Q: The rear bumper and left quarter panel of my 2010 Prius were damaged in getting hit by a truck. About a week after getting the damaged sections replaced, I noticed the open-door alarm was turning on while I drove and turning off when I stepped on the brakes. I continuously ensure all the doors are closed, but this keeps on happening.
I took my car back to the shop that did the repair, and they recommended replacing the rear door latch assembly. Looking for a second opinion, I took my vehicle to a Toyota dealer. After 3 hours of diagnostic work, the technician recommended replacing the main body electronic control unit. He did not find anything wrong with the door latch assembly. Despite that, I returned to the original shop and had a new door latch assembly installed.
The problem hasn't gone away, and I've now spent almost $800 trying to fix it.
What do you think is going on?
A: If my service information is correct, the door-open signal on the rear left is provided by a grounding-type pin switch located in the C-pillar (front edge of the quarter panel). The information is delivered via a red wire running to the main body electronic control unit. Either a scan-tool check or a voltage test of the electronic control unit's terminal 6 would confirm an erroneous door signal.
I'm wondering if, due to misalignment of the body or door, the pin switch is not being sufficiently depressed by the door. How about fully depressing the switch with your thumb (door open, key on, engine off)? Does the light go off then? Another possibility is that the red wire is damaged or grounding to the body as a result of the collision. I'm baffled as to why applying the brakes changes the light. My only guess is that this might make the body flex a bit, affecting the pin switch or shorted wire.
Q: Why do smog stations in California charge more to do checks on trucks and SUVs? Isn't the same computer equipment and software used on all vehicles? Getting my 2009 Honda CRV tested costs about $10 more than if I had a car.
A: You're right: It's totally wrong to charge extra if the work performed is the same -- which it is. It's the same machine, hookup, software and inspections involved.
That said, it'd be reasonable to charge more for vehicles that truly do require more time or work. Examples include a van or motorhome whose engine cover needs to be removed. Or perhaps a really large vehicle that requires special attention in order to fit into the service bay.
Maybe, since you drive a crossover, not an SUV, you should be charged half as much extra. Kidding! I'd find another smog shop!
Brad Bergholdt is an automotive technology instructor at Evergreen Valley College in San Jose, Calif. Readers may send him email at email@example.com; he cannot make personal replies.
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