Advice about failed hybrid battery

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by lparnell, Jun 17, 2019.

  1. lparnell

    lparnell New Member

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    We bought a 2005 with over 100,000 miles last June and knew it was a risk, but all used cars are. No issues and loved it for a year. Last week the red triangle and check engine lights came on, along with lights to change oil and filter. Took it to dealer to have those done. He told me that the other lights were still on and it would cost $130 to "dig into it" and figure out what was wrong. My husband was out of town (of course), so I said I'd take it home and let him bring it back. I spent the rest of the week reading posts here and watching YouTube videos. When husband returned on Saturday he checked the 12v battery and it was dated 2010, so he bought a new one, hoping that was the cheaper fix. Drove it around to check how the battery was charging, everything seemed good, triangle went off. But after 20 or 30 minutes all the lights came back on and the accelerator starting being non-responsive, so he drove straight back to Toyota. The guy checked the codes (for free) and said we need a new hybrid battery for a total of about $3000 with labor. Does this sound right to everyone? And if so, does that price sound right? Or should we shop around and try to get a refurbished one, but with less warranty? We'd really love this car to get another 4 or 5 years as it is still in great condition otherwise. Will a new battery be worth it or should we cut our losses and shop for a different used car? Sorry this is so long. Thanks for reading it all!
     
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    welcome!

    don't go rebuilt, they are iffy. warranty doesn't help much if it keeps dying and you have the downtime incurred.
    shop around for the best price before committing. it might be worth posting the codes here for reassurance.
    otherwise, i would want a guarantee that the battery will fix the problem. dealerships often throw parts at cars until they hit the target, on your dime.
    it is certainly a likely possibility at that age. the battery ages faster from time than miles

    one alternative is 'newhybridbattey.com' for $1,600. if you can find a mech who will install it.
     
  3. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    Sometimes it's not the battery pack but corrosion in voltage sensor readings... IF you have a friend that loves working on cars and want an opportunity to learn new skill, repairing the pack in some cases can be done for less than $400. If you'd like me to elaborate, let me know?
     
  4. Skibob

    Skibob Senior Member

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    Is your husband good with tools? It’s not beyond the skills of someone who can fix cars to replace the battery themselves. Someone may have repaired the battery before you bought it to sell it, or the battery is 14 years old so that’s a good run.

    If you can replace the battery yourselves go with either Toyota factory new or @2k1Toaster You will easily get 10 years out of either.
     
  5. exstudent

    exstudent Senior Member

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    $130 to read codes with Techstream. Get Techstream for yourself and you can get the same results. Techstream is the OFFICIAL software made for Toyota/Lexus to diagnose and do maintenance, and used at Toyota/Lexus dealerships. Hacked copies readily available on Amazon for $18+; doesn’t matter who you buy from. Easiest to install on obsolete Windows 32bit OS laptop; ask friends/family if they know someone in IT. This person will likely have these laptops laying around and might be able to donate to you.use this laptop only for code reading and maintenance; no email, banking, etc.

    If you want reliability, DO NOT GET A REFURBISED/REBUILT/RECONDITIONED/USED HV Battery or swap out modules. If you are going to get rid of the car in days/weeks/month or two, then get one of those listed above or just discount the car $800 (1/2 cost of 2k1Toasters new cylindrical modules).

    New OEM HV Battery can be had as low as $1600. You will have to call around to see if dealers will sell to you and if they will beat or match other dealers who have discounted online prices. No dealer will ship the HV Battery due to costs. Olathe Toyota, Olathe, Kansas, sells parts online. They no longer list the HV Battery for sale. Call and see if they will sell to you as will-call pick-up. Very good chance that Olathe Toy will match other Toy dealer online price.
    Battery - Toyota (G9510-47031) | Toyota Parts
     
  6. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    If you know the 12 ways to find bad modules before they go bad and are willing to invest in diagnostic gear, or know somebody who does, you can swap out bad modules and recondition pack several times over a 1/2 dozen years and spend less money over that time than you'd spend on a new pack all it once up front.

    It's also incredibly wasteful to junk a whole pack just because one cell out of 168 cells have failed. Of course in this era of hyper-consumption everyone will be way too eager to tell you that it's a sin to not consume as much as possible rather than the true virtue of just making do with what you have for as long as possible.
     
    #6 PriusCamper, Jun 17, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
  7. exstudent

    exstudent Senior Member

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    The packs aren’t junked. Toyota supposedly sends it to a recycler to recover the the NiMh metals from the Battery.

    It’s about reliability. The OPs lifestyle and employer may not tolerate vehicle breakdowns. Most people want to avoid this if they can and if it’s affordable. Yes module swapping is CHEAP. But it comes at a price (reliability), that I choose not to pay. I want to do other things with my time than doing unnecessary maintenance.

