Last post on Jul 06, 2013 at 3:20 AM
You are in the Toyota 4Runner
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Toyota 4Runner, SUV
#9071 of 11429 My Toyota dealer's service...
Dec 31, 2003 (4:39 pm)
After recently having innumerable bad experiences with a 2002 Ford Explorer, as well as innumerable problems with dishonest and miserable Ford service shops, I gained a better appreciation for just how extensively one's ownership experience is affected by the overall quality, integrity, and level of customer care provided by a given dealership, regardless of the name brand of the vehicle.
In my humble opinion, I feel it may be unwise to make an initial selection of a dealership based primarily on who's offering the lowest purchase price. There's no free lunch in the real world, and if a given dealership is offering a rock-bottom price on a vehicle such as the new 4Runner, one really ought to wonder about where and how they might be creating profits and reducing overhead elsewhere in the operation of their dealership business. Might the deal be too good to be true once they have our money? In the long run, is such a "dealing" dealership really doing us any big favors by offering a rock-bottom purchase price, if their subsequent "AFTER-THE-SALE" level of service and customer care proves to be wretched, shoddy, deceitful, unsatisfactory, careless, etc.? And among those 4Runner's that are being sold at rock-bottom prices, just how much does the buyer really know about the detailed history of those vehicles since they've left the factory?
Through previous experiences with Honda, Chevy, Ford, and now Toyota, I have finally learned that the relationship between the customer and a given dealership may often set the tone for the entire ownership experience. In my opinion, the crucial aspects of a great ownership experience have little to do with how many wet kisses and seductively great deals we might be wowed by at the time the deal is closed. Rather, it's the AFTER-THE-SALE level of integrity, customer care, and professionalism of a given dealership that's most important in the long run.
With the above thoughts in mind, in early 9/03 I decided to trade my Explorer (at a financial loss due to excessive depreciation) in order to buy a new 4Runner. After doing some research, I decided to do business with Toyota Direct (Ohio) not only because of their excellent word-of-mouth" reputation and the integrity of a particular salesperson I was referred to, but also because Toyota Direct has earned Toyota's coveted "Presidential Award".
I'll freely admit that I purchased my 2003 4Runner Limited from Toyota Direct at not much less than the MSRP on the window sticker, but they were very generous on the trade-in of my 2002 Explorer. Since then, my 2003 4runner Ltd. has been to Toyota Direct's service shop about 5-6 times for both routine maint. and warranty issues (e.g., squeaks, noises) and so far their service dept. has ROUTINELY given me a fantastic level of service and attention.
Toyota Direct's shop is clean, well-run, efficient, and very professional. Thus far, I've found their service managers, service advisors, and service technicians to be very enthusiastic, courteous, professional, responsive, helpful, and reasonable. And when I want to speak with the service manager, I typically either reach him directly by phone, or get a call-back the same day. When I have questions and ask for honest opinions, I feel strongly that I get straight and honest answers. For example, while their "service menu" offers and suggests a "premium package" that includes Krex additive products, their service advisors have been frank with me in saying that so long as I regularly change the oil, etc., most such additives probably aren't necessary, and they've NEVER verbally mentioned or tried to sell me these products!
And, when I receive my truck from this service shop, it has always been as clean as a pin, which is how I keep my 4Runner in general. In addition, when I've had concerns or when my truck has been shopped, I've been highly appreciative of the regular and timely phone calls I've received from both the service mgr. and his various service advisors and "team leaders". These professionals have not only kept me informed as their diagnostics have unfolded, but they've also always carefully explained their impressions and recommendations, and then requested my authorization to proceed. On several occasions they've consulted by phone with Toyota field engineers in California, as well as picking the brains of seasoned technicians at their sister dealership in Cincinatti. The service mgr. has either rode or driven with me on several occasions, and has directly acknowledged a given problem, noise, complaint, etc., so that there's been no disagreement as to what might need to be fixed or addressed. And I'll say again that thus far, whenever I've wanted to speak with either the service mgr., team leader, or the technician who has worked on my 4Runner, I typically either get through directly or I get a timely call back.
