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Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Hours 2011


Time again for luscious holiday recess!  (Pic of Keshau, John, Brooke, and Carolyn getting in the spirit….)

Last day shift will be Friday, December 23rd, closing at our usual 6pm.
Day shift will resume on Monday, January 2nd, at 8am.

Brooke will be checking voicemail and emails sent through the contact page (which directs to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)).  Response time should be less than 24 hours.

imageNight shift will be closed the following nights:

Saturday, December 24th
Sunday, December 25th
Monday, December 26th
Saturday, December 31st
Sunday, January 1st

(Pic of jingle bells on night Mike’s boots.) 
Non-taxi folks are welcome to use the night shift for emergencies or drop offs. 

Happy holidays everyone!  See you in 2012!



Carolyn's avatarPosted by Carolyn Permalink Categories: Facility »

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Nissan Leaf tires in stock - Ecopia EP422 205/55R16

In support of the Nissan Leaf, Luscious Garage now stocks the OE tire Bridgestone Ecopia EP422 (205/55R16). 

Price breakdown:

Tire: $145.31
Mount/Balance: $20.00
CA Tire Disposal Fee: $5.00

Total with sales tax: $182.66

Based on our experience with Toyota Prius (read the related blog here), Continental ProContact EcoPlus are good alternative for those seeking better traction or increased tread life.  Depending on interest we may stock those in 205/55R16 in the future; for now requests need to be placed in advance (expected delivery within 24 hours).


Carolyn's avatarPosted by Carolyn Permalink Categories: Maintenance »

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Prius Combination Meter (dashboard) - Repair Available


REPAIRS ARE NO LONGER AVAILABLE.  Click here for the latest info on CM replacement:

Prius Dash Lights Out - Combination Meter Warranty Extension

imageNo need to buy a new one or swap with a used unit.  LG can repair your combo meter FOR GOOD.

Repair: $250
Labor to remove and replace (round trip twice): $240

Total: $490
**includes use of a loaner while original cluster is out for repairs

More information below:

The second generation Prius (model year 2004-2009) has a digital dashboard (officially called the “combination meter”, also known as an “instrument cluster”).  It is prone to failure, resulting in no lights at all, in the center display or on the sides, with the exception of the “check engine” light which is controlled directly by the engine ECU (thanks to emissions regulations). 

The car will still drive but it can be stubborn to shut off; usual presses of the “power” button may be disregarded (holding for 3 seconds (safety override) will work).  The rear hatch can also refuse to open.  Both of these symptoms stem from the car’s communication architecture; permission to turn off the car and open the hatch depends on vehicle speed, which the meter is responsible for reporting to other computers.

imageLG first published a blog on this issue almost three years ago (January 2009, “LG TV - Prius Dead Dashboard”) with videos.  At the time we reported two such cases.

As of December 2011, we have seen literally dozens of them (pic of seven units repaired this week).  The problem corresponds to vehicle mileage (i.e. how much the meter has been on) rather than age; as such 99% have been taxi cabs (all model years, 2004-2009), which have an “on” time much greater than conventional cars.  That said, private cars have also come to us, and it’s my prediction that the majority of Prius owners will eventually experience this problem.

More via PriusChat:
Combination Meter - Intermittent Display
Instrument Panel Problem (with video!!!)

The circuit board, made by Yazaki, has a flawed design, even in later models.  Eventually the components get out of tolerance and the board will power off.  Sometimes this will happen upon startup in cold temperatures; Toyota has issued a technical service bulletin describing as much (T-SB-0172-09 also embedded below).

But the condition may also occur when driving, out of the blue, in mild temperatures.  Restarting the car may get the meter to come back; another trick is unplugging and plugging the connectors to the unit (located behind the panel with the power button, if you know how to remove it); yet another is to disconnect and reconnect the 12v battery (a little more accessible). Whatever the case, once the display is back in service, it may work for an extended time (months) or it may go out in an hour.  Again, this is based on our experience with dozens of cabbies (50+), each with their own willingness to pay for repairs and/or drive broken cars.

