2001 Prius transaxle failure OR a/c compressor failure in disguise?

Discussion in 'Generation 1 Prius Discussion' started by ChrisPDXPrius2001, Jul 9, 2015.

  1. ChrisPDXPrius2001

    ChrisPDXPrius2001 New Member

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    Driving down the road I heard a shrinking noise and on comes the red triangle/engine light. The car loses power and limps into a parking lot. I tow the car to my local Toyota dealership and was hit with the bad news. I'm told the transaxle generator has failed and needs to be replaced..... for $3,500. Ouch!

    My question is, should I even bother? or fix this bad boy and drive on?

    ***EDIT***

    Toyota dealership done goofed. It wasn't the transaxle. The culprit was the a/c compressor(belt).

    I will note that about a month before this incident I recall idling in a parking lot with the a/c on full blast and I heard a faint whimper from the front of the car. I didn't think much of it but a few days later my a/c would sometimes not work and blow hot air(a/c light would blink). I would turn it off and back on later and it would work just fine. At the time of my car breaking down it didn't dawn on me that the two issues could be related. So, if the a/c light is blinking I guess check that belt and avoid the headache I experienced.
     

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    #1 ChrisPDXPrius2001, Jul 9, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2015
  2. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

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    Unless you can find a shop to put in a used one, I think that car is history.
     
  3. greasemonkey007

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    I would probably find a used one and put in there, mainly because if it's not fixed it will be hard to sell for anywhere near pay-off. But once you get it fixed, you could sell it or keep it and drive it.
     
  4. Tony D

    Tony D Active Member

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    Do the garages do a scrappage deal over there? We have a deal where some garages will give €2-3/4k for a car against a new one. Makes the deal alot sweeter!
     
  5. ChrisPDXPrius2001

    ChrisPDXPrius2001 New Member

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    Thanks for the replies. I would also like to add that this Prius had a full HV replacement(from previous owner) at 87,000 so the hybrid battery system is all good. I did find a shop near me that quoted a price of $2,200 if is indeed the transaxle generator. I spoke with the owner and he also mentioned it could also be a MG2 failure rather than a full transaxle generator failure. Gonna take it there in the morning. If it's worse than I thought at least I get a second opinion and I burn about $200(for diagnostic and tow).
     
  6. ChrisPDXPrius2001

    ChrisPDXPrius2001 New Member

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    *UPDATE*

    Turns out it wasn't the transaxle at all. It was the a/c compressor. Man, the Toyota dealership really dropped the ball on this one. The independent shop told me I had two options. 1 install a new a/c compressor or 2 install a Gen2 belt to bypass the a/c compressor. Cost me $50 to get my car back on the road instead of $3,500 that the Toyota dealership wanted to install a new transaxle generator assembly. Car is running great, but my concern is there any potential danger to driving WITHOUT a working a/c compressor? I may opt to install the a/c compressor($1,100) but if I can safely drive without a/c then I'd rather do that.

    BELOW ARE THE NOTES FROM THE MECHANIC

    * When I got to the car it had no dash lights or power. I connected a jump box to the 12 volt battery and then proceeded to scan for codes, which I have attached below.

    * I cleared the codes and tried to start the car. The car is posting a P3120-240 code.

    * I tried spinning the motor over by hand and it felt locked up. I was starting to suspect an internal transmission fault, especially based on the scan data, but then I noticed the belt had some damage and the AC compressor looked a bit toasty. I removed the belt and now the motor spins by hand. The AC compressor hub is locked up but the clutch spins by hand so it is unlikely that shrapnel has been spewed into whole AC system. I took the car for a quick drive around the block but hurried back as that belt also drives the water pump. The AC compressor needs to be replaced.

    * I looked over the car to make sure there weren't any other issues that need addressing. Overall the car is in good shape. I noticed the transmission drain plug is a little damp with ATF but is tight. I don't know when the last ATF service was, Toyota claims the fluid is lifetime we recommend every 30k. I took the fill plug out and the fluid is topped off and doesn't look too bad.

    1. Damp transmission drain plug.

    2. Front brakes are fair at 4mm.

    3. Rear brake shoes have a good amount of material remaining.

    * So we were able to bypass the locked up AC compressor by using a belt from the second generation Prius. This means no AC until the AC compressor gets replaced though. We went on an extended test drive and the car is driving great.
     
  7. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

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    You should have no problem running without an AC compressor other than getting hot in the summer and maybe slightly worse defogging of the windshield in the winter. I would DEFINITELY go back to the dealer and ask Wth?
     
  8. ChrisPDXPrius2001

    ChrisPDXPrius2001 New Member

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    I'm more than inclined to return to the dealership and ask for my $115 diagnostic fee back. If all they did was run the codes that is major bull crap. If anything, this ordeal has taught me to get a second opinion and the hell with taking my car to the dealership. I found myself a good honest mechanic who knows his stuff about Prius.

    I'm just wondering what if I did indeed choose to fix it at the dealership for $3,500 and it was still broken?! What would they have done?
     
  9. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

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    Close call! Well done! Who was the real mechanic?

    When someone does something good, we like to pass on word-of-mouth recommendations.

    Bob Wilson
     
  10. ChrisPDXPrius2001

    ChrisPDXPrius2001 New Member

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    The mechanic was Chris and I got a lot of help from Travis, who is the owner. Atomic Auto in Portland, OR.
     
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  11. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    Toyota will sometimes offer parts clearly labeled remanufactured to their own standards; take the normal part number and stick -84 on the end to find out.

