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  • LusciousGarage.com
  • 475 9th Street San Francisco, CA 94103USA
  • 415.875.9030
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Thursday, December 01, 2011


Prius Combination Meter (dashboard) - Repair Available

***THIS BLOG IS OBSOLETE*** 

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.

T-SB-0172-09

Carolyn's avatarPosted by Carolyn Permalink Categories: Repair »

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