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Toyota Prius Basic Care & Maintenance



  • THANK YOU very much for your info. I had a Prius 2004 and I'm looking for this info for 2 wks.
    Have a Happy Holiday and a Happy New Year. :)

  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    This is appropriate for this forum as well.... it may answer several questions for new members.

    My 2005 Prius just reached 100,000 miles this week after 37 months.

    I keep track of everything. My records have records,LOL

    Every tank except the last 4 or 5 has been entered on the GH database. The lifetime fuel economy is 47.9 mpg. This is the 'real' number, Tot Miles Driven / Tot Gal Pumped.

    So what has this cost me in Maintenance? Don't be shocked by some of the following..

    All services done at or near the 5000 mi scheduled interval:

    Oil and filters .................... $ZERO ! (All vehicles get O/F Free for Life)
    4 new tires 50000 mi .......................... $275
    2 replacement tires for road hazards ..... $180
    16 tire rotations ................................... $320
    3 rotate and balance............................. $90
    2 sets of wipers..................................... $5
    ... Subtotal: Rubber .......................... $870

    2 engine flushes ( my choice ).............. $150
    1 rear replacement bulb............................... 10 cents
    1 lower grill facia replacement................. $30
    2 air filters............................................. $30
    3 cabin air filters.................................... $90

    3 minor accidents
    broken rims, deer, other driver................ $750 deductibles.

    The next service at 103,000 miles will be the first 'major' service where all the normal service is done plus the engine/inverter coolant drain/replace.

    Excluding the 3 deductibles the total costs for maintenance has been about $1150 almost all of which is for rubber. The Oil/Filters Free for Life is unusual certainly except in this area. It's a significant piece of change since I get 7 or 8 free services every year.
  • Hi Ken,
    I live in Northern Illinois and once again we've had a ton of snow and the Prius sucks in snow and ice. The wheels spin all the time. I'm reluctant to spend the money on new tires as I just bought this car in June and can't really afford to. So then I would have to pay for a shop to switch the tires over every season at more cost. I might have to though because I drive 33 miles to work one way on an open interstate that is bad with snow and ice. Maybe you can help me with another question, plus I'll start a new thread I think. On my way home tonight, wind chill 30-40 below, it suddenly lost some power then kicked in again and a light on the dash came on that looks like half a circle with an exclamation point in the middle. What does that mean? I haven't looked in my manual yet and hoped I could get a quick answer. Thanks! Laughen59
  • While driving home tonight in 30-40 below windchill my Prius suddenly lost some power then kicked in again. The light on the panel looks like half of a circle where the top is open and an exclamation point in the middle. What does that mean? I haven't looked at my manuel yet and was hoping for a quick answer.
    Thank you.
  • Did you ever figure out what was going on? I just went out to start my 2003 prius and it's dead. I'm in SW Michigan and it has been recorde cold. It started yesterday. All the service people are closed. What did you end up finding out about your prius and the cold? Anyone else know anything?
  • The light that came on meant that the tires were low and they were. The other problem I had due to the cold is that I couldn't put gas in it. The pump handle kept clicking off like it was full. I went to another station and it did the same damn thing. I paid 7 dollars and something and the gas gage never moved off 3 bars. I called the dealer in Monroe, WI and he said it has an expandable gas tank and something about it being so cold. I don't understand and had to get to work so I couldn't run it to the dealer. I am not happy about this at stupid is it that you can't put gas in it? :mad: :( :lemon:
  • I've read about others having problems putting gas in. They say, try to pull out the nozzle a bit, try other pumps; some pump slower. Good luck!
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    The Gen 2 Prius' have a fuel bladder inside the normal gas tank. This bladder helps in minimizing evaporative emissions, but for some it's a PITA. The Prius is the only vehicle that has it.

    Don't worry about it. Yes if it's very cold the bladder will be very stiff and it won't allow a complete fillup. Just go with the flow ( ewww ) and try to bleed some in until you get a near-full tank. If it won't take as much as you'd like drive for a while and get the vehicle warmed up ... then try again.
  • temsleytemsley Posts: 4
    I went in for an oil change and the dealer ship said that I needed a new cabin air filter for the price of $69. I said no and looked up how to change it at home. It could not be easier. Is it ok to buy a non Toyota air filter for about $20 or do I need to use a Toyota brand cabin filter? Also, is a cabin filter and an air filter the same thing? The one that I am talking about is accessed through the glove compartment.
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    "Air filter" traditionally means the engine air filter. This is normally not replaced for 30K miles on Toyotas (except for driving on desert or unpaved roads).

