By John J. O’Dell
I bought my Prius in 2005. Since then, I’ve racked up 107,000 miles and the car is still going strong. Am I happy with it? Yes, and although I’ve had a couple of small problems with it, the small problems were expensive.
The first major problem was that my driver’s side headlight went out. No problem, right? No, it’s a major problem. Although one brochure put out by Toyota stated that the headlights should last 15 years, it went out after 3 years. My model Prius has the optional xenon high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights. Replacing the one headlight cost, are you ready for this, the Toyota dealer charged $443.75. Yes, the light bulb is over $300 and the rest is labor.
The second problem was the small battery in the Prius gave out and had to be replaced. That’s not the $3,000 plus big battery, but the small auxiliary 12 volt battery. How could I tell it was going, well, the car just started running funny, since the battery was only putting out about 6-8 volts and things just started getting weird. A couple of times I had to get the car jumped to start and the electronics were acting up.
Of course, the 12 volt battery is hidden under the trunk in back of the car. This means that it’s a special battery with special venting built into the battery. This is because there is no air coming into the battery space unlike most cars were the battery is under the hood. That replacement by my Toyota dealer cost $374.91.
Toyota is getting a bad rap on their recall situation. I can certainly understand the frustration on that point. About six months ago I received a notice from Toyota that my floor mat might create a problem with a stuck accelerator pedal. The notice said that I should remove the mat and Toyota would notify me when they have a replacement mat. Yep, here we go with the accelerator pedal sticking. I called a Toyota dealer yesterday and asked if they had a replacement mat that would not create an acceleration problem. The service manager told me that Toyota was working on it, and they still don’t have a solution. Six months later, no floor mat, no solution, way to go Toyota!
The good part is that I have not had to replace the brakes yet. I don’t know how long the brakes are going to hold up, but I just had the tires rotated and the tire dealer said my brakes were fine. That’s because when you slow down to brake, the wheels are powering a generator to recharge the main battery on the car, which in turn does most of the braking for the car.
Another positive about owning my Prius is the gas mileage. My other vehicle is a 2002 four wheel drive Chevy truck. It gets an average of around 10-12 miles to the gallon compared to my 42-44 miles to the gallon when I’m driving in Nevada County. I get better mileage in the flat lands, but let’s stick with 42 miles per gallon.
So let’s do the math. At 107,000 miles divided by 12 miles per gallon, that’s 8,917 gallons of gas burned if I had used my truck.. At 107,000 miles divided by 42 miles per gallon that’s 2,547 gallons of gas using my Prius. The difference is 6,370 gallons of gas. If you use $3 as the price of a gallon of gas, that’s a savings of $19,110. If you use an average gas price of $3.50 in the last 5 years that’s $22,225 saved in the last 5 years, either way, it’s a great savings.
So in general, I’m happy with my Prius and I’m keeping it for another 50,000 miles or more. Maybe by that time I’ll get a new floor mat. What do you think?
By the way, the Auburn Toyota dealer might have got to me on my bulb replacement. Read the following article if you have a Prius and need a new headlight bulb All About Prius
John J. O’Dell
Real Estate Broker
Here to help you in buying or selling real estate. E-mail me at email@example.com