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Don’t Fall for This Potential Prius Scam by Used Car Dealers

An accessory option that you might find on some used Prius models opens a potential scam by used car dealers for used car shoppers not in-the-know.

In previous articles we’ve discussed the risks and hazards of shopping for a used Prius when the salesman is less than totally honest when it comes to a used car he is pitching.

However, there are times when used car shoppers are misled in part because they are not aware of differences in accessories that appear to be the same, but actually differ significantly between earlier and more modern models.

Used Prius Shopper Warning

Call it a slight-of-hand with the tongue, a white lie, or some carefully crafted wording, a lie is still a lie no matter how it is sugar-coated when it is meant to make a used car shopper believe he is getting something that in reality he is not.

Related article: Toyota Mechanic Shows How to Pick a Used Prius from the Government

Case in point: A used Prius with a solar roof in earlier models that was more of a gimmick than a useful feature.

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

The 2010 Prius with Solar Roof Panel Option

Toyota first offered a solar roof beginning with its 2010 Prius model. As it turned out, the panel only generated about 50 watts of electricity―just enough to power the car’s cabin ventilation system. The perk of this feature was that it would alleviate the owner from entering an overly hot car interior during the summer months while the car was parked and the owner away on some errand.

If you have ever lived in the Southwest during the summer this would appear to be a nice feature to have as vehicles are oven-hot to the touch even after just a few minutes in the sun.

Critics of the solar roof option derided it as more gimmicky than useful considering the added cost and weight of a solar panel; Especially since the power from the panel was not channeled to the car’s hybrid or accessory battery. Which would reasonably seem to be a given to a car shopper seeing this type of feature for the first time.

Toyota Maintenance Warning

That was the message in a recent Toyota Maintenance YouTube channel warning when the host shows a 2012 Toyota Prius brought into his garage that possesses a solar panel roof that could be mistaken for the newer model Prius option that does provide power to the hybrid and accessory batteries.

The host wants viewers to know that it is easy to be misled into assuming (or through some used cars sales chicanery) that just because it has a solar panel on it does not mean that it is for charging the car’s batteries, which would make sense…if only it were true.

In other words, it’s a buyer beware out there and you should always ask about a feature and leave your assumptions outside the dealer lot.

2012 TOYOTA Prius with Solar Panels on the Roof


Latest Model Prius Prime with Solar Panels

This year the 2024 Prius Prime appears to meet the expectations of why anyone would desire a Hybrid EV with solar panels installed on the roof.

According to the Toyota Newsroom about the 2024 Prius Prime model:

An additional option for the XSE Premium is a 185W solar roof, which is capable of charging the drive battery with the power of the sun while parked. The solar charger also supplies power to auxiliary functions while driving. On Prius Primes equipped with the solar roof, information about power generation is shown in the vehicle’s Multi-Information Display.”

However, the final word on just how efficient and effective the new solar roof is in practice on the road remains to be seen.

To find out more about the new Prius Prime Hybrid that is reported to have a solar panel roof capable of charging the car’s batteries, here is an informative look from the Jalopy Jeff YouTube channel at the new Prius Prime and what it has to offer.

Solar Panel Equipped Toyota Prius Prime Review


For additional Prius-related topics, here are a few for your consideration:

Timothy Boyer is an automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites  and Facebook for daily news and topics related to new and used cars and trucks.

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Image source: Deposit Photos