Prius died on the road

Discussion in 'Toyota Prius Family' started by MadMan2k, Jun 10, 2013.

  1. MadMan2k

    MadMan2k Active Member

    Yesterday as I was driving up to Palomar mountain outside of Escondido, CA, the 2010 Prius I've only had for 2 weeks broke down on me.

    When I tried to start it up, all I got was "Check hybrid system".

    I was in a very inconvenient and unsafe place to break down, luckily I was able to pull just off the road and then someone stopped and helped me push it down to a place where I could wait for a tow truck...

    Unfortunately, Toyota roadside assistance fell through and the tow company they contracted never showed up, until I called back and they said they don't service the area I broke down in. Total time on side of the road at that point - 1.5 hrs

    Had to call my insurance company, USAA - the first company they called wouldn't do it because they didn't have a truck that could pick up myself, my wife and my baby son. So after a bunch of further phone calls they dispatched a company who finally showed up.

    I broke down at about 3:10 PM, the car was connected to the truck at about 7:50 PM. Cranky me, cranky wife, cranky 1-year old boy. Lucky we had some goldfish crackers and bottles of water.

    Towed us the hour drive back to the dealer, and of course the service dept. had gone home and so had the loaner vehicle people. The manager had an employee drive us home, and now I'm very relieved not to have traded in my old car, because both of those departments are also closed today.

    I considered a diesel but the reputation of VW TDI's put me off - joke's on me now right? I lost all confidence in this car, but I don't know if there's anything I can do to sell it because I paid for the extended warranty and gap insurance, which puts me underwater compared to the blue book value, which is just over what I would have paid for the car itself. Plus, if I sell it private party I can't ask for nearly as much as a certified used vehicle from a dealership, right?

    Guess the best I can do is insist they replace all the hybrid system components which are covered under the warranty I paid extra for. Had to foot a $180 bill for the tow, and Toyota charged me $140 even though they never showed up - definitely going to fight that and try for re-imbursement of the actual towing.

    If I have to keep driving this car I don't trust I'll have to get a AAA membership or start paying for roadside assistance on my insurance (wish I had done that in the first place, but I heard so many good things about these cars I didn't imagine it would ever have to be towed, let alone 2 weeks after I bought it and with barely 60k miles)

    From some reading it sounds like it might just be a fuse problem or an HV line to the transaxle, but if another part of the system goes out later, I might not be able to get off the road safely again.

    Any recommendations or people who have been through this before? The only other vehicle I had break down on me was a 27 year old Ford truck I bought for $1000, and all it needed was a new battery (and I knew it was on its last legs and barely holding a charge, but tried to run some errands with it anyway).
  2. priusCpilot

    priusCpilot George

    Rare break down! Sorry you went through the ordeal. Always keep the AAA Premier that give you the 200 mile range. You just never know when it will come in handy even with the most reliable car ever produced , the Prius.

    You have a better chance at winning a power ball then a Prius break down!

    Please posted the cause once you know?
  3. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    Don't buy AAA. They support nothing to do with better MPG. I have the adder on my car insurance for towing and it has never been used for a break down.

    We have a 2010 Prius and it has a little over 93,000 miles. We have put one set of tires on it, changed the oil at 10,000 miles (or so) and air filters. I took it back one time after the warranty was out because the airbag light was on and they found a loose wire under the passenger seat. One of my wifes umbrellas was crammed under there and had caused a loose wire connection to the side air bag.

    BestMapMan has well over 100k miles on his 2010 and hasn't had any issues. I would suspect a bad 12v battery 1st. A few of those have failed and caused some weird symptoms.

    Please keep us informed with what is discovered.

    How many miles is on yours? The dealership should have had at least a 30 day warranty included for no charge.
  4. Harold

    Harold Well-Known Member

    I agree with msirach 12v. Pump for coolent of the transaxle another possibility! H
  5. DaveJ

    DaveJ Well-Known Member

    Would not a 2010 still be under factory warranty for Hybrid system?
  6. ILAveo

    ILAveo Well-Known Member

    Sounds familiar. AAA is no guarantee either. My elderly mother used to have AAA until the time I had to bail her out after their affiliate left her sitting on the side of a road for three hours.
  7. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    Yes, unless it has over 100k miles.
  8. Harold

    Harold Well-Known Member

    I believe he has extended warranty?H
  9. msantos

    msantos Eco Accelerometrist

    Hi Madman

    This is a very unusual situation as the Prius is AFAIK, the most reliable vehicle on our roads.

    For instance: At the moment I have two on my driveway (2010 & 2011) and they been extremely solid and reliable even over our 6 month long northern winters.

    I also have three more Prii that I use for my business, two second gen 2007 models and a 2011 (replaced a totaled 2007) and they have never had any issues despite having a combined mileage approaching the 500 K mark.

    I suggest letting the dealer do an exhaustive diagnosis and repair/replace whatever is off. I agree with Mike that the 12V is worth checking but since the car broke down while in transit, the problem may be actually elsewhere as most of the 12V problems in Prii tend to occur at power-up.


