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Toyota Prius: Problems & Solutions



  • stevewastevewa Posts: 203
    2002 was NOT AT-PZEV rated. It was simply SULEV rated, so the longer warranty did not apply. I thought California vehicles had a 100K warranty however.

    Anyway, in theory a catalytic converter should NEVER fail. It is a catalyst for a chemical reaction but it is not consumed itself. The reason a catalytic converter fails is that the bricks get contaminated. Number one culprit is motor oil, but low quality fuel can cause trouble too.
  • Hi, all. Yesterday I bought a 2002 Prius with 21,402 miles for only $14,000. A real bargain! It's the basic trim-line. I had it inspected pre-purchase at a Toyota dealer and all was very good. The tires were showing the asymmetric wear that is common, but at least they still had some tread. I live about 100 miles north of NYC, in Kingston, NY.

    So. Here I am with a Prius. On the 90-mile drive home I only got 39.9 mpg, according to the dashboard gauge. According to this group and others, that's almost certainly 2-5 miles higher than I actually got. I was only going about 65 mph and the temp was about 58. So that's pretty disappointing.

    I already knew about Prius' tire problem, but figured at the car's price an extra set of tires wasn't that big a deal. Now I find out that Toyota gave "classic" Prius a unique wheel size that nobody makes tires for. WHAT!?! Is that true? I'm seeing very different stories around the user-groups. Am I stuck with a car that I can't even get snow tires for?

    And the radio! I noticed it was an unusual shape when I test drove the car, but assumed I could adapt any radio with a kit and harness (I've installed radios in few cars, and am pretty handy). It looks like that's very, very untrue. Even Cruthchfield has NO radio that fits the Prius, and no adapter kit or harness.

    What is Toyota thinking!?! How many more simple things on my "economy" car are unique and unavailable through the after-market? And now I read all the horror stories about very expensive repairs and the dubious knowledge of most dealers.

    I'm very concerned that I made a terrible decision buying this car. If the mileage barely beats a normal Civic or Echo, simple things like tires and radios (and maybe other things) are unavailable or exhorbitantly expensive, and even specially-trained technicians can't be trusted, what is the upside?

    Please help,
    Steve Jones
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363 0&minSpeedRating=S&ratio=65&width=175%2F&diameter=14&minLoad=S&vehicleSearch=true&startInd- ex=0&search=true&pagelen=20&pagenum=1&pagemark=1&performance=GTAS&performance=ST&performan- ce=AS&speed_rating=SR&speed_rating=TR&speed_rating=UR&speed_rating=HR&speed_rating=VR&spee- d_rating=WR&speed_rating=YR&speed_rating=ZR&RunFlat=All&x=82&y=7

    Can't speak to the rest of your issues, but the tires are no big deal. See the link above from the Tire Rack for alternatives in the 175/65x14 size. I have no idea where you got the impression that "nobody makes tires" in this size, which is indeed unusual, but not unheard of.

    You could substitute the much more common 185/65x14s [as long as you did all four at once], and put up with the small amount of speedo/odo error [on the order of 3-5%] they would introduce.

    185/60x14s would have the same rolling diameter as the originals, but they aren't real common, either.

    In any case, this is not a crisis.
  • jjjsjjjs Posts: 1
    Does the Prius need the Catalytic Converter to run? If it isn't replaced what happens to the car other than it releasing more emissions? How long could you drive without replacing it?
  • mtnmamamtnmama Posts: 5
    we have an 04 Prius, since Dec 2003. I recognize a lot of the issues posted above relating to mileage, rear view, tires, etc. I've been having a problem with the display panel and radio - radio goes off intermittently, panel display either doesn't work at all or is all confused. Almost like a bad fuse. the dealer comes back and tells me that the auxillary battery must be replaced ($200.00) and something to do with the electrical panel system is shot and needs to be replaced ($1000.00). Of course I have 38,000 miles on it and the warranty expired at 36,000. Since we are such "good" customers, they would try to have Toyota help us out on this. Guess what, these are two items that cannot be helped.... I bought this car for the mileage and emmissions features, and I am soooooo dissappointed with this problem now. I usually keep my vehicles for around 250,000 miles (I have an over-100 mile commute each day), and i am seriously trying to decide whether to keep it or not. I cannot be throwing a thousand dollars at it every 40K miles.... Other than that I really love the car. We are a three Toyota family, and have been really happy with them for a long time. I should have bought a motorcycle i guess, but my husband thinks that he should be the one to get a bike for his mid-life crisis...
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,848
    auxillary battery must be replaced ($200.00) and something to do with the electrical panel system is shot and needs to be replaced ($1000.00).

