Toyota Dealers are Killing the Golden Goose

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by whatshisname, Aug 30, 2010.

  1. whatshisname

    whatshisname New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2004
    67
    2
    0
    Location:
    Northern California
    They're killing the goose that laid the golden egg at the Toyota dealer I patronize. I realize we Prius owners are ahead of the group, that's what the name Prius means. We have been paying for that distinction ever since the car was first introduced. When is it going to stop? Several days ago I replaced the accessory battery in my Prius which was truly worn out. The price for the replacement was $211.66 take it or leave it. Labor for the installation was $65.00. The labor charge I can understand because workers are paid salaries and benefits. The total bill including sales tax was $297 (which as you can see was just a few dollars under 300.) Let me tell you, I am no youngster and I have been buying batteries for cars many, many years, but there is no equal to this. To make it worse, the next day I received a sales flyer from them offering Toyota batteries for $89.95. I contacted the service manager and he informed me that batteries for Toyotas run from 59.95 to 89.95, but not for the Prius because they are special. SPECIAL? What is so special about 12 volts? Physicists such as Volta, Ohm, Faraday, Tesla and Kirchhoff along with inventors like Edison all agree that electromotive force (called volts) and quantity (called amperes) are the same all over the world. When I brought some of this reasoning to the service manager's attention he defended by saying it was the physical size of the battery that made it special. How about that? There are tens of thousands of Prius' on the highways in America and still, they are SPECIAL. Hmm. I have purchased two Prius hybrids from this dealer and given them all my work, both major and minor for eight years. Their service work for me seems all right and appears reasonably priced, that is what competition does, but I can never trust their sales practice. They can cure a person's desire for Toyotas faster than he or she can holler OW! And another thing. While the battery was being installed, I wandered into the new car sales area and examined the sticker price sheet in the window of a new Prius. I was shocked to learn they removed the Japanese air from that car's tires and refilled them with American nitrogen for $159 added to the sticker price. Nitrogen is usually free when you buy tires elsewhere. (Costco for example). Finally, my dealer offers a 10 percent discount to seniors, but if you are as senile as I must appear to be, they don't even mention it. If you are considering a new or used Prius, suck on a few lemons or eat some hot peppers and get mean. Toyota dealers will great you, smile and call you friend, hug you and maybe even kiss you, but they don't mean it.
     
  2. jdenenberg

    jdenenberg EE Professor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2005
    3,177
    1,232
    1
    Location:
    Trumbull, CT
    Vehicle:
    2016 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    Your little 12v Battery is a sealed lead acid (SLA) battery (as is the one in my Jetta) with a high pressure vent so it is a low volume - high price battery. That said, a local Toyota dealer in CT just ran a special for $180 installed and you can get a better battery from:
    12 Volt (12v) Toyota Prius Auxilary Battery for 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 with installation kit
    with an installation kit for $165 and have your local garage install it using the supplied instructions.

    You do need to do your research before having almost any car dealer do maintenance on a car or they will rip you off. There are some you can trust (even some Toyota dealers), but they are rare.

    JeffD
     
  3. bedrock8x

    bedrock8x Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2008
    1,482
    134
    0
    Location:
    California
    Vehicle:
    Other Hybrid
    That is one of the reason of Prius nay sayers about the high cost of Prius maintenance and repair parts.
     
  4. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2005
    16,160
    5,996
    54
    Location:
    South OC So Cal & Nashville, TN
    Vehicle:
    2004 Prius
    Model:
    IV
    Um, despite TONs & TONs of write ups . . . . TONs & TONs of satisfied customers using the Optima yellow top mentioned here, TONs & TONs of times . . . . you failed to read up here at PC prior to your purchase?!? The only Golden Goose Killed my friend, is the wealth of knowledge here @ PC that you pee pee'd away.

    BUT - it's not too late. There'll be other opertunities, like your inverter fluid change out interval ... your PCV ... best brand(s) of after-market tires etc ... so you better get busy!
    ;)
    .
     
  5. a_gray_prius

    a_gray_prius Rare Non-Old-Blowhard Priuschat Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2008
    2,927
    768
    0
    Location:
    IL
    Vehicle:
    2008 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    Yeah parts and maint. are high at the dealership, which is an issue with the Prius because you don't really have a choice. It's compounded by the experience at dealership service departments which seemingly couldn't care less about you as long as they get your cash (from my generally very poor experiences).

