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Toyota Prius Basic Care & Maintenance



  • linda1linda1 Posts: 11
    ok here's the situation: my lovely 2004 silver #3 is 1 month old with apx 570 miles and I get putrid mileage ave. 30mpg. I do mostly city driving with about 1/4 freeway.

    now, that's an annoyance but here's the biggie: while driving in stop and go traffic - 5 SEPARATE TIMES - the transmission slipped from drive into neutral. The gear shift was still in drive but the dash showed N as selected. I was able each time to pull over and put the car back into D. No warning lights or buzzers. The last time was on the freeway to take
    the precious auto to the dealer ( Marina del Rey toyota in L.A.) So said dealer had my baby for 4 days - drove it 70 miles - but "could not duplicate the problem" I've also contacted the main office about this scary car as did the dealer and Toyota has no suggestions and has no record of this having happened before. So any ideas out there? Linda1
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    > The gear shift was still in drive but the dash showed N as selected.

    When in Reserve, Drive, Engine-Braking, and Neutral the "gear shirt" always returns to the default position. So your "still in drive" reference is impossible. Sorry. It's like clicking the button on a mouse. The device is electronic, not mechanical. So it is always in a ready position, not the state in which your action placed on it.

    Odds are, you are inadvertently bumping it while driving.

    As for the MPG, if all you ever do is short trips and you haven't followed the efficiency tips (check: tire pressure, oil level, minimal A/C, etc.) that is normal. Pressing reset before taking a drive on the freeway or a minimal-stop drive through the suburbs will reveal a much higher MPG.

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,681
    Put it on eBay you may get more for it than you paid and let someone else sort out the trouble.
  • It may be possible that the neutral switch is shorting out. Remember these are shift by wire technology. There is no direct mechanical linkage from the transmission lever to the trans gearbox. Try to make a written record on every event the tranny indicator shifts to N by itself. Note at what speed and road condition your were in. Your service tech will have a written record to start with and maybe refer to Toyota tech support for help. You should be able to shift back to D while you are coasting on the road or freeway. You do not need to pull over. I once tried going to N from D on a downhill stretch and shifted back to D or B to do some engine braking.
  • linda1linda1 Posts: 11
    Hi John, thanks for your imput. Of course you're right, the gear shift always reverts back to neutral after selecting drive BUT the dash selection shows D when in drive which mine did each of my 5 occurances when it slipped into N and there I was unable to accelerate while intraffic. I don't see how I could bump it (the gear shift?) as I've been driving with both hands on the steering wheel. Lindna1
  • linda1linda1 Posts: 11
    And thank you too for your reply little_pogi, Believe me Toyota knows every breath I've taken in this car. When you shift from N to D don't you have to brake to do so? That's why I've been pulling over, and also because the traffic behind me is going dangerously faster than I am when this happens. Linda1
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,681
    You are lucky you live here in CA. They have a Lemon Law with teeth. Keep all your documentation and invoke it to get a different car. Although if I have trouble like that I would go to a different brand altogether. You still have the eBay choice find someone that thinks life starts when you get a Prius. Let them be the lab rat.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,719
    As I recall, the lemon law requires that the problem be duplicated 3 times in 12 months, or the car is out of service for 30 days in 12 months.

    One incident will not do the job.
  • I did not have any problem when shifting from N to D (and vice versa) while the car was running. I also did not have to step on the brake. It is only when you have it on P that you that you need to step on the brake first.