Finally, I want to mention that whenever I've talked with these professionals at Toyota Direct's service shop, I've noticed how they all seem to be so genuinely enthusiastic, "in love" with, prideful of, and eager to "talk shop" about the new 4Runner. These Toyota Direct service men and women love this new SUV, and in fact one of their team leaders owns a 2003 V8 Sport, and I've found his advice and opinions to be extremely helpful and reassuring.
And before I close this long-winded(!) opinion, let me also say that Toyota Direct has been EXTREMELY generous whenever I need a loaner vehicle while my truck is shopped, and they will try to give me either a Sequoia or 4Runner if possible. They treat me like royalty, and I treat them the same! I feel much trust, affection, and appreciation for these hard-working professionals, and I don't hesitate to express those feelings to them. If you feel I was a sucker for paying a higher purchase price for my 4Runner, I disagree. Indeed, my higher initial purchase price seems to be paying back ongoing dividends in the form of the EXEMPLARY, "PRESIDENTIAL" SERVICE I've so far received from Toyota Direct, and with my Toyota Platinum extended warranty, I expect this level of service and good working RELATIONSHIP to continue for a long time. And once you find a dealership/service center that you like, treat them well; show respect and appreciation for their expertise and opinions; their get to know them on a first-name basis, and praise and thank them often, since we're all human.
So before anyone else might try to categorically bash and trash most any Toyota dealership and paint most of them with the same brush, know that so far, my dealership has thus far been TOP FLIGHT, and in my opinion they've been the equivalent of a Mayo Cinic for my vehicle.
Dec 31, 2003 (5:36 pm)
It looks like you have achieved the bottom line: satisfaction. You were willing to pay more for the vehicle as long as you received the service and attention you wanted.
However, my guess is that no matter what you paid for the vehicle, you would have received the same great service. Also, a good idea may be to purchase the vehicle elsewhere at a lower price and go to your dealership for the service!
I have returned to the dealership once since my purchase and the service was great. I paid somewhere around $800 over the invoice for my 4runner (a pretty good deal, though nothing compared to the recent '03 deals!). Just my thoughts...
#9073 of 11429 By the way...
Dec 31, 2003 (5:38 pm)
Happy new year everyone! We have so many things to be thankful for in this great country of ours, the least of which is owning such a fantastic truck!
#9074 of 11429 Stability & traction control experiments
Dec 31, 2003 (9:44 pm)
Last night we got just the right kind of slick snow and ice for experimenting on a very low traction surface, so I went out shortly after midnight on local streets and a couple of big parking lots to see what I could learn. I thought I'd share my experiences here and see how they compare with those of others. First (in case you don't want to read the detail) I thought I'd list the main conclusions I came to:
1. The system is very effective, and doesn't require that the user do anything different in typical situations.
2. Traction is much better (more than twice as good) in 4WD, so if you've got a V6 (with its multimode system) I recommend you switch to 4WD at your first opportunity or just leave it there any time things might get slick.
3. Traction enhancements, especially 4WD and traction control, don't change the ultimate adhesion limits for turning and braking. Those limits on the "friction circle" remain, so technology can actually allow you to get to hazardous speeds easier/quicker than before.
And now more detail on my experiences and some speculation on the hows and whys. First, I should note that I was alone in the vehicle with no cargo, so the rear end was light. I've got a V6 so I experimented in both 2WD and 4WD modes. I was running in just a couple of inches of snow near the freezing point, and the snow would pack immediately into ice when driven on (or especially when spun on) so conditions were very slick but not what I would call extremely slick.
