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Quality issues: 2015 Highlander

saratogastevesaratogasteve Member Posts: 186
edited April 2016 in Toyota
I proudly purchased my new 2015 Highlander AWD XLT last year and brought it in for scheduled maintenance last month for an oil change and tire rotation. With 9,000 miles, I was told there was a fluid leak at the crank shaft and I would have to leave the car. 8 days later the car was ready after they lifted the engine and replaced every gasket on the engine block. I was given a loaner during this period.

One month later the 'check engine' light goes on and the car is flashing 'check AWD' 'TRAC off'
The service rep says I should not drive the car and have it towed into the shop. Hmmmmmm
It took two days to get my car in and the Service Rep doesn't offer a loaner because he says the car is still drivable?

Car is sitting in the shop and I had to rent a car from them for $45 per day? I'm paying $45 per day to drive a Corolla while my $40,000 new car sits at the dealer while under warranty?

I went from Honda to owning my first Toyota and it's off to a really bad start.

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    saratogastevesaratogasteve Member Posts: 186
    Been 6 days now in the shop with the dash flashing all kinds error messages. Most they are able to confirm as being false warnings. But still no idea what's going on.
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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Must be frustrating! Keep us in the loop so that we can share whatever repair information you're able to gather.
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    saratogastevesaratogasteve Member Posts: 186
    Day 7 I get a call; they ordered a new ECT card for the car - part might arrive on Monday next week - that would be 12 days plus the other 8 already in the shop for a total of 20 days in "repair" in the first 14 months.
    10 more days in the next year and it's officially a lemon.
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    kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 239,292

    Day 7 I get a call; they ordered a new ECT card for the car - part might arrive on Monday next week - that would be 12 days plus the other 8 already in the shop for a total of 20 days in "repair" in the first 14 months.
    10 more days in the next year and it's officially a lemon.

    That's only if its for the same problem and they can't fix it, right?

    Not something I would hope for.

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    saratogastevesaratogasteve Member Posts: 186
    kyfdx said:

    Day 7 I get a call; they ordered a new ECT card for the car - part might arrive on Monday next week - that would be 12 days plus the other 8 already in the shop for a total of 20 days in "repair" in the first 14 months.
    10 more days in the next year and it's officially a lemon.

    That's only if its for the same problem and they can't fix it, right?

    Not something I would hope for.
    oh yea - this is just a best guess as to what might be the cause. They had to elevate the issue to Toyota because they were out of answers for the cause.
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    saratogastevesaratogasteve Member Posts: 186
    edited April 2016
    Got the car back last Thursday after 6 days of waiting. Toyota service department replaced the ECU (circuit board) and informed me to come pick up car. fast forward 3 days of having the car at home, first day driving to work, warning lights come back on 'Check Engine', 'Trac Off'', 'Check AWD'. Same problem as last time. So back the car goes to Toyota. This will be the third time taking it in and I'm now up to 18 days in the shop under warranty. 12 more to go and it's officially a lemon.
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    texasestexases Member Posts: 10,735
    You'll want to figure out the requirement to meet 'lemon law' requirements in your state. Keep careful records, you may well qualify.
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    saratogastevesaratogasteve Member Posts: 186
    texases said:

    You'll want to figure out the requirement to meet 'lemon law' requirements in your state. Keep careful records, you may well qualify.

    In my State (Calif) it's 30 days in the shop or 4 tries to fix the same problem. Safety issues are treated differently. The best part is the Manufacturer has to pay legal fees if they lose so there are all kinds of lawyers out there who will work for no fee to the car owner.

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    saratogastevesaratogasteve Member Posts: 186

    Got the car back last Thursday after 6 days of waiting. Toyota service department replaced the ECU (circuit board) and informed me to come pick up car. fast forward 3 days of having the car at home, first day driving to work, warning lights come back on 'Check Engine', 'Trac Off'', 'Check AWD'. Same problem as last time. So back the car goes to Toyota. This will be the third time taking it in and I'm now up to 18 days in the shop under warranty. 12 more to go and it's officially a lemon.

    Toyota reported to me yesterday that there was a lose ground to the ECU card they replaced last week. But to make sure that's the problem they have to drive my car 100 miles?! Have you ever heard of that? Now here's the kicker. Today they call me to say the car is out of gas and the gas station they buy from is closed till tomorrow and they still need to drive the car another 40 miles? I told them to just take some cash out of petty cash and buy a couple gallons of gas. holding my car another day because you burned all my gas is comical.
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    saratogastevesaratogasteve Member Posts: 186
    Toyota says they have to drive my car 100 miles to make sure they've fixed the problem that's had my car in the shop under warranty for 12 days now. 60 miles into the test drive, the gas light goes on and they call to say the gas station they buy from is closed. I think these guys are liars and just don't have time to do complete the job.
    And I've never ever heard of a 100 mile test drive by a mechanic.
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    thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,753
    And I've never ever heard of a 100 mile test drive by a mechanic

    So how should that be classified? That you just learned something new? With random failures and this last round fits that description, 100 miles might not actually be enough to prove if the failure is really solved or not. If the only way they have to try and prove that there are no more problems is an extended road test, then that is what they will have to do. That's not a good thing for them, I'll guarantee you that the last thing that they want to be doing is putting a bunch of miles on this. There are just too many things that can go wrong not the least of which could be an accident that puts an employee at risk of injury or worse.

