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Discussion Starter #1
I have been happily reading all the great reports about the Prius, but was brought up short by lots of posts about mysterious probems the dealer often couldn't fix. (I realize forums attract a disproportionate amount of problems, that are not representative of the overall reliability of the car).

(Of course the forums are a huge resource of information, but they don't fix your car)

Nevertheless, this gives me pause, because in my small town, the dealership does not sell many Prius/year, and I'm not sure there is a dealership with a large turnover less than 200 mi away (Albuquerque, NM).

So how smart is it to buy a vehicle, the innards of which are so different, most of us are unlikely to understand them to the point of pinipointing or repairing a problem, and the dealership might not be able to either.

What are the question to ask (of whom) to determine if a dealership is competent to care for your Prius.

Anyone know of any incidence of falure/repair figures?

Should I budget for a trailer to haul the car to Albuquerque in case of an intractable or major problem? (I'm only half kidding) because -

I just had a $225 tow to haul another vehicle 60 mi back to town - places are a long way apart in the W. USA. Your average service shop is unlikely to be of much help with a Prius. 4 such tows = a trailer.

Your thoughts?
 

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It's a good idea to verify that your dealership has a certified Prius mechanic and has the THHT scan tool. If not, you'll need to go to Albuquerque for every other scheduled maintenance.

Fears of new system failure in a Prius are mostly unfounded if you're going to buy a new car anyway. All new cars have computerized systems that can shut down for arbitrary reasons. Like the Prius, most of the time a few off/on cycles will clear the problem at least enough to enable you to drive to the mechanic.

All car models have their share of lemons. The Prius does also, but not that often.

The Prius has quite a few complex "luxury" systems. They're put together well, but as in all cars with these kind of things (power everything, TV screens, etc.) they can fail, which is annoying, but won't prevent you from driving to the mechanic.

Since it's a low volume foreign car, Prius parts are more expensive than high volume domestic cars. It's kinda like buying a BMW. In addition, the car is designed to absorb the energy of an impact rather than transferring it to the passengers. So it doesn't take much of a crash to total it. But losing vehicles rather than humans is a decent tradeoff.

But to balance this all out, the drive train is far simpler and exposed to less stress than on cars with 20th century power plants. So you'll be exposed to fewer expensive engine and transmission repair bills. That's including the high-voltage electrical system and motors which have been rock solid.

If you're going to get a new car anyway, you're a reasonably careful driver and the Prius satisfies your feature list, budget, and patience (it may take a while to find one), go ahead and buy one. Get the extended warranty if it makes you feel better (shop around for a good price, you don't have to take it from your dealer).

My Prius is 5 years old, has 113K miles and is still going great. The only expensive repair was replacement of the wheel bearings at 90K. I also ended up having to by an expensive accelerator pedal (but that's not an issue with the new model). If I had bought the extended warranty, I'd have saved about $200 in the long run (maybe, if the time value of money doesn't swing it the other way).

You might try a test drive. Often, the wonderfully smooth power plant will make all your worries melt away :)
 

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if this is any comfort at all... most prius techs don't get much experience in working with the prius because so few of them come in for anything other than scheduled maintenance. so when something comes in it's not like a "standard" car where the guy thinks "hey the car i worked on a couple days ago did the same thing and i fixed it by doing X service." (this is part of the reason a good mechanic can diagnose and repair a car in a pretty reasonable amount of time- experience) he probably hasn't seen it before and has to figure out the way to fix it. as with anything, the more you do something the better you get at it. and there just aren't more prii to fix! which of course is a good thing...
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the comments.

Actually I did take a test drive yesterday (not a dealership car - none on the lot, ever).

I was seduced by the excellent dirving sharacteristics & price. That's why realize today I need to be cautions about repairs.

It's not _if_ repair will be required, it's _when_ (and where).

I would expect the most likely disabling falure would be a computer/sensor glitch.

I'll check with the service Dept as suggested. Going to Albq. for service would be a pain. (Every 10,000 miles?)

The point about limited experience most places is interesting. Good mechanics are hard to find, unfortunately.

Charlie
 

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I have a question:

Wouldn't it be the local dealer's responsibility to fix your Prius? By this, I mean, if they didn't have a tech familiar with the car, don't they have to bring one in? Instead of you going to Albq. to find a tech, shouldn't he come to you?

Can a Toyota dealer tell you "Sorry, I can't fix your car. You have to drive 200 miles to a real Toyota dealer"?

Just wondering...

DGStan
 

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Discussion Starter #7
repair

I can't imaging bringing a tech in. Maybe I'm wrong.

I can imagine a kludge fix, or endless failures. Failure to arrive at a correct) diagnosis might be the biggest problem. Or: maybe it's this - "let him give this fix a try" (and pay for it if not covered by warranty). I have had vehicles in for several attempts - once (long ago) I had a transmission worked on 3 times before a dealership got it right. I can't imagine saying "we can't fix it, someone else can"

I'm afraid of diagnosis by replacement. Rplace the computer, doesn't fix problem; replace sensor, same; another sensor, same, etc . I guess under warranty I'm OK, but otherwise, this is expensive!

I know I'm talking worse case here, but it's worth considering all the angles for a large expenditure. I have had my miseries with dealer service before (major US companies), and have found the best mechanics to be independents (but none available for Prius, expecially under warranty, here, anyway).

I still have to talk to the local service manager; I'm playing devils advocate a bit here.

Would you say an extended warranty is expecially desirable if you live far from a large dealership? Or no particular advantage?

I find the different viewpoints quite interesting.

Charlie
 

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The 04/05 Prius does not need the scanner to do maintenance until 100K where the coolant gets replaced. If during the inspections, something comes up that needs attention, such as brakes, then the scanner might be needed.
I didn't think the classic needed any maintenance that required the scanner until 30K, where the coolant needs changing.

All Toyota dealers are supposed to have Prius technicians, and the scan tool. Now whether the Prius technician is experienced enough, or understands the Prius in a real-world environment to do the job is another matter. There's a lot of MCSEs (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers) out there, but that doesn't really mean they can actually install, maintain and administer a Windows server, let alone fix problems. They may have just been good test takers.
 
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