7 Best Hacks For Your Toyota Prius
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.