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Discussion Starter #1
I just read through the scheduled maintenance manual for our 2004 Prius, and was floored to find how little other than visual inspections is recommended.

No tuneups at all for the first 120,000 miles/12 years
No timing belt changes like many other cars
No valve adjustments
Nothing, really, beyond oil/filter change and tire rotation, other than changing the air filters!
At 120,000/12 years, you replace the spark plugs!

Am I missing something? How can they do this?

If this is correct, it radically reduces the total cost of ownership for a Prius for that period compared with a typical car.
 

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This really is not that unusual. For the last 5+ years, most new vehicles come with platinum tipped spark plugs, no points, fuel injection, long life coolant, permanently lubed ball joints and bearings, etc. Little tune-up type maintenance is required other than oil, air and fuel filter changes along with tire rotations.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
No fluid changes at all other than engine oil?

Does this mean you don't change the coolant ever? That's hard to believe--wouldn't it gradually change chemistry/ph like your hot tub?. And that there are no lube fluids at all other than the motor oil? No lube points at all? I can understand seals and all, but it's hard to imagine moving joints lasting 20 years without any additional lubrication. I'd like it to be true, but I would like some independent info other than what my Toyota dealer will try to sell me on at service time.

My well-maintained Acura Legend is now 15, and doing well. I know the way folks look at goods today, buying new cars every 3 years, that 12 years seems forever, but I like this car, and want to help it age gracefully.

If any of the posters here have some actual tech knowledge about this, I'd appreciate their posts or links to discussions of this. Zero maintenance vehicles take getting used to (as I grew up in a time where good drivers checked the engine oil level and coolant before starting up each day).
 

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The Prius is not a "zero maintainence vehicle"

Go to this web page (same as the one above) http://www.toyotapartsandservice.com/sm ... n22=Search
Then press the large grey button that says "click here to browse, download or print" the entire maintainence schedule for the 2004 Prius.

Then you will see that the maintainence schedule is typical of a Japanese 4 Cylinder. That is to say very little maintainence is required relatively speaking. They did eliminate one pain in the butt 6 yr/60kmi timing belt change.

Everywhere you see "Inspect This" or "Check That" you should figure that you are going to have to do some of it, depending on your local driving conditions. Do change the air filter often. Do change the plugs and wires after about 35 or 40 kmi if you want to keep that AT-PZEV rating and not smell like an SUV.

THE GOOD NEWS IS that there aren't any special service requirements like: Replace the battery; Check the Alternator Voltage and Current Supply; Adjust the Battery; or stuff like that. You just don't have to do it.

Japanese cars are more efficient with Oil to begin with and the Prius should be even better since the engine strain of accelerate from stop is taken off by the electric side. You could probably cut back on the oil changes if you watched the level every now and then and kept the air cleaner clean.

(Big advantage to the CVT--no maintainence until over 100,000.)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Replace on failure?

Thanks to WizardBill. I do have the original maintenance guide, of course.

In our case, we only drive 5,000 miles a year. We're in it for the low emissions, more than the low gas consumption (though we'd rather keep that down as a matter of principle). So we'll be servicing every 6 months.

Any suggestions for time-based maintenance? Coolant replacement? Spark plugs/wires on a timed basis instead of 40K miles? Is doing an extra oil change at 1,000 miles really a good idea these days, or outmoded?

It sounds as though the Prius is more dependent on inspecting parts thoroughly, and then replacing things as they get ready to fail. So the inspecting part looks more important than I first thought. We're planning on buying the prepaid maintenance plan so the dealer does all this, instead of just changing the oil at JiffyLube (which might suffice for the first four years, if we were lucky...but I'd rather not roll those dice)
 

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RSnyder said:
....the plug wires no longer carry high voltage, so shouldn't degrade any faster than the rest of the car's wiring....
<sheepishly raising my hand in the back of the classroom> :oops:

So, Professor Snyder, can I infer that the wiring to/from the HV (High Voltage) NiMH battery might be prone to wearing at rates similar to or faster than the HV spark plug wires on obsolete automobiles of yore?

Thanks! :wink:
 

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The real deal on Denso Iridium Plugs

http://www.densoiridium.com/faq.php
"Because gradual wear will round-off firing points over time, the concentrated firing power and voltage requirement benefits will be reduced. For this reason, DENSO advises replacement after 30,000 miles". Which is appoximately 5k more than you get with platinum.

Unless the Prius has a seperate coil for each plug (which it might, but that would surprise me), there is still a coil, distributer and spark plug wires which must be changed at the same time as the plugs. The plug wires carry ~20-30,000 Volts at high frequency and in a high temperature environment and therefore have a finite life time.

The cables back to the battery carry much lower voltage (~200V) and since they aren't mentioned in the service manual, there is no reason to believe they would need routine service.
 

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Read the Denso site a bit more carefully. Their race qualified iridium plugs should be replaced every 30K miles. Their Toyota qualified iridium plugs should last 120K miles according to the web site, though Toyota's own documentation (NCF, not maint sched) says 60K miles.

Each plug has a separate igniter coil sitting right on top of it. This is pretty common practice these days since spark timing is much more accurate. Do any current model cars still use coils with distributors?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
What/where is NCF?

RSnyder refers to NCF documentation. Could he clarify? I'm looking for some independent second opinions for when my local dealer service manager tells me I should do things beyond the RMS. Forgive me for having a healthy dose of skepticism about profit motives/objectivity here. It's in my dealer's financial interest to aggressively change parts and generate service hours.

At what voltage do the Prius spark plug wires operate? RS implies they are not high voltage like conventional ones.
 

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Sorry,
NCF is the Prius New Car Features book. My version is May, 2000. I understand there is a version available for the 2004 model, but I don't have that one. My understanding is that the maintenance schedule pamphlet was written after the NCF, so the lack of plug replacement schedule may be updated information more consistent with the Denso website.

The ignition coil/igniter assemblies (one per plug) have 4 connections, one to battery plus, one to ground and two to the engine control computer. There are no connections to any high voltage sources. I have no idea what's inside, could be as simple as an array of capacitors charged in parallel and discharged in series.
 
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