It is no secret that when you are looking for a new car, dealerships are out to sell you one in anyway they can. As you should know, if you do not already, new cars lose value as soon as they are driven off that lot. It does not stop there though it keeps depreciating forever. Also, who is getting these high pressure sales folk to tack on all these add ons? Service plans, extended warranties, upgraded floor mats, etc.
With all of this going on, and the usually large financial commitment, these reasons alone are enough to make buyers run for the hills, yet somehow we still end up buying that new 2020 Prius Prime.
Finding a reliable used car has just as many challenges though. When buying a used car really what you are doing is buying what the previous owner is saying the vehicle is capable of, and when it comes to buying a used Toyota Prius, that can mean a lot of different things. Here are 17 myths that I feel most people believe make or break the deal of buying a used Prius.
Certified Pre-owned Toyota Prius
Most people out shopping for a used Toyota Prius can wind up getting into a Certified Pre-Owned one from the dealer. What most do not know is that those type of cars do not always come with the same warranty as the new version of the same model. Be very aware and inspect the the Certified Pre-Owned papers before you decide to buy. Sometimes, in rare cases I have seen better coverage than new, but this is not always the case.
A Low Mileage Prius Is The Best One
This one kills me. I love it when people tell me that they got a steal on a 20+ year old car with almost no miles on it. As a tech, I think about all the things that are going to go wrong in this situation. Low mileage cars can be just as trashy as higher mileage cars, especially if they have sat for extended periods of time. Seals and gaskets harden when cars just sit. So buying a used Prius that grandma only drove once every other week to church, may land you with more problems than you hoped for.
Not only in leaks, but also in hybrid battery issues as well. Ni-MH batteries that are in the vast majority of Prius vehicle on the road, need to be used and cycled periodically to ensure that the traction battery does not go flat. Consider your obsessive desire for low mileage to maybe be a thing of the past. A well maintained higher mileage vehicle could be the better option.
Blue Book Is Not The Final Word On The Value Of The Car
For heaven's sake, I wish that we could all just not have deal with another person that will only accept "blue book" value on their Prius. Especially one that is absolutely thrashed. Too many people place way too much emphasis on book value, especially when there are loads of differing valuations one can make on the site. If you car is a wreck, it should be priced accordingly. I wish I would have paid less for my Prius, but here we are.
List Price and Actual Price
In life you do not get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate. Everything in life is negotiable and so is the price of your Prius. Most sellers that I have come in contact with have over bid the actual worth of the car by a good 10% or more.
This is a sales tactic that often works well, because the seller knows that if a buyer feels like he/she is getting a deal, that markup was totally worth it. All the seller has to do is drop the price to what they wanted anyway and both parties walk away happy as clams. Just one is none the wiser.
Buying A Prius Online
You are not going to get a better deal just because the Prius of your dreams is on the internet. Stop lying to yourself this is not what the internet was for. The only reason cars are listed on the internet is to be able to reach more people. The deal could actually be worse in many cases, but the "I found it on the internet" idea seems to draw the attention of many that they are getting a better deal. You are not. That is all.
The Car Fox Facts
Carfax is a good idea but it has serious limitations. The idea is to help the buyer feel good about a purchase. Here is the thing though, if maintenance logs were not entered onto the database, you will never actually know what service or repairs your Prius has actually undergone. I trust CarFax about as much as I trust the Fox that is their mascot, or not at all really.
Cash Me Outside
I love when people tell me, "I have cash'. Like it is going to magically make me drop my price or something? No, cash is great and all but have you ever heard of a wireless bank transaction? Pretty sure this is the 21st century. Yet people think that a roll of 100's is going to somehow drop the worth of the car by 25%? Maybe if you are looking at a collector car, which our Prius' are not quite there yet.
You Must Only Have A Clean Title
Clean title means what exactly? When I bought my Prius I knew it had been wrecked. The lady was so adamant about it being a clean title though, like that was the only reason I was buying it? Give me a break. A clean title really does not tell you much other than it was never reported to the insurance company if there was an issue. This has zero bearing on the maintenance history as well. Buying from a private seller really does not mean squat, so do not place all your eggs in the clean title basket just yet.
