Headlight problem

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by AlphaTeam, Jul 5, 2007.

  1. Cynda

    Cynda Junior Member

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    Well, my husband has been on the phone back and forth all day between our local service center, and the customer service gal at the Toyota 1-800 number...finally an agreement, that Toyota will pay for all parts but we will cover the labor, $230.00. Not 100 % happy, but that's affordable for us right now and I do understand there will be some labor involved in the repair. We ARE however, keeping a ridculous paper trail, so if it happens again, we're prepared. I will just flip out if we have to do this again in a year.
     
  2. windstrings

    windstrings Certified Prius Breeder

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    Welcome to the forum!.... that was a glorious entrance being the 500th poster!

    I'm curious.. you say this is your fifth time in... how many times has the bulb actually been replaced?
    and also, once it was replaced, how long did it take for the "same" bulb to act up again?

    I'm curious because I haven't noted anyone having problems soon after replacing a bulb... of course you could have another issue.

    Also, sometimes dealers seem to want to exhaust all resources and run up the bill before doing the obvious "replacing the bulb".

    Just because you only paid 150.00 to replace the bulb, that doesn't mean Toyota didn't reimburse them too.

    Seems they enjoy getting paid by both parties if they can get away with it. Toyota is starting to pay even though its out of warranty.. but in limited measured amounts.
    Of course the dealer will not disclose details to us, nor will Toyota.

    At any rate, tell us why you had to go in so many times and what did they do each time?
     
  3. CBarr31

    CBarr31 Active Member

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    I just wanted to list the NHTSA Action Number for this problem since I had some trouble finding it earlier in this thread.

    The correct number is: PE09019

    And can be searched for here: ODI - Office of Defects Investigation

    The investigation is still listed as "Open" so maybe we will get a recall out of this but I doubt it.

    Happy Driving,
    Chris Barr
     
  4. yorkeyng

    yorkeyng New Member

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    Whoa! That's crazy! My local Toyota dealership charged me $40 labor for the replacement of BOTH headlights--$230 sounds outrageous! Can you go to a different dealership for a better price?



     
  5. captpg

    captpg New Member

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    Hello, and many thanks to the posters who contributed previously to this thread. Very helpful in dealing with with what appears to be some rather outrageous conduct by Toyota and its dealers with respect to this by now very well documented problem.

    Does anyone have any experience or advice in how to handle the situation where the Toyota dealer denies being able to find anything wrong with the HIDs in their diagnosis? I suspect their diagnosis is incorrect, because police officers have twice issued my teenage daughter tickets for driving without her lights on. (Unfortunately, each time she didn't check the lights until after the officer had left and discovered to her confusion that the lights appeared to be working just fine). Is there a specific diagnostic test that will reveal the problem or are are the options just to wait until they burn out completely and not to drive at night until then? (I'm not really sure that is an option . . . .)

    Thanks in advance for any insight and advice.

    Captpg
    2006 Prius Package 6
    with HID Lights (sometimes)
     
  6. drmanny3

    drmanny3 Member

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    Well I am now at 52,000 miles and the headlight problem is back as it was before. Go figure



     
  7. windstrings

    windstrings Certified Prius Breeder

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    First of all.. take a picture of your lights when one goes out.

    Second, give them a hypothetical situation and ask them if their diagnosis equipment can detect a spark plug missing problem if its not missing when they check it?

    Or, can they detect a problem that is intermittent and if its not acting up at the time, will their equipment register an error?

    Ask them if the computer has a way of knowing if the light goes out and registers such errors in its memory for them to retrieve later?

    Then show them that you are not alone and they cannot detect something thats not happening unless it happens when they are checking it.

    Lastly... show them the tickets the officier gave and ask them if they think the officer was lying when he gave you the ticket or their diagnostic equipment is wrong?

    You may not confrontational... but thats some ammunition to play with.

    Go to the top... go to the sales manager and even Call Toyota yourself... lastly.. go to another dealer and don't mention your demise with this dealer till the issue is resolved.
     
  8. c00lbeans

    c00lbeans New Member

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    Good News - I contacted the Toyota Corporate office and got my problem fixed.

