2012 Plug-In Prius will not charge when plugged in. Advice?

Discussion in 'Gen 1 Prius Plug-in 2012-2015' started by Willem B, Jun 19, 2020.

  1. Willem B

    Willem B New Member

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    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Advanced
    I love my 2012 Plug-In Prius, was working perfectly until last Tuesday. Yellow charge light won't come on, car won't charge.

    There are no errors indicated on the dash or display. I used Torque to see if there were any error codes. No error codes.
    The car drives normally. It's just that out of the clear blue sky, it suddenly won't charge anymore.

    I have a GE WattStation Level 2 charger at home. Every time I used to plug in the car, the yellow charge indicator would light up and within a few seconds, I'd hear the charger relay click on and the car would charge.

    This last Tuesday I came home, plugged in the car and the yellow light doesn't come on anymore.
    I tried different commercial chargers (Chargepoint), same result. Yellow light won't come on.
    I then tried the 110V charger that comes with the car. Known good. I plugged it in, Yellow charge light won't come on.

    I have come to the conclusion that my charger is fine. No errors are indicated. My 110V charger is also good.
    This is in the car.

    SO -- is there any kind of reset procedure I can do? What should I check before I bring it to Toyota? I'd rather avoid a repair bill if this is something I can fix myself.

    This is also not a timer issue. When the timer is active, the yellow light comes on for a second and then goes off. In addition, I did check the status of the timer and it is off.

    I also took a picture of the connector and it looks normal, no bent pins.

    It just won't charge now.

    Help!

    Thank you in advance!
     
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    sounds like the charger may be bad, but idk if that would throw a code or not. i can't think of anything else. see if there is a pertinent fuse?
     
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  3. Willem B

    Willem B New Member

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    Plug-in Advanced
    Thank you for your input!

    I don't know if there is any fuse for this. I'm trying to reason through what could have happened.
    It was working one day and then when I came home from going to the store, it wasn't working anymore.

    Normally, I plug in the cable and it takes a second, the yellow light comes on, then the charger station throws a relay and the DC wires get energized and the car begins charging.

    So, in my case now, I plug in the cable but the car acts like nothing happened. One guess would be that there is some kind of disconnect on the lines that communicate between the car and the charger. It's a standard protocol, I am guessing, because I used this very same charger for my Leaf (2014-2017) and then for this car successfully since 2017.

    So it WAS working. It just stopped. It's almost as if a cable harness came detached. I took a photo of my connector but I don't see any obvious fault. Perhaps another person knows better than I do and can see something wrong. Maybe I need to change this plug?

    Now if I DO have to change the plug, does anybody have drawings or a link as to how this is put together? The plug assembly is about 182$ from what I could find. I certainly hope it is NOT the charger, that's about 1400$.

    I did try 4 cables, all known to be good and 3 chargers. Every time, the result is exactly the same. The car acts like nothing was plugged in.

    I could drive the car as long as I like as if it's a normal Prius but I really want to solve this.

    Does anybody know how this is put together?


     
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  4. Willem B

    Willem B New Member

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    2012 Prius Plug-in
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    Plug-in Advanced
    OK so I found some YouTube videos on how the charger plug works. I will try some tests based on that to see if maybe it's a contact issue.
    Essentially, the top 2 pins are 220V (Live/Neutral if using Level 1)(Hot/Hot if using 220V). But it's straight AC from your wall (connected by a relay in the charger station). The charger station doesn't charge anything, it seems, just functions as a connect/disconnect switch.

    The bottom big one is ground. It is also the same ground used as a reference for the signals. One is CP the other is PP. (CP=pilot, PP=presence).
    The presence is connected in the charger handle. It tells the car there is a cable plugged in. This is the first thing I will measure. As an open circuit, I'm looking for between 4.5 and 5 volts DC with respect to ground. If I connect 150 ohms between this pin and ground, the car will sense the plug. This will be part of my test, as below.

    The other pin is how the station and car talk to each other. As an open circuit, look for 12VDC on the charger cable side.
    Now, to test on the CAR, I just need a 12V source (2 6V AA battery packs will do, this isn't a power circuit) and a 1K resistor.

