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Discussion Starter #1
OK, my 2002 is truly broken in. I have some persistent rattles I have been unable to track down. At nearly 35K miles, I'm well outside the "adjustment period" so I assume I'm on my own to fix or pay for someone to sit in the car and try and track them down.

Anyone have any favorite culprits? The main one is a plastic sounding rattle when moving, sounds like it's coming from somewhere in the instrument panel, but I think it's bouncing off the windshield so I can't get a precise location.

Thanks,

Steve
Portland, OR
2002 Brilliant Blue
34999 miles
 

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Rattles in Dash

I have similar little noises in my 2002 Prius. If my memory is correct, the Prius has a 36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warrantly. Considering your mileage, I would take the car to the dealer ASAP to have them check out all the rattles.

I would appreciate it if you post what you find out, as there are others out here with the same experience. (If the Prius wasn't so quiet, we wouldn't be able to hear the noises -- Darn it!)
 

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Innexpensive "mechanic's" stethoscopes are available with which you can search for the source while a confederate drives. (Union drivers are almost as good.) Failing finding a cheap source of a stethoscope, you can use a length of plastic or rubber tubing. Carefully hold one end in your ear (the good one) and probe with the other end. It is as simple as looking for the loudest sound untill you touch the offending part(s) and it gets much louder in your ear or you alter the sound produced by touching the ofending part(s).

Sometimes is is a wire or wire bundle bumping something or a tag on a wire bundle, something slipping as it takes a little G force or whatever. Once you locate the source you might be able to tighten a loose fastener. I have even squirted a noise source with a short burst of spray foam which can stop or deaden a sound. IT is easy to crush if later you need to access a cable or whatever but be careful not to initerferre with ANY moving parts.

:D Pat :D
 

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Driver's or passenger's side?

stevewa said:
OK, my 2002 is truly broken in. I have some persistent rattles I have been unable to track down. At nearly 35K miles, I'm well outside the "adjustment period" so I assume I'm on my own to fix or pay for someone to sit in the car and try and track them down.

Anyone have any favorite culprits? The main one is a plastic sounding rattle when moving, sounds like it's coming from somewhere in the instrument panel, but I think it's bouncing off the windshield so I can't get a precise location.

Thanks,

Steve
Portland, OR
2002 Brilliant Blue
34999 miles
 

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My '02 developed an annoying rattle about a week after I got it. Let me tell you that sure can be upsetting because rattles aren't always easy to find. How can anyone show off a new car when there's a rattle in it. The rattle that bothered me seemed to be coming from inside the front door on the passenger side. I'd ask my wife to ride with me to see if she could hear it and perhaps help me find it, but then it would always disappear. The sound was clearly inside the front passenger side door. My new car was definitely going to the dealer the first chance I could be without it for a day. After several days of frustration I noticed the insert fastener of the upper seat belt, the one that crosses the passenger's chest was bouncing of the side of the frame because it was idle. I moved the belt just a wee bit and the rattle was gone. I could have sworn that noise was coming from inside the door. I would have bet money on it. :p
 

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Hey whatshisname! Great annecdote! I have chased a lot of rattles (not always successfully) and the sort of thing you mention can be a great frustration till found. I was going to comment that another benefit of a great sound system is enough volume without distortion to mask rattles.

Even worse are "funny sounds" that service personnel can NEVER reproduce.

The most interesting search I was ever involved in was helping a ham radio acquaintance trouble shoot an electrical problem in a Lincoln Mark for one of his customers. The owner never had a problem with it EVER but frequently when he would go to the airport to fly out on business, his wife would have electrical problems driving the car home. It turned out to be a wire under the driver's seat that was pinched when a really heavy person drove (wife was really big). It took a while to find that.

A plastic or rubber tube in the ear will help localize the source of a sound. Just search with the end of the tube and yo will definitely hear a difference shen approaching the source. Works pretty good but usualy requires a helper to drive the car if the noise only happens when car is driven.

:D Pat :D
 
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COULD IT BE THAT YOU ARE NOW ENCOUNTERING THE INFAMOUS RACK AND PINION PROBLEM that has plagued a notable number of Priuses!

You should most definitely take it to the dealer immediatly to assure that your issue/complaint is recorded before the expiration of the vehicle's 3yr 36K warranty period.

In my case, my rattle was initially diagnosed as a due to bad tires that were due to a bad alignment. I paid to have that done but the rattle persisted. I then told that it was my repaired muffler (paid @$100 to mend a pipe - outside of toyota), then my strut mounts took the blame, then the take was that there was no problem. Then no reproducable at the time the toyota factory service rep investigated the problem (and it was a long wait to have that looked at).

In the end, I had two arbritrations wherein the toyota motor corporation representatives adamently and slyly conveyed that nothing is wrong with the vehicle and if there was that they be allowed to correct any WARRANTABLE condition that MAY exist. There is an awful lot more to this story. Check your tires, you may find that the driver's tire wears abnormally at the outer edge. The tires at that position are rotated to the opposite side rear. You very likely now have other that the original tires somewhere on your car. If they are not the exaction version as the original then that will be the facet that toyota will seek shift blaming - your for not conforming to the maunfacturer's recommendations. Don't even think of mentioning that you may have used an inflation pressure other than listed in the owner's manual (even the use of an analog air pressure guage as opposed to a digital one was even offered up a challenge to my claims).

