Friday, September 10, 2010

Words of caution from an early hybrid adopter

Let me just say that this is all just my humble opinion and is probably just an irrational, emotional response to the latest update from my Toyota Dealership on what it will cost to fix my car THIS time…

Okay, so I really, really, really loved my Prius from the day we bought it back in May 2002. I even still really loved it the first time a big orange triangle came up. Of course, it was a recall item and they fixed it with no problems. And really, I even still loved it when it was 7 years and 8 months old… (Just shy of the 8 year battery warranty expiring) and I had to have $2800 worth of work done to replace the rack and pinion steering assembly (Which included the electronic control unit that was what failed). And I was still mostly in love with it when I had to have the brakes done for about $800 not too long ago. I was just getting back the love after recovering from the two other control units ($2700) that I just had replaced 6 weeks ago… Today however… I am no longer in love with my prius… I would trade it in without looking back if I could get a reasonable deal on a camry or something like that and never have to experience the frustration that goes with that stupid big orange triangle and all the money that it ends up costing every time that big orange triangle pops up on the screen.

I got the big ugly orange triangle this morning… They’ve had it all day at the dealership and the best they can tell me is that it’s something with the voltage regulator system in the car/hybrid system. They aren’t exactly sure what it is, but if it’s either one of the two things they suggest could be the problem, I will be out at least another $1500 to get it fixed. I will get my car back tomorrow and then they will get my car back on Monday at which point they will take it apart to work through the hybrid system to find the root of the issue. I try really hard to be an optimist about things, but I won’t be surprised if after a couple of days of them combing through the hybrid system and electrical system of the car, they’ll come back and tell me that $1500 was a low estimate and it will be more like double that.

So, here’s my suggestion to any and all Prius owners and you can take it for what it’s worth and with the knowledge that I’m frustrated… Trade those Prii off before the warranty expires…(and before all the savings you’ve had in gas go to repairing an aging hybrid) Everyone worries about the batteries… that’s always been the concern (“What happens if the hybrid batteries fail?” “How much does that cost?”)… It’s not the batteries that are the problem with this car… yet… It’s the electronic control system that is basically the brains of the hybrid system… My hope is that folks with the 2nd and 3rd generation hybrid systems will have better luck than me… Maybe mine is just because it’s the first gen…

Guess now all that's left is to wait and see which appendage I will have to give up for this repair.

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