if any of you have been following my stories, you know that i have now owned five second-generation toyota prius cars. i have also owned (and currently do) a third-generation prius as well as a gen one and gen 2 honda civic hybrid. i think it is safe to say i like hybrids, a lot.
out of all the hybrids that i have owned, my favorite has been my 2008 prius. it is blue, fully loaded, and has every option you could get when new. i bought this car for research, and so far, i am into the car about $4,000. not too bad all things considered. i need to give you an idea of what i have done to the car to warrant me saying there is one thing that is the worst about it.
repairs done to my 2008 toyota prius the first repair (which was why i bought it) was fixing the hybrid battery. not a big deal i have done loads of research, and this was a simple repair. repair number 2 was changing a faulty tire pressure sensor. not awful, $35 for the sensor off amazon and a quick program, no big deal. the third thing though, is what kills me about this car, and it is the absolute worst. headlight replacement.
my prius happens to have everything on it minus the 16″ wheels that came with the touring package. i have navigation, bluetooth, jbl stereo, leather, and, of course, the hid headlights. it is these headlights that i want to focus on and talk profoundly to their demise. i seriously hate that toyota even had this option
the hated hid headlights some second-gen prius cars with higher trim level packages had the option for hid headlights. at the time, this idea was cool, and the light was superior to halogen lights. the bad part is this. they break, and when they do, it is expensive.
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some of these gen two headlights have had water intrusion issues that warrant replacing the housing and also the ballast that is needed to power the hid bulb. not a big deal right? just hop online and order a new aftermarket set that should run you about $150. wrong. even worse, dead wrong.
i searched for a week trying to find the best deal for a set of these (no one wants just one good light and the other looking gross, no thanks), and when it came down to it, carid had the best deal. $385 shipped is pretty disappointing, i wanted some upgraded ones for that price.
worse yet, the assemblies do not come with any new bulbs or ballasts, which you need because obviously yours were destroyed in the previous set. add another $100 for a good set of ballasts and probably another $25 to $50 for some d4r bulbs, and then you can install. currently, my cost for this replacement job is around $500, before installation. thank goodness i do repair work for myself, that would have been another $200 for labor i am sure of it.
the thing that really gets me going about how dumb these lights are is what is required to swap in a new ballast or swap a whole assembly. due to the nature of these lights, there are tiny auto-leveling motors in them. the feature is cool and all, but it is also expensive and, in my opinion, unnecessary. the photo shows the water damaged ballast and also the connector where you have to feed it through.
to properly swap over the ballast, you have to remove the motor, which requires you to have to undo the factory light height settings. not a huge deal other than it is another thing you have to do. then couple that with having to feed the ballast wires through, and you almost want to burn the car to the ground.
in short, the hid assemblies are overly complicated and cumbersome to work with. hid lights were not intended to break by toyota, but now because so many leak and the lights are failing, you are forced to fix them or drive without lights. dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. have i said yet i dislike this setup? if not, let me tell you again. i hate it.
i am actively working on a solution that will allow owners to make a clean swap from hid to regular halogen headlight assemblies. i hope i can get this accomplished soon so all of you poor hid owners can get some reprieve from this. thank you all for reading and i appreciate you letting me vent on the issue. i hope you do not have to go through the same song and dance that i have.
i look forward to seeing you in the next story. the affect the corona virus could have on your +61404532026 toyota prius.
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peter neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. he holds a bachelor of science in automotive service technology from weber state university. peter is also an instructor of automotive technology at columbia basin college. peter can be reached on linkedin and you can tweet him at the_hybrid_guy on twitter. find his page on facebook at certified auto consulting. read more of peter’s stories at toyota news coverage on torque news. search toyota prius torque news for more in depth prius coverage from our reporters.