Solar panel discoloration

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Care, Maintenance & Troubleshooting' started by firsttoyota, Jun 1, 2014.

  1. firsttoyota

    firsttoyota New Member

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    Noticed discoloration in some the solar panel cells of my Prius. Vehicle is a little over a year old. Took it to my dealer and they had it looked at by region rep. From what I have read about the problem this is not normal and will eventually lead to panel failure.
    Dealer says there is nothing wrong and that it is from the sun. Really? They will however replace it as a one time fix as a courtesy . They say this is the first one they have done and I cannot get any info on how it is done. Does anyone know what is involved?
    This is my first Toyota and I can't say that I am pleased with the attitude the have projected. I am thinking of requesting a letter from the panel manufacturing co. stating that this is normal but based on the vibes I'm getting I do not think that will happen. So far this has required two trips to the dealer, six hours of my time with the repair still pending, Does Toyota make you go thru this BS on all warranty claims?
    I am happy with the performance of the vehicle overall but do not like having the feeling that Toyota is doing me a favor fixing a problem with a new vehicle still under warranty.
     
  2. firsttoyota

    firsttoyota New Member

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    Hard to believe that no one else has had this problem.
     
  3. Mr.Electric

    Mr.Electric Member

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    Which brand car dealers do not give you a bunch of bs when you make a warranty claim?
     
  4. c4

    c4 Active Member

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    The dealer is giving you a bunch a BS.. If protected from moisture, silicon cells don't "discolor" noticeably even after years of sun exposure.. I've got various panels that are as old as 20 years where yes, the glass cover and the frames are weathered, and the bed that the cells are mounted on inside have yellowed, but the cells themselves don't look much different than those in a brand-new panel.. If what you're seeing is the patchy greenish-gold discoloration that looks like a water stain that others here have posted about is that hat you're seeing is actually corrosion due to moisture that's getting in due to a bad seal somewhere.. The solar cell output would be degraded because of this, and eventually the circuit will open up in the corroded areas and then the panel will stop functioning..
     
  5. Beachnut

    Beachnut Member

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    FirstToyota thank you for your post, and bringing your issue up, so others can learn. I too am a first time Yota owner, and sounds like we have the same car. (Prius with opt. pack 3). My wife "Requires" a sun roof on her car, so we got it, along with the required solar panel extra. I was hesitant on the solar panel, as i wonder how long the car vent fan can hold up, being on near all summer long.

    If you have found your dealer to be less than friendly, is there another dealer within a reasonable distance you could take your business to? I would approach the shop manager, and let him know your not too pleased, and that you are a fan of Yelp, and would like to be able to post positive reviews, and continue to do business with them, but are feeling less than stellar with things so far. DO give them the opportunity to make things right, but if they don't,, find another dealer, and write the negative review.

    We bought our Prius due to having to Lemon Law our 2013 Dodge Dart. 14 repairs in 15 months of ownership, and it still was not fixed when I dropped it off. It only takes 3 visits, for the same problem, to lemon law a car in most states! (But they charge you a mileage pro rate, which is not cheap!) I too, had a very bad experience with the dealership I bought the car at, (San Luis Obispo Cole Dodge), I wrote a very positive 5 star review for the sales experience at Cole Dodge, and, a 1 star review for their service department. The service manager was like,, a Snob, who did not have the time of day for you, even after his shop, had overfilled my oil by 2 quarts past the full mark on its first oil change!!! (Discovered 255 miles later, at a gas station, when I calculated i was getting only 13 MPG!! Amazing it did not blow up!) I went to the next closest Dodge dealership, and they were totally FANTASTIC to deal with! Nothing but friendlessness, smiles, quality workmanship, and I stated so on Yelp for them, too! (5 star with written praises!) If you go to another dealership, let the service guy checking you in know exactly why you are there. My 2nd dealership was overjoyed to "steal away" yet another client, for more business, and I do believe they treated me even better as a result of it. I learned to try and be nice in all situations. Possibly the service guy / manager is having a bad day, but let them know kindly, your not one to be treated poorly!

    I wonder if they could replace the solar panel with a body panel, if the solar becomes problematic? The solar vent is a nice feature, but maybe having one is a good reason to have the extended warranty.
     
  6. ny_rob

    ny_rob Senior Member

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    Don't know if the search feature is working- but I remember a few threads about panel discoloration...
    So this is not the first time it's happened, maybe for your dealer it is- but not the first time for Toyota.
     
  7. stoby9

    stoby9 Junior Member

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    Yes, there was a previous post about this very thing in which at least a couple ppl commented that this was happening to them and that Toyota was doing little to nothing about it because the entire panel assembly is made by a third party. I tried searching for it earlier and found nothing....odd.

    I will be keeping a close eye on mine, though it seems so ineffective overall I'm not sure I'd notice if it stopped working. I really only wanted (and paid for) the sunroof, but I'd hate to take the hit in resale value if it's obviously discolored and not functioning.
     
