Dealer sold 2015 with mice infestation

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Main Forum' started by framistat, Jun 12, 2019.

  1. framistat

    framistat Junior Member

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    Rats.

    Well, more likely mice.

    Within the past month I purchased a used 2015 Prius Two. Got it home, started doing the things all new owners do, adding floor mats, etc. and found that the rear dome light didn't work. All the other lights on that circuit worked fine, so it wasn't the fuse; changed the bulb, didn't help. Made an appt with the dealer and confirmed when I arrived today that whatever service was needed would be covered under their warranty.

    Two hours later the service rep took me into the bay to see the problem - mice had gotten inside the headliner and chewed the tiny wire. You can imagine the mess. They mentioned the potential fire hazard, said they would continue to work on it, order a replacement harness. I asked if they could also look into a used headliner. They gave me a loaner and I drove home. Didn't hear any more from them this afternoon.

    There was nothing in the Toyota service history to show that the car had any problems at all, I did check prior to buying. I noticed no smells, no stains, nothing that hinted at a mouse problem. The dealer detailed the car before delivery and it looked clean and not abused - hardly any scratches or upholstery wear. Just a cologne-ish smell that I assumed was from the previous owner. After purchase, I looked him up, the address is in farm country, he is 71 yrs old. That would explain the mice.

    Spent the afternoon searching forums for information. Used headliners are not available nearby (car-part.com). On eBay new $1600 used $600 (!).

    Don't like what I'm reading on the CDC site about diseases spread by "breathing in dust that is contaminated with rodent urine or droppings".

    Up to this point, the dealer hasn't been awful; actually among those I visited over the past year while looking for this car, they were the best, courteous, professional.

    What would you do? Would you insist on a new headliner so as not to have disease-ridden dust filtering down into your lungs from above every time you're in the car? And, if the dealer refuses that, would you try to return the car? would that be possible?
     
    #1 framistat, Jun 12, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    sorry to hear about your troubles.

    it is certainly worthwhile pushing the dealer for whatever you can get. in the end, if you have no luck, i would do some more reading. iirc, old mouse droppings are not a problem.

    all the best!(y)
     
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  3. framistat

    framistat Junior Member

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    Hindsight... before buying I did notice screens behind the hybrid battery fan air intake next to the rear passenger seat, and at the windshield cowl. My understanding is that these are not present from the factory on a 2015, so the previous owner may have installed them after finding mice in the car. The dealer prep before sale included new cabin and engine air filters and detailing, so any evidence inside the car was removed before I saw it. Warning to anyone else buying a used Prius: bring an ultraviolet flashlight to look for urine trails.

    Newer research (this article is from 2013) is showing that bacteria and viruses can remain viable "for months".
     
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  4. Greenteapri

    Greenteapri Active Member

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    It sounds like you want to get rid of this car. I don't blame you. Mice are incredibly destructive.
    What does your contract say about returns?

    It's hard to prove who is at fault in this situation. It's been a month since you signed your life away. Who knows where the mice came from or how long they have been stowaways.

    I would be nice but stern with the dealership you purchased the Pri from. Milk as much repair work out of them as you can.
     
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  5. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    the article makes it sound like you have to touch it. plus it's not one of the more dangerous mouse diseases

    there are a lot of prius chatters with ongoing mice problems, including in the hvac system. i don't recall anyone getting ill.
     
    #5 bisco, Jun 13, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
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  6. Greenteapri

    Greenteapri Active Member

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    Trade cars with Bisco. Out of sight, out of his mind.

    I have never fallin ill to salmonella, therefore, it doesn't exist. Seems legit.
     
  7. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    you can be proactive, or paranoid. i choose the former
     
  8. Johnny Cakes

    Johnny Cakes Active Member

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    Second Bisco's sentmeint -- sorry for your hassles.

    My guess is that the paperwork sold the car "as is" with a very limited warranty that covered specific things, of which "mouse crap" probably isn't listed. :)

    Again, just guessing but absent specific knowledge and a cover-up effort (fraud), the dealership probably doesn't owe you anything but might help out on a "good will" basis.

