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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Well I have tried to talk the wife into getting a Gen 1 insight but she is not buying it! She wants a hatchback that gets good gas mileage and doesn't want to pay a fortune. She really likes the Volts but they are a little bit more money than we want to spend. I have noticed a few Volts around the 10K mark with about 90,000 on the clock. Would these vehicles be a good buy? I am not sure about the reliability of the Volt since they are fairly new. For this reason we have been looking at the Gen2 and Gen 3 Prius. The nice Gen 3 Prius is around 13K with about 40,000 miles on them. Again, we should probably just go ahead and get the Volt. I do think that some of the Gen 2 Prius with 140,000 and priced at 5 to 6k look rather attractive.

I am basically looking for some opinions so I have more knowledge to make the correct decision. Her commute is around 50 to 60 miles daily. She is really wanting to wait until a electric vehicle comes out that has over a 200 mile range and she can buy used when the prices drop. Unfortunately, she has a Jetta TDI that Volkswagon is buying back around Nov 1st. It was part of the emissions issue buy back program. What is everybody's thoughts on this? Thanks in advance for you suggestions.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Is that round-trip or one-way? A used 1st-gen Volt would probably run ~30-35 miles on electric alone. If it's round-trip and she had a spot to plug in, she might never need to use gas at all, at least on her commute.
It is round trip. Unfortunately she doesn't have a plug in at work. KY is not very EV friendly yet so there isn't any plugs where we live right now. Hopefully that changes in the next few years. We would only be able to charge at home.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
I would trust Toyota reliability to buy one of these PLUG-In HYBRID Prius even sight unseen as long as there isn't an accident history: Toyota Prius for Sale in Frederick, MD 21701: cars under 13000 - Autotrader

I like the Prius but the plug in only has like an 11 mile range I believe. I think they might have the upgraded lithium batteries though? We are kinda trying to stay south of 10k but if we need to spring the extra cash to get a better vehicle we can. Our main goal is to have this car for 2 or 3 years until a fully electric car that gets over 200 miles hits the used market for a good price. Do you all think I should just plan on keeping this car longer than 3 years? Meaning, it might take longer than that for a 200 mile range EV to hit the used car market. If we plan on keeping it longer than 3 years we wouldn't mind spending the extra cash and get a nicer car.
 

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Here's what happened with my wife.

She totaled the 2nd Gen.

We got the Lexus CT200h as its replacement.

It gets decent MPG (high 30's, low 40's -- hilly, mountainous terrain) and she looks good driving it. Hell, I look good driving it.

The funniest thing you'll find is people telling you, "I didn't know Lexus made a car that small." It's happened to both of us. They don't know what to think when you tell them it's a glorified Prius with great suspension.

Bought it used. Built really well. Aside from my NAV screen that rotates, it likes to make a noise sometime but apparently I'm the only person in the world with this issue and not all have NAV, so.

Mind you, I'm in the market for a 1st Gen Insight as I can't get my wife out of the CT but hey I've always wanted one.
 

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Not a bad idea. Get a '10 or '11 year to get around piston ring issues. Not sure about the very latest years.
 

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Well we ended up going with this 2006 Prius off of Craigslist. Hopefully it turns out to be a decent car. Every 2010 we looked were not taken care of.

2006 TOYOTA PRIUS-50 MPG-ULTRA DEPENDABLE!! NAVI & LEATHER !!
Good choice. Good price. Very happy with my 07 (190K) and 08 (130K) Gen2s.

If you're DIY at all, you have some exceptional diagnostic tools available. There are bootleg Techstream copies in the wild supplied with MiniVCI cables ($20-30). You provide your own laptop (32 bit preferred, or WinXP VM under Windows 7 - complicated, but can be done on Windows 64-bit), and you have the same diagnostic capabilities as the dealer.

For $13 for an OBDII Bluetooth reader and $5 for torque pro on Android (there are comparable options for iPhone), you can measure and log tons of battery and Hybrid-specific data.

