Prius question in Sunday's newspaper column

Today’s question was about the 2013 Prius with 55K miles and an oil leak the dealer wanted $1600 to repair. This sounds like what happened to me at the dealer a year or so ago (which I posted in this forum). They said I had an oil “ooze” at the timing chain cover gasket and wanted a similarly outrageous amount to fix it.

Looking at the service manual, I can understand why it is such a time-consuming affair, involving around 18 bolts that have to be torqued in a very arcane pattern which the normal owner wouldn’t be equipped to undertake.

Many months later, after the ooze was diagnosed, I still haven’t had a drippy oil leak. I think this repair just became popular with the dealers because it was instant revenue for a problem that may appear suddenly or take a long time to show up, and would be a nice add on for the major service that was done around that time in a car’s life. I think Ray may be on to something with his suggestion that an inferior sealant may have been used at some point in time.

The easiest solution to me is to check the car periodically (daily, weekly, hourly) and if there is any sign of oil under the car to have it taken care of immediately.

I had a similar experience with a local Toyota dealer, only they claimed I had a coolant leak at the water pump. Since I’ve never had to add coolant I was skeptical of this diagnosis. Three years later I’m still not adding coolant. I think a lot of dealers are trying to make work for themselves by suggesting these types of “repairs” as regular maintenance. Don’t fall for it. Always get another opinion if you doubt the dealer’s veracity.

And my experience is to “Always… doubt the dealer’s veracity!”

Dealers – stay away from them, unless you cannot. Find local, trusted mechs!

That’s good advice. In fact, I have found a good local mechanic to work on both our Prii.

For historical accuracy, I must point out that at least my old Toyota dealer back in MD, circa 2003, USED to be honest. Their original system was to assign you to a repair team, and the same people would get to know, and work on, your car every time you went in for maintenance. That all changed when Auto Nation took over the repair departments at many, or all Toyota dealers.