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7 Best Hacks For Your Toyota Prius

My 2007 Toyota Prius has been a great car for me in many ways. I have been through a lot with this car and even done a few cool mods, all of which have not cost very much money. I want to share with you 7 hacks that I have used to help keep my Prius updated and well maintained.

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I have noticed that many Toyota Prius owners have a similar thought process when it comes to taking care of their vehicle. In fact, I think many automobile owners share a similar mentality. If it can do the same thing for less money, it must be okay, right? Well to a certain extent I have to agree with them.

Being an automotive technician myself for many years (and still working on my own cars today) I know the difference between parts, fluids and other components for my car that will do the exact same thing, for less money. I want to share with you 7 Prius hacks that have helped turn my $1000 Prius, into a reliable and cheap fuel sipping commuter.

Hack 1 - Toyota Prius Engine and Inverter Cooling System, For Less

In a another story, best coolant options for your Toyota Prius, I have written about both types of coolant that are suitable for use in your car. It is a great article and I highly recommend it.


In there I talk about the differences between engine coolants and why you should only use a Toyota approved coolant, especially for Prius. Being a hybrid vehicle, it has to deal with a high voltage system. Should this system produce a leak of any kind, the car will set a trouble code for loss of high voltage isolation.

Using the correct coolant is a big deal, especially for Prius (other vehicles it matters as well) and it used to be you could only the correct coolant through your dealer. Toyota Super Long Life Coolant is formulated with deionized water to help keep it from having any conductivity through the cooling system. This means that when the cooling system needs to be serviced, we must use the same formula that it came with.

When this coolant first came out, and even in some places today, a jug of the Toyota SLLC can cost anywhere from $17 - $30 a gallon. So when it comes time to service both cooling systems you could be spending a fair amount of money just in coolant to get this done. Then add in labor (if you are not going to do it) and you have a fair amount of money tied up in a cooling system service. Granted, you should only need to have this done every 10 years or 150,000 miles but still a few hundred bucks is sometimes hard to come by for many people.

My hack here is this. Valvoline formulated the exact same coolant as the Toyota SLLC. In fact, it is also pink too. Here is the cool part, it is less expensive. About $13 dollars a gallon is what you can expect to find from the Zerex Asian coolant. While this does not seem like a ton of money, consider this. 3 gallons at $13 a gallon can be anywhere from $12 to $ 45 dollars cheaper (depending on where you buy it) to get that service done on your Prius. That means you could actually still afford a nice night out or maybe just a couple of value meals from your favorite fast food joint. Either way, hack number 1 is using the same coolant for less.

Hack 2 - Fix Your Oil Consumption

It is common knowledge at this point that at least three generations of Prius (1, 2 and 3) all can start to consume engine oil if not properly maintained. In another story where I talk about BG products claiming to fix oil consumption, I have a test case Prius that I have used a particular product(s) that have aided in this.


Our first three generations of Prius have known oil consumption issues. As if that is not bad enough, some places will tell you that you may need an engine overhaul, or some sort of high dollar fogging service that will help clean out the engine. While this stuff is great, the high cost can have you wondering if it really is a good investment.

With BG products (similar kit shown here) Hybrid oil consumption repair kit, you too can fix your Prius for a fraction of what the shops are charging. Even if you are not a super handy DIY person, take the kit into your oil change place, and have them install it for you. Do watch and make sure they do it though, some places are crooked and we do not have time for that.

Once installed and in use, you should begin to see results within the first 1000 miles of your journey. I did, and I am super glad that I took the time to put it in. My car is smoother, gets better MPG, and even starts and stops better as well. Hack 2, fix that oil consumption issue for less with BG products.

Hack 3 - Choosing The Right Brake Pads

When it comes right down to it, OEM pads for you Toyota Prius are the best. I give an actual cost breakdown of what it takes to put factory brakes back on your Prius when it is time. Check out that story and see how affordable it is to have the best pads on your car.


The reason this is a hack, is because most do not stop and think about the quality of parts when it comes time for replacement. Cost for sure is a factor here, but what if you keep hearing squeaky brakes all the time, how annoying is that? OEM parts are made for your car. Engineered for the best performance, and while I would bet most Prius cars are not modified, OE brake pads are the best solution.

Hack 3, replace your brake pads with what came on it from the factory, you will be glad you did.

