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VSC warning light

Discussion in 'Gen II Prius Technical Discussion' started by alsleepr, Jun 18, 2012.

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  1. alsleepr

    alsleepr New Member

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    After 10 minutes running errands in stop and go traffic, I noticed the VSC warning light. It was a hot and humid day (mid-80's). Made it home and was unable to open my garage door with the mirror that is equipped with an automated door opener. I turned the car off so I could open the garage, and when I tried to start my car again using my smart key, it would not start. I put the key in the key slot and was able to start the car, but the smart key, radio, windows and automatic door lock would not work. Mileage is just under 25K.

    Took the car in to the dealer. They changed an overhead fuse that they said was "blown" and did the 25K service check. The diagnostics showed no error codes. After 2.5 hrs there, they gave me the car...no charge. I drove it about 1.5 miles and stopped for 30 minutes to run an errand. Got back in the car, and again...would not start with the smart key, no radio, would not lock and the VSC was again on.

    The dealer has had the car all day. They called to ask if I used the bluetooth capability, possibly causing the fuse to blow again. I told them that I have been unable to use it for about one year, and have not used it. They seem to have no clue as to the issue.

    I need to use this dealership, as I purchased a Toyota Platinum Reward Package, but this is the second time that I have taken the car with a problem unresolved. The service department seemed very busy today which makes me conerned that they are not taking the time necessary to troubleshoot the problem. Any thoughts about what this could be would be great.

    Not a dumb blond, but could use some advice....thanks!!
  2. FirstFlight

    FirstFlight Member

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    Hmmmm. A four year old car with 25K miles means that the car isn't driven that much. The blown fuse issue I can't speak to but it kind of meshes with my next comment. I'd say your 12V battery is toast. Can you give us an idea regarding how much this car is driven (days per week, hours per day and approximate times in between when the car is parked and started again)?

    My opinion may vary from others but charging at 13.7V puts the Prius at an automatic disadvantage from the start. Couple that with a small battery (albeit sized correctly because there are no starter motors) and you have the making of a short life span.

    You may have two issues, which was caused by one single issue. The first thing I'd do is disconnect the -12V chassis ground wire that connects the body frame and 12V battery. If you have one, put a Fluke type DMM (even a Radio Shack el cheapo would be fine for this experiment) in series from the battery cable to chassis frame and measure the current. I've never done it but I think it should be no more than 60mA (someone correct me if my number is incorrect).

    If it's more or excessive, something is either on or defective and drawing unnecessary current. If the mA reading is correct, I'd just replace the 12V battery since you're about due anyway (if you haven't already). As for the blown fuse, on-vehicle measurements would need to be taken.
  3. alsleepr

    alsleepr New Member

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    OK...I was wondering about the battery after reading some of the post here. I only drive it a few days a week, so there are a few days in between when it sits in the garage. Most of the time I drive less than 30-40 minutes.

    It is at the dealership tonight and I have a loaner. The service department actually said that the fuse was blown and could not find any other problems, but obviously there is something else going on. Sounds like I need to go ahead and ask them about the battery while they have it.

    I feel very much out of my element dealing with this car, but really need it to be dependable for me considering I have one more year and it is paid for. In the meantime, I must educate myself more in how to make the most out of a new battery. I've never had to deal with this before, but am so willing to learn....need to start at the beginning though.

    I really appreciate your response, firstflight.
  4. FirstFlight

    FirstFlight Member

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    No problem. In general, batteries (especially ones that aren't deep cycle) don't fare well, in terms of longevity, when they are depleted and stay that way for a long period of time. Adding on to this issue is your limited driving cycle, which doesn't really do the job when it comes to fully charging the 12V battery.

    In laymans terms, I think your 12V battery was dying a slow death. Most people see their batteries go bad around five years, so the fact that you got four out of it is pretty good given the fact that you don't drive it so much. Regardless of what the outcome is, I'd push them to replace your 12V battery since it's still under warranty because it needs to be replaced anyway.
    dave77 likes this.
  5. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    If I correctly understand the OP, a fuse has been replaced twice. You might ask what is the exact name of that fuse, and post. Apparently the vehicle has a wiring problem.

