Dear Tom and Ray:
You answered some questions recently about whether the 2004 Toyota Prius has to be serviced at the dealer, or can be serviced by an independent mechanic. I want to pass on some helpful information that was omitted from your article. Although you can take the Prius to an independent facility for maintenance, the factory-scheduled maintenance is covered at no charge by Toyota for the first 36,000 miles. Also, you suggested that the brakes may be done at an independent facility. That is also an item that should be taken care of by a certified Prius technician. The brakes are an integral part of the recharging system, and although it might be rare, we have seen cases where parts of the system were damaged by people who worked on the car but were not familiar with it. Just thought you would want to pass that information on to your readers who might be interested in the Prius and had questions about it after your article. It might be valuable information that saves them some added expenses of ownership. -- Steve Hudson, Toyota of Lake City, Seattle
TOM: Thanks for the info, Steve. The fact that maintenance is free at the dealer for 36,000 miles would certainly sway my decision. You add the free coffee in the waiting room, and you could actually come out ahead by a buck-fifty.
RAY: And I understand your warning about the regenerative braking system, Steve. But having replaced pads and rotors on the previous-generation Prius, I'm confident that any reasonably careful mechanic could do a basic brake job for a Prius owner without any problem -- and could probably save him a few bucks over going to the dealer.
TOM: Thanks for writing.