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Anyone else having reliability problems with the Prius? My 2001 Prius is at 34,000 miles and will be going into the dealership for the 4 time in two months for the same problem. Fortunately, it is still under warranty!

It's a generic warning light problem has caused the electric system to go completely out. The worst time was when I was driving up a highway overpass.

I'm getting very frustrated with the dealers' inability to repair the problem and am hoping that other Prius owners can give me advice on how to proceed.
 

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further info?

what warning light(s)?

what electrics did you have problems with?

what were you doing before you had problems?

what happened after your electrics went out?

has your dealer pulled any error codes? (have they even looked?)

so far, I don't have enough information to even speculate...
 
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Re: further info?

mrv said:
what warning light(s)?
It's a picture of a car with a big red exclamation point. If you look it up in the owner's manual, it says to take the car to a dealer.

what electrics did you have problems with?
the control display would start flickering off and on, which would stall the car. This first happened when I was going up a highway overpass. I was about halfway up and was able to coast over and down the other side. The electronics were out including the gear display.

what were you doing before you had problems?
First time: normal stop & go driving around town, although we had been out for a while
Second time: same as first
Third time: highway driving, about 70-75 mph, for a little over an hour
Fourth time:same as first, but not as much time

what happened after your electrics went out?
The car died. No power whatsoever. Although, after a while, I could start the car again (warning light still on), but then it would die again a few minutes later. It limped from the highway to my place of employment (about 5-10 miles away from where it first died) and it died three times along the way.

has your dealer pulled any error codes? (have they even looked?)
The first time they couldn't find anything wrong. But we had only seen the warning light when we brought it in (the car hadn't died). I got the impression that the dealer thought it was a sensor malfunction or something.

The second time, it was a Saturday and the dealer asked us if we could bring it in on Monday morning. I figured "sure", because we hadn't seen any problems beyond the warning light. On the way home is when it died on the overpass and etc etc. When it got back to the dealer on Monday, they replaced the battery (the regular one, not the big one in the back).

The third time (Easter Sunday) the light came on while we were going out of town to see family. I called Toyota and had it towed to the Waco dealership since I didn't want it to die on the highway again. They had it for about 10 days and replaced something involving the transmission. I picked it up yesterday from the Sales dept (Service dept closed on Saturday) and they couldn't give me any specifics. I will find that out tomorrow (Monday) morning.

Today, just one day after driving the car back home from Waco, the light is on again. No symptons other than the warning light, but it will be going back to the Plano dealership tomorrow morning.

so far, I don't have enough information to even speculate...
Well, I'm mainly curious if anyone else has had problems like this. I can't believe that I would be the only one.
 

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This just happened to my '02. Similar to your run-down: Was running
just fine for past 35 mins, just exited the Turnpike when the light lit.
It's called the 'Hybrid System Warning' light if I remember right.

At that point all engine assist power ceased to transmit, was running
on pure battery despite the engine running.

Thankfully I was able to stop the car about a mile later in a safe spot,
but now the car in 'R/D' is no different than if it's in 'N' even with the
engine running. Not a good sign, and your experience points to a trans
problem on mine too.

Service is not available until Monday morning, will update when I can.
 

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I once had a throttle position sensor (TPS) fail that caused the hybrid warning indicator to show up on the screen. This is a common problem on many modern cars. I did not experience any actual system failure. I wonder do the hidden diagnostic screens give you any more info? I did not know about them when I had the problem with my car.

Sounds like you need to take your car to a different technician.