    What I'm looking for is this - If I connect the 12V through the resistor to the car, the voltage should then be 9V (because of the car's internal resistors). Then I'll connect the 150 ohms on the presence. I should then see the pilot voltage drop to 6V.

    Now this is THEORY. But this is how the car says "OK, I see you, send in the juice".

    The ONLY fly in the ointment of this test is that within a second of plugging the presence resistor, the car is expecting a 1kHz square wave.

    SO it may not give the 6V signal.

    At a minimum to see if the connection is good and the car's internal charger is ok is to see if I get the 12V open circuit and 9V.

    Stage 2 will be to measure the 12V on the charger station side. If I can do a "man in the middle" connection, I could simply forward through the square wave. I get this if I mimic a car connected with a 2.7K resistor across the pilot pin. I should see DC 9V and a 9V square wave.

    If I just bridge the wires, I could see that 6V signal (square wave) followed by the big relay click in the power station and then 220V across the big pins. I don't necessarily need to look for that.

    What I'm aiming for here is that protocol. It's this protocol that doesn't seem to be happening. I am only guessing at the fault.

    My most likely culprit in my mind is the connector on the car.

    Wish me luck in my tests! Will be reporting the results.
     
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  5. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    Welcome. First, let's get the terminology straight so we're talking the same language. Charge Station, ChargePoint, etc. are not chargers. They are electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE).

    A quick check is to look behind the ramp on the charging port on your car to make sure dirt hasn't accumulated enough to keep the lever on the EVSE handle from coming all the down and closing the switch inside the handle. That's a rare situation, but can happen and only takes a few seconds to spot and fix. And it would keep any EVSE from working.

    If that's OK, the next most likely culprit is probably the charging port on the car. I've heard of a few of them failing. Maybe corrosion or a broken wire. Another possibly easy fix.

    If that's OK, then the expensive problem would be the charger which is inside the car.
     
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  6. Willem B

    Willem B New Member

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    Model:
    Plug-in Advanced
    YES, Thank you and quite right. I have learned that they're properly called EVSE because it's a glorified switch that supplies the 220V directly to the car and the charger in the car is what charges the battery. I do appreciate the "bringing me up to speed".

    I DID manage to fix it and it was a damaged receptacle (plug) on the car. See my next entry in this thread.

    I was VERY pleased that this was an easy fix for me and that I'm not out any money. I have also learned quite a bit. Anyway, for the benefit of others, I'll share what I did and what I found in my next entry. Thank you again for your reply!
    Willem
     
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  7. Pluggo

    Pluggo Active Member

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    Along those same lines, if you still have the large orange O-ring on your charging port, it has been known to sometimes prevent the plug from connecting. You can feel free to remove the ring as many of us have already done.
     
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  8. Willem B

    Willem B New Member

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    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Advanced
    OKAY, it was the plug. The pins were pushed back from years of repeated insert/removals.
    Here is how I removed it and reseated the pins.

    1) I cleared out the back and took out the trim pieces. Now you see the battery pack
    2020-06-20 09.35.59 battery pack.jpg
    2) I removed the screws holding the trim panel. 2 are bolts holding cargo loops and one is a regular screw:
    2020-06-20 09.36.08 cargo hook bolt covering inside trim.jpg 2020-06-20 09.36.08 cargo hook bolt covering inside trim.jpg 2020-06-20 09.36.22 screw holding trim.jpg 2020-06-20 09.36.30 trim panel held on by clips.jpg
    The trim panel by the seat belt is just held on by clips.

    3) You should see this. There are two harness plugs to disconnect, one ground lug and then the water drain tube.
    2020-06-20 09.40.53 back view of charger port with wires and water drain.jpg


    4) Identify and disconnect the lines as shown. The 220V is NOT energized; there is no danger.
    220V line - slide the green lock clip, then press and disconnect the connector.
    2020-06-20 09.44.40 220v line with connector.jpg

    Now the signal harness: There is a small clip, use a thin screwdriver to gently lift it and lift up to unplug. The back of the 220V and this clip harness is attached to the metal mount using a clip, Squeeze in back to disengage the clip and pull out.