    BTW. It is very unlikely that one of the techs is driving this, the dealership isn't being paid for the time that this is going to take at this point. If a tech was doing this, then he/she wouldn't be getting paid for the time that it would require. As it is, there are probably several techs that already have lost (sacrificed) productive labor hours towards putting this nightmare to bed. I get it that you don't know what its like for them and you probably don't care but problems like this cost the techs money instead of allowing them to make any. The techs want no part of nightmare issues like this because with the way the system works, they get ripped off for trying to help. That's why there are very few who are really good at this kind of work. For something like this to be tested correctly the tech has to have a lot of discipline because we didn't get paid for the time it would require in the first place, let alone get paid for any re-checks. Meanwhile, if the problem was positively verified then they wouldn't have to drive it so far to try and prove if it is actually fixed. The extended road test suggests that they are trying to prove a negative and that's not something that is easy to do if it is even possible.

    So it might be fixed, and it might not be. You can only get proof that it isn't if/when it acts up again. That's the trying to prove the negative aspect, you can only get proof if it isn't fixed if it acts up, not acting up isn't really proof of success. Bear in mind, there could be more skilled technicians who could have dealt with this more efficiently but between not getting paid correctly to try on top of consumer perspectives like those reflected in your last couple of posts (calling them liars, etc,) well, it just doesn't make any sense to subject ourselves to that.
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    kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 239,292
    So.. the part about where they can't drive it, because it's out of gas and their regular station is closed.. That's just normal operations? :D

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    thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,753
    I'm not defending their position, just trying to shed some light on the situation. If you really believe that piling on even more abuse is going to result in a more positive outcome, then knock yourself out. Someday maybe you'll understand how things like this have served to make these situations worse for everyone involved instead of better and maybe, just maybe some changes will come about. But until then these events serve as a warning to anyone who wants to consider a career as a tech just what they can expect to have to deal with. As one of the few people who could handle problems like this one and what I lived through learning how to do it, for now it isn't worth the effort and sacrifices that are required.
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    saratogastevesaratogasteve Member Posts: 186

    I'm not defending their position, just trying to shed some light on the situation. If you really believe that piling on even more abuse is going to result in a more positive outcome, then knock yourself out. Someday maybe you'll understand how things like this have served to make these situations worse for everyone involved instead of better and maybe, just maybe some changes will come about. But until then these events serve as a warning to anyone who wants to consider a career as a tech just what they can expect to have to deal with. As one of the few people who could handle problems like this one and what I lived through learning how to do it, for now it isn't worth the effort and sacrifices that are required.

    what light did you have to shed on the side of the service department? I'm all ears.
    I'm being incredibly patient with these guys - I have not yelled or insulted anyone - just telling it like it is.

    FYI; I picked up the car today and they tried to hit me up for one day of the "rental" they gave me. They also had a charge on my warranty repair for gas - that would be the gas they needed to perform a 100 miles test drive. I very calmly told them you had better remove these charges because they don't belong to me.

    How would you feel if Toyota had your "new" car in the shop for 23 days in it's first 14 months of life? And how would you feel if they told you they were only going to charge you for one day of the "rental" and comp the other days? would you have said - sure, that sounds fair that I pay $55 to rent a Camry while my new Highlander sits in your shop for a repair you didn't get right the first time???
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    saratogastevesaratogasteve Member Posts: 186

    And I've never ever heard of a 100 mile test drive by a mechanic

    So how should that be classified? That you just learned something new? With random failures and this last round fits that description, 100 miles might not actually be enough to prove if the failure is really solved or not. If the only way they have to try and prove that there are no more problems is an extended road test, then that is what they will have to do. That's not a good thing for them, I'll guarantee you that the last thing that they want to be doing is putting a bunch of miles on this. There are just too many things that can go wrong not the least of which could be an accident that puts an employee at risk of injury or worse.

    BTW. It is very unlikely that one of the techs is driving this, the dealership isn't being paid for the time that this is going to take at this point. If a tech was doing this, then he/she wouldn't be getting paid for the time that it would require. As it is, there are probably several techs that already have lost (sacrificed) productive labor hours towards putting this nightmare to bed. I get it that you don't know what its like for them and you probably don't care but problems like this cost the techs money instead of allowing them to make any. The techs want no part of nightmare issues like this because with the way the system works, they get ripped off for trying to help. That's why there are very few who are really good at this kind of work. For something like this to be tested correctly the tech has to have a lot of discipline because we didn't get paid for the time it would require in the first place, let alone get paid for any re-checks. Meanwhile, if the problem was positively verified then they wouldn't have to drive it so far to try and prove if it is actually fixed. The extended road test suggests that they are trying to prove a negative and that's not something that is easy to do if it is even possible.

