A Free Inspection That Wasted Time and Money

I made an appointment with Priority Toyota Springfield last Friday at noon for an inspection on our 2018 Toyota Sienna SE. The service rep told me it would take 5 hours. He advised me to come early in the morning without making an appointment. I took his advice.

I woke up early this morning, packed my laptop to work remotely, and headed to the Priority Toyota Springfield. I arrived 10 minutes before 7:00 am, which was its opening time, and I was the first one in line. The inspection still took 3 hours to complete.

I was taking advantage of the free inspection, which was part of the deal for purchasing a car at Priority, but the wait wasn’t worth it. I should have just taken it to a gas station. It would cost me $20, but the waiting time would have been shorter.

While waiting, the inspector at the dealer informed me that the 2 front side marker light bulbs were out. Each bulb cost $3.26. The labor for screwing in two bulbs, which took 5 minutes, cost $70. These costs are just insane. I could have replaced the bulbs myself. Even with a free inspection, they still got me.

Next time, I will check all the lights first before taking my car to be inspected. Here’s the complete checklist:

  • Brakes
  • Headlights
  • Signal lights
  • Other lights
  • Steering
  • Suspension
  • Exhaust system
  • Tires
  • Hood latch
  • Emission control
  • Windshield
  • Windshield wipers
  • Other glass
  • Mirror
  • Doors
  • Seats
  • Seat belts
  • Floor pan
  • Defroster
  • Horn

Claiming the Offer

I am sending in the documents and receipt to Toyota Brand Engagement Center. I also wrote the following note:

Dear N,

Thank you for responding to my 2018 Toyota Sienna’s airbag issue back in March, 2024. Unfortunately, the airbag light went on again in June (Memorial Weekend), which was just two months after it was fixed.

I took our Sienna back to Ourisman Fairfax Toyota again. As you can see in the documents and receipt, the new cost to fix the issue the second time was $3,483.06.

I am providing you with all the paperworks to show that I have met your “offer of $750.00 towards future service(s), using genuine Toyota parts at an authorized Toyota dealership.”

I am looking forward to hearing back from you.

Current owner of two Toyota Siennas
Donny Truong

Let’s hope Toyota will keep its words.

New Tires for 2018 Toyota Sienna SE

We will be driving over 10 hours tomorrow to Montreal Quebec, Canada tomorrow; therefore, I decided to replace all four tires. The previous tires, Michelin Primacy Tour A/S, were replaced only two years ago at Costco and yet they were already badly worn out. I only used Michelin’s tires in the past, but I was disappointed with the previous tires.

I decided to try something new: Firestone Destination LE3 BL 235/50R19 99H 70,000 Mile. Since we have the lifetime alignment with Firestone Auto Care, it saved us to go with them. Our minivan is about 73,000 miles now so we’ll see how they’ll perform.

I also bought insurance just in case. The total was $1,100. Damn!

2018 Toyota Sienna SE Side Door Mystery is Solved

After 29 days at the dealership, our 2018 Toyota Sienna SE is back to us—just in time for our vacation to Canada. Ourisman Fairfax Toyota has exceeded its customer service. Ourisman loaned me a car all the 29 days while my minivan sitting in their shop.

It was an unforeseeable accident. The Deet chemical in the Repel Insect Repellen melted the rubber, not plastic. It took the technician two weeks to figured out. The final cost was almost $3,500. I am so glad that Connect insurance covered the cost. I just paid the deductible.

Let’s hope that everything will be good in the next few weeks.

Deet is the Root Cause of the Melting Wires

Our 2018 Toyota Sienna LE has been residing at Ourisman Fairfax Toyota since the morning after Memorial Day, which has been almost four weeks already. I took the car back to the dealer just two months after dropping $1,245 to fix the airbag warning light issue. The issue occurred again.

Two weeks after the drop-off, an Ourisman Fairfax Toyota technician reported that there were chemical spills that melted the wire-cover plastic and the plastic inside of the door panel. The chemical was from a bug spray.

A few months ago, a bottle of Repel Insect Repellent was accidentally spilt into the passenger front-side door. The Deet in the chemical melted plastics. I filed an auto claim to our American Family Connect Property and Casualty Insurance Company. Last Tuesday, the insurance company sent an independent appraiser to the dealer to assess the issue. They are still investigating to find out if this is a wear-and-tear issue or an accidental issue, which would be covered under the comprehensive policy.

