Home Automotive AdviceMarket Advice & Buyer's Guides Buying A Used Prius – A Smart Decision Or A Regretful One?

Buying A Used Prius – A Smart Decision Or A Regretful One?

by Jordan Harris
Buying A Used Prius

Are you on the market for a used vehicle and buying a used Prius makes the most sense to you? If that is the case, then we encourage you to learn more about the Prius and the problems that you might come against during the ownership. And in this article, we are going to elaborate on them in detail.

Doing the proper research before you go out there on the market and thinking of buying a used Prius should be your top priority. I’m telling you this because before buying anything, you should get yourself properly informed on this product and learn more about its downsides.

Knowing the downsides and the potential problems that you might come across will save you a ton of money and nerves spent on a basket case. Nobody wants to be an owner of a car that constantly breaks and is constantly at the workshop.

That’s why you need to study the product that you intend to buy and know every detail of it. Doing this will guarantee that you will have long and happy ownership. With less money spent on parts and other repairs and more time enjoying your Prius.

That’s why in this article, we are going to share everything you need to know. We will learn first what is the Prius and the generations of this vehicle. We will learn the main specs and things that are essential for you. Then we will learn the things to consider before buying a used Prius. In this chapter, we will elaborate on the problems of the Prius. Then we will see if it is a good deal and see the alternatives. So, let’s get into it.

Things To Learn Before Buying A Used Prius

The Prius is a compact car manufactured by Toyota since 1997. At the moment the Prius is in its fourth generation. With more than 20 years of production, the Prius has created a huge legacy and almost a cult following for those who want a good reliable Eco-friendly vehicle.

But as well it created a lot of haters who understandably are petrol heads and dislike everything when it comes to going green and delivering better fuel efficiency and reduction of carbon monoxide into the atmosphere. That’s why this car is so polarizing. You either love it or you hate it.

The Prius is the main target of hatred because it was the first car that was mass-produced and implemented a hybrid system. Nowadays, there are plenty of hybrids as well as electric cars, but back in the day, the Prius was the only car to offer this system and to be mass-produced.

When it comes to its characteristics, the Prius is a 5-door liftback. This means that it has 4-doors and the fifth is in the rear. It resembles a hatch but it has two more doors. Which is excellent for those who want to have a practical vehicle to drive on a daily basis.

And the Prius is practical, it can fit up to five adults and can deliver good performance along the way. It might not be the roomiest experience for the fifth passenger, but he will fit. In addition to this, the Prius also has large trunk space. That’s something when buying a used Prius should be one of the top priorities. But have you asked yourself why the Prius is so popular? We will find out in the following chapter.

Why So Many People Are Buying The Prius?

This is a good question that deserves an elaborate answer, that’s why we are dedicating a separate chapter in order to give you the best answer.

So, why is it so popular? It is popular because it is a good product. Good products along with great marketing make great sales for the company. Which in this case is Toyota.

Since its inception, the Prius was a target of positive comments. But significantly more were the negative comments from people who hated it. And they basically did a good job when it comes to marketing.

Since a lot of people were talking about it. People simply wanted to learn why is the Prius and how good is to buy a used Prius as well as a new Prius. So, they gave it a try and they liked it. They purchased it and enjoyed it.

Buying A Used Prius

You don’t need a high-performance beast under the hood. Sometimes you only need a Prius. And here the Prius flourished at. When the second generation of this car was released in 2004, it was immediately on the top 10 cars at the end of the year. Magazines such as Motor Trend made the Prius the car of the year for 2004.

And awards kept on coming for the Prius. But what was the best about this car was its unique design. It gave that futuristic vibe, along with the excellent fuel consumption of 55 mpg on average. Which is a rather insane number for a car. All these things combined made the Prius sell really well.

That’s why now people are into buying a used Prius. But is this a smart idea? We will find that in a bit after we cover the Toyota Prius generations.

Toyota Prius Generations

In the following three chapters, we are going to cover the last three generations of the Prius. We will talk about their main points like batteries, fuel economy, and other things that will be out of your interest if you are buying a used Prius.

After we cover the generation’s specs, we will focus on the things to consider before buying a used Prius. So, let’s get into the specs data on these vehicles.

Second Generation Toyota Prius

The second generation of the Prius was introduced in 2004 and produced until 2009. This is the generation that made the Prius famous throughout the world. Unlike the previous generation, this new Prius implemented a more modern sleek design that has not been seen by other manufacturers. And basically pawed the way for the hybrids that we have today.

This generation of the Prius included a modern dashboard with a huge display that attracted a lot of new buyers. Here you were able to see the work of the hybrid system in action. A real gimmick back in the day.

When buying a used Prius, there is a high chance that you will immediately stumble upon it. Why? Because it is quite cheap to buy. For just a few grand you can have a Prius for yourself.

This model came equipped with a 1.5L straight-4 engine that was aided by an electric motor and they worked in pairs to deliver the best performance. For the hybrid system, there was also a battery that was storing the energy to be used when demanded.

