2002 Prius - got Orange Triangle - drove home - next steps?

Discussion in 'Generation 1 Prius Discussion' started by Alex MM, Jun 23, 2016.

  1. Alex MM

    Alex MM Junior Member

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    I have a 2002 Prius, under 52k-miles, trouble free - until now.
    The Orange Triangle came on.
    I drove home. (Santa Cruz, California)
    Noticed the 12V battery was low (11.8V) so I disconnected it, charged it for a few hours, reconnected it.
    Started the Prius in my garage.
    After about 5 minutes the Orange Triangle came back on.
    Disconnected the 12V again.

    Obviously I need more information. All I have is a DVM.
    I'm willing to buy mini-VCI if I knew which one to get. I have an WinXP laptop and Android phone.
    My car mechanical experience is limited to simple maintenance (oils, filters, belts, batteries, etc.)

    I'm guessing cells in my hybrid battery have hit the failure threshold.
    This hybrid battery has been gracefully degrading for for some time - my in-town mileage has dropped from 52 new to 46 about six years ago, and in the last two years it dropped to 42.

    My understanding is that age is a significant factor in the condition of my Gen-1 hybrid battery cells.
    There are craigslist sellers offering "good" Gen-1 batteries, but are they even worth the labor to install them?
    What options are there?
    How can I tell if a battery pack has really been rebuilt with Gen-2 cells?

    Summary of my questions:

    Is it harmful for me to drive my car with the Orange Triangle on?

    Should I ( a novice mechanic ) buy a mini-VCI scanner or should I let an independent shop do the diagnostics?

    Are the under $500 used Gen-I batteries on craigslist likely junk, or might they last two or three years?

    Besides the hybrid battery, are there other expensive parts, e.g. inverter, transaxle, on the Gen-I that intrinsically limit the life of the car? ( n.b. my backup car is a 1990 honda civic with >250k miles )

    Thanks,

    Alex
     
  2. Alex MM

    Alex MM Junior Member

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    my cable arrived... 160629_2052_p3006_battery_levels_are_unusually_different.jpg
     
  3. ericbecky

    ericbecky Hybrid Battery Hero

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    From this same screen click on DATA LIST while the car is running in Park.
    In a safe place, put the parking brake on.
    Firmly place your foot on the brake.
    While keeping foot on the brake, shift to drive then press the gas pedal.
    Watch the Battery block voltage values and see if block 17 still looks out of whack.
    Also check to see if any others seem bad.
    Remove foot from accelerator, and return car to park.

    I have some Gen 1 modules for sale if you are fixing it yourself.
    Or you can always get them from any other reliable source.
    Just a bit of warning. If you replace one module now, you will certainly be replacing more in the near future.

    The way you can tell if you have Gen 2 cells is by opening the case and decoding the date codes that are stamped on the modules.

    A $500 battery will likely not even last a year.

    Most expensive is Transaxle due to labor. Likely a couple grand to have installed.
     
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  4. Alex MM

    Alex MM Junior Member

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    In park block 17 shows 15.6V while the other blocks are in the 17.0 - 17.2V range.
    Accelerator pressed - block 17 shows 18.2V while the other blocks are in the 17.6 - 17.8V range.

    Did I learn anything from this test?

    Eric, thank you for responding to my questions.
    I know I'm probably the 5,000th person to ask these exact same questions, but we all have to start somewhere.

    I bought this 2002 Prius new in September 2001 and have been the only owner with just under 52,000 miles.
    Other than some factory recalls and my using a larger Miata 12V battery this car is stock, no Gen 2 cells.

    Alex

    160630_accel_B17_high_V.jpg

    [image: snapshot of data list while pressing accelerator showing high battery block 17 voltage]
     
  5. strawbrad

    strawbrad http://minnesotahybridbatteries.com

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    Yes, block 17 has a weak module with little to no capacity left in it. So under charge it's voltage climbs rapidly. The fifth line on the left side of the Techstream display (IB Main Battery) shows that the battery was being charged at a 17.16 amp rate.