    At least you didn't have to bear the shock of trying to get anything covered under the warranty (it's like my car doesn't have one because according to the dealer, everything is my fault!).
     
  6. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    18,115
    6,120
    0
    Location:
    Green Valley, AZ
    Vehicle:
    2015 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    MSRP of the 12V battery is $139 but some dealers are not ashamed to charge much more as the OP's experience confirms.

    The battery is special because it uses absorbed glass mat technology and occupies a small physical space but has a relatively high Ah rating for its size. It also is made in Japan which adds to the cost vs. being made in China or Mexico.
     
  7. SW03ES

    SW03ES Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2004
    2,480
    174
    0
    Location:
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Vehicle:
    2004 Prius
    To be fair, the Prius 12V battery is pretty specialized (what, we have found ONE aftermarket option that needs no alteration) and it takes a fair bit of dissassembly and reassmbly to replace it.

    You think that is bad, a Lexus battery, ordinary 12V battery costs $250. I bought a battery at AutoZone for $90, its the same battery, the case is identical it just says "AutoCraft" instead of "Lexus" on it.
     
  8. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    87,516
    38,955
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    when i was a lad, our neighbor owned an auto dealership. they lived in a simple six room ranch like we did. he was a wwII vet like my dad. his father started it and he took it over. earlier this year, i was talking to a guy down the street. i asked him who was building the two mansions a block over from him. he said it was two brothers who owned a well known auto dealership. i'm talking 3-5 million dollar houses. it is a very very lucrative business these days and they will cut your heart out to make an extra buck off you. :cool:
     
  9. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    18,115
    6,120
    0
    Location:
    Green Valley, AZ
    Vehicle:
    2015 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    Which aftermarket option is that?

    The most popular aftermarket option appears to be Optima but that choice requires replacement of the battery terminal connectors.

    The 12V battery in my HiHy is regular lead acid since it lives in the engine compartment, and I bought a replacement last winter for ~$90 from my local Toyota dealer (I assume the lower price is due to its origin from Mexico...)
     
  10. SW03ES

    SW03ES Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2004
    2,480
    174
    0
    Location:
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Vehicle:
    2004 Prius
    Its actually not nearly as lucrative a business as you would think. Its a very hard business with razor thin profit margins, incredibly high franchise fees. Most dealerships anymore are owned by conglomerates, a company that owns a bunch of dealers spanning several marques.

    Huge lots, huge overhead, huge utility bills.

    I thought the Optima was just drop and play?

    I stand corrected! No aftermarket alternative!
     
  11. whatshisname

    whatshisname New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2004
    67
    2
    0
    Location:
    Northern California
    Referring to my lament about dealers killing the golden goose, I must say I'm very grateful for the responses from everyone. They were educating to say the least, but I am not convinced. It now appears to me that the Prius may be excessively engineered, particularly in the 12 volt battery department. Why should a 12 volt battery for the Prius that is expected to last from 4 to 6 years cost three times more than the common 12 volt batteries used in the older American built behemoths of past years that also last 4 to 6 years? The older cars I speak of required humongous cranking amps to start large high compression engines and did the job depndably. No. There's something funny going on here. With everything else in correct condition, the Prius can be started with flashlight batteries in series. I left a light on in my Prius sometime ago and had to call my emergency service. The serviceman started it in just a few minutes using one of those self contained battery operated tire inflaters. My Prius is still in extended warranty and when it has expired, out comes that exotic battery setup next time and in goes that 59 dollar motorcycle battery. I can change those battery terminals and if I can't someone will do it for me.
     
  12. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2006
    18,058
    3,036
    7
    Location:
    Northern Michigan
    Vehicle:
    2006 Prius
    The Prius 12V battery is small to save weight. It is AGM so that it can be located inside the passenger compartment. A normal flooded cell battery has to vent hydrogen during charging. Furthermore, the Prius battery is charged slowly and continuously from the inverter, where a normal car bangs in a great deal of charge from the alternator and calls it good.

    It's an engineering trade-off. Toyota's engineers thought it was worth the extra cost. You might not.

    Tom
     
    1 person likes this.
  13. SW03ES

    SW03ES Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2004
    2,480
    174
    0
    Location:
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Vehicle:
    2004 Prius
    If you want it to vent hydrogen into the passenger compartment to save $80 then by all means, go for it. I love my life and my family...so I'll spend the $80.