    So it might be fixed, and it might not be. You can only get proof that it isn't if/when it acts up again. That's the trying to prove the negative aspect, you can only get proof if it isn't fixed if it acts up, not acting up isn't really proof of success. Bear in mind, there could be more skilled technicians who could have dealt with this more efficiently but between not getting paid correctly to try on top of consumer perspectives like those reflected in your last couple of posts (calling them liars, etc,) well, it just doesn't make any sense to subject ourselves to that.

    the part about "we ran out of gas and can't complete the test because the gas station is closed" (Thursday afternoon) was a lie. They had one of their jr. messengers call with that tale. As for you points about technicians not getting paid? how is that my problem? How is that even possible? As it turns out the fix was a lose ground that was "burnt".

    All you're telling me is it's not easy fixing everything on a car - I get that. The dealers needs to be honest and they need to take responsibility. They have been attempting to pin some of these failures on my wallet - once by suggesting it could be rodent damage to the wiring harness. I drove immediately there to speak with the mechanic working on my car and he confirmed there was no such damage.
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    berriberri Member Posts: 10,165
    Dealer and mechanics sound incompetent or they're just trying to bilk a bunch of warranty bucks off of Toyota. Have you elevated to corporate?
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    thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,753


    As for you points about technicians not getting paid? how is that my problem? How is that even possible?

    That's the question that everybody needs to be asking. As far as why is it "your" problem? The way techs have been getting treated is getting to be every consumers problem. You have just gotten to see what the shortage of qualified techs means to you this time.


    As it turns out the fix was a lose ground that was "burnt".

    That should have been relatively easy to discover, even if it was intermittent. That would cause excessive resistance which would result in a voltage drop that would have biased a number of circuits that were connected to the affected module above ground voltage.


    All you're telling me is it's not easy fixing everything on a car - I get that. The dealers needs to be honest and they need to take responsibility. They have been attempting to pin some of these failures on my wallet - once by suggesting it could be rodent damage to the wiring harness. I drove immediately there to speak with the mechanic working on my car and he confirmed there was no such damage.

    The techs are on your side, especially when they have something that really challenges them. Dealer practices not only don't support them they basically abandon them when the difficult problems occur. Keep your focus on the management, what you just experienced is the result of the cars getting more complex and the dealers still running the shops like its the 70's.

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    Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Dealers trying to bilk the factory out of warranty money? I'm shocked....SHOCKED!
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    saratogastevesaratogasteve Member Posts: 186

    Dealers trying to bilk the factory out of warranty money? I'm shocked....SHOCKED!

    This dealer is now fixing a prior fix that was covered by warranty. but this latest fix is likely coming out of the dealer's service bottom line because they are now fixing their own mistake. That's why they tried to stick me with a rental car instead of a "loaner".

    I have a lot more respect for the mechanics than I do they guy with the tie and clip board giving me a half baked explanation of why I should pay for a rental when it's their mistake. And when a representative of the service department tells me a lie, it makes everyone at that department look bad. These service reps are incredibly thick skinned at BSing a customer while shaking your hand.

    I've contacted a lemon law lawyer who wants to take my case at no cost to me. California law says if the lawyers wins - the Manufacturer pays his fee on top of my claim requesting a refund.

    Even if my car never has another issue while under warranty, if I were to sell this car and reveal it's repair history, it's likely the history would diminish the re-sale value.
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    berriberri Member Posts: 10,165
    edited May 2016
    Many of those "service advisors" can actually get sales commissions. Beware!
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    kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 239,292
    berri said:

    Many of those "service advisors" can actually get sales commissions. Beware!

    Most of them, I'm certain.

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    berriberri Member Posts: 10,165
    Sad, between service advisor sales commissions and often exaggerated dealer service maintenance requirements, you can't really trust auto dealer service departments anymore. Really got to do your homework before you arrive and be skeptical of what they recommend.
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    saratogastevesaratogasteve Member Posts: 186
    The problem as I see, is the person advising in the service department is like the person behind the car rental counter. They are told they can make a nice income if they sell "value added" items. Without selling those "value add" items, their income doesn't come close to what they thought it might be. Car rental agencies recommend insurance and gas without considering your need. A service department recommends services well beyond what the Manufacture requires without any consideration to the car owner's needs. When it comes to warranty claims it becomes this game of how long will it take to fix and will you give me a loaner. They even assign you a service representative so they can build a relationship. These relationships are manipulative and as phony as they come.
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    kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 239,292
    @saratogasteve That's a very good summation of the service advisor position. Not only do they have to upsell to make more money, they have quotas/goals and may lose their job if they don't make them.

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    saratogastevesaratogasteve Member Posts: 186
    fast forward 5 years later; My Highlander has been problem free. I've got 48,000 miles on it and it drives like new with a newer set of Michlelins on it. I did have to replace the rotors on my 40,000 mile break job.
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    saratogastevesaratogasteve Member Posts: 186
    any other hylander owners out there seeing condensation in the tail lights? I knew this was an issue and simply lived with it because I avoid dealer services departments like the plague. Just wondering if there might be a fix other than swapping out my tail lights. From what I understand it was a design issue that lets water / moisture get inside the lens case.
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