Saturday, March 7, 2009

Buying a Generation One Toyota Prius

What to look for when buying a Generation One Prius Hybrid ( 1997 - 2000 )
Model : NHW10
Dimensions : 4305L 1595W 1465H
Year Manufactured : 1997 - 2000
Petrol Engine  : 33Kw, 1500cc
Electric Motor : 30Kw,  225 Nm torque
Max RPM : 4000, ( 0 - 100 ) 14.5 Secs
Battery : 288 volts, 57 Kg
Fuel Economy : 20 Km/L or 5L/100Kms

For those who don't know anything about and have never driven a hybrid - BEWARE. You can easily end up buying a lemon. Buy from a reputed dealer and one who knows and can support this new technology.

Look for the following
1) Vehicle must have a good reconditioned battery and a Power Jockey Installed.
Hybrid batteries last between 7 - 10 years. By now if the battery has not been reconditioned and a Power Jockey installed, the battery will soon fail and the car will be inoperable.

2) Check to ensure that the vehicle is fully maintained and serviced.
     Spark Plugs : 20,000 Kms if Irridium 100,000 Kms
     MAF Sensor : 80,000 Kms
     Oxygen Sensors : 120,000 Kms
     Service parts wear out and have to be replaced for the vehicle to operate efficiently.
     If possible a scan should be done to ensure that the sensors are working correctly.

If you take care to inquire about these two aspect of the vehicle, you can be assured that the vehicle will work for many years. The Battery Clinic assures us that the battery pack can last the life of the vehicle with the occasional battery repair and cell replacement every 2 to 3 years costing about $400.

The Petrol engine is tough and very reliable. It should be able to clock up 500,000 Kms and still show little wear and tear. For one the engine does not work all the time and it red lines at 4000 RPM compared to a normal petrol engine at 8000 - 12,000 RPM. Wear and tear compared to a standard vehicle is less than half.

In New Zealand a fully reconditioned and Power Jockey equipped Generation One Prius sells for more than $5000. These vehicles are sought after because they still have a fuel economy of 20 Kms/litre. 

The Electric motor will easily last the life of the vehicle. In 6 years of working with these vehicles I have not seen any motor fail.

Spare parts are available from wreckers and are well priced. Don't fall for those astronomical prices quoted for new parts by Toyota dealers. They are priced not to sell.

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