I started out in 2WD. Even on level streets or slight slopes it was easy to get traction control (TC) and skid control (SC) working, whether accelerating from a stop or just speeding up, and whether going straight or turning. The main clue that the system is working is the noise from the pump recharging the pressure accumulator (sounds like a chattering sound or the sound of a chain slipping on loose sprockets) and the light in the instrument cluster. The pump noise often persists for a few seconds after the system has stopped acting. Other clues are the dull thunks coming from the brakes stopping or starting wheel rotation and the feel of the system doing something unusual like braking only one side to straighten you out. If you pay attention you can also feel the dethrottling.
In general I don't think traction was very good in 2WD with no weight in back. I think the Bridgestone Duelers are ok in these conditions; no better and no worse. Most folks arenít very happy with the Dunlops that come on some 4Runners, and you'll get all kinds of opinions on the Michelins. I'd recommend dedicated snow tires if you're really serious about traction and you want to move beyond stock. Mostly, I'd recommend avoiding 2WD in slick conditions, especially with no weight in back. Traction in 4WD was very good!
Accelerating is pretty much free of drama. TC keeps wheelspin to a minimum with braking and dethrottling, probably to assist in avoiding spins and sideways sliding. Those are both behaviors that can easily result in property damage and, worst of all, sliding into oncoming traffic. On a hill that's too steep for the amount of traction you have (whether in 2WD or 4WD) and where there is some sidehill component, the system will limit wheelspin to keep you from slipping sideways due to the wheelspin. You'll actually just come to an uphill stop, with the engine revving only a little and the wheels barely turning, with all the brakes on. No drama, no fun, but also minimum danger.
The system pays attention to where you're pointing the steering wheel and compares it to what the accelerometer(s) say the vehicle is actually doing. This is quite effective, and is also one way you can get the system to lose control. It controls the throttle and the brakes but not the steering, so you can use the steering in a big way while accelerating or braking, to do things SC can't correct. It seems that when the system finds a big difference between what you want and what it can do, it beeps at you to say it has little or no control of the situation. I'm not sure, but the beeping may have also coincided with the most dramatic dethrottling.
The needs of SC may explain why TC is so conservative as far as allowed wheelspin is concerned. SC is primarily achieved by braking one wheel or one side, but when you are substantially sideways that isn't effective. So SC has a high priority on keeping you from getting sideways, unless you turn the steering wheel a bunch. The same goes for acceleration uphill. Limiting wheelspin also limits the sideways skittering that can cause you to slide sideways off the road or into a curb or parked car.
Misc. observations: TC and SC and ABS work in reverse, too. That might be a big help in some situations. Braking was as free of drama as acceleration, both in forward and reverse gears. Just tromp the pedal and steer. The (center) differential lock button turns off TC and SC, giving you the chance to do some spinning. It has no effect in 2WD though. The 4Runner feels just a little more stiff-legged (or very slightly "bound up") in 4WD, same on slick roads as on dry. Others have commented on this and I've felt it too, though the sensation is pretty slight.
After a fair amount of TC, SC, and ABS action I opened the hood a couple of times to see if the pump/actuator, valve body, or accumulator got warm. As far as I can tell, they didn't.
Sorry about the long post. I'd appreciate hearing about the experiences or speculation of others.
#9075 of 11429 Excellent observations...
Dec 31, 2003 (10:47 pm)
Thanks. Locking the center diff turns OFF VSC and dethrottling function, but it does NOT turn off traction control. Traction control is ALWAYS on...on rear axle (in 2wd mode) or on both axles (in 4wd mode).
#9076 of 11429 Weird computer behavior - 03 Sport
Jan 01, 2004 (12:09 pm)
For the 2nd time in a month, yesterday my radio (JBL w/ 10 speakers) was unresponsive. I start the truck and the radio functions/plays, but all the controls are inoperative. The volume is stuck on whatever level it was on when I last turned the ignition off; am/fm/disc/tape are all ignoring the press of their buttons; and the forward/backward channel selectors are also dead.