Aron
 

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lights

From an old post of mine:

> See pages 91-98 of your Owner's Manual. (section 2-3, operation of
> instruments and controls. my manual is a 2001, Pub. No. OM47401U,
> Part No. 01999-47401)

Referring to the red triangle with
an exclamation point in it, to
the left of the spedometer:
> The single triangle with an exclamation point (!) in it says to
"see
> multi-information display." This is item (f). On page 94 this is
> called the "Master Warning Light." The manual says:
> <quote>
> If the master warning light comes on, the warning light for the
> faulty system is highlighted or the message such as "When you park
> your car, make sure you shift to Park P." and "The batteries will
not
> charge if the shifter is in N" appears on the multi-informaton
> display. (See "Service reminder indicators and warning buzzers -
> Multi-information display" on page 96 in this section or
"Precautions
> for use" on page 12 in Section 1-2 or "Fuel gauge" on page 88 in
> Section 2-4 for instructions.)
> </quote>
>
> On page 97 is the "Service reminder indicators and warning buzzers
-
> Multi-information display" section, with little pictures of the
> icons. All three icons will appear on the screen, but only one of
> them will be highlighted. The short descriptions of if this light
> comes on, do this... are: (a) "PS" highlighted, Take vehicle to
> Toyota dealer. (b) battery symbol with "MAIN" under it, Stop and
> Check. (c) car with exclaimation point (!) on it, Take vehicle to
> Toyota dealer.
>
> On page 98, each of the highlighted issues on the multi-information
> display are described.
>
> <quote>
> (a) Power Steering System Warning Light
> This light comes on when the power steering control system fails.
> In the following cases, the light turns on and you may feel the
heavy
> steering wheel maneuvering.
> * The ignition switch is turned to "ACC" by mistake during driving.
> * When the vehicle has happened to move on the decline before the
> hybrid system turns on.
> * The ignition switch is turned to "ON" with the "READY" light off
> durning driving.
> If any of the above occurs, stop your vehicle completely, turn the
> ignition switch to "ACC" or "LOCK" and start the hybrid system
again.
> [big yellow ! CAUTION box]
> If this light comes on, take your vehicle to the Toyota dealer as
> soon as possible. In this case, you may feel the heavy steering
> wheel maneuvreing. Drive your vehicle while gripping the steering
> wheel firmly.
> [/big yellow ! CAUTION box]
>
> (b) Hybrid Vehicle Battery Warning Light
> This light comes on in the following cases.
> a. The hybrid vehicle battery voltage drops with the running mode
> selector lever left in "N" position.
> The system works properly if you put the running mode selector
lever
> to "P" position and the light goes off.
> b. The fuel tank is completely empty. (See "fuel gauge" in this
> section for instructions.)
> c. The hybrid vehicle battery is discharged.
> If this light comes on with the "READY" light on in the case of c.,
> stop your vehicle in a safe place and contact your Toyota dealer.
>
> (c) Hybrid System Warning Light (car with !)
> This light comes on if there is a problem in the electric motor,
> inverter unit, hybrid vehicle battery, etc.
> If this light is on, stop your vehicle in a safe place immediately
> and contact your Toyota dealer.
> Even if the hybrid system warning light comes on, you could
increase
> the speed a little temporarily by depressing the accelerator pedal.
> Immediately pull up your vehicle at a safe place and contact your
> Toyota dealer.
> </quote>

other info to note:
Emergency Road Service or Towing: 1-877-304-6495
Customer Service or Information: 1-800-331-4331 (use this to escalate the issue if you cannot get satisfaction with the service manager...)


for now, I'm rather stumped. it's
definately not a common thing reported to
have all electric power shut off on
you...
 

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Multi-function display flickers or blacks out

The problem you describe may be a simple loss of 12 volt power to one or more of the on-board computers, engine ignition circuit, etc. You mentioned that the multi-function display flickered and went dark on one occasion. Does this display flicker or go dark every time the engine dies? Did you notice any other loss of 12 volt power (for example the radio quit playing or the dash lights went out)? An intermittent connection to the ignition switch or a defective power relay like "IG1" could cripple your Prius.

Additionally, the multi-function display is fed info via the communication bus from the body ECU. Any intermittent connection in this communication bus can cause the engine to die and the display to flicker. Your dealer obviously has no clue as to the root cause of the problem. What you are experiencing is the real risk to owning a car like the Prius. It is a technical challenge to repair and most dealership personnel are not up to it--especially when the problem is intermittent. The fact that they replaced the 12 volt battery is a sure sign that they don't know what is going on (batteries don't go dead and come back to life multiple times). You should encourage your dealer to call Toyota's technical staff and get some help in solving this problem. Four strikes is definitely one to many.
 
