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    Thread: Potential warranty issue far from home

    1. Member adrew's Avatar
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      07-09-2019 11:11 AM #1
      We are currently on a road trip out west and the Corolla's A/C is struggling a little. Normally it will freeze you out in 110-degree Dallas gridlock on 72/Auto mode but here it is having a little trouble with the pleasant 85 degree temperatures (have to crank the fan and put it on full cold) and it's cycling a lot and putting out damp air intermittently when the compressor is off. Ugh. I noticed it was a little weak a few weeks ago but it cooled down pretty quickly so I didn't think much of it at the time.

      Anyway, we are about 1500 miles away from home and have about 1000 miles left on the warranty so I stopped into a tiny little Toyota dealer at 7:30 this morning to see if they could look at it and basically got a super skeptical mansplanation about how car air conditioning works, how it can only really cool down about 30 degrees from the outside temperature, that they could test it out if I really wanted but probably couldn't look at it until 1 or 2 even though I was the only car in the service drive.

      I told him I guess I was imagining it and would deal with it later. I am thinking about topping it up with an AutoZone kit but should I send an email or something to our dealer at home with the current mileage and issues? I don't want to get stuck with an expensive repair in a few weeks so any suggestions would be appreciated.
      Improving the signal-to-noise ratio

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    3. Member GLI Dan's Avatar
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      07-09-2019 11:23 AM #2
      Have the dealer, or another near by dealer, do a check and test.

      Not related to a/c, but a similar warranty timing issue occurred with one of mother's Jeep grand cherokees. Turns out the b2b warranty is 3/36K miles, and our lease term was 39 months. IN the last month something happened (can't recall), my mother took it in and they found the problem but we would ahve had to foot the bill because no more warrany. Sure enough however, my mother had taken the car in for a similar problem about 6 months prior. Because it was documented, and the dealer signed off on it, they honored the claim and fixed it under warranty.
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    4. Geriatric Member absoluteczech's Avatar
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      07-09-2019 11:26 AM #3
      If you're concerned and you dont think you could live with it until you return home then try another Toyota dealer. I would probably not attempt a DIY if you want warranty work to be preformed. If they see you messed with it, they could possibly blame you and deny the claim?

    5. Member Alpha-3's Avatar
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      07-09-2019 11:27 AM #4
      Get it documented, somehow, since your warranty mileage is approaching. You could have a small leak, major leak, or low charge, just because.

      Stop at another dealer, hopefully more friendly. It sounds to me like your freon is low ( I know its not freon anymore, whatever they use). Happened to me with my relatively new GTI at the time here in Miami. Had been cold, cold, started blowing eh, coolish to lukewarm. Went to a specialty shop (NOT the dealer) and had them recharge the system, as they said it was reading a bit low. That was two years ago, it's been fine ever since.
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    6. Member GolfTango's Avatar
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      07-09-2019 11:39 AM #5
      I'd find a larger, more reputable Toyota dealer and have them test the AC's pressure for leaks. Then you have the concern/work documented. If you get home and the AC gets worse, or craps out, you have the documented complaint before the warranty expired and Toyota should honor the issue (if any). You may have punctured the condenser on the road trip, check for holes from a rock that kicked up, etc. If that's the case, the warranty won't help regardless.

      You have bad luck with AC!
      Last edited by GolfTango; 07-09-2019 at 11:42 AM.

    7. Member adrew's Avatar
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      07-09-2019 11:50 AM #6
      Quote Originally Posted by GolfTango View Post
      I'd find a larger, more reputable Toyota dealer and have them test the AC's pressure for leaks. Then you have the concern/work documented. If you get home and the AC gets worse, or craps out, you have the documented complaint before the warranty expired and Toyota should honor the issue (if any). You may have punctured the condenser on the road trip, check for holes from a rock that kicked up, etc. If that's the case, the warranty won't help regardless.

      You have bad luck with AC!
      I know - and it is so annoying to deal with since I can't do much myself. I looked at the condenser and don't see any holes, dings or greasy spots (it is pretty protected behind that giant mesh grille). There are some bugs but that's it.