    There is a flip side to this test. Warm the car up so the gas engine can stay off. Set the parking brake and hold the main brake down. Put the car in reverse and give it some gas but not so much that the gas engine turns on. This will put a load on the battery. The voltage on block 17 will drop like a rock.

    The only good option left for Gen I batteries is a new pack from Toyota. I would think a one owner 52K mile Gen I would be worth that investment. It would be interesting to capacity test all the modules in your car. I suspect they are just has lousy as the rest of the Gen I stuff still out there. The difference is that your pack died from non use.

    Brad
     
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  6. Alex MM

    Alex MM Junior Member

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    My results are that the voltage on block 17 dropped 1.12V (from 16.25V to 15.13V) while the other blocks dropped in the range of 0.46V to 0.66V.

    160630_2150_ice_off_In_Reverse.jpg
     
  7. ericbecky

    ericbecky Hybrid Battery Hero

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    Strawbrad,
    I had thought about mentioning the same test as well, but I think we both knew the results would be exactly as Alex MM confirmed.
    Seen it a million times.

    Ball is in your court Alex MM, you'll have to decide what to do next.
     
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  8. strawbrad

    strawbrad http://minnesotahybridbatteries.com

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    The vast majority of Gen I batteries are now worn out junk. But your battery has only 52K miles on it. That does not mean it's any good but it is not the same as the rest of the 200K mile batteries out there. Your battery's internal resistance show a consistent 20 or 21 milie ohms. That is good and offers just a glimmer of hope for your battery. What was the IR of block 17?

    Steve Keith has a simple test to approximate the capacity of your battery.
    How to test HV battery state of health on your Gen 2 (answer) | PriusChat
    Techstream and a stop watch are all you need. The basics are to force charge the battery to 80% SOC. Then discharge at a constant rate to 40% SOC. Time, rate, and delta SOC will give you an idea of the total capacity of your battery. New modules had 6500 mAH capacity. My Gen I is running on 2000 - 2500 mAh modules.

    Brad
     
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  9. Kadalora

    Kadalora New Member

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    Hi Alex, you didn't mention what cable you ended up getting? I need to get one myself, can you please elaborate?
    Thanks
     
  10. ronlewis

    ronlewis Member

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    I read this and a couple of the responses could confuse the OP. I believe he was asking about identifying Gen 2 cells in anticipation of buying a rebuilt battery using those, not because he thinks his battery might have them - it's the original battery.

    Also, not sure what he thinks this means, "The only good option left for Gen I batteries is a new pack from Toyota." I expect Brad means that the only "good" option that would still use Gen 1 cells is the new packs from Toyota. I hope he's not saying there aren't good aftermarket options to replace the original battery.

    IMHO, it just depends on how frugal you are. You can certainly swap in different Gen 1 cells to make your original battery run again. It's a bit of labor - probably several hours (6-10?) the first time you do it, fewer as you become familiar with the steps; but not much money (<$100). Will other cells likely fail in the future? Sure, but you might get another year of driving for $100 (probably more a factor of time than miles, these batteries like miles and hate time).

    You can buy rebuilt batteries, as you seem to know, using Gen 2 cells. The same issues exist - those will be used cells as well, just newer and a little more reliable (Gen 1s had leaking issues). I just bought such a battery for total price with tax and shipping both ways (return core) for $1500 from BestHybrids out of Chicago. They provide a 3 year warranty, for what that's worth (from my research, they've been in business at least 4 years - that's when their website came online). I'm not sure what the Toyota warranty is, but it's obviously more trustworthy.

    Another of my Gen 1s had a bad cell, like yours, and was throwing a 3030 code for a short in the buss bar/wiring harness. I had a few good cells in the battery that came out of that first car, so I swapped one in and bought a new buss bar for around $100. I need to get the Mini VCI cable because I'm still getting the code although the car seems to run fine. I might have a bad battery ECU. It's got a bad inverter pump, which I've ordered, so I'm not driving it right now, but I'm hoping to get it working and clear those codes without replacing the battery.

