Without a doubt, electric vehicles are here to stay. If it’s any indicator, there will be even more choices for electric vehicles in the future, as manufacturers like Toyota have announced an all-electric plug-in vehicle that will be a zero emissions car, apart from their Prius model. For now, however, the Toyota Prius is the Japanese manufacturer’s success, commercially and technologically, in the green vehicle category.
The Prius is already in its 3rd generation at this point, which means that there would be millions of these successful hybrids out on the road wherever they are being sold. Prii with 100,000 miles of running are selling for around 8,000 dollars these days, which makes them an interesting alternative for people who are conscious about low cost, fuel efficiency and green living. But let’s face it, the Prius, while attractive as a car for people with alternative lifestyles, is a complex car with little disseminated knowledge outside of Toyota-trained technicians. Unless you or a mechanic friend is intimately knowledgeable about the workings of the Prius, it is best to buy a used Toyota Prius only after it has been inspected by a reputable Toyota dealer.
A Prius that has not been maintained properly will be a candidate for inverter or transaxle failure, both of which are major components of the car, and both of which are expensive to replace or even repair. Since a Prius transmission is basically a CVT, don’t buy a used Toyota Prius if you feel some jerkiness coming from the transmission. Reportedly, a new transaxle assembly for the Prius can cost up to $10,000. Which is a preposterous repair bill for if you buy a used Toyota Prius for something close to that amount.
Other things that need inspection before you buy a used Toyota Prius include the front struts and rear shocks, the HID headlights, the 12V battery (not the traction unit), the rear brake lights, the inverter cooling pump and the transaxle fluid. Look for maintenance records that show that the inverter cooling pump recall has been performed and that the transaxle fluid has been changed at the recommended intervals.
Even before you ask the seller if the car can be checked out at a dealer, quick checks you can perform include turning the HID headlights on and making sure that they are still lit after ten minutes. At the same time, also turn on the air con and monitor the air coming out of the vents. After the 10-minute period, is the air still cold? Check for leaks too beneath the engine’s water pump. The original 12-volt battery is known to be faulty so a used Prius should have a replacement aftermarket battery installed. And though it may seem a small matter to replace a brake light switch on a Prius, the fact is it will require replacement of the pedal assembly. As you can see, the Prius’ complexity extends even to the small things that would be easy fixes in a more conventional car. If a combination of these small faults exist in a Prius you are considering, then it would be better to inspect another unit rather than buy a used Toyota Prius that may end up costing you more than the purchase price of the car.