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Discussion Starter #1
We have two Priuses, 2005 and 2007, absolutely love them, and have never had anything worse than a dead headlamp with either of them. Until yesterday, when my 20-year-old twin daughters were on their way home to Los Angeles from Phoenix in the 2007. In the middle of the nowhere it started making a clicking noise, stopped running and displayed five different warning lights. After waiting for hours in the desert for a tow to the dealer near Palm Springs (96 miles away), today the dealer is saying that they are getting about 20 different diagnosis codes, including some false ones (fuel runout code, but they had just gassed up). Anyone ever had this happen? I am so shocked, and praying that all is covered under the hybrid system or powertrain warranties, as the basic expired last month. Of course.

Edited to add: The girls are at home and safe, and I will post again when I find out what went wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Dealer just called, and says that the engine had too much oil, and it backed up and fouled the plugs. Which is total bull, because the oil was changed 4,000 miles ago! Why would that not cause a problem right away? So anyone know how much this should cost me? They are already lying to me, so why shouldn't they jack up the bill?
 

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I am not a mechanic, but have read about the overfilling of oil here and the resulting buildup of crud on what I remember was the throttle body or throttle plate, something like that. I was wondering if maybe highspeed highway running at high desert temperatures might have had something to do with your problem. And, maybe it had been brewing the past 4000 miles. I'm not defending the dealer, I don't even know who has your car, but just wondering if they could be right to at least some degree. Another thing that has been talked of here quite a bit with regard to false codes is the small battery, which does this when it is going out. This doesn't seem like it would happen at highway speeds, but I bring it up because of the false codes. Maybe in multiple tries to start the car, perhaps at the dealer?
Sorry to hear of your problems, and hope you get a reasonable solution. You may want to report this to Toyota Customer Service and start a complaint file just in case. They have been known to help with cars even after the warranty has expired. They may also be able to go back on the dealer who put too much oil in the car, if the dealer who made that claim will document that problem. Their number is in your owners manuals. Good luck, we'll be watching for your next post.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I admit I let my temper show in my last post. I have also seen numerous posts about the oil overfilling problem. I also have read that some owners have had this issue become apparent when driving in very cold weather, so I am a bit puzzled how hot weather could have the same effect.

The previous service on the car was not done by a dealer, but by my mechanic who has been servicing our family vehicles for over 15 years. He told me he is very careful with Prius oil changes and declared that there was "no way" that it had been overfilled. We shall see what happens. Thank you very much for your suggestion, I appreciate it.

*Edited to note that my mechanic is a certified Prius service facility.
 

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Possibilities:
- they did run out of gas. No way to prove it now unless they kept the receipt or have a credit card record.
- if they did buy gas, was it a full service station? and did some doofus add too much oil?
- a dying 12V battery can cause bizarre failures and symptoms and false errors; therefore test the 12V battery (it's amazing how often shops don't do this: they plug in the diagnostic computer and believe it completely even though a dying battery can cause the car's computers to report garbage).

In future, to eliminate one common cause of trouble, the driver should *always* check the oil level personally before driving away from every oil change.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
No, they did not run out of gas, the dealer said the tank was full, and they filled at a self-serve, no oil had been added since 4,000 miles ago. I will ask the dealer about the 12V. I have since read on other posts that just filling a Prius to the "full" mark on the dipstick can cause this problem--you don't even have to overfill it.
 

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In my earlier post when I referred to the high temperatures, I was thinking that everything expands under heat. Also, I have heard of transmission fluid foaming at high temperatures, causing spillage out of the filler tube. Maybe oil can foam or otherwise expand, and since it is in basically a closed system, back up into other parts of the engine. Even though I have cautioned the service advisors at my local dealer about overfilling the oil, I still get it back with the oil slightly over the full mark. I talked to the shop foreman after my last such experience. He told me that they use a computer operated fill system, and that it may be in need of calibration. Given the warnings in the owners manual about the problems resulting from overfilling the Prius, one would think that they would pay special attention to the process of putting oil in them.
Re Richard's post, I think he was referring to the car having run out of gas prior to that last fill. Of course the dealer would find the tank full after the car was towed to his facility, because your daughters had the problem shortly after filling the tank.
One other possibility, and I have no idea what effect this would have in relation to the "clicking" and codes, but it has been discussed here about problems arising from attempting to fill the gas tank to the brim. In some cases, apparently gas overflowed and got into the filtering system. I'm just brainstorming here.
 

