Real Stories from Real Customers
REAL STORIES FROM REAL CUSTOMERS
Our customers love their hybrids and we love our hybrid customers. Our 5 Star Reviews on Yelp, Google Reviews, Facebook and YouTube aren’t taken for granted and we earn our customers trust every day. There isn’t anything we wouldn’t do for our hybrid customers, no matter how unconventional or crazy it sounds and we’ve got the stories to prove it.
We’re extremely proud of the reviews that our customers have given Electron, but some of our most memorable stories aren’t posted on Yelp or Google Reviews etc. Rather than keep these authentic customer experiences to ourselves, we decided to share these stories with our subscribers on our website and let them decide if these stories are helpful, humorous, educational or have any value whatsoever.
Each month we’ll post at least one new story from a real customer that hasn’t shared their story or posted a review. You can sign-up to receive automatic updates or just check back every now and then to see if the next real story has been posted. Thanks for visiting Electron Hybrid Solutions.
The Hybrid Camper
A client wanted to use Toyota Prius for camping and he wanted to utilize the space in the trunk where the hybrid battery was. He had already been to two other hybrid shops and neither shop took him seriously.
We love a good challenge and we found that the footwells, the space where the passengers in the back feet go, and surprisingly, we were able to fit the prius battery in the space with room to spare. That doesn’t mean that it was all smooth sailing we had several difficult to overcome challenges such as:
- Re-routing the wiring
- Extending the wiring
- Still allow the cooling system to function
- Securing the battery in a way that it will be safe in the event of an accident.
- Reposition the safety plug as it did not have enough space to be removed once the battery is relocated
We rerouted the high voltage wires through a hole in the floor panel in a way that did not require any modifications. We cut the wiring and extended it several feet. We used aircraft grade butt connectors that crimp very securely and self-glue to the wire with heat, making them water proof and vibration resistant.
Fortunately, the cooling fan is mounted on the Toyota 2015 Prius hybrid battery which was a big help. We just needed to make piping for the air inlet and air exhaust. We used a 3d printer and made new ducting that allowed fresh air to enter the battery while still using a filter. A neighboring custom fabrication shop that specializes in custom race car fabrication created two very strong mounting brackets that mounted to the frame and bolted to the hybrid battery.
The battery was mounted to the frame and bolted to the battery in such a manner that the battery was removable, yet still strongly secured within the hybrid. The safety plug was rerouted towards the opposite end and we extended the wiring and 3d printed housing unit to mount the safety plug in a spot that is easily and quickly accessible.
Not only did we succeed where others have failed, the customers was so happy with the work that we had done that he ended up making customer cabinetry that lifts up out of where the battery was originally located. We love a good challenge and this was right up there with the best of them.
There isn’t anything that we won’t do for our hybrid customers, so go ahead and challenge us.
ASE Certified Hybrid Pros vs. Mechanics that Work on Hybrids Part-Time
A new customer came to us after his hybrid battery had failed numerous times. His old mechanic had very little experience working on failed hybrid batteries, but thought that cell switching was the best and cheapest method to get the hybrid up and running again. The auto shop located two bad cells in the battery and replaced them with better used cells. The car started right up and the hybrid owner was pleased that the cost for the diagnosis, two better used cells and the installation was a lot cheaper than a new or used hybrid battery.
The vehicle ran fine for about 5 weeks before the hybrid battery failed again. The owner had the vehicle towed back to the mechanic only to find out that both of the new/used replacement cells that they had just installed had failed. The auto shops warranty on used cells was 30 days, so the owner bought two more new/used cells and had them installed. Car started right up and the owner was assured that it was just a freak coincidence and it wouldn’t happen again.
The vehicle owner went to start his car the very next day and the battery had failed again. Because the cells were still covered by the warranty, the auto shop paid to have the car towed to their shop. That’s right, the two cells that had just been installed to replace the other two cells that just been installed had failed again. The battery pack for this hybrid vehicle contains 28 battery modules and each module contains 6 cells for a grand total of 168 cells. That’s when the owner decided it was time to take his hybrid to a shop that specialized in hybrid repairs and hybrid batteries. His old mechanic had been using a simple voltmeter to determine if a cell was bad or good, but that’s all a voltmeter can tell you.
The best and most expensive “Off-the-Shelf” battery technology does a decent job of diagnosing some battery cell properties , it doesn’t provide the kind of information necessary to maximize the performance of your hybrid battery. The only way to maximize the potential of every cell in every module contained in a hybrid battery pack is to design the technology yourself and that’s exactly what we did.
