The Prius saga continues

Yesterday morning, the car saga continued.

Here’s the backstory, some of which I’ve posted before (but maybe only on Facebook rather than here, not sure):

For complicated reasons, my 2005 Prius is in Chicago. The screen of the touchscreen system in the middle of the dashboard (the “multi-function display,” or MFD) has had some sun damage (causing the screen to visibly peel and flake), and has gotten so dim that it’s barely visible in daylight, even with brightness turned up to full. It’s clearly and definitely not working right.

I called around to various mechanics in Oak Park a few weeks ago. A couple of them said that they couldn’t fix that kind of problem. One of them said sure, bring it in. They later downgraded to something like “Don’t know if we can fix that, but we’ll take a look.” So I brought it to them; they determined that they couldn’t fix it, and said I should take it to a Toyota dealer. But they told me that on a Friday afternoon, and I couldn’t easily pick it up that day, and they were closed over the weekend. So Mary Anne took me to pick it up on the Monday after that weekend.

At which point I discovered that someone had stolen the car’s catalytic converter over the weekend, while the car was parked in the mechanic‘s easily-accessible-from-the-street parking lot.

After filing a police report, I took the car to the Toyota dealer and spoke with a friendly and helpful person named Manny in the service department. (I had called earlier to say I was bringing in the car, but because of the cc theft, I didn’t arrive until a bit after 5 pm, when the service department was closed. But Manny took my late arrival in stride and seemed happy to help me.) I explained to him that the MFD was too dim and that I needed it fixed or replaced. I was careful to explicitly use the term “multifunction display” and to refer to it as the display in the center of the dashboard, because I didn’t want any confusion about which display I was talking about.

I also asked him to replace the catalytic converter, of course; he said that it would likely take 3–4 weeks to get a replacement cc.

I talked with Manny a couple more times over the next couple weeks. He continued to be unfailingly friendly and helpful and reassuring, but he told me that Toyota was backlogged on cc orders, because people keep stealing ccs.

This past Monday, Manny told me that the new cc might show up Tuesday or Wednesday. (He also said that they had the replacement display all ready to install, and that they were going to wait and install the display at the same time as the new cc.) On Thursday, he told me that the cc hadn’t shown up and he had no idea when it would. On Friday afternoon, he told me that the cc had arrived and had been installed and that the car was all ready for me.

So that’s the backstory that brings us up to Saturday morning. Mary Anne drove me the 20+ minutes to the Toyota dealer, and waited parked nearby in case anything went wrong.

I went in and waited a bit and then talked with Manny. I paid (my insurance had already given me the money for the new cc), and he gave me the paperwork and the key, and I went out into their parking lot to fetch my car.

Everything seemed to be going well, until I got into the car.

Where the first thing I noticed was that the MFD still had the extreme and very obvious sun damage to its screen.

I thought they must have just replaced the innards and not the screen. So I turned on the car and tried out the MFD—

And it was still almost too dim to see, even with the brightness turned all the way up.

I tried various things, bewildered, but it was still clearly just as bad as it had been when I brought it in.

I started to go back inside, and another employee saw me and asked if I was having trouble. I showed them the problem, and they agreed that it was a problem (they seemed surprised and taken aback by the obvious damage to the screen), and told me to go back inside.

So I went back inside and brought Manny out to look at the issue. And as he looked at it and at the paperwork (he too seemed surprised by the damage to the screen), he got more and more visibly embarrassed/uncomfortable, and he finally confessed that they had in fact replaced the other display, the so-called “combination meter” that shows the speedometer. Which I had had replaced only a few years ago when it went bad.

He had only written down that the display was bad, not which display or what was wrong with it, and the mechanics had apparently assumed he meant the combination meter instead of the multifunction display, and they had tested the combination meter and found that it was failing to communicate with something else in some way (I believe them, but whatever the failure was, it wasn’t causing any driver-visible problems at all, so I had been unaware of it), and so they had replaced it. It apparently didn’t occur to anybody that “display” might mean the MFD, which was obviously and visibly damaged.

Manny said that he would have to talk with his manager, who wouldn’t be in until Monday. So I left the car with Toyota, and I’ll talk with them on Monday, and someone will go pick up the car when it’s finally fixed, and all will be well.

And there are silver linings to the way things played out. For example, it means the car will spend a bit less time sitting out in public ready for its cc to be stolen again. (Manny told me that any muffler shop should be able to weld a sort of shield over the new cc to keep it from being easily stolen.) And if Toyota hadn’t finished when they did, then I would have gone home and someone else would have picked up the car and they wouldn’t have known what the original problem was and so they wouldn’t have known that it hadn’t been fixed. And luckily, nobody needed the car during the weeks that it’s been in the shop.

But even so, this is all a little frustrating. If the original mechanics had just told me they couldn’t fix the MFD in the first place, this all would have been done weeks ago.


One Response to “The Prius saga continues”

  1. Sumana Harihareswara

    What a roller coaster! Goodness! Glad of the silver linings, but my goodness.


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