    It is certainly possible that the 12V battery needs to be replaced but a weak battery would not cause a fuse to blow.
  6. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    Only if it were connected to an inductive load, such as a fan motor. With such loads, low voltage can produce high current.

    However, that seems unlikely in this case. I agree with Patrick that the problem is not likely the battery, but some other wiring issue.

    Tom
  7. FirstFlight

    FirstFlight Member

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    His battery is probably bad and he has some other issue going on as well as indicated in my first post. The excessive current (if below the rating of the fuse) over a period of time may have caused the battery to fail prematurely. Four years is getting to the median of battery longevity and it should be replaced regardless.

    The dealership telling you that an "overhead" fuse blew is vague and doesn't even make any sense because there is no overhead fuse. However, the overhead equipment (smart key, courtesy lights, radio) are on the dome fuse, which is probably the one that blew.

    FWIW, years ago (recalling from memory here) I had a Chevy Tahoe that was giving me issues. Slowly over time it would have trouble starting. Finally when the weather turned cold it just wouldn't start at all. I went and got a new battery and she same sh*t kept happening a week later. I yanked off the battery cable and the truck was pulling 500mA with nothing on. I started pulling fuses one-by-one and when I pulled the radio fuse the current dropped significantly.

    I took the radio out and when I disconnected the ACC line from the radio, the current dropped. I ended up putting in a relay that would activate when the ignition was on. I would lose my preset stations and the clock but I didn't care because I had an add-on Sirius receiver.

    My point is, there are two issues and one of them is a failing battery.
  8. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    Sound advice. Something is causing the battery to fail. Find that and you most likely have the problem. Start with the dome light circuit.

    Tom
  9. alsleepr

    alsleepr New Member

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    Thanks for all the responses. The fuse in question was only replaced once yesterday, I believe. The service department did call me to ask if I had used the bluetooth when I left with the car after they replaced the fuse. I had not used the bluetooth, and had only driven 2 miles and turned off the car, when it happened again where I could not start the car with the smart key. The service department has had the car since 7am yesterday and have only called me once to ask about the bluetooth issue. Not a word from them today.

    This is the second time that this service department has worked on a "complex" problem and given me the keys with the issue unresolved in a rush, and placed me in a position of potentially being stranded. I had to call Toyota in California to get a steering wheel issue corrected a couple of years ago because no one at the local dealership took it seriously when it was quite a serious problem. Got it resolved by going to corporate!

    I am a female and have limited understanding of voltage/electrical issues...which is why I have come to you guys. I believe if you do not have the expertise, surround yourself with people that do. You are explaining some things to me that do make sense to me, but I have never seen the battery, much less checked the current. After this little incident is resolved, I plan on learning how to care for the car properly....I will obviously need continued guidance. Thanks again!
  10. FirstFlight

    FirstFlight Member

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    Do you have any friends that can help out. The things we are speaking about here are not complex at all and most people who have done oil changes/replaced light bulbs can most likely do these checks.
  11. maestro8

    maestro8 Nouveau Member

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    Being a female isn't exactly the issue here. There are dozens of female engineers in my office who'd be more than happy to back me up on this... :) Good on you for looking after the car yourself!
  12. alsleepr

    alsleepr New Member

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    Thank you very much...I will do my best!! I will tell you that when you are not a female engineer, you are treated as if you don't even know how to check your tire pressure, so it can be a problem when you are earnestly trying to understand the problem...at least that is what I felt yesterday in dealing with this service center.

    I do have to ask about this again for my clarification...The VSC light was on when I first delievered the car to the service center. When they gave the car back, it was not on, but once I turned the car off and back on 30 minutes later, the VSC light was once again on when I had to start the car placing the key in the slot (smart key did not work). They did not know why it was on; when asked if there was a code connected to this light, they said there was none. Any additional thoughts about this warning light????
  13. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    If the VSC light is on for more than a momentary period associated with your tires slipping while you are driving, then a diagnostic trouble code should have been logged by the skid control ECU.
  14. alsleepr

    alsleepr New Member

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    Ok..just talked with the service guy. He said there was no history of any codes associated with the VSC light. I asked about my battery, abs actuator, rear sensor, etc. He said that the master technician tried to replicate the problems, but everything is working fine now. The domelight fuse was initially blown, replaced, and blown again after taking it from them. They replaced that fuse again. The bluetooth is connected to that fuse, but I have not been able to get it to work for about one year, so I just gave up. The technician could not get his phone to work with the bluetooth either, so they are disconnecting the bluetooth circuit, and now they want me to drive the car for a month without it connected to see if there is another reason that the domelight fuse is blowing.