    Last edited: Jun 11, 2013
  10. waltermlee

    waltermlee Well-Known Member

    Sorry to hear about your problems. Diesel or a conventional car would be a better choice when driving frequently in the mountains at high elevations. At High elevations - the Prius can do it but it lacks power at high elevations.climbs which can be frustrating... The Prius is really a city car at heart... that can go on the highway ... but it is not designed as an adventure - sports car -- an SUV it is not.

    If the 2010 Prius is registered in CA the hybrid drivetrain is covered for 10 years and/or 150,000 miles --- so even if the extended warranty that your purchase doesn't over your Hybrid system problem -- CA law does... I'm not sure why you bought a Prius or what the specific conditions of your situation are - but I would advise you to see if you can get your Prius fixed ( however, if you totally frustrated you might want to ask your state attorney's office if you can use your State's Lemon Law to return it).

    The dealer should not be charging you for a tow that they did not provide and I think you should be able to reverse the charges - or else you have a good case in small claims court. with respect to getting car help in the mountains - I am not surprised since you were driving in the mountains ... Having a wife and kids in tow can makes it worst too.

    Disclosure: I am an orginial owner of a 2010 Toyota Prius III with +36000 miles. I have my Prius connected to two ScangaugeII units which can act as OBDII scanners - so if there is a general problem with the car - I also get an OBDII diagonistic code too.
  11. DaveJ

    DaveJ Well-Known Member

    As far as I know, if a car has original factory warranty left, an extended warranty only pays after the factory has paid what it will.
  12. bestmapman

    bestmapman Fighting untruth and misinformation

    Sorry to hear about your problem. I am at 131,000 miles on my 2010 and no problems at all so far.
  13. MadMan2k

    MadMan2k Active Member

    Thanks for the replies all.

    I stopped by the dealer as soon as they opened Monday and got a loaner vehicle, and at the end of the day they called to say the inverter is bad and a replacement part will arrive on Wednesday.

    I suspect they might have to change other parts after they get it running with the inverter, but who knows.
  14. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 2010 Prius (CAN Touring) Staff Member

    Good to hear ;)
  15. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    That's not a common problem for sure. Is there any evidence that car had been in a collision? Did you run a CarFax!
  16. waltermlee

    waltermlee Well-Known Member

    Yes, Inverters rarely go bad on a Prius - that's true for all three generations too. Most of the cases I've read about are with first generation Prius, too. I only know of one case for a 3rd generation Prius....

    The only way I know that where the inverters have gone bad on a 3rd generation Prius is if it persistently overheats - like in the case of a fleet of 2010 Prius taxi cabs in Greece that I read about on
    That case was caused by obstruction of the air intake vent on the right side of the rear seats and/or by a broken air intake vent fan ( the fan breaks down after constantly running due to ineffective cooling cause by an obstruction of the air intake vent).

    It might be a good idea for the auto mechanic to make sure the air intake vent for the battery and inverters is clear of obstruction and that the fan/blower works....

    Three years ago I decided on 2010 Prius over a 2010 Insight not because it was cheaper, or more reliable, or because it achieved a higher MPG rating - but because the Prius had a more active and larger owner-driver-user community which I could ask questions and learn from. Being that the Prius is my first Hybrid - I anticipated that I was going to need help adjusting to the new tech... I hope I have been as helpful as the people who have helped me when I was at my wits end with this new tech... ... Walter.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2013
  17. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    I own both the Prius and the Insight II. You really made the right choice Walter. think when our daughter graduates college next year, I'm going to trade the Insight for a Prius.
  18. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    Close to impossible to go wrong buying a new Prius
    Wife and son EFFORTLESSLY get 40-45 mpg pure city short trip driving-2006 Prius
    In exactly the same driving-they got 22mpg with a 2001 Corolla(Prizm actually)
    and 13 mpg with a 2003 Pilot.
    I get 50-55 mpg same routes- very little effort-just P&G

    Only problem we had was inverter coolant pump croaking-65000 miles-common problem-covered by Toyota
    Otherwise just oil changes tires- 78,000 miles
    Bought May 2006- hot New Orleans- 7 years later still using same 12 volt battery(better change it soon)
    Yeah-Great Car

    Don't some owners complain about the trim on 2010 on-saying it has a cheaper feel-rattles more??

    Yes Walter- like Msirach says smart choice
    PS with oil down in price-usually you can get great prius deals
  19. ALS

    ALS Super Moderator Staff Member

    My 2010 with 32K miles has been the best car I have ever owned. :D
  20. MadMan2k

    MadMan2k Active Member

    Just got it back from the shop today. No cost to me, and as soon as I get the receipt for the towing services from USAA I will send it to them, and the service mgr. said they will submit it to Toyota for reimbursement.

    Seems to be running OK.

    I didn't see a carfax report for this one but I have the service history and all the work they did after taking it in on a trade and before selling it as certified used. Nothing I saw indicated it was in an accident.

    We'll see how it works out from here. I'm certainly glad to be rid of the 2012 Chevy Malibu loaner car...

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