"Check Hybrid System" running without key fob @ car wash

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Main Forum' started by haaaley, Oct 27, 2018.

  1. haaaley

    haaaley New Member

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    I bought my 2013 Prius Persona in Dec '13. Perfect on-schedule maintenance, drive conservatively, no problems ever. Dealership offers to buy back the car, so I go to car wash before my appointment. I pull up, nobody behind me. I go looking for my key fob, but attendant tells me I have to go in and pay first. When I get back, the car is going through the car wash without the key in it. (The last time I washed it there, they lost my key fob in the trash, so I just let it go.)

    30 minutes later, I get in the car, and I realize that the car was running the entire time, while all the guys were rubbing their towels all over the console and buttons. The error lights were on saying "CHECK HYBRID SYSTEM. STOP WHEN SAFE." I turned off the car, and the engine makes a light clunk clunk clunk sound, something I've never heard from this car before. I drove it to the dealer's repair department. On Fri, they said that, if you drive the car without the key fob in it, that's fine. But if you turn the car off without the key fob in it, the car won't restart. They didn't know if something along those lines happened to my car at the car wash. They say that it's late on Fri, nobody can look at it until Mon because no hybrid specialists are working Sat.

    On Sat, they call and say that the computer is not communicating with the block/sensor, that I need to pay a minimum of $1500 to fix that, and they can't know for sure what's really wrong with the car until after that is fixed, so the $1500 is a minimum payment.

    I ask how this could've happened. Toyota says it was a coincidence that it happened at the car wash, that it would've happened while I was driving around if I'd never taken it to be washed. So I ask them who diagnosed this if there was no hybrid-certified mechanic there on Sat, and he stuttered a bit and said that the guy came in specially to help them out. I asked the service guy how many times he's seen a Prius with <5yrs need a new computer and block/sensor, and he said this was the second time in 10 years.

    My questions:
    1) Is it typical for a Prius computer to just crap out like this? The service guy appeared not to think so. Did I just buy a lemon, then? If the computer does break, does that mean that the car problems cannot be diagnosed?
    2) Should I trust what this service department said? None of this passes the sniff test. I understand that coincidences happen, but this seems like a big one to me.
    3) Can anyone think of a scenario where something like this happens as a result of driving without the key fob and pushing a button or something in the car?

    ANY ADVICE would be appreciated.
     
  2. haaaley

    haaaley New Member

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    Just called Toyota again (Sat), and they said that it appears that because the car was running for so long without the key fob inside it, that the computer was searching for the key for so long that it burned out the computer. Last night (Fri), they told me a story about a guy who drove his car an hour away before realizing that he'd left the key fob at home. Then he drove home to get the key. So how did my computer "burn out" with just the 40 minutes it sat idling at the car wash?

    This is going to be an expensive fix. It is not my fault. Either the car wash took my car without my permission without the key, or the Toyota is defective. Which should I argue, and how do I prove this? I'm going to ask the Toyota service department for a statement in writing about what happened.

    Any thoughts?
     
  3. davecook89t

    davecook89t Senior Member

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    Either the dealer is not giving you the straight goods or something is getting lost in translation. Leaving the car in Neutral for longer than a few minutes is likely to cause the High Voltage battery to become depleted, which can be very serious for an older hybrid, but since your car is relatively new, there was probably no permanent damage. Are there any warning lights appearing on the dash currently? If not, I don't think you have a problem, no matter what the dealer is saying.
     
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  4. haaaley

    haaaley New Member

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    When I left it at the dealer, the CHECK HYBRID SYSTEM warning light was on, in addition to the steering wheel light, the triangle exclamation light, and a bunch of others. The car would turn on and off easily, but it made a clunk clunk clunk in the engine upon shutting off, though.

    I'm on the phone with Toyota Customer Experience Center right now to see what's going on, because Cust Exp is saying that there's no way this has anything to do with the key fob.
     
  5. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    liars
     
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  6. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    generally, the problem after a car wash is a low 12volt battery.

    and sometimes, a low hybrid battery if the car was in neutral to go thru the wash as dave states above.

    you may need the special toyota hybrid battery charger if that is the case.
     
  7. davecook89t

    davecook89t Senior Member

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    That part I agree with. If you have warning lights, you need to get the dealer to tell you what codes are associated with them so that the experts on this forum can tell you what might need repairing. The unusual noises you are hearing when the engine turns off are concerning, but without the codes it is impossible to know what causes them. The warning lights may be on for no other reason than that the 12V battery is low, so that should be checked first.
     