Previously we did not have a means to repair the units, and the choice was:

1. Replace with a used unit

Downsides: it may eventually develop the same problem (a scenario we’ve also experienced multiple times, with cabs), and the car assumes the mileage reading (odometer) of the donor car, whatever that happens to be. Cost is roughly $400 (assuming the used unit runs $250).

2. Replace with a brand new one

Downsides: more expensive, a week delay

Part numbers vary by model year, but the unit generally runs around $365 (half price from what it was in 2009, at least).  Toyota will not send a replacement without providing the original for odometer transfer, and this service (transferring the ODO value from original to replacement) is sublet outside the parts department.  Upshot: the original must be sent into the dealer, entailing one week turnaround. 

Customers have the choice whether to: leave their car at the shop for a week, partially disassembled; take the vehicle and drive it partially disassembled (with cluster missing, meaning no speedometer, fuel gauge, etc.); or take a loaner (requiring R&R a second time). 

Total cost, car left several days or driven without CM: $516
Total cost, using a loaner: $636

We are quite happy to report there is now a third option:

3. Repair the original unit

Cheaper, solves root problem, does not affect odometer

We do not perform the repairs in house; they go to an electrical engineer in the area, credited for finding the problem components and a source for improved replacement parts.  As such we do not have direct control over turnaround; in response we have loaners for use while the original unit is out for repairs.  Removal and replacement takes an hour to perform, so the total repair requires two shop visits, each an hour in length.

Repair to the unit: $250
Labor to remove and replace (round trip twice): $240

Total: $490

For more information or to book an appointment, use the contact page.


Carolyn's avatarPosted by Carolyn Permalink Categories: Repair »

Best tires for Gen 2 Prius, continued…

imageWhat are the best tires for the second generation Prius?  This is a question we’ve been asking for years.  Goodyear Integrity (the tires that come with the car) are worthless in the rain and wear out too quickly. 

After much consideration, we settled upon the Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max (see the original blog).  When we moved to our new shop and added tire machines, our enthusiasm grew (see the second blog).

Another year gone by, more experience gained, and now a third blog. 

Having installed countless numbers (including on the shop car) it turns out the Fuelmax are a disappointment in their own right.  While a genuine improvement in terms of traction, they last about as long as the Integrity (between 30,000-40,000 miles) despite boasting a tread life warranty of 65,000 miles.  With multiple customers needing yet another set (and their corresponding irritation at the cost) we sought another option.

The main concern for any hybrid is fuel economy, and tires play a huge role.  Air pressure cannot be overstated: we recommend 40psi front and back on 2004 Prius and later.  Beyond inflation the tires must also be “low rolling resistance”, and those that are not can reduce MPG by 15% or more.

Thus, among tires available in size P185/65R15, the top choices are:

Bridgestone Ecopia
Michelin Energy Saver
Goodyear Integrity or Fuelmax (as mentioned)
Continental ProContact EcoPlus

(Yokohama and Kumho have LRR options as well, but they are lesser known.)

My first crush was on Michelins, given their reputation, love among Prius enthusiasts, and to compete with Costco.  The supply is unreliable, however; they’re constantly changing product and discontinuing lines.  Further the price remains a tier above the rest, despite my attempts to secure a bulk rate and distributor account.  Without a significant benefit and after much discussion with other folks, at Tire Rack and local dealers we respect, we focused on the Continentals. 

imageThe ProContact brand is well established, competitor to the Assurance line from Goodyear, and known for excellent traction.  Further the Continentals come with an 80,000 mile tread life warranty, longer than the Ecopia (65,000 mile).  While warranty cannot be taken literally (the Fuelmax as proof), the EcoPlus should still last the longest.

Beginning in July we purchased in small numbers, looking at quality (how well they installed and balanced) and were impressed.  The supply is reliable and the price is comparable to the Fuelmax.  By the end of summer LG exchanged all the Goodyears for Continentals, and we have not looked back.  We now carry the ProContact EcoPlus for third generation Prius as well (P195/65R15).

Evidenced by continuing blogs, the tire discussion is never really over.  The good news is that LG actively seeks the best option for hybrid owners, learns by specializing, and extends that expertise to our customers.

For more information or to book an appointment, use the contact page.

How times have changed…. Our “tire department” Summer 2010 and today:



Carolyn's avatarPosted by Carolyn Permalink Categories:


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