    And I also agree with bisco that this is probably one of those things that might be technically bad if there was a ton of crap, but not going to be an serious issue in real life at all. Like zero.

    You liked this car when you bought it. I'd either try to forget about this issue asap or get the cheapest headliner that gives you peace of mind. Bottom line -- you need to get back to liking this car!
     
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  9. jb in NE

    jb in NE Senior Member

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    Ask them for a cat that can live in the Prius and eat any remaining mice...
     
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  10. framistat

    framistat Junior Member

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    Actually I emailed the salesman about this problem a week after the car was delivered, so it was a week, not a month.

    I looked up the previous owner - lived way out in farm country and over 70.

    There was no evidence of mice inside the car when I bought it (interior detail probably removed whatever was there) and none when I brought it in to fix the dome light, so it happened before I owned it. It did smell a bit of cologne? or was that deodorizer?

    The service rep left a message that a new headliner was $1200 and I should consider contacting my insurance to cover it. I emailed the salesman again, forwarding the email when I first contacted him, explained the above and said I felt they should cover it. He forwarded that to the general manager.

    I would think that their cost would be at least half what they quoted me. It's a smaller dealership in a small city, so their contract (which unfortunately I left in the car) is very basic.

    I'm more concerned about dry urine/dropping dust particles wafting down from the headliner and breathing that in, than touching.

    I deliberately avoided buying a certified Prius because I didn't want to spend the additional $1200-1700 for what I perceived as an unnecessary added warranty on an already very reliable car. This was not easy to do, as the larger dealerships here tend to certify any low mileage trades that come in. Now with the mice problems in these cars I'm seeing how certification might be worthwhile. So it's not that I don't want to keep the car, it's just that it's been such a long process to finally find one (over a year and had to give up my interior color preference), did my best to make sure it was ok (only VINs after the production change for pistons/rings for the oil buring problem, wading through Carfax after Carfax, using a paint tester to check for unreported bodywork, Dr Prius hybrid battery testing on test drives), and it STILL had a problem. This is a car I intend(ed) to keep at least as long as the car it replaced, which was 15 years (and which sold for the asking price, in two days, on Facebook).

    Thanks for the sympathetic ears... will keep you all posted.
     
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  11. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    even certified, they would poly say it happened after you took ownership. so in the end, maybe spend some of the cert money on a headliner and antiseptic.

    don't be afraid to try some other dealers/private mechs and upholstery shops, along with a used headliner.
     
  12. Greenteapri

    Greenteapri Active Member

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    Drive around in one of these for a few months. Scare the crap out of passerbys while breathing confidently. mor-mr131042-gas-mask-adults-halloween-costume-accessory-800.jpg
     
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  13. jb in NE

    jb in NE Senior Member

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    Funniest thing I've seen on this forum in a while.

    Don't forget to add a small set of devil horns on top as well...

    Also, consider the fuel mileage improvements from never having any passengers in the car when they see you strap that mask on.
     
    #13 jb in NE, Jun 14, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019
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  14. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The other One Percenter.....

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    I went to a funeral some years back for a three-year-old baby girl.
    One of my co-workers had a granddaughter who contracted some three letter acronym (TLA) disease caused my mouse poop.
    According to the Googles, it was Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.
    To make matters worse, it seemed at the time that house renovation may have been how the little girl was infected.

    VERY few things in life are sadder for me than seeing a mother weepiing over a too-small coffin.

    So yeah.
    I get the whole mouse-disease thing.

    However (comma!!) meces in Priuses are a very common thing.
    One of the many reasons for this is the soy-based wire insulation which to the rodents are irresistible to munch on.
    One of the other reasons is that there is a direct path from the cold, dangerous, cat-infested world outside your Prius into a ready-made, spacious mouse-house which is the cabin air filter box.

    If you're going to be worried about some TLA disease ending in 'syndrome' (they all do. it's a rule.) then clean that first.