    2020-06-20 09.44.41 signal line.jpg

    Ground lug: Use the same nut driver you used for the screw and loop bolts (covering the trim) and remove the ground lug.

    2020-06-20 09.44.46 ground lug.jpg

    Water hose: Use a pair of pliers to squeeze the hose clamp, move it then pull the hose off. It's a spring clip and you'll reuse it to reconnect later.

    5) OK now the plug assembly itself. As you can see on the two smaller tubes, the connector pin is pushed way back. There was no way for it to connect to the cable. That is why it wasn't working.

    Remove these 4 bolts. Same nut driver.
    2020-06-20 09.59.19 charger plug pin is pushed back.jpg

    The plug assembly comes out through the outside of the car. In other words, once you remove the 4 bolts, pull the plug towards you and gently guide the wire harnesses through the hole. You will have the plug harness in your hands.

    6) Peel back the rubber boot. Its function among other things, is to catch water and let it drain into the hose. It also covers the connector. It came apart in my hands but I could see that the pins were in good shape. They just needed to be reseated.

    Note carefully that the pins go through the tubes you see in the picture and that there is empty space between the tubes. I'll come back to this below. It was used in my fix.

    2020-06-20 10.27.43 charger plug out pins have come out.jpg

    7) I carefully reseated the pins: That black plastic clip was broken - see next photo. That clip holds the plug together.

    2020-06-20 10.33.24 reseating the pins.jpg

    8) THIS was the true cause of the problem. The plastic clip, when new, goes over that little triangle bump and that holds the whole assembly together. SO, I needed to find another way to hold this together. See next picture.

    2020-06-20 10.34.04 pins reseated now you see the broken clip.jpg

    9) Remember those gaps between the tubes with the conductors? I took advantage of the space to put in retaining screws.
    I drilled two small holes and put in 2 small screws. They fit into the empty space and YES I tested to ensure that they do not contact the conductors at all. So now the assembly is mechanically strong again.

    2020-06-20 11.05.37 you can see the screws do not connect to the pins.jpg

    10) I then wrapped hockey tape around the whole thing to stick the rest together and to squeeze it together.
    Between that and the rubber boot all around it, it will resist coming apart any time soon. (I hope)

    2020-06-20 hockey tape.jpg

    11) I put back the rubber boot, then guided the harness back in, reattached the hose, reattached the ground, then the 220V and the signal lines.

    And woohoo!!! It is working again!

    2020-06-20 11.16.54 and it works again.jpg


    I hope that my experience will help others. Thanks everyone for your input as well!

    Willem
     
  9. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    glad to hear it is repaired, looking forward to details.(y)
     
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  10. Willem B

    Willem B New Member

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    Plug-in Advanced
    See my post (I don't know if the moderators have approved it yet) with the pictures.'

    In short, when I looked really closely, I could see that the pins in the plug were pushed back. So I took the plug connector out to discover that the connector itself had a broken retaining clip. This clip holds the pins in place. So I reseated the pins and found another way (two screws and hockey tape - ha!) to hold the retaining clip in place.

    The pins themselves looked to be in good shape, so it was feasible to simply reseat them.

    Now the car charges again. One of the pins that was pushed back was the signal pin called "presence", which the car uses to determine that there is a plug present in the socket. (that it's plugged in). That accounts for the behaviour where the car operated normally but when plugged in, acted like there was nothing plugged in at all.

    I hope this was helpful!

    Willem
     
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  11. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    Good job and a great writeup!!!!

    I have the same EVSE cable and it's really distressing how tight it is. I keep it lubed with dielectric grease, but it's still tight. So, after taking apart the handle to plug in the pins one at a time, I determined that it's the large ones that are the really tight ones. (Not surprised, but needed to be sure.) I then found a drill bit that measured a little less than the diameter of the pins in the car's socket and enlarged the female pins in the EVSE handle. It's still not as silky as the OEM handle, but it's a lot better.
     
  12. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    great write up, and pics, thank you!(y)

    i hope i never have to do this :unsure:
     
  13. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    The microswitch in my EVSE handle failed, I Mickey moused it back together.
    I thought that was bad, but nothing compared to this
     
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