Also, checkl your steering wheel while driving on the highwaywhere I drove most). Mine is slightly cocked. Yes, there were numerous attempts in and out of toyota to address that. I have documented in writing and on video the dealer and non dealer attempts to address the alignment and steering problem. The abritrator chose not to look at that piece of evidence. They persist for they apparently do not significantly affect the value and safety of the car. If anyone else has run into this blockade, do tell.

WITH this general knowledge, you may be able to back the factory into replacing your rack (should you slightly slip past the 36k mile before it was conclusively diagnosed), aligning your car, and replacing your worn (if they are) tires. Without this knowledge, and their clear understanding that you possess such knowledge, it would be interesting to see how forthcoming they(dealer adn toyota factory rep.) will be to you.

Peruse this and other usergroup (yahoo or http://www.corolland.com/prius/archive-toyota.html) for information related to the rack failure. Consider that here in NYC the vast majority of these vehicles I see owned by a governmental agency. I doubt the driver's of these vehicles are as attuned to them and to their maintenance/problem scope as individuals.

So, if you bought this used, you could be befalling a known problem that toyota is not stepping up to the plate to address but will hope to get away with due to the glare of the next generation prius.

I had a sign (temporarily removed it pending a respectful response time from intervening resources) prominently posted on my vehicle relating the tire eating, failing rack, and cocked steering issues that the unspecting should be made aware of. In addition, I indicated that I would not but the car again but should you like it, you can make me an offer.

The greater matter is customer respect, and committment to a written committment to toyota owners. Love can be blind, lead to infactuation, and allow the strong materialistic persuit and see no evil adoration of this interesting and promising vehicle to sinfully challenge values.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Actually, I did get a free alignment and four new Bridgestones out of Toyota due to premature tire wear.

My rattle really sounds like plastic on plastic somewhere in the instrument pabel. Given how crappy the roads are in Oregon these days most cars develop rattles early in their lives.

FWIW I did spring for the extended warranty on this car so if there is a problem I should be covered through 80K...

Steve
Portland, OR
2002 Brilliant Blue
35100 miles
 

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Thanks, dissed, for relaying your experiences with Toyota regarding your Prius problems. Reading through your post made me feel a bit better about my decision to wait until the 05's come out before I consider buying, even though I'm next on my dealer's list.

As far as rattles go, I had a similar experience when I bought my MINI Cooper-traced it to the rear seat belt holder,too!! Easy fix.
 

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steering wheel angle

My steering wheel on my 2001 Prius
was pretty straight-on when I got
the car. (Note that 2001 Prius did
not have the cruise control option.)
Later I bought the Toyota cruise
control retrofit kit (from Toyota),
and to add cruise control you just
needed a new steering wheel and
brake switch.

Remove the airbag, remove the old
cruise-less wheel, and there's a
metal bit of the steering column
sticking out that has teeth on it.
Place the new cruise wheel onto the
teeth, aligned as best as you can
(there are only so many teeth/grooves
to match up), reattach the cables
and airbag.

There was not a proper groove to
get the new cruise wheel to align
perfectly center with the wheels
straight. I'd guess it was either
10deg counterclockwise, or 5deg
clockwise. So, my steering wheel
now is cocked slightly clockwise
(to the right) when my car is going
straight. Nothing I can do about
it, it's not my install, just that
the cruise control wheel was made
a little off-center.

(I have installation photos and
part info if anyone is interested...)
 

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Take your car to a competnet allignment shop. Allignment of caster, toe, camber, can be perfect (the part affecting tire wear) but have the steering wheel aimed way off. A good allignment shop can leave your allignment alone and adjust the rotation of your steering wheel.

The steering whesl being misalligned can be a bumer but it doesn't neccessarily indicate any problem with the allignment of your wheels.

:D Pat :D
 
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The fact that just about every 2001-2003 Prius I have encountered exhibits the particular tire problem does indicate to me that something is amiss. Guven six complementary maintenance and the overall support mechanism for support of these vehicles, it should not require customers (unknowing) customers having to take their car to an outside competant mechanic to have these workmanship tpe problems attended to. It costs time and money. During my first abritration proceeding, I was suggested that the company who performed my alignment may not have been up to snuff with the alignment procedures for the car. The company I took it too only peformed front end work and was part of a chain of at east 30 stores in the northease. I even had it taken to a sister store for an attempted repair. My dealing got to ruff that I placed a camera in my car while it was at another dealer being attended to for the front-end problems and hae them twice trying to adjustmens which included the steering wheel shifting and concluded that it was no longer worth their time for what they are being paid. I sent an excerpt of this during my last of four letters to toyota and then had no proactive reaction to this. Seems to me like the dealers are ther to run interferance. I'm just waiting for the problems of these rushed 2004 to start evolving. If they address them in the same manner they addressed my concerns, it could be a very bitter taste to those who are now salivating.

