Should I buy? Check Engine Light on Service History

Discussion in 'Gen 1 Prius Plug-in 2012-2015' started by stubbygirdle, Jun 26, 2019.

  1. stubbygirdle

    stubbygirdle New Member

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    I'm looking at purchasing a 2014 Prius Plug-in with 71,400 miles. I looked up the service history on Toyota's website and it was regularly maintained at a Toyota dealership (awesome!) up until the last entry in September 2018 (at 67,600 miles) w/the following entry:

    "CUSTOMER REQUEST DIAGNOSES BASED ON CHECK ENGINE LIGHT."

    I haven't seen the Carfax or Autocheck yet to get an idea of what happened b/w that last entry and now, but wondering if anyone has insights on how to approach this (Maybe what to look for when I inspect the car? Do I just move on and keep searching?) I know there are a million things that could cause the check engine light to go on, so I suppose this post is a shot in the dark.

    I made a half-arsed attempt to call the dealership and see if I could get info as to what exactly the diagnosis was, but didn't get anything out of the representative. Is this something a service department would keep records of, and be able to pass on to potential buyers?

    The dealer selling it says it has "a clean carfax with no accidents." Of course I take dealer's with a grain of salt, and will look at the actual Carfax when I go to view the vehicle in two days, but wondering if anyone here had thoughts on it. Thank you for any insight you might have?
     
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    welcome!

    check engine can mean a lot of things. on a car that new, unless there was an accident, i can't imagine it was anything serious. if it was repaired at a toyota dealer, it is in the computer.

    plug the vin into the toyota owners website, and you'll get all the service records.

    all the best!(y)
     
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  3. noonm

    noonm Senior Member

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    Could be anything from a loose gas cap to a dying traction battery. Best advice is just to get it inspected by a 3rd party (such as a mechanic you trust). If the dealer isn't willing to let you get an independent pre-purchase inspection, run, don't walk, right out of there.
     
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  4. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    Frustrating that happens to be the LAST entry in the service history.
    Sort of like reading a mystery novel and having the last page with the resolution missing.

    Plus correct me if I'm wrong, but plugging your VIN into the Toyota website was how you got this information to start with?

    If it wasn't, yeah try that.

    Are you buying this private party or through a dealership?
    If you are buying through a dealership, is the dealership the vehicle was serviced at, that is refusing to reveal any information about the check engine light, the same dealership you are buying from?

    Worst case scenario, private party OR through a dealership you could insist on a independent pre-purchase inspection. Which if I couldn't get to the bottom of the "Check Engine Light" mystery I might be very apt to do.
     
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  5. stubbygirdle

    stubbygirdle New Member

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    Thanks to everyone who replied! It’s from a non-factory dealership that specializes in plug ins. (So not the Toyota dealership it was serviced at).

    Yes, that service history came from putting the vin in Toyota’s website (a great tip I got from browsing the PriusChat forums!). And 4,000 miles later it’s up for sale.... I’ll definitely have it looked at by a mechanic (was planning on doing that anyhow).

    I’m curious if there’s a way the dealer could turn off that check engine light without fixing the problem and pull a fast one on me?

    Background info: I’m buying it through a kind-of trade-in program that pays you more for buying a hybrid or ev (awesome Southern California program) BUT the dealers are restricted so i don’t have as much wiggle room to look for plugins at other dealers. There are some Toyota dealers on that list but they’re just priced too high for me to start with, and I haven’t had the greatest experiences trying to negotiate with them. There is a 2013 PiP from a Toyota dealer that’s in my budget but it showed one accident on the Carfax and has already had 2 owners. AND doesn’t have the service history that this one does...so I thought this is the better option on paper (ESP since it has impeccable maintenance and service records at the Toyota dealer - serviced pretty much every 5000 miles).
     
  6. stubbygirdle

    stubbygirdle New Member

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    Oh and I can’t buy from a private party through this program.
     
  7. N.J.PRIUS

    N.J.PRIUS Member

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    Like one of the other Prius members posted it could have been as simple as the gas cap not being tightened properly enough. This actually happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I pushed the start button and the "check engine light" came on. Within a day or two I took it to my local Toyota dealer and suspected that the gas cap hadn't been set tightly enough. To Toyota's credit the service writer told me to drive it for a couple more days and if the "check engine light" did not disappear to bring it back for a check. This saved me $147 diagnosis fee. He explained it would take about 6-8 cycles. In fact the "check engine light" did not come on after approximately 8 cycles. I was relieved and now make sure I tighten the gas cap after each fill. Here in New Jersey, they still have gas attendants. I hope this helps.
     
