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Discussion Starter #1
Greetings,

I am a first time car buyer and am looking into the Toyota Prius. The 2001's are about in my price range and I was wondering if any current/past owners of a 2001 Prius could comment on its mechanical reliability. I've always heard good things about the reliability of Toyotas, and am wondering if the Prius also lives up to this reputation.
Some websites have comments posted about uneven tire wear, deterioration of stearing handling and $8500 transmissions. Has anyone encountered any of these problems?

Thanks,

Adam
 

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reliability

Hi Adam, I have a 2001 Prius now with 87k miles and do not hesitate to recommend it as a used car. For the things you mentioned:

Uneven tire wear - Inflate tires above Toyota's recommendation and (possibly) get the front end aligned. This one's really easy.

Steering shakes - There is a Toyota warranty extension for this for 5 years after the vehicle's original in-service date (this date draws nigh). Given the choice between multiple used Prius, I would prefer one that had steering rack already been replaced.

Transmission failure - Very approximately I have heard of about 10 failures in all the internet groups; all Prius years. Overall, this may total 10,000 vehicles in service. Typically Toyota has paid in part or all. It would certainly be a serious matter later, and were it mine I would be looking at replacing with the entire assembly from a dismantled vehicle. One member of the Yahoo technical group is actively trying to understand the potential role of fluid contamination in these failures.

The things you didn't mention:

High-voltage battery - once again, about 10 failures reported, and most covered by Toyota. Again the salvage dismantlers may eventually be our friends. As a buyer of a used 2001-2003 Prius you should confirm that the SSC 40G battery resealing has been done.

Error messages on the screen yet the car drives normally - I believe this to be the most common issue with Prius of the era. Relates to technical service bulletin EG011-03, most often resolved by replacing the engine control module (ECM) with one with new programming. See if this TSB has been performed. If not, the vehicle is on the "candidate" list.

Brake component corrosion - Ironically, as Prius' friction brakes are not used much, there can be corrosion in places with winter road salt. A competent inspection before purchase would resolve any questions.

Accelerator pedal - One of my Prius hobbies! A few of these go bad and the whole assembly is $200-$300 new. But what appears to go wrong is just "noisy" potentiometers and/or poor electrical contacts. I have just received another one of these to fix, having given my original one in trade. I am driving on a repaired one, and have been for about 7k miles. Only seems worth mentioning because the fix is minor compared to the part replacement price. Plus, it's a hobby.

Wheel bearings - A few have gone bad, including one of mine. As you are now post-warranty, the "exposure" here would be the same as for any other car.

If my list seems incomplete (and I'm sure it is), perhaps others will add more. But overall it is an extremely competent and reliable vehicle. Little gas goes in, little pollution comes out, and it always works. Change the oil, follow the other maintenance specified, drive cheap and happy.

DAS
 

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used classic Prius foibles

Thanks, but you can't get me roped into studying NHW20s that easily. Now if somebody gives me one that would be another matter!

There are little things (at least) left off the list, like a loose (or poorly sealing) gas cap throwing a code. Some folks feel it's important to clean soot off the throttle butterfly periodically. Prius has sort of a reputation for eating 12 volt batteries too. But after a while even _I_ get bored talking about it.

DAS
 

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For 2004+, if all the campaigns are up-to-date you shouldn't have any problems, except if it was a 2004 produced before June 2004 and the screen hadn't been replaced, it could show problems when it is really cold. However, such a problem should have shown up by now.

If the car has NAV, you can tell if the screen is the updated one, in that pressing INFO on the steering wheel toggles between the consumption and energy screen.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Das,

Thanks for the reply, I'm going to cut and paste it into a word file for future reference when I start seriously looking at Priuses.

Adam
 

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buying used

Adam1979 said:
Das,

Thanks for the reply, I'm going to cut and paste it into a word file for future reference when I start seriously looking at Priuses.

Adam
Well, shoot. I thought you *were* serious. Guess I forgot to mention that used Prius prices sneak up along with gas prices. Hurricane Katrina bumped 'em up about $1500.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Re: buying used

tochatihu said:
Well, shoot. I thought you *were* serious. Guess I forgot to mention that used Prius prices sneak up along with gas prices. Hurricane Katrina bumped 'em up about $1500.
Haha... I am serious, I think...

I'm in Ontario, Canada, and 2001's start around $11500 here at go up to around $20000. I'm hoping to snag a cheaper one before gas prices really go up.
 
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