    #7 stoby9, Jun 4, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2014
  8. firsttoyota

    firsttoyota New Member

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    Thanks for the replies. Still looking for the repair procedure from the dealer, not sure I want it done if the head liner removal is involved. I have never in all my years of car ownership had a "courtesy repair" done on a vehicle that is still under warranty. Sounds like Toyota is not confident in the panel to offer me a one time fix with no further warranty coverage on the part.
     
  9. Beachnut

    Beachnut Member

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    FirstToyota I would not allow anyone tell me it is a "courtesy repair", or, one time fix on a car with a warranty. (Unless the warranty is about to expire). Being new to Toyota, i can only assume Toyota probably has a 800# to call to escalate a repair problem similar to Chrysler had. Maybe someone on this forum can chime in, with the number, but, i would call that number and let them know what this dealer is saying to you. I mean, if my solar roof discolors, has obviously had water intrusion, cell degradation, or becomes unsightly, it would for sure affect the resale value of the car, and need to be replaced or repaired before selling it. It would be a "manufacturing defect", and should be covered under the warranty as a defect in manufacturing. Just as if one of my solar panels on my homes roof had that happen, and began to put out less voltage due to cell degradation, the warranty would replace it - (for 25 years). I sure hope this is not the beginning of many having this happen. Keep us posted as to how it all goes. Hopefully, its just that dealership your dealing with, and very few panels!

    Out of curiosity, could you ask them how much the repair would cost if you had to pay for it??? (I am debating the worth of my extended warranty, and if it would even cover that in the future).

    Any chance of posting a photo of exactly what your panel looks like. It would be good documentation for others.

    I wish we could see if the discoloration, caused a decrease in voltage output, it would certainly solidify the "defect" title for others. I could see Toyota saying as long as it runs the fan, it is doing what it was made to do, in hopes of the warranty running out before the panel died.

    Anyone know how long theses solar panel roofs have been offered on the Prius?
     
  10. firsttoyota

    firsttoyota New Member

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    Here are the pictures.You can see that the other cells are starting to do the same thing. 001.JPG 003.JPG 005.JPG
     
  11. firsttoyota

    firsttoyota New Member

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    If Toyota is watching, the dealer is located in Danvers, MA.
     
  12. Beachnut

    Beachnut Member

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    Wow, that is weird! Look Ma, goes from BLACK, to BLUE! :eek: I wonder if the dealer would let you keep the defective panel? Or, hook up a volt ohm meter to it when it is out of the car. I would love to know if the discoloration is affecting the voltage output??? Does your fan still work? I just sent an email to a friend in the Solar industry, linking him to this thread. Hopefully he will get back to me on it if this is "normal" or a defect...

    Thank you for posting the photo's, they are worth a 1000 words!
     
  13. ny_rob

    ny_rob Senior Member

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    I've played around with cheap solar panels- when you break the weatherproof seal- they lighten up in color just like the areas in OP's photos.
     
  14. Buzzhead

    Buzzhead Non-Interference w/ devel of pre-Warp civs

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    This is for the 2010 -
     
  15. firsttoyota

    firsttoyota New Member

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    Fan is still working and taking pictures outside is kinda tough, I shaded the area with a piece of cardboard to take the above. The areas are more of a greenish blue but the camera doesn't show it that way. Still waiting for the dealer to tell me what is involved before we get into it. If I keep pushing they may not do it. I think I will try the customer service number. I know they have offered to replace it but the terms bother me. Please do post any info from solar professionals that you find. Thanks.
     
    #15 firsttoyota, Jun 8, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2014
  16. firsttoyota

    firsttoyota New Member

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    Dealer called yesterday and the interior head liner has to come down to do the panel replacement. Toyota does not think the panel will fail but will do the replacement anyway. If it happens again I will have to get the district rep to approve the replacement again. I guess that's better then flat out denying any future warranty coverage for it. It goes in on the 16th, hope it goes back together without any problems as they have never done one before ( guess someone has to be first). If you have this option keep an eye on it for discoloration. I will let you all know how it turns out.
     
  17. HTMLSpinnr

    HTMLSpinnr Super Moderator
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    You're not the only one - my panel looks similar, but the blower continues to function.

    Dirty panel, but a multitude of "colors".

    IMG_20140611_120110.jpg
     
    #17 HTMLSpinnr, Jun 10, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2014
    zmre2b likes this.
  18. firsttoyota

    firsttoyota New Member

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    Yep, worse then mine. Dealer called today and they need it for another day, had to send it to a glass co. I think it should have gone to a body shop.Very involved. Hope I didn't make a mistake having it replaced. Let you all know when its complete.
     
  19. firsttoyota

    firsttoyota New Member

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    Looks like we will not get it until Thursday. Replacement solar panel had some delamination so they ordered another one from NY. They said the head liner did not have to come out, I do not think this is as rare as they say. They did offer us a car but we declined.
     
  20. Freefall_Doug

    Freefall_Doug Junior Member

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    I just bought a 2010 with the solar roof and I didn't even think to climb up there and look.

    I am well outside the bumper to bumper with 4+ years on the clock and 57k miles.

    I hope if this occurs Toyota will recognize that this was flawed from the date of manufacture. Solar panels should be sealed from day 1 and remain that way unless they are physically broken.
     
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