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Non-dealer mechanics for Prius (2006)

Does any one know of a good non-dealer Prius mechanic in and around North Attleboro, MA. I need to get A/C replaced in my 2006 Prius. Toyota dealer estimate is $2400. Does that seem right? Mileage on the car is 102K miles.

Thanks much,

Have you checked out Prius forums, like Priuschat? Folks there might have some recommendations.

This solution has a total cost of about $500… With a little more engineering put into the installation, this system could be adapted to many vehicles…For $2400, you can central air installed in your house…

Did they tell you what was wrong with your air conditioning? Have you been in a collision that destroyed the condenser and compressor? Is this dealer’s solution to air conditioning problems to replace every single component of the system? It seems ridiculous for a six year old car to need that much money put into making the air conditioning function again. Are they replacing the entire system for you, because I have seen total conversions done for less than that much, as in, a car that did not come from the factory with air conditioning having every component installed to make it have OE air conditioning. Any decent mechanic who services air conditioning (which is most of them) should be able to find the problem and correct it for you for less, unless, perhaps, you own the only Prius with factory a/c delete.

For the record, Caddyman’s proposed solution has been done numerous times. It may not look too classy, but if the whole system kicks the bucket, it can be replaced with a couple hundred buck’s worth of stuff from Wally World.

The direct answer to your query is “Click the ‘Mechanics Files’ button at the top of this page.” It will take you to http://www.cartalk.com/content/mechanics-files, where you can search for recommended shops. As Mark9207 said, “Any decent mechanic who services air conditioning (which is most of them) should be able to find the problem and correct it for you…” You might feel more comfortable with an automobile A/C specialist, if you can find one. Other than Mechanics Files, word-of-mouth from your friends and colleagues is a good way to find a good independent mechanic. Common advice here is to avoid the chain shops, but you might be able to find a good one.

BTW, I don’t know where Caddyman lives, but around here $2400 will probably pay for the compressor/condensor (outdoor) unit for house central A/C, but would not leave enough to cover the “A-frame” evaporator in the air plenum. :>)

Hybrid A/C systems require dedicated equipment and service procedures. The refrigerant used in the system is conventional R134a but the system oil is unique to hybrids. As such, any equipment used must be dedicated to hybrids to avoid cross-contamination. The shop might (should) be charging accordingly to recoup the investment on equipment not used as frequently. Also, the dealer is not going to use rebuilt or aftermarket parts. Even so, exactly what was the diagnosis and recommended repair?

Toyota dealer estimate is $2400. Does that seem right?
That would depend on what needs to be replaced. Allways ask for a detailed estimate so that you understand what work needs to be done and so you can compare prices.

This car has a high voltage electrically driven compressor (no pulleys) which retails for $962. I don’t know if you can find many aftermarket parts for this car.

Be careful choosing a shop to work on this, do not take it to a street corner lube shop.

The A/C shop should have a recovery and charging station dedicated to hybrid/electric systems. The refrigerant oil used in common R134A systems can cause damage to the electrical insulation inside the compressor.

2004 and newer Toyota and Lexus Hybrid models are equipped with High-Voltage Three-Phase Alternating Current Air Conditioning Compressors, which have specific safety and service requirements.

Orange colored High-Voltage wiring is connected to electrically-driven A/C compressors (see photo).

^ Electrically-driven A/C compressors have no drive belt.

^ Electrically-driven A/C compressors require special ND-11 lubricating oil.

^ Underhood A/C system decal specifies use of ND-11 oil (see decal/label below).

^ Use ONLY ND-11 lubricating oil because of its electrical insulating characteristics.

^ Avoid oil cross-contamination during evacuation and refrigerant charging by using hoses designated for ND-11.

^ Cross-contamination and the use of incorrect lubricating oil can set Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC) and cause damage to the electrically-driven compressor.

Thank you all very much, guys. Really appreciate all the feedback. I’ll try to follow up on your suggestions.