Salvage or Rebuilt Titles
I have run into many people who believe that a salvage title means the car is total junk and worthless. The truth is this, a salvage car can be a theft recovery and have no actual damage done to the car. If the proper paperwork is in order, you may be able to pick a Prius up for less than you would think.
There are even companies out there like autosource.com that specialize in cars like this. They usually have thousands off the top from the car being "salvaged" in some way. They have proper documentation can again, save you lots of money.
I Bought It For An Investment
As much as I love my Prius, until it is in a museum and a collectors item, it is not going to be an investment. Most cars we purchase are going to be depreciating assets. That is just the way most vehicles are. Even if you can buy used Prius for cheap and fix it up, chances are you are not going to make a ton of money. 1 to 2 thousand dollars is a good amount to make but depending on what the vehicle needs, you may only end up with a few hundred. Once these cars become more iconic then the value could certainly increase, until then, just keep driving it.
Less Miles Per Gallon
So with Prius this can be a tricky argument. Supposedly every generation of Prius gets about 5 mpg better than the previous generation. So, why are some 2nd generation Prius cars getting 60 mpg and some third gens getting 45? Many things come into this equation.
Driving style, fuel quality, region you live in all have a huge role in how your car consumes fuel. So do not just assume because the Prius is not the latest one that it will not get great fuel economy. The technology advances yes, but fuel economy is very dependent.
Extended or Aftermarket Warranty
Read the fine print. Many aftermarket warranties can be a great idea, if you know exactly what is being covered. Many of these companies are just in it to sell you a "feel good" warranty that really does not cover much of anything. Buyer beware. Some things to look out for would be what the maximum rate a shop can charge if repairs are needed. It can maybe dampen a blow, but if you are looking for better coverage, maybe look elsewhere.
A Pre Purchase Inspection
Always take a car in you are considering buying, especially a Prius. With common issues these cars face, it is good to get a clean bill of health before you get a bill for a large repair. If you are not a trained mechanic, find someone whom you can trust and have them take a good solid look. This will not catch everything, but it can certainly help you steer clear from a bad one.
The History Of The Car And Maintenance Logs
While having an extensive history of the car is helpful, and provides great data to the new owner, it is not a guarantee that the car is in good shape. It can certainly make you feel better about the decision, but even a well maintained Prius can still fall victim to a P0A93, even after the recall has been performed.
The Round Black Things Called Tires
When looking at a Prius with low miles check the date stamp on the tires. If the tires are more than 6 years old, negotiate a better price on the car, or leave it alone. Tires that are more than 6 years old, even if they have good tread, are ticking time bombs. They can dry rot and become hard which makes them way more susceptible to blowing out. Should you need new tires for your Prius, check out this article here to see 3 top tire brands I recommend.
Modifications or Accessories Add Value
I am going to say this once, accessories on a Prius do not add value. Accessories on a 4wd off road vehicle can. I am sorry but plasti dip is not a mod and it does nothing to enhance the value of the car.
Many people think that if they throw on a body kit, cut the springs and camber the crap out of it that they can sell the car for more money. That is dead wrong. It actually can hinder the value of the vehicle due it being in an unsafe condition. Plus all those mods only may be cool to you and no one else. Sorry bro, but that sick ride is not ideal for everyone.
A great myth that I know of is that old cars are built to last longer. The Prius is pretty advanced with loads of technology, but it is silly to think that it is not as robust as an older car. If anything it is far better than what was produced 20 years prior.
There are loads of myths out there why buying a used Toyota Prius is not a good idea. My advice to you is just have it checked out and get all the data you can on it. This will not only help you avoid a poor purchase, but help you get into the right Prius for you.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading about 17 myths about the Toyota Prius. Check out my other story Why the first generation Prius is better than either generation Nissan Leaf.
See you in the next story where I am discussing why the Toyota Prius AWD-e is the best one yet and why car enthusiasts and average car guys loathe the Toyota Prius. Also see my other story, which I published today in which I compare which hybrids are the best, Toyota Prius or Honda Civic or other Honda hybrids.
Also Watch New tech means more MPG from your Toyota Prius and Click to Subscribe to Torque News Youtube Channel for Daily Toyota Prius and Automotive News.
Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He is an automotive technology instructor at Columbia Basin College. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter.