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Replacing A 2001 Toyota Prius Battery Pack: What It Cost

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2001 Toyota Prius

2001 Toyota Prius

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It's one of the most frequent questions asked about hybrids: What happens if I have to replace the high-voltage battery pack?

While Toyota warrants its Prius batteries for 8 years/100,000 miles (or 10 years/150,000 miles in some states), cars more than a decade old won't be covered--and may still have plenty of life left in them.

So what does it really cost to replace a hybrid battery pack?

Our reader Al Hodges, of El Cajon, California, was kind enough to tell us how it happened for him.

His experience is just one data point, but it may reassure those who fear that they'll have to pay $7,500 or even $10,000 to replace their hybrid battery.

"I purchased my Prius in September 2000, took delivery in January 2001, and have had great service, low mileage, and no major service," Hodges told us.

MORE: Ultimate Guide: Toyota Prius Battery Life, Cost & Warranty

"However, a few weeks ago, my dash lit up like a Christmas tree."

"I dug out the owner's manual," he related, "and all the idiot lights were giving me the same message: 'See your Toyota Dealer.'"

The verdict from his dealer: "You need a new high-voltage battery."

While hybrid battery packs are designed to last the life of the vehicle, a few may well need to be replaced before then. Hodges got twelve and a half years out of his, close to the average 15-year life of a car.

Before you ask, by the way: Toyota service departments have had a program in place for years to recycle nickel-metal-hydride battery packs at the end of their life.

Including new cables, labor, and taxes, the service manager told Hodges, the cost would be more than $4,400.

Hodges walked out in shock, and started researching alternatives.

"Mr. Q in San Diego had a program to replace first-generation Prius batteries for $2,500, using rebuilt packs, as a Do-It-Yourself package," he found.

But, Hodges said, "at 83 years old, I am not a D-I-Y guy any more."

His next step was simple: "I went back to Toyota, and begged the service manager on bended knee to sharpen his pencil."

Lo and behold, Hodges received a new quote. It still included everything required for the full replacement, but this time, the total was $2,931.

2001 Toyota Prius interior

2001 Toyota Prius interior

Enlarge Photo

Hodges suspects Toyota has about a 200-percent markup on its parts, so he was pleased to see an extra $1,400 remaining in his bank account compared to the first estimate.

What's the lesson? (And it's not confined to hybrid battery packs, either.) ASK!

"The worst they can do is say, 'no,'" Hodges said. "Dealers don't want to lose service work"--which is now one of their main sources of profit, along with selling used cars. (New cars are, on average, less profitable for dealers.)

Hodges also suggests that the price for battery replacements will come down over time, so that they may be cheaper in the future than they are today.

"Back in 2000, I asked the Toyota dealer about the price to replace the high-voltage battery," Hodges said. "The price in 2000 was $8,000."

The list price of the pack for a 2001-2003 Prius today is $2,299.

[UPDATE: Toyota's Wade Hoyt offered some further details, noting that the list price of the replacement pack is $3,649, but the cost to the owner is reduced by a $1,350 "core credit" for turning in the old pack. And, Hoyt added, service department labor time to replace a pack is listed at 1.6 to 1.7 hours.]

"The price came down."

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Comments (63)
  1. Really a heart warming story. It is great to see the dealer make some accommodation.
     
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  2. Shouldn't he have been given the best price in the first place? Heartwarming no, more like chilling because now we know that they do not give one price for everyone...and it should be like that, not impressed with this story at all.
     
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  3. Comment disabled by moderators.

     
  4. If they are paying twice - why is there no service margins to be made? I'd think Volt owners will have the least amount of "paying twice" of any car. EVs and EREVs will eventually come down in price where people who buy them are buying transportation and not "transportation plus a long list of maintenance sessions."

    From this story, it shows that replacing a battery in a car that is simply a set of cells is about $700 in labor and a whole lot of parts markup. The "stealerships" show their mettle here in the $4400 initial quote. I look forward to more EVs and more self-service cars in the future. Forget the hundreds of government-mandated ecology sensors and converters in today's ICEs.
     
