Welcome to PriusChat

We'd love to have you join our community and participate in the conversation! Sign up for FREE today.

Sign Up

BATTERY LIFE PROBLEMS WITH PRIUS PLUG-IN

Discussion in 'Toyota Prius Plug-in' started by Ronbo, Oct 28, 2013.

Social Buttons

  1. Ronbo

    Ronbo New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2013
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    My 2013 Prius Plug-in seems to be vulnerable to battery drain when sitting idle for too many weeks. We have had it checked out, have met with very competent Toyota technical team members, and the conclusion is that if the car sits idle for too many weeks, the small 12-volt battery will drain and the car will require a jump start.

    This seems to be an inherent problem, not widely known or discussed. Though the car may be switched off, there is a small (50 mil amp, I am told) drain on the 12-volt battery, in order to power the computer systems of both the basic car and the plug-in module. If that battery drains too low, the car will not start. I am told that a certain level of charge is needed to power relays and computers.

    It is also critical that the key be removed from the car or additional drain will happen. Obviously, all lights and systems must be turned off.

    This situation is clearly a problem for people who do not drive every day, who may be out of town for extended periods, who may have bought the car for second-home usage where it might be idle for long periods.

    We have had problems when the car sat idle for just 13 days. We live in New York City and just don't use a car every day. We park in a garage within our building with trusted attendants.

    However, a friend in LA who has exactly the same model and year, has survived dormant periods of 3-4 weeks.

    The dealership and the regional Toyota technical staff could not have been nicer nor more attentive to our problem. They thoroughly checked out the car and even replaced the 12-volt battery, though it showed no problems.

    This just seems to be a fundamental problem of this model, one that seems to have no solution, except for committed usage of the car. Do we mark the calendar and go drive the car around just to charge the battery? Environmentally incorrect and massively irritating, but necessary?

    The Toyota team did suggest a trickle charger be attached to the car to mitigate the problem and keep the 12-volt battery up to proper charge. This is a little tricky for us within our garage, but we will try it and see.

    I believe that Toyota should be more forthcoming and transparent about this problem, so that unwitting buyers/lessors do not commit to a car that doesn't match up with their lifestyle. I am not pleased at the discovery of this basic flaw in the car with about 2.5 years remaining on the lease.
  2. cooljw

    cooljw Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2005
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    40
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Advanced
    That should not happen.

    Since your battery has been replaced, have you had any problems starting it after letting it sit for 13 days?

    When I bought my PiP it had been sitting on the dealer lot for more than 6 months - and came with a dead 12v battery, which I promptly had replaced under warranty. It is possible you also got old stock and your 12v battery was on its last legs.
  3. Ronbo

    Ronbo New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2013
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base




    We only got the new battery three days ago and immediately went on a 400-mile trip, so the jury is out. We're letting it sit to see how it behaves with the new battery. Diagnostics on the old battery showed not problems, but they replaced it anyway.
  4. 3PriusMike

    3PriusMike Prius owner since 2000

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2009
    Messages:
    1,332
    Likes Received:
    558
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    You don't really need to drive the car around. Just power on for a few minutes. The larger traction battery will charge up the 12v battery.

    This is a very silly problem designed into all cars...and it is just embarassingly stupid that there is not a mechanical switch somewhere under the hood or in the trunk that can be activated if the 12v battery is too weak or dead such that the owner can get the car started.

    Of course Toyota could design in a larger 12v battery...or they could use lower power components that are always on. Or they could have a switch that disables some power draining components (a one-shot switch that has to be reset after the car is started again). But, the bottom line is that it is absolutely dumb that you can't start your car because the 12v battery is low, but there is a relatively giant battery right next to it with plenty of charge in it.

    I've said this before...Toyota needs to fix this archaic remnant from the past.

    Mike
  5. john1701a

    john1701a Prius Guru

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    Messages:
    7,959
    Likes Received:
    1,939
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Advanced
    Traditional vehicles have a similar problem. They too drain their 12-volt battery while sitting idle. The battery loses power all by itself as well. That's why battery-tenders are commonly used for extended parking.

    Parking attendants certainly aren't going to disable the smart-key system, so expect that drain to continue. Several weeks doesn't seem realistic for any type of vehicle. How long would you like it to last?
  6. zhenya

    zhenya Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2013
    Messages:
    611
    Likes Received:
    182
    Location:
    Ithaca, NY
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2013 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    50mA drain sounds reasonable although Toyota should have a spec. Not exactly sure what the 12v battery is rated at but probably a bit less than 40 amp-hours capacity which would mean you'd drain it to 1/2 in about 16 days at which point the car may not start.

    My job often has me leaving my car at an airport for weeks, so I'm interested in this. I have a solar trickle charger that connects through the cigarette lighter I've used on previous cars. Does anyone know if this would work on the PIP?
  7. xpcman

    xpcman Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2009
    Messages:
    1,140
    Likes Received:
    223
    Location:
    California - SF Bay area
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    II
    I don't think the cigarette lighter is activated when the car is off. So it would not charge any Prius.
  8. mrbigh

    mrbigh Prius Absolutum Dominium

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2005
    Messages:
    2,417
    Likes Received:
    364
    Location:
    N.Babylon, Long Island, NY
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base


    NO, the cigarette lighter does get power until and after ACC/PWR ON is on
  9. mrbigh

    mrbigh Prius Absolutum Dominium

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2005
    Messages:
    2,417
    Likes Received:
    364
    Location:
    N.Babylon, Long Island, NY
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base


    Disable the power draining feature of the"smart-key system" and the battery will last longer while idle in the parking garage. Also, turning on the vehicle for 5 minutes every month will replenish the necessary charge to the Auxiliary battery.
    DianneWhitmire likes this.
  10. SAronian

    SAronian Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2013
    Messages:
    153
    Likes Received:
    44
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Advanced
    My 2008 smart fortwo had the same problem. It initially shipped with a 42AH battery and Mercedes had a recall to install a 62AH battery. The issue only occurred on cars with a full complement of options.

