The second generation Prius was instrumental in kick-starting the whole “going green” movement. Delivering a revolutionary new design, outstanding fuel economy and a pleasant driving experience, the 2004 Toyota Prius wowed audiences worldwide. And with production spanning five years, the second generation Prius is one of the most widely available hybrids on the used car market (not to mention one of the best as well). In this guide, we’ll list some of the things you should look for when shopping for a used 2004-2009 Toyota Prius.
Though the differences between model years were subtle, it’s important to figure out which one you want to buy. The 2004-2005 models will obviously be cheaper, but the 2006-2009 models come with more standard features.
If you come across a used Prius that you suspect has a bad CVT (Constantly Variable Transmission), don’t even consider making an offer on it as a replacement transmission will cost you nearly $10,000. You shouldn’t feel the transmission shift as you would in a car equipped with a conventional automatic transmission, so if you feel any jerkiness on your test drive, simply walk away.
There have been no major problems with batteries over the years, further adding to this car’s reputation for reliability. However, if you’re concerned about the battery’s life then you’ll be happy to know that all Prius models come with an 8-year/100,000-mile battery warranty. This means that if your battery does fail within that timeframe, Toyota will replace it for free. If you need extra peace of mind though, shop for a later model (2007-2009) to get the most out of your warranty.
If you’re looking at a 2004-2006 model and the Check Engine light is on, it may be due to a sticking coolant control valve. Another problem common on the 2004-2006 model is a leaking inverter or faulty inverter coolant pump. Because of the Prius’s complex cooling systems, these problems aren’t easily fixed. Thus, it might be better just to move on to the next best prospect if you encounter a Prius with either issue.
Check the brake lights if you’re looking at a 2005-2006 model, as there was a problem with the brake light switch that caused the lights to stay on even after drivers stopped applying the brakes. If the brake lights remain illuminated after your foot is off the pedal, the switch is bad. This may require you to replace the entire pedal assembly, which can be a costly.
With these tips in mind, you should be able to get your hands on the best used Prius out there.