Toyota Prius Battery Life, Cost, and Warranty

MetroMPG 04-13-2015 09:16 PM

I believe it's 8 years / 100k miles in the States.

EDIT: your link says it's longer in California emissions states. I've read that elsewhere.

"The battery pack in any hybrid Toyota is warranted either for 10 years or 150,000 miles (in states with California emissions laws) or 8 years or 100,000 miles in all other states."

War_Wagon 04-13-2015 09:39 PM

Can I ask why 1st gens aren't interesting to anyone? I fully admit I have one that I have neglected, but you never seem to see anyone looking for them. I like my Hondas and don't know much about the Prius, but the 1st gen Prius was so nerdy cool I couldn't resist. Was there something about them that the 2nd generation totally fixed that makes the 1st gens not as desirable?

MetroMPG 04-13-2015 09:58 PM

I've seen some horribly rusty 1st gens, but no rusty 2nd gens. Material or design in that area is better. Not something you face on the wet coast!

Also there seem to be more battery failures in the 1st gens.

And -- NERD ALERT -- better EPA ratings! Gen 1: 41 mpg US combined vs. 46 mpg for gen. 2 (50 for 3rd). :)

Also, there just aren't that many around here. All that said, I'd probably get a 1st gen if the price was right and it wasn't swiss cheese.

California98Civic 04-13-2015 10:59 PM

A friend told me that the first gen still had belt PS or AC or both, whereas one or both ofnthose are electric on the second gen.

MetroMPG 04-27-2015 12:07 PM

12v batteries & wheel bearings
 
So, I've been actively hunting at the bottom end of the Prius market for a while now, and can confirm planetaire's observation: Recent work on the older ones seems to include new 12v batteries.

Also: new front wheel bearings have been mentioned in a few ads.

---

There was one '08 for sale with body damage for $4k that I would have picked up in a heartbeat if it were closer. It had stem-to-stern dents/scrape along the driver's side, including a busted off mirror and broken driver's door glass.

And there was a cosmetically fine '05 with 300k kms / 186k mi. for $3k that sold within 2 days. Another case of I snoozed, I losed. "I'll go look at it on the weekend" has not panned out for me on the handful of $3k Prii that have come up. :D

I've nerded out and started a spreadsheet. Of 24 ads I've recorded for "bottom of the market" cars within 500 km (300 mi.), the average asking price is $4623, with an average year of 2004.9. (That's CAD, which is about 80% of USD right now.)

Still watching...

Cd 04-27-2015 03:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MetroMPG (Post 475340)

And -- NERD ALERT -- better EPA ratings! Gen 1: 41 mpg US combined vs. 46 mpg for gen. 2 (50 for 3rd). :)

Actually, that reason makes sense ! For me, it really is a NERD ALERT : the second generation has a lower drag coefficient :thumbup:

MetroMPG 05-17-2015 02:20 PM

hybrid battery health report from dealer
 
I'm still actively watching my area ads for a Prius. Prices have gone looney tunes (way up) in the past couple of weeks. Spring fever?

A few weeks ago I was ready to go look at an '03 that had average kilometers and a bunch of non-hybrid issues (exhaust, wheel bearing, etc.) for a good price ($1200), but the seller was TERRIBLE at returning calls & messages and it sold before we could connect. That's three now I've missed that I probably would have bought (one 1st gen, two 2nd gens).

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cd (Post 315907)
1) Battery pack health: 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?

One thing the seller said was he had a Toyota dealer inspect the hybrid battery before he decided whether he'd was going to sell it or repair & keep it. He said the dealer told him the pack was about "half worn out".

A bit of researching uncovered:

Quote:

If your paying for a dealer investigation they will charge you one hour labor and hook up there proprietary Techstream Software laptop to the OBD port on the car and give the Hybrid battery a look see. Ask for a full printout of the Hybrid battery particulars including the battery 'Delta".
That's from Prius Chat, and unfortunately there's no more info provided than that. But it seems to confirm it is possible to get a battery condition report from Toyota.

I don't know what the "Delta" is (the thread doesn't explain it), but if I had to guess, I'd say it might be divergence in capacity/SOC between subpacks which reduces overall pack capacity, like the Honda packs.

cRiPpLe_rOoStEr 05-17-2015 10:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by California98Civic (Post 475345)
A friend told me that the first gen still had belt PS or AC or both, whereas one or both ofnthose are electric on the second gen.

It doesn't make sense when we think about its driveline layout, but I've never seen a 1st-gen Prius.

MetroMPG 05-17-2015 10:22 PM

Wiki says the first gen car had electric power steering. Not sure about A/C.

nimblemotors 05-17-2015 10:42 PM

A/C was engine driven in the gen 1. The electric power steering was also different, on the gen 1 it is in the rack, on the gen 2 it is in the column.

cRiPpLe_rOoStEr 05-18-2015 05:36 AM

I have seen some quotes about the 2nd-gen Prius being the first car ever to not have any accessory belt.

Gasoline Fumes 05-19-2015 02:38 AM

The 2nd gen Prius has a water pump belt.

cRiPpLe_rOoStEr 05-19-2015 03:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gasoline Fumes (Post 479994)
The 2nd gen Prius has a water pump belt.

Actually, it was the current (3rd-gen) one which introduced the electric water pump :thumbup:

sarguy01 07-22-2015 01:35 PM

Slightly old thread bump...

