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A Prius Story

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Toyota Prius

A Prius Story

Jan Eyerman
April 24, 2007

I bought a 2003 Prius new in March of 2003 (before the big run up in the price of oil) and I got $2000 off the list price. At that time they were actually sitting on dealers' lots with no buyers! The advanced technology interested me and as I was a Systems Engineer for Toshiba at that time, it made for a good talking piece with our customers. The good points.... it was definitely a very nice small car. Reasonably comfortable and able to take long trips comfortably. Gas mileage was GREAT. In summer, I got 50-52 MPG and in winter 46-48 (due to the cold weather). Following the suggestion of the Prius group on Yahoo, I ran 46/44 psi in the tires and used synthetic oil. On one long run in Canada, at 50-55 MPH (actually 80 KPH-the dash board is changeable from US to Metric) I averaged 59.6 MPG (couldn't quite make it to 60). Part of the trick was to let the car coast down whenever possible. An oddity were the brakes. They could be terrifying if you did not understand how to use them. Braking was initially electronic, about 1/3 of the way down was electronic only, then the regular disk brakes took over. However, for some reason if you hit a bump while braking, the electric brakes would stop working entirely and you had only the disks. Technically this was OK, but if you were braking lightly, suddenly your brakes would just stop working-you would have to push down quite a bit harder to get brake action. This scared me the first time it happened and really scared my wife. Other then this, my wife and I liked the car, BUT...... we sold it in November of 2006 and bought a Chevrolet Aveo (I had sold my Toyota Camry and bought a Chevy Malibu the year before). Why?

Absolutely TERRIBLE Toyota dealers. $400 30,000 mile servicing and they always had some suggested additional cost (engine flushes, transmission flushing, etc.). What did it was at a 75,000 mile service they told me my engine oil was dirty.... interesting as I had had the oil changed by that dealer at every oil change at 7500 mile intervals and used synthetic oil... but they wanted to hit with a $75 oil flush. The car was also a borderline "lemon law" car... it sat at the dealer for over a month waiting for a part. I didn't mind that so much, but I had purchased a 100,000 "everything" warranty and they did not/could not provide a loner! I rented a car for a month and was eventually able to get the dealer or Toyota to pay for it. But that was additional aggrevation I did not need. In addition, there were only a handful of Prius certified mechanics, so any service or repair had to scheduled around them. A real pain! In short, a good car but with really poor dealers.

Jan Eyerman (Flanders, NJ)



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