    Here is what I went through:
    I called the customer service number on the Toyota Website and talked to someone, who collected my info and what my problem was. I made sure to tell them that I knew many people were having the same problem. He said he will get an agent to call me back the next business day. Meanwhile, he said I should contact my local dealer customer manager and gave me his number.

    I called the local dealer customer manager and told him about my problem. I also made sure to tell him that I've heard many people having this problem. Interestingly, before I even told him about the specific details about my problem, he said "and your headlight is going off after you turn it on for awhile?" He said he had to contact the Toyota agent, but said he will call me back. Later that day, he told me to bring in the car for a free diagnosis and I will also get a rental car while my car is in the shop.

    I dropped off my car at lunch the next day and received a call from Toyota agent, who said he just received my file (but have not talked to the technician or the customer manger at the dealer where I dropped of my car). I re-explained the situation, because the first agent wrote some weird stuff I didn't even say without writing down things I said. The agent was surprised when I told him I changed my bulbs - and immediately said that there is nothing they can do if I put in bulbs that were not from Toyota. I told him I dropped off my car with the old bulbs (luckily) and he said he will contact the master technician and will call me back.

    The service man from the local dealership called me in the evening to tell me that they will have to replace computer chips of both headlights AND the light bulbs. I asked him what was wrong and he just said they were defective. Luckily, they are going to pay for the repair and told me just to come back with the rental car on Wednesday or Thursday when they call me back.

    Here is my vehicle stat:

    Prius 2007
    Miles: 39000
    Problem: Driver side headlight kept going off after turn it on for awhile. I changed the bulbs (from ebay) and they were okay for two days. The driver side bulb start going out again then went permanently out. I also saw condensation inside the driver side headlight.

    Hope this information can help someone.
     
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  9. windstrings

    windstrings Certified Prius Breeder

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    If they want to replace whatever computer chip.... more power to them if its not going to cost you.
    I have had no such chip replaced and mine work perfect from my ebay lights.

    Anyway... this is encouraging.

    As soon as Toyota makes it the norm to treat people this way and releases a bullitin to all the dealers to do just that then the problem will be resolved and Toyota will be restored to good faith.

    Until then.. some people get "no" satisfaction, while others only get it if they show up with a pair of pliers ready to pull teeth, while others get the red carpet treatment.

    I'm not sure why this inconsistency has to exist.
     
  10. sarahrose0413

    sarahrose0413 New Member

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    Thank goodness I found this thread!! My sister had to have 1 of her headlights replaced about 5K miles (08), my mom had 1 replaced on her 08, and I have now had BOTH my lights replaced on my 08, I have no idea what the deal is with these headlights, but they sure are not long lasting like they are supposed to be!! I also notice they just don't give me the best visibility as regular car lights, so I just don't drive at night much, or if I do, I take our other car.
     
  11. yardman 49

    yardman 49 Active Member

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    Hello Sarah:

    When they do work, the HIDs give very good visibility, better than most regular car lights.

    However, sometimes we are seeing reports that they are not adjusted properly from the factory(vertical angle set too low). Mine were that way, until I adjusted them. Then they performed very well, doing an excellent job of lighting up the roadway.

    There are some threads here on the forums that describe how to make this adjustment. Or you can take it to a shop and have them adjust them.

    Best wishes,

    Frank
     
  12. yorkeyng

    yorkeyng New Member

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    Skip the dealer and contact Toyota directly either via email from their website or give them a call. Explain the situation to them and they'll understand--from what I've been told when I contacted them, they're well aware of the headlight issue with the 2006 MY. In fact, they didn't even ask me to go to the dealer for any diagnostics, they accepted my complaint without any verification and hooked me up with a local dealer to get the lights replaced. They paid for the lights and I paid for the labor, which came to just $40 for both lights.

    Good luck!

     
  13. BShanahan14rulz

    BShanahan14rulz New Member

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    Has any of you tried upgrading the power harness for the headlights? I would say give thicker wiring. This thread has 51 pages, that definitely means a problem of some sort. I would look into finding an HID harness. Perhaps what is going on is that the ballast isn't getting enough current to keep the bulb lit.
     
