Author Topic: Should I buy a discount Prius with cosmetic damage but low miles?  (Read 868 times)

Midwestern Mustachio

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 13
Hey All,

Not so hypothetical question -- would you consider buying a Prius that was a pretty beat up (cosmetically) if it has low miles and was considerably cheaper?

I'm looking at a Prius that is $4500 and has more than a few dents and dings, but no major accident history. It has 83k miles.

More "pristine" Priuses in our part of the US typically go for $7000-8000, with 100-110k miles.

I'm trying to decide whether my reservations are due to "tiny details exaggeration syndrome", or whether dents and dings are a good indicator of a careless owner who may also have neglected an undisclosed issue that would cost more than $3k to fix.

I admit that this suspicion is a bit hypocritical on my part -- as I don't borrow for vehicles and therefore don't pay for collision insurance, I've never bothered to repair similar dents and dings in my past vehicles.

What would you do? Jump on the discount Prius as a great opportunity, or turn tail and run toward something more "pristine"?

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 16845
  • Age: 63
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Should I buy a discount Prius with cosmetic damage but low miles?
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2020, 09:55:19 AM »
Would a good detailing and/or judicious dent pull or two make it more appealing to you?

I'd be slightly concerned that it shows an overall pattern of neglect.

Odd coincidence: Yesterday, a friend said their Prius has blown a head gasket at 183k miles. We asked why he thought it happened. He says he didn't do the "required major service" at 100k. Not sure if that's really a thing, but worth looking into, as this potential vehicle will hit that marker soon.

Abe

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2266
Re: Should I buy a discount Prius with cosmetic damage but low miles?
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2020, 01:47:24 PM »
Is it my wife's? (Dark gray 2012 Prius)? If so that's all cosmetic from people who suck at parallel parking in SoCal.

I'd look at the steering alignment and undercarriage - if that seems fine and it's truly just body panels, I'd go for it. That car can easily last 3x farther distance. It's fairly hard to ignore maintenance on a Prius since the car computer loses its mind if you don't take it in for scheduled service. The newer ones' computers log when maintenance is done, so you may be able to get that information from the dealer.

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 16845
  • Age: 63
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Should I buy a discount Prius with cosmetic damage but low miles?
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2020, 02:41:16 PM »
Is it my wife's? (Dark gray 2012 Prius)? If so that's all cosmetic from people who suck at parallel parking in SoCal.

I'd look at the steering alignment and undercarriage - if that seems fine and it's truly just body panels, I'd go for it. That car can easily last 3x farther distance. It's fairly hard to ignore maintenance on a Prius since the car computer loses its mind if you don't take it in for scheduled service. The newer ones' computers log when maintenance is done, so you may be able to get that information from the dealer.
Hi Abe, always nice to see you posting here! Glad to see support from a genuine Prius owner.

I had to laugh at your comment. I once bought a used car from someone in SF. I noticed small, round punch holes on the front and back bumpers. I'd never seen such a thing before. Turns out, it's from the screws that hold on the license plates, because parking in SF is that tight. I bought it anyway, despite the fact that the owner had died (not in the car, obviously) and it was a good car for me, then my sister, then my sister's friend, then my sister's friend's kids, etc.

Abe

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2266
Re: Should I buy a discount Prius with cosmetic damage but low miles?
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2020, 11:07:54 PM »
Ha, thatís true. Cramped quarters in SF!

rothwem

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 807
  • Location: WNC
Re: Should I buy a discount Prius with cosmetic damage but low miles?
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2020, 05:46:20 AM »
I don't think I'd do it.  The Prius tends to attract the kind of owner that never changes the oil and drives around on flat tires, I think that the fact they didn't bother to fix the dents tells me they don't give a fuck about their car.  I'd probably look elsewhere. 

socaso

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 698
Re: Should I buy a discount Prius with cosmetic damage but low miles?
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2020, 09:37:18 AM »
You can check the maintenance history with the VIN number. I would also advise that you have it checked out by someone who specializes in Prius. At the very least if you could call someone and ask if they are aware of any issues with Prius of the make and model you are looking to buy. Years ago we bought a "bargain" first gen Prius and ended up with some major repairs and battery replacements. Because it was a first gen it required some specialized parts that were more expensive than later models. I checked the maintenance history before we purchased the car but if I had done some basic googling about the first gen I would have known about the other issues because they are pretty well documented. Within 2 years we spent more on repairs than we had on the car and within 3 years it completely died. Later model Prius are more reliable than the first gen was.

RainyDay

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 143
  • Location: Virginia
Re: Should I buy a discount Prius with cosmetic damage but low miles?
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2020, 09:50:53 AM »
I don't think I'd do it.  The Prius tends to attract the kind of owner that never changes the oil and drives around on flat tires, I think that the fact they didn't bother to fix the dents tells me they don't give a fuck about their car.  I'd probably look elsewhere.

That's an oddly sweeping statement. I have a 2010 Prius and take IMMACULATE care of it.  Bought it used, and the previous owners took fabulous care of it as well.  Personally, I think the Prius attracts the "kind of owner" that likes a reliable hybrid.

Regarding the OP's question, mine had a few "bumper rubs" but I didn't care... it had spent its life parked in downtown DC so I'd be amazed if it didn't have some scuffs.

Car Jack

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1925
Re: Should I buy a discount Prius with cosmetic damage but low miles?
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2020, 01:44:13 PM »
Have it checked out by a competent mechanic.  If it checks out, buy it.  If it interests you, watch some paintless dent removal youtube videos, buy a few tools and work on the dents.

I disagree that the car says that it hasn't been mechanically taken care of.  I've got a Fusion that my son sideswiped a landscape truck.  Since it was 10 years old with dents along the entire side, it got totaled.  I bought it back and threw on a junkyard mirror to replace the broken one.  I take care of my cars.  Brakes are always up to date.  Spark plugs, brake fluid, coolant all changed before the factory says to do it.  The outside door handle just gave up this week.  My younger son has been driving it and asked what a door costs.  I'm a junkyard enthusiast, so without looking, I know they're fifty bucks and know where the line of Fusions are in the junkyard.  We'll go sometime and pull a door to get that handle working again.  The door won't match.  It'll be silver....just not the right silver.  Been watching and hoping a brilliant silver one would come into the yard.

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 16845
  • Age: 63
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Should I buy a discount Prius with cosmetic damage but low miles?
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2020, 03:44:11 PM »
Have it checked out by a competent mechanic.  If it checks out, buy it.  If it interests you, watch some paintless dent removal youtube videos, buy a few tools and work on the dents.

I disagree that the car says that it hasn't been mechanically taken care of.  I've got a Fusion that my son sideswiped a landscape truck.  Since it was 10 years old with dents along the entire side, it got totaled.  I bought it back and threw on a junkyard mirror to replace the broken one.  I take care of my cars.  Brakes are always up to date.  Spark plugs, brake fluid, coolant all changed before the factory says to do it.  The outside door handle just gave up this week.  My younger son has been driving it and asked what a door costs.  I'm a junkyard enthusiast, so without looking, I know they're fifty bucks and know where the line of Fusions are in the junkyard.  We'll go sometime and pull a door to get that handle working again.  The door won't match.  It'll be silver....just not the right silver.  Been watching and hoping a brilliant silver one would come into the yard.
I salute your ingenuity and wish to assure you that you are most likely the exception (to which others should aspire, to be sure), but not the rule.