... panick attacks, hot flashes, temporary insanity

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by asjoseph, Feb 21, 2009.

  1. asjoseph

    asjoseph Samuel, '04 Ruthiemobile

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    Dear Digest,

    Recurring problem just recently, with my '04 Prius... driving by this not so top secret military base here in the Southern California high desert, our Mrs. Ruthie Mobile (e.g., our family hybrid Prius car) suddenly -- going berserk?

    She's been under some stress, lately; she doesn't like those scary places.

    Problem recurs, iff (iff and only if) I'm on this particular highway, driving by the good 'ol boy not so top secret military base at a certain time of day, having put between 60 and 130 miles on the car, suddenly the Mrs Ruthie Mobile has... a panic attack.

    "BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEEEEEEEEEP," all the buzzers, and sensors and lights on the dash, going off like it's independence day! Mechanical significance: power brakes inexplicably shut down.

    I thought to myself, for sure: ABS sensor(s)...

    First time into the Toyota dealership, last week... service writer and the technician, surveying the problem... that look in their eyes I once saw in fellow students, like they've just shown up for the big test, third semester math analysis, still not understanding a single thing, despite having studied, all night long...

    Gave the car back to me, new brake pads and resurfaced rotors, having done little more than turning the car off, then back on, off then back on, several times, they tossed the key (er... the fob) back with a reassuring, "pads and rotors ought to do it; just needed to reboot the computer; everything's going to be A-okay, now!"

    Next day, driving home, same time of day, roughly the same place, right by the winkie, not so top secret, good 'ol boy military base and... sure enough, yet another panic attack. The Mrs. Ruthie Mobile going DEFCON I, in sheer, abject terror!

    Buzzers, lights and sensors ablaze, shrieking at the top of her lungs (er, speakers), as though to say, "WARNING-WARNING! DANGER DANGER! AHHHHHHHHH, WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE! HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELP! SAAAAAAVE OUR SOULS!"

    "Easy-easy-easy, girl..." makes no sense whatsoever, talking to a dod-derned car, "..it's okay, Mrs. Ruthie! Just a few miles ahead to the Toyota dealership -- We'll go back, get you some klean-ex, dry up your sniffles; nice bowl of chicken soup, let the nice greedy people at the Toyota dealership give you whopping dose of TLC. Sound good?"

    But for the sensory overload, warning lights, bells and whistles, everything worked fine, just no power brakes.

    This time, the Toyota Service writer learned his lesson... "don't turn the vehicle off! Leave it running; leaving it running!" he drove it straight to the technician; hook it up to his diagnostics.. try to see what's wrong.

    Service writer hopped in, wheeled it into the stall... same guy who worked on it, before.

    Technician, that look of terror in his eyes, as though he was in, just a little over his head... Reached over, fumbling for what looked to be a very-very expensive laptop computer to plug, into the Mrs. Ruthie Mobile.

    Just left the car there, walked back, sat down in the service writer's office. Called-up my name on the computer. Big sigh of relief, service writer looking down at his terminal...

    "Ah! You have an Extended Care contract for this car!" Struck me as peculiar, that he seemed -- relieved? That somehow, my having that alleviated a burden; significant stress level for him seemed to -- vanish?

    "Yes. I do. I always (ALWAYS) buy the extended manufacturer's warranty" (e.g., the "factory" one; not the cheapie one the finance guy tries to sell you, at point of purchase).

    Well, the Mrs. Ruthie Mobile's prognosis was anything but -- specific? They called this afternoon, advised me (verbatim)... "it needs a new computer."

    Otherwise several thousand dollars parts and labor, I'm told. But, that I have the good 'ol boy warranty, I get the good 'ol boy price (e.g., just pay the 50 dollar dedictable).

    Then, my service guy asked of me a peculiar thing: "once we put in the new computer, the Technician would like your permission to drive it home, to see if that solves the problem."

    I sense what's going on, here: They don't have to know what's wrong. Toyota extended care contract, in-hand, dealership is free to throw parts at the problem, save who may, no need to study, develop a rich understanding; cause and effect. I suspect, by the time they're through solving this problem, I am going to have a whole lot more new parts on Mrs. Ruthie Mobile than I would have, otherwise, had I not had presence of mind back in 2004, to back-up the original warranty.

