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Those Little Lights
Everyone dreads a warning light popping up on the dashboard. In the Toyota Prius, the check engine light may come on due to a broken three-way coolant control valve. This problem appears more often in models over 104,000 miles. Prius coolant control valve replacement costs around $300 to $700, parts and labor.
If the Nissan Leaf, the check engine light or ABS light might appear due to a failed wheel speed sensor. Brake function may also become irregular, especially at low speeds. The speedometer and traction/stability control systems may shut down too. Leaf ABS wheel speed sensor replacement costs about $200 - $340, parts and labor. The labor charge alone is $65 to $85.
In both the Prius and Leaf, you may notice the AC doesn't blow cool air. The cause for this issue is typically different for each of these models.
In the Prius, it may be due to a failed power inverter coolant pump. In this case, the AC blows hot air only, and you may also see the check engine light come on. This occurs more commonly in models with over 94,500 miles. Repair costs are around $400 - $550.
If your Leaf AC malfunctions, a diagnostic check costs around $100. The problem may be identified as one of the following (associated costs in parenthesis):
- AC condenser ($615 to $750)
- AC compressor ($920 to $1020)
- AC evaporator ($1000 to $1250)
Both the Toyota Prius and the Nissan Leaf are high tech vehicles. Computer failures can stop these vehicles in their tracks. Sometimes the repairs are quite costly.
The Prius center display console may light up intermittently or not at all. This can cause problems with climate, navigation, and entertainment system functions. This failure occurs more frequently after 97,500 miles. Repair costs vary widely between $2,000 to $7,000.
Similarly, Nissan Leaf computer failures can also end up costing hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
Unlike combustion engines, the battery in both of these cars is also the drive power source. This makes repair costs high.
The Prius and Leaf batteries are meant to last for a long time but not forever. Still, damage to the battery as the result of a collision is more likely than spontaneous failure. You may notice excessive battery cooling fan noise as the system attempts to protect the battery. Other signs of a failing battery are poor acceleration or a lack of ability to hold a charge. A worn out Prius or Leaf battery requires replacement and can cost between $4,000 - $5,000
When You Take Your Car In
For any unexpected repair, if your car is under factory warranty, the costs should be covered. If not, be sure to ask if there has been a recall on the failed part.
Joe Campanella is the Executive Vice President, Business Development for CARCHEX, a leading provider of vehicle protection and vehicle inspection services. Joe received his B.S. in Engineering from the University of Maryland. He is an Advisory Board Member for Mothers Against Drunk Driving - Maryland, and is a licensed property & casualty insurance producer in the states of California and Maryland.