Air Intake Vent causing hybrid battery to overheat?

Discussion in 'Prius c Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by AZPriusdriver, Mar 26, 2016.

  1. AZPriusdriver

    AZPriusdriver New Member

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    I have a 2012 Prius C that I bought in the winter of 2013 new from a dealership. The first spring/summer, when it would get hot outside, above usually 87°, I started experiencing 2 major issues.

    The first was that after being parked outside, when I would start/try to start the car, many times all the warning lights on the instrument cluster came on and I had to turn off the ignition, wait a couple of minutes and repeat this same thing at least twice before I could get the car to actually start properly. Being that I live in the desert, this is a huge problem.

    The second issue is that at times (again, only when hot outside) after I got the car started or was already driving it, it would just lose all power and leave me stranded and stuck in the path of oncoming traffic. This happened at least three times: Once when I backed out of my mother's driveway, once after backing out of a parking space at a business, and once trying to pull into a parking space at a medical office. At that time, I couldn't even get the keys out of the ignition.

    So in the summer of 2013, I took my car info my Toyota dealership where I was told there couldn't be a problem, that I needed to leave the car there and return daily (by foot?) to start the car to recreate the problem. They said my screenshots and video were of no help and insisted that I could not have the problem.

    I just lived with it until recently moving to my mom's, where my car is now always parked outside.

    So I've talked to and been at the dealership twice in about a 2 week period and both times, I have felt that they are blaming me for this whole thing and truly do not care or want to deal with this issue.

    The first time in, they tried to blame a friend who pressed the gas and brake at the same time while driving my car in the winter (nothing happened) for the problems I had since spring/summer 2013, and the second time in, they blamed my air intake vent, saying it was full of my hair, my dog's fur and dirt and that is causing the battery to overheat and cause these issues when it's hot out.

    They cleaned it and told me to vacuum it out weekly to prevent this from happening again. My car is really clean! Especially compared to other people's cars. And I know a ton of people with Priuses who have long hair, dogs and a car exposed to dirt who have never had the issues I have in the summer. It makes me fear driving my own damn car!

    I think they're giving me the runaround and are full of crap, but I don't know how to get them to care. I fear for my elderly mother's life, mine and my dog's should the car just lose all power while we're in traffic and I really find it hard to believe that the air I take vent could be the real issue.

    But they insist that if the diagnostic codes and software show no codes, then nothing happened. I used to do programming/coding and I know that is crap.

    I read a case of another Pius owner who had the same issue, but codes were actually found. No codes re: this issue were found with mine. I am sure the problem must be a sensor, capacitor and/or other electrical issue, but the dealership refuses to do anything about it.

    Has anyone else ever had these issues? If so, were you told to vacuum out your air intake vent weekly? Did any of you know this was even a possibility when you bought your Prius?

    And can anyone suggest a solution to find the real problem?
     
  2. jeff652

    jeff652 Senior Member

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    The Prius C hybrid battery cooling fan intake is on the floor of the rear left seat area. So if someone sits behind the driver seat, their feet are right in front of the HEV battery intake. If you have cargo, bags, or a dog that is in that area, you are blocking airflow. I would keep that area clear of debris to ensure the fan is not the issue. If you want to view the fan and confirm/deny that it is dirty, it is very easy to access. You can follow our charger installation instructions to quickly get to the fan and inspect it:
    2012 - 2015+ Toyota Prius c (Aqua) Installation Instructions - Hybrid Automotive

    The rear most red arrow in this image is pointing right at the HEV battery cooling fan intake vent:
    [​IMG]
     
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  3. AZPriusdriver

    AZPriusdriver New Member

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    Thank you, Jeff652, for such a fast response. I do know where that vent is, which is why the dog never sits on the car floor and I rarely have any more than 1 passenger. At times, for up to 15 minutes at once every few months, I will put a grocery bag with groceries in it there. It just seems to me that this couldn't be the main issue since the summer of 2013 especially because at that time, I never had my dog in the car with me and rarely do now. I typically also have nothing back there most times I drive cause I just don't have that much stuff.
     
  4. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    welcome! actually, if you do some searching here, you'll find that the vent and cooling fan can be a huge problem. it's covered in your owners manual, and it would be a good idea for you to follow jeffs advice above, about checking it.
    you live in a hot area, and when parked in the sun, the battery temps can rise to levels that will cause the cars software to reduce battery use, leaving you with very little power.
    on top of that, it can reduce your battery life, and replacement is pricey. when you drive, you should keep the a/c on high, because the cabin air is used to cool the battery. and get some sunshades to block the glass when parked. all the best!(y)
     
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  5. AZPriusdriver

    AZPriusdriver New Member

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    Thanks, bisco. :) I am constantly referring to my manual, so we're on the same page (no pun intended) there, I have sunshades (got them with all my cars and/or reused the previous ones since we moved here years ago), but I never heard about turning the a/c up so high. I keep it about 77° to prevent me from being too cold and to conserve energy (or so I thought).

