Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver and Vancouver's best auto service experience. 21 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So we're going to talk about Toyota Prius. What kind of services do Toyota Prius need?
Bernie: Yeah, well, there's a variety of services they do need. I mean, let's talk just generally about the reliability of the vehicle overall first. My first. thought when the Prius came out, a couple of decades ago now is, "Oh my God, this is way too complicated".
You know, you're not only have an internal combustion engine to deal with, but all the electric drive, train batteries, inverters, all the bits and pieces that make it work but, you know, two decades later, it's turned out to be one of the most reliable vehicles on the road.
You look at taxi cab fleets, 20 years ago, they were all largely American cars and now they're all mostly Toyota Prius's or you know, Camrys, that kind of thing. So they're, it's proven to be very reliable and a huge cost reduction vehicle you know, when operated, especially for a long range type of heavy use vehicle.
Mark: So no car is perfect. What goes wrong with them?
Bernie: So, yeah. So, I mean, Toyota's are legendary for reliability, but there are things that do go wrong with these vehicles. I mean, overall, you know, the internal combustion engines are pretty reliable. I mean, some of them do develop some oil consumption issues over time.
And I'm, I'm just kind of painting the Prius with a broad brush, because there's four generations of Prius. So there's a, you know, we go back the first generation goes up to about 03 and from 03 to 09 there's a second generation, which is where the Prius really sold a lot of cars. Generation three, 09 up to about 2015 and then 2015 and newer is the latest generation. Most of the vehicles we see are in generation two and three. So that's where we have most of our experience with these cars. Anyways yeah, so what goes wrong? I mean, the you know, water pumps fail, that seems to be a pretty common issue in a lot of Toyota engines and there are electric water pumps on certain models, different generations, there's failures with those, the water control valves. I mean, there are a few failures with the drive motors, the electric drive, motors, inverters, batteries do eventually wear out, but they've all proven to be pretty reliable. And then we don't repair a lot of those more major components, which is a good thing because they are very expensive to repair and do after time sort of require a, you know, some thinking to whether it's worth the cost, but for the most part they are. I mean, if you've taken good care of it, it's a good reliable car.
Mark: So what about routine maintenance items?
Bernie: So, yeah, so of course, it's an internal combustion engine vehicle and it needs oil changes on a routine basis. Again, don't stretch your oil change intervals out, because these are very high tech engines. They need their oil changed. They need clean oil in there. There's a transmission, the transmission does need a fluid change every once in a while, there's coolant, of course, brake fluid. Things like power steering fluid are eliminated because it's an electric power steering system. So there's one less fluid, but routine inspections are important on any vehicle. As time goes by, of course, suspension components wear, the brakes need to be looked at again, they do last a long time, but things do need to be looked at just to be inspected. Actually one repair item that I will mention that is frequent is the 12 volt batteries do go bad quite a lot and they cause all sorts of interesting issues in terms of starting the vehicle. So that's, that's another area that again, testing that battery on a routine basis is an important thing to keep your car reliable.
Mark: So, a Prius has two different battery systems.
Bernie: It does, it has a high voltage battery system, and then it has the traditional 12 volt, battery system. And that 12 volt battery system keeps all the lights, the radio, and it actually allows the vehicle to start as well. So, you know, the starting functions can't happen without a proper 12 volt, 12 volt battery. That allows the contactors to close and allows the battery and energy to flow into the motor. So, so it's a very critical part of the vehicle. And you know, you may not notice it's bad like you would in a traditional car, because on a traditional vehicle when your battery is bad, the starter might be, it won't start, but on a Prius, if the battery is weak, it'll still keep starting. But then on a number of quirky issues may show up. So testing it is a good thing to do on a routine basis.
Mark: We also mentioned brakes there, hybrids use or some of them definitely use regenerative braking, so that recharges the battery. How does, how do the brakes last on a Prius?
