Hybrid reliability and reapirs?
November 24, 2007 9:28 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking to purchase a hybrid car (Toyota or Honda) in the $10,000 range (~2002, 2003), I'm wondering about reliability and repair bills. Are they in-line with other non-hybrid cars of this range?
posted by mac-way to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The replacement cost of batteries is a contentious issue inside the hybrid community — and outside.

The manufacturer rates them for 100,000 miles, but some drivers report getting more mileage from them. If you do end up having to replace the battery you will likely spend from $3000 to $5000. Consider the mileage of the hybrid car you are looking to buy, and whether you can amortize the battery cost accordingly.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:38 AM on November 24, 2007

We own a 2002 Toyota Prius that we purchased a couple of years ago with 89,000 miles. It now has well over 100,000 miles on it. We've had no problems with the batteries, fill it up half as often as our Civic with similar driving patterns and have found maintenance costs to be roughly equal.
posted by LinnTate at 10:13 AM on November 24, 2007

We bought a used 2001 Prius a few years ago. The only serious problem we had was due to an undisclosed accident the previous owner had been in (warped frame). Otherwise, it's been less repair-prone than either the Nissan Sentra or (aged) Acura I had before this one. We've got about 80-90,000 miles on it now, and it has been highly reliable.

My sense is that it's as reliable as any other Toyota for the standard Toyota parts. In addition to the hybrid drive and the batteries, there are a few other oddities, like the transmission, that are fairly new technology. I think only time will tell on how well they stand up in the long run.

That said, we love our Prius, and I recommend them to pretty much everyone.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:25 AM on November 24, 2007

I have a 2001 Prius that I bought used. It has 72,000 miles on it and I haven't had to get any major repairs done. I've found it really reliable, like most Toyotas, and I love it.
posted by MsMolly at 10:56 AM on November 24, 2007

For a 2002 0r 2003 battery life is not really an issue. Toyota estimates about 15 years of battery life. Toyota also expects the prices of the batteries to drop significantly over the coming years. However, to the extent the engine etc. does need service you will probably have to take it to the dealer as many mechanics won't touch them, that may be changing. I think you can expect typical Toyota reliability (although some Toyota models in the last few years, like the Tundra, have had less than typical Toyota reliability).
posted by caddis at 11:59 AM on November 24, 2007

My 2000 Honda Insight has had what I consider average repair bills. I have 90K+ miles on it. My average mileage, driving like a maniac, is 55 MPG. When I want to show off, as the other day when driving home from the gym, I can do a lot better (131 MPG over 5 miles). I have often driven to work (~15 miles) at 80-90 MPG, both ways. (I live in Vermont. We have hills.) I used to drive it from central Vermont to western NC and got 700 miles per tank full of fuel... refueling only once on the 1000 mile drive down and arriving in NC with 1/2 tank. Got about 600 miles on the way back.

How and where you drive has a lot to do with the performance. The Insight (aptly named) only uses the battery/electric motor combo for acceleration and power boost, unlike the Prius, which can actually putter around on battery power briefly.) It is designed to move your butt around town in an 1800 pound plastic/aluminum/3-cylinder pod and do it reasonably efficiently. To get killer mileage, you have to drive slowly and the optimum technique is irritating to following vehicles. That's why I drive like a normal person and accept the 55 MPG I get.

More info than you wanted, I bet! I should also mention that I just got a new battery... in warranty. Cost WOULD have been $3500 if I had had to pay for it.

Lastly, I would not buy it again. For a long time, it was my only car, leaving me with a problem if I wanted to go somewhere with more than 2 people. I would opt for a Prius, and since I am an electrical engineer, would stick aftermarket supplemental batteries in it just for fun and drive it on electricity as much as I could!

I do generally feel that these things are probably not effective in life-cycle terms when evaluated economically. A less efficient car, driven with a full load can get equivalent passenger miles per gallon. They are a good platform for demonstrating that economy does not have to be uncomfortable. They are the industry's entrance into a new world of forced fuel economy.

I wouldn't worry too much about reliability, though. Honda OR Toyota labels mean they are well engineered, as opposed to the crap Detroit peddles. I've never so much as had a flat tire on any of the many Toyotas/Honda's I've owned.
posted by FauxScot at 3:51 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

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