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  5. "Never mind the inefficiencies of nickel-metal-hydride batteries, the problem with hybrids is the maintenance costs of both the gas engine and the electric powertrain."

    I see your reasoning, but it doesn't match my experience as a Prius owner.

    But that hasn't been true with the 2nd-gen Prius in my driveway. Toyota built the thing to be reliable, and it's had the lowest TCO of just about any car that I or anyone in my family has owned. It's certainly comparable (TCO-wise) with the Honda Accords and other conventional Japanese cars we've owned.

    The fact of the matter is that the Prius, especially the second generation one, is just a very reliable and efficient car.

    Whether this holds for the Volt, though, remains to be seen!
     
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  6. Wize, as a Y2K Honda Insight owner his reasoning doesn't match my experience either. Message boards are constantly full of doom and gloom speculations about our cars from people that don't own one. Sure I have had some issues with my car. Recalls, battery replacements, etc. Honda has been great to me and my maintenance and repair costs haven't been outrageous at all. My dad, friends and other goofballs all preached to me about "paying twice for repairs" and other gems. Most of them have had 2 or 3 different cars in the 12 years that I've owned mine. Talk about replacement costs!

    The doom and gloom hybrid battery replacement cost apocalypse that so many preached just hasn't happened.

    Best car I've ever owned!
     
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  7. Perhaps you should have purchased a 2005 Honda Civic HX. My TCO is much lower. My absolute worst Mileage was 36.5 MPG with my normal mileage at 40.5 to 41 MPG with a mix of city and Freeway speeds at 73-74 MPH. If I slow to 69 I get from 42.5 to 44 MPG. The big difference is the purchase price on my vehicle was 16,000.00 NEW and my only maintenance to date other than Oil/Tires/Brakes/and a dash of brake fluid was a timing belt at 105,000 for preventative maintenance. I'm at 171,000. Another larger car option would be the new 2013 TDI Diesel VW engine on the Passat rated at 30 City / 40 Highway with realistic mileage on the road of 45-48mpg (27,000Base). The chemicals and materials in your "green" battery are not very eco friendly.
     
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  8. I had my 2002 Prius Hybrid-battery replaced a year ago for $1,700 in two hours by a local person who sells Re-built Toyota Prius HV Batteries on eBay. The car has worked great ever since the replacement.
     
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  9. Hope your "local person" had insurance. Replacing a hybrid battery is dangerous business and can result in death if not done properly.
     
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  10. John, I hate when you guys don't include basic information in your articles. For this one, what was the mileage of Mr. Hodges 2001 Prius when he had the hybrid battery replaced? Isn't that fact one of the more important that should be in this article. I hear of n see many Prii that are still going strong on original battery at 200 n 300K miles. What was and is now Mr. Hodges odometer reading?
     
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  11. @Erik: Good point, we missed that one. We checked back with Mr. Hodges. In eleven and a half years, he put 22,000 miles on his 2001 Toyota Prius.
     
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  12. 22K miles in 11+ years? That is possibly what caused some of the problem. Lack of use of NiMH can lead to a lot of shelf-discharge full-cycles. If the traction batteries were Li-Ion for that age, they'd possibly hold up better. That is unless the guy drives 5 miles a day, every day.
     
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  13. This is a classic example of people not doing the math when the decide to buy a hybrid. The cost of the battery replacement just added 13.3 cents per mile to his operating cost. Assuming he gets an average of 40 mpg, he just added $5.32 per gallon to his cost. So he was paying probably between $6 to $10 per gallon over the lifetime of his vehicle. Even if he had gotten 100k miles, that adds 3 cents per mile, or $1.20 per gallon for the pleasure of driving a hybrid. In this instance, 49k miles would have been his break-even compared to a non-hybrid that would get an average of 25 mpg. The moral of the story is, if you are a low mileage driver, don't buy a hybrid.
     
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  14. Quite so @ high-mileage Prii.
    We have dozens rolling the streets of San Francisco - its not uncommon to see 200k+ miles on the odometer.
     
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  15. the calander life is the primary factor in battery life after materials, design, and construction methods. This is why hybrids makes sense only for high useage stop and go vehicles like taxis and delivery trucks
     
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  16. The thing with the first-generation Prius battery pack is that its seals around the cells aren't as good as the second-generation and later battery packs, so the first-gen battery packs have cells that develop leaks more often. Second-generation and later battery packs have better longevity.

