If you want to know if a particular car model is any good or not, ask a valet worker.
I spent 2 years valet parking thousands of cars. And if somebody were to ask me which car I liked THE LEAST, that answer would be easy: it would be the Toyota Prius.
The Prius was the worst because so many of them had a distinct toxic-like interior odor.
In fact, it was a pleasant surprise when I got a Prius with no odor!
I have driven hundreds of these cars. Hundreds! Perhaps even close to a thousand of them. I found that a high percentage of these cars have this awful smell. It didn't feel healthy for me to breathe this air. I would roll down all 4 windows, even in absolute freezing cold, and try to hold my breath. (Really!) Sometimes I would even drive the cars with my head out the window, like a dog, because the odor was so bad. I can't tell you how much I hated that smell.
I can only guess that it is related to mold micro-toxins in the air conditioning/ventilation system, or something to do with the hybrid system.
The Prius is not the only car with this issue. I have occasionally found this same toxic-like odor in other hybrids. But this smell is clearly most common in the Toyota Prius, from my experience.
It just doesn't seem healthy. Something is WRONG.
I Tried An Experiment...
One day I brought another smelly Prius out of the garage and brought it to the front of the hotel. This time I thought I would try an experiment and recommend to the vehicle's owner that he get rid of the car for the sake of his health.
Well... this couple looked at me with irritated bewilderment. They had no idea what I was talking about. They almost seemed offended! It was an awkward moment.
Apparently, this car odor had affected their sense of smell! They had no idea their car stunk.
That was the last time I warned anybody, because it just didn't go over well with that guest.
I don't know why so many of the Prius cars I drove had that odor? I certainly would NEVER want to own one, even if it was given to me. And I wouldn't want any family members or friends of mine driving them.
That toxic-like stink wasn't the only thing I didn't like about these cars.
I found that the "brake-feel" on nearly all hybrid vehicles have a sponginess to them. The brakes are just not as responsive as brakes on normal cars. I don't like that at all. And for this reason I would not buy any hybrid.
And there is one other thing... something else I don't understand.
From what I observed, if somebody drove a Prius, there was a high percentage chance they were a SLOB! Like 5 years worth of dust on the dash. Sticky soda that was spilled on the console 3 years ago and never cleaned up. Messy clutter. That sort of thing. Geez...
What is it with Prius owners?
If I had to park a Prius that didn't smell AND was clean, holy cow — what a surprise! It just didn't happen very often.
Prius owners were seldom generous tippers either, but the main point I am trying to make is I don't think some of these cars are healthy. I am surprised that nobody in the media has done an investigative report about this.
If you are looking to buy a used car online by looking at the photos, through a site like ebay, it's risky. I think you should personally inspect the car yourself before bidding. Make sure it doesn't have this smell. Better yet, just avoid getting a Prius entirely.
I am convinced that something is amiss with these cars. I have driven too many of them that smelled.
It's no joke. I'm not kidding or making this up.
Something is really wrong with these cars. Share this with your friends.
Don't believe me? Google "Prius Smell."
Here is one source:
UPDATE: April 9, 2015
I spoke with Alex of "Exclusively Hybrid" in Lake Park, Florida today about this issue with the toxic-like odor...
He knew exactly what I was talking about. The issue is the regular car battery is too often replaced with a lead acid battery (WRONG) when it should be a gel battery (CORRECT). The lead acid batteries get hotter than gel batteries. That's one issue. The other issue is that a proper gel battery for the Prius also has a little hose running from the battery to the outside of the car, so that vapors leave the car.
He says if a proper gel battery is used, this should solve the odor problem.
The main battery that powers the motors in the car is like a $3200 to $4000 expense to replace at a dealership. Alex rebuilds these batteries himself and charges substantially less.
By the way, if the main battery dies, some people assume it is okay to run the car on just the engine. Alex says this is how you ruin the transmission.
And if you are considering buying a used Prius, get someone like Alex to test the High Voltage Battery that powers those motors BEFORE YOU BUY IT. This will give you an idea of whether you have a solid battery with some life still left in it or not.
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Alex impressed me as a real expert with hybrid cars and installing replacement batteries. He also struck me as ethical and fair. He can be reached at: 561-299-0609