  14. windstrings

    windstrings Certified Prius Breeder

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    Welcome to the Forum.....

    Hid's are quite efficient, meaning they do allot with the power they have. A 35W HID will produce many more lumens than a 35W Halogen for instance.

    My point being, they are not pulling that much power.

    If the wires were too small, the problem would have been consistent from driving off the showroom floor till now.

    However, as discussed a ways back on this thread, there may be some internal resistance in the bulb that gets created from impure components aging with the heat/cooling process over time. Everything from poor grade copper to the material in the bulb that gets vaporized as it goes into a plasma state is subject to having impurities and being more vulnerable to time.

    In most cases, simply replacing the bulb does the trick.

    IN those cases, problems such as ballasts or wires being too small would not have gone away and so the problem should not go away either.. but since it does with a new bulb, logic suggests the vulnerability is either the bulb, or the OEM supplied bulbs don't match the regulated power of the ballast well and so die prematurely.

    If the voltage is too low "or" too high, the bulb could die prematurely.

    So is the root problem the bulb or the ballast?... don't know.. but a new bulb fixes the problem.

    I have been running on ebay bulbs "69.00 for two" for over 20, maybe 30K miles now and doing well in "both" of my 06 priuses.

    So you tell me?

    My suspicion is the bulb.... I think as the impurities start oxidizing over time, it takes more and more voltage to keep the fire a burning... a refire by turning the switch off and back on hits it again with a fresh high voltage blast to get it going again "while already very hot" and that keeps it going till it finally craters again....
    Finally the impurites overwhelm the ability of the bulb to maintain the runtime even after refiring.

    This is just my speculation.
     
  15. rickkop

    rickkop New Member

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    I saw this on The Truth About Cars website. I know some Prius owners have had problems with these so I thought I'd post this article for them to see.

    Is Toyota HIDing from Prius Headlight Problem?

    June 30, 2009


    First, engine sludge in the Camry. Then, rusty frame rails on the Tacoma. Advertising Age (of all people) reveals the latest problem to tarnish Toyota’s solid gold quality image: the Prius’ HID headlights. A number of owners of Toyota’s green machine weren’t well pleased happy their high intensity headlights died after a few years. No surprise there; replacing them runs up a $1000+ parts and labor bill. Owners claim HID death is a “a dangerous but undisclosed safety defect” and that Toyota has “long been aware of Prius’ HID headlight problem” and is “concealing the problems from owners.”
    So far the national Highway Traffic Safety Administration (el NHTSA) has received over 300 complaints about the headlights. When El NHTSA contacted Toyota about the issue, the automaker said they’d provlde information on the headlights “by the end of the month.”
    Meanwhile, an unnamed “company spokesman” told AdAge that Prius owners are responsible for repairs after the warranty has expired. So it doesn’t look like Toyota may be willing to do much to sooth owners’ ruffled feathers.
    Looking forward, ToMoCo better be careful, though. As marketing expert Andy Fletcher pointed out, Prius owners are “sensitive people with a clear sense of right and wrong and their obligation to society.” With the new Prius whirring onto the streets, they’re “the wrong group to mess with, particularly now.”

    Is Toyota HIDing from Prius Headlight Problem? | The Truth About Cars
     
  16. windstrings

    windstrings Certified Prius Breeder

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    Nice link Rickkop... I"m part of the solution "or problem" now as I am registered and have commented too.

    Its ashamed its not till things get media attention before the big guys figure its in their best interest to take care of the issue.... until that happens, they think its in their best interest to hide it.

    Toyota must have had a management shift in the last few years.

    What made them great "customer service and a product of pure excellence" has faltered.

    Anyone can forgive someone for not being perfect, but few customers will forgive for buying a bum product when that same vendor wants them to buy again.

    I can respect that Toyota has done away with HID's in their 2010's if they can't get them to work right " don't other vendors do ok?", but its harder when they won't take care of the customers that got burn't and then to beat all, want them to pay thousands of dollars to fix it themselves when the problem can be fixed for very little.

