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17 December 2004 @ 07:03 pm
The patient died in routine surgery  
So I took my '04 Prius in for service. It has a 12-gallon fuel tank, but I've never gotten more than 8 gallons in, though I wait until the car tells me to add fuel. (I know that's a bad habit, and I'm trying to get out of it.) Toyota knows about this problem, and enough people have complained that they have a "TSB". This is a type of campaign in which you only get service if you complain about the specific problem.

My car's VIN makes it eligible for both parts of the fuel system TSB. The fuel filler pipe gets replaced; so does some part of the display, which means that the odometer also gets replaced. (It's amazing what you can learn by being a member of a vehicle enthusiast internet group.) They set the odometer at the factory before they ship it ... which means that if you drive the vehicle between the time of order and the actual service, the dealership will effectively roll back your odometer. I thought that was kind of illegal, but the dealership wouldn't budge when I complained.

I was a little annoyed at the dealership anyway because when I first tried to get information about the odometer setting, the representative was very brusque and didn't even know that there was a second part to the TSB. Then he placed the order for the parts based on the odometer reading they had in their system, without talking to me (or suggesting that I leave the vehicle, which I wouldn't have done, but still, that's apparently the method that Toyota prescribes to avoid the rollback issue).

I was annoyed, but I was prepared for the fact that I was effectively getting a 200 mile odometer rollback. I marked down the mileage at the dealership before they shuttled me back home, so that I can compare and adjust my fuel tracking numbers.

This service was supposed to be "a few hours".

After four hours, I called for a status. The representative said that it should be ready by about 5:30 (about another three and a half hours).

At 6:15, as I was thinking about calling again, they called me.

My car is now brain-dead.

Apparently they checked for other campaigns while my car was in, and they had a program that they had to run in order for my car to communicate with the Registry's computers. Without the change, I would fail inspection because the systems would not communicate. The engineer described the process to the service rep as "dumbing down" the ECU.

Apparently my car's ECU was the "1 in about 100" that lock up when this is done. In a Prius, if the ECU isn't working, the car is just so many stationary parts. It can't even be started.

So tomorrow morning they'll theoretically come pick me up and take me to a rental place. "I don't suppose they have any Priuses," I said darkly, knowing they wouldn't.

The rep said, "I know you want to save the planet and all ... but they'll get you in something good, something efficient, like an Echo."

So I have to go who knows how long in ... something like an Echo. After what was supposed to be a reasonably easy update. While I pick up my mother at the airport, which means driving in Boston, and while I'm continuing to host her *and* commuting to work. They *think* they'll have my car fixed by the time I need to DRIVE TO TORONTO, but they can't guarantee that because it's too late in the evening for them even to try to order the replacement ECU. I suppose I just have to hope that they aren't backordered.

I was a little troubled by the attitudes I was getting the first couple of times I talked to these folks. This morning's rep was much better, and this location was supposedly wonderful before the ownership change, but I have real trouble respecting or trusting a dealership that will go in and make additional, unrequested, unadvertised changes to a vehicle just because they happen to have it in. (If they "had to" do this as they claim, they couldn't at least have called me first to let me know they were going to do it?)

So this may be the end of my (barely begun) relationship with North Attleboro (MA) Toyota, which is now "Boch Toyota South". I should've known the Boch name would just bring trouble. BBB: Both Bochs Bad.

Maybe I'll switch to Taunton ... not remotely convenient, but another Prius owner has been happy with them.

(I would say "they can't be worse", but that'd just be asking for trouble!)

I never even found a name for my car. (I had considered "Illyria", because it's blue and it's ... not like the other children.) That might be for the best-- will it even be the same "person" after a brain transplant??

Excuse me. I have to go weep inconsolably now.
 
 
Current Mood: frustratedfrustrated