I hope they will make the decision soon. If they decline the coverage, I will have to appeal. There’s no way I am going to drop another $3,500 to fix it. At this point, I just don’t know what to do anymore. I just have to wait patiently for the insurance company.

Even though my car is at the dealer, Ourisman Fairfax Toyota has loaned me a car to get around. Mad props to them.

Airbag Issue Again

Over the Memorial weekend, the airbag warning light in our 2018 Toyota Sienna LE came on again. We dropped $1,245 just two months ago to get it fixed.

On Tuesday early morning, the next day after the Memorial holiday, I brought our minivan back to Ourisman Toyota to have it checked out. Later on that day, the service rep told me the wire burned again. They were looking into the root cause of the issue.

Today, 8 days later, I still have not heard back from him. My wife told me to call him to find out the progress. I hadn’t even bothered to call. As long as they can fix the problem without anymore charges, I am in no rush. Besides, he had given me a loaner. It’s a smaller car, but we still have our 2011 Toyota Sienna 2011.

I hate dealing with car issues. They are such a pain. I have been overstressed with cars, HVAC, and other money-spending issues. Money could solve everything, but we are not rich, unfortunately. I just have to wait patiently to see what thee heck is going on.

Stressing Over Spending

A handyman who did a shitty job on hooking up the bathroom-fan pipe charged $150. An HVAC technician inspected the HVAC systems charged $235. A Toyota dealer charged $1,245 to fix an airbag issue. A CMS maker charged almost $200,000 to migrate a website. Meanwhile, I make jack shit.

From fixing shit around the house and fixing the cars to paying for the kids’ tutor, piano lessons, and other activities, we spent money like it is going to rot. We might need to spend $15,000 on the new HVAC systems. The cars give me so much damn headache, but I can’t get rid of them. The house is deteriorating. My wife has always wanted to remodel the kitchen, but I just don’t justify dropping $30,000 to $50,000. Our car has been at the dealer since last Tuesday. I hope they will not charge us for what they didn’t do correctly the first time. We already dropped $1,245.

Just thinking about all this shit is stressing me the fuck out. My wife said to me, “Why are you always tired?” Because I have to deal with all of this shit so she doesn’t have to. I don’t even get the support from the person closest to me.

HVAC Inspection

I made an arrangement with Mr. Điệp Trần to service our HVAC unit after he fixed the outside unit last November. Instead he inspected the units and pumped about 2 pounds of refrigerants. He charged me $235.

Our Trane systems are 16 years old. The inside unit is getting moldy. He recommends replacing both units and add UV lights to prevent mold. We’re looking at $15,000. Damn!

I am not sure if we should go ahead and drop $15,000 for a peace of mind or just ride the current systems until they die out. My wife and I still have some time to think about it.

Changing Cabin Air Filters

Last weekend I asked Đạo and Đán to help me clean up our cars. Đạo took the vacuum and went to work. Đán, on the other hand, kept watching Youtube instead of wiping down the interior. He told me he wanted to change the cabin air filters. I told him I would let him do it but I needed to order the filters first before he opened up the glove compartment. The glove compartment in the 2011 Toyota Sienna is falling apart anyway so I didn’t mind letting him give it a shot.

I order the filters on Amazon so he could change both cars. I am glad he did because the filter in the 2011 Toyota Sienna was so dirty. I am not sure if the dealer ever changed it when I took the car in for oil change. The 2018 still looked clean, but he changed it out anyway.

I am so happy when the kids wanted to do these kind of things instead of sitting in front of their screens.

Replacing a Pull-Chain Switch

As I was getting ready for work this morning, I hit the light switch on the ceiling fan and broke the chain. After work, I opened up the canopy and tried to remove the broken chain. I messed up the whole circuit trying to put it back together. I didn’t want to waste any time so I went to Home Depot to find a replacement.

I asked one of the associates to help me find the part and he immediate told me it was only available online even though the website said at least 5 items were in store. I had to find it myself and I did.

I went home, installed the new part, and voila! It worked. I wasted almost 2 hours on this tiny job. It was a good learning experience. I will order more parts for other ceiling fans too.

Another day, another DIY. The 3 Amp Single-Pole Single Circuit Pull-Chain Switch cost $5.