    Welcome to the Forum. The battery should have a manufacturers warranty longer than one year. Others have paid as much as $400 for that battery. I would question if that electrical panel in any way affects the operation of the car, it may have to be covered under the emissions law. I can understand your frustration with a car that is less than a year and a half old costing that kind of money to repair. Good luck
  • tempusvntempusvn Posts: 119
    "I've been having a problem with the display panel and radio - radio goes off intermittently, panel display either doesn't work at all or is all confused."

    That is a known problem covered under TSB EL002-05 "Multi-Display Functions are Inoperative"

    Take that TSB Number to your dealer. If they don't try to work with Toyota to get it covered under warrantee, then you should call Toyota Corporate directly. I'd expect they would cover it. They've been good about that.

    If for some unfathomable reason they don't, the $1K is still too much. A refurbished MFD is about $400 and it is .2 (that is 2/10 hour) labor to install.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,786
    "If for some unfathomable reason they don't, the $1K is still too much. A refurbished MFD is about $400 and it is .2 (that is 2/10 hour) labor to install."

    HMMM, who will install it? The dealer is unlikely to work with a refurb, and many mechanics seem to be leery of working on the electronics of a hybrid.
  • tempusvntempusvn Posts: 119
    The units Toyota is putting in on the TSB are refurbs. They just take the ones that fail, replace the electronics, and recycle them back. And if it's out of warrantee, why wouldn't a dealer install a refurb? They put in rebuilt engines which is orders of magnitude more complex.

    But, the replacement is simple anyway. You can get a DVD from a place like CoastalETech that shows you step by step how to disassemble the dash to get at the MFD for adding Satellite Radio, Backup Cameras, etc.

    It's no different than replacing a stereo head. Unplug a couple of cables, plug in the new one, snap the dash back together.
  • mtnmamamtnmama Posts: 5
    Thank you very much, folks, for the input. I'll feel much better negotiating with the dealer with a little information in my hand. I talked to the service guy yesterday, asking for the estimated repairs in writing, and he wasn't quite ready to do that, as he's still supposedly trying to get Toyota to work with us on this. As long as he knows that I know that there are options, hopefully we can reach some kind of reasonable deal.
  • bjrichbjrich Posts: 125
    After washing my new (2 weeks) Prius, being sweaty and needing a shower, I came into the i passed thru the utility room, I decided to throw my cloths into the washer.
    this morning I was getting ready for church and lo and behold could not find my key fob..I searched and searched and finally decided to look in the last pair of pants I had been wearing...
    It was in the pocket of the sweat pants I had worn while washing the car..It had gone thru the wash cycle and the dry cycle.
    I immediately went into the garage.. jumped into the seat and all was well
    Pruis problems, not at all.
  • rick61rick61 Posts: 2
    Hi : Check you owner's manual. f the "05 Prius sits unused for 2+weeks,the batteries will go dead because all of the computer security systems are drawing energy .If you have someone to start and run the car for several hours/week,the batteries will stay charged. If the car is securely garaged,there is a switch at the base of the dash panel.If you turn it off , then the car can sit idle longer,but the alarm system will be dis-abled.See your dealer about these options.Good luck.
  • rick61rick61 Posts: 2
    I have almost 1000 miles on my 2005 Prius with"0"problems.I have owned Range Rovers,BMW's,etc. They were always in for repair.The Prius is my first Hybrid vehicle and have had no problems. I do not want to give the big oil companies one more nickel than I have to. FYI,as the Prius was my first Hybrid and hopefully my last vehicle(I am 62 years old) so I purchased the Toyota Extra Care 7 yr.(or 75k miles) warranty .I average @3-4k miles/per year.This extra warranty has unlimited roadside assistance,towing service,$50/day,5 days per repair visit substitute transportation,$100/day,5 days dislocation benefit,5 days over life of the agreement. This coverage costs $1,715.00. I think that the cost of this coverage is money well spent.
  • mtnmamamtnmama Posts: 5
    I just want to thank you all again for your feedback to my problem - the dealer was able to get Toyota to replace the Multi-Function Display part at no cost to me, but i will have to pay for labor for installation, and thanks to you I have a great idea on what they should charge me, otherwise, i'll purchase the part and have my son do it! Also, the auxilliary battery will not be covered and will cost me "under 200"..... Just to refresh, the car is an 04 Prius, have had it for a year and a half, have 38,000 miles on it, (warranty expires at 36K). Good luck with your Priuses!!!
  • mtnmamamtnmama Posts: 5
    can you tell me where i can find this information (.2 hour labor estimate)? thanks
  • tempusvntempusvn Posts: 119
    "can you tell me where i can find this information (.2 hour labor estimate)?"

