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After cruising around the Web and reading about this car, I wonder if it's really more of a science project than a practical vehicle. It seems incredibly complex and sophisticated beyond what the average driver and mechanic (err... technician) can deal with over the life of the car. I'll bet most Toyota dealerships spend a lot of time on the phone trying to solve some of the knotty issues when one of these comes in with a problem. I know, I know... "there are hundreds of thousands of these cars all over the world..." The oldest one is only six year old (four years old in the USA).

I'm sure the folks who participate on this board are a cut above average, but how about a guy (or gal) who buys one of these things used ten years down the road?

Don't get me wrong... I love the technology and covet (a sin, I know) the shiney high tech new Prius. My '94 Tercel just keeps on going at 94,000 miles, delivering 30+ mpg without so much as a burp. Only maintenance so far, besides semi-annual oil changes, has been a tranny oil change and a new timing belt/water pump replacement at 60,000 miles. It's not as cool as a Prius, but it's not cost effective to replace it yet (damn it :D ) If the Prius does half as well as my old conventional car in the long run, my hat's off to Mr. Toyota.

I'm not a tree hugger. I just want a reliable, economic to run car that will serve me for a long time. At my advanced age, the next car I buy should be the last one I'll ever buy (now THAT'S a grim thought!).
 

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I too worried some about the complexity of the car, but if you read all the things written about it, a lot of the 'technology' is actually pretty simple stuff. Regen brakes are just a version of eddy-current braking that has been used in industrial applications for 100 years. Planetary gear drive is simpler than the usual automatic transmission. The 1.5 liter 1NZ-FEx engine is a version of the same engine that I currently have in my 2001 Echo, that has been absolutely flawless in 39,000 miles. The whole key to the car is that Toyota made everything work together, a lot of it thanks to very reliable computer technology. I'm sold on it. I am also on the 'older' side at 52 but get a real kick out of the fact that something is finally being done to provide a roomy, comfortable mid-size car that can make an Arab Shiek or Texas oil-man a bit sick to his stomach. The only way things will change is if people embrace new technology. God bless the 'Prius Pioneers' who took a chance and started the wave of change. It is time for those of us who can, to get on the bandwagon of this new era in the automobile.
 

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All of today's vehicles are complex, some more than others. The Prius is probably one of the more complex vehicles on the road, but the others have the same problems.
It doesn't matter what you have, when something goes wrong, the mechanic will say that he never saw this particular problem before. He will them make guesses as to how to fix it, all of which will be very expensive. Even the factory trained mechanics have problems fixing the vehicles they were trained for.
As to how reliable a ten year old Prius will be, only time will tell, but I don't think that an older Prius would be any worse than most older vehicles.
 

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I have to agree with Jerry P here. The Prius is really
much simpler than most other high end new cars on the
market. It just seems complex because it's different.
But if you think about it, they just replaced a lot
of complex mechanical things (transmission, power steering,
air conditioner, power brakes) with simple, well understood
electric motors which have far fewer moving parts to
go wrong. Sure there's a bunch of computers with
sophisticated programming (though not necessarily
complex if the engineers did their job well). But the nature
of computers is to work as programmed or fail completely,
which usually makes finding the failed computer easy.
There may also be "bugs" in the software which can cause
unusual failures, but this is true of most modern cars.
I understand that Toyota has made the software upgradeable
in the 2004, so they should be able to fix these problems
for everyone if/when they are discovered.

The batteries and power electronics seem to have a long life
(we don't hear of failures due to age/use even though there are
quite a few 3 year old Prius driving around). The gasoline
engine and brakes lead a very pampered life compared to those
in other cars. The motors and transmission have few parts
subject to failure. So you would expect fewer problems to arise
in these systems. Failures in the rest of the car are likely
to be comparable to other high end Toyotas (i.e. not much).

It is, however, true that most independent mechanics haven't
obtained the proper equipment or training to work on the
Prius power train and electronics. So for now, you will
usually end up relying on a Toyota technician for repairs
which can be more expensive. But a lot of stuff can be
done by independents. I had the tires replaced, an alignment
done and will be getting the rear window resealed by
independents. The Toyota techs replaced my CD under warranty
and replaced the power steering free even though it was well
out of warranty and hadn't even exhibited any problems. I
think it was a safety issue similar to a recall but not as
urgent. That's it for unscheduled maintenance on my 70K mile,
3 year old Prius. Remember, though, one data point does not
make a trend (i.e. YMMV).
 

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Not Mechanically Skilled

I have ordered a 2004 Prius, but intend to keep my '97 Ford Escort as an "emergency" car, not just for me, but for my extended family and friends.

The Prius has fascinated me since I saw my first one three years ago. The 2004 solves some of the "problems" I found with the first ones, so I have done it!

I think mine won't arrive until January or February, but I am sure excited about it! :lol:
 
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