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John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
3/21/19 12:18 p.m.

Knowing of TCS had a lot to do with me bidding on this 3rd Prius. 

The auction inspection is Monday, the auction itself is Tues morning (done online .) On the same Tuesday I was at the yard about 3:45pm picking up (before they close at 4:30.)

On Weds afternoon I needed to go to Toledo for a customer delivery.  I wrote an email to TCS on Tues night, "need a silver bumper." First thing Weds morning they wrote back, "we have a few."  I asked, "pull the best one you have and I'll be there at 3:00.“

Sure enough, waiting in the lobby was my rear bumper assembly in silver complete with all the fiddly bits like screws and push connectors. 

It was a little rougher than I had hoped but they also proactively dropped $150 to $100

Back at home:

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
3/21/19 8:21 p.m.

When I pay for the car from IAA, I get a title that shows both the insurance company I bought the car from, Permanent General Ins, as well as the name of the previous owner.  

Some Googling of name and address takes me to a nice house, in a nice part of town.  

Also, some other sleuthing reveals the same name and address as owning a hair salon spa, also in the neighboring nice part of town.   Further sites show the address contains a 59 yr old female, a 54 yr old male and a 24 yr old male.  I suspect this car was in the hands of the kid.  

I had concerns when I saw I was buying the car from Permanent General.  This is an insurance company that goes by the trade name of The General.  They are notorious for their ads on daytime television on shows like Judge Judy, etc.  They market to minimum coverage and a demographic of high risk customers.  Their current ads feature Shaq

I feared I might be getting a car owned by the type of owner who neglects their car.  The house and address suggest different.  I suspect the kid however has a crappy driving record.   

 

Edit: I think I failed in my logic.  I was stymied on how the good family with the good house could have the crappy insurance.  I besmirched the kid as likely having a bad driving record.  Upon further thought, this Prius took a hit to the rear.  That means it is highly likely that the Prius was not at fault.  The party at fault is then the  one with the insurance from the "High Risk" company, The General.  It was then The General that payed off the claim.  It is then The General that ended up owning and auctioning off the Prius.  

Esoteric Nixon - Jordan
Esoteric Nixon - Jordan UltraDork
3/22/19 1:32 p.m.

Say John, do you come across any third-gen Priuseseseses at auction? I suddenly find myself needing something super fuel efficient come May.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
3/22/19 2:00 p.m.

The words of the morning have been Frustration and Ease.  

First the frustration.

When I inspected this Prius at the auction lot, I could not get the hatch open.  Now, this is a point of confusion on Prius anyway.  You see, the latch to the hatch is one of those pressure sensitive powered push button type switches protected by the overhang just above the lisence plate.  The key issue is that if your Prius battery is dead then you have no ability to activate the power switch to open the hatch.  And, oh yeah, the battery is in the trunk.  

There is a jumper point under the hood.  My usual method is to hook the jumper pack up to the jumper point and then you have enough power to work the switch.  At ther yard, this did not work.  I was so diligent that I then folded the seat and made the major wrangling manuver to get my jumper pack hooked to the actual battery in the actual cargo area.  Still, the hatch would not open.  And, still the car would not start.  

I then made the trek back out to the parking lot of the yard, to my car when in the car I had the back-up plan.  In case the jumper wasn't enough, in the car, in an Ikea bag, I had a real car battery and a set of real jumper cables.  I wrangled back through the cargo hold again and hooked up the real battery.  STILL, the hatch would not open.  

Pic from the yard of big battery. 

However, the real battery was enough to get the car started...or so I thought.  What I mean is that, yes, the car started but in retrospect the large battery may have been coincidence to the actual starting.  You see, my other Prius and this Prius have those proximity keys.  The type where if the key is present in the car, you just hit a button to start.  I kept hooking up jumper cables and trying the button to no avail.  But...if the small battery in the key fob is soooo dead then you actually have to insert the fob into a slot.  It wasn't until I had that large battery hooked up that I actually tried that fob-in-slot approach.  

Later, after having the car home, I did confirm that the fob battery was absolutely dead.  A fresh battery and the fob now works exactly as intended.  The pictures of this car on IAA we date stamped Dec 26.  I bought the car nearly 3 months later and the coldest, harshest 3 months later possible in this harsh winter.  It comes as no surprise that all batteries were dead or weak.  

But, still not hatch opening.  

With the car battery charged and car running and all working well, if I go back to the hatch latch I can hear electricity running the release motor but nothing is opening.  The manual and internet tells me that there is a hidden manual lever way up in there to pop the hatch.  This doesn't work either.  