    Also, the HV battery is basically a component of the Prius transmission (the Prius Power Split Device transaxle won't work without an HV battery). A regular car's transmission might die and need replacement after 100,000 miles. Same cost as replacing a Prius HV battery. So contrary to all the ignorant anti-hybrid FUD out there, a high-mileage regular car isn't any cheaper to fix than a high-mileage Prius.
     
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  17. there are secondary sources for the Prius battery, you can get them from unk yards from wrecked cars and you can get them from rebuilders.
     
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  18. and you are getting a used part that may be worse than the one you had.
     
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  19. That's a half-empty type of thinking. What makes a salvage part that is embedded in the center of a car that has had an accident worse than the prior one? It's a battery, not a box of chinaware.
     
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  20. and another reason to buy a clean diesel car.
     
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  21. With questions over the long-term reliability of turbochargers, dual-mass flywheels, particulate filters, injectors, and other components, it's not unlikely that in 200K-300K miles a diesel owner would spend more on maintenance than a hybrid owner - even when including battery replacement costs.
     
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  22. Clean diesel converted to run a CNG/Diesel combo is amazing, I get 85 mpg on my TDI on average, it cuts fuel costs in half, is better for the engine, increases horsepower, and torque, and the fuel costs half as much.
     
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  23. Are those diesel's priced higher? We know that the diesel fuel is about 14% higher. But if your getting that gooda' mpg then I suspect your TDI is the economic winner.
     
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  24. The problem with the whole concept of cheapening the cost of the battery pack is: 1) The NiMH technology has been mature for a LONG time (go into Lowe's and try to find a drill without a NiMH battery/ the computer industry has all but abandoned the technology) 2) NiMH batteries have memory built into the technology (this is also why computers/phones/tablets have abandoned the technology), so even if you don't HAVE to replace the battery, it won't hold its charge as well as it did when it was new. 3) The technology is outdated, so when the industry standard moves toward lithium ion batteries, so goes the technology to fabricate the battery. Everyone stuck with early model Priuses will likely be stuck in the driveway.
     
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  25. I gave you a +1 even though I didn't like what you said. The memory problem is with the older NiCd not NiMH. It is true that costs go down as quantity goes up, and also the reverse. A couple of years ago I wanted to buy a VCR, and Wal-Mart was selling them at $30. I went back the next week to buy one, and the price had gone up to $45, I was upset and decided to wait for the price to come back down. Now they are $90.
     
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  26. The "memory" phenomenon occurs only if the battery goes through a full-charge-to-full-discharge cycle.

    That NEVER happens with a Prius traction battery under normal conditions. The hybrid system tries to keep the battery charged between 60-80% at all times, where average service life can be 10+ years.

    One of the reasons for a dying Prius hybrid battery would be due to operator error-- Running out of gas and forcing the battery to fully discharge to propel the car after the gas ran out.

    The effects of repeated cycles of deep-discharging an electric vehicle battery pack over years have yet to be fully determined. We will find out in a few years how the battery packs in Teslas, Volts, Nissan Leafs, etc. hold up in the next few years.
     
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  27. "One of the reasons for a dying Prius hybrid battery would be due to operator error-- Running out of gas and forcing the battery to fully discharge to propel the car after the gas ran out."

    Forest...you just described my sister...and alot of other people. Engineers have to design around operator error. Maybe they should design the car to not let the operator fully discharge the battery.
     
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  28. Thankfully this has not happened among Prius owners very much, so Toyota never saw the need to program the hybrid system computer to disallow the electric system from moving the car after the gas runs out.

    Point is, NiMH batteries work just fine for non-plug-in hybrids because unlike laptops, cell phones, PHEVs and full-electric cars, they don't deep-cycle the batteries.

    That's not to say Toyota isn't putting more advanced batteries in non-plug-in hybrids-- An Li-ion pack is standard in the Prius-Plus (Euro version of the Prius v).

