2011 Prius won't start

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Care, Maintenance & Troubleshooting' started by Frank O, Jan 22, 2019.

  1. Frank O

    Frank O Junior Member

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    My normally dependable 2011 Prius has been in the driveway for a couple of fairly cold (by So. Calif. standards), windy days. This morning it wouldn't start. When I depressed the brake pedal it felt very spongy. When I press the ignition button, a "Check Engine" warning light (picture of engine with word "Check") comes on at the far right of the dash display. I can hear a moderately faint sound like a pump of some kind running fairly slowly.

    So I can get a tow to the Toyota dealer and have them figure it out. But before I do so, are there any common scenarios that might be fixable at home? Low battery, for example?
     
  2. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 'Orrible Oracle

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    Spongy brake could be due to low battery: the car tends to pressurize something in the brakes every time you open the drivers door. Maybe battery was too low to accomplish that.

    Yes: step one: check the voltage of the battery, with the car off, with a digital volt meter. Better yet, hook it up to something like a solar BA5, for a more complete assessment.

    I would not tow to dealership, way to much expense. Just check the voltage first, and post. If it's markedly low, you could jump start and get yourself to dealership or aftermarket automotive place (Pep Boys for example). Phone ahead and make sure they've got appropriate battery in stock.

    Pep Boys has a compatible Bosch battery IIRC, that's probably the best deal. I believe they'll even install it for the quoted price. It goes on sale for around $150, and regular is a bit more.

    If you've never replaced the battery, I wouldn't spend too much time on diagnostics, just replace.
     
  3. Frank O

    Frank O Junior Member

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    Thanks, that's all about what I was thinking. A couple of follow-up questions:

    -- Do you happen to know offhand where the battery in a 2011 Prius would be? Not seeing it in the engine compartment. Under the trunk?

    -- With all the cars I've had before the Prius, you jump them by bringing a running car alongside the disabled car, use a jumper cable to connect plus to plus, minus to minus on the two batteries, then crank the disabled car. Is that the same way it works for Prius? Wasn't sure if the hybrid part of things threw anything new into the mix.

    The battery's never been replaced, so although I'll check it with a multimeter I strongly suspect it's just time for a new one.
     
  4. Frank O

    Frank O Junior Member

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    Oh and one other question. If the power becomes disconnected completely during the battery swapout, does anything need to be reset? I know in some of our cars the radios get funny if all power is removed.
     
  5. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 'Orrible Oracle

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    The battery's in under the hatch floor, in the right corner. You need to take out the hatch floor, and the big black tray. A good time to check the pressure on the spare while you're there: it should be 60 psi.

    Jump start can be done at the fuse box under the hood: it's along driver's side fender. The fuse box cover latches at the front, just push to release, and hooks on at two points towards the rear. Inside is a red tab: press to release and rotate it up. One side has a copper band: that is equiv to the positive battery terminal.

    Connection is positive (red) on dead car, positive on donor car, negative on donor car, a ground point on dead car. There's a few bolts sticking out on the engine right there that are good.

    Start donor car and run for about 5 minutes (helps to partially charge the dead car battery), then start the dead car.

    More detail in the attachment.

    With the battery disconnected without a memory saver, it's not the end of the world. If you have a memory saver I would use it. I use a jumppack with a cable that runs to the OBD port, purpose built as a memory saver. Or you could hook up a low amperage trickle charger at the under-hood jump point prior to disconnecting the battery.

    The memories you'll lose, for sure the radio presets, trip meters. Also you might need to "reteach" the auto up on one or more windows. Just run the window down, then all the way up while holding up, and cotinue to hold up for at least 2 seconds more. That should fix it.

    Again, I would for sure phone ahead and make sure they have a (compatible) battery available for you. To swap batteries more-n-likely only requires just a 10 mm box wrench, if you DIY, to remove and reinstall the cable clamps. You can also use it to cinch down the hold-down bracket bolts. When tightening the clamps on the posts don't go nuts: tighten them firmly, that's all I would take along some wire brush and fine sandpaper too, to clean the posts and cable clamps. Also bring a few washers: the hold-down bracket is VERY finicky, to even slight variation in battery height, and you may need a washer to shim, one side or the other. Compatible batteries will have the vent tube port on left side, be exactly the same dimensions, and have the skinny posts, oriented with the positive (red) post on the left, as you face it from the front side.

    Maybe goes without saying, but try to wash your hands after, clean any brushes and dispose any sandpaper used on the lead posts.
     

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    #5 Mendel Leisk, Jan 22, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
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  6. Frank O

    Frank O Junior Member

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    Thanks, a big help. It's reading 7.43v at the battery, so that sounds pretty dead. (Other kinds of 12v batteries I've worked with have been considered gone when they get below below 10.x volts.)

    I should be able to walk down the street for a compatible battery for DIY. Thanks for the detailed tips and the reminder that there's lead there.
     
  7. padroo

    padroo Senior Member

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    If you can get it running and take it to a Pep Boys or equivalent that has your battery they have the equipment to keep the car powered up while the battery is being changed. You will loose the automatic up on your windows and maybe radio station presets but the window is an easy fix just search Prius Chat.

    There is also a power point under the hood in the main fuse box that runs back to the battery for jumping and charging batteries. This info is in your owners manual along with resetting you windows I believe.
     
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  8. Frank O

    Frank O Junior Member

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    Thanks. Turned out the easiest thing was to take it to the independent mechanic down the street from our house who we use for all the work on our other cars (and Prius jobs like tires that don't need dealer-specific equipment). He got a Toyota battery installed in 20 minutes for $18 labor. In the process it did lose some settings, but they don't seem like a big deal. So I didn't end up doing too much hands-on, but learned some new things about the battery setup and appreciated all the info.
     
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  9. padroo

    padroo Senior Member

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    Glad it worked out for you Frank.
     
  10. AndrewR

    AndrewR Junior Member

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    Good question,
    A local toyota dealer sounds like a good option
     
  11. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    it's already fixed
     
  12. Grit

    Grit Senior Member

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    What broke?
     
  13. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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  14. Grit

    Grit Senior Member

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    I was piggy backing AndrewR; not reading the entire thread before asking :p
     
  15. Frank O

    Frank O Junior Member

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    In the don't-ask-me-how-I-know-this department:

    While most of the settings that get wiped when you remove all 12v power from the Prius are pretty trivial, if you immediately take the car to be smogged in California they'll tell you that you need to go away and drive the car for ~50 miles. Apparently the smog-check process depends on stored data that also gets wiped when power is removed.
     
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  16. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    yup. bad programming mistake from a company that has a long track record of them
     
  17. Grit

    Grit Senior Member

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    Monitors go off when 12v is unplugged, they come back “online” when you drive it again after certain miles. Never buy a car until all monitors are back online
     
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