Our proprietary technology allows us to accurately evaluate 11 different individual battery cell properties, including capacity, voltage and internal resistance etc., of every cell in every module of you battery pack. The first diagnostic test using our proprietary technology determined that battery issues were isolated to block 7 and that block 7 was weak. We ran the tests again with brand new cells in place of the two bad used cells in block 7 and block 7 was still weak even with brand new cells. We also noticed that the voltage on block 7 would go from 15.5v to -15.5 volts which is virtually impossible.
As hybrid and hybrid battery experts, we know that only two things that can cause this; damaged wiring or a failed computer. A quick check of the wiring revealed heavy corrosion all around the wiring harness, but it’s not uncommon for this to happen if you live near the beach. Closer examination revealed that the real problem wasn’t the corrosion, it was the damage caused to the bus bar wiring underneath the corrosion during a previous attempt to repair the battery.
We cleaned off the corrosion, replaced the wiring harness and replaced the 28 battery modules in the old battery with 28 perfectly matched and balanced remanufactured battery modules. The car started right up and has been running without an issue for the last 18 months. The only time we see the customer and his hybrid now is when he brings it in for maintenance and an oil change every 10,000 miles.
Fixing Symptoms Doesn’t Fix the Problem
A new customer came to see us after the hybrid battery in their Toyota Prius hybrid failed once while under warranty and again one month after the 12 month warranty expired on the replacement battery that Toyota has installed. Toyota hybrid batteries are known for their reliability and we just don’t see many Prius batteries that fail before their warranty has expired. Their Prius was only 4 years old, but they had exceeded the maximum limit of 150,000 miles, so they had to pay out of pocket for all future repairs.
They couldn’t afford the $4,500 price tag on a new hybrid battery from the Toyota Dealership, so they purchased a low-priced used hybrid battery from one of our competitors. When that battery failed in less than 3 months, they purchased another low-priced hybrid battery from another one of our competitors and it also failed in less than 3 months.
They were about ready to give up hope when one of our long-term hybrid customers referred them to Electron. We had their Prius towed to our shop and confirmed that the battery was indeed dead. Batteries don’t continue fail without a reason, so Instead of just replacing the dead battery like our competitors did, we ran a series of diagnostic tests with our proprietary hybrid battery technology. The data history showed that the temperature was extraordinarily, almost unrealistically, high when the used batteries failed from both of our competitors.
We immediately checked the cooling system as it’s not uncommon for them to become restricted and overheat, but the computer usually detects the overheat which sets off a warning signal. That didn’t happen in this particular case and there were no overheating codes. The entire cooling system was clean and the cooling fans were so clean that they looked brand new. After that we stressed tested the sensors and everything passed with perfect scores. With nothing left to test, we reviewed the diagnostics for inconsistencies and found it odd that the cooling fans looked brand new even though the last hybrid battery installed in their Prius had been used for almost 3 months.
The computer readings said that the fan was working and registered the fan as spinning at full speed when tested. We retested the cooling system and watched how the computer registered the fan operating correctly and spinning at full speed when in actuality, the fan blades never moved. Upon closer examination, one of the previous battery installers had disassembled the cooling fan for cleaning, but failed to put it back together again properly before reinstalling it. The fan made a noise that sounded like it was working, but the blades weren’t spinning so the fan had no way to cool the battery down. The fan looked brand new because it wasn’t working and therefore wouldn’t need lubrication which is what makes it dirty in the first place.
The battery cooling fan had to be replaced because it was damaged from improper reassembly and installation. The motor spinning had rubbed against other parts of the battery and damaged those as well. The long term and properly diagnosed solution was to properly install a new cooling fan and a new remanufactured hybrid battery with a 3 year warranty.
The new battery and fan have been going strong for the last 3 years and we remanufacture all of our hybrid batteries to outlast their warranties. The owner of the hybrid could have saved a lot of time, money and frustration if any one of the previous hybrid battery installers had focused on finding what caused the battery to fail rather than just replacing the battery itself.