    As far as the 1st-gen Prii owners go, there will be plenty of supply for reconditioned gen-1 battery packs for the next 5 years. By then the first 2000 Prius would already be 17 years old.
     
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  29. That's just not going to work in the long run. No matter how smart we make the cars - some stripper & her meth-head boyfriend are still going to make stupid humans.
     
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  30. Has anyone made a plug-in hybrid kit with extra batteries for the Generation 1 Prius cars? I know there are kits for the Generation 2 Prius cars.
     
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  31. So-o, if thieves will steal a far less expensive airbag, what will they do about a very expensive battery?
     
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  32. You will need to open the trunk and take off the back seats to get at the Prius battery pack. Not a quick job. Thieves like to rip off things they can get at quickly.

    It's time-intensive to get at the HV batt, which most crooks don't want to do-- The longer it takes to steal it, the higher the chances of them getting caught.
     
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  33. These electric cars are a bunch of crap.Where does the electricity come from to charge them? From a wall socket. Where does the wall socket get the electricity from? The power company. Where does the power company get the electricity from? It makes it with coal power generators. Nice black coal. Soooo... you're causing more coal to be burned to make more electricity to charge your little electric car. Stupid! My car only makes carbon dioxide, a naturally occurring gas that feeds green plant life, which in turn flourishes. As it flourishes, it produces more oxygen. So,who's more "green"? As a matter of fact, I am trading in my V-6 car for a V-8 truck so I can contribute more!
     
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  34. @Mark: If you'd studied the field, you'd know that several studies (e.g. 2007 EPRI-NRDC paper & this year's UCS analysis) project that the wells-to-wheels carbon footprint of an electric car charged on even the dirtiest grids in the nation (WV & ND, I believe) is lower than that of a 25-mpg car. Once you get to 50 mpg (e.g. Toyota Prius), the gasoline car is slightly better on the very dirtiest grids. However, the grid in California--which will buy more plug-in vehicles than the next 5 states combined--is quite clean. To do better on gasoline there, you have to be in a 100-mpg car. A bit of unsolicited advice: It's best to know the scientific data on this stuff before making claims ....
     
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  35. In state California grid may be "cleaner" but California buys most of their energy from other states that use plenty of coal plants. The new report shows that each year California's existing out-of-state coal plants release a staggering 67 million tons of global-warming carbon dioxide, as much as 11 million cars. They also discharge ten times more smog-forming pollution and 200 times more mercury than all of the power plants in California. http://www.westernresourceadvocates.org/energy/califcoal.php

    http://sierraclub.org/coal/ca/
     
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  36. There's a lot more to consider than the simple carbon footprint of Ev's or Hybrids. While Obama and Chu have been quite literally 'tilting at windmills' China has sewn up the world's supply of strategic metals. Will the Lefties' chants of 'No American lives for "oil"!' be replaced by "Lithium!"? I doubt it since there might not be enough batteries available for them to drive to the demonstration. I wonder how big a footprint our military will leave when we invade Daggadaggastan to secure those metals? The other concern is for our aged and barely sufficient power grid which staggers under it's current load. Add a few million EV's and watch it collapse. Theres more to consider than feeling good about driving an EV to *bucks for a Latte.
     
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  37. @Derek: You mistake oil, which is consumed once and then gone, and lithium, which can be recycled once the batteries pass their useful life. Remember that lead-acid starter batteries are now the world's most recycled consumer good. There's plenty of lithium in the world, on five continents, in fact. No need to worry about cartels.

    As for the power grid, a seminal 2007 EPRI-NRDC report laid to rest fears of plug-in car charging--the bulk of which will take place at night, when demand is lowest--will overwhelm the grid. The impact of plug-in cars will be FAR less than the quick and widespread adoption of electric air conditioning in the 1960s and 1970s.
     
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  38. Except California is buying more and more of its power from OUTSIDE the state, and most of this power is now coming from as far away as Idaho, or Texas, and plenty of states that burn tons of coal. That's what happens when you don't build a single nuclear plant, coal plant, oil fired plant, and fight tooth and nail even clean natural gas plants.
     
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  39. @Mark Smith: Not sure why you mentioned electric cars.. The 1st-generation Prius this article writes about isn't an electric car-- All of its motive power is derived entirely from gasoline.