Without any diagnostic tools at all (other than the ability to measure time elapsed), I have a test that allows you to assess the health of the battery. Ambient temps need to be above 75°F as it relies on the A/C pulling full load.

I recommend you grab one of Jeff's Prolong Reconditioning kits. Regular use of one of those on a Prius prior to failure can make the battery outlast the car.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Good choice. Good price. Very happy with my 07 (190K) and 08 (130K) Gen2s.

If you're DIY at all, you have some exceptional diagnostic tools available. There are bootleg Techstream copies in the wild supplied with MiniVCI cables ($20-30). You provide your own laptop (32 bit preferred, or WinXP VM under Windows 7 - complicated, but can be done on Windows 64-bit), and you have the same diagnostic capabilities as the dealer.

For $13 for an OBDII Bluetooth reader and $5 for torque pro on Android (there are comparable options for iPhone), you can measure and log tons of battery and Hybrid-specific data.

Without any diagnostic tools at all (other than the ability to measure time elapsed), I have a test that allows you to assess the health of the battery. Ambient temps need to be above 75°F as it relies on the A/C pulling full load.

I recommend you grab one of Jeff's Prolong Reconditioning kits. Regular use of one of those on a Prius prior to failure can make the battery outlast the car.
Thanks for the info S. Keith! I already have one of Jeff's Reconditioning Kits for my Insight. I wonder if I could just buy a harness for the battery and discharge (dual light bulb) kit, and use the charger I already have?
 

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Discharger will work great. Charger won't. Voltage of Gen2 Prius charger needs to be about 250V vs. 178-180 of the 120 cell IMA packs.

Here's the Discharge test:

Allow up to 20 minutes. It will likely take far less time, but it's better to not be rushed.

  1. Best parked on level ground or nose slightly down hill.
  2. Best done first thing in the morning with the car completely cold and ambient temperature above 75°F - higher temp is better.
  3. Disconnect 12V battery for 60 seconds. This can be done by removing the black storage tray above the spare, the outboard passenger side cover and the maroon plastic terminal cover. There are two white connectors plugged into an assembly on top of the positive battery terminal. Remove the large one for 60 seconds and re-insert. This will also reset your trip meters and mpg on the Multi-function display. Once the connector is plugged back in, you can replace the cover and tray.
  4. Get car in ready mode.
  5. Allow Internal combustion engine (ICE) to start. While it's running, set A/C to the lowest temperature possible, fresh air and highest fan speed. Then shut down all accessories (including A/C) and roll down all 4 windows.
  6. Once the ICE has stopped, set the parking brake as hard as you can and leave it there.
  7. Display the battery meter screen on the MFD.
  8. Press the main brake very firmly with your left foot. You must not allow the car to move.
  9. Place the car in "D".
  10. Slowly feed the throttle to the floor - this force charges the battery to maximum.
  11. The goal is to get to 8 green bars and to have the charge arrows flip/flop directions to indicate the battery is full. This is a little subjective, but you will feel the car dial itself back as the charge increases. Sometimes, it will only do 7 bars, sometimes it will do all 8. In any case, it shouldn't take more than about 5 minutes.
  12. Release throttle and power off.
  13. Wait 15 seconds, and power on to ready mode.
  14. Allow ICE to run and shut off again. There are times when the car will continue to run the ICE with the battery to bleed off excessive charge. If it doesn't shut off the ICE in 60 seconds, power off and repeat until the ICE shuts off. This doesn't happen very often, but it can be annoying.
  15. Do the following items as fast as you can:
    1. A/C on (should be to lowest temp, fresh air and max blower per step 3).
    2. Rear defroster on (NOT the front window).
    3. Lights on (low or high doesn't matter).
    4. Place in reverse (parking brake is still mashed to the floor from step 5) and release the main brake. The car SHOULD NOT move. If it does, hit it in park and skip this step.
    5. Start stopwatch or note the time to the nearest second.
  16. The car will now run the accessories above pulling a fairly significant current from the HV Battery (about 15A). A new battery will last over 10 minutes this way. One with 200K miles will likely fair far worse.
  17. Once the ICE lights off again, stop the stopwatch or note the time to the nearest second.
Once you have the total Minutes and seconds of the test, you can compute the battery state of health (SoC) as follows:


