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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm wondering if anyone else has had a problem like this, and how you managed to get the dealer to acknowledge and fix it.

We have a 2004 BC. A couple of weeks ago we noticed the headlight aim seemed awfully low, so we tried to quantify it some. One thing we did was to note when the visible lightspot on the road first illuminated some object and time how long it then took to the pass the object. Turns out the lightspot illuminates barely a second ahead of the car at a mere 30mph.

Next thing we did was get a co-worker with an identical car to line up next to our car with the noses even abour 30' from a wall. His lightspot was on the wall. Near the ground, but on the wall. Our lightspot was many feet short of the wall.

The problem has not been intermittent. Every time we've turned the lights on it's been low since this started.

We took the car to the dealer today and told them both of these things. The tech claimed he shined the lights at the calibration marks on the wall in whatever part of the shop they aim headlights and said they were "dead on". He then claimed the co-worker must have illegally aimed his lights high. Which is total BS.

So on to a second dealer. On thoughts on getting a better result?

We might try to repeat the co-worker test and this time take pictures. And does anyone happen to know what the veritcal aim specifications actually are (how far off the ground at how many feet, etc)? I'd be interested to reproduce the test as best I can and see what I get, and if there's a significant deviation, take a picture of that as well.

Thanks for any tips!
 

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I can't give measurements, but you can get a comparison point if you have a flat area (like a parking lot) with a wall at one end. Drive up to the wall (at night, of course), then back up until the flat (left side) portion of the light pattern barely hits the ground, not the wall. Then measure how far the front of the car is from the wall.

I have never measured it this way, but in other cars with the "tilted chevron" (Euro) light pattern, it was at least 100 feet, usually nearly twice that.
 

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Some have complained about what you are having difficulty with.

It is possible for the HID aim to be intermittent, as it does auto-level. It may have adjusted correctly when you got to the dealer.

The autoleveler senses the distance between the rear axle and the frame bottom by way of a lever. The sensor may be getting stuck. Dealer should check the auto-leveler system in a practical way: change rear load of the vehicle and verify beam level.
 

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Here are a couple of photos I took while under the car installing a Coastal E-tech hitch.

The first shows the location, viewed from the right rear of the car, towards the left rear wheel.


The second shows a closeup of the sensor, from ahead of the axle looking back and up to the left side. The silver "bone" is the link between the lower tab (connected to the moving axle) and the sensor (mounted to the body).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I got the MIL!

The car finally threw a code for the auto-leveling system! (Yes -- I'm happy because it means there will be something objective I can confront the dealer with 1/2 :). I got the Red Triangle o' Doom and an headlight-leveling icon on the MFD.

Next question -- how do I make sure I don't "lose" the code? As I understand it, even if the MIL doesn't come up the next time I turn
on the car, the code is stored for some number of startups. How many
startups do I have before the car purges the code? I want it to be there
for the dealer to read out.
 

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Re: I got the MIL!

rlcarr said:
The car finally threw a code for the auto-leveling system! (Yes -- I'm happy because it means there will be something objective I can confront the dealer with 1/2 :). I got the Red Triangle o' Doom and an headlight-leveling icon on the MFD.

Next question -- how do I make sure I don't "lose" the code? As I understand it, even if the MIL doesn't come up the next time I turn
on the car, the code is stored for some number of startups. How many
startups do I have before the car purges the code? I want it to be there
for the dealer to read out.
rlcarr,
I have had the Red Triangle o' Doom and an headlight-leveling icon on the MFD come on and was at the dealer as I drove in. They came out to the car and the problem went away,go figure,I told them it was intermittent. They said it left NO CODE,the dealer has to see the triangle and icon on before they can repair anything. It's like they didn't believe me.
Every once in a while the error occurs with a beep and then goes out. I guess I have to live with it.
Good luck...
 

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Try this tack...
Headlights are important safety equipment. Make sure they document that you have brought it in for this problem. In writing.

Third time, tell them what color you'd like your new Prius under the lemon laws.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Fixed...for now, anyways

Success! The second dealer came through, and at least for the moment the headlights are back to normal.

First, it does turn out that a code is indeed not stored when you get the Red Triangle o' Doom with the headlight icon on the MFD :(. However, this dealer believed us and when they did the "wall" test, saw that the lights were indeed way low (when we picked the car up, they even took us into the shop and pointed out the wall and pointed to how much lower than proper calibration the lights were).

The tech said it took over four hours to fix. Some of that was tracking things down and some of it was calling Toyota's internal tech support, as the dealer had never seen anything like this before. The fix was a "mechanical adjustment" coupled with doing something to the computer. They weren't clear on if it was a reset or download or what.