Second Opinions on Dealership Repair Quotes Saves $$$$
A customer was driving his Toyota hybrid on Interstate 5 when all of a sudden several warning lights came on, including the red triangle, check engine light and VSC. His hybrid began to immediately lose power, but he was able to get off the Interstate before it died completely. The customer had it towed it to the local Toyota dealership the same day. The written quote to repair his hybrid was $6,875.00; $5,270.00 for a new hybrid battery and another $1,605.00 for unnecessary recommendations that had nothing to do with why the car lost power and wouldn’t start.
In this case, the dealership completely misdiagnosed the problem. If the dealership had made the $6,875.00 of recommended repairs, the vehicle would have been in the exact same condition as it had been before the repairs; without power and undriveable. The customer was fully prepared to spend almost $7,000.00 to fix his car, but while reading the fine print at the bottom of the quote he noticed something that the service manager should have brought to his attention before asking for his signature on the paperwork.
It said that the dealership could not guarantee that the recommended $6,875.00 in repairs would fix the problem with his hybrid losing power and not starting. The dealership was using their best judgement in making the recommended repairs, but would in no way be responsible or liable should those repairs fail to fix the vehicle’s problem of losing power or starting.
By signing the quote, the customer hereby releases the dealership from any and all liability regarding the repairs listed above and will hold the dealer harmless and not responsible. Needless to say, paying almost $7,000 for repairs with no guarantee that your car will be fixed and agreeing to hold the dealership harmless didn’t sit well with the customer. When questioned, the service manager said that all of their quotes contained the exact same language and they couldn’t make the repairs without his signature on the paperwork. That’s when the customer called us from the dealership and asked Electron for a second opinion. We had his hybrid towed to our hybrid repair facility and we were able to determine what really caused his hybrid vehicle to lose power and stop starting.
The correct diagnosis was a failed head gasket which was a result of a bad water pump. Here are the details of what happened and why the dealership recommended the repairs that they did. Water pumps have always been a big issue. When the water pump stops working, the engine overheats. When the engine overheats, the head gasket fails. When the head gasket fails, the engine cannot run anymore.
When this happens to a hybrid, the engine will keep trying to restart by using the hybrid battery. The hybrid battery will keep on trying to start the engine until it is completely drained. It’s important to note that this action does not kill the hybrid battery, it only drains it. When the energy stored in a hybrid battery gets low, it sets off a series of error codes that most mechanics do not understand and they assume that the hybrid battery has failed. This is an assumption that the Toyota dealership made and it’s where Toyota went wrong.
They recommended that the water pump be replaced, but they completely misdiagnosed the hybrid battery and sold the customer a battery system cleaning for $453.00 that we install for $143.00 and include the filter. The dealership also recommended and quoted the price and installation of an EGR, Exhaust Gas Recirculation System, and an Intake Manifold Replacement. The hybrid vehicle did not need or require an EGR or a new Intake Manifold Replacement and these unnecessary upsells would have cost the customer an additional $1,605.00.
The problem with the Toyota hybrid had nothing to do with its battery and had everything to do with its bad water pump and bad head gasket. We replaced the water pump and repaired the head gasket on the customer’s Toyota hybrid for $2,200.00. We were then able to start the engine and recharge the battery. When the battery reached its normal recharge level, all of the warning lights, error codes and sensor warnings went away.
We’ll never forget how happy the customer was when he found out that his Toyota hybrid had been completely repaired for 1/3 of what the dealership had quoted and it was ready for pickup. He was overwhelmingly grateful and thanked our entire team for a job well done. He was less than thrilled with the dealership’s misdiagnosis and repair quote of almost $7,000, but he felt the dealership’s misdeeds were a small price to pay for finding an experienced hybrid repair shop that he could trust.
The Trial & Error Method of Dealership Hybrid Repair
Generally speaking, an experienced ASE Certified mechanic should be able to perform most of the routine maintenance tasks on your hybrid vehicle. However, hybrid repairs, and anything other than basic maintenance, should only be performed by ASE Certified hybrid professionals with the training, equipment and advanced hybrid technology to properly diagnose and repair your hybrid vehicle.
The only way to properly fix a hybrid vehicle that has malfunctioned or stopped working, is to locate and fix the source of the problem. Repairing the effects or symptoms that the problem caused may provide short-term temporary relief, but you will continue to experience escalating malfunctions until the source of the problem has been properly fixed.
