Luscious Garage has the distinct pleasure of servicing several high mileage Prius, including this one in a courier capacity, now topping 270,000 miles: My Favorite Prius
This car has needed *very* little attention up to now, with the first high dollar repair affecting the air conditioning system. The A/C was inoperative; climate control would blow but not cold. The compressor was silent (it puts out a particular whine when on); a quick query to the HVAC computer turned up a P1472 (Open or short in A/C inverter high voltage output system) and P1474 (A/C inverter (w/ converter inverter assembly) malfunction). The Prius is special in that it uses an electric drive, high voltage compressor (controlled by the inverter assembly), allowing it to operate when the engine is off. Clearing codes, the compressor would operate but with a much louder, lower whine than normal.
The diagnostic procedure lists a resistance check of the compressor motor windings, these were slightly high. Whatever the reading, it was clear the compressor was bad.
Unlike the dealer, LG will happily replace parts with second-hand ones, so long as the replacements are reliable. In the case of a 270k vehicle, any replacement will have less age. We purchased a used compressor out of a crashed Prius with 60k miles for $400, less than half the price of new. Naturally we were excited to inspect the innards of the 270k mile compressor, and we were not disappointed. The original was completely shredded in its scroll gears. Shrapnel was everywhere. This compressor was finished.
With a replacement compressor, a new drier (desiccant), HV rated A/C oil, and a fresh batch of refrigerant, this cold Prius was back on the road. Total cost of the repair: $870.
2004-2005 Toyota Prius have a flaw in their wiper cowl; specifically how it seals water from breaching the engine compartment. The result is a small but significant trickle onto the top of the engine, right where the ignition system sits in a ready-made canal for water storage. As water sits for an unknown length of time (the plugs are not due for service for 100k miles), the metal rusts and corrodes, making a nasty mess of the spark plug itself and the coil that perches above it.
The problem is otherwise invisible since the plugs and coils are mounted into tubes through the top of the head and any residual water evaporates with the heat of the engine.
In this case, the cylinder that still held water (#1) began to misfire only after extended highway driving (roughly 10 continuous minutes); there were no symptoms in the city or short trips, basically anytime the engine stayed cool.
Once it did act up, the condition amplified until it was present for all conditions (light or heavy throttle, low or high speeds). The sensation was a kind of rubber-band power, unlike conventional cars where the engine connects directly to the wheels. The “check engine” light flashed, indicating a catalyst damaging misfire. The vehicle did not store hard codes, only a pending one for cylinder #1 (P0301 Misfire Detected, Cylinder #1).
Toyota identifies this problem in a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB EG063-05) and recommends replacing any damaged plugs and coils and updating the seal on the cowl. The repair is covered under warranty for three years or 36,000 miles. Otherwise the fix costs $150 per plug and coil and another $150 to reseal the cowl.
Joe L. sent this pic from his trip to Sacramento yesterday for the CARB protest.
(Photo: Caroline Webb)
The issue at hand? CARB’s shameless, cowardly retreat from the ZEV mandate and the public health of California. California used to be the vanguard for emissions regulation, the driving force behind improved air quality across the country.
CARB’s leadership collapsed under pressure from automakers surrounding Zero Emissions Vehicles, and today’s vote on the future of the ZEV Mandate is expected to mark continued capitulation. Kudos to Plug-In America—along with the many other fantastic, clean air vehicles—for protesting the state’s missed opportunities.
For more news on CARB developments:
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Last week in the checkout lane of SoMa Whole Foods there was a plastic bin of chapsticks with a big cardboard sign that said “STOP GLOBAL WARMING” as though to suggest that buying a chapstick would actually stop global warming.
Chapstick or hybrid car, it’s convenient to think we can buy our way to being green, or saving the Earth, or saving the human race, rather than actually changing our behavior.
When we must buy something, however, it is absolutely crucial that we look for the green alternative.
For LG’s office, the green alternative often comes from The Green Office, a “sustainable office products” distributor headquartered right here in San Francisco. Pictured is the latest order of printer paper, 100% post-consumer recycled content, of course. We don’t use much paper, but I purchased in bulk to reduce fuel for shipping.
Paper is just the beginning. Scissors with recycled plastic handles, recycled post-its, recycled pencils, and so on. Even when there isn’t a truly green alternative (rubber bands?) I feel good supporting their business. On the other hand, I collect a lot of rubber bands from parts and supplies we receive, so I don’t have to buy many, and that is the real goal.
SoMa Tree Planting
Saturday, March 15th
Meet at Luscious Garage
8:00 am: Everyone has signed in, had their coffee and is ready to work! First jobs are to drive trucks, distribute trees and supplies, and assemble light hardware.
9:00 am: Volunteers arrive.
9:15 am: Friends of the Urban Forest hold a planting demonstration.
9:30 am: The planting manager will break neighbors into small groups, each supervised by a trained volunteer planting leader. Now we start planting trees.
12:30 pm: Time to celebrate all your hard work! We return to Luscious Garage for the pot luck.
Want to volunteer for the tree planting or pot luck?
Naomi LeBeau, Planting Manager
Friends of the Urban Forest
(415) 561-6890 x. 100