What Issues Do Toyota Prius Owners Face The Most?
When buying a used car, there are always things you need to be concerned about. For those who want to get into a used Prius, learning hybrids can be a bit of a challenge.
I have had many people reach out to me and ask all sorts of questions about buying a used Prius. I have taken all those questions and compiled them into the most common issues in each Prius generation. So if you are looking for a used Prius, here are things you need to be aware of so you can make a good decision.
Generation 1 Prius: The Early Years
Generation 1 Prius faced some unique challenges, but overall it was still a great car. Gen 1 Prius, as it aged, had some pretty decent failures.
The electric power steering racks often failed, and if you were lucky enough, the transmission could go out as well. Did these issues happen all the time? No, there are many Gen 1 Prius out there with hundreds of thousands of miles and working just fine. These are things to consider when looking for an early bird.
Many people reach out to me and ask about Gen 1. I tell them those things as mentioned above and ask them to proceed with caution. Does it mean that every first-generation Prius is going to do that? No, but it's better to be aware than to have it happen unexpectedly.
Generation 2 Prius: The Tank
Generation 2 Prius is arguably one of the most popular cars out there. Sure it was not the most fantastic looking, but the little beast has pulled its weight for many years.
Most problems with Gen 2 Prius that people ask me about are batteries, both 12v and HV (high voltage). Easy fixes most of the time, and the cars will give you many miles of almost trouble-free driving.
The inverter coolant pumps also fail on these cars, causing some issues, but nothing a couple hundred bucks cannot fix.
Overall, generation 2 is a good starter Prius for most people looking to get into the hybrid game.
Generation 3 Prius: The Good And Bad Of The Situation
Gen 3 Prius is one of my favorites when it comes to style. It was a significant refresh after gen 2. It has more power, better gas mileage, and more features. If you look at gen 3 from that perspective, why would you ever get a gen 2?
The most asked question that I get from people who own or are looking for a gen 3 has to do with the head gasket. Even more so than the EGR plugging up (which is a contributor to it failing) is the failing head gasket.
I tell those who own or are looking for a 2010 - 2015 generation 3 Prius to find out more of the car's history. Has the head gasket or engine has been replaced, and the EGR system has been cleaned? Those two things can drastically improve the lifespan of a Gen 3 Prius.
They are great cars; that is their Achilles heel.
Gen 4 Prius: The Modern Prius
This is the most current Prius and so far the one with the least issues. Updated and modernized, the Gen 4 Prius also costs the most, mainly because it is the newest one you can buy.
Gen 4 Prius shares the same 2ZR-FXE engine as the earlier generation, but I have not heard of any complaints so far. That could be because Toyota refined the Gen 4 Prius to make it better or not enough out there with high enough miles on them to show failure.
Anyway, you look at it; this Prius is new, and there are a few unknowns about it.
Prius V: The Wagon
The Prius V, also known as the Prius 5, is the larger wagon-style Prius. It can have similar issues to the 3rd generation Prius as they share the same drivetrain and platform.
The most questions I get from V owners are how to make it get better gas mileage. The answer is simple, it is a larger vehicle, and unless it runs in tip-top shape, expect the worst. Many have reported 40 miles per gallon average, which honestly is quite good.
The Prius V is a vehicle of versatility, though. It has the room to sleep and haul whatever or whomever you need. I will have to do another write-up about how the new lithium battery for Prius models. It helps improve the fuel economy of the V. I think you will be surprised what it can do for your Prius too.
Prius C: The Tiny One
The biggest complaint I get from C owners is actually 2 things. First, it is tiny. Well, yeah, it is a compact car; what did you expect? Second, it does not do as good on fuel as some thought.
Prius C is loosely based on the 2nd generation platform. It utilizes the 1NZ-FXE 1.5-liter engine found in gen 2. To me, it looks as if Toyota took the front end of a 2nd gen and then squished the back half into something even my kids would not want to ride in.
Prius C is a commuter, meant for 2 adults, max. It has an appeal to some, just not to me.
All generations of Prius have their own faults. You will deal with battery issues in every era of Prius regardless. Newer Prius models will have fewer issues because they have not been in use for as long.
My opinion is that if you like a certain used Prius, do your homework on the car itself and see what it needs. Ask questions, have a trusted mechanic take a look (and a hybrid mechanic at that). Do your due diligence, and you will be rewarded.
Hope your Monday has been fantastic! I look forward to seeing you in the following article. I am thinking I want to try out a Hyundai Ioniq. What do you think?
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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 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.