The front end problem resulted affects the wear of the tire which eventually resulted in an unbalanced tire for me that I readily felt on the highway. Who knows if that is stressing the rack, or if the rack is poor and results in this tire effect to the driver's side tire.

Again, toyota is aware of it and it seems to me like it is safer to lay low with the problem and allow it to be a customer private concern due to the passage of time.

Luckily the individual in this message thread was accorded a free alignment and replacement tires. I wonder at what point. Maybe it may be a timing issue with toyota in that they are slowly coming to terms with the problem (can't hide it any more?). There is no general recall notice only TSB addressing these front end problems. These TSB were out when I was being blown off by whatever the dealer and toyota's fatory representative thought would placate me. Letters to toyota customer assurance center get assigned a reference number and then the placating begins.

How many miles will you have to drive to save the cost of an extended warranty that you feel you need to purchase for a "toyota?" Just as it is NOT necessarily the money (High price, or gas cost savings) when it comes to purchasing a Prius.; It is how the company - a very profitable car company at that - truly accords their customers when something begins to smell. It then goes beyond the car and its possible maladies.

Times have and are changing. There are not too many bad cars being made nowadays. I see no reason not to take my business elsewhere and/or not to wait for competititors refined offering of better riding and safer hybrids.

I do plan to keep up with the NEW GENERATION prius however and Heaven forbid the tire problem reoccurs on that model. IT WAS NEVER THE TIRES IN THE FIRSTPLACE! THEY JUST TOOK THE FIRST BLAME.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Tires/Rotation details

Here's the background on my story, since you asked.

I had noticed for some time that the tire wear was not even on the tires, that the outside shoulder wore more quickly than the rest of the tread. Since I'd read much about how mediocre the Bridgestone tires were, I didn't worry about it too much, I expected to replace the tires at about 30K miles, and ordered a set of Nokiian NRT2 as they were the only LRR listed tire besides the Bridgestones at the time.

About a week before my new tires were scheduled to arrive, I took a hard bump and raised a decent-sized bubble on one of the sidewalls. I took the car to the tire shop where my tires were to arrive and they suggested I ask the dealer about the alignment since I didn't want to risk ruining my new tires with a bad alignment (he also put a patch on the inside of the sidewall to limit further damage to the tire but warned me I needed to address this soon).

At this point I called my dealer and spoke with one of the service writers. She had the presence of mind to ask the factory rep (who just happened to be at the dealership at the time) about my tires and alignment, and based upon my phone call, without even seeing the car, he approved warranty coverage for both the alignment and the tires.

Thusly I got a complete alignment and four new Bridgestones, no questions asked.

I have no complaint about Toyota's treatment in this situation. I do think the dealer should have noticed that the tires were wearing unevenly, though I did not bring it up either.

It appears to me that the reps in the field know there have been issues with the tires and alignment in the "classic" Prius and have been authorized to do what is necessary to help the customer. But they can't take action unless they know there is a problem...

Steve
Portland, OR
2002 Brilliant Blue
35100 miles
 
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You were fortunate and that is good.

But, what if that outside tire vendor had not conscientiously suggested that YOU bring this to toyota's attention? You would have paid for tires and possibly also for an alignment. An expense that you would have taken as owning to the luck of the draw and something likely to befall a car now and then.

Why did you need to advise them(toyota) of a problem when I here essentially predicted what had already happened to you. Now given that vehicle is accorded complimentary free maintenance at the toyota dealership and only specially trained write-up and service persons can tend to your vehicle, you should not have had to tell toyota that you had this problem. The "no questons asked" seem to suggest to me that since YOU are aware of the problem, then they will attend to it. Woe be to those who are not so fortunate as to have an outside person make them aware of this situation for it seems like toyota will not let you know that the bridge ahead is deteriorating. (With slick roads especially during the winter season, the loss of grip in the front due to worn front tire thread could prove disaserous). HOW this situation is handled seems to be designed to protect the finincially tangible renouned claim of committment to workmanship and their customers. If this was not about the benjamins, they would honor that committment by addressijng this issue to all owners in a proactive fashion and not try to kick it under the carpet leaving customers to spend time and money with wht at least appears to a be a consistent workmanship problem with these cars. One that MUST EVENTUALLY be tended to by someone.

It was a bridgestone dealer I went to who initially informed me that there may be a front-end issue with my car. I only went to outside vendors because the dealer I purchased my car from was having me pay an awful lot to perform the alignment and purchase new tires. I was particularly upset because my car had been in for service that included rotation not long prior to that and I asked them how they could miss that. And, even prior to that, my relationship with this specially trained write up person included question about an uneasyiness in my front steering that I feel at highway speeds.

It was a different dealer who gave up trying to fix the steering wheel alognment problem. And, as for factory representative and toyota customer sevice representative attending to my issue and concerns, let me say that I mentioned that I only sent an excerp to toyota of how they dealt with me, and what was their take, on the issue. All of this and more was detailed to toyota and after four letters and my paying for two set of tires and alignment, I received not satisfactory proactive response from toyota.

Taking offers.
 
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