I bought a 2007 Toyota Prius brand new from a Toyota dealership (which I will refer to as Toyota Dealership A). I have had the car serviced religiously every 5,000 miles at Toyota dealership A.
I now have 102,000 miles on it. When the Prius had 93,000 miles, the car began losing oil profusely. I was putting in about a quart every 500 miles. The acceleration began to decline. The acceleration problem was most evident going uphill. I live in the Colorado Rockies at 8,200 feet, and I work at 5,400 feet. I drive up and down the mountain at least 6 days a week.
I took it into Toyota Dealership A at 93,000 miles because of these problems. They could not find an oil leak, did not have an answer for the oil loss, and they told me the acceleration was fine. I inquired about the problems the next two times I took the vehicle in for regularly scheduled maintenances (at 95,000 miles and 100,000 miles). The only explanation they gave me was that cars with higher milage go through oil faster.
The oil check light came on around 101,000 miles. I checked the oil and it was very low, so I filled it completely. The oil check light did not turn off, and I drove the car home up the mountain. At one particularly steep section of the mountain, the car dropped to 25 mph. This is as low as it has ever dropped. (I used to be able to drive the car at 50 mph in this section of the mountain).
Tired of hearing that there was nothing wrong with my vehicle, I quickly took it to an independent mechanic. Within a half an hour after bringing it in, they told me their concern about the engine not shutting off while in park (it should only be the electric hybrid engine running). They did a leak-down test and told me they found a 40% carbon leak in the 4th cylinder, and they replaced my spark plugs. They even gave me the old spark plugs for evidence. They told me that I was looking at $3,000-$8,000 repair, thinking I may need a new engine or a new hybrid motor. They told me to contact Toyota Corporate because this was not ethically right, as I bought the car brand new and have only taken it to Toyota dealerships for maintenance.
I called Toyota Corporate and I have a case number. Of course, Toyota needs to inspect the vehicle with their own eyes before taking the word of an independent mechanic. I decided to have the vehicle inspected by a different Toyota dealership than Toyota Dealership A, where I bought it and have had it serviced (I will refer to the different Toyota dealership as Toyota Dealership B). Toyota Dealership B told me there was nothing wrong with the hybrid component. They noticed that the oil was black, and that I needed a new 12 volt battey. However, they could not get the engine check light code because the independent mechanic erased it. The next step was to replace the 12 volt battery and do a compression test.
Toyota Corporate will not tell me what they may or may not cover (or partially cover) in costs once they determine what is wrong with the vehicle. My vehicle is now out of warranty, but at 93,000 miles, when I originally took it in for these problems, the hybrid system was still under warranty (up until 100,000 miles). However, Toyota Dealership B told me nothing is wrong with the Hybrid component.
I was able to get a free compression test out of Toyota Dealership A. The test turned out just fine. However, the engine check light came back on later that day.
I took the vehicle back to Toyota Dealership B and had the 12 volt battery replaced. They told me the engine check light code was for the 12 volt battery. They also changed the oil to do an oil consumption test (I am to return it after driving 500 miles). That night, I drove the car home up the mountain. Though I knew the 12 volt battery was for starting the vehicle and not running it, I was still curious to see what the 12 volt battery would do to the acceleration. The vehicle again dropped to 25 mph during the steep section of the mountain, and the engine check light came back on. I called Toyota Dealership B. We agreed to bring the car back in after 500 miles.
I have not been driving my car up and down the mountain because I don’t want to ruin my engine. I leave it down the mountain and drive it around town for work. I am now at 500 miles, but the oil looks okay, probably because I have not been driving the car up the mountain.
I could have Toyota look at my car for the oil consumption test, but I doubt they will be able to determine anything because the oil looks fine because I have not been driving up the mountain. Perhaps I could begin the oil consumption test again, and this time I will drive it up and down the mountain for 500 miles. However, I am apprehensive of doing this for fear of ruining my engine. I have called and left a voicemail for Toyota to ask about this, but I will not hear back until next week.
I don’t know what to do. In order for Toyota to determine what is wrong, I have to continue to shell out money to have them look at it. Once they determine what is wrong, I don’t know if Toyota Corporate will cover any costs… I doubt it.
If I sell the vehicle privately, it is required by law that I take care of the engine check light so it can pass emissions. Now I am back to paying Toyota (or someone) to determine what is wrong. If I trade in the vehicle at a dealership, I have to trade it for a car of equal or lesser value because I have no more money. Therefore, after an extensive search of various dealership (not just Toyota), I am looking at getting a vehicle at the same milage or more, and additionally, it will be about 5 years older than my Prius. This feels like a gamble. What will eventually go wrong with that vehicle?
I bought a Prius repair manual, and I am thinking about replacing the valves myself.
This doesn’t seem fair, as I bought the vehicle brand new, have never been in an accident, and have only had it serviced at Toyota dealerships (except for this last inspection by the independent mechanic). Perhaps the Prius is not meant to drive up mountains at this altitude. Suggestions?