    I was once a juror where CA lemon law was being applied in a lawsuit. The lemon law, I learned, is not as simple as a 3 defect in a year scenario. There is also some calculations involved in determining the actual amount you can get from the car manufacturer assuming the law was applied to your favor. It's not a simple "I get your car back and I give you a brand new car". In the case I was in, the guy did have a bad vehicle. He decided to go to court and wanted to have his vehicle replaced under the CA Lemon law. After hearing the arguments and how the law works, the jury ruled in favor of the car manufacturer unanimously. All of us jurors had to apply the law and just felt sorry for the guy.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,681
    Interesting. I thought it was a simple procedure if you had the same trouble 3 times in a year and they did not fix it. I guess it is back to selling it on ebay...
  • pripri Posts: 9
    Warning: Make sure you never break your radio mast antenna base. It costs $683.94 (parts and labor) to replace! The cabin ceiling liner must be removed and the base also contains an amplifier. Poor design IMO.
  • rfruthrfruth Posts: 630
      Whats a good way to not break the base ?
  • ragueroraguero Posts: 60
    I had my 04 Prius in for it's 15k oil change yesterday. The service rep. tried to get me to do the 15k minor maint. on it also. I looked at the list of what they do and most of it was "checking" things. The only thing they replace is the A/C filter. For this they wanted $189.00. Thanks to this board and others, I knew that the A/C filter wasn't hard to replace (you have to take the glove boxes off though) but the filter itself is only $30.00. I just thought people might want to know what to expect at 15k.
  • azstanazstan Posts: 74
    Yesterday I took my '04 Prius in for 15k maintenance. They charged me $113 for it. Also threw in a "car wash". Will not let them wash it again...but it was a nice gesture on their part.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,681
    It amazes me at the variation in Dealer charges for parts and service. I was looking for a little bottle of touch up paint and it varied between 3 dealers in San Diego from $2.85 to $10.

    AZSTAN: I thought you were not supposed to wash a Prius or it will quit running, or short out ;->
  • The scheduled maintenance guide that came with the car shows you a check list on which ones to look at. Replacing the engine oil and oil filter, and the tire rotation are the two important things to do. The others are just inspections. For somebody who does not know anything about cars except to drive it, $189 may be worth it just to have that peace of mind. To me, paying someone $100 to look at the underside of my car is a rip off. I do my own maintenance so that saves me on labor cost. I do received discount coupons from local dealers on regular maintenance items. Toyota oil filter (90915-YZZA2) is $3.99 and the cabin air filter (87139-47010) is $18.97.
  • rfruthrfruth Posts: 630
    About a year ago I needed a crush washer for my Civic's oil drain plug, the person at the parts counter gave me two of them at no charge, I went to the same Honda dealer a few months later and they wanted 35 cents each for the same washer (30 cents for the paperwork 5 cents for the washer ((they didn't say that))) maybe Toyota dealers are different but I doubt it.
  • rfruthrfruth Posts: 630
    From what I've seen Toyota dealers aren't any different, heck one of um near me (Fred Haas)sends out various e-mails & they all say about the same thing, Driftwood Pearl 2004 Prius option code BG asking 31.5 special internet price 24.9 (the "special" price is always MSRP) Someone who doesn't have access to the internet a magazine rack or newspaper might fork over the 31.5 (Fred Haas Toyota hopes so) but the rest of us are going to shop around, and I remember a 35 cent washer ?
  • Hi,

    I've several discussions about problems with the Prius going through the carwash. I am about to have my hands on a 2004 Prius, package #9. The dealer wants $2,000 over MSRP.

    A. The sticker says that the car is equipped with a security alarm. However, the salesman (who has been very nice to me, hiding the car while I make up my mind), says I will need a further alarm system to ensure that nobody can jimmy the doors, or try to break the glass....

    I don't quite understand what type of alarm that Toyota has already equipped the car with.

    B. I see that a number of people are talking about this carwash problem.

    I also see that a number of people who are involved in posting are from either California, Texas, or almost "snow-free" states.

    I am in the NY Metropolitan Area. Usually the weather has been mild, during the winter. However, last year, it was pretty bad. Sometimes, the driveway for the complex wasn't even plowed in a timely fashion.

    So my question is, is whether anyone has had any experience using the 2004 in bad weather, and heavy snow.

    I figure if there are problems going through a car wash, how can you drive through a blizzard, slush, hail, salted roads, and whatever other brimstone.

    I am not sure also how the traction control/vehicle stability system would also handle in snow, too, because of its lightweight.

    Anyone have any experience, or problems dealing with winter weather with the Prius?

    The dealer insists that this car is like any other front-wheel drive car....

    I also live by major power lines, and didn't know how that would affect this car, too, on a regular basis?

    Thanks for your help. I found it enlightening to know about that Platinum extended warranty. Another dealer told me that it cost $2,200 with no deductible. Didn't know it was possible to haggle.

  • There was a lot of discussion last winter about the Prius handling in snow. A lot of them posted positive feedback on the its performance.

    The salesman is just trying to squeez more money from you on installing a glass breakage sensor. This is an accessory that you can purchase separately and install yourself.

    Worried that your Prius will get zapped by overhead power lines? Absolutely not.
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