    Three times more? You can get the OEM Toyota battery for $130. I paid $90 for a decent AutoZone battery for the Lexus...so its $40 more...come on.

    Look...you bought a hybrid car. If you wanted something that was always going to be cheap and easy to work on that any parts you buy at AutoZone will work on...you bought the wrong car. You should have bought the most basic American car you could find. Chevy Cobalt, something like that.
     
    1 person likes this.
  14. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    18,115
    6,120
    0
    Location:
    Green Valley, AZ
    Vehicle:
    2015 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    Some owners have installed regular wet-cell lead acid batteries. However IMO that raises a significant safety risk, not just because of H2 gas venting into the passenger cabin, but also because if your right-rear fender is smashed in an accident then you will have battery acid all over the hatch and maybe into the rear seat area as well.

    Regarding a motorcycle battery of smaller capacity, that will work OK when the battery is new. However since it is starting with a smaller capacity than the ~35Ah capacity of the Prius battery (for Smart-equipped vehicles) then you can expect it will last for a shorter duration. It will also offer less safety margin if your inverter coolant pump fails (which is not a rare event based upon postings in this forum), the DC/DC converter stops working, and the car is depending upon the 12V battery for power while you gracefully find your way to the side of the road.
     
    1 person likes this.
  15. SW03ES

    SW03ES Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2004
    2,480
    174
    0
    Location:
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Vehicle:
    2004 Prius
    Its like asking why does an HID bulb cost $90 when I can buy a bulb at AutoZone for $15? Because the HID system provides better light, longer life and more output while drawing less power.

    The 12V battery in the Prius is more expensive because it provides voltage without having to put deadly fumes and deadly acid inside the passenger compartment of the vehicle. The AutoZone battery is under the hood and theres a firewall between it and the passenger compartment. The Prius battery is INSIDE THE VEHICLE, right behind the rear passenger. Ever seen what battery acid will do? We're talking disfiguring burns. To save $40? Even $200? Not worth it.
     
  16. wmcbrine

    wmcbrine Junior Member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2010
    56
    6
    0
    Location:
    Laurel, MD
    Vehicle:
    2005 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    Isn't that the whole point of a Prius? :D
     
  17. xpcman

    xpcman Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2009
    1,302
    290
    0
    Location:
    California - SF Bay area
    Vehicle:
    2008 Prius
    The old VW bug had the battery under the rear seat with no vent. I never heard of death by "deadly fumes" with something like 5 million VWs on the road. With the low current draw the Prius can't generate dangerious levels of anything. Toyota probably over designed the battery for legal reasons.
     
  18. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    18,115
    6,120
    0
    Location:
    Green Valley, AZ
    Vehicle:
    2015 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    Well, what was deemed an acceptable safety level in 1960 is no longer acceptable in 2010. Today the original VW Beetle would be considered a death trap, maybe not because of the battery under the rear seat, but for other reasons like poor acceleration, almost zero crush zone between the front seat passengers and the front of the car, very little distance between the front seat passengers and the windshield, a cabin heater that depended upon heat generated by the exhaust manifold, etc...

    Further, Toyota has had very recent and painful experiences with legal issues relating to accelerator pedal sticking, engine ECUs, etc etc. My guess is that the mgmt of that company probably doesn't think that their engineering is over-designed when viewed in total.

    Regarding the Prius 12V battery, I think that the liquid acid issue is a bigger safety concern than H2 gas production.
     
  19. Mr.Vanvandenburg

    Mr.Vanvandenburg New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2007
    290
    14
    0
    Mercedes E320, 2001, has the huge special size battery it calls for, under the rear seat. It is vented. I think it is wet cell. The original battery did last 8 years. AGM batteries are more expensive from all places, I believe. The Prius battery isn't so out of line, times have changed. Prius owners are also not spending $100 to drive 400 miles like with a large suv, or $60 with the Mercedes six.
     
  20. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2006
    18,058
    3,036
    7
    Location:
    Northern Michigan
    Vehicle:
    2006 Prius
    A silly assumption. There are good engineering reasons to use an AGM battery. I use a good gel cell battery in my boat for the same reason. When I replace it I will probably use an AGM. The initial cost is higher, but the entire life cycle cost is lower.

    Tom
     
Loading...