Dealer Stories

The following are true questions or stories sent to me by people that questioned what took place.

Toyota dealers are for the most part good business people that have the customers interests at heart. I have found that some are not, should we say, sensitive to the customer and are in it for the profit at all costs. These are the ones that are probably the ones that are involved in these situations.



Thank you very much for responding.

I followed the diagnostic test procedure in the shop manual and traced the
problem to the torque converter lock-up solenoid. That was the easy part.
The hard part is dealing with the people at the dealership and getting the
correct replacement part. So far they have ordered me two different very
expensive solenoids that are the wrong ones. They simply will not fit in
the valve body. "Well,, lets try this one." Like, you know, damn. I have
my truck up on jack stands waiting to try another wrong part.

This is the story of my life with this Toyota. Every little problem turns
into a major, major ordeal when I have to involve the folks at the
dealerships. The first problem was a bad vibration when I first bought it.
"They" put 17 new tires on it and then declared it to be normal. I
diagnosed it myself as a wheel problem. Two years later after arbitration I
got reimbursed for the new wheel I had to buy to fix a vehicle under
warranty. The next thing was a chronic check engine light. Three trips to
the dealership and three sets of O2 sensors I got fed up and diagnosed it my
self. Bad fuel pressure regulator and replaced it out of my pocket.

I really love my 4Runner. I really hate have to deal with the people at the

I was in the market for a new pick-up and really wanted a new Tundra, but
could not get it out of my mind the way I was treated in the arbitration
process. I could not bring myself to buy another Toyota. I bought an F-150
and love it. The sad thing is I think I would have loved the Tundra more,,,
more power!

I have heard these stories from so very many people and I help about two
people a month though the arbitration process. I do believe that Toyota
builds very nice vehicles, but the people working for the company seem to be
trying very hard to run the company into the ground with their "don't fix
the vehicle, fix the owner mentality." I know that there are some really
fantastic people who work for Toyota and the different dealerships because I
have conversed with them on the net, but I can not find any at my local Wash
DC dealerships. Do you have any recommendations?

Jack, I again want to thank you for responding to my question and you seemed
to have been able to diagnose it over the net. You hit it right on the
money. I also want to thank you for hosting such a nice web site for
frustrated people like my self.

Thanks again

>Type Vehicle = 4 Runner 4X2
>Year = 96
>Mileage on Toyota = 90,000
>Engine = 6 cylinder
>Type of Transmission = Automatic
>Area of Country = Mid-Atlantic
>How you found this site = Word of Mouth
>Questions of Comments = Jack:
>Wonderful site. Do not let the jerks at Toyota shut you down. There has
>to be some place for people to go to get correct answers. It does not
>seem that the dealerships are any good. If they can not fix it, they try
>to convince the owner that "its normal." I could spend all day telling
>you dealership stories, but I bet you know more then me. If you need to
>start a legal defence fund to fight Toyota let me know. I will
>contibute. After looking through your site the only thing I can see that
>they would have a legitimate complant is the scans you have out of the
>shop manual and that is all. Tell them to pound sand!
>Anyway I am having a problem with my 4Runner. It is a lock-up problem
>with my torque converter. In the past it would fail to lock up on rare
>occasions. I would disengage OD and then re-engage OD and it would lock
>right up. Now it locks fine until it reaches operating temp and then will
>not longer lock-up. I have a new converter install and has been in there
>for a while and I do not believe it to be the problem because it existed
>with the original converter. I have tested the coolant temp sensor and it
>tested OK. When this is happening if I shut it down and restart it right
>away I get a check engine light. I have no way to down load the codes and
>want to stay away from the dealerships if at all possible.
>I have just completed adjusting my valves and will start testing the other
>possible causes listed in the shop manual. I think I can run all the
>diagnostics except for the vehicle speed sensor. I looked at it real quick
>and it appears that I need an scope to test that. I also have an extra
>ECU so I can swap that out to eliminate the ECU as a cause.
>Do you have any ideas what would be the most likely cause for this
>problem? It acting like it was temp related lead me to check the coolant
>temp sensor first. Next I will check the stop light switch, hoping to
>something simple.
>I appreciate any input you have on this. I will also be adding a link to
>this site on my web page
>Many thanks

Thanks for the visit and the support.