I am going to look at a 3rd owner Prius that looks very well maintained in the pictures. 143,000 miles with a price of $4,500 firm.

There are two people coming to look at it today. So my wife and I are going soon. This is to replace the Mazda5 - double the gas mileage! My Civic is gone and I got a Durango...long story!!

This thread was useful! Thanks!

MetroMPG 07-22-2015 01:43 PM

That's a decent price for that many miles, if it's in decent shape. What year?

Good luck & keep us posted.

MetroMPG 07-22-2015 01:44 PM

PS: I thought you started out with a Durango, pre-Metro days? Memory is foggy.

sarguy01 07-22-2015 01:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MetroMPG (Post 487648)
That's a decent price for that many miles, if it's in decent shape. What year?

Good luck & keep us posted.


2005. I am kind of excited to look at another gas saver!

Oh, please let your memory remain foggy...I have a problem buying expensive cars and then trading them in...!

Probably should start my own thread to attempt to explain...

MetroMPG 07-22-2015 02:03 PM

Oh yeah, that's a much better than average price* for an '05, at least around here. (Says the guy with the ever-growing spreadsheet of used Priuses.)

user removed 07-22-2015 03:22 PM

Saw one on DC craigslist for $1500 in drive able condition without significant body damage (200k miles).

http://baltimore.craigslist.org/cto/5126362464.html

Sitill there for now. Possible scam-fishing expedition for ph# or email addy.

regards
mech

sarguy01 07-22-2015 03:28 PM

Don't worry, I have several spreadsheets!!

I just got back from looking at the Prius. It was 10 minutes from work.

Paint and interior are a 9/10 for a 143,000 mile car. There are worn spots on the interior plastic and the paint has some rubs, but overall good. No rust.

Odd smell. Not a deal killer for me, but the wife? She is on the fence.

Whoever owned it last ran over a large curb or something. There is a dent about 12" long down the bottom of the rocker. Passenger door opens and closes fine. To go along with this, part of the air dam between the bumper and radiator is missing. Not a big deal, can be fixed cheaply.

Passed VA inspection, but the front two tires are bald on the outside edges. Also needs an alignment. Rear tires are new and brand matched, but they are cheap, cheap, cheap.

Windshield has cracks, but passed inspection.

It comes with one key. I think a new one is $200. The key it has is falling apart and rubber banded together.

So, four new tires from tirerack.com are $312 minus shipping. Bridgestone Ecopias. I'd have to do more research, but those should work on the cheap.

I am not sold. I hate getting rid of a 33,000 mile Mazda that gets 25 mpg that we owe $9,800 on for a 143,000 mile Prius that is going to cost $5k.

I think I should focus on keeping my damn cars instead of selling a year or two after I buy them!!!

MetroMPG 08-04-2015 02:51 PM

Add to the list... control arms, friction brakes (rust), coolant pumps, trim rings
 
1 Attachment(s)
I finally picked up a 2004 Prius with 270k kilometers / 168k miles on the clock which came with a complete maintenance history from 2009 to present.

From that history, I'll add a couple more to the list of things to watch for:

Control arms: Both front control arms were replaced due to worn bushings (one by the previous owner, one by me).

Frequent friction brake issues: a side-effect of regen braking means the friction brakes are lightly used vs. a non-hybrid. This car seems to have had constant, repeated brake work due to rusting components, from a combination of regen and salty winter conditions in this part of the world. The rotors were resurfaced multiple times and replaced; rusted backing plates replaced; caliper sliders siezed; drums resurfaced. The rotors need to be resurfaced/replaced again.

Fortunately, rotors/pads/shoes are relatively inexpensive to replace if you DIY.

It has also had both front wheel bearings replaced once (not unexpected based on this thread) and 3(!) coolant pump replacements, one of which was for the inverter, the other two not specified.

Lastly, many of the gen 2 cars I saw were missing one or more of the trim rings for the alloy wheels (the seller didn't even realize 2 of hers were gone -- same side of the car). Some owners probably take 'em off because they prefer the look of bare alloys, but these are likely drag-reducing pieces, so it's something to consider.

Trim ring vs. no trim ring:

http://ecomodder.com/forum/attachmen...1&d=1438712342

dirtydave 08-04-2015 02:54 PM

nice! looks decent man!

oldtamiyaphile 08-22-2015 11:41 AM

Hey guys, I'm looking at a one owner '04 tomorrow. 125K miles with a new battery. Price is a reasonable for Australia $7k.

My question is how easy is it to add a grid charger for a partial plug in set up. This car will mostly be used for short trips at low speed that I hope to complete in EV mode.

[EDIT] Never mind, the Enginer kit is what I seek :)

MetroMPG 08-23-2015 10:59 AM

I wondered the same thing as well (grid charging but without an add-on-pack). Didn't wonder hard enough to search for it though.

I know it's been done.

planetaire 08-23-2015 12:08 PM

If you want to use more ev, the best is to add lithium cells and charge/discharge them.
The oem nimh cells are not designed to have deep cycles. There life will be shortened.

There are two ways adding lithium to a 2004 prius:
-engineer way, so using a dc-dc converter with max 15A. The converter had thermal problem and the bms could not work.
-direct HV but you need a bms, bms+ or an orion bms. Don't have the 15A limitation and can regen energy in the lithium cells.

oldtamiyaphile 08-24-2015 07:44 AM

Joined the Prius Club today, silver 05 one owner with 55K miles.


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