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  8. RRxing

    RRxing Senior Member

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    For starters, this would tell me not to go back to that car wash.
     
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  9. Grit

    Grit Senior Member

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    Straight to the point:

    Prius was on neutral car wash.

    HV battery drained below 2 bars, neutral doesn't recharge the HV battery.

    You get back into the car, CEL is on.

    Lesson: Only put prius in neutral momentarily.
     
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  10. haaaley

    haaaley New Member

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    On Fri afternoon, as I was still at the carwash, I pulled out the owner's manual, and the page on the 12v battery said it could be drained if the Prius is left in Accessory mode rather than On mode for too long. I thought that maybe the car wash staff had pushed the power button while cleaning (and while the car was running while the key fob was outside the car), putting it in Accessory mode for the entire 30-40 minutes it was being cleaned. Today, I called the dealership after they'd said it was the computer, and I asked them to check the 12v battery. They said they'd already checked it and it wasn't that.
     
  11. haaaley

    haaaley New Member

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    Toyota service told me that there was no communication between the computer and the key block sensor. I was hoping that it was the intelligent power module computer, because that has an extended warranty on it, which would solve my current $1500+ problem. But it's not.

    Can they not get diagnostic codes if this computer stops communicating? By the way, thank you for all this help because I clearly know nothing about this.
     
  12. haaaley

    haaaley New Member

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    AGREED! The ironic part is that this was only my second time at that car wash and only because I was on my way to Toyota to get the car appraised to see what they'd give me to buy it back. The first time, they took 20 minutes to dig my key fob out of the trash where they'd accidentally thrown it. This second time, they took a dirty car that had never had a problem, and converted it into a very clean -- but no longer functioning -- car.
     
    #12 haaaley, Oct 27, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2018
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  13. haaaley

    haaaley New Member

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    I have no idea whether it was in neutral as it went through the exterior car wash because I was told to go inside to pay and it had been driven in before I could give them my key fob. The exterior wash took more time than in most car washes, but I'd say no more than 8 minutes. Then they drove it up a little incline to the area where the interior wash/vacuum guys worked on it. I had no idea that the car was still running because they had it there for another 30 minutes at least. Who leaves a car on that long while you're just cleaning the inside?! It wasn't cold out, they weren't running the heat/air, and all the doors were open. I was standing about 20 feet away the whole time, and I didn't realize it was on until I saw a bit of exhaust coming out of the back. I've never noticed exhaust out of this car.
     
  14. Grit

    Grit Senior Member

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    Easy, when the car doesn’t belong to them. First thing I do with a rental is to find a straight road that has no police patrol and floor it.

    In a regular car, it’s fine to leave it on accessory for half hour with doors open and radio on, but never on a Prius with hv low on charge. In your shoes I would buy concentrated waterless car wash kit and wash it by hand. Saves a lot of water and money, less than 20oz if water required.
     
  15. Starship16

    Starship16 Senior Member

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    There's been a lot of car wash threads. I've resisted the temptation to go to an automatic car wash with my Prius. (It's bad enough that the dealer returns my car with a low battery after just a simple oil change!)

    Suggestion:
    Find a car wash where you have the option of them hand-washing it. And make sure the power is off.
    Or, go to one of those "drive-thru" car washes where you stay in the car. Not as good a job, but at least you are in control.

    I hope Toyota resolves your computer issue.
     
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  16. davecook89t

    davecook89t Senior Member

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    Correct. The Prius 12V battery is easily discharged in Accessory mode, mainly because it does not have the capacity of a regular car battery that needs the power to crank the engine. In the Prius, the 12V only fires up the computers, which engage the HV battery to start the engine, so it is designed to endure multiple charge cycles rather than for raw power. When it is necessary to run the car's accessories (lights, radio, HVAC) while the car is stationary, such as when waiting for someone, it is best to leave the car in Ready mode, as that will allow the 12V to continue receiving power from the HV battery. Simple enough, right? Except that the engine only charges the HV battery in Park or Drive, not in Neutral. That makes using any push-through car wash problematic, because they require that the car be left in Neutral. I have used push-through car washes myself, but only after first force-charging the HV battery (hold brake down with left foot, put car in Drive, step on accelerator with right foot), and turning off all the accessories before I enter the car wash.

    It had to be in Neutral. There is no other way to get it through this type of car wash.

    This is the most likely scenario, in my opinion.

