Maintaining your Prius Inside and Out   Leave a comment

San Diego Prius Club Meeting September 26, 2004

Pat McAfee, Presenter


  • Wal-Mart has best prices for Mr. Clean Auto Dry starter kit and refills
  • has instructions/info + $3 coupon
  • Some people prefer a “Water Blade” squeegee because of poor results with Mr. Clean
  • To raise rear wiper, take off the plastic hinge cover (spread it apart and it pops right off)
  • Wax—your favorite is fine or whatever Consumer Reports says!
  • If you get wax on plastic parts, peanut butter will remove it!
  • Ultra-glossy show-car finish— if you think it’s worth the huge effort….
  • Touch-up paint is available at dealer ($5.99 at Toyota San Diego)
  • Toyota makes a black vinyl bra—requires good maintenance or paint can get scratched
  • “Clear Bra” protects well, but is expensive

To fix paint chips:

  • A poster on a Yahoo Prius group suggested that the paint be hot from engine heat or outdoor summer sun before you do any touch-up work. (The following was suggested by Sal Zaino and also posted on a Yahoo group.) Take isopropyl alcohol on a Q-tip and dab only in the rock chip a few times. Take a clean towel and dry chip. Take a match out of a matchbook. Use the opposite end of the head (maybe a toothpick would also work??). Dab this in touch-up paint (do not thin out touch-up paint). Very carefully, dab a very, very minute amount in the chip. Do not get any paint anywhere other than the chip depression. The trick here is not to try to fix the chip in one application. Do this every day until the paint in the chip is even with the rest of the paint surface. If you do this correctly, you will hardly notice that chip repair. If the chip repair area is slightly higher than the adjacent surface, then you can use 3M Foam Polishing Pad Glaze/Swirl Mark Remover #39009 by hand very gently to even out the chip repair area if necessary. Remember, have patience. Don’t try to touch-up the chip all at once. It’s a gradual building up of the paint, that’s the trick.

Tire Pressure

  • Classic—OEM Bridgestone Potenzas have max 50 psi and are XL (extra load) rated
  • 2004—OEM Goodyear Integrity has max 44 psi (Toyota recommends 35/33)
  • Increased tire pressure increases mpg slightly but has harsher ride
  • Always use 2 pounds more in front than rear (both models)
  • Many owners (both models) use 42/40 psi
  • Check tire pressure at least monthly or when weather changes significantly
  • Faster tread wear if inflation is too low
  • Portable air compressor or battery charger/compressor is handy
  • 12v outlets are active in IG-ON mode (two pushes of “power” button without foot on brake)

Tire Replacement

  • Classic—Goodyear Allegras and Nokians have been used with good success but are NOT XL rated. (You MUST increase inflation above Toyota’s recommendation if replacements are not XL rated)
  • Michelin X-One and Dunlop SP Sport A2 are either XL rated or can handle the extra load
  • 2004—Michelin Hydroedge has been getting some good preliminary reviews
  • Wider tires could lessen “wandering” problem on freeway (Fred tried these)
  • has excellent tire replacement info (click on “Prius Info” then on “Tires”)

Routine Scheduled Maintenance

  • Keep Scheduled Maintenance Guide up to date whether you do it yourself or dealer does it
  • Keep ALL receipts and invoices
  • Shop for prices on more major service!!!!! (Go out of town if it makes economic sense…)
  • If you do your own oil changes, make sure to rotate your tires as well.
  • Discount Tire offers rotation/balance for $40 (life of the tires) even if you didn’t buy them there
  • 2004—Make sure they rotate front to back Classic—Cross rotate??
  • Make sure the tire pressure is reset after rotation (front 2 psi more than rear)
  • HVAC home filter could be cut for air conditioning filter

Engine Oil

  • Synthetic or dinosaur juice—whatever you use, DON’T overfill!!! Some caution against filling too fast as well
  • Check oil level before leaving dealer or oil change place—car should be warm then sit for a few minutes
  • Consider bringing your own 5W-30 oil in bottles and tell them to use 3.5 quarts (in case all old oil didn’t drain out)
  • If you bring your own oil and/or filter, ask for a discount
  • Toyota OEM filters are reportedly better than many replacement filters—just make sure to use something high quality
  • Turn off Maint Req light (Page 122 in owner’s manual)

12v Battery

  • It’s a special glass mat battery so it won’t vent to cabin—DON’T replace with conventional one!!!!
  • Mazda Miata uses a similar battery:
  • or
  • Smaller than in other cars, so it’s susceptible to going dead if dome or hatch light left on or door/hatch not shut
  • Turn off Smart Entry if sitting for more than one or two weeks (button under steering wheel)
  • Disconnect battery under hood if sitting for more than three or four weeks –you lose radio (and nav?) presets
  • If battery dies, terminals are under the hood, or actual battery is in the rear under floor (can jump from either?)
  • DO NOT jump start your (or another) car without reading the owner’s manual!!!