    If there was as much as a 1 in 1,000 chance of mieces making car owners sick, then the CDC would probably have figured all of this out by now....and Priuses are BY FAR not the only car that this is a problem for.
    Remember also that getting sick isn't getting dead.
    If you're very young, very old, or your immune system is compromised, then you're more likely to get some 1:1,000,000 sickness, BUT, since you've already been driving this car for most of a month, and since people aren't crawling all over your house wearing haz-mat suits and using portable air samplers.... I think you're gonna be OK.

    So....
    I would disinfect the air box, and run the car through a few car washes to see if any more electrical problems crop up.
    If you're worried about meece droppings I would also clean out the spare tire well and yank the back seat out to see if there's anything interesting there and I'd do a little bit of the old vacuum and Lysol thing all over the rest of the car.
    The meeces got into the headliner from somewhere else that they pooped and peed in first.
    As far as the dealer is concerned (and I don't say this about many dealers!) I think that they've tried to honor the warranty.
    I do not think that they owe you a new headliner, nor do I think that you should replace yours....NOR do I think that this is the most serious thing that might be wrong with the car!
    Think about it from a mouse's point of view.
    Why would you pass up all of those yummy wires between the driveway and the dome light just to munch on those wires?
    If all of this is creeping you out, then you may be better off writing off the car and getting another one, but the dealer is either obligated to take the car back or they are NOT.
    It's in all of the paperwork that you signed when you bought the car.
    My Spidey senses are telling me that for a 4-year-old car, they're NOT.
    However (comma!) without getting into the politics that is poisoning every discussion, different people in different states have different rights.
    (Hint: You identify as living in NY)
    Sometimes there are consumer rights that a dealer might not inform you about.....or, frankly not even KNOW about......but as long as they are working with you, you're really better off working with them BACK.
    They might work with you to put you in another car - or - they might not, but whether they HAVE TO do so or not depends on what you signed when you bought the car.

    Re-read all of those papers.

    I wouldn't try to strong-arm my insurance company with this either, because either this was a per-existing condition, in which case if I were the insurance company I would say that you bought it that way......OR....it's happened in the weeks since you bought the car which would clear the dealer from any warranty obligation.
    Either way, it's going to be a 4-figure claim and if I were your insurance company I'd be sure and write that down somewhere...;)
     
    #14 ETC(SS), Jun 14, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019
  15. Prodigyplace

    Prodigyplace Senior Member

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    What do the wiring harnesses look like? Soy-based insulation is a buffet for mice.
     
  16. bettergolf

    bettergolf Junior Member

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    How about applying some type of spray on sealer to eliminate/greatly reduce the possibility of breathing dust from the headliner?
     
  17. Johnny Cakes

    Johnny Cakes Active Member

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    I'm not worried about mouse crap. I am worried about mice chowing down on my wiring. Where is said "cabin air filter box" and can it be easily mouse proofed?
     
  18. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The other One Percenter.....

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    The cabin air filter is in the glove box.
    If you're reading this and you own a Prius and you've never changed it yourself you may want to consider finding it and making sure that it's not filled up with acorns or dog food.

    There are threads that detail how you can use wire mesh in the air intake to prevent meece infestation.
    I haven't done this myself because my Prius is a work car, and my office is across the street from a for-real 'cat lady.'

    Meces are not a problem for me. ;)
     
  19. Prodigyplace

    Prodigyplace Senior Member

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    You usually remove the glove box to access it. It is not in the manual, so apparently Toyota expects a dealer to do it???

    2015 Toyota Prius Owners Manual and Warranty - Toyota Owners
     
  20. Johnny Cakes

    Johnny Cakes Active Member

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    You mean the filter in the glove box where you have to get the door to swing down to access? Yeah, I've change that one several times.
    I guess I thought they'd have a sneakier path in!

    I should have done a search earlier. Apparently, leaving the car in "fresh air" mode rather than "recirculate" leaves an 8x10 opening and practically a welcome mat inviting mice in.
     
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