    It is in TSB EL002-05

    OP Code EL4012 - R&R Display, Multi-Display
  • geekmagnetgeekmagnet Posts: 2
    Hi--I'm new here. I have been looking at used Prius's and I drove a 2002 today that was priced at $11K but it has issues and I'd like to get some opinions.

    First of all, the seller said he had replaced what appears to be the AC/DC converter. I gathered this info from looking at a chart of the engine online---it's the big square silver thing under the hood.

    Secondly, he said he bought it at auction and it had a salvage title. What is a salvage title and is it such a bad thing?

    Lastly, he had a yellow brake on one of the front wheels---obviously an after-market caliper? I'm not sure---I don't know that much about brakes. The car had 45K miles on it which is not much. Would a caliper have to be replaced after 45K miles?

    Thanks for your help---I'm so glad I found this forum. I have been wondering how much repairs for the Prius cost vs. a conventional car.
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    A salvage title means that it was wrecked and written off, or severely damaged in a flood, or otherwise declared unusable at some stage in its life by an insurance company.

    Run, do not walk, away from this car at top speed. Don't look back.

    I would suspect flood damage, from your description of what has been replaced. Of all the cars in the world that you don't want to have any part of under these circumstances, it is a Prius.

    Glad you asked first - this would have been a big mistake.
  • geekmagnetgeekmagnet Posts: 2
    Yes, thank you for the advice. I have always heard bad things about salvage titles but was never sure what that term meant.

    Now I'd like to know what kind of maintenance a Prius needs. In other words, is regular maintenance comparable in cost to a conventional car? Oil chages every 7,500, when do I get a tune-up, is there a timing belt to change? I have read that new batteries, if needed, have come down in cost from $5K to $3K so if those fail it's comparable to having to rebuild the engine and transmission both, whch some people don't mind doing if they love a car. I have test driven this car and it is very fun to drive, IMO, and very peaceful while stuck in traffic because it's so quiet. I just wish there was more info out there about what it's like to live with one!
  • mtnmamamtnmama Posts: 5
    Hello, I'm back. (posts 209/220) I picked up my car - 04 Prius- yesterday, after having the dealer replace the auxillary battery and the multifunction display unit, (out of warranty, Toyota covered the MFD unit, but I had to pay for the battery, around $200) and drove it home (about 25 miles). Everything great except that now I've got the gears shifting from D into N, three different times during the ride home. I'm going to take it back in imediately, but was looking around in this forum to see if this had been addressed.

    Sound familiar to anyone? Thanks in advance for any help!
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