2013 Prius c has Error when Accelerating and Dies

Discussion in 'Prius c Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by JamoRem, Nov 13, 2021.

  1. JamoRem

    JamoRem New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2021
    7
    4
    0
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA, USA
    Vehicle:
    2013 Prius c
    Model:
    Three
    Hi there! I have a 2013 Toyota Prius c with 91,000 miles. Bought it used in 2017 with a clean title. It has been accident free under my ownership and I perform regular DIY maintenance.

    PXL_20211113_011431208.jpg

    So I was accelerating from a right turn when suddenly, a noticeable thump was felt with accompanying noise from the engine bay. At the same time, the dash lights and buzzer came on with the dreaded “Check Hybrid System Stop Vehicle In A Safe Place Immediately” message. I parked and attempted a restart, but the same errors persisted. I pop the hood, no noticeable smells nor any leaks were found. I got my car towed home and performed a limited diagnosis to the best of my non-mechanic ability. The following are the results:

    • I set the vehicle to ON and there is the usual electric initializing noise. I then attempted to put the hybrid system to READY but the same error message pops up. I waited for the engine to start but it did not.
    • I checked the fuses related to the hybrid system but did not find any of them blown.
    • I checked for any high voltage battery cooling fan blockages/dust build up but did not find any.
    • I checked the gas cap and it was snugly fitted on.
    • I checked the 12V accessory battery with a multi-meter and it reads fine (the accessory battery was replaced in 2020). I currently have this disconnected overnight in hopes of a memory reset. I will update when it is reconnected.
    I do not have any readers to help with the diagnosis (I should probably invest in one). Any tips for further diagnosis would be appreciated. If nothing else, I plan to have it towed to a dealership service department for diagnosis. Once I know what's wrong, I will update.
     
    #1 JamoRem, Nov 13, 2021
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2021
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    94,654
    42,901
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    without tech stream, i think you will have to, unfortunately. pretty tough to diagnose over the net without the codes.
     
  3. sam spade 2

    sam spade 2 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2018
    5,728
    2,270
    0
    Location:
    USA
    Vehicle:
    2017 Prius c
    Model:
    Four
    What exactly does it read ? Not everybody knows what the proper voltage should be.

    Also check the main 12 V battery cable connections.....at both ends.

    But it does sound like a problem with the hybrid system......HV battery.
     
  4. JamoRem

    JamoRem New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2021
    7
    4
    0
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA, USA
    Vehicle:
    2013 Prius c
    Model:
    Three
    Update: I reconnected the 12V battery this morning but the same error message appears. I will have bite the bullet and get it towed to a dealership service department for diagnosis. On a side note, are there any affordable code readers? Please let me know as I think I might invest in one (thread links appreciated).


    Thanks for the info. I got a reading of 12.2 volts. Please let me know where the other end of the battery cable is located and I will check the voltage there as well. I may have to agree, it does sound like the HV battery or inverter may have gone bad.
     
  5. JamoRem

    JamoRem New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2021
    7
    4
    0
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA, USA
    Vehicle:
    2013 Prius c
    Model:
    Three
    Update 2: I got the diagnosis from the dealership. They say the inverter shorted with code P0A94. The unit needs to be replaced with the following estimate:

    Part: Inverter Assembly, with Converter (G920059065) at $2,770
    Labor: $350
    Warranty: 1 year, unlimited miles

    All in, it is $3,120. The service advisor said this is only the third time in his career that a Prius c came in with an inverter short. He also notes that he sees other Prius models also get this issue and are able to refurbish the part, "but not for the Prius c."

    I did look around my area for comparison pricing on the part, but most hover around that price range. I did notice that that part number was "incompatible" with my VIN and another part number gets pulled up instead (G92A052020), but that one is unavailable. Maybe the new part supersedes the other? I may be getting too deep, but I wanted to bring it up.

    I looked at the replacement procedure in the Service Manual and on YouTube videos for similar repairs. It is a straightforward replacement, but for me being a simple DIY-er, I'd rather leave it to an experienced mechanic due to the electrical components involved and cooling fluid lines being opened. Plus, I don't have the interface components to enter my car's computer.

    So, with those points in mind, is this an honest diagnosis? Are the prices fair? Are there other inverter options available (refurbished/salvage)?

    I can wait to have this repair done since I am currently telecommuting and can use other household vehicles in the meantime. But if I go with an independent shop, I'll be out $175 for the dealer's diagnosis.
     
  6. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    94,654
    42,901
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    at the minimum, i would ask some independent mechs to install a salvage unit.
     
  7. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    94,654
    42,901
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    tech stream is the gold standard prius reader. cheap to buy, but you need a compatible laptop and some computer savvy
     
  8. sam spade 2

    sam spade 2 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2018
    5,728
    2,270
    0
    Location:
    USA
    Vehicle:
    2017 Prius c
    Model:
    Four
    12.2 is NOT a "good" reading.
    That is marginal; it might be OK and might not.