The battery in these Priuses wasn’t large by any means. In fact, it was quite compact. With 201.6 Volts capacity. But it did its job quite well and was able to go for more than 240,000 miles with no problem. The transmission used in the Prius was a single-speed planetary gear.

The fuel economy of this generation of the Prius is excellent. It averages to get around 55 mpg which is one of the best fuel economy for a car at the time. The safety on the other hand was also quite good. But not excellent. It only got 4 stars on some of the tests performed by the NHTSA.

Third Generation Toyota Prius

The third generation of the Prius was introduced in 2009 and stayed in production up until 2015 when it was replaced with the present fourth generation.

This generation of the Prius basically is sticking to the good old Prius design that made the first generation so popular. But the body language was more modern and more up-to-date. What was different is that implemented aerodynamic features that reduced the drag coefficient by quite a bit.

And it also sold quite well. With approximately 1.7 million Priuses sold across the world.

This new Prius offered some new features on the better-equipped Priuses, like a heads-up display, collision warning system, dynamic cruise control as well as lane-keep assist. In addition to this, there was a 6-speaker audio system, keyless entry, optional moon roof, and other good stuff. When buying a used Prius you will probably be attracted by these features.

But when it comes to engines. The Prius included only one engine and that was the 1.8L straight-4. There was also an electric motor with 60kW output as well as a 1.3KWh nickel hydride battery. Similar to the previous model this model was also equipped with the same 1-speed planetary gear transmission.

The fuel economy on this generation of the Prius is even better than the previous. This Prius easily gets 60 mpg combined. So if you are interested in buying a used Prius, this might be the model that you want. Since it is quite newer and more up-to-date than the early ones.

When it comes to safety, this is the category where the Prius also improved by a big margin when it comes to the predecessor. Overall, a much better car than the previous generation.

Fourth Generation Toyota Prius

The fourth generation of the Prius was introduced in 2015 for the 2016 model and is still in production by the time of writing.

This generation of the Prius is a slight improvement compared to the previous generation. As Toyota claimed, this model was specifically designed to improve the fuel economy of the second generation of the Prius, but in a lighter form factor and also to be produced by lowering the production and sale costs. Making buying of a used Prius a real bargain, to be honest.

This new generation of the Prius was the first to use the new Toyota modular platform. Which made the rigidity and also aided the lower center of gravity for the new Prius. This also helped Toyota with introducing the AWD option for the Prius.

This new generation was equipped with the same 1.8 straight-4 engine that was in the previous generation. What was different was the dual electric motors. There were also some new batteries used in the Prius.

Toyota has ditched the nickel hydride battery and started using a 1.75kWh lithium-ion battery that offered better performance and bigger energy density in comparison to the previous generation. Overall a good improvement in comparison to the previous generation.

The fuel economy was 10% better in comparison to the previous generation. And this model achieved 65 mpg combined fuel economy. So, if you are thinking of buying a used Prius. This might be the model that you are looking for. But these are the newest models. This means that they are also quite pricier than the older ones. But more on that in the following chapters.

Things To Consider Before Buying A Used Prius

When you are on the market for a new car and you are considering buying a used Prius. You should pay attention to some of the problems that this Prius can have. As we all know, no car is perfect and some of the vehicles are suffering from some problems. In the following chapters, we are going to elaborate on these issues in detail in order to learn what to consider before you go and buy a Prius. So, let’s dive into it.

1. Toyota Prius Battery

The battery should be one of your top concerns if you are on the market and you are looking of buying a used Prius. So, why is this the case?

This is the case because these batteries have a certain lifespan. Over time they start to not hold charge or discharge too quickly. The batteries used in the early Prius models are made out of nickel hydride, this is old technology and these batteries know to cost quite more to replace than the contemporary lithium-ion batteries that we are using right now are plug-in hybrids or electric vehicles.

Buying A Used Prius

The battery replacement will probably set you back for more than $2,000. The average cost is somewhere between $2,000 to $2,600. Which is quite a hefty price for a battery.

So, when you are looking for a car out there that is a second or third generation. Make sure that this car has its battery replaced at one point in its lifetime. If it doesn’t and it comes at a screaming deal price. Then you will probably have to replace the battery in this vehicle. That’s why cars are sometimes quite cheap.

When buying a used Prius, make the battery one of your top priorities. The second priority is the engine problem that we are going to cover next.

2. Toyota Prius Excessive Oil Consumption

Priuses from the second generation that are using the 1.8L straight-4 engine, tend to drink too much oil. This oil consumption starts at 100k miles more or less.

This is the point where the oil rings are starting to feel the stress of running this engine. So, they allow some of the oil to pass through and make the Prius burn oil.

In lower mile Priuses, this oil consumption is marginal, while in some Priuses it asks for a complete engine overhaul. This is noted on higher mileage engines above 400,000 miles.

