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Toyota Prius - Repair, Maintenance, Gotcha Surprise Costs

Anybody out there have any info on horror stories about hidden or surprise costs from owning a Toyota Prius, especially after warranty expires ?

I don’t know if it is a horror story but I found out my 2007 Prius has sensors in the tire valves that require special tools to install new tires on the hubs that not all tire stores have. This is unrelated to changing a flat tire. My Prius mechanic, who seemed pretty knowledgable, also said the Prius is fussy about what tires it can use. He said snow tires are not an option at the moment and that I would need chains instead.

On the plus side, after 10,000 miles, he said my brake pads were barely used thanks to the regenerative braking.

I have an '06 Prius, and used snow tires on it last winter, without any issues at all. The air pressure sensors don’t work with the new tires. I saved them for when I put the regular tires back on, comes this past spring. The “low pressure” light was illuminated during the winter-- but nothing that a piece of black electrical tape couldn’t easily address!

Good luck.

Well, hopefully nobody will have to worry about this issue for several more years, but I would personally be very wary of the cost for replacement of those batteries after the warranty (100k?) expires.

I know somebody who works at a Ford dealership, and he stated that “the warranty cost for replacing the batteries on an Escape Hybrid was $9,200.00”. If that is the cost that the dealership billed to Ford, what would a consumer have to pay for that type of procedure after the warranty expired? And, please bear in mind that Ford licenses the Toyota technology to use in the Escape, so the battery system is likely to be very similar, if not identical.

This URL states that the Prius batteries are a bit less than the Escape batteries, but still very expensive.

The Prius has turned out to be the most reliable car Toyota has ever produced. The battery has been equally surprise-free. That does not mean that other companies’ hybrids are as good. A Vancouver, Canada taxi driver bought a Prius as a trial, and accumulated well over 200,000 miles. The only maintenance items were the same ones as for a regular car; no surprise breakdowns occurred. He sold the unit back to Toyota who wanted it for research to determine wear and durability. Then he bought another new one which is still running, no doubt way past 200,000 miles. Remember, taxis are always running even when they are parked, so the battery on this one got a real workout! I would not buy a hybrid fron any company other than Toyota or Honda. GM and Ford have a long history of making the customer the guinea pig and use him as an unpaid tester.

Edmunds estimates that the Ford Escape Hybrid will cost about 20% more for repairs in the first 5 years than the Toyota and Honda Hybrids. I would not let that price difference deter me; the Escape was still under $1000.

There are a few stories, one was about a constantly dead engine battery (the normal one). There aren’t enough bad stories to make it a risk to own the Prius. The styling department seems to have come apart like a burritto without the tortilla.

Maybe you should check out this article:

Essentially, it says that the long-term costs of a Prius, including environmental costs, are way higher than a Hummer. Imagine the comparison to a Corolla!

The surprise for me was the break-even point on gasoline savings. Using a worst-case difference, in this case EPA Highway, and price numbers from Edmunds, my rusty high-school algebra (posted here) shows that you start saving money by having the Prius at 280,613 miles. This assumes comparable maintenance costs and $3/gal gasoline. If the battery worries pan out, score down the Prius. If WWIII breaks out, score down the Corolla. If either car makes it to 280K, call Guinness! But “with gas at $3/gal, everybody is buying a hybrid” doesn’t make any sense.

I picked the top Corolla to be pretty close in options, but if you want to save more, you can. A really fair comparison would add ABS to the Corolla, so somebody please price that and re-run the numbers. Similarly, an in-town Taxi-service calculation would be better for the Prius, somebody can run those numbers too.

And, obviously, I’m quite used to high school algebra teachers bleeding all over my work, so have at it, in the name of science.

Where I live there are lots of Priuses, and 2 types of Prius buyers; the first is the penthouse environmentalist. This type buys a Prius out of conscience and prestige, much like movie stars showing up at the Academy Awards in a Prius. Economics plays no role whatsoever here.

The second type can actually make a Prius pay, since they trade in a V6 or V8 mid or full size car ,and drive a large enough number of miles to come out ahead.