    If that model has a "jump point" under the hood, that is the other end of the positive cable.
    The negative is grounded to the frame somewhere near the battery.

    Given your inverter diagnosis, you can forget the battery at the moment.
    But if you keep the car and get the inverter fixed, be sure to fully charge and test the battery after.
    Good luck.
     
  9. topshot

    topshot Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2017
    137
    55
    0
    Location:
    Midwest
    Vehicle:
    2015 Prius c
    Model:
    Three
    If you chose to fix it I agree with Bisco to try to find a salvage unit to swap in since they are so expensive, but it's pretty rare for these to go so may be hard to come by. Was the coolant good? I assume it must have some separate pump to circulate it since it's disconnected from the engine coolant or maybe it's done just by the electric motors.
     
  10. JamoRem

    JamoRem New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2021
    7
    4
    0
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA, USA
    Vehicle:
    2013 Prius c
    Model:
    Three
    Update 3: I called local mechanics that specialize in hybrids, all can do it for a significantly lower price for the part and labor (as with any repair when compared with a dealership). But, as pointed out already, a salvage part may be hard to come by; most are only able to obtain one by the beginning of next month at the earliest in my area. The dealer can get it done this week. I do have a road trip planned, so I decided to go with the dealership repair. Yes, it’s pricey, but I have emergency money saved up for a reason such as this. Though yes, a lower cost would have been better.

    I was thinking, is there a risk when using a salvage inverter, especially if it’s from a vehicle with front end damage? I won’t know which one I’ll get. On a related note, during the service advisor’s initial inspection with me, he pointed out that the right fender attachment point to the vehicle frame was slightly off. This could indicate that my vehicle may have been involved in a collision and was repaired without going through insurance by the previous owner, hence not showing on the vehicle history report when I bought it. Could this suspected collision have been a factor in my inverter shorting years later?

    Anyway, with this experience, I now have access to a great forum and contacts with local hybrid repair shops for the next repair (which I hope will be a very rare occurrence). This is my first major repair, and I was panicked; I had faith in Toyota’s reliability to not even think about such issues until this car gets much older, but then this happened. Thanks again to all for the great info and advice! I will update when I get the car back.

    Thank you for clarifying the voltage reading and cable locations. I found the jump point in the engine bay. I’ll check the accessory battery and jump point voltages when I get the car back for extra assurance.

    I did check the fluid levels of the car at the time of my initial diagnosis, all were on level and looking good. I did ask the service advisor about the inverter coolant since I know that it would have to be drained as part of the inverter replacement procedure, but there was no mention of a pump being the problem. I hope I don’t get a call during the repair that a bad pump was the root cause, and another item to replace… At least I’m getting a coolant change out of this, which I was planning to do myself at 100k miles. Now I just have to do the engine coolant.
     
  11. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    94,654
    42,901
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    the only risk with a salvage inverter is that it was also bad, but is very rare
     
  12. topshot

    topshot Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2017
    137
    55
    0
    Location:
    Midwest
    Vehicle:
    2015 Prius c
    Model:
    Three
    There would always be the risk of something getting damaged inside the inverter from a significant impact but most things would come with at least a warranty against DOA if not some additional time period. Since you're going with a dealer they should be using a new part or disclosing to you that they aren't (and charging you accordingly!).

    2 of the Prius we've owned had repaired front end damage and I've not had any issues (knock on wood). The 3rd one I hit the deer myself at 70 MPH about exactly where the inverter is located and it was still working afterward but car was totaled.
     
    JamoRem likes this.
  13. JamoRem

    JamoRem New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2021
    7
    4
    0
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA, USA
    Vehicle:
    2013 Prius c
    Model:
    Three
    I got my Prius c back from the service department with a shiny new inverter. The car works as usual and should last for a long time, fingers crossed…

    PXL_20211116_231420563.MP.jpg

    I drove home and checked the auxiliary 12V battery, I’m getting a voltage of 12.5 now. I guess the accessory battery was stressed under the load of the inverter short, attempted restarts, and accessories running when I got the marginal 12.2 reading that day.

    I was also able to keep the short-circuited inverter, mostly as proof that the job was done correctly. Could this still be refurbished despite the dealership claim that it cannot be done for a Prius c’s inverter? Maybe I can sell it? If not, I’ll probably drop it off at an e-waste collection center.

    PXL_20211116_231455232.jpg
     
  14. sam spade 2

    sam spade 2 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2018
    5,728
    2,270
    0
    Location:
    USA
    Vehicle:
    2017 Prius c
    Model:
    Four
    And the stress might have caused some permanent "damage" to the battery too.
    Check it a few more times over the next week or so.
    12.5 is serviceable but not really "good".
     
  15. topshot

    topshot Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2017
    137
    55
    0
    Location:
    Midwest
    Vehicle:
    2015 Prius c
    Model:
    Three
    You can always check if people have bought known bad units on Ebay to know if it's worth selling. If they are getting bought it must be possible for someone to fix a bad core, but I've not looked into what kind of electronics are there.
     
Loading...