The cars that are produced between 2010 to 2011 are the most notorious to develop this oil consumption problem.

The older models also suffer from this issue as well models from the first generation. But on a smaller scale. And you can expect these models to drink oil since most of them have more than 400,000 miles on the clock. Somewhere around 2012, these problems were patched and people stopped complaining about this issue.

The downside of this problem is that you cant know if the engine is drinking oil. There is no method to decide if this car is drinking oil. Except when you inspect the car and see if in the trunk the owner has a big jug of oil carrying with him. As well as the service records.

This oil consumption issue is probably one of the things that you will have to live with. That’s how these engines are. They tend to drink oil. The only way to fix it would be to tear it down and rebuild it. But this economically is not very feasible.

3. Toyota Prius Headlights Issue

The first and second generations are also notorious for burning through light bulbs. Really strange problem. On the car complaints website, this is the biggest problem with the Prius along with the oil consumption.

People reported that their headlights simply turned off in the middle of traffic and they weren’t able to start them again. While others reported that their light bulbs were burning off too quickly.

Reportedly, some of the owners have solved this issue either by replacing the wiring harness, some of them replaced the whole headlight unit, and most of them fixed the issue by simply replacing the burnt light bulbs.

Even replacing the light bulb can be a pain as some owners reported. It did cost some of them around $300 to replace a $15 bulb at the dealership because you have to remove the front bumper to access the headlight.

Overall, every six months you will have to replace the light bulbs on your Prius. Some of the electricals are probably causing the bulbs to fail too soon. And nobody has reported having a solution for this issue except replacing the bulbs as the cheapest option.

That’s why you need to be aware of the headlight problem if you are buying a used Prius. But what about the recalls? They are also important and we are going to cover them next.

4. Toyota Prius Recalls

During its lifetime, the Prius participated in a number of different recalls. Before you go out there and look at buying a used Prius. Make sure that all of the recalls that that specific Prius is due to make are already done. This is important for your safety as well as the safety of other people that you drive as well as pedestrians.

Is The Prius A Good Deal?

The Prius is an excellent deal if you are on the market for a used car. Why I’m saying this? This is the case because the Prius has proved itself during the long years of production to be an excellent product that no other car company can outmatch when it comes to fuel economy. The newest Prius gets you 65 mpg on average. Where you can find a similar performance?

There are hardly any alternatives to the Prius except some electric cars that are out there. But electric cars take a whole eternity to charge and you don’t want to wait so long to get your battery filled up. With the Prius you don’t have to wait, you just fill up at the gas station.

Buying A Used Prius

Just pay attention to the battery life and make sure that the battery is under warranty when you are buying a used Prius. Another thing to look at is to go for a lower mileage model since most of these cars are pretty worn out. In addition to this, make sure that you find a good example that will not be a basket case full of problems. Overall, excellent car.

Alternatives To Buying A Used Prius

When it comes to alternatives to buying a used Prius, it is good to mention some of them. Some of these cars also sell quite good and you might want to take a peek at one of them as well. These include the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid, Honda Insight, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Chevrolet Volt, and Nissan Leaf.

Facts about Buying a Used Toyota Prius

  1. The Toyota Prius line has been on the market for over two decades, with four generations of models to choose from.
  2. Third-generation Prius cars (2010-2015) are the most popular on the used market due to their high mileage and interior space.
  3. Fourth-generation models (2016-present) have a higher price but offer better gas mileage and are worth considering.
  4. It’s important to take a thorough test drive to ensure that you’re comfortable driving a hybrid car and to check for any hidden issues.
  5. The Prius battery warranty is typically 8 years and 100,000 miles, and it’s important to consider the remaining years and potential replacement costs when buying a used Prius.
  6. Checking the tire wear is a good indicator of the car’s condition and whether it has been properly maintained.
  7. It’s essential to check for any outstanding recall notices before purchasing a used Prius to avoid any potential safety risks.
  8. Asking for service and maintenance records is crucial to ensure the car has been well-maintained and to give an idea of any repairs needed.
  9. Buying a used Prius can be a smart investment, but it’s crucial to know what you want and what the car is worth.
  10. With the right knowledge and research, it’s possible to find a good deal on a used Toyota Prius and make a smart investment.

Conclusion To Buying A Used Prius

In this article, we have covered a lot when it comes to buying a used Prius. We first took a look at the Prius and why is it so popular. Then we discussed the last three generations of this vehicle. We learned some of the essential things that you will need when it comes to purchasing one. Like the batteries, engines, and also the most important thing the fuel economy.

After, we took a look at the things that you need to consider before getting a Prius. These are the common issues with the batteries on higher-mileage models. Also, the increased oil consumption after 100,000 miles as well as the problem with the light bulbs that are burning too often. Overall, the Prius is an excellent deal. Just make sure that you find a good example that has been loved by the previous owner.

You may also like

Leave a Comment