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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I'm looking for a good mechanic in Seattle...can anyone recommend one? Recently our Prius has been stalling. (according to my girlfriend...I haven't driven it yet.) Thank you!

Brad
 

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With a car as complex as the Prius, I think the only place I would take it for service would be a Toyota dealer. It would seem unlikely that a outside shop would have the know how or the test equipment to handle any major problem (maybe even minor ones).

I'm in the Seattle area also and take mine to Michael's in Eastgate. If you do find someone outside of the Toyota organization that will service your Prius, post it here. I may be interest in getting mine serviced there also when the warranty expires.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for your reply,

The car is running fine now. We don't have a warranty since we bought it used, so I'm guessing a dealer would be considerably more expensive for me than a regular shop. One friend of mine who also has a 2002 Prius recommended Moss Alley motors on Capitol Hill, though I'm not sure why he liked them. I'll let you know if I hear of any other leads.

Brad
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Looking for Seattle prius owners to share maintenace tips wi

I'm still shopping around for a good mechanic. I'm also interested in finding other classic prius owners in Seattle or nearby to network with. Maybe someone could recommend a mechanic or we could get together and share tips and pointers about maintenance.

I'm going to try and get a tune-up by the end of this month. I'd like to compare the dealer prices with regular shop prices. My warranty is expired.

Brad
 

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Our 2002 Prius has 102,000 miles, and it still runs fine; so I suspect you may not need a tune-up to fix the problem. If it is actually stalling, it may be something more serious.

Do you have failure codes or a better description of symptoms?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
hello and thanks,

there are no failure codes and actually it runs fine. I don't anticipate future problems but still just want to establish contact eventually with a good shop.

I'm interested in learning what the car has had done to it. I know it was in an accident because it has minor body damage on passenger side. My brother-in-law who bought the car from an auction assured us that the damage was only superficial.

I talked to Moss Alley motors (they work with Prius) over the phone and they suggested an inspection of fluids, belts, etc. that would help them get an idea of what work/maintenance it has had in the past. I may do that, but get it done at the dealer since I have a coupon for "no problem 5k service"

I also plan to have the dealer run the VIN to tell if any recalls and TSBs (Technical Service Bulletins) were performed on the car..
 

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Just my opinion, but there are very few things that a normal auto shop can repair on a Prius, other than the obvious brakes, tires, oil changes, etc. Almost none of the ICE and hybrid module parts are available from anywhere other than the dealer. And, the older Prius's are even worse; because there were less of them made.

Oil and air filters can be found at AutoZone, Pep Boys, and other parts places, but even a water pump and other relatively simple items can only be found at a dealer, or a junk yard.

Since even dealer service departments have trouble with repairs, it is really unlikely that a regular auto repair shop will be able to do much for you. If they do attempt anything under the hood, there is a good likelyhood that you will still end up at the dealer to fix what they did.

Again, just my opinion: I'd take all that money you saved on gas, tires and relatively few repairs done so far, and take your Prius to a Toyota dealer. At least you can be assured you will get the correct parts and they will work on it until it is fixed.

Otherwise, you probably won't need any major work done until the 120,000 mile scheduled maintenance, which includes some relatively expensive items. And you may be able to do some of those yourself.

By the way the ICE uses a timing CHAIN, so you won't need to replace a timing belt. But, the serpentine belt probably is original equipment, and there are some non-routine fluid changes (ICE radiator and hybrid coolant system, transmission fluid, etc.).

The 5,000 mile service is a good idea. For the cost of an oil change and tire rotation (around $50), you can get some good background info on your vehicle. And, they will check it over thoroughly. Just make sure to take some time to evaluate the inevitable repair list they will give you. Some of the items are not required, but just extra profit for them. Also, opinions vary, but I personally don't think that paying extra for "flushing" any fluids is cost effective. Changing fluids regularly (per maintenance schedule) is all Toyota recommends. The "flushing" process is a profit generator for any auto shop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks, you have given me lot of helpful information. I took the vehicle to the dealer and they did a VIN search. Nothing major came up: just an upgrade of the trunk battery in 2005.

Currently, our vehicle is quite loud...maybe something loose in the exhaust? I wonder if that is something a regular shop could inspect? But like you say, if it ends up involving a part the shop doesn't have we may end up going to the dealer afterwards anyhow.
 

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Can you describe the "loud" sound you hear? That is unusual.

Some new Prius owners complain of loud engine (ICE) noises, etc. However, the Prius is so quiet, that most sounds are more intrusive than when experienced in other vehicles. In fact, most other cars are so much noisier that some of the sounds you hear in a Prius wouldn't even be noticed above the regular background noise.

I still find it amazing that regular cars run the ICE when idling at a stop light. What a waste of fuel. And, I know that the technology exists to shut down their engines when the vehicle isn't moving, because there are a couple of GM vehicles that do this.

In any case, is the loud sound coming from the ICE, or when or under what conditions do you hear it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks Phoenix,

I found out that the loud noise came from a bad wheel bearing. It was replaced this week and the vehicle is quiet again. They also found a loose front right tie rod and replaced it.