    Another of my Gen 1s works just fine, even after sitting up for two years. But I'm not sure if the battery is original or had been replaced by the City of Dallas. Since it only has about 80k miles, I expect it's original.

    As far as the used ones, certainly you would be concerned with how long they last. If money is an issue though...the only one I'd buy such a battery from is LKQ - they're one of the largest dismantlers in the country with locations all over and offer a warranty that you can rely on, although I think it's only 6 months. They get around $800 for a used unit and document the mileage on the car it came out of, and again, you can trust that documentation. Other dismantlers are hit or miss and harder to trust.

    Sounds like a cherry car with such low miles. Don't let it die!
     
  11. AldPixto

    AldPixto Junior Member

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    O.P. here - wow! - this thread is over three years old

    Here's what I did:

    I took the car to Luscious Garage in San Francisco. They got a new battery from a Toyota warehouse and swaped it in. Total cost was $3078. The hybrid stuff has been perfect since then.

    My 02 Prius still looks minty, except for a little curb rash on the wheels and some stone chips on the hood. The OD is under 62k miles. If I keep it for another 7 years I can try to get "Historical Vehicle" plates.
     
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  12. ronlewis

    ronlewis Member

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    LOL, I didn't look at the date. Thanks for saving another Gen 1! I love these cars.
     
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  13. strawbrad

    strawbrad http://minnesotahybridbatteries.com

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    This was over three years ago. Gen 1 batteries have not gotten any better since then. I stand by what I said. The only good option for a Gen 1 battery is a Toyota factory replacement. Aftermarket options are a poor value compared to a new Toyota Gen 1 battery. A DIY rebuild is an option for those that have the skills but the problem is 90% of all original Gen 1 modules are now junk.

    List price on a new Gen 1 battery is $2299. So you spent 65% of new price for a used battery with modules that do not properly fit in the Gen 1 case. Because the Gen 2 modules are just a little bit longer the top of your battery case is now smashed down on the plastic covers for the battery terminals. That's not a good value. For my kids car I found a two year old factory replacement battery for $1000. That's a good value.

    Pull the carpet off the battery case. Toyota factory replacement batteries have many more stickers than the originals. It's easy to spot if you know what you are looking for. The picture is a factory replacement battery.

    A quick search with car-part.com turned up this battery at Nationwide Auto Parts in Central Valley, NY 10917 for $550. Now that's a good value! They have no idea that's a pot of gold. They also don't know that orange safety plug should not be reinstalled.:eek: If some lucky PC member is close enough to buy this they should check the date codes on the modules. They can be read through the vent hole without taking the cover off.

    nationwide.jpg

    LKQ's website shows just one Gen 1 battery for $2154. It might be a rebuilt but at that price it just does not matter. Maybe they figured out that all the old Gen 1 batteries are now junk.

    Three junkyards are now giving me all their Gen 1 cores for recycling. Old hybrid batteries are getting to be a disposal problem. Out of the last dozen Gen 1 batteries 90% of the modules were unusable junk.
     

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  14. ronlewis

    ronlewis Member

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    Ok, I understand what you mean now. Only new replacements from Toyota at $2500. I wouldn't argue that's not a great solution. To me, it's value is based on the warranty period, and I forget how long that is. (Seems like it was shorter than I thought it would be.) A Toyota warranty has a lot more value than any warranty from a small battery rebuilder. If the warranty was, say, 3 years, a person would feel real good knowing that a critical component was insured for several years.

    But, if it was just a one-year Toyota warranty, I think a person might weigh the odds. Toyota is charging almost twice as much as some of the rebuilders. Some people here claim that Toyota hasn't manufactured new Gen 1 cells in years; that the cells in their "new" batteries are old too. On the other hand, there are some rebuilders that have been in business a few years, with some record of customer satisfaction. If it's just a one-year warranty, some would feel that they're both a roll of the dice with decent odds that either will outlive the warranty. Some would see the difference being only that one costs twice as much.

    Others may not have the extra money or not plan on having it long enough to pay for a longer warranty.
     
  15. ronlewis

    ronlewis Member

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    BTW, we're about to test one of the battery vendors in a new thread.
     
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