    The cabin air filter is easily checked and replaced as you found out. I don't know if the aftermarket filter will be as good -- probably better to go with the OEM Toyota one.
  • Well, it's time to pass on an "I told you so," concerning the rear wiper. When the blade went bad on my '04 Prius in '07 I was lucky enough to find a replacement blade back then with no trouble. Last week I had to replace the same Rr Blade once again but this time the blade I bought would no fit in the arm. So I splurged and bought the whole arm & blade combo for $14.00. Unfortunitely, I couldn't figure out why I couldn't get the blade & arm released from the main arm. My local parts dealer attempted to remove it and after struggling for 7-8 minutes gave up. I went home and continued the battle until I finally realized that I was forcing the blade assembly the wrong "usual way" ( not toward the base but away from it. After getting it finally off I proceeded to attempt to snap on the new arm& blade to the unit only to fail when the plastic main arm broke.I ended up buying a new arm for $40.00. This was a painfull and time consuming experience and not to be repeated. I hope you Prius owners learn from my demise. Good Luck!
  • laughen59laughen59 Posts: 10
    What does OEM mean?
  • laughen59laughen59 Posts: 10
    Please explain further......if you would go to the dealer right off would that have been very expensive or worth not going thru the hassle you had?
  • I'm old school and still like to do things myself (as much as possible). My dealer is 17 miles away and the issue I refer to is (USUALLY) a simple fix. Not so with the Prius. Sometimes I think they deliberatly make simple repairs and/or replacements difficult and unnecessarily so. Try changing a head light bulb in these (and other cars) nowdays. There a pain. By the way, OEM parts are good but sometimes optional parts are just as good when applicable. Had I known in hind sight the problems that occured with the blade replacement I would have just bought the blade for $4.95 and been done with it. Old school clashes with new school and I learned a valuable lesson. It actually cost me a total of $56.00 but at least it won't happen again. I hope other Prius owners will appreciate my bumblings at least.
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    I hate acronyms myself and try to avoid them, but I do use "OEM" sometimes, which means "original equipment manufacturer" or a factory (as opposed to aftermarket) part. So in this case, it would be a part branded as genuine Toyota rather than someone like Purolator.

    The irony is that the "genuine" and aftermarket part could be produced side-by-side in the same factory!
  • laughen59laughen59 Posts: 10
    Thank you for clearing up OPM
  • whitey9whitey9 Posts: 138
    The coolant levels should be checked, and also the air filter should be replaced.
    Other than regular tire rotation and wheel alignment, there are few scheduled services required.
    Has the brake fluid ever been renewed?
  • bobcellobobcello Posts: 1
    I recently had both tail lights burn out at about the same time. It was at about the same time that my battery needed replacing. I had to have several visits by AAA to get the car going when the battery was getting weak. Possibly the burned out bulbs was related to the cable boosting or the battery replacement. I have posted on the Bentley Publisher Site how to replace the bulbs and check the fuses.
  • whitey9whitey9 Posts: 138
    YEAH, what HE said! In service department circles, that is called "packing". Upselling unwarranted goods/services to incease PROFITS!
    Just let them fix your car for the reason you came in and then get out of there.
  • whitey9whitey9 Posts: 138
    Were they tail lights, or brake lights? Brake lights are LEDs, tail lights are regular light bulbs.
    I suppose LEDS are more sensitive to polarity that regular bulbs, but then why would the brake lights be on? You mentioned cable boosting. Did someone ( AAA ) jump-start the car? Could the polarity of the jumper cables have been reversed? Is that the ONLY damage to the electrical system of the car?
    I am pretty sure there are details on replacing light bulbs in the Owner's Manual.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    I had one tail light go out on mine at ~ 80,000 miles. At the Parts counter a new one cost $.50 so I bought two. Big spender.

    It took 30 seconds to replace the dead bulb.
  • I live in the South Bay (CA) and have 98.5K on my 2002 Prius. The first 90K were pretty much worry free, needing only the standard service every 7500 miles and 2 sets of new tires (at 30K and 81K). However, at 90K, I had to take it to the dealer for the engine light, and they said it needed a new ECU and gas tank ($1600!). I questioned them on both, and even waited a couple of weeks, but finally gave in and had those replaced (though why the gas tank had to be replaced I have no idea!). I noticed some squeaky steering at the time, but had been told by my (non-dealer) mechanic that it was nothing to worry about, so didn't say anything. No one at Toyota said anything, so I just let it go.

    Well, the squeaking got worse -- more like a groaning sound every time I moved the steering wheel even a little bit, and after trying WD-40, to no avail, and not trusting the dealer, I took it to a different shop where they said it needed a new rack & pinion. I've already ordered and paid for this ($1300), but what else can I expect to have to deal with at this point? The shop said the steering is just normal wear and tear, and I love the car, which otherwise, appears to be in perfect shape. Am I in for more trouble ahead? So far these costs have been higher than expected, but are still much less than a new car.

