What "Lifetime" For A Toyota Prius Really Means
I was sitting in a conference at a trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada, when the presenter said something that is forever embedded in my mind the word "Lifetime." This simple word was the most confusing bit of verbiage I had heard before. I quickly then became obsessed with finding out what this means.
Our vehicles these days, the Toyota Prius included, are rolling out of the factory with specific components considered to last a "lifetime." The issue is, no one knows what that means. Here are some items on your Toyota Prius you should be concerned about.
What "Lifetime" Means From The Toyota Perspective
I have to say that Toyota is not the only company that is doing the whole "lifetime" thing. There are many other companies also doing this. General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler, to name a few.
The problem is this is very confusing to the consumer who is purchasing or leasing cars like the Prius. They keep getting told that they do not need to have various services performed because Toyota said it does not need to be touched. These items include some maintenance, which I will write out in just a moment.
Toyota has deemed that some components, Prius included, are "lifetime." What Toyota means by this is anywhere from 120,000 to 150,000 miles. Not exactly what some people want to hear. However, based on the research that Toyota has done with the customers that are buying their cars, this mileage makes total sense. Keep reading, and you will see why it does.
Many consumers are buying, owning, leasing, and then selling or trading in their vehicles within five years. From that perspective, there is not much incentive to have a car last for 2 or 300,000 miles if it is just going to get traded-in. The bad part is that there are still people like you and me that will drive our Prius for 300,000 plus miles and not even worry about it. So, what does "lifetime" mean when it comes to owning a Toyota Prius.
I think that it means specific components of the cars are designed to fail to get you to buy a new one.
What You Need To Know About Lifetime For Your Prius
If the dealer tells you that there is no need to service a component on your Prius say the transmission, chances are they do not know themselves what they are telling you.
Fluids, like the WS spec fluid for your Prius transaxle, does need to be serviced. The question is not if, but when. Fluids, filters, batteries, bulbs, and other items all have a lifespan. They do eventually wear out and will need replacement. The thing about this is, the dealer may be banking on the repairs costing too much so they can sell you another new car.
A case in point is the Prius hybrid battery. No dealer will ever tell you that you should have battery maintenance performed on it. They are lying to you. Check out my article here on learning about battery reconditioning and why it can save you from having to turn that Prius in too early or get a new battery.
The fact is this, if we picked out a Prius and looked at the data on when replacement batteries suggested, we could easily see it is between 120,000 to 150,000 miles. In other words, the battery has lived its "lifetime," and now the Prius needs a significant repair. The dealer then hits you with a stiff 3000 dollar repair bill and bam, you have to consider replacing the car rather than fixing it. Not many people have that kind of money to spend on a battery, even though there are cheaper options.
Another high point is the transmission fluid. The WS transmission fluid in the Toyota Prius transaxle needs replacement. It is a non-conductive type of fluid that can break down. If it does, it can cause windings in the stator part of the transmission to burn out. This issue is a real problem in the first generation Prius and has seen resolution by updating the fluid type.
If a dealer tells you that these services, such as transmission fluid changes, never need to occur, they are straight lying to you. A transmission service does need to happen regularly.
Lifetime on a Toyota Prius is whatever you make of it. Everything on your Prius can and do need service at some point. Just because your dealer says that Toyota says it does not need to be, that is not always the truth. There are plenty of people out here on the internet, proving the dealers wrong all the time using dealer service information.
Take the time and do a little homework. Ask around, and feel free to reach out to me as well. If you want to go above and beyond the "lifetime" set forth by the manufacturer, it is possible.
Take care, everyone, thank you for reading. Be sure to check out my other article, Stop Catalytic Converter Theft On Your Toyota Prius With This New Shield.
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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