    Other than air intake vent, what terms would I search in these forums for more info like this? And why do my friends with the same year and model who have long hair and dogs not have this issue? I really feel cursed at this point, to tell you the truth.
     
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  6. drysider

    drysider Active Member

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    With no codes to interpret, this might not be a battery problem. You should consider investing in an OBD reader and monitoring the battery temperature. You should also physically confirm that the vent system is working and that there is air moving thru the tubes.
     
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  7. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    try battery cooling fan, battery vent, battery grille, etc. we don't get a ton of complaints, so I can see why your friends aren't having problems. can you give us a better timeline, with mileage, as to when your problems started, and how they progressed?

    try private messaging patrick wong. he is in az, and has many years experience.

    you may want to test the 12 volt battery, and also try another dealer.
     
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  8. AZPriusdriver

    AZPriusdriver New Member

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    Wanted to say thank you to everyone who has replied for doing so so fast! If anyone else is here in the Phoenix area, maybe you have some better resources than I do. You guys are just awesome. (y)

    I bought the car in January 2013 and it started having its problems with starting and losing power in about April that same year. There weren't many miles on it then, maybe 1,000. That's when I first took it to the dealership and got blown off. In fact, it has only about 8700 miles on it now. It stopped having those issues in late September 2013.

    Everything was fine with the car - it was the perfect car - until about April/May of 2014. I just lived with it. Again, about late September 2014, the problems were gone and it was the perfect car again.

    Same scenario in 2015, but again, didn't bother the dealership about it cause I knew they'd ignore me.

    However, this year, 2016, has been worse cause we started having excessive heat in February. So last month and this month, the car has suddenly lost power and/or took quite a few times to start due to all the lights on the instrument cluster flashing and the car just not starting.

    I have recently moved in to help my elderly mother, who has Alzheimer's, and I definitely fear having the car lose power as it has already this year trying to park and/or after pulling out of a parking space. But apparently, that is of no concern to the dealership either.

    Whatever is causing it, just when it's hot out, I just want it fixed. I cannot believe it could be that hard.

    Thank you so much. :)

    Oops, how do I do that on this site? I just signed up today and I can't find private messaging. I am on a mobile phone as mom's a hoarder, and I literally cannot get to my P.C or laptop until I deal with the stuff in the room they're in. Sorry to be so stupid about these things.
     
  9. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    no prob. not sure on the phone, but you would go to the search bar in the upper right hand corner, click on it and click on the 'posted by member' line. type in patrick, and his whole name will come up in the list. click on patrick wong, and hit search. his posts will come up and you can click on his name or avatar. an info screen will pop up with 'start a conversation in the upper right corner. click on this and you can message him. let me know if you have trouble, there's probably an easier way, but i'm not good at this myself.:) i hear you, i help with my 95 year old father, it's a big job.
     
    #9 bisco, Mar 26, 2016
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  10. AQUA-K

    AQUA-K Junior Member

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    Ok thats definitely weird and can not be normal. I live in a place where the temperature is normally 32C (89F) or more and on weekdays I park in a place where there is no shade. The temperature inside the car goes up to around 35C during midday. I was driving in the late morning today and outside temperature was reading as 36C (96.8F). But I have never heard about this problem. There are quite a lot of Aqua cars (Japanese version of Prius C) here from models years 2012 to 2015 and if it is a common problem the word gets around.

    What I can suggest to you (and what I do) is:

    * keep at least 1 shutter open about 10mm when you park, that is if you have side window deflectors installed (do a image search on google if you don't know what it is), if you don't have window defectors I wouldn't advice you to keep the windows open until you get them installed. This will reduce internal temperature buildup.

    * Use a sunshade for the windscreen (you said you do that already)

    * Soon as I bought the car I installed 3M Crystalline clear UV protection film on the windscreen. This reduces the internal heat buildup and provide UV protection for you when you drive. Also all side windows and the back window are tinted. Keep this as a mid term option as it will anyway be beneficial.

    * Use a couple of side window sunshades for the side windows and the rear window if the car is not tinted.

    Following information is provided based on assumptions that are based on your description of the problem, I can't guarantee that these will solve the problem and I'm not an expert :) Others in the forum might be able to add to this.

    From what you have described there seems to be two problems (maybe unrelated too). If the battery overheats while driving you should get a warning light on your dashboard (maybe an audio alarm too) well before the car shuts down. So that problem could be something else. Have a look at your cooling system.. airflow to the radiator is not blocked by something, coolant level (be sure to check both reservoirs), make sure the radiator fan is working and have you replaced the coolant? This is the system that cools the inverter/motor unit. Overheating there probably will shutdown the car.