    There are some isolated rays of hope as more and more people are getting Toyota to listen, but we shouldn't have to hold their feet to the fire... there should be a simple recall..... period!

    It won't be the first time a vendor has been found to not be perfect....

    What makes them perfect is not that they produce flawless products, but rather that they stand behind them flawlessly!
     
  17. talonts

    talonts VFAQman

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    An update on my 06. Last Dec (just SIX MONTHS ago), the passenger bulb started winking out. January I ordered a set off bulbs from stillenmaxima98. Put them in around the 15th. Mid-Feb, the DRIVER'S side starts winking. Sent it back for replacement put my original driver's "good OEM" in its' place, no issues...

    Put the replacement in the driver's side about 6 weeks ago. About 2 weeks ago, the driver's side starts winking AGAIN. 3 bulbs in 6 months!

    I put in my NHTSA complaint. If I didn't leave my foglights on all the time, it would be a real hazard, as people might assume I am a motorcycle, or if BOTH wink out at once, I'm blind.

    They'd better recall these soon.

    They could make me happiest of all by just handing me a pair of 04-05 ballasts, I'll slap them in my spare set of 04 housings, buy some D2Rs, and swap them into the 06, as my 04 has had zero problems with its' D2Rs so far.
     
  18. BShanahan14rulz

    BShanahan14rulz New Member

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    Here is what my take on this is for possible problems, in no specific order:

    1: Ballast. Toyota/Lexus usually use ballasts made by Denso. These things are definitely nowhere near weatherproof. Let me try to dig up a picture...
    Well, I had a picture, but I don't have 5 posts yet. That's ok, just google image search for Denso ballast.
    Perhaps it is mounted in a bad location on the prius.
    Being that it is in a prius, I also wouldn't put it out of toyota's realm to try to create a more efficient ballast for the energy-efficient prius. look around for a Matsushita ballast (round, dark-grey, finned case) or a Hella Gen. 3 (many asian kits copy off of the gen 3, you all prob. know what it looks like)

    2: wiring. It's only logical that as a bulb ages, it takes more power to start it up. the voltage is more or less constant in a car system, so the ballast has to pull more current to start and maintain arc in an older bulb. Perhaps somebody who is currently experiencing the problem on a regular basis could try this out and report back.

    3: Bulb. the Brand Names have it when it comes to bulbs. Make sure your dealer is not putting mercury-free bulbs in a d2 system or d2 bulbs in a d4 system. Also make sure they are made by a reputable manufacturer. imo philips>osram>koito>GE when it comes to HID bulbs.
     
  19. windstrings

    windstrings Certified Prius Breeder

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    If I remember right, seems I read the D4R bulbs that go in the 06 prius were the first year they were released. I still think its a bulb issue more than anything.

    Although the ballast are not waterproof, that would still be a non-issue unless replacing the bulbs alone did not make the problem go away.
     
  20. talonts

    talonts VFAQman

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    1 - They're mounted on the bottom of the headlight housings, and they are pretty waterproof - they even have an O-ring to seal them to the housing (though that only stops water from the bottom, not sneaking in from the back of the housing). See http://www.vfaq.net/proj-pics/headlights/06_left_04_right.jpg for pics of the 04 (D2R) and 06 (D4R) housings. Notice the D4R ballast is about 2/3 the size of the D2R by the footprint on the housings.

    2 - the wiring from the bulb to the ballast is less than a foot long (more like 6" - see the 06 housing above, you can see the silver jacketed wire and a bit of the ballast where it is hanging off the back of the housing). If it were that sensitive to resistance changes, it would flare out from temp differences from day one.

    3 - True factory bulbs are Philips for the 06-up D4R, so if you get anything else, suspect that your dealer is outsourcing.
    From Philips email I got today:
    "Thank you for your submission, the D2R HID bulbs are 85V 35W. D4R bulbs are 42V 35W. If you have any further question let us know."

    So I doubt that D2R bulbs would even start up with a D4R ballast at half the voltage needed.
     
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