Help: Dealer maintenance trouble

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by jglance, Jul 16, 2008.

  1. jglance

    jglance New Member

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    Hey all,

    I'm a newbie to this forum, but I need some advice on my Toyota Prius and I would really appreciate your imput. My story is this: last Sunday I was driving my 2002 Prius (184,445 mile on my car and I've owned it since new) home from LA to Riverside. I was a really hot day, and I was running the air, when I lost all power in the fast lane. I was able to get it safely off the fwy. The main hybrid warning light was on as was the brake light and check engine light. I had it towed by to Riverside where I live and left it at Riverside Toyota. Paul, the service rep. calls me on Monday to say they checked out the car and I need to replace the inverter/convert to the tune of about $4,976 (4,252 for the inverter/converter plus taxes and labor). I told him that it was a lot of $$ and let me get back to him. I check around at 2 other dealerships that quote me $3,500 for the inverter/converter so I call back and talked him down. I finally get him to $3,698 for the part, at which point I approve the work to go ahead (this was yesterday). He tells me they should have the part in today (Wednesday) and he'd let me know when the car will be ready for pickup but probably this evening.

    Now this is where this goes from bad to worse! He calls me this morning and tells me his technician thinks that when the inverter/converter fried, it damaged the electric motor and it's going to be several thousand $$ more to fix. I tell him if that's the case and he's sure, to stop work that I don't want to get the car fixed and I'll scap it instead (we're now talking upward of 10,000 in estimated repairs)!!! He says well, I still expect you to pay the over $4 grand for the inverter/converter work. I tell him that I'm absotutly NOT going to pay him $4 G for a car that doesn't run not in this life time. And that I would have never had the car fixed if he had given me that $$ amount in the original estimate. So what are my rights here? Can he hold me over a barrel or keep my car if I don't pay??

    All you thoughts on this matter would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. GatorJZ

    GatorJZ Member

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    Assuming without knowing that California law is similar to other states, the shop has a valid mechanics lien on your car IF they complied with applicable statutes regarding estimates, etc. If they haven't yet performed the original work, you are probably OK. If they have performed the work, they are entitled to be paid UNLESS you can show they were negligent in not finding the additional damaged components at the outset. Just because they didn't initially find it, doesn't necessarily mean they were negligent. Sometimes additional tear down is required in order to determine the extent of repairs necessary to fix the car. In light of the amount of money involved, you need to go see an attorney with some expertise in this area. The mechanics lien laws are usually very pro-consumer and if they didn't do everything correctly, you may have an out. Good luck.
     
  3. pewd

    pewd Clarinet Dude

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    Thats a question for your attorney; the law varies from state to state.
    So I'd suggest you start by talking to your attorney.

    Then you might consider calling Toyota customer care, see if they can get you some help with the repair costs.

    hope this helps

    edit: Gator beat me to it. Great minds think alike.... ;)
     
  4. jglance

    jglance New Member

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    We, I've got good news and bad news:

    bad news:

    Toyota of Riverside confirmed that the electric motor was damaged when the inverter/convert fried. The cost of fixing both is to expensive, so essentially my long and up until now happy life with my 2002 Prius is over.

    Good news:

    Toyota of Riverside has done the standup thing and told me that they'll release the car to me at no charge, which I don't have to tell you is a huge relief. Paul Sinclaire the service rep. at Toyota Riverside called me back yesterday afternoon to give me the news. All my worst fears about how this sinario could have been playing out were untrue, so good on them!! He was very nice and very understanding about my situation. I think when it's time to get a new car I'll go to Toyota of Riverside.

    One last thought:

    I've had my Prius for more than 5 years and I've clearly put a ton of miles on her, and until now it's been by far the most reliable car I've ever owned. Toyota makes a really great product and I really still do believe in the technology. I just wish that these parts weren't so expensive. It really is shocking. Electic motors are not complex items, I just don't understand why it should have been $5-6 grand to replace. I know the inverter/converter is a very complex part, but really $3,500? I hope Toyota can figure a way to bring the cost of these parts down or a lot of Prius owners are going to be in for a very big supprise. And I'm really sad because I already miss my car.
     
  5. ceric

    ceric New Member

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    Well, that is I welcome competitor like Honda to drive down the price (the whole vehicle and parts). Today, Prius has no real worthy competition today.
     
  6. jglance

    jglance New Member

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    You're right, Toyota really has no serious competition in the hybrid market. Or for cars in general in terms of quality. My wife owns a Honda Civic si (ono-hybrid), and it's an OK car, maybe? It's fun to drive, but it's nothing interms of fit, finish, build quality and quality of materials, paint finish, etc. The Honda just seams a little cheap. Her honda may live to 185,000 miles but it won't look to good at the end (cheap paint and clear coat and very thin body work). My older Toyota has (had) more than 3 times the miles and still looked great. Damn, going to miss that car.:( It's sad, really, I thought she had so many miles lef in her (Prius on my wife).:p
     
  7. Bob64

    Bob64 Sapphire of the Blue Sky

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    I'd suggest trying to find some used parts... the most expensive part of it is the LABOR... Which may be cheaper if you find an independent hybrid auto shop that can do the job...
    This is what replacing the MG2 in the prius consists of:
    Rebuilding a Toyota Prius Transaxle -- Art's Automotive, Berkeley, CA


    Perhaps steve of autobeyours can hook you up with some cheap salvaged parts?
     
