Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Toyota's never break

Ya right....

The golden child of the automotive world, Toyota, is on the rise to be number one overall in automotive sales worldwide and in the U.S.A . It just seems to be a matter of time. One of the arguments I hear from customers is "Toyota's never break" which, if you work in the auto repair industry, you know is false. Every car breaks, it's just a matter of when and how often. Now, I'm not going to go on a Toyota bashing spree since there are Toyota's I think are very well built and dependable. Are they better then the domestics offered in the same class? In some cases yes, in some cases no.

Which brings me to why I am babbling about Toyota. In this case a 2004 4-Runner in the shop today. Engineers can build and design some excellent stuff but in this case I think they just plain are brain dead, I'll get to my reasoning on that later. Mice found their way into the bowels of this 4-Runner and plugged up the HVAC system and also the Air Cleaner housing. Easy enough fix, pull the blower motor for the HVAC and take out "Speedy" who was chewed up by the fans blades (sorry, no pic of him) and then pull all of the debris and nesting they put in. This went easy enough, the blower is in a accessible spot and takes only minutes to remove with a Phillips head screw driver for the plastic cover then a 5/16th socket and wrench on the blower motor. The Cabin filter above it, just pop the glove box down and there it is. Once they where out a shop-vac solves the problem.

Then I went on to the Air Cleaner itself. I pulled the intake off and took the air cleaner out, everything was full of corn the Mice snuck in. Then I looked at the NON-serviceable air cleaner portion to see what shape it's in. Well, this part was starting to be plugged up good. This section of Air Cleaner, pictured in the box, is not serviceable. Meaning, when it plugs up your either going the cheap route and just breaking it out and put only the serviceable Air Cleaner in, or going the expensive route and replacing the Air Cleaner Box.

My thinking was to replace the box assembly since Mice are having a field day, and if they where to go after the truck again they could chew past the serviceable Air Cleaner and the non-serviceable isn't there then get into the intake portion of the engine since there are passages for them to crawl threw. I gave a call to Toyota to see on the price and availability of the Box.

$576.00 dollars........Yup, no kidding.

Used route, $300 and no guarantee the non serviceable air cleaner won't be plugged.

What am I told to do? At this point it's up in the air. The cheap route is ready to do, the expensive route is just a phone call away to get ordered. I didn't design it, I didn't build it, I didn't buy it, I didn't break it. I'm just trying to fix it to the customers satisfaction and if that means taking this section out so they are happy, so be it. I've told them doing it right is the best way but it's still their decision in the end and if I don't pop the part out, anyone could easily pop it out.

Brain dead thinking on this Air cleaner box. This could have been made to be serviceable, heck, maybe it is on newer models but all my looking and digging so far in TSB's and threw Toyota show it isn't. Phone calls to parts houses all have the same answer, buy the whole box.

Small tabs hold the section in place, it could have been design to have locking tabs that seal it in. It could have had other ideas, but anyway, never thought I'd see a $576 air cleaner.


At 7:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your blog. Great stuff.

This quote was very funny; "....since Mice are having a field day..." A great turn of phrase!

What did the customer do? Was the $576.00 the cost of the part only or does that include the labor?


At 8:33 AM, Blogger B.j.Ruland said...

$576 was my cost of the part only. I didn't even ask what it's suggested list was because I had a good feeling the customer wouldn't buy it.

In the end the customer asked to have me take the secondary filter out and we will run with just the primary. Looking at different 4-Runner forums and group sites I see it's not uncommon for people to change the air box style or design and have no ill-effects on the vehicle. The primary filter is also about 2 inches thick so it will take a very hungry mouse to get threw it. I've also thought of finding some screening to put in the filter to slow the mice down.

We also will be checking the filter anytime it's in for service and the customer is going to go to war with the Mice in the garage the truck is keep.

Thanks for the comments :)


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