      Thanks everyone -- I will stop at a dealer in Colorado where there are a lot more of them with the express service stuff. This was the smallest Toyota dealer I have ever seen -- it only had two service bays. The guy was looking at me like I was a total idiot and saying things like "Reaaaaalllly? You know it only cools down about 30 degrees from the outside temperature." Even my Yaris puts out 38 degree air when it's 110 outside.
      Improving the signal-to-noise ratio

    8. Geriatric Member @McMike's Avatar
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      07-09-2019 12:15 PM #7
      Did the sketchy mansplaining happen to mention the performance difference between using fresh vs recirculating air? Does the '17 Corolla have an option for outside air while the AC is on?

    9. Member adrew's Avatar
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      07-09-2019 12:22 PM #8
      Quote Originally Posted by @McMike View Post
      Did the sketchy mansplaining happen to mention the performance difference between using fresh vs recirculating air? Does the '17 Corolla have an option for outside air while the AC is on?
      Oh yeah, it is almost always on recirculate. I know that it can only drop the temp so much when it's on fresh — but it's not even that hot out here so it wouldn't be struggling even on fresh mode.

      His to e was immediately skeptical and I took it to mean that he didn't want to look at it.
      Improving the signal-to-noise ratio

    10. Member Pnuu's Avatar
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      07-09-2019 12:37 PM #9
      I personally hate diagnosing AC, so I feel your pain.

      Definitely stop at a bigger/better dealer and explain the situation, including the road trip, warranty timing, and bad experience at the other dealer. Ask nicely if there's anything they can do to help you on your trip and I'm sure someone there will make it happen. Good luck!

    11. Geriatric Member @McMike's Avatar
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      07-09-2019 01:02 PM #10
      Quote Originally Posted by adrew View Post
      Oh yeah, it is almost always on recirculate. I know that it can only drop the temp so much when it's on fresh — but it's not even that hot out here so it wouldn't be struggling even on fresh mode.

      His to e was immediately skeptical and I took it to mean that he didn't want to look at it.
      Four out of five of my friends/family who complain their "AC isn't as cold as it used to," or "It's blowing warm" either:

      1) Turn on their AC on a really hot day, and are impatient that it's not blowing cold right away - as it it only removing 25 degrees from the 100 F ambient inside the car. They put their hands on the vent expecting 50 degrees off the bat. It eventually gets colder the longer it runs, but they only remember that initial blast and complain about it.

      2) Somehow they (or another driver) moved the air source to "fresh" and have no idea when they did it, or that it has any effect on AC at all.

      If it's neither of those two I will check the compressor to see if if the clutch is cycling, then put some gauges on it to see what's happening. If it's under warranty I won't touch it.

      Good luck adrew. If it's making you miserable enough to make waiting around all day or driving out of your way worth it, find another dealership.

    12. I wait in line 4 hours for Pretzels on Pretzel Day Metallitubby's Avatar
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      07-09-2019 01:09 PM #11
      Quote Originally Posted by Pnuu View Post
      I personally hate diagnosing AC, so I feel your pain.
      I love it. It's one of the easiest systems on a vehicle to diagnose.

      Adam, did the issue happen all at once or did it get warmer slowly on the trip?
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      07-09-2019 01:21 PM #12
      Default TCL answer.. just hit up autzone and throw a can of freon in it.


      Actual answer... If this second shop is a reasonable temp in side then they should be able to get it inside run the AC in a more mild environment and test the output. If it is getting into the low 40s inside the shop then it is probably fine.

      If you are still skeptical they likely will not do it for free, but it might help you down the road, and that would be simply suck it down and recharge. They can at that time confirm what the charge level was and see if there was possibly a leak. If its supposed to be 350 grams and they pull out say 325-370 then it likely has no leak and you at least confirmed that. If it was low and no immediate leak could be detected they can at least put some dye in which you can have circulate on the rest of your trip, which should be fine with the new charge, and have it inspected by Toyota when you get home. Hopefully having done this before the warranty was up if it is done by the time you return allows for some goodwill if it is not a leak caused by road debris.


      Secondary, have you confirmed all engine fans are running and running at their proper speeds. Do you have any sort of scanner with you to confirm actual engine temps not the gauge, since most do not read actual temp. For example my AC is under performing right now, this car has 3 fans stock one belt driven (converted to electric) and 2 electric, one is specifically for the AC and only comes on high when engine calls for it the other is a low/high speed electric. That second low/high is not working when hot.. yeah a fan that is meant to cool the engine won't start when hot.. fun. The fan is shot but so is the fan module because it only sends out the voltage for the low speed operation not the high speed. So make sure your fans are all operating properly and on their correct speeds for a given temp/ac demand.

