Let me first open this discussion with the Man’s Prayer: I’m a man, and I can change, if I have to, I guess.
We have a low miles (<46,000) Toyota Matrix 2007/4DR WGN XR AT and it is our only car. We have carefully followed the entire Toyota maintenance schedule and all work was done by the Toyota dealer where we bought it new in November 2006.
In the spring of this year (2012) our dealer offered us $50 to test drive a Prius. The wife went for the drive and infomercial & came back effusive. She wanted us to trade in our car and get the Prius.
I was steadfast in saying no. I said: the car we have is a Toyota! This car has hardly any miles on it! We will get 150,000 - 200,000 miles on it - without major repairs - because Toyota has the highest reliability of all of the car manufacturers! I had a friend who would buy used Toyotas with 120,000 miles on them, and then put on another 100,000 miles without incurring major repairs!
But I’m now sorry to say that my arguments won the day.
About a month ago we were getting ready to go on a long trip (~2,000 miles) to visit friends. In preparation, we visited the Toyota dealer to have the scheduled oil change & inspection and put new tires on it. However the mechanic noticed some oil leakage on the engine - even though we didn’t have oil spots on our garage floor. They told us we urgently needed an oil leak-clean and dye diagnostic test ($75). We got the car and were told to drive it at least 200 miles for the test & then bring it back.
We put 220 miles on the car and brought it back to the dealer a week before our trip. They found that the head gasket was leaking externally, and valves were burnt on the number 1 & number 4 cylinders. They removed the cylinder head to replace the gasket, inspected the cylinder head and valves and found that the exhaust valves were burned. They sent out the damaged engine parts to another shop for cylinder head resurfacing and valve seat refinishing. They also found that the timing chain & related parts needed replacement (but apparently this wasn’t a problem 3 weeks earlier - as it wasn’t noted when the car was in the shop at that time).
The people at our dealership are very nice. When we asked them - why did this happen - they said ‘it wasn’t anything that you did’. I was incredulous - I gave them the same Toyota rap that I gave the wife (see above).
Perhaps because of this or maybe out of embarrassment, as a goodwill gesture, Toyota paid for the parts & we paid for the labor. But the bill still came to $1571.95. The car was in the shop 9 days and we cancelled our road trip.
So now I’m feeling burned on at least two levels here.
It’s looking like the wife was right (woman’s intuition?). We should have gotten rid of the Matrix earlier this year & I should have listened to my wife (ouch!).
And I was wrong about the quality and greatness of Toyota. At least in our experience, you can expect major, costly power train failures even when the vehicle is still at a relatively youthful age with low wear and tear.
So what should we do now?
Should we get rid of the car as soon as possible? Our dealer is eager to work with us to get us into a new Prius. They say they will consider all of the recent work done and this will hopefully give us an advantageous appraisal. But right now the Hyundai 10 year/100,000 mile power train warranty is looking like a much better deal. Would you trust Toyota after this experience? Or do we chalk this up to it being a vehicle produced during the time when Toyota grew too fast and as a result, quality slipped (and so this might be a good reason to get rid of it now).
Should we keep the car for another 12 months (the repairs made are guaranteed for 12 months) - and then trade? This way we get the use of the brand new tires and the engine repair investments.
Or is this the last of our ‘bad luck’ - and now the car will get that 150,000 miles without additional major system failures. So should we just hang on to it?
I am looking forward to your help and replies because “I’m a man, and I can change, if I have to, I guess”.