    Also, how do I know whether to trust a mechanic? Any advice?
  • While I too own a 2nd gen Prius, I also have concerns when the warrantee expired but the important thing is about finding a trustworthy dealer or independent mechanic. This can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Good luck in that dept. Good regular maintenance is a must. One important alturnitive is good "used" replacement parts that can be at a considerable savings thru ebay etc....I presently have 103K miles on an '04.
    p.s. I once went to a Major Brake & Muffler Shop for a brake problem on an old 93 Ford 150. He called and said I needed major repairs to the tune of $1,400.00 so I went down to the dealer and inspected his explanation and then told him to just replace the brake line that was initially requested. He did at a cost of $67.00 and the truck has been fine for 2 yrs. Buyer beware!!
  • whitey9whitey9 Posts: 138
    I am dismayed to hear you had to have your Prius' fuel tank replaced for unknown reasons. If someone asked me to pay $$$$ for anything, I would know for sure why. Also, the ECU was replaced. Which one? Was it the one NOT covered by the 8yr/80K mi warranty? Or since it was just past 80K, and you do not trust your dealer's service department weren't they willing to "participate"?
    As for the "groaning/squeaking" noise, there is a rubber boot and bushing where the steering shaft passes thru the firewall. Sometimes when even new, but esp when older, this needs to be lubricated to avoid a creaking/groaning sound that may even sound like the steering wheel itself is noisy.
    I hope you really did need the complete rack [non-permissible content removed]'y, and did get your money's worth.
    I have and '86, a '98, and an '07. I put a rack in the '86 Camry after it began leaking after 155K mi, and now my 157K mi Sienna is leaking. NOT creaking/groaning 'tho.
    Good luck finding a truthful, competent mechanic.
  • The ECU was P/N 89661-47054, and I was told that if I didn't get it replaced, the car would likely stall at some time while I was driving it, which would be a road hazard. Since it was 10K over the 80K warranty, I was told it didn't qualify. Should I have questioned this? I'm terribly suspicious of dealers, particularly since I know nothing about cars (and am female, as I'm sure you can tell).

    When I declined the gas tank as first, the message on my invoice read:
    "Declined gas tank and relay; engine light or stalling condition will come back." So, I asked that the technician please take a second look to see if the gas tank really needed replacing, in which case I would go ahead with it. Here's the message:
    "Inspection verifies gas tank malfunction; replaced gas tank"

    I really wish I could have spoken directly to the technician, but I was relegated to the "advisor"; is this normal?

    As for the creaking/groaning sound, I've been asking about lubrication for the last couple of oil changes but was just told that was not the issue... I'll question the shop again before going ahead with the complete rack and pinion replacement, but I think I may be stuck, as the non-dealer shop made me prepay for a special-order part.

    Anyone know of a good mechanic or shop in the South Bay?
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    And people are giving me grief for thinking that a 125,000 mile Platimun warranty is a good consideration.
  • whitey9whitey9 Posts: 138
    Yeah, I know what you mean. I bought the 100k mi Toyota extended service plan.
    That is in addition to the 8yr/100K mi warranty on "most" of the hybrid system.
    It was about $2K, but I was slightly wary of the repair costs, and the "guessing ability" of the service department if the hybrid system, or any other "covered" component needs repair. My dealership relies on the service writer to diagnose much of the malfunctions while the car is on the drive during write-up.
    I bought the service plan to ease my mind. But it was $2K after all.
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    That can be found considerably cheaper. More like $1055. They now offer a 125K mile warranty.
  • im very new here and im trying to find a prius right now. my question is, are independent mechanics capable of fixing prius? it's for my mom and she heard that only the dealers can repair malfunctions. her other concern's the battery replacement every 3 years, which i know isnt true and covered by the 10year warranty.
  • I discussed the Prius with my trusted independent mechanic before my purchase because I am about 80 miles away from a Toyota Dealer. My mechanic assured me that he could handle any problems. Furthermore, there are very few maintenance problems with a Prius. In two years, I have had none. I buy tires at an independent provider. I buy routine maintenance parts at a parts store that regularly has the Prius parts in stock. I do my own routine maintenance. The Prius, by all reports that I have seen, is not going to need new batteries essentially over the lifetime of the vehicle. I always carry an air pump and a spare battery to jump start cars and power the air pump. I have also lobbied Toyota to open a dealership near me so that I can convince more people to buy a Prius.
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