Afterwards, driving away I noticed a violent shudder in the steering column. The mechanic (just a regular shop guy not a prius tech) thought maybe an alignment would help. He said the shuddering might be from the computer trying to compensate for the change in alignment after the repairs.

I took it to an alignment shop and got it aligned, but this didn't eliminate the shuddering. The violent shudder comes especially when in a parking lot making tight turns and lasts just 2-3 seconds.

The mechanic is willing to look and see if there are any loose connections. I wonder if this problem could have been avoided by having the dealer do the repairs. In any case, if the shop is stumped I'll head to the dealer by the end of this week and let them know the whole story.

A penny for your thoughts? (At this point that's about all the cash I've got left!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well, we took it back to the shop that did the bearings and tie-rod. They diagnosed it as needing a "steering wheel relearn" which only the dealer can do. We have an appointment tomorrow to get this done.
 

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There was a recall on the classic Prius's years ago that replaced the steering rack. The shuddering problem was due to a bad position sensor that required that the whole assembly be changed out.

If this TSB wasn't performed, Toyota may still do it for free. I hope that's the case, since, I think the full price was a couple of thousand dollars.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Wow, that would be great if this were a TSB issue covered free of charge.


The dealer told me today he attempted the "steering wheel relearn" which the autoshop recommended and it didn't work. He said the only option is a new rack which would be $1973.

This same dealer ran the VIN a month ago and said the only TSB was a trunk battery upgrade done in 2005.

The autoshop mentioned the word "TSB" when they told me about the steering wheel relearn.

It makes me wonder how the issue triggered when the autoshop replaced the bearings and tie rod?
 

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Is the dealer going to do it for free?

I am sure there must be an e-mail string in the archives on this site on that TSB (Toyota Service Bulletin). When I get a little time, I'll see if I can find it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks,

The dealer is not doing it for free. That would be great to find a TSB on this website that would cover the repair. We are looking into lots of options short of paying $1973 for a problem which curiously coincided with a routine ball-bearing replacement. Is the shop who did this work liable? I don't know if it's possible to prove that they knocked something out of place when they did the work.

We took the car on a 5 hour roadtrip this weekend. The dealer didn't recommend it but said to be careful. It handled okay but occasionally shuddered violently at slow parking lot speeds.

When this shuddering first started initially there were no warning lights. But something new developed on our way back from our trip: the warning noise sounded and light (exclamation point) came on and it said "PS" (power steering?). At the next rest stop I noticed the steering was stiffer and the shuddering seemed to stop. We turned the car off and when we turned it on again, the warning light was off, the steering was no longer stiff, and the shuddering was back.

The warning light came on and off several times on the 5 hour trip home. I think the first time it happened the screen read "problem solved" for an instant. It would sometimes go off while we were driving and other times when we turned the car off and on. Each time the steering felt stiffer, as if the power steering was disabled.

My brother in-law is suspecting this might be an electrical problem and that replacing the entire rack may not be necessary. I'm thinking of taking in to another dealer to get a second opinion. Even if we pay another $100 for diagnostics, it may be worth it if we can find a cheaper repair.
 

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I found some correspondence on the steering rack, and it said that it extended the warranty on this item for five years, unlimited mileage. So, it looks like your Prius is even outside the extended warranty on the steering rack.

If you have had this vehicle serviced regularly at Toyota dealers, you may be able to get them to absorb part of the expense as "good faith". They have done this for some in the past, and often split the cost, which would save you some money.

Alternately, you might be able to find a used part on the Internet or local junk yard; although, personally, I wouldn't do this.

Good luck, and keep us posted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Can you send me the link for that correspondence that says the warranty for this is extended for 5 years?

We've had the vehicle for just over a year and have had only one 5k service done with the dealer.

Maybe we could call Toyota headquarters with our story -- basically we feel this is a part that has gone kaputz relatively early in the cars life: 90,000 miles. I would feel more comfortable requesting a "good faith" discount from headquarters and having them either call the dealer or coach us on how to approach our dealer.

I called a shop and he found that downtown Toyota Seattle sold 11 of these steering racks this year. He found that to be a suspiciously high number and encouraged me to call other dealers to investigate.
 

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Here's some info on the steering rack recall:

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=12232&p=105158&hilit=steering+rack#p105158

http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/toy ... sage/74446

Again, I'd ask the Toyota dealer if there is anything they can do to help out with the repair cost. It doesn't hurt to ask -- All they can say is NO, and you are no worse off. Also, ask to talk to the Toyota factory representative or zone manager. As I said before, they may go halves with you or perhaps even absorb the entire cost. This is a safety issue, and Toyota really doesn't want any bad press about this failure or high repair costs. There might even be a "silent recall" that isn't offered unless you escalate the problem. (If you are willing to pay the entire cost, they won't offer to help.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I called customer service at 1-800-331-4331 and gave them the low down of my situation. They said they would escalate the case to a case manager who will call me within one business day. let's keep our fingers crossed.
 
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