    Firstflight mentioned that the battery is possibly the issue, but the service guy said that my battery was "fine". I do need to know what I can do to follow up on determining the battery life, if someone could walk me through the details; what I need to buy to check voltage, etc., I would much appreciate it...Thanks again! Lisa
  15. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Hi Lisa,

    Now that the car has been returned to you, and considering that you don't drive very much, I suggest that you start by purchasing a battery charger. At least once a month, hook up the charger overnight to charge the 12V battery, using a 4A rate of charge or less. (The battery has a warning sticker about not charging at a faster rate than 4A.)

    You can either connect the charger at the main relay/fuse box near the inverter; or else connect it directly to the battery at the right-rear hatch floor corner. Please do a search as there are numerous posts regarding how to do this.

    A search will also reveal to you a "hidden screen" on the MFD which allows you to assess battery voltage. However this is only accurate to +/- 0.5V so the readings are subject to some error.
  16. alsleepr

    alsleepr New Member

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    ok...I do not have the car back yet, so I called toyota usa to get advice about the dealership not finding the cause of the overhead blown fuse. They are emailing the customer relations liason at my dealership to contact me and maybe giving the car another inspection instead of giving me the car without determining the cause and potentially leaving me stranded with a car that will not start and telling me that the battery was "fine". It may be but this is the second time that I have had to call toyota usa about the service center since buying this vehicle. Hopefully they will look a little harder to resolve this. They also suggested that I go to another dealership to get a second opinion.

    I will do the search about the hidden screen and charging the battery. Patrick, what do you find denotes a battery in good condition or otherwise??
  17. hadone

    hadone Junior Member

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    I had this very same issue. The factory service tech found that a cable from engine compartment running us the A pillar was stretched to tight and causing a connector to short. Maybe you have the same problem. I took more that two days to correct problem. Luckily I got a loaner from the dealership. Good luck
    nh7o likes this.
  18. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Hi Lisa,

    When you are evaluating a battery, there are two characteristics of interest:

    1. The battery's state-of-charge, which can be estimated by measuring open-circuit voltage after the battery has been left undisturbed overnight (to allow surface charge to dissipate)

    2. The power available from the battery, typically measured in A-h (ampere-hours)

    1 is measured using a voltmeter. An approximate voltage can be determined via the MFD secret screen, as previously suggested. A new absorbed glass mat 12V battery, fully-charged, will measure 12.9V. Typically, a battery in good condition and reasonable charge will measure ~12.6V. If you measure 12.2V or lower then the battery is seriously discharged.

    2 is not easy to measure without specialized test equipment that will provide a load on the battery to assess available power. The point of my mentioning 2 is that it is possible that your battery will measure a relatively high voltage, yet still be near end-of-life as it has limited power storage and delivery capability.

    If your battery is original equipment then it is 4-5 years old. Especially in areas with cold winters, that is about what you can expect in terms of service life. If you desire to maximize its remaining life then it would be good to keep the battery fully-charged. And in the future, after you replace the battery, if you continue to log relatively few miles on the car, it would be good to periodically connect the battery charger to keep the new battery in optimum condition.
  19. alsleepr

    alsleepr New Member

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    Yes...just watched a nice video on youtube that was very helpful. I never knew that existed. Knowledge is power!
    I am going to get a second opinion, and if that doesn't work...then I'll just go buy a Fiat...LOL
  20. nh7o

    nh7o Off grid since 1980

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    Intermittent electrical faults are notorious for frustrating even the best technicians. This sort of thing can be set off by going over a bump, for instance. Having chased some phantoms over the years, I would hope that they can find something along this line. But do carry a stash of spare fuses with you, just in case.
    flxcon likes this.
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