2002 Prius won't start...

Discussion in 'Generation 1 Prius Discussion' started by cellodoug, Nov 1, 2020.

  1. cellodoug

    cellodoug New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2020
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    Location:
    albuquerque
    Vehicle:
    2002 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    So: sorry if this is really ridiculous, but I am not mechanically inclined and I'm trying to direct my next steps--basically is there anything I can do other than paying to tow to dealership, pay diagnostic fee, and possibly decide I can't afford the repair... I tried, but couldn't seem to find any thread on here that dealt with my exact issue (but I certainly could have just missed it).

    this is a 2002 Prius with almost 200k miles. During COVID, my wife and I drove vastly less, and I was taking it out very little. Eventually, I tried to start it and it was dead. First, I was able to jump the battery in the trunk and get the car started. I was able to drive it around and do some errands. However, a few days later, the next time I tried to start the car, it was dead again. This time, I couldn't start it at all, even with a booster. I managed to get the starter to go a couple of times, but there was no combustion and then no luck. TO be clear, there was electric power from the booster.

    Today, I went ahead and called AAA to see if I could get any clarity on the battery issue. This time, the mechanic gave the car plenty of power but still no start. Here's what I heard:
    When the key was turned to the starting position, there were a couple of "click" sounds in the engine compartment. There was also a sort of "whirring", but nothing better than that.

    So could this be an issue with just the starter? I have some really basic car knowledge, but I am no so good at understanding the Prius setup and what to look for. I checked the fuses that I could access-didn't seem to be any problems. Basically at this point I am trying to decide if there's anything else I can do, or if the problem is likely to be something that isn't worth the cost to fix (and thus probably not worth the cost of having the dealership look at it). I had a previous 1s gen Prius where I had to pay the dealership to basically tell me it would need a very expensive repair that didn't make sense to pay for.

    While trying to start the car, today, all the bad lights were on: check engine, exclamation car icon, and of course the triangle of doom. I figured this was mostly related to the completely drained starter batter and didn't give me too much to work with, but that's what was going on.

    Thanks for any ideas!
     
  2. Josey

    Josey Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2019
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    Location:
    Virginia
    Vehicle:
    2003 Prius
    Model:
    One
    The Prius doesn't have a traditional starter powered by the 12V battery. The high voltage / traction battery (HV battery) starts the gas engine.

    But the 12V is still critical to all of the systems firing up correctly.

    Important question: is the HV battery the original? Or has it been replaced? Provide details if not original. (Replaced when and with what).

    Yes, letting these cars sit, particularly at this age, is really bad. The batteries (12V or HV) don't like it at all.

    If the HV battery is original and you're not mechanically inclined and rely on AAA, then it's time to just get rid of the car.

    Otherwise, it's pretty easy to pull the 12V battery out (a 10mm wrench/socket will do it all). Do that and take it to a local shop that specializes in batteries and/or Prius and have the battery load tested. If it fails, you'll likely need to drop about $200 for a new one. Decide for yourself whether to roll those dice, install it and see what happens. If the car starts, check that your roadside assistance service is current and take it for a really long drive to "exercise" and charge up the HV battery. It doesn't have to be long in distance, just in time/miles - drive around your own block 50 times if you want to stay close to home. Coasting (foot off the gas) as much as you can is golden - all charge and no draw on the HV battery.

    If this gets you going, A) think about selling the car while it still runs, or B) if you want to keep it, make sure it gets driven every couple/few days for a decent distance/time. Don't let it sit...
     
    WHCSC likes this.
  3. Nelsonprius

    Nelsonprius Junior Member

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    Jan 28, 2019
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    Location:
    Nelson, BC Canada
    Vehicle:
    2001 Prius
    Model:
    I
    Where do you live? Maybe there is a mobile hybrid mechanic in your area, who can check fault codes, check Google. Most likely you need your HV and 12v replaced with little charging from little use, a $2000 mistake of neglect. You don't have to drive it to charge it, you have to start it and run it until it stops on it's own
     
    #3 Nelsonprius, Nov 3, 2020
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2020
  4. Josey

    Josey Member

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    Location:
    Virginia
    Vehicle:
    2003 Prius
    Model:
    One
    I don't have the technical knowledge about this to speak authoritatively on the subject, but my impression with my '03 is that it doesn't keep idling until the HV battery is fully charged. Rather it seems to be programmed to shut down the ICE at some "charged enough for now" point. There was a time when mine sat too long due to a broken windshield (tree branch) and the dumb little HV battery icon (which, of course, is wildly imprecise - why can't it just display a f^&*!ng SOC number?) could still be sitting at only half and the ICE would shut down.

    If anyone can provide clarity about that, I'd appreciate it.
     
    Ginswheels likes this.
  5. sam spade 2

    sam spade 2 Senior Member

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    Mar 31, 2018
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    Location:
    USA
    Vehicle:
    2017 Prius c
    Model:
    Four
    No need to fret over the HV hybrid battery just yet.

    The clarity IS that your 12 V battery likely is toast and nothing in the car can be depended upon if it is really weak.

    If you don't feel competent enough to buy a new battery, be sure it is fully charged and install it in the car.......
    then call AAA about an onsite replacement or call a dealer for a tow.
     
  6. Chris Burklund

    Chris Burklund New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2020
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    Location:
    Florida
    Vehicle:
    2001 Prius
    Model:
    I
    Don't worry, it sounds like your 12v battery bit the dust. It's a simple replacement. You just need to get the right battery. The problem is that most auto supply store employees are just plain idiots when it comes to the Prius 12v battery. It uses an AGM battery (not a flooded lead acid battery like most cars use). Start with a call to the dealership and get a quote. That will be your most expensive option. Then disconnect the current battery. You will find it in the trunk on the drivers side with a cover over it. Remove the terminals and then remove the bracket that holds the battery in place. Take the battery to an auto parts store and ask for a replacement. DON'T except a battery that has the terminals (+/-) in the opposite location as your original. If you install one with the terminals inboard the positive will short against the car body. Expect to pay $200 to $225 for a replacement. The auto parts store may have to order it for you. Make sure you compare the old to the new to see if it's the correct fit before you pay and leave the store. Install in the reverse order that you removed the battery. Turn the A/C off before you start the car the first time with the new battery. Drive around a little (30 min) and let the new battery get a charge. All should work well. My gen1 has 250k on the hybrid battery and it is still going strong so your 200k is in the OK range for several more years.
     
  7. robert mencl

    robert mencl Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2014
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    Location:
    hartland me
    Vehicle:
    2002 Prius
    Model:
    I
    I have been using a $30. lawn mower batterey from wal mart with great success.
     
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