    If you were able to drive the car to the dealer, the HV battery cannot have been depleted to the point where it needed special equipment to charge it. It must be fine. A discharged 12V is still the most likely cause of your warning lights, in my opinion. The dealership says the 12V is OK, but I would want to check it myself, based on the outright falsehoods they have already been feeding you. Get a multi-meter ($10 to $20 at an auto parts store) and measure it yourself at the jump points under the hood. The voltage should read more than 12.5V after the car has been resting for a couple of hours. If the 12V is really OK, you might try disconnecting the ground cable on the battery itself (in the back of the car) for a minute or 2. This will make the warning lights go away by resetting all of the car's computers. Of course, if there really is a problem, they will come back on within a few minutes of driving the car. There is a small possibility that the Electronic Control Unit that matches your smart key to the car's ignition has really given up the ghost and needs to be replaced, but it seems too coincidental that it should happen exactly when your car was in the push-through car wash. Having a smart key ECU failure without some type of physical cause (i.e. poking it with a screwdriver or something) would be an extremely rare event, meaning that it would have to have been defective when it came from the factory. It would certainly not "burn out" for any reason, as the dealer claimed. If you truly do need a new smart key ECU, you could probably get a used one from a salvage yard and use it without a problem, since they fail so rarely. You would probably need to employ an independent locksmith and mechanic to have it installed. That would be much cheaper than having the dealer do it.

    I hope this helps.
     
  17. haaaley

    haaaley New Member

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    It certainly does help! What I don't understand is, if it's just the 12v that was low, why didn't the car have any problems restarting, which I did 3 times (the third time after waiting around 20 minutes), and why, each time I turned it off, the engine made a clunk clunk clunk sound. None of the dash lights were low either. It didn't drive particularly sluggishly, although I only drove it 0.8 miles to the dealer's Toyota service station. They have the car right now, so if I wanted to check it, I'd have to go in and get the car out of their garage.
     
  18. davecook89t

    davecook89t Senior Member

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    A weak 12V can cause the car to behave in unpredictable ways. There have been reports on this board of Prii going to Ready mode while showing very low voltage on the 12V (if the battery is reading much less than 12V, it is essentially dead), but once the measured voltage starts getting down close to 12.0V, all bets are off. If your 12V is original, it is now going on about 6 years old, which is about equal to its expected life. At this stage, one incident when it becomes substantially discharged can kill it for good. It's not certain that a weak 12V is causing your problems, but checking it would be the first piece of advice any regular member on this forum would give you.

    I'm not going to speculate on the clunking sound when the engine turns off, except to say that that would seem to be mechanical in nature, which does not portend an inexpensive repair. If it is electronic rather than mechanical, it would normally be a simple task to replace a particular component. The component itself may be expensive, but the labor would not be, unless the part that failed was very inaccessible. As I mentioned, this type of car wash requires that the car be placed in Neutral to be pushed by the conveyor. Anything else could have damaged a mechanical part of the transaxle. I didn't think it was even possible to move the car in anything other than Neutral, but if there is mechanical damage (say a broken Parking Pawl), maybe they didn't have the car in Neutral. Just be sure to keep all the documentation you have from the dealer and the car wash since this happened. It may be needed in a lawsuit.:eek:
     
  19. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    Just curious, was it a letter, saying something along the lines of "we have buyers clamouring to purchase your <fill in your car model here>...". Those are basically fishing expeditions.

    Regarding automated car washes, I would stick to the kind where the car is driven in, stops, and cleaning mechanisms pass along it.
     
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  20. haaaley

    haaaley New Member

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    It was a letter from the dealer that sold me the 2013 Prius and a 2017 Prime. I wasn't necessarily going to sell them the car. I wanted to know whether they really meant 20% over KBB and the dealer is across the street from my kid's school, so I thought it'd be worth the 15 minutes and the $40 to clean it.

    I made the final payment on the 2013 Prius less than a week ago, which meant that I'd driven up the mountain and was getting ready to coast down the other side for another 4-5 years of no payments. We had our manual Camry for 12 years 150k miles without even changing the transmission.

    I go to car washes maybe 2-3 times a year. Now that I've looked around more, I see that there's a guy only a bit further who washes the cars by hand and for a bit less than the ones who broke my car. Definitely learned and relearned several lessons here. When someone condescends to tell you what you know isn't true, just stick with what you wanted to do in the first place. (I TOLD HIM to wait so I could get out the key fob.)
     
    #20 haaaley, Oct 29, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2018
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