    70 thousand miles on this car... I have a sneaky suspicion: There is not a dod-derned-ding-dong thing wrong, with that computer.

    :)


    Regards,
    ~ S a m u e l


    | '88 MR2 Supercharged |
    | '04 Prius | '07 Outback |


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  2. efusco

    efusco Moderator Emeritus
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    Well, brakes going out is certainly not a good thing...but how do you know they were out? What exact symptoms did they exhibit?

    Next, if at all possible, ask the dealership for the error codes (the numbers, not their interpretation of them). It may well be an ECU that needs replacing, but sure hard to tell for certain.

    thanks for the entertaining version of the story.
     
  3. hobbit

    hobbit Senior Member

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    Yes, that's one of the more interesting variants on "my dashboard
    lit up like an xmas tree". At the risk of sounding much more
    mundane, did anyone generate an actual printout / list of diagnostic
    codes and check the 12V battery voltage? And is there anything
    unusual about the particular location where this occurs? Buried
    alien artifacts and the like, etc? What happens if you tune
    the AM radio to 540 and drive through that area? Any chance
    you spotted a guy near there with slicked-back hair and a sequined
    shirt, gyrating his hips and singing something about a hound-dawg?
    Or a pale woman in a long hooded robe and a funny circular thing
    on her head? If you put a compass on the seat next to you, what
    does it do as you pass through there?
    .
    _H*
     
  4. efusco

    efusco Moderator Emeritus
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    Ah, excellent, the 'ol 12v....it do do some weird stuff as it nears the end of its life. Swapping that sucker out may be the exact thing that's needed...as I highly doubt it had a darn thing to do with the rotors or anything else mechanical.
     
  5. asjoseph

    asjoseph Samuel, '04 Ruthiemobile

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    I tell you: this could be contagious! Its nothing the trillion dollar multiplier affect of the congressional electro-vibro-stimulo couldn't otherwise solve! Bail-out assistance from embarrassment of a token 50 dollar deductible... we should otherwise be getting some people back to work, throw some real money at this problem, ensure the Mrs. Ruthie Mobile dilemma is fully stabilized before it spirals out of control, into a viral affect which subsequently envelops every other Toyota Prius, on planet Earth!"

    Perish the thought, if only we'd just changed the battery! :)


    Regards,
    ~ S a m u e l


    | '88 MR2 Supercharged |
    | '04 Prius | '07 Outback |


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  6. donee

    donee New Member

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    Hi asj...,

    As you have identified the specific place where this happens, it could be the electro-magnetic enviroment in that area. If your battery is weak, the noise-margin in the circuits would be less, and emissions in that area could be overcoming the noise margin.

    The sensors can be high impedance circuits, out on the ends of unshielded wiring, or unshielded themselves. If the right frequency radio frequency gets in there, most modern hi-speed electronics will detect the radio frequency and the functional supervisory part of the system will think the sensor has become defective. It could be the ABS/TC sensors, as the Toyota tech did brake work. These typically have little pickup coils, which can act as magnetic antennas.

    Have you related this to the Toyota Service Manager? Is there a possibity that Toyota could send a team from the Phoenix prooving grounds facility over there with some spectrum analyzers to evaluate the problem?
     
  7. brick

    brick Active Member

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    Why would the 12V system be low on voltage after he had already managed to drive 60 miles or so? That doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
     
  8. donee

    donee New Member

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    Hi Brick,

    A weak 12 V battery would have a higher AC resistance, which would allow noise voltage on the buss.

    Your right, that I was thinking lower voltage, and that is wrong. Because the inverter is supplying the voltage. Unless the battery has shorted cell. But how likely is that in an AGM battery? I do not know, but think its not as likely than standard lead-acid batteries.
     
  9. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    Any chance the area is subject to strong RF signals from the military base? That could cause problems with the ECUs.

    Tom
     
  10. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    A phased array pulsed radar will cause interesting issues with cars, indeed almost all unshielded* electronics, assuming the array happens to cover that spot of the highway

    * By "unshielded" I mean systems not specifically designed to operate in an emp environment

    As far as the Prius, if that is the original 12 vdc battery, it would be my #1 suspect. Perhaps the service department is making a lot of extra money off the extended warranty

    My brakes are 70%
     
  11. kenmce

    kenmce High Voltage Member

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    Are there any big antennas, or things that look like a giant golf ball at that base? If so, what you may want is to check in with Toyota about whether they have some kind of RF shielding package.
     