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You should be getting a lot of attention from Toyota on this one. We are reading more and more stories like this and it is not the kind of story Toyota wants spread. It could curtail a lot of hybrid sales!
(Oh, and the manual states 3.9 qt's of oil for a fill with a new filter which brings the indicated quantity slightly above the full mark on the dipstick. Toyota at the factory and most dealers have been servicing the Prius with 4 qts. as standard.)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Ok I just got off the phone with the dealer again. They put new plugs in and did some other stuff and finally got the car to start, but it stalls, and there are many new codes coming up, so now they are working with Toyota engineers on the problem.

Now, this is where I really need some expertise, the dealer is telling me that three and a half EXTRA quarts of oil were in there, over and above the amount that should be in there. Is it even possible to put in that much extra oil, AND is it possible for the car to run for 4,000 miles with that much extra? I am absolutely positive that no extra oil was put in since the last service.

About gas, I just asked my daughter and they did not let the tank get below two bars on the trip. They did run out once years ago in the 2005 (and it was totally my fault, I thought there was enough to get them home), so are very leery of having that happen again, and are extra careful. (We never had any trouble at all with that car as a result.)

I am really missing my Prius! I will keep you posted...

(My husband says: let's get rid of it and get a 2010!)
 

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I can only repeat my advice to call Toyota's Customer Service (they call it the customer experience center) at 1-800-331-4331. You need to establish a claim and explain what this dealer is telling you about the oil overfill, etc. They may help you pay for anything not covered under the warranty.
As I said before, I am not a mechanic, but I don't believe you could run the car 4000 miles with an extra 3 1/2 quarts of oil without something happening before it did out on the highway. In fact, I would expect the oil to cause excess pressure and blow a seal or gasket somewhere, if it didn't overflow when they were trying to add that much extra through the filler hole in the first place.
You really need to contact Toyota personally, and not just rely on this dealer. I cannot stress that enough in your situation. Please call that number ASAP!
 

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Dealer is full of crap about the oil. Tell Toyota this and ask that the car be flatbedded to a COMPETENT Toyota dealer. Demand a loaner while they dick around figuring it out. Demand ALL codes be recorded and ALL work and investigation be recorded also. Mention your friend the local TV consumer reporter. You are getting the dealer runaround and they will soon eb covering their asses much to your detriment.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Called Toyota, spoke to a very nice and sympathetic woman who also thought the oil story sounded fishy. I got a case number, and I'm supposed to hear back within 24 hours about a loaner and getting the car to another dealer. Thanks for the great advice. I will keep you all posted.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Re: Catastrophic Failure on the Highway (not the car's fault)

Oh boy. Turns out, sadly, that firepa was not far off. The dealer called this morning to say that there was diesel in the tank. And really, I did not believe it until I spent all morning on the phone with VISA and several Mobil stations in Arizona, as we don't know where the receipt is, but finally got hold of the right gas station, and they confirmed it was diesel. So it is being fixed, for $891, and I hope that no permanent damage was done....

Thanks again so much everybody for all the support, this was not the ending I expected at all. Daughter is very upset, but forgiven and has learned an expensive lesson.
 

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Wow! Too bad about the diesel. I think in California they use a larger nozzle for diesel fuel to prevent that from happening. But what happened to the dealer's claim that it had those extra three and a half quarts of oil? I assume that you are going to drive to Palm Springs to pick up the car. I would sure want to have a sit-down with the service manager and maybe the general manager of that dealership and ask some tough questions.
 

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I thought the larger nozzle for diesel was a federal mandate. I've never seen a diesel nozzle that would fit in a standard (gas) filler neck. Maybe the gas station had cross contamination in their underground tank.
 

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HI, all,

If firepa63's hypothesis is correct [that either the station doesn't have the "federally mandated larger nozzle?" or the tanks were accidently filled with the wrong fuel, or cross-contamination occurred in the underground (leaking?) tanks], then the station should have to pay for the repairs (which I think necessitates the replacement of the Prius's fuel tank & the purging of the fuel lines & injectors) & that would absolve your daughters of any blame (even though you've already forgiven them).
 

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I kind of wondered about the culpability on the part of the service station operators. Shawn, without a receipt, how were you able to find them and have them tell you that it was diesel that was purchased or put in the car? You may have a claim agains them, and there must be a state agency to which this can be reported if the station operators were negligent in any way.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Wow, I did not know the nozzles were different sizes. I have spent an hour searching and have found only anecdotal information about the law regarding diesel nozzle sizes, no actual statute language. Any ideas on how I can find a definitive answer would be appreciated, in the meantime I will put in a call to the AZ department of weights and measures in the morning. Also am going to call my mechanic and my local Toyota dealer...who else?

In answer to your receipt question, VISA is going to send me a copy of the receipt, which will take 10 days or so, and the person at the station told me she called Mobil headquarters (or something like that) about the purchase, and they told her it was diesel, so for now I am taking the station's word for it, and the dealers'.

The plot thickens....
 
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