5 Ways To Avoid Being Ripped Off On Toyota Prius Repairs
If you have even felt taken advantage of by a repair shop you are not alone. As an automotive instructor, I take honesty with my students very seriously. The stigma that the auto repair industry has is pretty awful. Many people loathe going to their repair facility but see it as a necessary evil if they are to keep their Prius on the road.
I feel I must help out people where I can, only because I have seen it all. I have seen the outrageous quotes from dealers, and the shady dealings of "the honest" mechanic. Here are 5 red flags that should get you thinking if you feel the shop could taking advantage of you.
Number 1, Show Me The Parts
If there was only one tip I could give anyone, it would be this. Have the mechanic show you the new and broken/used parts. The reason is this. If you are having a water pump replaced that cost $1200, would you like to ensure that it was getting done? I would.
If the same place that quoted you the repair is unwilling to show you what is broken, chances are they are doing something shady. When you get them to show you the new and used parts, this ensures that they are willing to work with you and earn your business.
When it comes to taking care of your Toyota Prius, you should only trust it to a place that specializes in hybrid repair and service. This can help you know that the people working there are not scared of working on a hybrid vehicle.
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Number 2, Making You Pay For Diagnosis Even Though The Problem Was Not Fixed
This floors me. If you have taken your Prius in for simple diagnosis and repairs were performed to correct the issue, it should be fixed. If it is not, that place did not do the job right. This should be a huge red flag that you need to get your money back from them and find a better place.
I once went to bat for a lady who had her Prius worked on at a dealer. The dealer cheated her hard. Even though she had a common repair that needed to be done, the dealer screwed it up.
Not only did they make her pay for the car, it still was not fixed, and it had to be towed to another Toyota repair shop. Once I was able to inspect the parts dealer gave her, it was evident that the Toyota dealer had for sure lied to her about the actual cause of the issue. The aftermarket repair facility was able to repair the original issue, and prove what the dealer had done.
Needless to say, with my help, she not only got her money back but also received money for damages, the tow bill and the total repair from the other Toyota repair facility. Which, by the way, was significantly less.
Number 3, It May Be Junk, But Do Not Sell Me "New" Junk
Sometimes you need to consider selling your Prius, but not always. In case you want to keep yours on the road for another 300,000 miles, make sure you are having new parts installed.
This is one reason why you need to have the mechanic show you the new and used parts. Some places have been known to call up the local scrap yard and try to pass used parts off as new. This can be a really bad practice. If the part failed due to a defect from the factory, chances are, a used part will do the same.
An excellent example of this is when your Toyota Prius sets a P0A93 trouble code. These Prius electric water pumps had a defect from the factory and were on recall. Not all of them made it through the process though. Some Prius vehicles made it to the salvage yard before any repair attempts could be made. Yikes. If a repair shop went and pulled that out from a scrap yard, it could already be faulty and warrant another repair.
If you suspect your repair facility is installing used parts on your Toyota Prius, make them show you where the part came from. This can save you a ton of headaches that you just do not need.
Number 4, Technical Jargon, Or No Explanation Of Repair
"Well, sir it looks as if your number 4 cylinder piston ring lands have been heavily subjected to some pretty intense carbon accumulation from years of sludge build-up. This has caused an accelerated rate of petroleum consumption and degradation of the valve chamber."
Some of that I just made up, but in all honesty, some shops prey on the fact you will not understand any of what they say. What they are trying to do, is to scare you into a repair you may not need. If your repair shop is not taking the time to explain as plainly as possible what repairs you require, you should get a second opinion.
When it comes to repairing, you are getting the customer satisfaction version of what your car needs. Especially when it comes to having a component like the traction battery replaced.
Number 5, Making You Think They Are A Better Quality Place
I am a stickler for good service. I know when someone has earned my trust because they are willing to show me how. If you walk into a place where all the people who work there only brag about all the stuff they can do but stand around doing nothing, you are in a quagmire.
Places that talk a big game and cannot deliver are not uncommon. The really good mechanics out there are disappearing, and those that are taking their place are not the same quality. YouTube certified mechanics are becoming more and more popular all the time. This is super scary, especially when you think of these unqualified people claiming how to know how to work on your Prius.
Watch our 3 reasons that you should consider selling your Toyota Prius and click to subscribe to Torque News Youtube channel for daily automotive news tips.
Just because someone has confidence in how to change a part does not make them a good technician, not by a long shot. A good place will have a nice clean waiting room if you are going to hang out. It will offer you complimentary beverages, or even a ride home if needs be. The place will be clean, orderly and well lit. You should also be able to see what is going on in the shop as well.
Any place that hides what they are doing, is hiding more than just bad work. They could be doing a hundred different things and you would never know. If you cannot see where the techs are working, walk away. Take your Prius somewhere you can see what is going on. Those people have nothing to hide, and only you as a customer to gain. With the future uncertain of what Prius repairs can look like, bet your money on a place that shows all and hides nothing.
If you only walk away with one thing, just know to trust your gut. If the place does not seem right, chances are it is not. If someone at the facility cannot explain what is going on, chances are they have no clue what they are doing. Trust your Toyota Prius to someone who cares enough to earn your business.
If you feel you have been taken advantage of, please feel free to contact me on social media. I will be happy to review your case and see if I can help you out.
Thank you for reading Check out my other story out about 2 ridiculous stereotypes that Prius owners have.
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Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He is an automotive technology instructor at Columbia Basin College. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter is also an Adjunct Instructor of automotive technology at Columbia Basin College. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter.