Archive for the cars Category

Toyota Prius “Check Hybrid System”

Posted in Uncategorized, cars with tags , on July 13, 2018 by marksun

Late June 2018, the Check Hybrid System light came on on my 2010 Prius while I was away in Portland, and the Prius went into a safe mode.  D used the Rav until she joined me then 6/28,  we got back from Portland. I drove it down to the shop (car starts, drives but has no power and only low gears) –  had my mechanic Suhn check it out … “hybrid – no can handle Pete.  It’s a hybrid.  What do you expect and this kind of shit is going to happen. I hope you’re not completely screwed.”  Old school mechanic.  He’s right that a battery will need to be replaced.   This is not a battery,  but it’s a hybrid system component and more importantly, these things are fucking crazy expensive.   Mainland retail an IPM transistor kit is $1400.  Servco Hawaii – $2400!  Just for the part!  Suhn hopes it’s not a battery and hopes that I’m not in for $10,000 in repairs.  Look of concern, “Is it worth it?”

I told you so taste’s a lot like shit.

But you know, the internal combustion engine unit, now the ICU, as we knew it is already gone. Fuel injection, computers, turbo, Sterling cycle engines, multiple cooling systems,  Suhn will know it’s time to retire when every car comes in with a 400V battery pack,  or stuffed with computers, sensors, servos, actuators and no driver.

The golden age of transportation is over.  Getting around is going to cost you.

I look on Internet, known problem with transistor kit, IPM and recall.  Meanwhile,  Allstate Auto Club phone #, call in the tow to dealer – an operation that took three hours.  After hour check in.  6/29 the bad news – it would be at least two weeks before Dealer Service could even look at the car.  I talk with Customer support dude Kris – and he helps me devise a strategy – namely try other dealers while he keeps his guys away so they don’t run diagnostics on my car and charge me $120.  Phone calls, Windward Toyota can  give me an appointment for July 5, only 6 days away!  Servco Mapunapuna doesn’t have an appointment available until August!  I call in a  tow to Windward Toyota 6/30.  At least Servco to Servco I don’t have to be in Mapunapuna.  The Tow drops the car before I get there, which turns out to be just fine.  Is the car under a recall for the Intelligent Power Module (IPM)?  – Spencer, the service guy checks records – negatory.  I leave empty handed but with a 5 July appointment. Timeline a bit suspect here for this weekend…  Spencer is a good guy and makes a loaner car available to me on Friday 6/31 – we pick it up on Saturday.  Phone call, they had run diagnostics – the bad news, it’s gonna cost $3000 to repair.  Holy shit!

July 5, nothing.

July 6 call from Spencer … “uh the  mechanic is backlogged, maybe by July 10?

July 10 nothing.

July 11 late – OK it’s ready.  Great!   Can I pick up to morrow.  No problemo.

July 12.  I return the loaner at around 1100.  I get the bill and pay $2660 with MasterCard.  I drive home.  Same old Prius, nothing special ain’t it.

July 12: Home.  Lets find the books.   I find an undated doc clipped in:


And here’s the link now that I know the magic word: ZE3

The shop repair record shows  diagnostic  P0A94.  I find the smoking gun.

Why didn’t I find it earlier? Go Fish.  So like I fully expected the dealer to have this record tied to each vehicle they sell in their database.  This of course, turns out to be totally wrong.  Reading carefully, this wasn’t a recall, but a Warranty Enhancement Notification ZE3 and it’s on the customer, me, to keep track of, not the dealer.  I email this to Spencer.  Spencer is all over it, calls me back.  Good news : this repair will not cost me any money.

I will get my $2660 back!

But first, they have to put in the “right” parts.  Servco needs the car back to fix things up.  Sigh.  The saga continues.  But I have the car back,  I have spent no money since my autoclub covered the tows, and the dealer will not charge me for the defect!

It should go without saying that everyone I dealt with really wants to help.  Insurance ( Allstate ), Servco Toyota …  They are super busy and get a lot of crap from the public so it pays to be respectful and nice.  It doesn’t always go according to plan – stay calm, let the process work, and present actionable facts.

Lessons learned…
1) know your warranty.  You may have to produce documentation because the dealer will not have it.
2) for the warranty, you are stuck with the dealer!  There may be a hybrid repair shop but they cannot do warranty work.  They may be faster and cheaper however.
3) negotiate a loaner vehicle immediately!  Only a dealer will have them.  No small shop can do it.  You may have to wait.  There are several dealers in town.


12v tire inflator from Sears

Posted in cars, Uncategorized with tags , on October 1, 2017 by marksun


Price:  ~ $60.

Got one of these from Sears to boost chronic low tire pressures.  So far so good after one use to boost pressure on four tires on a Prius from 25 to 35 psi.  This took about two minutes on each tire.  The hose connector screws on easily and securely with minimal leakage.  I liked the screw in design better than those with flimsy clip on levers or even standard gas station inflators.  The pressure gauge is quite accurate.  I checked tire pressure with a standard tire gauge to check on it.

Does not have automatic pressure cutoff feature – personally I wouldn’t want one as it adds breakable complexity to an already obviously low cost tool.

The spec on the box states 30 PSI.   I had concerns about this as most tires need more pressure than this.  An inspection of the pressure gauge shows pressures well above 30 PSI.  Obviously, the 30 PSI spec is meaningless to me.

I didn’t find much by way of reviews before I bought it.  Later I find  a number of reviews which point to possible durability problems with the hose connector, 12V  plug, fuse, and motor with damage reports after a couple of uses.

At this point – sorry – this article won’t help with only one usage.  I’m thinking that the design seems to be reasonably solid …  but QA issues are possible for sure;  maybe inspect the parts carefully for defects at the store, before buying it ?  And put in enough usage within the in-store return warranty period.

If it works for 10 inflations, it will be a break even value for me as I really dislike filling tire pressure at gas stations after the tire pressure light goes on.  I would pay a kid $6 to pump up my tires rather than drive down to Kamehameha Highway  which is now one 10 mile-long pothole as Honolulu build’s its rail system.

Some Reviews can be found here:

German Grand Prix at Hockenheim

Posted in cars, F1 with tags on July 25, 2010 by marksun

Controversy over Ferrari team orders taints another Alonzo victory, this time at the expense of Masa. Alonzo is quicker than Masa but Alonzo but he complains to the team that he should be let through. Team orders come down, Masa creates a hole the size of Stuttgart, and Alonzo passes. In the aftermath, Ferrari is fined $100G for violation of the team orders rule. What I Ching hexagram would describe this situation I wonder. In the fair fight, Masa should have won this race. Vettel – seriously bad start from the pole ends up coming out of turn 1 in third behind Alonzo and Masa who got past both. Could he have defended his position better or gotten a better jump off the start viz the Ferrari’s? Oh yes. The hardwsare packages may be equal at Hockenheim. Vettel has had problems starting… Hamilton doing the best he could blew by Webber on the straight on lap 1, leveraging a low downforce wing setup. Webber pits on lap 13 to be overtaken by Button 9 laps later, who conserving and pulling time out of his soft option tires, ran nine laps longer than Webber and came out ahead when he rejoined the race from pit lane on lap 22. That is some calculated racing and great execution, and Button’s strong point! Around lap 43 Webber has oil consumption problems and is ordered to hold rather than challenge. Grand Prix dot calm has the usual great race report.

Hamilton has had a tough year personally with his pop. Has this had an impact? He’s got the same package as Button and is 14 ahead in the points. McLaren leads the points, Webber and Vettel are tied, with Red Bull arguably in possession of the better car. It’s driver over the hardware overall then – and consistency shows in the points. And Luck. Next up, Budapest!