Our beloved Priuses are part of the massive recall for something that probably won’t affect me because I don’t haul heavy things and I don’t drive fast. I understand there’s another recall coming. Between these oil changes, tire rotations, other preventive maintenance, and now recalls, I’m not sure who’s boss – the cars or us.
But my biggest concern happened recently, and at first it seemed innocuous but now it seems important. While driving home on a highway with a 65 mph speed limit, I often find myself surprised at the cars whizzing by me and even more surprised to find I’m driving below 60. So I’m now in the habit of using cruise control. Yes, you heard right. I use cruise control to keep my speed up, not keep it down. So the other day when I pushed the button to engage my CC I found it curious that my speed was not maintained but rather gradually creeping lower. My CC wasn’t working. And after 20 tries it still wasn’t working. Cursing at my bad luck, I drove home and then promptly put a reminder on my icebox to tell the service techs at my upcoming appointment that the CC was broken. But then the next day it was working. I thought of it as a “reboot” of the car’s computer when I turned it off. Isn’t that what they say about your computer misbehaving? Reboot it by turning it off and then on again.
So you guessed it, a week later it wasn’t working again, but this time I wasn’t about to forget, and yesterday I left explicit instructions with the tech to look into it.
Surprise!!!!! They couldn’t find anything wrong. How did I know this when I dropped the car off? How did I know exactly what they would say, that they could not “replicate” the problem, and therefore couldn’t fix it? But I was ready. My friend and I were having lunch and killing time while waiting for my car and I discussed just what I’d say when faced with their predictable nonchalance.
“When a patient comes to me and tells me he had chest pain last night, but he’s pain free now, I don’t send him home. I look for the problem. I run tests. I investigate potential causes.” Actually I’m paraphrasing, but I knew how the tech would respond. “Well,” the tech went on to say, “people have health insurance, and things like that can be life threatening.” Then I said something about CC issues also being life threatening, and I had car insurance called a “warranty,” and it wasn’t free but rather built into the price of the car, so I was paying for it and I wanted my car fixed. This was said with my innate New York accent which carries both the element of surprise and a threatening tone.
But it wasn’t really until I got my husband on the phone, who lives out of town, that all this rancor changed to guy talk and now I’m driving a new Corolla while they do an MRI or chest X-ray or blood work on my car and fix it completely so that I can stop thinking about all the Internet horror stories I read about Toyota’s very long and well-documented problems with their cruise controls. Speed control was second only to electrical problems since the rollout of the first Prius.
My husband says it’s a numbers game. He feels because it’s an intermittent problem they’ll just send you on your way and wait until you return with a more serious issue (like an accident). And if this sounds implausible and callous, you need to read what GM is going through now, and how they got there and who died in the process. I have no intention of being a statistic. A shrew, perhaps, but not a statistic.