    You and I are not paying their bills and visa versa. They will do what they deem fit for their lifestyle and finances, as you and I will.

    I place a premium on reliability and have more than 2cents to rub together to afford reliability. Call me a greedy wasteful sob! Thank you for the compliment.

    Don’t forget the reality.
    Used will never outlast new.
    The Gen2 modules (2004-2009) are getting older everyday. Currently 10-15years old.
    A module, or two, or three, has failed. The remaining modules in that pack will follow suit at some point down the road.
    By analogy, one does NOT buy a used tire expecting it to last as long as a new tire.
     
    #7 exstudent, Jun 17, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
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  8. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    Well there's plenty of people that don't buy new tires because all they can afford is the ones at the junkyard... Likewise 2/3rds of Americans have less than $2k in emergency savings, so your let them eat cake strategy for the starving people without bread is out of touch with what majority of people can afford to make.

    As for recycling the packs, only a tiny portion of the valuable metals is refined from junk pack and the rest is unrecyclable.... And having another module go bad doesn't mean you're instantly broken down on the side of the road. You get a bit, though not much, time to address it.
     
    #8 PriusCamper, Jun 17, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
  9. sam spade 2

    sam spade 2 Senior Member

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    "Good with tools" might not be as important as "has experience working around high voltages".

    You might save a couple of hundred by checking with other Toyota dealers.

    I personally would NOT put $3000 into a 14 year old car with over 100K miles......any car.
     
  10. Skibob

    Skibob Senior Member

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    It’s not 3000 dollars if you do it yourself Sam and you know it. I would easily toss down 1600 minus how much you can sell the good modules for to keep a Prius in the low 100,000’s going.
     
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  11. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    This situation unfortunately reoccurs with older Prius.

    And really?
    The choice is all yours.

    I do not think it's an invalid choice to invest into a new Hybrid Battery especially when you say....

    If it is in great condition otherwise, a new Hybrid Battery I think could return you several more years, and possibly a lot more miles of driving.
    $3000 is a considerable investment. But I don't think you compare that investment against the Blue Book value of the vehicle, but against the value of the working vehicle to you.
    What for $3000 could you buy, that would give you better gas mileage and "potentially" better reliability?

    In any case, whenever this does come up, I think it just has to be owners choice. I don't think there is a wrong answer here. If you don't feel like continued investment into a now 14 year old vehicle, I think it's fine to move on.
    If you want to invest the $3000, with the non-guaranteed hopes of years more usage? I think that's a reasonable gamble.

    My only opinion beyond this, is that I would recommend a Toyota OEM replacement. Too many bad stories about refurbished or rebuilt batteries. I've read several threads where people have had problems with various aftermarket rebuilt or refurbished batteries. Few if no threads where anyone complained after replacing with a genuine Toyota OEM Hybrid Battery.
     
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  12. sam spade 2

    sam spade 2 Senior Member

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    I also know that a really LOT of people have NO BUSINESS trying to do something like this themselves.
    Some people can't even connect the 12 V cables to the right posts.

    AND.....if you read the posts carefully and try to absorb the "big picture", you should be able to tell who is capable of their own repairs and who is not.......to some degree.

    I think that encouraging someone to dive into something that they can't handle is IRRESPONSIBLE.
     
  13. sam spade 2

    sam spade 2 Senior Member

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    It would buy you about 20% of a brand new KIA. Maybe as much as 50% of a good used one.
    And the gas mileage might not be THAT much different.
     
  14. Skibob

    Skibob Senior Member

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    So how exactly did you assess the husbands mechanical ability from his wife’s posts?
    If you read post #4 you will see I asked how her husbands mechanical ability was as I have no idea, unlike you who pulled they can’t do it out of your behind.
     
  15. sam spade 2

    sam spade 2 Senior Member

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    Maybe that she is asking US these questions instead of asking HIM.
    Just maybe.
    It is a guess, not exact science.
     
  16. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    That actually made me laugh.
    20% of a brand new KIA?

    You can't drive that.

    Like I said, I personally believe there is not a wrong answer here.
    The OP defines the Prius in every other regard as being in "Great Condition" and I think that is key.

    There is no way to change the reality that it is a 14 year old vehicle. So continued investment does come with risk. But from experience in this very forum we have Prius owners with 200,000 and counting.