I think that you need to visit the dreaded local dealer for some help. You
have a strange problem but that code you are getting may be important to
the cause.
It sounds electrical like you suggest and may be the ecu or one of the
solenoids for the trans.
I know you hate the dealers but they have the information you need to stop
guessing and you still can take the information they will give you (they
will charge) and still repair it yourself.
Sorry I can't be more direct help but its not a common problem.
Good luck

Nice site by the way.


Hi Jack,

This is a long overdue update on a problem that I had with a new 1999 Camry
LE V6. Since you were kind enough to reply to my original email, I would
like to tell you how things worked out.

The original problem with the car was that the check engine light turned on
after I had about 900 miles on the car (purchased new last August). The
light remained on after more than a dozen driving cycles and the gas cap was
on tight. I took it into Toyota for repair and was told that the charcoal
canister failed. The part was put on order. When I picked up my car that
day, I noticed that the TRAC OFF light was also on. I mentioned it to the
service manager and was told that they would check it out when the charcoal
canister was replaced. The following week the new charcoal canister was
installed but both the check engine light and the TRAC OFF light remained
on. The service manager told me that after the canister was installed, the
diagnosis tool indicated that the O2 sensor had also failed. Later I found
it interesting that I was not provided a receipt showing the labor and the
part replaced for this visit. They put the sensor on order. The next day,
after I filled the gas tank, the engine acted as though it was flooded when
I tried to start it. I had to hold the ignition key in the start position
until the engine eventually caught on and then I had to keep my foot on the
accelerator pedal to keep it from stalling out again. This happened every
time I added gas to the tank during the several weeks that I was waiting for
the O2 sensor to arrive at the dealership. I also noticed that the engine
never started on the first attempt when the engine was cold. It usually
took two and sometimes three starting attempts. Finally, I got fed up with
the flooding engine problem and requested an appointment to have that
checked out even though the O2 sensor was still on backorder. While the car
was in the dealership being checked for the flooding engine problem, I also
contacted the Toyota customer service number. I asked them to insure that
the dealership service department had all of the latest TSB's and
troubleshooting tips that might be related to the problems that my car was
having. Yeah, I know, that was pretty low, but I was very clear to point
out that I was happy with the friendly and courteous service department
personnel, and that I just wanted them to have the latest info available; I
stated clearly that I was not calling to file a complaint. I too was
skeptical that there could be a number of unrelated yet nearly simultaneous
component failures and problems. The last new car that I bought (Honda)
took 11 trips to the service department, before they discovered that the
wrong fuel injectors were installed during manufacture. They unnecessarily
replaced a lot of components before they found out what the actual problem
was from the Honda plant in Canada were the car was manufactured.

Anyways, while my Camry was being checked for the flooding engine problem,
they figured out what was really wrong. They said that when the charcoal
canister failed, that a piece of charcoal was sucked up into the VSV valve
causing it to remain open. The receipt that I was given following this 2
day repair listed two parts:
CANISTER ASSY, CH 77740-06091
VALVE, DUTY VAC 90910-12150
The first part appears to be another charcoal canister (or perhaps it was
never replaced during the earlier visit when I was told that it was and
wasn't provided a receipt). The second part is the valve which I believe is
located under the plastic V6 bank cover. In any event, the repair solved
all of the problems (check engine light, TRAC OFF light, engine flooding,
cold engine multiple start attempts). The O2 sensor that they had ordered
was never installed.

The car has been running perfectly during the past 3000 miles. My only
complaints now are a couple of cold weather squeaks in the dash board (which
I will live with) and the new redesigned tail lights on the 2000 Camry
(which I am not sure if I can live without).

