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Toyota Prius: Problems & Solutions



  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    "All car manufactures will tell you that if you plan to store your car for a longer time you should disconnect the battery terminals completely anyway (make sure you have all the radio codes etc.., you may or may not need them depending on make and model)."

    Can someone with a Prius confirm that the owner's manual says it is OK to disconnect the battery? I had understood that both batteries had to remain "connected" (of course you can't disconnect the traction battery anyway).
  • stevewastevewa Posts: 203
    The owner's manual reccomends disconnecting the 12v battery if the car is to be stored for more than 30 days.

    And, you can disconnect the traction battery via the service plug.
  • Hi, I am an IDOIT Just purchased a 02 Prius and upon returning home decided to clean the engine compartment since it looked like something in junkyard. Had oil film and dirt like it had not ever been cleaned. Well I made the intelligent choice of using the water hose as I do all my car motors. Well the motor looks like new and all clean. The only problem it wont run. nothing works. All electrical everything is dead. I am hopping it will dry out. The battery in the trunk has juice though my tester was dim. I dont think this is a 12 volt system and wont charge till I find out. Are there any circuit breakers? I dont have a service manual yet and I want to fix my self. Thanks if anyone knows.
  • stevewastevewa Posts: 203
    The auxiliary battery is indeed 12volts. Everything not encased in orange cladding is 12volt. Everything that IS in orange cladding is high voltage and should be considered hands-off.

    You can charge the small battery in the trunk with a low-amperage charger (under 10A) just watch the current and don't overcharge it.

    The owners manual has diagrams showing where the various fuse and circuit breaker boxes are located. There's a fuse block in the passenger compartment on the side of the dashboard (can only get to it when the driver's door is open), and there are at least three additional ones in the engine compartment.
  • okay, I'm new to this forum, but will give it a try.

    I had a similar problem. I just turned a corner and when I hit the accelerator, the whole dash lit up with error lights including the Red triangle. Couldn't notice all of them. I coasted a bit, then noticed the electric motor was running and it took me the last few hundered feet to our driveway. I tried repeatedly shutting down and re-starting. This seemed to reset the first problem of the engine running, it was fine now, but I still had a few warning lights on. I called the dealer, same answer you got: drive it in carefully as soon as you can. Dealer was flustered and couldn't find anything wrong or explain it. Hear is what I figured out: The engine stopped when I entered the turn as it should. It did not re-start when I hit the accelerator and this turns on the red triangle (and some other lights). Once I turned everything off it all reset except the lights because this was a major fault and required service. I think the lights are over zealous. Bottom line, if the engine ever hesitates in starting, you'll get lots of lights and they won't reset until you see a dealer. Kind of a bummer. It has only happened to me once in 10,000 miles though.
  • stevewastevewa Posts: 203
    It's an EPA thing. Anything that can effect emissions is supposed to trigger a warning light that doesn't reset until at least 3 complete driving cycles (from engine cold) take place without the error recurring (for example a loose fuel cap generates such a condition). It's also possible the error you saw could have been one that the computer will not reset on its own.

    An OBD-II scan tool combined with a reference for trouble codes would tell for sure.
  • marina3marina3 Posts: 2
    Issue is that I have a 60 mile commute every day on the freeway where I drive 80 to 85 mph. I have been told that the Prius is not powerful enough for this use. Additionally, I have been burned royally by my BMW and all its mechanical and electrical problems. Any advice on the power of this car in sustaining my type of commute?
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,133
    the freeway where I drive 80 to 85 mph.

    Welcome to the Forum. You are going to have a tough time getting good mileage with those speeds. I would suggest the Honda Accord Hybrid for that kind of driving. It will cost a bit more, but the comfort and power should be more to what you want. I just drove the last leg of a Portland to San Diego trip in a Passat TDI. The last 100 miles was never under 80 MPH. It lowered my mileage by a couple MPG to about 36 MPG for the last 228 miles. The Prius shines in stop and go city driving, not high speed highway trips.
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    ...that's not the same thing as saying it's "not powerful enough" for high speed fwy use. I regard that assertion as utter nonsense. The Prius will be just fine at those speeds - just don't expect 50 mpg.
    I can think of no modern car, certainly no new car being sold in the US, that isn't perfectly capable of sustaining any speed common on our highways all day long - the Prius certainly qualifies.

    Nothing wrong with the Hybrid Accord, of course, but expect to pay at least $30k.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,133
    The Prius will be just fine at those speeds - just don't expect 50 mpg.

    I wonder if it would day after day 120 miles round trip. If the trip was all flat land maybe. That just seems like a lot of stress on that small of an engine. I disagree with your generalization on any new car sold being capable of 80-85 MPH all day long. I just drove 400 miles of mostly freeway that seldom saw speeds under 80 MPH. Up the long grades on 58 to Mojave and several long hills on Interstate 15 I passed dozens of cars that ran out of steam. They drove like a bat out of H*** on the downhill portions.
  • brendakhbrendakh Posts: 2
    I have a 2001 Prius that I bought new. It's been a great car. No problems, just routine maintence, tires, fluids, that sort of thing. I drive a lot and have 169,000 miles on the car. A couple of months ago, the car wouldn't start. I had to replace the 12v battery and was charge appx. $400. I was surprised! Shocked, more like it. Wow! I still don't understand why a 12v battery is SO expensive.

    But considering what a price I got this morning... the battery was cheap. :(
    Yesterday, driving home from work, the check engine light came on. I went by my Toyota dealer this morning where I bought the car. They've done all the maintenance. I was told the only error code the computer read was the catalytic converter was shot. Ok, 169,000 on a converter, 'No bad', I thought, THEN I was told a new converter was $1,600 for the parts and $1000 for the labor. With tax, it will come to about $2,800!!! YIKES!

    $1,600 for a catalytic converter?! Is that right?! And a $1,000 for labor?!

    Anyone else have to have a converter replaced?

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,133
    Anyone else have to have a converter replaced?

    A few months back a Lady with a 2002 Prius needed a new Catalytic Convertor @ 90k miles. She was quoted $2100 by Toyota. They have a monopoly as long as the Prius is a niche vehicle. They will charge whatever they can get for the parts. Ask what a Catalytic convertor for a Toyota Corolla costs. I'll bet it is under $100 because they have competition for parts. See link below for a $48 Cat Convertor. It is a Giant Rip-off and this will continue on the hybrids until they become popular enough for the after market manufacturers start supplying parts. Many on this forum would say you have gotten your monies worth out of the Prius and it has reached the end of it's useful life. I disagree with that philosophy. A newer car should go 250k to 300k miles without major expenses. _id=Mcuk7ViE&model=COROLLA&x=45&y=15
  • brendakhbrendakh Posts: 2
    I have been hoping for 250k+ miles from my Prius. I'm having a really hard time justifying $2,800 (including tax and 'fees') to replace the converter. Because of way I live, I don't have to have emission inspections. As much as it bothers me, I may just ignore this repair. The dealership service tech said that it wouldn't affect the car if it wasn't replaced.
  • marina3marina3 Posts: 2
    Thanks so much for responding to my questions as to the high speeds and whether the Prius can handle it. The other car I'm considering is a Scion. The reasons for the Scion are that I have somewhat of a lead foot (high freeway and in-town speeds) and I'm told the Scion tC is a better fit more my driving style. Additionally, if certified Prius mechanics are the only ones who can fix the car and order the parts, the difficulty in getting it repaired at a convenient location and reasonable price might be compromised. Conversely, I'm not a 20 year old (the target Scion market) and want a more formidable, fuel efficient car. Plus, with all the time I spend in my car, I need a great interior that's comfortable, roomy, amenities, etc. Any insights on the Prius vs. Scion vs OTHER??? MANY THANKS FOR YOUR OPINIONS!!!
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    There are, in my mind, huge differences between these two cars, but it has absolutely NOTHING to do with their suitability at freeway speeds. I just couldn't disagree more that the Prius is somehow not suited to long-distance, high-speed fwy use. The size of the engine has got nothing to do with it - the car certainly performs as well or better than the Passat TDI.

