Talk to just about any Toyota Prius owner and ask them what they think about their car. I would bet that most of them would tell you how much they enjoy it. I would also bet that many owners have had more than one Prius as well.
With all the interest Prius receives, more people become interested in getting one. The market for an excellent used Prius is still outstanding. Not everyone that gets into a Prius knows what they are looking for, though, and this can lead to getting into the wrong used car.
With all the misinformation out there, I want to give all my readers things to look for when buying a used Prius and if it will be worth it to you to make the purchase.
Has The Prius Been Well Maintained?
Service records tell a great story of what the life of the car has been. Any time I am looking to buy a used car and especially a Prius, I ask the owner if there are available service records with the vehicle. The reason that I do that is to find out what work may need to be done. It also tells me a lot about how the owner treated the car.
Prius is not a super maintenance-heavy car, but it does require routine things done to keep it healthy. Fluid changes such as engine oil, transmission oil, brake, and coolant fluid all have a service life. If I can see that the owner had taken the time to have these services performed, I know it will save me a lot of headaches and added costs after purchase.
Money spent on maintenance is well spent. Avoiding unnecessary repairs due to lack of support will not only keep you safe but also help make the sale of your Prius to the new owner a smoother transition. If the car has records, you are more than likely making a safe bet that it will be a solid purchase.
Is The Fuel Economy Consistent?
A strange question to ask, but there is a reason for it. If you think about it, you are probably going to get a Prius for the fuel economy factor. Many people do the same thing, and there is no shame in it.
Knowing what your MPG ratings are overtime will undoubtedly help you know a few things about the car. First, it is an excellent indication if the hybrid battery is stable. A good battery will be a massive factor in keeping the fuel economy high.
Fuel economy can tell you also how the current owner drives. If the hybrid battery checks out and the maintenance has been done, but the economy seems low, you may have a heavy-footed driver. While this is not a bad thing, but the owner may have been more careless than you would have liked.
If the economy numbers check out, the Prius is probably operating as designed. If this is the only bit of information you can gather about the car before you purchase it, you should be okay.
Does The Prius Need Any Major Repairs?
A used Prius for $1000 may seem like a bargain compared to a Prius that costs $6000. However, there are some things to consider. Does the lower cost Prius need a lot of repair work? For instance, we could say that a Prius that needs a cat converter, a hybrid battery, new tires, and a 12v battery, it may not be worth it. If you were to get all that work done at the dealer, you would easily be almost $6000 in repair alone, leaving you with a Prius that costs more.
However, there are some trade-offs. You would have a Prius that now had all known good parts, but at what cost? I am sure that I could take that lower cost Prius and fix all those things for about $2000 or less, but I also know how to work on the cars, and am not governed by the OEM catalytic converter mandate like California is.
Not every cheap Prius is a good deal. I am still sitting on my $600 Prius that no one wants to buy even though there is nothing wrong with it. It has a door that is a different color due to an accident, but that is it. If you know that the Prius you are interested in is fully operational, chances are your decision to get it are wise.
I have had four used Toyota Prius cars. Each one has had unique issues but all common amongst the Prius crowd. Each one has always been reliable and trustworthy, and each one has come from varied backgrounds.
I trust the Prius, and I would drive it anywhere then back again. I would say without a doubt that a used Toyota Prius is worth the money. Do a little homework on the one you are looking at and see what it may need. I will promise you this, and you will love it when you get in and start driving it.
Thank you for reading. I look forward to seeing you in the next story. Toyota Prius Repair Facility In Portland Gets Blasted With Catalytic Converter Theft.
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Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter is also an Instructor of Automotive Technology at Columbia Basin College. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting. Read more of Peter's stories at Toyota news coverage on Torque News. Search Toyota Prius Torque News for more in depth Prius coverage from our reporters.