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Nice Things About a Used Toyota Prius and a Warning from Scotty Kilmer

If you are buying a hybrid, then Toyota Prius is the way to go, said Houston based car-mechanic and a well known Youtuber Scotty Kilmer, adding a warning about buying used Toyota Prius vehicles.


I am a 2012 Toyota Prius owner and bought a used 2012 Prius in 2015 with 38,000 miles on it. Up to this day I have been driving it without problems (thank God) and have been very happy with it. A few days ago I saw a Houston-based car mechanic Scotty Kilmer posting a video and talking about which hybrid car is the best. He didn't compare the hybrids with one another, but had some very nice words and some warnings about the Prius.

Scotty says those who know him also know that he is not a big fan of hybrid cars "because they cost a lot more to buy and they cost a whole lot more to fix when they break down. But if you are really into hybrids, the Toyota Prius is the one to buy," says Scotty.

Toyota "has been making these things now more than 20 years and this particular one (shown in the picture above is nine years old It has 110,000 miles on it and really has had very little problems at all," said Scotty.

Toyota Prius Brake Pads and Hybrid Energy Regeneration

"I just finished a brake job on this one, it's the first time it has had to have the brake pads replace."

Then he moves on explaining how the hybrid cars work saying since Prius is a hybrid car when you brake normally a lot of that energy instead of being wasted and turned into heat by the normal brake rotors and pads, it uses the system inside to regenerate power to make electricity charge the big old battery in a trunk so that when you take off it can reuse that energy to make the car go.

"Consequently, if you don't drive like a maniac these brake pads are gonna last a long time. These particular ones (referring to the Prius in the video) lasted 110,000 miles before they wore out too the first time," said Scotty.

Why Toyota Prius Generates Better MPG in Town vs Highway

Now, if you do a lot of in town stop-and-go driving Toyota Prius cars get phenomenal gas mileage. They actually get much better gas mileage driving stop-and-go in town then if you are doing a highway driving. Because on highway Toyota Prius cars don't regenerate anything. You are going 60 miles an hour, you going 60 miles an hour.

Kilmer Explains Toyota Prius Atkinson Cycle Engine

"Now they do use what's called an Atkinson cycle engine. It's still a four-stroke gasoline internal combustion engine, but it's a different design. It's more efficient than ones that have regular cams in them. They do have less power, but when you're cruising at 60 miles an hour, you really don't care about power. It just needs a certain amount of horsepower to run itself and no more. So granted it still gets good gas mileage on a highway, but it gets much better gas mileage in stop and go traffic. This is why guys that are Uber drivers, Taxi drivers, they love these things," said Kilmer.

Now, if you're the type of guy that buy some brand new and you don't mind the price go right ahead (See The 2020 Toyota Prius Prime Promises Big Changes). They are very dependable, says Kilmer. Then he goes on to speak about expensive replacements that will come between the 7-12 years.

Watch Make A Toyota Prius Hybrid Battery Last Past 350,000 Miles Performing Your Own Replacement and Subscribe to Torque News Youtube Channel for Auto Industry Daily News Analysis.

The Reliability of Prius Before Expensive Replacements Start

"Finding used Toyota Prius cars with higher mileage is a big gamble because eventually the battery packs in the back wear out. It costs thousands of dollars to replace them with a brand new one and yes, there are rebuilt or refurbished ones you can get since there are a bunch of little batteries all connected together when they do go bad. Some of the little cells go bad. There are machines that can test them. That's very expensive, time consuming and if you find the ones that are bad, you replace them. But may go bad once they are 7 to 12 years old. If you're replacing some of the bad ones the old cells are all 7 to 12 years old," says Kilmer.

Prius batteries are not going to last forever. If you put in recondition batteries maybe they will last a year or two, but that kind of stinks when you think about it, says Scotty. "Because if the original battery went 7 to 12 years, 1 to 2 years isn't that good. If you really want to keep one and it needs a battery, my advice is buy a new battery, don't buy one of these recondition ones they just don't seem to hold up over," he says.