Bernie: Well, for the brake, as you mentioned, it has regenerative braking. That's one of the best things about a hybrid is the energy of braking, which is wasted on every vehicle other than a hybrid or an electric car, is the energy is recaptured. The drive motors turn into generators and they send the energy back into the battery, which is why a hybrid really gets way better mileage than a conventional, non hybrid type of vehicle. Interestingly enough, if you're just driving straight down the highway and you don't use the brakes at all, the hybrid really doesn't have a lot of advantage. But you know, when you're going down a hill or normal sort of city type of driving, which is what most people do there, that's where the advantage comes in. Anyways the regenerative braking system is really very reliable because it uses the drive motors and the batteries. One of the advantages of a hybrid is the normal service brakes, the brakes at the wheel are used very little. In a panic stop, of course, they're, they're used primarily, but in any other sort of regular breaking stop, they barely get used. So they can last a long time.
Taxis, you know, the traditional taxi cab, non hybrid, they may have changed their brake pads every month or two, whereas on a hybrid, a lot of times they'll last a year. So that's a huge savings for a taxi, not only in dollars, but in terms of downtime and, you know, because the car can keep going. It doesn't need the service. But anyway, for your average driver, the brakes should be serviced every once in a while. Probably around our climate in Vancouver, every couple of years. A good idea to do a break service, take the breaks apart, clean, lubricate everything, remove corrosion from the brake pad, sliders. In more hostile climates, like you know, Eastern Canada and the US where road salt is poured on the road six months of the year. You know, things like brake rotors will probably wear out, just from rusting out, cause it's a solid, it's a bare metal surface. But also the, you know, again, the pad sliders are subject to more corrosion. So an annual break service and that kind of climate is probably more valuable.
Also, of course, brake fluid, needs to be flushed. Brake systems in these are actually very, like, the hydraulic system is very complicated compared to a regular car because as you push the brake pedal, you're actually actuating, it's not just, pushing on the brakes as it would normally do in most vehicles you know, pushing fluid out to the wheels. It's actually actuating electronic valves to first of all, do the regenerative braking. Then if it needs fluid sent to the wheels, then it'll, it'll actuate it, you know, basically the ABS unit. So there's a lot more complexity. So flushing the brake fluid, you know, again, like in most climates, every two years is really critical to keep things functioning and flowing and keep your repair costs down.
Mark: So pretty much a basic set of a normal internal combustion engine car maintenance items.
Bernie: Exactly. I mean, things are a little different. I mean, transmission fluid, you know, the automatic, it has a transmission, but it's much, it's different than a traditional automatic transmission. It has some gears, but very little, mostly motors. So it doesn't, and it's cooled it sort of internally with a, with a cooling, you know, with its own separate liquid cooling system. So you know, fluid does need to be changed, but, you know, for maybe different reasons than you would in an automatic, traditional automatic transmission. But nonetheless, you know, it's got most of the things that need to be done on a routine basis, but overall, less, less expensive maintenance than you need to do on a, on a traditional internal combustion car.
Mark: Any further thoughts on the Toyota Prius?
Bernie:You know, overall it's a great car. I mean, my impression just driving in them is that they are kind of a cheap feeling car and they're kind of noisy inside. And I think, you know, where the Prius is, kind of Toyota's entry level model, and they do a fantastic job. I think they, you know, they've poured all their money into the drive train and made it reliable. And that's really the most important part of any vehicle is to keep that reliable. You know, if you're looking for a little more upscale drive, you know, there's a Camry, a Lexus has hybrids. They'll use the basic same, that same type of system and same level of reliability. So if you're looking for something a little more upscale, and you can always go with those and you'll, you'll have the same level of reliability and they need the same kind of services.
Mark: So there you go. If you need service for your Prius in Vancouver, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment, got a call and book ahead because they're busy. Check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds, over 600 articles on there on all makes and models and types of repairs. Over 350 videos on our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. And of course, thanks so much for listening and watching the podcast. We really appreciate it. Thanks, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching and listening.
Services For Toyota Prius