Can Toyota check Prius transaxle and battery for potential issues?

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Old 15 Jun 2014, 02:28 am   #1 (permalink)
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Default Can Toyota check Prius transaxle and battery for potential issues?

I wanna buy my first car, an 06 or 07 Prius. Can toyota check my potential vehicle for a bad transaxle, or a dying battery? Would a mechanic be OK with me asking him to drive it (he may have more experience with how these Prius' SHOULD be running than I do). Thanks!!
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Old 15 Jun 2014, 02:40 am   #2 (permalink)
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The transaxle is very reliable in the second and third generations but is vulnerable to the large motor-generator (MG2) burning up in the first generation (2001-2003). I have a 2002 with a burned up MG2 stator I am trying to get money and ambition to come together on... about $1200 for the part and a day of labor. Fortunately, there are two important ways of checking the health of the transaxle. First, a sniff of a sample of the transmission fluid will tell you whether there is already trouble. If a sample (by loosening the plug and getting a few drops on a paper towel) smells like smoke, there are other Prius out there. If it passes that, there are temperature sensors embedded in the MGs that can be read with the Toyota handheld tester. Normal temperatures are a superb indication of a good transaxle. Probably only the dealer will have a THHT, but you want it used for one other measurement: the minimum and maximum battery module voltages. I forget what the allowable difference in voltages is but it is the best indication of battery degradation. The tech will know. Some whine is normal on low speed acceleration and braking but loud whine on braking is a bad sign for the MG2 as well, but the temperatures are already way up by that point.

Hybrid battery and transaxle trouble are so rare in the 2006 and later Prius (some battery trouble in the 2005... don't know exactly why) that these are just precautions, but very sensible precautions. Half an hour at the dealer will get you a lot of peace of mind.

Be aware that the 12 volt battery is the weakest part in the Prius. A load test, as long as you have it at the dealer, will tell you if the aux battery is going to need a replacement (around $200). Since the aux battery does not spin the engine it is very common to find out the battery is dying by coming out to drive it one morning and the dome light glows dimly. An '06 or '07 is likely to be on the short list for a new aux battery if it was not replaced yet. Finally, have the tech do a visual inspection of the inverter pump (about $500 parts and labor to replace). They were a bit of a problem in the second generation.
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