I need to stress that there doesn't seem to be any rear body distortion or "out of square-ness" about the hatch that should be the reason for it not opening.  

 

So, back at home today, I have P1 parked next to P3.  I start breaking down P1 to better understand this hatch latch.  First, I access this special hidden manual release that is hidden.  Sure, enough, that works perfectly on P1.  I'm analyzing the hack out of P1 and removing trim that I can not remove on P3 due to the door being closed.  It seems that the hidden latch is dead on P3.  What I am trying to see is what other parts are supposed to move when that latch is tugged upon.  To exasperate the frustration, I am viewing parts from the top on P1 and accessing them from below on P3.  But, not just below, I have crawled into the cargo hold, with my ear resting on a spare tire.  My torso is contoured in un-natural ways.  Furthermore, what I see as "push down" on P1 is then "push up" on P3.  Yet further, I am trying to balance a flash light and a tool, in one hand.  The need to push is hard in this leverage position.  

I bet I climbed in and out of that trunk 5 times trying to go back to P1 one more time to see again how it works, etc.    The whole thing had similarities to building a ship in a bottle.  I could see to get my tool to the spot but then to push on the spot, I couldn't really see what was happening.  On one try, it magically happened and the latch freed.  I quickly jammed my screw driver in the way to act as a preventer from the hatch latching again.  

This pic "after" with them now both open.  

More "after" pics of the latch.  Most of this would have ben shielded by plastic trim when still closed.

 

Here are some zoom pics of what I found.  The bar is powered.  It si supposed to ride on the white nylon a and as the bar moves it forces the round white nylon coated roller to lift which trips the latch.  However, the bar was not riding on the white nylon covered roller any more.  The bar had jumped to in front of the roller.  In hind sight, the bar was moving (and I could hear that happening) but the movement of the bar was not making contact with the roller.  

 

Here is the "fixed" picture with the bar once again riding on the roller.  

 

Was this a product of the impact?  It's possible.  

 

Best part, it was a zero dollar fix!   The hatch and latch are 100% back in business.  

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
3/22/19 2:44 p.m.

I stated in the previous post of Frustration and Ease.

Certainly, the frustration was the latch and furthermore the frustration was that I would not be able to replace the bumper until the hatch was opened.  Two of the key attachment points are hidden under the closed lid.  

The ease portion was actually installing the bumper.  I did not do a great job a watching the clock for the bumper work but the time stamps on my pic tell this story.

This pic taken about the time the latch job is done: 12:56pm

This pic of the old bumper off taken at 1:13 pm

This pic of new bumper all on taken at 1:40 pm.  And, while installing the rear bumper I took a business call that required me to walk inside and look at the computer too.  

 

The white styrofoam on my existing bumper is good and the existing aluminum crash bar is not distorted so those parts remained.  All I had to replace was the bumper cover.   

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
3/22/19 3:10 p.m.

Financial recap:

  • $928 purchase
  • $18.50 temp tag
  • $67.64 tax and title #1
  • $53.50 state inspection
  • $107.25 bumper assembly
  • $1174.99 all in

 

Hours:

  • 2 pre-bid inspection with travel time
  • 2 pick up the car with truck/dolly and travel time
  • 1 titling with drive to offices
  • 2 latch and bumper install
  • 3 for state inspection travel and appt.  

Yet to come:

  • clean
  • mechanical review and any fixes needed
sleepyhead
sleepyhead Mod Squad
3/22/19 3:26 p.m.

nice job

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
3/22/19 4:20 p.m.
Esoteric Nixon - Jordan said:

Say John, do you come across any third-gen Priuseseseses at auction? I suddenly find myself needing something super fuel efficient come May.

 

 

Quick answer, No.  Nothing in 3rd Gen. 

Long answer...  Billy Bottle Caps from above had emailed me months ago asking a similar question of looking for a cheap Prius.  Here is an except of what I wrote back to him:

 

I got involved in this whole auction thing because I was trying to find a deal on a second Prius.  I have yet to put a bid in on any Prius.  There are a couple of reasons.  

1. Prius hold their value

2. The ones at auction are "farther gone" than my skills are capable of

 

To expand on that lets first start with the premise that a Matrix/Vibe is a similar car to a Prius.  However, when new and still when used the Prius is worth more.  A '07 Vibe might retail for $4k today.  A similar '07 Prius (or maybe even a Prius with more miles) will retail for $6k, maybe $7k.  

