Being the Hybrid Guy comes with particular challenges. One of those is constantly finding cars to work on and learn. My most recent venture has me concerned, though. It is a 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid, and it is littered with problems.
I did get the car for a good deal, and I have a buyer lined up to take it once the problems are solved, but was this a mistake from the start? I want to go through what problems the car has and what I plan to do about it.
The Hybrid System
The ad said there was hybrid system trouble. In my mind, I immediately thought about it being a hybrid battery. The way the owner described the issue made perfect sense. The car had been sitting and had 100k on the clock. That is a recipe for failure.
Sure enough, when I went to see the car. The check hybrid system was on, and a P0A80 code was stored. The code means to replace the battery pack. More details showed specific blocks of failing modules, which makes sense.
Typically the innermost modules fail and need replacing. After that, good reconditioning should do the trick to get it back up on its feet again.
The Braking System
The check VSC (vehicle stability control) warning system was also on. I could hear the pump running constantly, so my first guess is that pump has failed.
However, retaking a second look at it, the VSC system may not be at fault. Reading up on the exact codes the car is throwing; the VSC could be acting up because of the faulty hybrid battery.
My first course of action will be to take care of the battery first and see if that solves the issue, then proceed onward.
The Mildew Smell
This car spent its life in the Seattle area, where it seems to rain more than it shines. Vehicles that sit over there can have excess moisture that gets trapped inside. When that happens, bring on the mildew. It is super gross smelling and eats away at organic material like leather, from which the seats are made.
I can solve the mildew issue once I dive into the detailing portion of restoring the car. I am considering replacing the seat covers if I can find a good deal on some. It will help with the smell and also help me get top dollar on resale.
The Odds And Ends
The front bumper is heavily rock-chipped. It looks tacky and needs to have something done about it. The wheels are pitted and flaking off the chrome. My thought here is to repair and paint both the bumper and wheels the same color, which is dark grey.
It will help the car stand out a bit more and give it a more attractive look. I am debating on just finding some good used silver wheels, though, and swapping them out. Either way, those wheels have to go.
The dashboard was made in a period where it cracks and melts. I have located a replacement dash that I am heavily considering swapping it out, so the car looks and feels as if it only has 100k on it and not 350k.
The rest of the stuff is oil changes, filters, cleaning, and floor mats. If I decide to keep it, I want to have something I can enjoy.
Once I can sort through the mechanical issues and focus on the minor details, we should be good to go. This is my first Camry Hybrid, so I want to collect as much data as possible to help other owners with their issues.
I will be utilizing the Prolong battery reconditioning system from Hybrid Automotive. I will have a YouTube Video on that as soon as I can get through the process.
So, was it a waste of money to buy a beat-up old Toyota Camry Hybrid with a load of issues? Right now, things do not seem too bad, and all of it appears to be repairable. Time will tell.
That is all for today. I hope to do more write-ups for people with this same car and give you some better help. Thank you for reading, and I look forward to seeing you in the following article.
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Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting. Read more of Peter's stories at Toyota news coverage on Torque News. Search Toyota Prius Torque News for more in depth Prius coverage from our reporters.