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Toyota Prius Basic Care & Maintenance



  • I bought my 2006 Prius a little over a year ago from a Toyota dealer in the area, and within the first month I had a strange occurance. I got into my car, pressed the power button to start the car and everything on the dashboard lit up, the power button flashed amber, the clock's numbers were just barely visible, and the car wouldn't start. Frantic that no matter what I did (shut it off, took the keys out, and tried again with the same results), I called the dealer who sold me the car and just as he was about to send out a tow truck to get me, I tried it one last time and it started. I took it directly to the dealership, they inspected it, and came back with the response of 'there's nothing wrong with it, I don't know why it did that. If it happens again, come back again.' No charge and supposedly no problem, I let it go.

    Well, exactly 1 year later (to the day) and suddenly it happens again. So I take it to the dealer again (which costs me a $55 diagonstic fee, so now I'm getting irked at this whole matter). They check the battery in the back and they tell me it's a bad battery cell. They insist the two incidents are completely unrelated and that it will cost me +$500 to replace the bad cell. I left to go to class that night and had no more issues that day. But now I have a car that's been getting harder and harder to start. I've noticed that I have issues when I open my door and the alarm goes off like I've left the key in the ignition, but I haven't. I knew when I opened the door today and the alarm sounded that I was going to have issues. Sure enough, the car wouldn't turn on, and after two tries, it is now completely unresponsive.

    So I guess I have a few questions about this whole thing. Which battery has the bad cell? They tested in the back, where the hybrid battery is. But I thought the hybrid battery is covered up to 100,000 miles, so why is this going to cost me +$500 to fix?

    Also, I've been getting repeatedly worse and worse gas mileage since the fall, the last fill only lasting me 350 miles or so with an mpg average of 34.6. The engine kicks in as soon as I turn the car on to charge the battery, and I always seem to be running off of the engine more than normal since then too. Are these two related? If not, what else could be causing the terrible mileage? I just had my car aligned, 4 brand new tires, and a wheel bearing replaced. I got a new filter, and I've changed my oil when the light has come on. If there is something else I could try to fix the poor mileage, I'd love to know...

    Any insight into any aspect of this is very much appreciated.
  • jayriderjayrider Posts: 3,602
    edited March 2011
    You have a conventional albeit expensive battery in addition to the hybrid battery. I believe they are Optima batteries and they can be bought at other places other than the dealer. You should also check independent shops for install. Six years on the battery is decent -- just make sure that is the problem. Go to and search the forums for more info. You can also call other dealers and see if if their price is consistent.
  • Sounds like your time and/or milage of warrantee one or the other may be up. Regardless, your dealer may or may not be being fair and accurate in diagnosing the problem with your 06 Prius.

    As to your milage (mpg's), you need to understand that milage drops off considerably during cold months (especially dead of winter). The Prius will usually get 46-52 mpg's during warm months but drop to 36-44 during the frigid months....WHY?.....Cuz the engine has to run more to get you heat for the heater. Once the temp is up to normal the engine will begin to cut out more but still, due to cold, run more during those cold months.

    I'm more fortunate with my '04 Prius ....Not a single problem since day one and I'm crossing into 137K miles. The Prius Is The VW Bug Of It's Generation or maybe the Bat Mobile perhaps.
  • This is true, but you assume I USE the heater. :P Except for defrosting the front and rear windows, my heater stays off unless I have someone else in the car, which is quite infrequent. And I have been driving Priuses for 6 years now, and this is the first year I've had issues with my gas mileage being in the 30s after driving 50 miles.

    If my father had sold me the 2005 instead of selling it off to someone else, I would have probably been lucky like you. I drove that little car for years and neither of us ever had any issues.

    I'm inclined to believe that my 2006 = :lemon:
  • socalredsocalred Posts: 6
    Yeah, I have to chime in on that key issue also. I don't have a "smart key." 2007 basic Prius. Leave the key on the dash every night in the garage. Never drains the battery. Have had no problems.
  • caravellecaravelle Posts: 3
    Small battery lasted us 5 years. Prices varied by 300% from dealer to dealer. Found only Toyota dealers had this specific battery (low fumes). Installation also varied by over $100. Ordered the battery online from local dealer for pickup at the dealer. Hurt hand so had the dealer install it for $39. Total cost, installed, was less than $150.
  • anhdaoanhdao Posts: 4
    Hi there! I have a 2007 Prius that I drive very little. My commute is very short and I mostly only drive it to and from work. Do I need to change the oil every few months if I don't hit the next recommended mileage for the oil change in a reasonable amount of time?
  • 63pro63pro Posts: 15
    I have a 2010 Prius. My manual recommended an oil change every 5K. Toyota, however, sent my dealer a recommendation that indicated changing oil every 10K would be acceptable. They also indicated I could use synthetic oil which I do. My Prius runs fine and I feel the synthetic actually increased my mileage 1to2mpg. I live in Ohio where over the course of the year the temps can swing from the 90's in summer to the 10's in winter, but not a lot of dust or extreme temps for extended periods of time. I have always felt oil changes are the cheapest form of insurance I can have for my cars. I don't claim to be a specialist working with oil, but I would change my oil on my small '92 pickup on a 3K basis if I drove it on a regular basis, but I don't put more than about 700 miles on it a year. So I live buy my 3K rule. I would suggest you talk with a dealer about frequency and synthetic oil for your car.
  • anhdaoanhdao Posts: 4
    Thanks for the info! I will give our local Toyota dealer a buzz.
  • canyonboycanyonboy Posts: 4
    edited November 2012
    I bought a 2010 Prius on Friday (not sure which # it is, it's Barcelona Red with beige leather interior and JBL sound, but no Nav, fog lights, or any other bells and whistles). It just came off a lease and has 32,600 miles on it.