    The electric part of the Gen-1 Prius drivetrain is merely a part of the transmission-- It uses a generator (MG1) and electric motor (MG2) to replace a normal transmission's multiple gear ratios and torque converter.

    Also, these days no new coal-fired electric power plants are being built in the U.S.-- Power generation companies are switching en-masse to natural gas due to the boom in shale natural gas production in the U.S., which has driven NG prices down to just $3 per 1000 ft^3. And Natural gas burns far cleaner than coal or gasoline.
     
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  40. It seems that thedealer was originally going to cheat the customer out of the core charge.

    Quo warranto, B.O.?
     
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  41. That is my take on the situation as well. Consumers need to know that the core of any battery belongs to the consumer and has a refund or exchange value. This dealership was trying to make money on both ends while abusing the customer in the middle.
     
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  42. ...and thats why i hate dealerships
     
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  43. Mathematics raises it's ugly head.
    Assuming the gentleman's Prius averaged 40 mpg and over the life of the car and gasoline averaged $2.75 .If the battery failed at 22,000 miles and cost $2931 to replace then:
    22,000mi/40mpg x $2.75gal = $1512 fuel cost
    $1512 fuel cost + $2931 battery repl = $4443 cost to go 22,000mi.
    $4443/22,000mi = 21cents/mile
    Spoiler Alert! If you love electric cars please do not read further!!
    Avg cost of gasoline $2.75gal/21 cents/mi = 13 miles per gallon.
    i.e. the gentleman would have come out better buying a '66 Ford with a 390 cubic inch engine with a Holly 4 barrel carburetor... it would have been cheaper than the Prius!
     
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  44. I made it 161,000+ miles on less than $4,075.00 with my 2005 Honda Civic HX. I paid 16,000.00 NEW from the lot for my vehicle. So even if I added the price of Gas, Oil, Tires, Brakes and a preventative maintenance item of a timing belt (550.00), I still am cheaper that even the base sticker on ANY PRIUS. I would even have money left over to pay for about 1/2 CASH for my next highly efficient vehicle, a 2013 TDI VW Passat that will get better than 45MPG Highway. So the net result? I could have two vehicles that for less money with cost of ownership that your green hybrid. i don't want to bash hybrid's but the there ARE ALTERNATIVES that are just as efficient with a much lower TCO. I have a 92 Jimmy with 256,000 Orig Engine/Tranny too!
     
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  45. Bravo Orlin!!!... My point exactly... VW TDIs get 45-52 mpg, plus they put out 2000 lb/lbs of torque. Prices new the same as a Prius.
     
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  46. I bought a 2013 TDI for way less than a hybrid, and I'm averaging 47 mpg for my first month. No battery to replace, just a diesel that goes and goes. I owned one in the 80's and put 275k miles on it with no problems.
     
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  47. The stealership didn't make any accomodations. They were going to charge full price and then get the money from the core on top of all their other markup. A battery core is always the customer's to keep and trade against the price of a new battery whether they are hybrid batteries or traditional batteries.
     
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  48. Not to nit pic, but you said he had 12 1/2 years out of the battery. he took delivery in January 2001, which would mean 11 1/2 years. closer to the 2/3 life expectancy than the 15 year mark. But, I can see replacing it with only 22K on the vehicle. Unfortunately, that low mileage is a double edged sword in turn leading to the premature death of the battery from lack of use.
     
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  49. I owned a new 2007 Prius. I had zero problems with it. I just didnt ever like the color. So I traded it for a 2011 model. I love it even more. If my battery lasts 12 years thats awesome. I never keep a car that long anyway.
     
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  50. Let me guess, you first one wasn't green enough.....
     
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  51. You would think there would be a refund on the original battery; they contain several pounds of rare earth metal that's worth a lot...
     
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  52. @Dawn: There is! That's the $1,350 "core credit" that can be subtracted from the price.
     
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  53. I am searching for used car and gas mileage is the key for me. I appreciate all of the articles on this site. I think I'm focusing on a prius under $5k. I have seen some with anywhere from 175-230K miles. How can I determine if they battery may have already been replaced?
     