    I bought one of these - Save A Battery - and it has an easy quick-connect system making the process very easy.
  11. DianneWhitmire

    DianneWhitmire High PRIUStess

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2007
    Messages:
    3,622
    Likes Received:
    845
    Location:
    Laguna Niguel, CA
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    I agree that disabling the Smart Entry when you plan to leave it for long periods of time is best. Have the service folks show you how to do that - it's actually pretty easy.
  12. 3PriusMike

    3PriusMike Prius owner since 2000

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2009
    Messages:
    1,332
    Likes Received:
    558
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base


    And your point is???

    My point is that it is incredibly dumb that you have a dead battery and can't start the car, yet you have a big battery with enough charge in it to start 100 cars. Forget traditional cars. They have one 12v battery and when it is dead you are out of luck (actually you used to be able to push start most of them). Hybrids, PHEVs and EVs all (I assume) have this same "this is the way we've always done it" mentality with repect to the 12v battery is the only way to start the car.

    Note that I am not mad or upset by this at all. Having owned a 2001, 2004, 2010 and 2012 PIP I am well aware of how they work. I've had a dead 12v battery in two of them...2004 after 8+ years the 12v battery went dead (while at home) and needed a jump and a new battery...no big deal. And in my PIP I went away for ~10 days and I think I left the interior light on...again no big deal, I just jumped it myself at home. (In 25 years before that I probably had a dead 12v battery in a traditional car 5-10 times).

    My point is that is doesn't have to be like this. If someone like Steve Jobs was managing the design team I doubt he would allow such a silly "that's the way its always been" mentality to allow this design limitation to continue.

    Oh...one more point. Traditional cars 20 - 30 years ago didn't have smart keys and other things draining your battery all the time.

    Mike
    Jeff N, Richard Hanson and zhenya like this.
  13. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    Messages:
    19,903
    Likes Received:
    3,217
    Location:
    boston
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    i have left all 3 of my pri for up to 6 weeks in winter, with no trouble. i think a solid battery will last quite awhile. but the prius battery is smaller than most and won't last as long as others. to the o/p, this problem is widely known here, and has been discussed ad nauseum. you can also purchase an optima yellow top battery which will last longer, and carry a battery powered charger for emergencies.
    giora likes this.
  14. usbseawolf2000

    usbseawolf2000 HSD PhD

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2004
    Messages:
    12,909
    Likes Received:
    2,329
    Location:
    Fort Lee, NJ
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    Title is misleading. Better to add 12V.
    Tracksyde and wjtracy like this.
  15. iluvmacs

    iluvmacs Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    190
    Likes Received:
    38
    Location:
    Madison, WI, USA
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    When I bought my Leaf almost 2 years ago, my (then) 2006 Prius started needing jump starts when we actually needed to drive it every few weeks :rolleyes:. I put a 12V tender on it and was very happy with that solution. I haven't yet installed it on the PiP I got last month, but we drive the "second car" (the Prius) more in the colder months when the bikes get put away.

    You said a tender wasn't a great option in your garage. How do you charge your PiP?
  16. SJ PiP

    SJ PiP Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2012
    Messages:
    190
    Likes Received:
    35
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Advanced
    similar problem on 06 HiHy with 12V battery draining and unable to start. went away after dealer put in a new 12V..
  17. jfschultz

    jfschultz Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2004
    Messages:
    520
    Likes Received:
    43
    Location:
    Germantown, TN
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2013 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    Every car has some battery drain. There's the clock and key fob receiver. The Prius has a small auxiliary battery, so it will go dead sooner than the big battery in other cars. As I recall there was a recommendation back in the early gen II days to remove a particular fuse for long term storage. Would that be the case now?


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
  18. markabele

    markabele Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    3,280
    Likes Received:
    673
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2013 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    Mods....can you please change the title to include 12V. This title is misleading and could be taken the wrong way by people that don't actually read the thread.
  19. zhenya

    zhenya Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2013
    Messages:
    611
    Likes Received:
    182
    Location:
    Ithaca, NY
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2013 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    Anyone have the spec for the OEM 12v battery in amp-hours? Even the Optima Yellow top recommended above is only 38Ah which is on the small side.
  20. chesleyn

    chesleyn Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    595
    Likes Received:
    149
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    Common issue on all Prius'. Don't park the car for months on end or it won't start.
Similar Threads: BATTERY LIFE
Forum Title Date
Other Cars Hyundai offers Lifetime battery warranty May 27, 2014
Prius v Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting Will low mileage effect battery life? Feb 8, 2014
Gen III 2010+ Prius Main Forum Battery life? Jan 18, 2014
Gen III 2010+ Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubles Prius 2012 Battery Life - when parked Nov 3, 2013
Gen II Prius Main Forum GEN. II What is the average LIFESPAN of the HYBRiD battery before it dies? Oct 2, 2013