67

I have a new Toyota Prius (2017 model), bought between 12-13 months ago.

The car recently has gone totally mad (Ironically 1 week after the service). So I arranged a booking to get it checked out, but the car won’t start. On top of that, the car dealer isn’t close and the appointment is in a 2-hour time slot, and every time needs to be rearranged.

When I called them they said I should ask my insurance to bring the car to them. My insurance doesn’t have roadside assistance, and to bring the car to them I need to subscribe a new one (Toyota roadside assistance).

I have no idea what should I do and how to avoid paying a non-refundable third party to bring the car there.

Here is a video of the problem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljLNUodaNKM


Update 1: The car died definitely after the video, now doesn't blink, it doesn't turn on at all, the electronic lock on the doors don't work anymore (I had to close the doors from inside manually and then use the hidden key).

Update 2: I call the dealer multiple times, was very hard but at the end, they reply to my questions about the warranty. I insisted on that because the warranty manual says: "The warranty covers the cost of towing your vehicle to the nearest authorised Toyota repairer in the event of breakdown immobilizing your vehicle, if that breakdown is the result of a warrantable defect."

When I call the Toyota UK mainline, they said that the local car dealer has to tow my car, however, when I speak with the car dealer they said AA has to tow the car even after I read them the warranty, that they signed on the first page. At the end, I didn’t have any other choice that subscribes a roadside assistance with AA on behalf of Toyota since Toyota roadside assistance is AA.

Update 3: today (12/12), I call Toyota roadside assistance, at the beginning they didn't found my cover, after passing them the code they sent in the email they verified I'm covered and they redirected the call to AA. AA sent a technician to check the car in my driveway, the idea was that they fix the car enough to make it drivable tomorrow morning so I can bring to the dealer. Unfortunately the battery is fully dead (it has 3V of output), and the battery didn't charge at all. So I had to come back from the office because the car couldn't be turn off (if you turn itoff you can't turn it on again, and my girlfriend can't drive), I drove the car to the dealer, once I parked the car in front of the garage, I turn it off, when I tried to turn it on again to check, didn't turn on (the car was on for around 1h and 30 minutes). Tomorrow morning a mechanic will check the car, and hopefully they will fix it free of charge.

Total cost up to now: 84£ for Toyota roadside insurance (1 year).

Detail’s of “Warranty Chapter 3”

  • 29
    It should be under warranty so tell the garage to come and collect it, speak to Toyota direct if they aren't helpful. – davidjwest Dec 8 '17 at 11:41
  • 23
    Given the video, I think that Toyota would be very interested in fixing this quickly to avoid bad PR. This is NOT the way a Prius should behave. If the dealer is unresponsive, I'd start with Toyota Customer Service toyota.co.uk/contact-us/index.json – Hilmar Dec 8 '17 at 15:16
  • 3
    @Hilmar Given that that this question is on the HNQ of The Stack Exchange Network should be enough to create bad PR, I wouldn't be surprised if this is quickly resolved. – wizzwizz4 Dec 8 '17 at 17:42
  • 4
    Draining your 12v battery is the same as running out of gasoline. It is NOT a defect of the vehicle. It is a driver error that you should not make. – Billy C. Dec 11 '17 at 3:27
  • 4
    @BillyC., However, it's possible that some fault in the vehicle, either there when first purchased, or introduced during service, is causing the battery to drain even when the car is used correctly. – The Photon Dec 11 '17 at 5:55
42

Under EU law:

within the legal guarantee period of two years, defective products must be repaired or replaced without any cost to the consumer. This includes shipping costs.

This means that you will not bear the costs of the towing. If the dealer does not want to tow for you, you will be able to charge back.

  • 1
    @DonQuiKong It "must" be repaired or replaced: They probably don't want to do it in OP's driveway. – Carl Dec 8 '17 at 18:15
  • 13
    In the warranty's manual is literally written: "The warranty covers the cost of towing your vehicle to the nearest authorised Toyota repairer in the event of breakdown immobilizing your vehicle, if that breakdown is the result of a warrantable defect." – Maurizio Carboni Dec 8 '17 at 21:56
  • 13
    @MaurizioCarboni: the vendor cannot redirect you anywhere. He sold you the car and he is the only person you need to talk to. I was in a similar situation and just asked them to put me in written that I need to talk with anyone else then them. They gave up and handled the whole thing. (also I do not know what AA is) – WoJ Dec 8 '17 at 22:12
  • 1
    @MaurizioCarboni: I understand. If I were you I would now request all what I payed to be reimbursed and would tell them I will go to small claims court (if there is such a thing in the UK) if they do not. You can point them to the EU regulations (link in my answer) where the case is covered. – WoJ Dec 8 '17 at 22:23
  • 3
    If the way they treats you "really pissed you off" then you might want to show more willing to hit them where it hurts (their cheque book) if there's a chance of that. – Flexo Dec 8 '17 at 22:35
97

The garage probably hasn't understood from your description that the car isn't driveable.

Contact them again and tell them the car is under warranty, it is not driveable, and you want it fixed or want a replacement car. If they still refuse to come and get it, then tell them you will get a third party to tow it to them and charge them for the towing costs.

If you get no joy from the dealership at that point I would go directly to Toyota.

