Oil leaks - 3 dealer trips and no fix

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Main Forum' started by ramdulari, Dec 15, 2019.

  1. ramdulari

    ramdulari Member

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    Posting here after many years! Owned my 2010 for over 10 years (acquired Oct 2009). First took to dealer for oil leak repair in May 2017. I was told it was a oil pan gasket replacement required, and cautioned that even after the repair the car could burn oil at a higher rate, as that's what the dealership has noted with this model year cars which need a oil pan gasket replacement. Cost ~$400. I don't think that repair really worked from the beginning. Since my garage floor was already dirty from the oil leaks, I didn't notice the ongoing leak even after the repair. Also, I tried to sniff the liquid on the garage floor a few times, feel its consistency between the fingers, and I couldn't tell that it was oil. However, I had to regularly keep topping up the oil, and the dealership service manager's caution that the engine may burn more oil was in my mind. So, long story short, it took a long time to convince myself the leak wasn't fixed, and then some further procrastination before I took the car back to the dealer, in April of this year (2019).
    In April, the same service manager at the original dealership told me this time it was a timing chain cover leak, and the oil pan gasket was holding up fine. I was quoted ~$1500 for the repair, and this time I took it to another dealership for a second opinion. The second dealer service diagnosed the same thing, and their cost to repair it was even higher. So I took the car back to the original dealership to get it repaired the second time.
    This time I pressure washed my garage floor clean of old oil stains (it is epoxy coated). The repair might have held up for a few weeks, but soon enough the stains returned (and I still had to keep topping up the oil). Took it back to the original dealer in October. Same service manager, and this time he told me the oil pan gasket must be replaced again! He did it for no charge, but apparently he has not done a good job. Three weeks later I checked the oil level and no oil showed on the dipstick! Even right after driving the car home from work (~15 minute local roads). So now I concluded that I must have got an incompetent dude to work on the car, and so I tried to reach the chief of the service department at the dealership. Over the last 3-4 weeks must have left him a dozen voicemails, and none have been returned. Every one of my voicemail was polite and requesting him to look into my matter. How hard or inconvenient is it right? Completely puzzled and disappointed that no one from the dealership has reached out to me yet. I mean, just have somebody else try to fix my car - is the leak so hard to diagnose/fix or are these guys so incompetent that the manager does not have confidence to assign anybody else to work on my car?
    What are my options? I am pissed at Toyota for making such a lousy car (I read on these forums that the timing chain cover oil leak is fairly common in this model). I am pissed at the dealership for taking my money for a promised service which was not delivered, and for not extending the most basic of customer service to me!
    My next steps would be to 1) Send an email to the dealership lodging my complaint, 2) email Toyota with my complaint, 3) file in small claims court against the dealership. Ultimately I want to get my car fixed, as I am saving for something and don't want to spend on a new car at this time. That said, if I have to spend on a new car, then I must spend on it. But I'm bewildered what can be so wrong with my car that the dealership service even with three go's at it couldn't fix it! I can take to another dealership, but I'll have to pay them - I'd rather the original dealership refund the money I paid them for fixing my car first! In the past I've found this forum helpful and informative, so I am posting here. Any good suggestions?
    Btw, the car has only been serviced and repaired at Toyota dealer service centers.
     
  2. Elektroingenieur

    Elektroingenieur Senior Member

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    If the service manager won’t return your calls, I’d suggest sending a letter, on paper, to the general manager of the dealer. Keep it brief, but give the relevant facts, such as dates and repair order numbers, and your contact information. Be clear about what you want them to do.

    You can contact Toyota, which may bring a response from the dealer, but remember that Toyota has limited control over its dealers, and even less over customer-paid repairs, which aren’t reimbursed by Toyota under warranty. The California Bureau of Automotive Repair, a government agency, has a complaint process, too.
    For mechanical repairs like those needed here, an independent shop, if you can find one with a good reputation, may give better results. I’m not surprised, frankly, that the dealer’s technicians would struggle; in today’s economy, persons with high mechanical aptitude, good diagnostic skills, and a strong work ethic have many other opportunities that are more rewarding than automotive repair.
     
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  3. tvpierce

    tvpierce Senior Member

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    Finding an oil leak should not be hard. And replacing a gasket is not hard either. I've not had to do either of the repairs you mention (oil pan gasket and timing cover gasket) on our Prius, but have done them on other vehicles. Toyota seems quite fond of using form-in-place sealant material as opposed to more traditional pre-formed felt, paper, or rubber gaskets. One drawback to the form-in-place sealant is that it needs to be applied properly in order to seal. Maybe the tech didn't clean the surface properly, or didn't apply the sealant properly.

    Also, I would imagine you engine is burning oil as well as dripping oil. If it was dripping the amount you indicate it lost, there'd be a pool of oil on your garage floor, not just a stain.
     
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  4. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    how many miles on her?
     
  5. lenjack

    lenjack Active Member

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    Sounds like inexcusable incompetence.
     
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  6. ramdulari

    ramdulari Member

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    It's got about 132,000 miles.
     
  7. ramdulari

    ramdulari Member

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    I thought maybe it leaks more while running...
     
  8. ramdulari

    ramdulari Member

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    Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I was thinking the same regarding mailing the dealer, but what a hassle! Anyhow, they put me in this position and now I'll have to follow through...
     
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  9. Kenny94945

    Kenny94945 Active Member

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    You are dependent upon a service shop to diagnose?
    For the hardest oil leaks to find, there is a black light dye you place into the engine oil.

    If I was to DIY I'd first remove any undercarriage fairing/ panels.
    Thoroughly clean the any old grease and oil from everything, make everything pristine as possible.
    Add the dye, drive for 100 miles (maybe 200), again remove fairings and use the black light to trace the oil leak.

    I have read on this forum that the timing chain cover is a notorious leaker.
    FWIW Maybe best option is to utilize another repair shop.
    Good luck.
     
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  10. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    I'd be inclined to do everything @Kenny94945 suggests except the dye, just because it done without any $ outlay. When you take the engine underpanel off, there's almost certain to be oil on the top side of it, maybe something can be ascertained from that.

    A couple more oil leak sources: timing chain tensioner (at right/rear corner of engine, about half way up) and oil pressure sensor (same vicinity, but a little along the back face).

    There's also a bolted on panel on the front side of the block, sealed with FIP gasket, which has the PCV valve mounted on it. I don't recall any leakage reports from that though.
     
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