Anyways, I just thought that you might be interested in how this played out.
Thanks for taking the time to reply to my original email.


> I have a 94 4x4 x-cab. Truck heater does not heat. changed thermostat. Took to dealer and they said head gasket was bad. Changed it, still did not heat, noticed truck hunted between 1250 and 2000 RPM. Dealer said head was bad. Changed it and did throttle body service. Still hunted, no heat. Now dealer says coolant flow is plugged to a temp sensor and to heater core. Is this possible? If so, how long should it take to clean the system, including removal of all coolant lines? It's been a month since I've seen my truck. Please advise!

A: Its hard to believe that a Toyota dealer is involved, this is not all that complicated. I don't think that the cylinder head is the cause of the heat problem or the hunting of the engine speed.
The hunting may be caused by air in the engine block but if the dealer is any good they know how to correct that. There is a small tube at the back of the manifold that may have something blocking the flow of coolant to the sensor. If they look at this area that may correct that.
The heat is several possibilities. The water control valve may not be working even though the cable is moving. You should, once the engine is warm, be able to feel the same temp. on each hose of the water control valve, if not the valve may be the cause or the heater core is restricted. Unless the coolant was in poor condition its unusual for this to happen, but its possible.
You may want to contact the dealer and find out what is going on, the month is too long and I know that they are not that busy for it to take this long.


Dear Jack;
Happy New Year! :) I commend you for your courage and devotion to create
this website. I have been waiting for a long time to voice out my opinion and
critique about Toyota dealership repair services.
On December 30, 1999, I had the original tires replaced on my '98 Camry.
They have 44,000 miles on it. Two of the tires were worn out on the inside.
right after I had the new tires on, I drove down to --------- Toyota to have the alignment

checked and adjusted as necessary. I was
shuttled home and got a phone call after three hours. The service advisor
informed me that my car is done and ready for pick-up. She added, that the
car is pulling to the right even after they did the alignment. She said the
alignment is good and the problem could be a bad tire or bad set of tires. I
argued that I have brand new tires and more than likely impossible that they
will cause the pulling problem. Beside's how can anyone tell if the tires
have bad threads or what, like she is suggesting. I told her that I never
have a pulling problem when I drove my Camry to the dealership. The only
problem was the inside wear of the tires. I asked for their Manager, but He
also insisted that the problem is caused by a bad tire, which one? He don't
know. The next day I had the tires changed. All four of them. The pulling
problem did no go away. I returned to __________ Toyota, and told them that I
had the tires replaced, but the pulling problem is still there. the service
advisor said, I don't know what to say, "Your Car was aligned."
Jack I was so furious that I sworn not to get my cars serviced again by
any Toyota Dealer. My only dilemma is, It is very hard to find an alignment
shop that can work on my car. Any referrals from other owners in San Diego is
highly appreciated.
Sorry to write you a novel. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to
air my frustration.

San Diego, California

Thanks for the visit and sorry about the delay, the amount of questions has increased to the point that it just taking longer getting back.

I have heard this before and it usually goes one way or the other.
The explanation about the tires causing the drift or pull is actually accurate. Its called "tire pull" and in racing its called stagger. Its caused by imperfections in tire manufacture and one tire actually gets bigger or is smaller than the cross side tire and the vehicle will be affected by that tire.
In all honesty unless the person who did the alignment did a good road test it was assumed that the alignment was the solution to tire wear. The pull may not cause tire wear but makes the handleing of the vehicle uncomfortable.
The service dept. rep should have listened to you and the manager may have had a bad day. Most dealers are more open to acknowledging that a mistake can be made, especially since you tried new tires to verify that they are not the cause.
You may try talking to the manager again or call the biggest body shop in town and ask them who does the best job with alignments, they will know.
Sorry for your experiences but you can get it corrected.
Good luck