  8. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    The Art's Automotive website discourages installation of a Classic salvage transaxle: "...Chief among the lessons learned: it's probably best not to install a used transaxle in a first generation Prius because MG2 failure seems to be a fairly common problem."
    Replacing A First Generation Prius Transaxle

    I'm glad that the OP was not stuck with the inverter bill. The dealer probably decided that the OP could not be expected to pay, hence the dealer would be stuck with a non-functioning 2002 that has close to zero market value in its current condition.
     
  9. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

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    Sounds like this car has little or no future. If you sell the useable parts, add up all your expenses over the almost 185k miles, you could calculate the total ownership costs in cents per mile. I would like to know that number.
     
  10. sgort2

    sgort2 Junior Member

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    I wonder how many other 1st gen. Priuses have had this problem, the EXACT same thing happened to me on Monday, car lost power on the freeway, took it in to Toyota of Carlsbad they assessed a failed inveter coolant pump, possibly failed inverter, and failed transaxle. The repair is estimated to cost ~$10K and Toyota corporate isn't willing to do anything even though the car is only 2500 miles past warranty.
     
  11. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Very interesting. Could you obtain the DTC (diagnostic trouble codes) that were logged, and post them.

    The root cause of your problem probably was the failed inverter coolant pump. Since we are seeing an increasing number of such failures with Classic as well as 2G, I am wondering whether it makes sense for owners with higher mileage vehicles to do a preventive maintenance replacement of said pump - rather than wait for a failure that may lead to damage of much more expensive components.
     
  12. EZW1

    EZW1 Active Member

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    Because a failed inverter pump is so critical to operation of the vehicle, and may cause so much damage if it goes and the driver doesn't catch the overheat warning of the inverter, I would hope Toyota installs a coolant flow monitor on the pump that will shut the inverter down if the pump fails. Such a device is cheap and will prevent excessive repair costs for the consumer.

    Kinda like the high pressure switch in the air conditioning system shutting it down if the freon is lost.
     
  13. sgort2

    sgort2 Junior Member

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    i got a 3120 - transaxle assy malfunction and 3125 - inverter malfunction

    and yes, i've heard it's VERY wise to replace the inverter pump at ~75K as you will not get a warning light once it quits
     
  14. blueberry

    blueberry Junior Member

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    So what would a replacement inverter pump cost as a preventative move?
     
  15. paprius4030

    paprius4030 My first Prius

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    I'd like to know that too, but I haven't heard of any of the taxi people or other fleet, high mileage users having this trouble?
     
  16. galaxee

    galaxee mostly benevolent

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    don't know exact part price but probably around $200 at dealer markup, and expect up to 3 hours labor. in the 2g, i haven't seen fried inverters due to this pump going that i can think of- in fact, someone once continued to limp the car along with all the lights on and still didn't fry the inverter. this appears to be a bigger problem in the classic.

    you can't just shut down a powertrain system in the car upon something going wrong. the car won't shut down the engine if you have a catastrophic oil loss, it's up to the driver to notice the warning and get off the road safely.
     
  17. hschuck

    hschuck Member

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    Do the 1G and 2G cars use the same pump? Is there a pump p/n change between early and late gen2 2G models?
     
  18. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    There sure is a market for a product that can monitor inverter coolant temp. Why didn't Toyota put a temp monitor in the inverter coolant stream?
    What am I saying...they never even put a coolant temp monitor in the car!
    You have to buy a Scan gauge for that. Wish I could see inverter coolant though with mine.
    How about a little aftermarket underhood box that emits a loud underhood squeal if temps go over 190 degree's inverter coolant temp with a sensor that you apply to one of the coolant hoses on the inverter. I'd buy one if I owned a Gen1 car or if my 07 car was approaching 50K+. I have a good warranty on my 07 but I'd much rather take it to the dealer with a bad pump than a blown inverter. With the economy continuing to go south the dealer service dept will try to void your warranty at every turn as they look to the service dept as a profit center more & more.
    $89 for the box could save you $4000. if you are out of warranty. PriusShop...knock one out!!!

    This car really needs an engine temp monitor and an inverter temp monitor in its display system.
    You lose the inverter out of warranty and its a done deal. Inverter coolant pump is obviously a sore spot with +100K cars.
    On a side note..Posters..please post maintenance levels on your Gen1 trans.
     
  19. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    Been thinking about this and I wonder if a low volt condition with high load is whats killing the field coils in the MG's. There have been a few Gen1 MG's with burnt windings. Nothing can burn up a motor winding faster then low volting it under load. The inverter goes over temp but continues to supply output power only lower volt until it finally fails. That condition would certainly overheat & destroy the MG windings.
    The sore spot is the inverter coolant pump on this car.
     
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