    14. Member adrew's Avatar
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      07-10-2019 12:07 PM #13
      Quote Originally Posted by @McMike View Post
      Four out of five of my friends/family who complain their "AC isn't as cold as it used to," or "It's blowing warm" either:

      1) Turn on their AC on a really hot day, and are impatient that it's not blowing cold right away - as it it only removing 25 degrees from the 100 F ambient inside the car. They put their hands on the vent expecting 50 degrees off the bat. It eventually gets colder the longer it runs, but they only remember that initial blast and complain about it.

      2) Somehow they (or another driver) moved the air source to "fresh" and have no idea when they did it, or that it has any effect on AC at all.

      If it's neither of those two I will check the compressor to see if if the clutch is cycling, then put some gauges on it to see what's happening. If it's under warranty I won't touch it.

      Good luck adrew. If it's making you miserable enough to make waiting around all day or driving out of your way worth it, find another dealership.
      I know how to get the most out of A/C living where it gets up to 110 and where I've seen interior temps of 150 after sitting in the parking lot at work all day. My little Yaris will blow 40-degree air after a few minutes in those conditions and will get down to the upper 30s when rolling. The cabin filter is new as well/not clogged.

      This car has always felt like it has American truck A/C (belts out plenty of cool air immediately and can keep it pleasant with low fan speeds) vs. now where it feels like first-gen Honda Fit A/C where you have to keep the fan cranked, it doesn't really work when parked and heatsoaked and doesn't really do much until you're rolling

      We stopped at an overlook in Utah when it was about 95 outside and I left the car on with the A/C on 62 and the fan at about 3/4 and it was cycling the compressor on/off every few seconds. It was cool-ish in the car but not cold inside by any means (which it can normally easily do in those conditions). I also get whiffs of wet air which it doesn't normally do.
      Improving the signal-to-noise ratio

    15. Member adrew's Avatar
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      07-10-2019 12:13 PM #14
      Quote Originally Posted by Metallitubby View Post
      I love it. It's one of the easiest systems on a vehicle to diagnose.

      Adam, did the issue happen all at once or did it get warmer slowly on the trip?
      That is a little hard to say but I think it was all at once. It doesn't seem to be getting any worse. The compressor is on/off every few seconds which is annoying and probably not that good for it.

      I first noticed it a few weeks ago when we came out to it in a parking lot and it didn't get freezing cold immediately like normal. But we have had a really mild spring/summer for Texas and have only been in the low 90s so I didn't notice the lack of capacity until we got out here and I noticed it was struggling.

      We took it through the Mojave a few years ago and it was able to easily get it uncomfortably cold on that trip, usually in 110 degree Dallas it will freeze you out as well.

      We are in Colorado now so there are a lot more Toyota dealers than in NM/UT -- hopefully I can find a big one that can squeeze us in in the next 600 miles.
      Improving the signal-to-noise ratio

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      07-10-2019 12:30 PM #15
      Quote Originally Posted by adrew View Post
      I also get whiffs of wet air which it doesn't normally do.
      Have you checked to see if the condensation drain is flowing?

      You likely won't be able to get to it to unclog it but you can at least peak under the car and make sure you see it dripping.

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      07-10-2019 12:34 PM #16
      Quote Originally Posted by adrew View Post
      The compressor is on/off every few seconds which is annoying and probably not that good for it.

      .
      Short cycling could be a few things, low refrigerant being one.

    18. 07-10-2019 01:27 PM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by chris86vw View Post
      Have you checked to see if the condensation drain is flowing?

      You likely won't be able to get to it to unclog it but you can at least peak under the car and make sure you see it dripping.

      Yes, I was thinking a nearly completely clogged condensation tube. It's possible that a spider decided to make it's web in there and
      the web is blocking off the water.

      If you let the car stand in one place with the AC on for about 5 minutes or so you should see a 1 foot water spot on the ground on pavement if it's in the shade.

      The short cycling is indicative of low refrigerant, hopefully the leak is very slow and the performance won't get any worse during the trip.
      What type of refrigerant does this 2017 Corolla use, I would figure r134a, which is easily available at any parts store along with a top off hose and gauge. I say buy a can of refrigerant and hose and add a few ounces, go buy a probe style digital thermometer at walmart and place it in the drivers side center vent. Check temp (should be in the mid or lower 40s) Make sure you replace the cap for the refill valve.