    For me it would come down to how I felt about the condition of the vehicle in all other regards. Because the truth is, the day the vehicle left the factory, the battery was on timeline to eventual failure. It made it about 15 years. That's a pretty good run and return.
    Throw a new Hybrid Battery in it?
    Well being a non-mechanical, chemistry based component, at that point, you could stop worrying about Hybrid Battery failure.
    At 14 years old, you might end up worrying about anything else. But with any luck, one of them wouldn't be the Hybrid Battery.

    Conversely it is a 15 year old vehicle. Great condition or not, every component in it, has at least 15 years worth of aging.
    If someone decided the best move was to simply move on?
    I also think that's a valid decision.

    If you invest into a Hybrid Battery, I think you do so realizing that other components could fail, in other words, you could end up with future repairs of various expense. There's no guarantee.
    It is a gamble.
    One I think really only the owner can decide if they are willing to take.
     
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  17. landspeed

    landspeed Active Member

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    The Prius is barely run in mileage wise, so it is worth saving. Are there other problems, in particular any weird seal-barking noises from under the bonnet from the brake actuator?

    The options are;
    1. Toyota original battery. Can be got cheaper than quoted price and can be installed easily in one piece. You need linesman’s high voltage gloves or you will be killed*, however, if you do the install. That said, getting Toyota to install still isn’t a bad deal if you want the car for many more years.
    1. new cells in the link in my signature below. These are also good but you need someone to install them.

    3. DIY refurbishment. This is what I will do on mine when it goes. You can bring cells back to life, usually, replace dead cells. Reliability decreases, but if you have live data monitoring you can see the fault coming and plan for it. This option needs a lot of spare time, and you need a backup car for when your car is off the road and the battery is out being refurbished. This is the most environmentally friendly option if you plan ahead and redo the battery at weekends, planning in advance before the next module fails.

    666. Get a refurbished pack with warranty. It will have a whole mix of cells, from gen 2 and gen 3 cars. It will go out of balance and throw codes. Warranty swaps will waste time, and you need a second car as a backup. When the warranty runs out you have wasted your money and have a very dodgy pack. In fact your current pack is no doubt in better condition than a reconditioned pack right now, except for one bad module.

    It may not even be your battery. The battery computer corrodes and throws error codes on some cars including mine, as one example.

    Get a laptop capable of running 32 bit windows secondhand, can be had for almost no money, get techstream, and do diagnostics. A simpler option is get an OBD2 dongle to connect to tablet or phone (need a wifi dongle for iPhone, Bluetooth for Android) - it won’t give you all the codes, but will show lots of good info, including which cells are dodgy from codes, but best of all, you can see the voltages of each module in real time and see what is going on (if a cell flicks between positive and negative or jumps up and down in fractions of a second, then the problem is the voltage sense system, not the cell / module, for example)

    *the high voltage is similar to a defibrillator, and will stop your heart, also it will activate your muscles so your hands ‘clamp’ onto whatever you are holding, and you can’t override this as the voltage is higher than your nerve impulses. I have done work without any gloves, but I took certain precautions. Still a stupid idea! You must have gloves if opening up the battery and swapping cells. Linesman’s gloves, usually 1000 volts. Note that even the connectors to the battery computer (orange voltage sense plug) are always live and can easily kill you, and often are overheated with exposed metal wires as well.....
     
  18. lparnell

    lparnell New Member

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    Thanks, everyone, for all the replies and options. Just to answer a few of the discussion topics and let you know the decision:
    1. My husband was out of town when the warnings originally came on, that's why I was the one doing the research and trying to figure out what to do.
    2. He is very handy with home repairs, general handyman stuff, but only basic knowledge of cars and admittedly NOTHING about hybrids, so doing it himself was not something he really considered. He replaced the 12v successfully, but that's all he wanted to attempt.
    3. Ultimately he had the Toyota dealer order up a new battery and install it. Unfortunately that took almost a week, and the check engine light came on during the test drive. It needed another new part and we still won't get it until tomorrow. I will update this when I read what that was (something about coolant? They told my husband, but I don't know). Anyway, this speaks to the idea that other parts will go bad on an older car. As The Electric Me said, it is a gamble. We know that -- the problem is that we don't want a car payment, need a reliable vehicle, and know that we take that same risk with any other used car that we would buy for $3000. And fact of the matter is, we now love the car. So hopefully it will last us another 4 years until we are done paying the orthodontist for kids' braces and then can buy a brand NEW Prius. : )

    Thanks again for allowing me to get on this Forum and join the discussion!
     
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  19. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    FWIW, I think you & hubby most likely made a good decision. Hopefully that coolant issue is minor and you'll enjoy several more years of reliability. My wife loves her '07 and plans to drive the wheels off it. She just wants me to keep it running. (y)
     
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  20. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    really, at 100k, the rest of the car should hold up pretty well, as far as expensive repairs are concerned
     
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