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I have both a 2001 and a 2004 Prius. The 2001 has cost $0 so far (except for a flat tire). All maintenance is free until 37500 miles and I'm just about to that point. On the 2004, almost a year old, it hasn't been $0 since the maintenance wasn't free. I paid ~$995 for a pre-paid maintenance plan that covers everything to 55K miles. That is 11 services at 5K intervals, including three major ones at 15K, 30K and 45K. The minor ones are oil, tire rotation, fluids and filters. A similar plan for a conventional car would be about the same. So there is no real difference here.

All the hybrid parts are 100% covered to 100K miles and the battery is 100% covered to 150K miles (in CA, only 100K most other places). All this is important to understand. This is a 100% guarantee, not prorated -- so you can expect that the typical Prius hybrid parts will last well beyond that or they couldn't offer such a warranty. (The statistical laws of MTBF would take all their profit).

Any mechanic can do the oil changes, tires, 12v battery, filters, etc. Anything else I'd leave to Toyota...due to the special parts, training, etc.

No computer failures...but there has been a couple of service recalls (where they ask you to come in and get some computer replaced on a non-emergency basis).

You can expect to pay less for maintenance on several items:
brakes -- due to regeneration the pads don't touch as much
starter motor -- there isn't a little wimpy one...there are two big motor/generators that are much more reliable
alternator -- isn't one (the big motors are also generators)
transmission -- isn't one (there is a more reliable mechanical power split device called a planetary gear)

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