Hybrids : Service options?

I am thinking about a hybrid. My turn off is that none of my favorite independent repair shops will service the electronics part of the vehicle. I don’t like the idea of going to a dealer for service. High paid sales managers who want to maximize profits at the customers expense. How often do you find yourself stuck going to a dealer for electronics maintenance? Your mileage/age of vehicle?

I want to add that my experience with big service auto repair chains, is that they are worse than the dealers ( when it comes to reasonable and honest estimates) .

Most auto repair chains are in the business to maximize profits. They are in the vehicle maintenance business as a secondary endeavor which leads to all kinds of problems. I still advise everyone to stay away from the large chains and to get their maintenance done by a good independent mechanic. Some dealerships provide excellent maintenance for your vehicle but they always charge a higher price.

We have a local dealership that offers both new Ford and Chevy vehicles on the same lot. Their maintenance bays and showrooms are separate. One maintenance bay has a reputation for quality service while the other bay’s reputation is for dismal service. The owner of the dealership recently swapped out the service managers to see if the one bay could improve. It didn’t. The problem is the people that turn the wrenches. Until you send those bad people on their way…the quality will not improve.

Zero issues with 3 yr old Prius. Lease is up this month. 50 mpg avg for 3 yrs. new civic lease is 200/ mo and 0 down

I don’t like the idea of going to a dealer for service. High paid sales managers who want to maximize profits at the customers expense.

Well, having factory trained and experienced technicians servicing your car with the latest released service manuals and bulletins using required tools and equipment may be a better bargain than an independent shop fighting their way through a service they rarely see. Maybe that puts things in perspective.

If you live in a metro area there should be a number of independent shops that have taken on tooling and training for hybrids.

We service a number of Priuses. Out of the dozen to 15 I see regularly I’ve only had one battery pack issue come up, and we referred that one to the dealer because the car was one month out of warranty.

BTW, all shops try to maximize profits. I doubt you go to work in the morning to see how little money you can make.

No issues with my 4 year old MKZ. The electronics are very reliable, the Prius is one of Toyota’s most reliable cars. I wasn’t worried about it.

If you prefer an independent you may want to look for a new shop. The better independent shops keep pace with new technology and invest in the training and tools to keep their techs up to date. The eletronics in today’s cars both hybrid and non are becoming more and more complex.

Not that I know much about it but when you have a limited number of vehicles on the road that require specialized training and equipment, the dealer may be required for some services or repairs. I believe even body shops and emergency responders have had some issues due to the high voltage circuits. Rescue folks really have to be careful cutting someone out of hybrid lest they also become a victim. What I’ve read anyway.

I’ve never owned a hybrid, so I’m not qualified to answer, but it sounds like the Prius simply doesn’t meet your purchasing criteria.

There ARE high mileage vehicles on the market with conventional gas engines. You have choices.

I have visited the priuschat forum and they are a lot of owners doing quite well with DIY maintenance of the Prius. They don’t seem to do much with the hybrid engine/battery, but it also seems to be reliable and not need much. I think a good independent shop should be able to service these. I will check on the forums for some local references.

Before you buy…ASK…your area indy shops. In my small town there are none that advertise hybrid service, but in Albuquerque there ARE some who are on therir game with signs outside and ads on TV.
my 06 Escape hybrid has never needed electronics srvice.

I wouldn’t reject the service department of a new car dealer so quickly. I had been a regular customer at an independent shop for over 20 years. Within the last year, the shop apparently has a new manager. The shop now seems to want to do unnecessary work. For example, I was told our 4Ru nner needed new struts. I was told that the struts were leaking. I looked under the vehicle and didn’t see any evidence of a leak. A second opinion from our independent tire shop also does alignments and suspension work said that the struts were fine. I took the 4Runner to the Toyota dealer for an oil change. The inspection the dealer did for struts did not indicate a problem. The price of the oil changed was in higher than that of my former independent shop and the dealer washed the car as part of the service. I had a problem with the AC on my Sienna cuttting in and out with a,squealing noise. I diagnosed the problem as a slipping serpentine belt. I took it to the Toyota dealer. They cleaned the belt and washed the Sienna and there was no charge. The point is that one shouldn’t always assume that the dealer’s prices are always higher, or that dealers inflate the charges.

Hybrids, fortunately don’t require much “electronics service” … When they do, its usually something that’s a proprietary dealer only item. Hopefully, covered under warranty. As they get older and the major electronic parts begin to fail, their useful life is over as any major repair likely will total the car…

With the limited research I’ve done … your statement accurate. The service department at dealerships do not repair the electronic parts …they replace modules that can cost 1K to 6K.

While the electronics are robust, if I had a failure outside of warranty that was going to cost $1k-6k I would be junkyard shopping.
There are likely plenty of good, used, parts available for a fraction of the new cost.

I second Mountainbikes motion that a hybrid most likely does not belong on your list Tom777 if you are this concerned now,

I ran across one post where a guy was told he needed a new 3K battery by the dealership. A friend who was an electronic tech (not auto) at his company looked at it…he said it was just a corroded contact on one of the cells and fixed it in less than an hour with soldering.
That shows you the extent of hybrid know-how at the Toyota dealerships.

The,policy of the dealer with electronic components is to replace rather than repair. This is true for many electronic devices. Back in the 1970s, the math and computer science department had a Digital Equipment Corporation PDP 11 computer (I think that was,the model) and a,failure occurred in a circuit board in the power supply… Digital wanted. to. replace the board at a rather large expense for the department. However, a, physics prof who,had been an,electrical engineer was able to bridge the bad section of.the board…
I have friends who have Toyota Priuses and have been no battery problems in over 125,000 miles.

PDP 11 computer (I think that was,the model)

The PDP-11 is the model. It was the standard in 16bit engineering computers. Great computer.

All computers from that era - it was just replace…NEVER FIX. The labor rate for the field engineer to trouble shoot a board problem was not cost effective. They’re replace the board/module with a new or refurbished board. Then send the bad board back to have it refurbished. Far cheaper to diagnose and repair the exact component on the board in a lab environment with proper diagnostic equipment.

@MikeInNH Fortunately the repair to our PDP 11 cost us nothing and we were down for only 3 hours. Having our department next to the physics Dept was great. We did have a problem with some dial-up terminals that went to an IBM computer across campus. These terminals were heavy consoles and were in an open area for the students. A big shot from the administration walked through the building and saw the computer terminals in an open area and demanded that they be moved immediately. The terminals were moved to a room that had no telephone connections. The telephone company was called and we were told it would be two weeks, before the lines could be rerouted. Since my students had projects that were due, I went home, got my hammer drill, chucked in ,masonry bit and rerouted the phone lines and connected the terminals. The secretary immediately called the phone company and cancelled the work order. She was told it was too late as the technician was on his way. The tech spent 2 minutes checking to see that the terminals worked and charged the department $80 for moving and installing computer terminals. At that point, we decided to try our own repairs first. My guess is that with Hybrid and battery powered cars, more people will become adspf at doing some,of their own repairs and certainly more shops will take on hybrids.