Thursday, February 11, 2010

Buying a Prius - FAQ

I am thinking of buying a Toyota Prius but I have been told that the batteries don't last forever and cost about $10,000 to replace.

Quoted prices for battery replacements :
Series 1 Prius (1997 - 2000 ) $12000
Series 2 Prius (2000 - 2003 ) $5000
Series 3 Prius ( 2003 - 2007 )  $ 3500

The Battery Clinic offer a recondition option for $1500. This comes with a 12 months warranty and continuing after warranty support of $500 to repair. This will ensure that we keep these vehicles running for as long as the it can pass a WOF.

How long do the batteries last?
The main HEV battery are like tyres and brake pads. They are consumables and wear out over time.
I have heard of taxis (Series 1) that have done over 500,000 Km on the same engine and battery.

If proper maintenance was carried out the battery will last much longer. Problem is that most garages and even Toyota dealers do not know how to maintain these vehicles correctly. Proper maintenance should include cleaning the air flow meter, the spark plug coils, spark plugs, coolants, 12 volt battery and HEV battery cell equalisation. It is important to realise that if the ICE engine is not performing at peak it will affect the battery and therefore electric engine.

The Toyota showroom in the town where I live is offering a new Prius at a reduced price does it mean that this model has been superceded by one with more advanced technology?

Manufacturers of vehicles always update their models. The real question here is if the older model last as long as standard vehicles given that their HEV battery pack has an expected life of 8 - 10 years. The short answer is that hybrid vehicles will outlast standard vehicles especially now when the battery clinic can recondition the battery pack and support it well into the future.

This vehicle has very low maintenance which means less parts that can fail. In addition depreciating parts such as brake pads, spark plugs and the internal combustion engine will last many times more than their counterparts in a standard vehicles.

We just removed the spark plugs from a vehicle that has done 170,000 kms. It is still on it's original set of spark plugs !! The gap has increased to about 3 times it's original but there is very little soot and oil deposited on the plugs.

Many of the problems seen with these vehicles are the result of poor maintenance mostly because it runs so well even without the maintenance and the standard garages including Toyota do not know what to do to maintain these vehicles properly.

At a guess with proper maintenance the expected life of the battery can be extended by as much as 5 years before it need reconditioning. Most of the damage done to the battery is a result of lost in power in the ICE from poor maintenance.

The engine has a 1500cc rating. Is this suitable for long distance travel?

 There are 2 engines in this vehicle. It is equivalent to a 2500CC standard vehicle but cost less than half to run. Long distance travel is actually very comfortable because the vehicle is so quiet and vibration free.

Make sure you give the Prius a good long test drive before you make your final decision. If in doubt bring it to an expert such as people at the battery clinic for their opinion. They will often give it for free

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