  12. hobbit

    hobbit Senior Member

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    My own little block of electronics went a little nuts when I
    went by the big batch of transmitters on Lookout Mountain, but
    the car itself was fine at that point. And I thought about this
    back when I was checking out buying a Prius in the first place
    and did a bunch of testing with a fairly powerful UHF rig.
    .
    I'd try to find a broadband field-strength meter and drive by the location
    in question with it...
    .
    _H*
     
  13. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    H

    I enjoyed your roadtrip photos. The Fallon area had a nuclear bomb underground test, so did Moore's Station. The 1 MT test at Moore's Station - Project Faultless - actually caused existing faults to move, dropping the valley up to 20 ft

    Project Faultless

    As far as truckdrivers tailgating your nice person, there are a lot of asshat hillbilly retard truckers out there. Enjoy these clips





    jay
     
  14. asjoseph

    asjoseph Samuel, '04 Ruthiemobile

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    It's United States Air Force Plant 42. It masquerades, as a regional airport (e.g., Palmdale). Commercial flights are few, and far between.

    It's right here (e.g., once there you can zoom in/out):

    http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ie=UTF8&t=h&ll=34.612584,-118.095131&spn=0.099037,0.153122&z=13

    Lockheed's skunk works, Northrop's Integrated Services, Boeing -- just about every swinging dick in the defense industry has a presence, there (e.g., it's believed unmanned Predator drones flown in Iraq and Afghanistan are remotely piloted, from there).


    Regards,
    ~ Samuel


    | '88 MR2 Supercharged |
    | '04 Prius | '07 Outback |


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  15. kenmce

    kenmce High Voltage Member

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    If you care to, you could work up some temporary DIY shielding, Use aluminum foil or wire mesh, see if it does anything. Two areas to try would be the cabin, particularly the dash, and the area under the ICE.
     
  16. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    Well, it's worth a shot to try DIY shielding. Probably can't hurt, but difficult to make work properly. A lot of the NSA certified equipment boxes utilize a special fine mesh and foil shielding
     
  17. asjoseph

    asjoseph Samuel, '04 Ruthiemobile

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    ... well, Toyota dealership's finally done. Not as expensive as they thought it would be. Whole thing, summed, almost 1700 bux for the new computer.

    Extended care warranty I bargained for, I only had to pay 50 bux. So, I'm grinning about that. But, I am somewhat worried. My better-half... She is no Mario Andretti. I don't know whether I yet feel comfortable, turning this car back over to her.

    I don't know.

    When I got the car back this morning, first thing: made a B-line... drove straight back to the same place where everything went haywire (e.g., Military base). I drove that patch of road. Several times.

    Nothing... No seemingly adverse affect, whatsoever. Car seems to drive perfectly. Better than ever, like brand new -- so it seems...


    Best,
    ~ S a m u e l


    | '88 MR2 Supercharged |
    | '04 Prius | '07 Outback |


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  18. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    Ok, you have my curiosity now. What exactly happened that they had to replace the computer, and which computer?
     
  19. asjoseph

    asjoseph Samuel, '04 Ruthiemobile

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    Hmmm... let's see. Invoice says part number 89540-47130. "Computer Assembly <dot> SK" (e.g., no idea what the initials mean).

    I don't wrench this vehicle. I don't have the technical manual. But, I believe the replacement computer installed, somewhere in-dash. Toyota specified three hours labor. But, it took the poor guy two days.

    Just got it back, this morning. General note from the technician on invoice (verbatim): "FOUND CODE C1300 SKID CONTROL ECU MALFUNCTION; REMOVED AND REPLACED ECU AND CLEARED THE CODE. ROAD TEST OVER 100 MILES."

    No rhyme or reason, exactly 70 large on my odometer -- BANG! -- out went my ECU. I am someone who tends to incur these kinds of problems, first. I most certainly won't be the Lone Ranger. If my ECU goes out, at 70K, exactly -- so inevitably will yours.

    I sincerely hope everyone out there's boned-up, with an extended care contract. Had I not, this would have dinged me -- a cool 17 hundred bux.


    Regards,
    ~ S a m u e l


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  20. patsparks

    patsparks An Aussie perspective

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    As an Aussie it would be unpatriotic of me to say anything at this point but,
    She'll be right mate.
     
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