Access to the latest technology, equipment and specialized training have greatly improved the diagnostic process, but there’s no substitute for real world experience and that’s’ where the problem lies with repairing hybrid vehicles. Very few auto shops specialize in the repair of hybrid vehicles, even fewer have access to the latest hybrid diagnostic technology and meaningful real-world diagnostic experience is limited to the few pioneers that believed in hybrids before they became trendy and popular. Lack of real world experience is rampant at many hybrid dealerships and they seem to have embraced a “Trial and Error” approach to hybrid repair. If the root source of the problem can’t be positively identified, the symptoms caused by the problem are used to determine the areas that are most likely to be the cause. Then they make “Trial and Error” repairs until they get a positive result.
If the root source of the problem can’t be positively identified, the symptoms caused by the problem are used to determine the areas that are most likely to be the cause. They then make “Trial and Error” repairs until they get a positive result. It’s an expensive game to play and there’s no guarantee that any of the repairs will actually resolve the problem. Let’s take a look at how this philosophy played out with a real hybrid owner before they became an Electron customer.
The owner of a 2010 Toyota Prius started having problems with their hybrid after it was out of warranty. The engine would make a nasty knocking noise on start up and go away after a few seconds and would occasionally set off a misfire code. This would happen most mornings and sometimes while stopped at a traffic light, but it was not an everyday occurrence.
The owner took her Prius to the Toyota dealership where she had purchased it to get repaired, but her Prius wasn’t making the loud knocking sounds, misfiring or showing any misfire error codes at the dealership. She explained in great detail what had been going on with their 2010 Prius to the service manager and she left her vehicle with the dealership to be properly diagnosed.
The dealership called two days later and confirmed that the car did make a horribly loud knocking sound when they started it that morning and it did misfire a couple of times which triggered the misfire sensor warning code. They also told the owner that they were in unchartered territory because they had never worked on a car with similar issues before. The dealership told the owner that they had narrowed down the possibilities and had a pretty good idea of where the problem originated, but they couldn’t be 100% certain.
With her Prius no longer under dealer warranty, she felt she had no other choice but to take her chances and move forward with the repairs recommended by the dealership. This “Trial & Error” form of Hybrid Diagnosis and Repair went on for two weeks and involved 3 different Toyota dealerships. During that time, the Dealerships had her replace all of her spark plugs, all of her ignition coils, her fuel injectors, the intake manifold and had her purchase and install an Exhaust Gas Recirculation system or EGR.
At the end of the dealership’s two week Trial & Error Method of Hybrid Repair, she had spent over $5,000.00 and none of the issues had been fixed. For this particular Toyota Prius owner, the last straw was when the dealership recommended that she replace the entire engine, but wouldn’t guarantee that replacing the entire engine would resolve the problems.
That’s when the Prius owner contacted Electron. She explained the entire story to Electron’s Owner, Chris Nosalek, and asked him if we could help. She brought her Prius in the next morning and we spent hours double checking all of the work that had recently been done. We couldn’t find a single issue with the work, so we combed through the diagnostic tests that we ran and all of the paperwork that the dealerships had given her for the work that they had completed over the last few weeks looking for inconsistencies.
Before we run diagnostic tests on any vehicle, we benchmark the levels of all fluids. One of our technicians noticed that the benchmark reading on her coolant level was low before we started testing, but there were two invoices from dealerships saying that they had topped off the coolant level within days of us testing her Prius.
If your coolant level drops sharply and your car starts misfiring, there’s a very good chance that you’ve blown a head gasket or that your head gasket is faulty. We performed a pressure test on the head gasket and the test confirmed that the head gasket was faulty. The head gasket is what seals the engine coolant and the combustion chamber so that they don’t leak. The gasket was faulty at the spot where the two linked and allowed the coolant to enter the engine when the engine was stopped. The engine would misfire when it was started because of the coolant in the engine, but it only takes a few seconds for the engine to blow out the coolant and for the engine to start running properly again.
We replaced the head gasket for our new customer and her Toyota Prius has been running like a champ ever since. This situation first happened in 2015, but faulty head gaskets became a major issue within a year and it’s now standard operating procedure for Toyota dealerships and all professional Hybrid Auto Repair shops to check the head gasket first when hybrids show these very same symptoms.
Dealerships can afford Trial & Error Hybrid Repair when your hybrid is under warranty, but it’s not a pretty picture for hybrid owner’s once their warranty has expired. Independent Professional Hybrid Repair facilities like Electron Hybrid Solutions can’t afford to make the same diagnostic mistakes that dealerships do and we stand behind all of our hybrid repair and hybrid battery remanufacturing work 100%.