Smart Motors Madison, Wisconsin

Elkhart, Indiana 1 comment

Summarizing in case you want to forward or publish on a website, social networks, or forums that Google will index ;-)

-- Smart Motors, Madison, WI-- 2008 Highlander Hybrid with ~39,000 miles. -- Bought certified pre-owned in September of 2011-- Hybrid system failure on Dec 19, 2012-- Estimated repair bill of ~ $7000

My summary/interpretation from talking with Jeremy, the service advisor:

The rear of the car has a Hybrid ECU unit. ECU stands for "engine control unit". This is a general term for an automative electronics module, which in this case is for the battery/inverter. The module has two 12-volt supplies to power the electronics (these supplies have nothing to do with the hybrid regeneration/delivery system). The supplies are run through a common wiring harness from the front of the vehicle.

They tested an open circuit between the terminal in the front and the terminal in the back on one of the two 12-volt supplies. This implies that an individual wire inside the wiring harness is no longer conducting. Unless some rodent really did chew through part of the harness or some other external force acted upon it, then in my opinion, this is a manufacturing or installation defect as wires just don't spontaneously fail on their own. Jeremy indeed said that they basically never see wiring harnesses fail. Perhaps the harness was improperly installed next to a sharp metal edge that eventually vibrated through the insulation. Dunno.

While a single egg (wire) failed, all the eggs are in one complex/expensive basket (wiring harness). One could possibly fix the entire vehicle by running a single 12-volt patch wire from the front of the car to the back of the car. This fix would be a "***" that Toyota won't do, and I wouldn't exactly recommend it either since perhaps other wires will eventually fail in the harness. But as of right now, it is totally unfortunate/absurd set of circumstances that a single failed 12-volt supply wire is buried in a $3500 wiring harness that apparently isn't seeing other issues.

While the powertrain is now disabled, the claim is that any powertrain warranty does not actually cover wiring. You would have been better off if the entire Hybrid ECU unit (or inverter) failed rather than a single 12-volt strand of wire running through the car even though the effect is entirely the same. A non-powered ECU is no different from a failed ECU! Note that 2006 Highlander Hybrids had terrible inverter failure issues resulting in repair bills of $7000-10000. There is a class action lawsuit against Toyota for this issue on the 2006.

At this point Jeremy says that they can't determine the exact cause of the wire failure until the wiring harness is removed, and they won't do that until they get a replacement. Why? Because once they remove the harness, they can't easily move the car and they don't want your car sit in their garage taking up shop space for two weeks.

Jeremy claims it on the customer's onus to contact Toyota corporate by dialing some 1-800 number. In my opinion, Toyota HQ should get involved. In the likely scenario that this is not determined as rodent damage, you are left with a $7000 repair bill on a vehicle with 39,000 miles. And this is clearly looking like a defect to me as it can't possibly be blamed on vehicle misuse.

I asked Jeremy for the name of his manager. He balked at first and then said "Jim Ward". We later learned that the overall manager, however, is a "Brett Cooper".

Jeremy suggested that talking to sales would be of no use. However we didn't listen to him and asked to speak with a sales manager anyways.

We spoke with "Bill Bailey" of used sales. He said the comprehensive 12-month warranty expired in September and said "this is why we offer extended warranties". Total BS thing to say at this point because that is irrelevant to the problem at hand. But anyhow, Bill eventually went to talk with Jeremy and says he will work to provide some kind of resolution. Bill seems willing to follow through and help on this.

In my opinion, here are some outcomes to shoot for if you are left with a $7000 repair bill:-- Ask the dealer to repurchase the vehicle from you.-- Get Toyota HQ to foot the repair bill, because, I think you can make the claim that this is not possibly the fault of the customer and is a result of a manufacturing defect.

Pursuing either of these options could necessitate legal action.