      Make sure you buy only refrigerant and NOT those all in one cans with refrigerant, oil, and "seal conditioners"...just plain straight refrigerant. This way when you add a bit the dealer has no evidence that you added any....
      Last edited by AC1DD; 07-10-2019 at 02:32 PM.

    19. Member GolfTango's Avatar
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      07-10-2019 02:26 PM #18
      Thought here, you say UT and CO, I wonder if altitude has something to do with this. IIRC, AC compressors behave differently at altitude.

    20. Member adrew's Avatar
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      07-10-2019 06:29 PM #19
      We just rolled in to the dealer in Durango (with about 500 miles left on the warranty) and they squeezed us in.

      Today it was worse since we were bopping around to lots of little sites and the car was sitting in the sun all day. It was about 90 outside and it was putting out slightly cool air.

      It does eventually cool the cabin down at highway speeds after about 30 minutes with it on full cold and the fan cranked, but normally running it that hard would have it too cold to be comfortable after about 10 minutes.
      Last edited by adrew; 07-10-2019 at 06:32 PM.
      Improving the signal-to-noise ratio

    21. 07-10-2019 09:19 PM #20
      Quote Originally Posted by adrew View Post
      We just rolled in to the dealer in Durango (with about 500 miles left on the warranty) and they squeezed us in.

      Today it was worse since we were bopping around to lots of little sites and the car was sitting in the sun all day. It was about 90 outside and it was putting out slightly cool air.

      It does eventually cool the cabin down at highway speeds after about 30 minutes with it on full cold and the fan cranked, but normally running it that hard would have it too cold to be comfortable after about 10 minutes.
      Sounds like a fairly sizable leak. I wonder if something punctured the condenser?

    22. Senior Member Iroczgirl's Avatar
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      07-10-2019 09:48 PM #21
      Quote Originally Posted by AC1DD View Post
      Sounds like a fairly sizable leak. I wonder if something punctured the condenser?
      Yeah that would be my guess.
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    23. Member adrew's Avatar
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      07-11-2019 12:42 AM #22
      Quote Originally Posted by Iroczgirl View Post
      Yeah that would be my guess.
      I looked it over pretty thoroughly and it doesn't have any dings aside from a few fins that are slightly bent from bugs.

      They squeezed us in and we were in and out of there in an hour-- it was a Toyota/Ford/Kia dealer and there was no traffic on the Toyota side while the Ford side was slammed. They said they couldn't find any leaks or damage but did an evac/charge and it was putting out 38-degree air for them there in the service drive when they tested it afterward. There was no charge, unlike the Mitsubishi dealer who charged me for the exact same issues when that car was newer than this one.

      It seems to be working fine now so my guess is that it was ever so slightly low and got charged back to spec, but I do have the paperwork now in case it has issues in a few months. I told the service adviser I would give them straight 10s on the survey as we were walking out and she was laughingly appreciative. I might send a letter to her boss because we showed up at 4:15 and they had us out of there by 5:30 or so.
      Improving the signal-to-noise ratio

    24. Member adrew's Avatar
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      07-11-2019 08:28 PM #23
      Update: it is better but still not right. With it 75 degrees outside it is pretty cool but not ice cold like normal.
      Improving the signal-to-noise ratio

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      07-11-2019 08:56 PM #24
      Did the last dealer perform a Refrigerant Gas Volume Check using Techstream? Are the results on the R.O.? It sounds like you might want to have a more thorough leak check done with a halogen leak detector. It could be insufficient refrigerant volume/pressure, bad cooler expansion valve, bad compressor, bad A/C amplifier or any combination of the aforementioned.


      If it's an intermittent problem it could be something like moisture in the system freezing at the expansion valve orifice, causing refrigerant to temporarily stop circulating. After the system stops and warms up again, ice melts and normal operation is temporarily restored. So that would mean the cooler dryer (integrated into condenser tank) is saturated with moisture, requiring replacement, and repeatedly evacuating air (and moisture) from the air conditioning system

      So yeah, get this sorted with whatever warranty you have left.

    26. Don't be me. Don't be a 'Rick' Cabin Pics's Avatar
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      07-11-2019 09:07 PM #25
      The important thing is that you got it documented. So now when you get home you can deal with it. Keep us updated, and have a safe rest of your trip.
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