Hack 4 - Selecting The Right Engine Oil

I have been in debate after debate with people about engine oil, honestly it gets a little old after a while. What many consumers do not understand is how we have been marketed to. Our Prius cars really do not need anything super fancy. They need an API service required engine oil of SN or SN plus if you have a new Prius, to give the car the proper mixture of additives it needs to function properly.


This oil can be found even at places like Wal-Mart. What? Did I just say Wal-Mart Super Tech is okay to use in a Prius? Yes I did. If it carries the API specification for the car, and the viscosity is correct you are good to go. This means all that money you have spent on Mobil1 Castrol or whatever your flavor is, can now be put to better use. I use my savings to put towards new tires.

Hack 4, find what is required for your Prius, see what is on sale, save a grundle.

Hack 5 - Choosing The Right Replacement Shocks/Struts

Knowing what parts came on your car is a big deal. Huge car corporations, like Toyota, partner with smaller companies to help them produce products. For example, Toyota has partnered with KYB who makes shocks and struts. This in turn means a couple of things. First, it means that Toyota, because of their high quality standards, has chosen a company they believe can produce a product to their standard. Second, find an aftermarket KYB strut or shock and save hundreds off the markup over dealer costs.

There are plenty of places online that sell replacement KYB shocks for your Prius. All you need to do now is to find what one has the best price and go save yourself a few bucks but still get a quality ride.

Hack 5, save money on buying the same quality of shock somewhere else.

Hack 6 - The Dreaded HV Battery Replacement

Prius owners worry themselves to death about HV battery replacement. Quite honestly, if I did not know what I know now about it, I would too. A HV battery from the dealer can be expensive close to $3000 for some. Traction battery replacement does not have to be expensive though, there are other options that you can use and still get a quality battery that will last you many more miles.

Hack 6, before you go to the dealer for a new traction battery, consider your other options first, they are less expensive and produce the same quality of results.

Hack 7 - Modernizing Your Ageing Prius

A super popular article I wrote a while back gave two references for a quick modernization of an older (second generation) Prius. To see what those hacks are specifically, check out the article here.


Just because our cars are getting older does not mean we have to let them feel old. There are loads of inexpensive options that can really help an older Prius feel young again.

Hack 7, find some inexpensive solutions to bring that Prius some new life.


Our Prius cars do not have to cost a ton of money to keep them going. Plus, if you are a DIY person, it does not take a whole lot to research some better options for parts replacement. A little know how goes a very long way.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading about The best hacks for 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 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.

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Lyle jorgensen (not verified)    August 20, 2019 - 2:42AM

My 2004 Prius is still on the original front rotor pads at 219,000 miles. Changed rear shoes at 200,000 but still had lining left.
Did let the Prius sit without driving for 3 weeks at 80,000 miles which killed the traction battery pak. Expensive dealer replacement. Much cheaper than a new car
And all else about the car excellent. Still is.
No serious problems at all. Still gets 52 MPG
Freeway driving and not babied either. Never had valves adjusted or looked at as dealer once recommended. They do not need checking as far as I am concerned. Keep those mechanics out of there at all costs. Engine runs good as when we bought it new
Alwas use Mobile one synthetic. Change oil and filter at 10,000 miles and filter only at 5,000 miles. Have no major oil burning issues.
Maybe add a few ounces every 3 months.
Have a 2012 Prius, also and use the same oil and filter routine. Mileage is also around 52 MPG on the highway. Both will run around 50 MPG around town. Love both cars. They do what they were designed fo and do it well.
Toyota does not get enough credut for building these cars. Red in For s magazine way back that the first Prius built did not run.
Also the team that built the first cars got it done one year early.
I never read the end of the Forbs article.
Would like to.
Thank you for your many Prius insights and hints.

Daniel Eustace (not verified)    August 20, 2019 - 9:43AM

Very nice write up. Our Prius has 45K miles. Aim to keep for 200K miles. Our last hybrid lasted 180K and battery started showing problems (Honda).

Tori Chen (not verified)    August 20, 2019 - 11:06AM

I have a 2018 Prius and didn't find any of these hacks useful. I'm sure they must be great for those who own older model year Prii and or do not properly maintain their vehicles. But if the latter is the case, no amount of hacks is ever going to save their car...

Eddie (not verified)    August 20, 2019 - 11:06AM

That oil can't be found anymore. You posted a vintage oil. You sure that's the correct one? Everywhere I searched they advised as vintage tin can.

