Re: Prius Plug-In Mod
A resourceful DIYer can find used Prius traction batteries from salvage yards that dismantle wrecked cars. I have bought 3 such batteries for $500 each. Two were from low mileage wrecks with less than 35K miles, and both tested to be in extremely good condition. One was from a high mileage car, and would have been a gamble, had I not known what to do. It turned out to be a warranty replacement battery with less than 5K miles on it prior to the vehicle being totalled!
By law, salvage yards must give the VIN number of any vehicle that parts come from. Most will give the true mileage, but don't take their word for it. A visit to a cooperative Toyota dealer can yield you a printout of the vehicle service history. This printout will help identify if a Prius has had a history of unresolved battery problems, and will point out the rare gem that has had a traction battery replacement just prior to being wrecked. It will also show the true mileage of a vehicle at service intervals, ect.
The reason for this is important... Be very wary of dishonest salvage yards, eBay is apparently full of them.
While shopping for used 2003 Prius cars, traction batteries, and other parts for a multi-car alternative energy conversion project, I had the extreme misfortune of finding a salvage yard (Xvipers1) that sells on eBay, and claims to be in St Louis Missouri. Based on information supplied to us by the seller, including lots of photos of a complete vehicle with minor front end damage, we arranged to purchase a wrecked 2003 Prius with Buy-It-Now. We were also arranging to buy extra 2003 traction batteries, and other parts needed for the repair and conversion of that Prius. I became very suspicious when AFTER we used Buy-It-Now to secure the purchase of the vehicle, I began to see parts for this exact same vehicle being listed for sale on eBay by this same seller. Parts like the traction battery, body parts, interior parts, ect. These parts sales were listed using the exact same photos that we had been sent as angle shots to show the condition of the vehicle. I contacted the seller and tried to make an appointment to pick up the vehicle in 2 days, and said we would pay for the Prius after we looked at it in person. He insisted that we pay up front, and he would have the vehicle shipped to us via a vehicle transport service, and that he would pile all of the parts we were buying inside before shipping it. He said he was going to be away at auto auctions on the days I wanted to visit. I decided to take a cross-country trip and arrived unannounced anyways. I had to do an online search to find his actual location, turned out that he was operating out of a farm over a hundred miles southwest of St Louis. Despite his claims to be at an auto auction in Illinois when I called from nearby, he was actually there when I arrived at the farm. After he recovered from the shock of seeing me drive up in person, he simply said "it's in bad shape", and hesitantly pointed in the direction of the Prius. He went right back to stripping a wrecked Viper. When we found and looked over the Prius we were to be picking up, we could see why he wanted to ship it. He had totally stripped and gutted it, and piled the interior full of damaged parts that had been removed from other wrecked Prii. We went back and asked him what happened to it, and he tried to convince us that we really did not want to buy that car, that he had a 2002 in better condition (that was being dropped off by a tow truck while we were there), and he wanted us to buy that one for more money, despite it being a higher mileage 2002. We looked over all of the other Prii that he had there, and none were really what we were looking for. So we just drove away, empty handed and disgusted. We reported the incident to eBay, and they cancelled our Buy-It-Now obligation under the "item not as listed" clause. A few days later, when looking at Prius traction batteries listed on eBay, I decided to check on the reported mileage he had placed in his traction battery listings, and they did not match what mileages were on the vehicles he had taken them out of, vehicles we had looked at while there. I found that the dealer records according to VIN showed that the vehicles had way higher mileages than what he was reporting. Months later, I warned the members of a Prius forum when one member posted a link to his eBay store for another member looking for a salvage battery. Word must have gotten back to him because 2 days later he corrected the reported mileage in those battery listings.
So remember, there are deals to be had for those that love to DIY, but be smart and be careful.