    That said, the tC will be quicker, harder-riding, noisier, and much tighter inside. The Prius is roomier, more comfortable, more practical, quieter, and much more expensive. Real world fuel consumption for the tC will be in the mid-20s, vs mid-40s for the Prius. One car is all about style, the other a much more practical use of space - at a price.

    I've maintained from the start of the '04 model year that the point of the Prius is often missed by the media, and for that matter, a lot of its potential customers - the car has enormous room inside, and the hatch makes the cargo area practical to use - and the car gets a realistic 45 mpg. By contrast, the tC is all about style - it too is a hatch, but the comparison ends there. It really replaces the Celica in the Toyota lineup, and is a great value at that. Depends on what you want and need, and a good deal on what you want to spend.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,133
    the car certainly performs as well or better than the Passat TDI.

    Quieter I will give you that, performance, handling, braking I would have to be convinced of. The 2000 Prius I test drove twice was screaming at 75 MPH. I know the Prius II is different. Maybe one of these days I will get to test drive one. None of the reviews I have read raved on the handling, in fact just the opposite. Performance was considered adequate.
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    ...the current-gen Passat TDI, which you just bought [and is a car I think VERY highly of] and the new Prius. All comparisons to the original Prius are to be discarded - this is such a different package that it is hard to know where to start - the name is about the only thing they share.

    Having driven both, I can say either car would do just fine for a one-car family that doesn't exceed the need to seat 4 people comfortably. Sure the Passat handles better, in the sense of being capable of cornering faster. But in every other respect, I see no advantages either way.

    I have the appropriate Consumer Reports tests of both cars, and what's surprising is how alike they are, not how different they are.

    Anyway, this discussion is really out of place in this forum - I just can't sit still to have the Prius labeled as some kind of city-only econobox - I think you'd find the current body of owners would back me up on this all the way.
  • stevewastevewa Posts: 203
    Biggest problem with Prius has been stock tires leave a lot to be desired. People who have gone with better quality tires at replacement time have reported much better handling with only slight reduction in fuel economy.

    As far as top speed goes, in the 2001-03 Prius speed was electronically limited to 102MPH. This is a direct result of the RPM limits set in the computer for the gas engine and the motor generator. The RPM redline is 4500 RPM, so describing it as "screaming" is misleading.
  • stevewastevewa Posts: 203
    The catalysts in these cars are significantly more complex than you'll find in non-SULEV/PZEV models. How do you think they reduced the emissions?

    Like anything else, prices should drop as more vehicles use the same technology. Adoption of stricter emissions compliance will drive these catalysts into more models which will increase production volumes.

    In any case, losing a catalyst that quickly suggests other problems lurking in the engine.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,133
    The catalysts in these cars are significantly more complex than you'll find in non-SULEV/PZEV models.

    More research. The Camry is SULEV II rated and a replacement Cat Convertor for that car is available for $233. If the emissions components of a hybrid are so expensive it would pay to have it thoroughly checked by an emissions shop prior to the warranty expiration. I am not sure why the catalytic convertor would indicate other engine problems. I changed the one on our 1990 Mazda last year along with the muffler at 80k miles with no engine problems. It passed it's emission test and only cost me around $150. I don't believe most people bought into the Prius expecting big repair bills after 3-4 years or less if they drive a lot. These two Cat convertor failures had 90k & 169k miles on them. I thought the 90k mile failure should have been covered under the AT-PZEV emissions 8 year 100k mile warranty. I don't think that lady ever posted her attempt to get Toyota to pay. She was already unhappy with a $600 charge for some sensor on her 2002 model Prius.
  • 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: 31,133
    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: 4,098
    "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.
This discussion has been closed.