  8. SlidingBike

    SlidingBike Member

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    What is this program? Any web site?
     
  9. Dxta

    Dxta Senior Member

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    Dying traction battery won't show check engine light. It would displayed check hybrid system, VSC, etc.
     
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  10. Dxta

    Dxta Senior Member

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    I don't see this as a big problem, as long as there's no check hybrid system or the big red triangle light showing on the dash.
    But the dealer may have erased it though.
    Just like @bisco aaif, check the history online.
    Another thing is to make sure he allows for a testdrive. That way, if there was something hidden, although this depends on the drive cycle of a potential problem, the check engine or check hybrid system light may pop up.
    Can you asks the dealer, if you can check the car's live data of the battery, using a code reader?
    Asides those, then if I were the one, I'd buy the car.
     
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  11. noonm

    noonm Senior Member

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    Wouldn't the check engine light also turn on since without the traction battery, normal engine operations also wouldn't function? That's how it worked in my previous honda civic hybrid.

    Also, the issue was coming from Toyota's service history website, not a look at the car. I could easily see multiple warning lights being on, but only the 'check engine' one being listed.
     
  12. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    As mentioned, it's likely to have been something very minor. Toyota's Techstream diagnostic software will check for any present codes and also tell you if there are codes in the car's history. I'm not sure how long the car keeps the history, but it should be long enough to either reassure you or give you concern.

    If this dealer specializes in plug ins, they probably have Techstream. I'd ask them to check it and let you see the results as they check as a condition of buying it.
     
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  13. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    OK..yes the reason the check engine light illuminated....which is all we know...COULD be minor. Maybe it was minor, and resolved. MAYBE.

    But it's a little mysterious and raises some questions that's there's only notation that it was brought in for service in regards to this, but no notation about resolution. Usually most service centers will note...brought in for problem X....resolved through action Y.

    Which just means we don't know.

    A car is a big investment, I would at least at this point, want diagnostics ran, to see if there are stored codes. I'd probably want an independent mechanic NOT related to the selling dealership to check the vehicle out.

    It might all be a waste of money. It might all be over something simple. BUT....it's worth it IMO just in case it's not. You don't want to buy it, own it, be responsible for it, and have the check engine light illuminate 2 weeks into ownership and THEN find out what it's all about.

    I try to limit my gambling to budgeted trips and only in Casino environments.
     
  14. Dxta

    Dxta Senior Member

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    Your Honda isn't a full hybrid. It has a separate starter 12V that can start the engine.
    A Prius isn't designed that way.
     
  15. stubbygirdle

    stubbygirdle New Member

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    Thanks for te Techstream recommendation. that sounds like just what I need to get some reassurance.
     
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  16. stubbygirdle

    stubbygirdle New Member

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    Definitely my thoughts as well! I'd rather spend the extra $100 on an inspection and get reassurance then sweat over whether or not I'm wasting $100 for a big purchase. Thanks for the awesome advice.
     
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  17. stubbygirdle

    stubbygirdle New Member

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    It's called "Replace your Ride" and is managed by the Southern California Air Quality Board. Only avialable to SoCal/greater L.A. residents and is income-restricted. I'd be happy to talk more about my experiences to anyone who's looked into it and thinks they qualify - it sounds like an amazing program (and ultimately it is) BUT it definitely comes with some drawbacks. I don't want to take up this thread to go into them all, however.
     
  18. PrimerPrius

    PrimerPrius New Member

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    Hi "Stubbygirdle". I applied for Replace Your Ride, was pre-approved, they asked me to select my vehicle, and naturally, selected a 2019 Prius Prime Plus. They told me the approval process would take anywhere from 3-5 weeks and I'm now on my 6th week and my current status is still "Under Review".

    How long did your process take after you had selected your vehicle and submitted the window sticker and all the necessary documents?


    Thanks again!!

    SAL+
     
    #18 PrimerPrius, Jul 13, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2019
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