However, turning the ignition off and on resets the controls.
As I said, this is the 2nd time this occured in a month.
Another abnormality occurred about 3 weeks ago ... on my way to work, I have to descend a relatively steep hill that banks sharply to the right and then changes into an on-ramp for a bridge. When there is heavy traffic, I tend to shift down to 3rd rather that pressing the brake all the way down. Once I'm on the bridge ramp, I begin to accelerate and pop the gear back in "D". On this day, however, the gear refused to come out of 3rd! I don't mean the stick shift wouldn't move, I mean the gears wouldn't. I noticed that the RPM's were getting quite high and were up around 4000. Typically it's around 2-2.5. I double checked to ensure I was out of 3rd, and indeed it was in D. In an attempt to 'reset' the problem, I geared down into 3rd again and back to D. No change! Still stuck in 3rd!
I took the next exit and turned off the ignition (I figured that might help after the first radio incident) and as I got back on the highway, it was fine and remains fine to this day.
When I got into the office, I called my dealer to explain about the gear problem and told them of the radio incident. They asked if the service engine light came on. No, I replied. Being in the computer field for +20 years, I knew what they would say ... it's like looking for needle in a hay stack.
I want to install an aftermarket head unit and security system, but I'm worried that any future issues will be blamed on the non-Toyota hardware.
The dealer offered to hook up their computer to search for a problem, but I was told that unless the service engine light came on there would be no record of any problems.
Has anyone experienced anything like this with their 03/04 4Runner? Mine is a V8 Sport with no aftermarket accessories installed (yet). What would you do? Suggestions?
Jan 01, 2004 (12:10 pm)
Thank you for taking the time to post your observations. One of your comments caught my eye: "The 4Runner feels just a little more stiff-legged (or very slightly 'bound up') in 4WD, same on slick roads as on dry. Others have commented on this and I've felt it too, though the sensation is pretty slight."
I drive an AWD 4Runner, and in one of my previous postings I questioned whether or not the 4WD-High mode of the 4WD 4Runner should be selected only when the drive wheels are able to easily slip, such as on snow, ice, sand, mud, rain-soaked roads, etc. I believe it may have been Terrafirma who responded by saying that
no, the 4WD 4Runner can be driven in its 4WD-High mode on dry pavement, without any worries related to binding-up, tire scrubbing, etc. But, your above quoted comments would seem to suggest that there is indeed some noticeable "bind-up" when you drive your 4WD 4Runner in 4WD-High mode on dry pavement.
So my question is, Corancher, do you routinely operate your 4WD 4Runner in 4WD-High mode even when driving on dry pavement? Thanks!
Jan 01, 2004 (1:55 pm)
I'm no expert by any stretch, but in my opinion, your description of the problems your vehicle has displayed with regard to the transmission and high RPMs incident should have been viewed by your dealer's service advisor as being worrisome and alarming. I think your vehicle is potentially unsafe until proven otherwise.
Even though you saw no warning lights, I think they (and you!) should have immediately insisted on bringing your vehicle in for a careful inspection, including computer diagnostics. Aside from the obvious safety concerns here, another good reason for immediately insisting on a careful inspection and diagnostic work-up would be to begin clearly establishing a WELL DOCUMENTED HISTORY regarding these complaints, particularly with the regard to the tranny and high RPMs complaints. As things now stand, I would doubt whether your dealer created ANY paper or computer-based documentation regarding your mere PHONE conversation with them regarding your worrisome complaints. Should your vehicle's electrical or other critical systems catastrophically fail at some point in the near future, do you currently have any hard evidence and clear documentation that you notified and discussed your complaints with a service advisor or manager in a timely manner? Document, document, document!
Be safe. I wish you all the best, and hope your vehicle's problems are soon corrected.
Jan 01, 2004 (2:32 pm)
Thanks for your views. I had planned on taking it in asap as it's more than a coincidence now.