I seek out cars that had a pre-accident value of $5k or less.  Just sending these cars to a body shop for even just the slight crack in a bumper cover will generate a $3k repair bill.  Often then, the insurance company just pays the customer the $5k and sells the car for $1k.  This means the insurance company pays out a net of $4k

So, a Vibe with a $4k value has a little damage and the insurance company pays off the customer rather than fix.  

But, the same Prius has a value of $7k.  If it has the same little damage of $3k the insurance company actually fixes the car rather than "total" the car.  What this means is that for a Prius to get totaled it needs to have a lot more damage.  The Prius that are at the auction require more of a frame machine and a real paint booth.  

 

 

I can't seem to touch Jeep Wranglers either at auction.  Again, they have a high retail value, even when beat, so they tend to actually get fixed.  Or, they are so far mangled that they are farrr beyond my skill level and even then they still sell for crazy high money.  

 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
3/22/19 4:50 p.m.

To expand on this further, see this IAA screen shot for this Prius

The Insurance Company, Permanent General, gave this car a Actual Cash Value (pre-accident condition appraisal) of $2,840 and the adjustor and/or body shop estimated the repair cost to be $2,687.   That equals enough math to "total" and pay out the owner $2,840.  The insurance co got $600 of my purchase price so this settlement cost The General  $2,840-$600 = $2,240.  That is cheaper than fixing the car for $2,687 which was only an estimate.  There could be cost over-runs or return warranty work, etc that racks up the bill even higher.  

Personally, I think the ACV of $2,840 is pretty low.  I think the market tells me more like $4,000, maybe $5,000.  However this car has a dent in the front hood.  I'm gonna bet this damage was already there and is not part of this insurance claim.  I'm gonna bet that the original paperwork is more like

$5,000 market retail value

$2,000 deducted for front hood dent and grill scrape

$3,000 net value pre accident (they show $2,840...close enough)

 

Here's a pic of the hood dent on this one. 

The hood still latches correctly.  Furthermore, the hood on a Prius is aluminum.  So, even though the paint is broken on this dent, the hood is not going to rust and generally, this is not going to get worse.  

But, the going rate from TCS and others for a Prius hood already in silver is $100.  I had inquired at TCS but they had no silver in stock.  I realized that I do not need this hood fixed to pass state inspection.  The bumper was more required.  I'm not sure if the hood will get fixed by me or not.  

Billy_Bottle_Caps
Billy_Bottle_Caps GRM+ Memberand Dork
3/22/19 9:14 p.m.

Well done my good man! Glad you got the hatch thing figured out.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
3/26/19 10:54 a.m.

My 4 year old if off pre-school this week for break.  The babysitter's kids go to the same school so they are off and the family has gone away for the week.   My wife is a school teacher elsewhere and her break is next week.  That means I have the task of watching a 4 year old all week.  

Today's kid fun project was to clean a car some more and to completion.  I now have 3 hrs total into the cleaning of the car.  Most of that was focus on interior.  It is now proudly cleaned.  The fabric of the Prius cleans up really well.   

Photos:

 

Before pic, taken at auction lot

After pic

 

During pic

Before, at the yard

After 

 

Non smoker car. No rips or tears. Now free of coffee and soda spills.  Quite pleasant inside now. 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
3/26/19 11:14 a.m.

Updated Financial recap:

  • $928 purchase
  • $18.50 temp tag
  • $67.64 tax and title #1
  • $53.50 state inspection
  • $107.25 bumper assembly
  • $1174.99 all in

 

Hours:

  • 2 pre-bid inspection with travel time
  • 2 pick up the car with truck/dolly and travel time
  • 1 titling with drive to offices
  • 2 latch and bumper install
  • 3 for state inspection travel and appt.  
  • 3 clean
  • 13 total

Yet to come:

  • mechanical review and any fixes needed
sleepyhead
sleepyhead Mod Squad
3/26/19 11:28 a.m.

I need to remember to get one of those bissells one of these days

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
3/26/19 12:00 p.m.

In reply to sleepyhead :

The bissell is great for cars but even more importantly, I wouldn't have kids or pets without one. 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
4/5/19 3:15 p.m.

Its been more than a week since I last wrote.  I have been busy with life but things have been happening with P3 also.  

Foremost, today, P3 passed it State Salvage/Rebuild inspection.  It now has a rebuilt title that is good in all states and is ready for the road in all states.  Going to the inspection office requires a 1 hour drive each way.  This is the longest single drive that I have taken the car on.  It performed wonderfully.  