Jerry Gibson (not verified)    October 13, 2023 - 8:52PM

In reply to by Carolyn Tucker (not verified)

It's probably the harness I had a 2007 prius and had the mechanic install a LED conversion kit, and got rid of the HID bulbs. It solved the problem of the passenger side headlight from going out. The dealership said I had to buy their $200 HID blubs as mine could be bad. When HID blubs go out (burn out), they don't come back on. All I had to do was turn the lights off, then back on, and headlights came on. I never had anymore problems with the headlights after he installed the LED kit.

John (not verified)    August 20, 2019 - 11:03PM

Have a 2012 Prius three that I think is great. One issue I’d like to see hacked is the conversion to LED headlights. Could possibly tackle this but not sure. One weakness of at least this Prius is the DRL lights are nearly non-replaceable. Had a stone take one out and the cost to have it replaced was huge because of everything required to move to get at it.

William Roehling (not verified)    August 21, 2019 - 11:06AM

Please be aware of a hidden problem that appears to be connected with the 2010 Prius, that if I'd have known about it, I'd have purchased a later years Toyota Prius(2011-2012)... I began noticing occasional rough Engine starting every 100-200 starts, for the past year or so, but as time moved forward, so did the rough starts while driving...this had nothing to do with the 1st morning starts...this happened while driving... And has progressively gotten worse, even though the Prius drives like New, other than the occasional rough starting...
After 2-Separate intensive Check-ups, at the dealer and a Prius Specialists, the prognosis was: my 150,000mi Prius, has a Blown Head Gasket, or Cracked Head/Block...thus requiring a complete "Head Job" or New Head, or the cheaper fix is a used "Engine Replacement"...!!!
Then after researching the possibilities of adding, over the counter: Head Gasket Sealer? And found there are lots of Unfortunate Prius Owners with the exact same Gasket issues???
Are there any recourses that anyone knows of?
Thanks for any feedback...!!!
We're both retired living on State Disability in San Diego Ca. Which is a very difficult life!
Blessings to all~***

CBadMan (not verified)    October 3, 2020 - 11:54AM

In reply to by William Roehling (not verified)

Yes... The death shudder. VERY COMMON. I have researched it and more... (SEE BELOW)

Bought a used 2012 FROM A DEALER (the Subaru/Kia dealer on Convoy) who knew that there was a problem but reset the check engine light and ignored what the guy trading it in said. They changed the spark plugs (because the OBD-II code caused by a blown head gasket could include a spark plug problem) but obviously didn't check for coolant seeping into the combustion system. Since the dealership didn't erase the previous owner's information on the Entune phone book and, when the dealership ghosted me, I got the nerve and contacted the previous owner... He had the head gasket diagnosed and drove the car into the dealership with the check engine light on.

3rd generation motors are all at risk of this. Especially those who didn't maintain the proper servicing (oil, coolant and transmission fluid changes).

Now, I got my money back from the Sunroad dealership and I have spent over 6 months looking for a used car (good thing the current plannedemic has delayed our need for another car)... Other than the high number of Toyotas with rolled back odometers (I get the VIN number, call a service advisor, ask what servicing is due for this newly-bought car and get their last recorded mileage. If the Toyota hasn't been to a dealer in a while, I won't buy it anyway. Between airbag recalls and other things, a Prius NEEDS to be taken in to the dealership for certain things.

By the way, I have found over three dozen Toyotas with rolled back mileage. The ones that don't have the mileage tampered with (the good, honest, original owners) all ask way over bluebook value which isn't happening for me anyway...

Good luck to all of you out there.

Ahmad Yama (not verified)    June 10, 2020 - 1:11PM

Hi! It’s been like 3 three months that I have bought a Toyota Prius 2010 and has 163000 mileage, so what I have begin to notice is that, if i am traveling around 30mph and let it go of the gas and re-apply the whole car shudders, does anyone know why is this happening? I took it the mechanic he said that it might be either the gasket or gearbox and to fix that it’s will cost me around 1500$ and he is not sure that after replacing those parts it could be still the same problem.

CBadMan (not verified)    October 3, 2020 - 12:00PM

In reply to by Ahmad Yama (not verified)


$1,500 is NOT going to give you a solution. Go to O'Reilly/AutoZone, etc. and use a loaner combustion gas/block tester to determine if you've got a head gasket leak. If it's the HG, you are looking at a much more expensive job from a qualified shop. Using an additive might buy you time (see Scotty Kilmer's videos, these additives don't work well with the HOAT coolant that Toyota uses).

Good luck.