Problem with Self-leveling HID Headlights

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by cellsite, May 15, 2005.

  1. cellsite

    cellsite New Member

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    When I got my 2005 Prius in December, I was impressed by how well the headlights illuminated the road.

    In February, I carried some heavy boxes in my 2 month old Prius. Immediately following that, I noticed that my headlights went severely out of alignment. They were aimed so low, that they had a range of no more than 30-35 feet (yes, I did measure it) in front of the vehicle. Beyond that, all was cut off and in total darkness. This is 30-35 feet at the road surface, so in reality the back of a car or truck will not be illuminated more than about 25 feet in front of me. They are no more effective than fog lights... Not a good thing if I come up on a parked semi-truck at 55mph.

    Reflective highway signs do not reflect back. In fact, my Prius casts a shadow on reflective signs if I am between the sign and someone behind me with normal headlights.

    I have to drive with my high-beams on to have the desired effect of being able to see the road in front of me, and not a soul ever flashes their "brights" at me. Its drive with the highbeams or don't drive at night.

    I have had it to the dealer 3 times now for this. I even sent an email to Toyota's website and their only reply was that they were sorry that I was having problems but I should take it to the dealer where they have to sophisticated equipment to fix my headlight problem.

    Seems that after a while, they "self adjust" back into alignment.

    The most recent time I took it to the dealer (2 days ago), they were functioning right, but I was told that they called the Toyota help line and were told that Toyota is aware of this issue in about 15 other Prii, but they have no fix for it yet.

    The next day, I stopped at Home Depot and picked up a 6' piece of lumber, and low and behold, they are stuck again.

    Has anyone had any experience such as mine? This is a hazardous situation and 3 months later, the problem still exists.

    Thanks

    mike johnson

    (best tank - 604.5 miles!!!)
     
  2. DanP

    DanP Member

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    If a heavy load in back causes the problem, perhaps jacking up the rear of the car might fix it.
     
  3. xevious

    xevious New Member

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    The best advice I can give you is to go to a different service center. The problem that you are experiencing is atypical, serious, and life-threatening. Your current dealer is obviously not taking it seriously, so find one that will.

    Call the Toyota Customer Experience Center (it's listed on their web site) and let them know what's going on! Don't hang up or shut up until you have a representative who understands that your HEADLIGHTS HAVE STOPPED WORKING!

    Have heart; there is most definitely a fix for this, and a good service center would have attempted it by now - systematically replace every system from the level sensor to the headlight adjust motor until the problem goes away.

    This is assuming, of course, that your computer isn't full of error codes telling them exactly what the problem is.

    Your last resort would be to use the lemon laws in your state. Mentioning this option to a Toyota representative should get some attention.

    Good luck.
     
  4. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    At no point did the auto-level trouble light turn on in the dash? It looks like the pictogram of a headlight with an up arrow and a down arrow on it.

    Look around for another dealer. If those boobs can't figure it out, it's time to move on.
     
  5. HTMLSpinnr

    HTMLSpinnr Super Moderator
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    Sounds to me like it could be a faulty height sensor in the rear, but that's pure speculation.
     
  6. Frank Hudon

    Frank Hudon Senior Member

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    I'll agree with Rick on this one. If only one headlight was stuck down I'd say shutter but both seems to indicate the Rear Level Sensor on the rear axle.
     
  7. rlcarr

    rlcarr New Member

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    We have exactly the same problem, and we never even put anything heavy in the back! Ours is a 2004, though. We only noticed the problem last week, so we haven't brought it to a dealer yet. We will, soon!
     
  8. rick57

    rick57 Member

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    I agree with Rick, in that it maybe the height sensor. But also, as Jay asked, is the indicator for the auto-level lights on? I had one come in recently with the indicator on. While checking the sensor ( mounted on the left rear suspension arm ) I found it was not changing meter readings as I raised/lowered the attaching arm. So a new sensor is on the way. Haven't replaced it yet since I have been on vacation this week.
     
  9. cellsite

    cellsite New Member

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    After 3 failed attempts to get my dealer to fix the problem, I finally called the Toyota Customer Service number... I explained the problem in detail to the rep, and he told me that someone would call me within two days to get the problem rectified...

    Go figure, they emailed the info to the service manager from the dealership that I have been working with and he called me. He stated that he was aware of my problem and because it was late on Friday afternoon, he would call me back with an answer about a "field fix" the following Monday... That was three weeks ago, and I am still awaiting his callback...

    I looked into the Illinois Lemon Law and it states that I have to give them 4 chances to fix it before it would take effect. They have had it three times thus far, and I am due for my 20,000 mile oil change.

    Ironically, they sometimes do adjust themselves correctly after driving for a period of time, say 30-45 minutes. Recently, I noticed that when I start the car at night with the headlights aimed at the garage door, I can see the beams moving and actually adjusting downward.

    Both lights do adjust together and I have never seen the auto leveling warning indicator illuminate as Jay described.

    Thank you all for your input on this.

    mike
     
  10. priusham

    priusham New Member

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    My Dec 2005 has the exact same - and intermittent - trouble. :(

    Sometimes they are fine :D, sometimes they are point 8 feet in front of the car :cussing: , sometimes they fix themselves after a few miles :roll:.

    Sometimes not.

    It's been in once with "no trouble found..."
     
  11. rlcarr

    rlcarr New Member

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    cellsite & priusham -- any news on your problems? As I noted upstream, I have the same problem and have already been brushed off by one dealer.
     
  12. priusham

    priusham New Member

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    For the very first time today, both my wife and I saw the so-caled "headlight alarm!"

    It looks all the world like the side view of a headlight with a screw through it! Go figure.

    The wild thing is, the headlights were not on and it was broad daylight. I told my wife it's like the main computer polled the auto-level sensor and never got any feedback, so it sounded the alarm.

    There of course, was no "sound" just the weird icon on the MFD, and the red triangle of death. They both disappeared after about 30 seconds.
     
  13. rlcarr

    rlcarr New Member

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    Wow!

    We just got the headlight system MIL as well (tonight) after the lights being wrong for over two weeks.

    Hopefully the dealer will have to believe something now.

    How long are the trouble codes stored in the ECU?
     
  14. rick57

    rick57 Member

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    I had been unable to find any trouble codes for the auto leveling lights on the one I had here. Basically the tech would have to do volt/resistance checks at the ECU then go to the circuit that was causing the problem. The height control sensor would be a prime target to me. Easy to check and I already had one defective. Another area might be the wire harness on the right side of the dash,pulling on a connector behind the glove box. Have been told that would cause problems also.
     
  15. rlcarr

    rlcarr New Member

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  16. DanMan32

    DanMan32 Senior Member

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    Actually, the headlight leveler ECU is quite dumb and sets no DTCs. Instead, it has an error output lead going to the combination meter to light the lamp and inform the MFD to display its representation of the error.
     
  17. rlcarr

    rlcarr New Member

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    Oh -- interesting. Seems shortsighted, given that headlights are important safety equipment.
     
  18. priusham

    priusham New Member

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    DanMan... where is this lever-arm on the rear axle? I want to smack mine with a five-pound sledge to "adjust" it.
     
  19. DanMan32

    DanMan32 Senior Member

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    To protect you and your warranty, I'll have to respectfully decline. :)
     
  20. priusham

    priusham New Member

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    Ok, I want to LOOK at it.

    maybe... gently caress it.

    OK?
     
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