--Mike

Summarizing in case you want to forward or publish on a website, social networks, or forums that Google will index ;-)

-- Smart Motors, Madison, WI-- 2008 Highlander Hybrid with ~39,000 miles. -- Bought certified pre-owned in September of 2011-- Hybrid system failure on Dec 19, 2012-- Estimated repair bill of ~ $7000

My summary/interpretation from talking with Jeremy, the service advisor:

The rear of the car has a Hybrid ECU unit. ECU stands for "engine control unit". This is a general term for an automative electronics module, which in this case is for the battery/inverter. The module has two 12-volt supplies to power the electronics (these supplies have nothing to do with the hybrid regeneration/delivery system). The supplies are run through a common wiring harness from the front of the vehicle.

They tested an open circuit between the terminal in the front and the terminal in the back on one of the two 12-volt supplies. This implies that an individual wire inside the wiring harness is no longer conducting. Unless some rodent really did chew through part of the harness or some other external force acted upon it, then in my opinion, this is a manufacturing or installation defect as wires just don't spontaneously fail on their own. Jeremy indeed said that they basically never see wiring harnesses fail. Perhaps the harness was improperly installed next to a sharp metal edge that eventually vibrated through the insulation. Dunno.

While a single egg (wire) failed, all the eggs are in one complex/expensive basket (wiring harness). One could possibly fix the entire vehicle by running a single 12-volt patch wire from the front of the car to the back of the car. This fix would be a "***" that Toyota won't do, and I wouldn't exactly recommend it either since perhaps other wires will eventually fail in the harness. But as of right now, it is totally unfortunate/absurd set of circumstances that a single failed 12-volt supply wire is buried in a $3500 wiring harness that apparently isn't seeing other issues.

While the powertrain is now disabled, the claim is that any powertrain warranty does not actually cover wiring. You would have been better off if the entire Hybrid ECU unit (or inverter) failed rather than a single 12-volt strand of wire running through the car even though the effect is entirely the same. A non-powered ECU is no different from a failed ECU! Note that 2006 Highlander Hybrids had terrible inverter failure issues resulting in repair bills of $7000-10000. There is a class action lawsuit against Toyota for this issue on the 2006.

At this point Jeremy says that they can't determine the exact cause of the wire failure until the wiring harness is removed, and they won't do that until they get a replacement. Why? Because once they remove the harness, they can't easily move the car and they don't want your car sit in their garage taking up shop space for two weeks.

Jeremy claims it on the customer's onus to contact Toyota corporate by dialing some 1-800 number. In my opinion, Toyota HQ should get involved. In the likely scenario that this is not determined as rodent damage, you are left with a $7000 repair bill on a vehicle with 39,000 miles. And this is clearly looking like a defect to me as it can't possibly be blamed on vehicle misuse.

I asked Jeremy for the name of his manager. He balked at first and then said "Jim Ward". We later learned that the overall manager, however, is a "Brett Cooper".

Jeremy suggested that talking to sales would be of no use. However we didn't listen to him and asked to speak with a sales manager anyways.

We spoke with "Bill Bailey" of used sales. He said the comprehensive 12-month warranty expired in September and said "this is why we offer extended warranties". Total BS thing to say at this point because that is irrelevant to the problem at hand. But anyhow, Bill eventually went to talk with Jeremy and says he will work to provide some kind of resolution. Bill seems willing to follow through and help on this.

In my opinion, here are some outcomes to shoot for if you are left with a $7000 repair bill:-- Ask the dealer to repurchase the vehicle from you.-- Get Toyota HQ to foot the repair bill, because, I think you can make the claim that this is not possibly the fault of the customer and is a result of a manufacturing defect.

Pursuing either of these options could necessitate legal action.

--Mike

Review about: Pre-Owned Car.

Comments

Anonymous
#1380409

Wire harnesses don't oftentimes fail on cars.I can't say why yours did, but wiring connections are subject to possible corrosion, for example.

I suggest asking an independent garage to install a patch wire.It could be a cheap fix that solves your problem.

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