To make a Prius pay, I would suggest the following conditions:

  1. Lots of miles per year, 30,000 at least
  2. Lots of urban stop & go driving
  3. Owner needs more room than in a compact car
  4. Mild climate, not much winter weather
  5. Owner want to keep the car along time

Having said that, the ideal application is still taxi service in San Francsco, Seattle, or any coastal city with mild winters and not-too-hot summers. At 100,000 mies per year, a Prius taxi is a real money-maker

2002 Toyota Prius with 99k+ miles, and my check engine light was on. It is the catalytic converter, which is failing. The warrantly for the catalytic converter is 80,000 or 8 years. So it is going to cost me over $1500 for Toyota converter part + labor. I will be escalating to the zone rep and Toyota corporate to see if I can get some financial coverage. Even partial coverage is better than nothing…

I also had the rack replaced about 2.5 years ago because the power steering sensor failed, and it was embedded in the rack. Luckily, warranty covered everything, but that was because I went to a different Toyota dealer. The first dealer in Dayton OH wanted to charge me over $3000, and the zone rep did not help me. I live in Raleigh NC, and the dealer there was more customer-service oriented. After researching with Toyota corporate, Toyota decided to cover the item under warranty. So I do not consider this a horror story.

The plus side are the brakes. I just replaced the front at 95k for the first time. I am also still getting 42-48MPG.

Sorry to bring this up after such a long time. But, I was searching for “maintenance free battery” before I ask my question, and hit this.

Note the article linked seems to say it would cost $325,000 to drive a Prius to 100,000 miles. At least when I learned simple math back in the late 40’s, $3.25/mile for 100,000 miles comes out to $325,000. Correct me if the new math has changed simple multiplication.

That author has surrendered any and all credibility. I do not believe a word anyone says who has made such preposterous claims. I am not going to question the author’s state of mental health because this preposterous claim leaves no questions.

As far as the implication in that article that the nickel industry is still polluting in Sudbury, read the 2005 report on the land reclamation project. Sudbuy had nearly 300 square miles seriously affected by mining, but this is not current contamination. The reclamation project started in 1979, and a total of over 8 million trees have been planted since then. With only 11 square miles of nearly 300 square miles reclaimed, it is going to be a long job. But, it is not claimed all the damage done was toxic materials. Mining techniques in those days simply denuded the land, ripping out everything to get at the material and often had little to do with contamination as such.

I apologize for bringing political issues on a car message board, but that link was pure politics at its worst, and had little to do with the Prius as such.

Edited: note the author also said it would cost $585,000 to drive a Hummer 300,000 miles.

I think we are misplacing a zero somewhere. I did a life cyle analyis of several cars over 300,000 miles and by that time you have basically worn out the car, spent an amount equal to the purchase price on gas and also an equal amount on maintenance & repairs. So for a $23000 Prius, just multiply by 3, and presto, you get $69,000 for 300,000 miles plus insurance. This comes out to 23 Cents a mile, if the Prius used as much gas as an equivalent non-hybrid. The $3.25/mile seems OK for an 18 wheeler truck

Come to think of it, his figures would be more accurate in Mexican Pesos, at the current exchange rate. Was the article translated from Spanish by any chance; they use the $ sign for pesos.

In summary, to calculate the life time cost when comparing one car to another, such as a hybrid, just pro-rate the fuel consumption of the hybrid and then add twice the purchase price for capital and mainteance costs.

As you will have learned by now, gas costs are only 1/3 or less of the total ownership costs, so you have to drive a great deal to make a hybrid pay for itself.

I would believe that the sensors in the valve stems of the tires were for a tire pressure monitoring system. If you have this system you dont need to carry a spare,this saves weight hence better mileage.You will never get away from the requirement to keep your tools current enough to handle newer technology. Tire pressure monitoring systems are not new I can remember mid-90s corvetts another car with no spare. This is the only pourpose I can think of for sensors in the valve stems.

This is correct. The Prius has tire pressure monitoring active at all times. If any tire falls below a minimum safe pressure level, an icon appears on the dash that looks like a flat tire (or, kind of like a weird horseshoe, depending on who you ask).

But this isn’t new technology… it’s really pretty old stuff by now.

This story is false. It’s been debunked by several reputable organizations. It also doesn’t stand up to basic reason.

I have a 2006 and was just told that it will cost almost 500.00 to replace all 4 valve stems that are currently leaking. Is this possible??