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Re: Multi-function display flickers or blacks out

Dick Larimore said:
Your dealer obviously has no clue as to the root cause of the problem. What you are experiencing is the real risk to owning a car like the Prius. It is a technical challenge to repair and most dealership personnel are not up to it--especially when the problem is intermittent. The fact that they replaced the 12 volt battery is a sure sign that they don't know what is going on (batteries don't go dead and come back to life multiple times). You should encourage your dealer to call Toyota's technical staff and get some help in solving this problem. Four strikes is definitely one to many.
I agree. The dealer in Waco replaced a generator in the transmission. I think these guys, while well-intentioned, are just doing whatever the diagnostic equipment tells them.

It has only died before I took it in for the second time, but it died maybe 3-4 times while I tried to limp it to a safe place. Ever since then, I take it into the dealer as soon as the warning light comes on rather than risk having it suddenly die on the road again.

Toyota of Plano has it today. I'm sure they'll slap an "OK" sticker on it and give it back to me tomorrow. :(

What are my options if the dealers are unable to fix this problem? I am really trying to not lose my cool with them.
 

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Update on my dead '02 this past weekend

Unfortunately, my problem was simple: I was a victim of the 'guess
gauge' and ever cooling weather the last few days. I ran out of gas
for the first time ever due to misjudging 'the last bar'.

I was a bit shocked how fast that last bar emptied, but looking back in
hindsight the conditions were right for it. :?

I did get the service rep to promise to reimburse the costs of this
visit, if the car dies again with same problem (just in case the gauge
itself is having problem).
 
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Discussion Starter #11
the latest update

Ray Kerby said:
Toyota of Plano has it today. I'm sure they'll slap an "OK" sticker on it and give it back to me tomorrow. :(
The Plano dealer called me right away and said that the Waco dealer had forgot to reset an error code when they repaired it. They seemed more interested in getting the rental car back than giving my car a thorough check. My bullshit meter was going off full blast, so I called the Waco dealer and asked if he would talk to the Plano dealer. He agreed.

I told the Plano dealer to go over his explanation with the Waco dealer before I would pick up the car, and he grudgingly agreed. I didn't hear back and, after about an hour, I called the Waco dealer. He said that the Plano dealer was seeing a different error code than the one he fixed and that he was looking at the car again.

That evening, the Plano dealer called me and thanked me for "my persistence" and that he would indeed need another day to look at the car. The next day it was supposedly fixed. The official explanation was the "inverter cap was left loose apparently at the other dealership"

So I picked up the car on Wednesday.

The warning light came on again today, but the service dept of the dealership is closed. They will get the car again on Monday. This will be my 5th time in the shop for this problem since March.

Help! What should I do differently to get these incompetent jackasses to fix my car?
 

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I guess I am very lucky. I have 32k on my '91 Prius and have only had one warranty problem which didn't do more than set a "check engine" code. Seems a tech bulletin had a correction which involved the injectors. I had no indication of a problem from driving.

The only other visits have been for the free service visits. I drive my car 18 miles one way each day across the San Mateo Bridge in the SF bay area and love the mileage and response of the car. We also use the vehicle for travel when we don't need to tow our trailer or go into snow or back country. The car performs like a dream on the highway and with the cruise control achieves great mileage. (never been lower than 52 on highway driving-driving the legal limit.
 

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The next step to get it fixed

The dealership must agree to get in contact with Toyota technical assistance personnel familiar with the Prius. I would bet you that neither dealership that you have taken your Prius to has taken the time to call for assistance. These resources are available to the dealership. It is time for them to swallow their pride and make the call. If your dealership service manager refuses to make the necessary calls to Toyota, you must make it clear to the service manager that you will contact Toyota personally and create the "stink" necessary to get this problem fixed. In reality there are no such things as "lemon" vehicles, only problems for which the root cause was never found.
 
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