First we have this shot.  It shows the on-board mpg calculation of 50.6 mpg over the past 85 miles.  It should be noted that my regular average in these Prius is about 42.  Also should be noted that the outside temp is 52 degrees which is about perfect.  On sub-zero temp days my mpg drops to as low as 38.5 as the engine runs more often to keep the coolant warm enough so that the heat can be supplied to the cabin.  Conversely, on super hot days, the AC runs off the battery but the battery gets drained down quicker and needs more often recharge from the engine resulting in lower mpg of 41.  The cold outside temps seems to be more harmful on mpg than the heat.  So, today at 52 degrees outside with a light sun heating the car's interior there was little or no need for AC or heat, hence, optimal operating of 50.6 mpg.   Most all of those 85 miles were 2-lane roads with 60 mph speed limits and heavily patrolled so no speeding.  

This 50.6 points to good hybrid battery health but lets dig into that deeper.  I use the Torque Pro Ap for Prius as found on Prius Chat.  It costs $4.99 (once) for the app and the Prius software is free off Prius Chat.  

Here is a screen shot from today.  The ap is highly customizable.  I chose this setup when P1 was having some charging issues but the set up is good for P3 also.

At the top we have volts from the internal combustion engine(ICE) battery.  A normal 12v car battery.  The app will give many things and since I was having charging issues on P1, I set it up to tell me:

13.7v from obd adapter (Ad)

13.6v from Control Modual (CM)

13.8v from the actual battery

All those look great.  

Next, 60% SOC (State of charge) for the hybrid battery.  60% at that moment.  This steadily changes throughout the normal operation of the car.  

Speed and RPM

 

For the following, a Prius Hybrid battery has 14 different cells.  These are the readings of the individual cells in a screen shot.  These numbers constantly fluctuate but what seems to be important is that all the cells read within .5v of each other.  This is a good indication of battery health.  Most notably we do not see a weak cell in this readout.  

Here is another view (green list) we also have Ohms for each of the cells.  All cells are running at .019 ohms.  Also good battery health.

 

 

 

 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
4/5/19 3:32 p.m.

 

The very bottom numbers of the readout have to do with hybrid battery temps.  

Aside the back seat of the Prius there is an air intake vent.  After this vent there is a blower and then the air is routed to the battery pack to keep it cool.  It seems that there are 4 sensors.  What we read above is that the air comes in at 64* and then there are 3 sensors inside reading 67.3*, 69.9* and 65.5*.  All very good.  

However, earlier in the week I had driven the car and the delta in temps was much greater.  I even saw the middle temp reading near 100 degrees.  I had remembered I once read that the blower should be cleaned regularly.  it was something I had run across on Prius Chat when P1 was having a charging issue.  So, last week I spent an hour on the procedure. 

Pics:

Air intake location

Blower is white, duct work is black

Before

During

After

I would say a huge success given that temps are more correct.  

 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
4/5/19 3:38 p.m.

While doing the blower, the 12v car battery is right there in the trunk.  I can see that it is a Optima yellow so it has been replaced at some time.  I pulled it out to get the serial number off it then wrote to Optima.  They tell me that the battery was manufactured in Feb '16.  That makes this 3 yr warranty battery likely to have been in the car just about 3 years.  The data supports that the battery is operating wonderfully.  

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
4/8/19 3:20 p.m.

Here's some more update...

I had stated originally that I thought the car might need brakes.  This was do to some grindy, draggy noises from my first test rides.  I pulled all the tires and checked the front pads.  The pads are in very good shape.  As I have driven the car more, my concerns with the brakes have gone away.  I surmise that this car was off the road all winter, a very harsh winter.  I think my earlier concerns had more to do with rusty rotors and putting some miles back on the brakes and smoothing everything down again.  I tried to take pics of the pads.  The two pics that came out the best are the pic of the inner pad taken through the inspection hole. 

As shown in this stock photo of a Prius pad, there is a vent line down the center of the pad.  

 

As can be seen through the pics there is still a lot of thickness at that vent line:

It did not photograph well so not shown but both inner and outer pads look equally worn. 

I have no further concerns with the brakes.  They are very good.  

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
4/8/19 3:38 p.m.

Checking the tires...

The car came with a grade A Bridgestone, a grade B Michelin, a grade C Michelin, and a grade F Micelin.  My Prius #2 is still on its winter tires and the summer tires were pretty worn down.  My plan is to buy P2 4 new tires.  I then took the best remaining tire from P2 and added it to P3.  That is a Goodyear, grade C.