And we have the work order, so we now at least have written proof that at least one dealer saw the problem.
 

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Glad they got it for ya!

Unfortunately the reality is that if a tech can't replicate the problem he can't fix anything.

Sounds like you found a really good tech. I suggest you go to him for any repairs you may need (but hopefully not many!) in the future. A good tech can be hard to find.
 

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"Unfortunately the reality is that if a tech can't replicate the problem he can't fix anything. "

I believe differently. If he cannot find the specific fault, then he must start replacing components (on his cost) until he does. Anything less is laziness.

Anyone remember IBM? ;-) Their mainframe service process was to send person A out to fix it in an hour. If at the end of that hour A fails, then B comes to replace components in four hours. If B fails, the system is relpaced in 24 hours. This guarantee of short downtimes meant people could count on IBM equipment, and so despite their higher prices, their sales were always strong.

I would modify the quote above as follows:
"Unfortunately the reality is that if a tech can't replicate the problem he can't fix anything... cheaply." But that doesn't relieve their obligation to fix it. Admitting their failure does not relieve them of their warrantee obligation.
 

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He can at least examine the related components. According to Rick or Kyle, the level sensor tends to get sticky.

Oh yes, the HID leveler doesn't store any codes. All it does is signal the combination lamp with its own error wire that it has a problem. No different than the old oil pressure switch turning on the oil lamp on the dash.
 

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KTPhil said:
"Unfortunately the reality is that if a tech can't replicate the problem he can't fix anything. "

I believe differently. If he cannot find the specific fault, then he must start replacing components (on his cost) until he does. Anything less is laziness.

I would modify the quote above as follows:
"Unfortunately the reality is that if a tech can't replicate the problem he can't fix anything... cheaply." But that doesn't relieve their obligation to fix it. Admitting their failure does not relieve them of their warrantee obligation.
First. Techs pay a ton of money to be able to do their job (thousands on tools) as it is. If techs were required to pay for parts to fix other people's cars, there would be no techs. Sometimes the car does not leave a trace of what is wrong. In most cases this isn't true but for the HID system it does seem to be the case. This is not the fault of the tech and he shouldn't be charged thousands of dollars for your new lighting system because he can't get any info out of the car.

If you meant the DEALER must pay for the parts, expect the cost of the average car to SKYROCKET. They won't want to replace parts at random until the problem is fixed, it's a waste of money and time even under warranty. If there's any reason to do so, yes. That's normal procedure.

If you take your car in and it acts perfectly normally (as in an intermittent problem with the lights), what are they supposed to do? Asking them to replace a lot of parts isn't going to go over well if they don't see evidence that it needs to be done.

As it is, some techs will spend an entire day trying to identify some little sound and get paid an hour for it. That isn't laziness, it's getting screwed financially in the best interest of their customer.
 

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My warrantee doesn't say "try once and then give up if it's hard to fix." It says "the car WILL be fixed." The dealer MUST fix it, period.
 

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I understand your viewpoint KTPhil... but from the tech's view... if everything is in working condition what to do?

A software issue could be the problem. What if Toyota hasn't come up with the fix yet? Is some poor tech supposed to go replacing every aspect of your lighting system, which could very well take quite a while, and get paid the warranty rate of (I'm guessing here but they're usually low) a couple hours? How would YOU like to do that when nothing was mechanically wrong in the first place and your work amounted to nothing?

That's one reason why they don't start arbitrarily replacing parts when they can't find the problem.
 

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"but from the tech's view... if everything is in working condition what to do? "

Not my problem. Toyota warrants the car, they have to find out how to fix it... or replace with a new one.

I'm not dumping on the tech, but neither am I the offending party if he isn't equipped by Toyota to diagnose and repair all failures. I already paid $30G including $1000 for extra warrantee-- I've done my part!
 

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If the tech can't reproduce the problem how does the tech, dealer or Toyota know you aren't just trying to get a new car becuse you miss the new car smell? I agree there comes a time to start replacing things, but three visits for an intermittant problem and you get a new car sounds a bit harsh to me.
 

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The tech should look at the various components of the system in question. In this case, that would be the level sensor, wiring, headlamp leveler servos, etc. Just looking at it and saying nothing is wrong, or that it can't be found, is not right. It is also a safety issue if the headlamps misadjust.

If the dealer can't find the problem, then they are to contact Toyota for help. If all mechanical and sensor items check out, then the computer has to be replaced. More has been done for less serious problems, such as the radio cutting out.
 

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They may end up replacing the car after it hits something due to poorly aimed lights. The dealer is foolish to not try harder-- his liability is tremendous. And harsh or not, the lemon laws are strict.
 
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