(# of seconds divided by 60 + # of minutes ) * 9.50%


for example, if you run 5 minutes and 26 seconds, it would be as follows:


(26/60 + 5) * 9.50% = (.433 + 5) * 9.50% = 5.433 * 9.50% = 51.6% SoH
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Discharger will work great. Charger won't. Voltage of Gen2 Prius charger needs to be about 250V vs. 178-180 of the 120 cell IMA packs.

Here's the Discharge test:

Allow up to 20 minutes. It will likely take far less time, but it's better to not be rushed.

  1. Best parked on level ground or nose slightly down hill.
  2. Best done first thing in the morning with the car completely cold and ambient temperature above 75°F - higher temp is better.
  3. Disconnect 12V battery for 60 seconds. This can be done by removing the black storage tray above the spare, the outboard passenger side cover and the maroon plastic terminal cover. There are two white connectors plugged into an assembly on top of the positive battery terminal. Remove the large one for 60 seconds and re-insert. This will also reset your trip meters and mpg on the Multi-function display. Once the connector is plugged back in, you can replace the cover and tray.
  4. Get car in ready mode.
  5. Allow Internal combustion engine (ICE) to start. While it's running, set A/C to the lowest temperature possible, fresh air and highest fan speed. Then shut down all accessories (including A/C) and roll down all 4 windows.
  6. Once the ICE has stopped, set the parking brake as hard as you can and leave it there.
  7. Display the battery meter screen on the MFD.
  8. Press the main brake very firmly with your left foot. You must not allow the car to move.
  9. Place the car in "D".
  10. Slowly feed the throttle to the floor - this force charges the battery to maximum.
  11. The goal is to get to 8 green bars and to have the charge arrows flip/flop directions to indicate the battery is full. This is a little subjective, but you will feel the car dial itself back as the charge increases. Sometimes, it will only do 7 bars, sometimes it will do all 8. In any case, it shouldn't take more than about 5 minutes.
  12. Release throttle and power off.
  13. Wait 15 seconds, and power on to ready mode.
  14. Allow ICE to run and shut off again. There are times when the car will continue to run the ICE with the battery to bleed off excessive charge. If it doesn't shut off the ICE in 60 seconds, power off and repeat until the ICE shuts off. This doesn't happen very often, but it can be annoying.
  15. Do the following items as fast as you can:
    1. A/C on (should be to lowest temp, fresh air and max blower per step 3).
    2. Rear defroster on (NOT the front window).
    3. Lights on (low or high doesn't matter).
    4. Place in reverse (parking brake is still mashed to the floor from step 5) and release the main brake. The car SHOULD NOT move. If it does, hit it in park and skip this step.
    5. Start stopwatch or note the time to the nearest second.
  16. The car will now run the accessories above pulling a fairly significant current from the HV Battery (about 15A). A new battery will last over 10 minutes this way. One with 200K miles will likely fair far worse.
  17. Once the ICE lights off again, stop the stopwatch or note the time to the nearest second.
Once you have the total Minutes and seconds of the test, you can compute the battery state of health (SoC) as follows:


(# of seconds divided by 60 + # of minutes ) * 9.50%


for example, if you run 5 minutes and 26 seconds, it would be as follows:


(26/60 + 5) * 9.50% = (.433 + 5) * 9.50% = 5.433 * 9.50% = 51.6% SoH
Sweet! Thanks for this info! I am definitely going to do this. Should I do it before I order a charger kit or after the reconditioning process or both? I would like to know what kind of shape the battery is in.
 
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