Toyota’s mistake is another man’s financial burden

CLIMAX, Mich. -- A West Michigan man bought a 2005 Toyota Prius because it’s built to last, and it has for the most part.  After years of maintenance and careful care, there’s an issue this car owner says he shouldn’t have to pay to fix after the Toyota dealership told him they knew the problem existed 11 years ago.  They are still insisting the owner has to pay to correct it.

Feeling cheated, he turned to the FOX 17 Problem Solvers.

Consumer Reports named the Prius the number one most reliable car of 2016. It’s so reliable, in fact, that many of the older models are still going strong after hundreds of thousands of miles. Apparently, Toyota didn’t count on them reaching 300,000 miles, because as Jim Burgess found out you won’t see it reach that milestone on the odometer.

Jim Burgess’ 2005 Prius was nothing short of reliable for several years. He averaged about 30,000 miles a year traveling up to northern Michigan for backpacking trips, and down to Pennsylvania to visit family.

“Just keeping up with the oil changes and the maintenance on it is all I’ve ever done to it. If you take care of them right they seem to go forever,” said Burgess.

Burgess was on a recent journey to Pennsylvania to see family with a milestone in sight.

“I wanted to take a picture of the odometer at 300,000 miles so at 299,999 I kept on waiting and kept on waiting, and I said 'Surely I have been a mile?' Then after I kept tracking the mile markers I knew it wasn’t going to turn over,” said Burgess.

Burgess turned to Google only to find out this has happened to other people with various models of Toyotas. He called Toyota up thinking it was something they would replace for free.

“They told me I should back to my dealership and have them do a diagnosis, and if they won’t help you out to call them back” said Burgess.

Burgess said the dealership quoted him a $556 charge to fix the odometer. They offered him a discount, but he refused to pay it because he said it's Toyota's fault.

“As a matter of fact, I talked to the guy at the dealership, and he said the new one we stick in there is going to do the same thing,” said Burgess.

Burgess called Toyota back to see about them covering a real fix, telling us Toyota wouldn't pay for it because the issue was past the 9-year warranty. A warranty for a problem that Burgess was never alerted about in the first place.

“Who is going to have 299,999 miles when it’s still under warranty? It just doesn’t make sense. It’s not a transmission that wears out, it’s not tires that wear out, it’s not ball joints that wears out it’s a computer program,” said Burgess.

FOX 17 reached out to Toyota they sent us some answers over e-mail, and on the phone.

First, they said they no longer install odometers that stop right before 300,000 miles, now they go to 1 million. Toyota claims the faulty odometer is only in 2005 models of the Prius, Corolla, and Corolla Matrix. They said they don’t have to issue a recall on the problem because it’s not a safety issue.

Toyota has offered other people the opportunity to fix their odometer for free, but in Burgess’ case he won’t be offered that. Toyota considers this a maintenance issue like changing oil or replacing tires. They said people should contact their dealership and it will be decided on a case-by-case basis if they can give you a break on the cost.

For reasons Toyota would not disclose, he was offered a $200 discount on the repair, and the company thinks that is fair enough.

“There are several issues at stake when you can’t track your mileage. My tires happen to be under warranty but I have to have mileage proof to show they are under warranty. I have to have oil changes on time; that’s how this car has lasted this long,” said Burgess.

All things he won’t be able to do unless he forks over the nearly $400 he will have to pay to repair. All for an issue he said is no fault of his own.

If you have a 2005 Prius, Corolla, or Corolla Matrix and find yourself in this same situation Toyota said you should contact Toyota Motor Sales directly at 1.800.331.4331 rather than their dealer.

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5 comments

    • Friendly Nerd

      Yup. And even if it didn’t, you can guesstimate your odo by tracking how often you fill the tank and multiplying the size of your tank with that that figure along with your average mileage.

      • Blaidd Gwyn

        Neither the trip odometer or the estimating it are “official” for things that are under warranty by mileage. If for example you have tires with a 50,000 mile warranty (they often have more than that), and your odometer stops working, you have no way to prove you only drove 30,000 miles before they came apart, and you will not be able to get them replaced under warranty. This goes for several other parts in the car as well, they have a certain amount of distance driven before they are considered no longer under warranty, and with a broken odometer you cannot prove you have not driven the distance the warranty covers, and they will not replace it if it breaks early.