Casey bought a 2007 Toyota Camry 3 years ago from the dealership. At the time she added the GPS navigation package which included an upgraded stereo, satellite radio, and GPS touchscreen navigation. This upgrade was not cheap by any means, adding $2,000 to the price of the vehicle. Now this unit made by Denso is very nice. The touchscreen works great and the built-in navigation is extremely convenient to always have in the car (versus putting up and taking down a hand-held GPS each time you get into the car).
Unfortunately a mere months after the 3 year warranty expired on the car, the touchscreen display went out. All the functionality appeared to work, but the display was so dim that you could only tell it was on by shining a flashlight at it. So to the dealer it went for a repair estimate. The Toyota dealer decided that it could not be repaired and should be replaced. Cost to replace a radio unit that cost $2,000 3 years ago…..$3,000 dollars. So apparently in 3 years, the price of this technology went up 50%. The dealer was supposed to charge labor for looking at it but the rep was so shocked himself by the price that he waived the fee. Pretty bad when their own service reps can’t believe the costs of their own parts.
As Philip Greenspun has lamented multiple times (here, here, and here), this is a good reason the car manufacturers deserve to go under: selling a $200 device for $2,0000, not to mention the outrageous cost of navigation updates (~$350). It was extremely depressing to hear that this was the recommended outcome from the dealership on a device they sell. I could not stomach this recommendation since it seemed that everything worked on the device except for the display. Pity to toss all those fancy electronics because of a failing LCD screen. After copious searching on the internet for others with similar problems and suggestions for repair, I came across a recommendation on a Toyota Tundra forum for a company out of California that repairs these units.
The company is Hi-Tech Electronic Services out of Van Nuys, CA. I contacted them via e-mail and described the problem. They said they could fix it and would give a free official estimate once they received the unit (though the gave me a rough estimate via e-mail). I found some instructions online about removing the radio (one of the easiest cars I’ve ever seen for removing a radio I must add), and $30 of UPS shipping later they had it at their shop.
They examined the unit, repaired the 3 parts that had gone bad, and shipped it back all within a week for $585 total including return shipping. So a new replacement unit is $3,000 from Toyota, repair of existing unit, $585. A much, much better deal. They only offer a 90 day warranty on their repairs, but I suppose that is to be expected with electronic repairs in general. Overall a wonderful experience. I reinstalled the unit into the car and it has been working great ever since.
I highly recommend checking this company out if you have any kind of in-dash navigation unit that needs repair. And when buying a new car, I highly recommend you do not purchase the in-dash navigation unit. It is convenient, but the cost is way too high considering the advances in technology and that the dealers do not stand behind their product enough to warrant that risk/reward.