This one was washed

Here’s a Prius II key fob disassembled after having gone through the wash.


This fob isn’t worthless.  You can still use the key in the driver’s door key cylinder. (I’m not sure if there is a passenger door key cylinder…) And the passive transponder still works to start the car as long as the fob is put into the slot.  But I don’t think there’s any chance of the remote functions and SmartKey capability being brought back to life– much cheaper and more reliable to get a new one.

(BTW, you can tell that this is a SmartKey because of the silver Toyota logo.  For non-SmartKey Prii, the logo is just embossed in black.)

Case Study: Prius I, P3001 and P3009

A customer, a used car sales company actually, came to us with a problem Prius. Another shop had installed a replacement Dorman hybrid vehicle battery. (Dorman is an aftermarket car parts manufacturer that bought out Re-Involt in North Carolina. We have installed many of their batteries; I have one in my car, in fact. We’ve had to replace a maybe two under their three-year warranty, but we’ve generally had positive experience with them.) The first battery they installed indicated cells out of balance, so they requested a warranty battery from Dorman and installed that one.

And that’s when the car came to us. It initially had many hybrid battery trouble codes along with an inverter/converter trouble code. After clearing the codes the only ones that reset were P3001 which indicates a bad battery ECU (electronic control unit), and P3009 which indicates a high voltage leak, i.e. a fault in the insulation. If I cleared the codes while the car was running only P3009 set again. But if I turned the car off and then back on P3001 would set again, too. Continue reading Case Study: Prius I, P3001 and P3009

Fog lights

Some 2004-2009 Prii (Generation II) are equipped with fog lights. (I believe that all of these also have HID (high intensity discharge) headlights.  The one that I did notice that had fog lights and the more common and less expensive halogen headlights turned out to have a salvage title, so I assume it had headlight assemblies from a different car.)

Now, I’m not a huge fan of fog lights. I don’t quite understand what they’re for; I figure they must be kind of elitist if they are unnecessary but some people choose to have them.

But if they’re there, they may as well work. And I see sooo many Prii with cracked fog light lenses. Some are cracked so as to have a hole in the lens, and that doesn’t leave much chance for a bulb inside to survive for very long. Continue reading Fog lights

Cabin Air Filter

Most cars manufactured since around 2000 have an air filter for the HVAC system, the cabin air filter. It is pretty standard to locate these on the right side of the car inside the dash, accessible by removing the glove box or lowering it beyond its normal travel. I work mostly on Toyota and Honda small passenger vehicles and I believe they all follow this pattern. A few exceptions that I can think of are the Ford Escape, VW Jetta and Think, all of which have cabin filters accessed from under the hood (still on the right side of the car).

It’s usually a quick and easy check to do, so I always include it unless the customer is in a real hurry. But it seems that the word has not gotten out to all of the service shops and technicians. For some cars visiting Hawthorne Auto Clinic for the first time I may find a relatively new, clean air filter. But the other times… Continue reading Cabin Air Filter

Who bugged our car?

Today my boss, Jim, asked me to have a look at the Hawthorne Auto Clinic Prius. It is a 2004 with about 100k miles on it. It has an aftermarket Hymotion Li-ion battery that makes it a PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle); depending on the driving scenario it can get 100 mpg or better for the first 40 miles after a full charge. It has been in a minor front-end collision since the shop has owned it, but it was bought used, so its history before that may hide some secrets. Continue reading Who bugged our car?

‘Tis the season for inverter water pump replacement

A typical car has a single water pump.  It is driven by either the timing belt, timing chain, or an “accessory” drive belt (but a water pump is the opposite of an accessory– an engine will die within minutes without coolant flow). A water pump pumps coolant (which is typically a mixture of water and ethylene glycol) through the engine’s cylinder head and cylinder block and when the coolant is warm enough if flows through the radiator.  (I often use the terms “water pump” and “coolant pump” interchangeably, but in the automotive community it is far more common to use “water pump.” It probably doesn’t qualify as ironic that in a naval nuclear reactor they are called coolant pumps and they pump basically pure water.)

Every Prius has at least a few water pumps.  Continue reading ‘Tis the season for inverter water pump replacement