Upholstery Cleaning/Carpet Care

  • Wipe weekly with a clean, damp cloth/sponge/washcloth
  • is the maker’s fabric care info site
  • Fabric is already treated for stain resistance, but some owners use Scotchgard anyway
  • Scotchgard—Target has the best price that I’ve seen (separate formulas for carpet and upholstery)
  • Treat stains/spills as soon as possible
  • One owner on a Yahoo group said the carpet didn’t seem to be as stain resistant as seats.
  • Replacement mats— $133.50 +S&H
  • Local dealer might match internet price???
  • Some have instead used rubber or clear mats from WalMart, Costco (Kraco brand), Sam’s, etc.

Windows and Display Screen

  • Exterior—if you apply Rain-X, you won’t need your wipers as much!
  • Interior—Swiffer duster with handle will help you reach the entire windshield and dash
  • Display Screen—use dry microfiber cloth or computer screen cleaner (spray on cloth, not on display)
  • Clean display with car off so you don’t reset your mileage by mistake!
  • If you have Nav, make sure it is set to the correct region (also change regions on long trips—6 or 7 regions in US??)

Classic Prius Known Mechanical Problems

  • Steering rack—2001 (all? most?) and some 2002 models. Warranty extended to 5 years
  • Accelerator pedal assembly has had problems
  • Gas tank problems causing check engine light
  • Best assistance for Classic Prius is Yahoo Group:

Technical Service Bulletin (TSB)/Special Service Campaign (SSC)

  • 2004 TSB #EL010-04 Fuel gauge not accurate or tank volume not close to stated capacity
  • This is “on request” or “as needed” only—you won’t get a notice in the mail about it
  • If you get this fixed, DO NOT turn off Smart Entry feature when you leave it at the dealer!!!
  • Check all your fobs afterwards to make sure they all still work
  • See the Files section of for many more bulletins (I think you must join the group to view the Files section)

Toyota Customer Service 800-331-4331

  • To make sure you get all updates/recall notices, call and make sure they have your current info
  • If you’re not sure what applies to your car, they can search your VIN to see what your car should have done
  • If you have a complaint about a dealer or a problem with your car, be sure to call them

Keys and Fobs

  • The little metal tag that came with one of your keys ONLY applies to the ridges cut in the key


  • You can have 4 masters and 2 valet keys maximum
  • Cheaper keys at for $18.00 +$6.00 shipping
  • Any key shop or dealer can cut the key
  • You can program a new key yourself as long as you have the black “master” key
  • has instructions
  • If you lose all your keys, you will have to replace the computer in the car
  • If you have lost your last master key you cannot program any more keys. A poster on the toyota-prius Yahoo group was down to a single [gray] valet key, and was terrified of losing it. Dave at coastaletech posted a way for her to keep the valet key near the ignition so she could use non-programmed keys and still start the car. If this happens to you, here’s a link to the Yahoo post where he describes the procedure:


  • Fobs are VERY expensive!
  • If you lose all fobs, you will have to replace the computer in the car
  • Purchase “cheap” fobs at Conicelli ( 800-220-3788 (not on their website yet)
  • WITHOUT Smart Entry (part number 89070-47180):
  • List price: $173.42; Conicelli price: $130.07 (25% off)
  • WITH Smart Entry (part number 89994-47061):
  • List price: $193.06; Conicelli price: $144.80 (25% off)
  • I was quoted a shipping price of $6.25 for the fob
  • These fobs include the small key, which will have to be cut at a key shop/dealer
  • Frank Toyota might be interested in price matching????
  • Fob MUST be programmed at a Toyota Dealer
  • Frank Toyota $35.00; Toyota of El Cajon $39.00; other dealers $80.00 – $125.00
  • SS/SE fob takes additional steps to program—test all old and new fobs before you leave the dealership
  • You cannot start the car without the fob, so if it’s lost or stolen you can’t drive your car even if you call roadside assistance. If you can retrieve the extra fob from home or the other person who carries it, that’s fine. However, if you’re out of town when it happens, it could be a huge problem. Here’s the best way I’ve heard of to make sure you’ll always be safe.
  • Hide an extra fob in the car to make sure you never get stranded. You can keep the key with the fob (roadside assistance would have to forcibly get in your car if it’s locked) or you can remove the key and keep it in a magnetized case somewhere on the car’s body. NOTE: You must remove the battery from the fob if you intend to keep the Smart Entry/Smart Start function enabled on your car.
  • To remove the battery, you’ll need a phillips-head screwdriver as small or smaller than the size used to repair eyeglasses. You could take your fob to a jeweler and ask them to remove the battery for you if you don’t have access to such a small screwdriver. I wrapped my battery in a bit of paper and taped it closed (so it doesn’t make contact with anything), and I keep the fob, the battery, and the screwdriver all together in a Ziploc snack bag. If you don’t put the battery back in the fob, you can’t use any of the remote or SS/SE functions.
  • You can program the 2004 Smart Entry fob to unlock the doors in different patterns. Instructions are found on page 30 of the owner’s manual.

Posted April 5, 2008 by mmdmurphy in Prius

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