    Toyota service records show it has had all it's maintenance done exactly on schedule,which brings up my question. It just had new filter and 0w-20 oil put in at 29,815 miles. But the dealer I bought the car at (Rusnak in Pasadena,CA), told me they serviced it before they put it out on their lot which unfortunately included putting *non-synthetic* oil in it.

    So it has fresh oil but I'd like to get the car back onto the regular Toyota maintenance schedule with synthetic. Since the filter must be either the one put in at 29,815 or an even newer one put in by Rusnak , should I just take it somewhere and tell them to drain the oil and put 0W-20 in?

    Thanks in advance for any advice,
  • 63pro63pro Posts: 15
    Good morning. I, too, have a 2010 and had changed over to synthetic about a year ago. I don't think I am kidding myself, but I do feel I may have increased my mileage from one to two mpg. At this point your issue just may be one of $. Do you want to spend about $50 to get the change or can you be OK with running your car for another 5K and then change over. I am not a mechanic, but we drive a lot and one of the reasons I switched to synthetic was to be able to go 10K without a change. I think it is a decent savings for me, plus the small addition to mpg. Sounds like you will go synthetic either now or at your next change, but I think you'd be fine letting it go the 5K and then change. That's probably the route I'd take. Great car, have fun with it.
  • Hi Jim,
    Thanks for the reply. I'm not worried about the money right now, I'm worried about keeping my car up to spec. Toyota says use 0W-20, that's what I want in it.

    I guess my main question was do I need to get a new filter too, since it will have some non-synthetic oil in it when I swap to Mobil 1, or save the expense of a filter since it's brand new and I've only driven about 100 miles with the non synthetic oil in it.

  • biomanbioman Posts: 172
    Since the car was recently serviced with non-synthetic oil & filter, why not wait 5K and do the switch to synthetic then. It really can't hurt the car. More important, was the engine air filter replaced??
  • whitey9whitey9 Posts: 138
    0w-20? My '07 uses 5w-30. Re: air filter; air filters are now less important than they were on previous models in the earlier years. The MAF sensor will take care of just about anything this side of a SEVERELY clogged air filter. That shouldn't happen during normal maintenance intervals.
    Do yourself a favor and leave the oil in 'til the next scheduled oil change. And wait until the regular interval...that is do NOT change the oil at 2,000, or even 3,000mi. Wait until 5,00mi. or whatever the regular interval is on a '10 model. Our landfills are filling up!
  • Reading the 2010 manual it states that 0w-20 oil is to be used. It says 5W-20 can be used but you must immediately switch to 0W-20 at next oil change.

    I don't even know what oil is in there right now! Gonna go talk to the mechanic there and find out tomorrow, then probably just get rid of it and put in the right oil. Even if I wait 5000 miles to do an oil change , I'm still not gonna be on the recommended Toyota schedule, rather just get 0W-20 in there now and run it for 7000 miles, then change again and be on schedule.

    I guess my main question is if I can get them to drain the oil at the dealer I bought it from (I'm more than happy to provide the 0W-20 for them to refill it) do I need a new oil filter too? Will whatever is left behind of the unknown oil that's in it do anything to the 0W-20 that goes in?

    Be a lot easier to just take care of it all myself but I live on a mountain street with no level ground to work on, and my garage is now a recording studio ;-)
  • whitey9whitey9 Posts: 138
    Do whatever the manual sez. If it calls for 0w-20, then do it. ( Mine is an older model w/smaller engine. ) I would replace the eng oil fltr, cause if yours is like is sooo very small the oil it contains is negligible but a new oil filter at each oil change is a must. Is 7K mi. the recommended drain interval? I would do as they recommend. Forget the "severe conditions" schedule. That is a waste of money, time, oil, and landfill space. All this, of course, if you do NOT do a whole bunch of stop and go driving. By that I mean short trips when the engine never gets up to operating temp. ( That is hardest on an engine. ) Long idling periods too. Luck.
  • 7k is not the recommended interval, but it will get me to 40,000 miles which would be the correct interval for the 10k oil changes. After that I'll be on the regular maintenance schedule.

    I'll be driving all day all over Los Angeles, meaning lots of short trips and stop and go on the freeways both rush hours, but L.A. is swarming with Priuses, lots of taxis are Prius too, so let's hope the car holds up. I have 225,000 miles on my 2002 KIA Sorento in the same driving conditions, and I'll alternate cars daily til the KIA finally gives up. If it ever does, the thing is built like a tank.
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