    88320-47040-84

    -Chap
     
  12. Kate Harvest

    Kate Harvest Member

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    I'd like to second the praise for Atomic Auto. I had my own debacle with a 2002 last year and after dealing with several local shops that were either utterly clueless, deliberately trying to rip me off or both, I finally found Atomic and was immediately impressed by Travis. Have dealt with them several times in the past year and they've consistently been wonderful -- smart, knowledgeable, competent, honest and courteous.

    My Gen 1 debacle involved another shop trying to charge me $2400 for a replacement HV pack when it was actually the transaxle at fault. Atomic was the only shop I found locally that knew how to replace only MG2. :)

    (also the photo set as my profile photo was taken during one of my visits to them...)
     
    #12 Kate Harvest, Jul 15, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2015
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  13. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

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    I'm sure Eric, Paul, Aris, and the other independent Prius shops can appreciate this:
    I sent a note to Travis with the URL to this thread and he gave me the OK to share his reply:

    Been about four years now since I met this woman who changed my career. Her name is Carolyn she owns a hybrid shop in San Fran (I imagine you know whom I speak of.) I am a 25 year master tech and shop owner (9 years in business) who specialized in Saab/Volvo. Saab went the way of the dodo and I was looking for a future that could sustain my 22 bay shop, met Carolyn, and decided to learn the Prius. The simplicity of the transaxle design and my interest to learn new stuff like three phase sealed the deal.

    So I started working with Jack Rosebro on training myself and staff, and here we are. The more prii we fix the more I am astounded by the crap that comes out of shops with complete misdiagnosis, misinformation, and just general understanding of the cars and basic science. Jack and Carolyn have been great mentors to me and I respect both of them because of their ethos and desire to get to root causes of problems, not just swap stuff.

    TIS says "Generator Seized" for P3120 inf 240. Well how does it know? MG1 cant turn. What else could be wrong? I was very proud of Chris who is a newer staff member but really wants to learn these cars.

    My shop has been built on complete honesty. If we cant fix it or dont know we will tell you so. With LeBlancs car the question I always have is "what would have happened after the dealer put a tranny in it?"

    Consumers distrust of shops is partially the fault of our industry. My crusade is for Atomic to be honest and the best we can be.

    I have briefly checked out prius chat, and have limited bandwith sometimes, but if there's things you think that I could do to help the Prius community in general I'm probably quite willing.

    Thank you so much for reaching out. Our business is tough and it's always great when the customer wins and we learn something. It's what keeps me going every day.

    Just don't get me started on battery conditioning :)

    Sounds like my kinda Prius wrench. <GRINS>

    Bob Wilson
     
  14. Travis Decker

    Travis Decker Active Member

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    Ok you called me out! Thanks everyone for appreciating what we do. Its always nice to get hugs instead of being spat on :) Always glad to help if I can! Thanks Chris LeBlanc, Chris Vague (my tech who did this job,) Kate Harvest for support, and Jack Roseboro and Carolyn Coquilette for getting me up to speed on these suckers!
     
  15. ericbecky

    ericbecky Hybrid Battery Hero

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    Good to know of a place I can refer people in your area.
    Keep up the good work Travis!
     
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  16. 3prongpaul

    3prongpaul Hybrid Shop Owner, worked on 100's of Prius's

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    I had a Gen1 customer that the dealer told them "they needed a new gas engine" ~$4000. The engine sounded like a rod was about to come through the block. The Gen1 A/C compressor was the culprit. Replaced belt with a gen2 belt to bypass the compressor, engine purred like a kitten. It's worth getting a 2nd opinion on big repair estimates, especially with Gen1's since they are not as easy to diagnose.
     
  17. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    Wow, that's two A/C failures managing to sound like Armageddon, the one in this post and the one 3prong saw.

    (OP, what would you think about changing the title on this thread? People will only think it is about a transaxle issue and won't know what it's really about.)

    Was the noise/badness only when the A/C was running (suggesting the compressor itself, ouch), or present all the time (meaning it could only be the compressor clutch or pulley bearing)?

    Pulley and/or clutch make for a much easier repair, less money and no need to evacuate/recharge the system.

    -Chap
     
  18. 3prongpaul

    3prongpaul Hybrid Shop Owner, worked on 100's of Prius's

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    In my customer situation noise was all the time, sounded really awful. BTW, Gen1 is traditional belt driven compressor, like a normal car. Gen2 and newer have electric compressor, no belts.
     
  19. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    If the noise was constant (even when the compressor clutch was disengaged), that acquits the compressor itself and convicts the clutch/pulley alone (the only part that's constantly turning whenever the engine is on). A simple clutch replacement should have made the customer good to go in half an hour.

    Interesting that there seem to be two different clutches, one of which costs 50% more, I'm guessing they depend on whether the compressor P/N ends in -47030 or -47040.

    The more expensive clutch by itself is only about $80 less than a genuine Toyota reman complete compressor ... but in terms of labor, you just pull the old clutch and put on the new one, no opening the system, reclaim, evac, recharge, none of that specialty stuff. Easy backyard project.

    -Chap
     
  20. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    ... I guess there could be an exception if it ran that way so long that the pulley bearing really seized ... the bearing just sits on a 'snout' formed on the compressor housing, so I suppose in the worst case you get the old clutch off and find the snout has been chewed up and won't snugly fit a new clutch.

    Still, I'd expect that to be in the 'sh*t happens if you leave the repair too long' category and otherwise just changing the clutch should be all that's entailed.

    -Chap
     
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