Things to Check When Buying a Used Toyota Prius

Without a doubt, electric vehicles are here to stay. If it’s any indicator, there will be even more options for electric vehicles in the future, as automakers like Toyota have announced a fully electric plug-in that will be a zero-emissions car, in addition to its Prius model. For now, though, the Toyota Prius is the Japanese automaker’s commercial and technological success in the eco-vehicle category.

The Prius is already in its third generation at this point, which means there will be millions of these successful hybrids on the road wherever they are sold. Priis with 100,000 running miles sell for around $8,000 these days, making them an interesting alternative for people who are conscious of low cost, fuel efficiency and green living. But let’s face it, the Prius, while attractive as a car for people with alternative lifestyles, is a complex car with little knowledge spread outside of Toyota-trained technicians. Unless you or a mechanic friend has a thorough understanding of Prius operation, it’s best to buy a used Toyota Prius only after it has been inspected by a reputable Toyota dealer.

A Prius that hasn’t been properly maintained will be a candidate for inverter or transaxle failure, both of which are major car components and both are expensive to replace or even repair. Since a Prius transmission is basically a CVT, don’t buy a used Toyota Prius if you feel any jolt coming from the transmission. Reportedly, a new transaxle assembly for the Prius can cost up to $10,000. Which is an absurd repair bill if you buy a used Toyota Prius for anything close to that amount.

Other things that need inspection before buying a used Toyota Prius include front struts and rear shocks, HID headlights, 12V battery (not drive unit), rear brake lights, inverter cooling pump and transaxle fluid. Look for maintenance records showing that the inverter cooling pump has been removed and the transaxle fluid has been changed at the recommended intervals.

Before even asking the seller if the car can be serviced at a dealer, quick checks you can perform include turning on the HID headlights and making sure they’re still on after ten minutes. At the same time, also turn on the air conditioner and check the air coming out of the vents. After the 10-minute period, is the air still cold? Check for leaks also under the engine water pump. The original 12-volt battery is known to be defective, so a used Prius must have an aftermarket replacement battery installed. And while it may seem like a minor matter to replace a brake light switch on a Prius, the fact is that it will require replacing the pedal assembly. As you can see, the complexity of the Prius extends even to the little things that would be easy to fix in a more conventional car. If there is a combination of these minor faults in a Prius you are considering, then it would be better to have another unit inspected rather than buying a used Toyota Prius which may end up costing you more than the purchase price of the car.

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