  • 3
    I think the garage didn't want to understand my problem, I had to call multiple times (around 10), I read the warranty's manual multiple times trying to understand a simple question "is the 12V battery included in the warranty", because the manual is kind of vague, I had to call multiple time until I found someone that wanted to reply to my questions (the answer was that the 12V has 3 years and the hibryd has 8 years). I said to them that the manual clearly states that they have to pay the towing but they "forced" me to buy an AA cover sell by them – Maurizio Carboni Dec 8 '17 at 22:01
  • 27
    @MaurizioCarboni, take them to small claims court! – OldBunny2800 Dec 8 '17 at 22:23
  • 1
    @OldBunny2800 - limit in small claims court is £10,000. At issue is replacement of a ~£25,000 car, plus out-of-pocket expenses during the time it wasn't available. This is outside of the scope of small claims. – Jules Dec 11 '17 at 1:27
  • 3
    @Jules But it's such a small car! – Nic Hartley Dec 11 '17 at 7:26
  • 15
    @Jules No it isn't. At issue is refund of towing costs. Repair/replacement of the car is an entirely separate issue. Unless transportation of the car from its current location needs a cargo-lift helicopter, I doubt you're going to trouble the £10k limit. – Graham Dec 11 '17 at 16:13
19

The key part of your warranty is "[...] if that breakdown is the result of a warrantable defect".

Your video clearly shows a message on the information display which says that the 12V battery is low. Further, the symptoms described in your question are entirely consistent with having a discharged 12V battery. This issue is clearly not caused by a warrantable defect. Therefore, the dealer will not pay to have your car towed to his location.

You should locate a set of jumper cables and a friend who will help you jump your car. Note that hybrids often have a slightly different jumping procedure compared to non-hybrids, so you should read the manual before attempting to jump it.

  • 4
    Isn't the battery supposed to last more than 12 months under normal conditions? The battery should also be covered by the warranty. – Pedro Lobito Dec 10 '17 at 23:44
  • 2
    Good point that it might be regular battery discharge, not a defect. @PedroLobito 'normal conditions' are driving your car on regular basis. You can end up your hybrid drive with batteries discharged (20%) so a few weeks later... well, you can guess... – user45830 Dec 11 '17 at 8:50
  • 6
    @PedroLobito A dead 12v battery can be caused by a vehicle defect, however a year old battery is more likely to be drained due to operator error of some sort (eg leaving lights on until it was drained) and just needs a jump start. If it won't start with a jump and/or running the engine (30+ minutes) fails to recharge it enough to start your car again then something is more likely wrong with the battery or charging system that is a warranty claim. – Dan Neely Dec 11 '17 at 14:46
  • Battery discharge can happen if very cold weather, or/and you don't use the car often or/and only drive for 5 min ( alternator doesn't have time to charge the battery back). – Dupond Dec 12 '17 at 8:55
  • A battery should last a lot longer than 12 months, and I can't see how operator error could be to blame. Is it even possible to leave the lights on accidentally on a 2017 Prius? I would imagine the lights would turn off automatically. – user1751825 Dec 12 '17 at 13:15
7

Your warranty says towing is covered, and assuming the warranty conditions are met (e.g. mileage and vehicle age) you can insist.

If the dealer is still not willing to help you you can:

  1. Contact Toyota UK - the dealer may be independently owned and operated, so Toyota UK may have some clout over them. Escalate to a supervisor and explain that the dealer is not honouring the warranty.

  2. Contact another Toyota dealer - although you bought the vehicle from them, the warranty should cover it whichever Toyota dealer handles the issue.

  3. If you paid for any part of your vehicle with your credit card (e.g. a deposit) and the cost of the towing is less than that amount, you can open a 'dispute' with the credit card company for the amount of the towing against that deposit amount.

  4. If you ultimately end up paying out of pocket, you can later go to small claims court to get your money back - no solicitor is required, you can represent yourself.

  5. If you really want to speed things up, engage a solicitor or barrister, but you may not necessarily get back the (probably >£500) cost of the solicitor or barrister, but you should see a sea change in their treatment towards you. You need to keep their costs in perspective however.

  6. Citizens Advice may also be able to help you with other options (there may be a local ombusdman for car dealers, etc. that would help your situation etc.) before you go to small claims court etc..

5

Car manufacturers usually provide free breakdown assistance during the warranty period. Toyota's website does mention this option (https://www.toyota.co.uk/contact-us) although it does not detail if all new car owners are automatically enrolled as members. Check your warranty details or just contact them directly. If you're covered, they should take care of towing your car to the dealer. Even if not, they should explain how this is covered and reimbursed under warranty.

  • Yes they provide 1 year of "roadside assistance", however that is an AA service – Maurizio Carboni Dec 8 '17 at 21:57
3

At the root this problem is one of the local dealer not wanting to provide a service which the parent company says must be provided. In situations like this I've received the best success through calling the parent company, explaining the situation and confirming your understanding of it then asking them to conference in the local company into the call. When you do this you add weight to your claim that the local office is misconstruing the agreement.

0

Another option comes to mind:

There are now lithium-ion based batteries for jump starting. The reality is that lead-acid batteries are failure prone, having a battery pack that you can carry in the car that can jump start it is a useful thing to have. No need for anybody's help, just clip it on and start your car. They are little things, in the range of the larger USB power banks (and many can be used as such), but have the oomph to start a car a few times before being drained. Mine has seen use half a dozen times by now.

  • The technician that AA sent tried your solution, unfortunately he was able to turn it on only with the "power bank" attached to the car acting as a battery. even after 1h 30 minutes of charge (engine on), the car battery wasn't still able to start the car. – Maurizio Carboni Dec 12 '17 at 15:24
  • In other words, it's not just a low battery, but one that won't take a charge. – Loren Pechtel Dec 13 '17 at 4:04

protected by NL - Apologize to Monica Dec 11 '17 at 14:56

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