Here is a quick question for you: How long is your new car warranty? You might think you know this, but don't be so sure! Check that little booklet that you probably have buried in your glove box.
I bought a Prius a few years ago and knew it had a fairly short warranty (3 years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first). Incidently, I debated about getting an extended warranty, but I figured that extended warranties are guaranteed money losers in the long run (a good topic for another post).
I had just passed over 60,000 miles (60,227 to be exact) and decided to take it in for service. I never go to the dealer for minor service (Oil change & tire rotation) as they are too expensive and not very convenient. So I've only taken it to the dealer once before (at about 30,000 miles).
I figured it was time to get it in for service again and I needed to take care of a recall issue anyway. Since I bought a Toyota, I really didn't expect any surprises at the 60K service, but I was wrong. Turns out my water pump had started to leak significantly and the drive belt (for the water pump) had cracks.
Since I was way past my 36,000 mile warranty I figured I was out of luck.
Well, the Prius (and other cars I'm sure) have multiple warranty periods. As you can see from the picture above, there is an additional 5 year / 60,000 mile power train warranty. There is also a 8 year / 100,000 mile Hybrid System warranty and even a 10 year / 150,0000 warranty on the battery. Lots of warranties with different coverage.
Turns out the water pump would have been covered by the power train warranty (but not the belt, according to the dealer). Had I brought my car in a week earlier, there would have been no question about doing a warranty repair. However, I had to do a bit of whining and arm twisting to get the repair covered under the dealer's "good will". I don't feel too bad about it considering I bought my car from them (as did my Mom). Kudos to my local dealer for doing the work out of warranty (even if they made me fight for it!).
Back to the water pump. In my opinion, a good water pump shouldn't leak after 60K miles, especially on a quality car such as a Toyota. No car is perfect, but I did find a few people complaining about this issue on other forums such as Prius Chat, or GreenHybrid. With a car as popular as the Prius, you are bound to find people complaining about just about anything. Nevertheless, had the dealer not done the repair, I probably would have written a letter to Toyota next!
Moral of the story: bring your car in each time before the warranty periods expire (either via miles or months) and avoid any hassle!
In my case, doing each major service (*before* 36,000 and *before* 60,000) is a really good idea! I'll plan my next major service before 100,000 miles (just in case they catch something with the hybrid system!).