Here see Torque News reporter John Goreham's story titled "Don't Buy A New Toyota Prius Hybrid Battery - Have It Repaired Instead."

Scotty's Main Warning Buying a Toyota Prius

"But my main warning about buying a used Toyota Prius is this: There is a generator inside here (he shows where the generator is under the hood). These cars don't have alternators,. Let's say the alternator went bad. My old Celica takes me 15 minutes to change the alternator. It Cost me maybe a hundred and fifty bucks for a good alternator. On the Prius in order to replace it you have got to pull the engine and transmission out of the unit, take it apart buy a really expensive generator assembly and put it back together again.

Used Toyota Prius Generator Replacement Cost

"Last time I priced it out it was about a 6,000 dollar job and I had a customer whose Prius' generator went bad. So I told her while your generator is bad you know it's not worth fixing. I
explained how the system works and that it was about a 6,000 dollar job. But I said you didn't buy a new Prius, you bought it used. Then she said, yeah I bought it used. The seller took her for a ride. It had like a hundred and fifty thousand miles on it and she'd paid like 9,500 bucks. About a month previous to this I had a customer sell his ten-year-old Prius that only had a hundred thousand miles on it and he sold it for 1,800 dollars.

"So she way overpaid for the used Prius. She didn't believe me. I said well, won't charge you anything, talk to a Toyota dealer. They are going tell you the same thing.

"So she did and they told her the same thing. It does cost $6,000 to fix it, but we'll take it off your hands and will recycle it, which is better for the environment. The dealer didn't offer any money for the car. I couldn't believe that," says Scott.

Toyota Dealer and Old Prius Cars With Generator Problems

"Once I called up about 10 Toyota dealers nationwide and said I got this ten-year-old Prius, do you buy used Prius vehicles? They said sure. But then I said well, you know, it needs a generator. Every single one who said no we don't want it and hung up. They knew that the repair was much more than the vehicle was worth.

What To do When you See a Used Prius That Runs Good?

"So if you're feeling in a gambling mood and you want to buy used Prius, go right ahead. If it runs good take it to a mechanic like me to check it out. Just don't pay much money for it because in the real world when they're 10 years or older they are worth practically nothing," he says.

If you can't afford to buy a new Toyota Prius and if you want to get a hybrid car, the Prius is definitely the one to buy, says Scotty.

You know, it's a Toyota. So a Prius may be 9 years old, have a 110,000 miles on it, but really everything still works on it, "doesn't look like a GM where the electronics go haywire when it gets old, said Kilmer.

"So if you're thinking about buying a Toyota Prius, now you know a little bit more about them, so you can make a wise informed decision," concludes Scotty.

Watch Scotty Kilmer Discussing Used Toyota Prius Pros and Cons and Subscribe to Torque News Youtube Channel for Daily Toyota and Automotive News.

Editor's Note: See you in the next story where Scotty discusses Mercedes EQC electric SUV and compares it with Tesla as well as gas Mercedes.

Armen Hareyan is the editor of Torque News and you can follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.


Joseph (not verified)    June 20, 2019 - 12:22PM

I bought a 2004 Prius in 2010 w/80k miles for $7k. Now it has 180k. I have had to do one major repair, my accelerator went out when i was climbing a mountain pass in -20 degree weather in Idaho. I have never had to replace the breakpads. I have moved to five states in the mountain west, midwest, south, and back to the mountainwest. I know most arent this way but Ive come out like a bandit with this thing. Thanks Toyota for making a good car I still drive to work everyday!

Salami (not verified)    April 5, 2021 - 8:56AM

In reply to by Joseph (not verified)

I’m guessing you have a good 50k miles left on it. My 2005 Prius (bought brand new) has been well maintained by Toyota every year since. It now has 150k miles on it, and the battery needs to be replaced.
They didn’t mention anything about the generator, so assuming I go ahead and replace the battery - who’s to say the generator won’t crap out in another 30k miles. Very risky. Sure, technology has gotten better but gone are the days where we can push a hybrid past 300k miles.