P3 now has:

  • Grade A Bridgestone
  • Grade B Michelin (maybe even a grade A)
  • Grade C Michelin
  • Grade C Goodyear

Indepth (but I did not have a depth gauge):

Here is Brigestone A, manufactured  6th week of 2018 but a 65k mile rated tire:

Here is Michelin B manufactured  12th week of 2016 but a 90k rated tire making it almost an A grade:

 

Michelin C manufactured 1st week of 2014

 

Goodyear C manufactured 8th week of 2015

 

I positioned the better treads on the drive axle.  The C grades are on the rear axle.  In a fwd car the rears don't see much wear.  

I'd be confident to drive cross country today with this setup.  Though different brands, the treads are they same style on all.

 

When I had my local shop mount/balance the Goodyear I also had them do a 4 wheel alignment.  The car went smooth down the road but the F grade tire was a FontRight tire (the curb knocking position on the car) and the steering wheel was a little cocked to the right.  With the align, the shop confirmed that all ball joints, tie rods and general front end parts are good and tight.  

 

 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
4/8/19 3:43 p.m.

Updated Financial recap:

  • $928 purchase
  • $18.50 temp tag
  • $67.64 tax and title #1
  • $53.50 state inspection
  • $107.25 bumper assembly
  • $80 for tire mount/balance and 4 wheel align
  • $1,254.99

 

Hours:

  • 2 pre-bid inspection with travel time
  • 2 pick up the car with truck/dolly and travel time
  • 1 titling with drive to offices
  • 2 latch and bumper install
  • 3 for state inspection travel and appt.  
  • 3 clean
  • 1 blower cleaning and battery confirmation
  • 14 total

 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
4/8/19 5:21 p.m.

Next, on my 1 hr each way trip to the state inspection I found that the Cruise Control was not working. 

A quick googling bring me to a Prius chat posting that points to a bad clockspring in the steering wheel. 

The cruise control stalk is to the right of the wheel. The Prius chat posting suggests that the first thing to stop working is the other wheel controls on the right side. 

Sure enough, none of these are working but all on the left are working. 

Those other right controls are 

  • Recurc air
  • Front defrost
  • Rear defrost 

These 3 are all redundant buttons. You can control all the same from the HVAC controls on the center screen. However, there is no other way to work the Cruise. 

Research tells me one hour to replace. The further decision is weather to buy factory new, $200; factory used, $50; internet aftermarket, even cheaper. 

A good video on steering wheel removal

 

In good news, the temps have been high enough to assure the AC is working! 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
7/30/19 9:32 a.m.

Update.  Back in April I sold that silver Prius to a GRM'er for a great price. Fair to buyer and seller.  

 

Today, I am high bidder on another 2004 silver Prius.  This time with front damage.  Some body shop paperwork in the car states that the customer hit something in the road.  It looks as if all the front parts were removed by a body shop for inspection to write an estimate.  The bumper cover is in the trunk and it is mangled but the good headlamp is in the trunk too.  Also in the trunk is a bunch of small labled zip lock baggies of all the fasteners to put it all back together.    

The car is high miles at 188k but not horrible for a Prius.  Most importantly, the car looks to have been cared for and looks to have been driving just fine right up to the point of impact (a light impact that just cracked the lower bumper cover.)  

I had in a max pre-bid of $525.  Pre-bidding closed at $300.  When the Prius went live on the auction someone from Ann Arbor bid $350 and that was trumped by my $400.  But...as I watched the auction live the bidding ended with the word, "call."  This means the Prius did not meet the hidden reserve.  I should know by the end of the day if they accept the $400 or a counter offer.  

All-in $400 will be $648 to buy.  All-in $525 will be $828 to buy.  

I think the Prius needs $300 worth of used bumper cover and fender liners.  Add to that $300 for new tires which are slightly less than okay.  My goal is less than $1500 all-in for the repaired car that could ask $3,200 and take $2,800.  

Or, maybe keep it.  

Screen shot of the live auction

  

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
7/30/19 1:28 p.m.

Update: 

$400 bid accepted.  I now own this Prius once I go pay for it.  Probably tomorrow. 

sleepyhead the buffalo
sleepyhead the buffalo Mod Squad
7/30/19 2:26 p.m.

In reply to John Welsh :

before long you're going to be known as the GRM Pied Prius Piper

Billy_Bottle_Caps
Billy_Bottle_Caps GRM+ Memberand Dork
7/30/19 3:34 p.m.

Will be following along on this one as well!

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