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  54. Does anyone know if it is possible to convert a toyota prius hybrid 2000 model back to a normal car? This is because my hybrid battery has packed up and we've been told it will cost a lot of money to replace it.
     
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  55. Toyota comped my $3-4K battery repair in Jan, 2012. I pd $100...the deductible had my warranty still been good. Car had 114K miles on it.
     
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  56. You "green meanies" are nuts! Got my 2000 VW Jetta TDI... 45- 52 mpg... Power to boot...And no battery pack to ever worry about... Wake me up when you can produce 2000 ft/lbs of torque and provide a lifetime guarantee for the battery pack.
     
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  57. i see all these long lasting prius stories, but mine is dead at 137K! ive had all the lights come on 1 by 1 ("engine", "triangle/!", "brake" and now "main battery") i never got it fixed cuz the dealer was very vague about the problem (without actually diagosing it cuz it was $500+ just to get to the issues) but i was told it could be the transaxle or main battery or both - costing anywhere from 3K-8K cuz if one goes the other usually follows. so why is my prius dying when so many dont? possible extra info: i know i hit the underside on a rock once or twice on an unpaved road. i usually do drive until almost no gas. i guess i wouldnt sink anymore money into this car (and i got my moneys worth) but i hoped it would last longer. any comments??
     
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  58. I own a 2001 Prius which I bought on eBay in 2003. It was low mileage and had been a program car at a dealership. I got a great buy. A local Toyota dealership has performed all service and repairs except tires. In Dec, 2011, at 114K miles, my hybrid battery failed. Replacement battery, cables, etc would be approx $3-4K, they said. Then the guy calls "Toyota Central" saying it was the loyal buyers/drivers of the 2001-03's that cemented the Prius reputation. My final cost for the full replacement of battery, cables, etc. was $100 (yes, one hundred dollars). Toyota comped the rest. I was a 60 yr old disabled woman, not cute or kin to anyone. I didn't cry or threaten...Toyota just fixed it. Car's still doing great at 125K miles.
     
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  59. wow! i actually called toyota HQ myself...and they didnt care. my car needs other work though: a paint job (cuz they used crappy paint and its all scuffed and scratched from practically nothing), there water collecting inside the trunk wheel well, the windshield (again), the stereo... so its time for a new car anyway...
     
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  60. I'm glad they helped you out Amy. I had the opposite experience with Toyota. I asked them politely for help with the cost of battery replacement and for help when the multi-display failed. Both times I was told to take a hike. They did not care. The multi-display failure was a know problem with the 2004 Prius but they never issued a recall and never informed customers. I found out about it after finding a TSB for it, but I was already out of warranty when the failure occurred and without a formal recall, Toyota said they would not cover any replacement cost. :-(
     
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  61. I know many folks have had no problems with their Prius, but I've had just the opposite experience. Here's the significant trouble I've had with my 2004 Prius with 101,936 miles and religiously serviced at the dealership:

    - Failed cruise control unit. (warranty)
    - 3 software failures which left me stranded needing a tow. (warranty)
    - Water pump for battery cooling failed. (recall)
    - Water pump for ICE failed (~$400)
    - Regular Battery failed (~$300)
    - Hybrid Battery failed just after 9 years (~$3,300 after the core trade-in)
    - Multi-Display failed. Stopped communicating with the car. (~$2,000)

    I will never consider another hybrid or electric car until the cost of replacement batteries is under control. I don't see it changing anytime soon.
     
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  62. Sadly enough my 2002 Prius had 134,000 miles and the big battery needed to be replaced. The Toyota dealership wanted $3,100 total for battery and labor. I happily bought a Lexus but can say my Totota Prius served me well.
     
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  63. Isn't it true (im not a republican or anything... not trying to down play alternative energies however... ) that making these batteries, the mining for the metals and minerals, the energy used to make them,... ends up being more harmful to the environment than small purely combustible engines ever could? Batteries have lots of harmful stuff to the environment once they've been tossed... the the by products from reworking older batteries... those old materials are useless and if thrown out... somehow ends up in a landfill... super bad for water tables.
     
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