    For the startup problem try switching to accessories mode first before starting the car and stay there for a minute or two, observe the dashboard indicators (they should light up and switch off except for parking break indicator). See if any warning lights are appearing. Are the brightness of the indicators are low? switch on the headlamps and see if the indicators brightness goes down. As suggested earlier get the 12V battery checked.

    Check if the battery cooling fan is working, the thing is it only starts when the battery temperature increases so this could be a bit of a challenge. Maybe you can check after returning home from a drive.

    I'm really sorry to hear about the problems, I know how difficult it is to convince the dealer about intermittent problems like these. Sometimes we have to do the diagnosis and tell them what the problem is. Modern cars have so much of electronics in them it can become a nighmare sometimes.
     
    #10 AQUA-K, Mar 27, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2016
  11. AZPriusdriver

    AZPriusdriver New Member

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    Thank you for all these suggestions. I just need to find a solid block of time when I can do all this since my mom needs so much help.

    I definitely agree with you about today's cars. I actually gathered all kinds of evidence on the NHTSA site because my car has done exactly what another 2012 Prius C did and was recalled for, but the dealership tells me that my car wasn't part of that recall (made in a different state, I assume) so "it can't have that problem".

    I told them it's exactly like what my car experiences whether it's been recalled or not and they just wouldn't listen to me. I might as well be invisible.

    This is weird too. I hit reply and it didn't seem to go through.
     
  12. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    did it say what the recall was for, and the solution?
     
  13. AZPriusdriver

    AZPriusdriver New Member

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    Here's some of the info I got and shared with Toyota Corporate, Customer Care, my dealership, etc., on Twitter. I shared a lot on Twitter.

    I can't at this time find the specific info I wrote down for Toyota cause I'm drowning in paperwork. But I hope to come across it soon.

    Here's what I did find and tweeted.

    When it's hot out, never when it's cold, my car does exactly as @NHTSAgov Campaign #14V05300 says. Apparently, transistors may become damaged from high operating temperatures.

    OMG, how did I miss this? You help your 95-year-old father? That is a huge job!
     
    #13 AZPriusdriver, Mar 27, 2016
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  14. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    that sounds like the inverter recall. not sure if the c was involved, but the result would be a completely dead car i think.MERGEDwell, he's in pretty good shape, but can't drive anymore. so it's doctors and shopping and stuff. the biggest issue is that he's an hour away, just takes all day to get something done, and he refuses to move closer.
     
    #14 bisco, Mar 27, 2016
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  15. AZPriusdriver

    AZPriusdriver New Member

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    You're right, it was the inverter recall. I just found a few things I had hoped they might just look at or check to see if any of these might be the issue, but they wouldn't consider any of them. They wouldn't even look.

    I found all the info I gathered to give them an idea besides the inverter: An electrical panel defect (NHTSA Complaint ID #10524876), a master ECM communication malfunction (NHTSA ID #10820898), and the electronic control unit, although the problem with starting and losing power is exactly what's described in NHTSA Campaign #14V053000.

    A friend who's an engineer told me it could be a shift solenoid or capacitor that might be getting hot and shutting down.

    I have an extended warranty until 2019. Surely, they couldn't be delaying this until the warranty is up?

    Maybe I should just get rid of the Prius. I had no clue it was such a complicated car. I bought it to get good mileage driving on short trips in the city and because I thought it was good for the environment. But if Toyota techs can't even consider that the problem might be something else, then I just don't know.

    Your dad lives an hour away? Geez. I'm so sorry. I kept looking for houses in my mom's neighborhood and making offers for 18 months and then as she got worse, I decided I'd better just move in with her. But it is a huge job and it is very hard to get my own stuff done.

    That's why I started pursuing this again, hoping Toyota might care. If I can just get the car issues resolved, that would be one less thing off my plate.

    So do I keep taking it back (having it towed) to the only dealership I am "permitted" to take it to every time it does something like it does? Do I sell it and buy a more "normal" car? Or do I find a mechanic who will check these things for me who I have to pay to do so?

    Cause clearly, the dealership doesn't want to check on any of these. I don't know why. I told them I'd pay for them to check these.
     
  16. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    i would try another dealership, and also call toyota owner services. hopefully, they will get a field rep involved. i guess selling it might be the only alternative, once you have exhausted all your other avenues.
     
  17. AZPriusdriver

    AZPriusdriver New Member

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    The recall was for, as you guessed, the inverter. The NHTSA describes it as the electrical system, hybrid propulsion system recall. Inverter failure may cause hybrid vehicle to stall. NHTSA Campaign #14V053000. It then goes on to say that it's the intelligent power module inside the inverter module. There was a recall that began March 21, 2014. The details say that the IPM contains transistors that may become damaged from high operating temps, that various warning lamps will be illuminated and that the vehicle may enter a fail-safe/limp-home mode that limits the drivability of the vehicle. The vehicle in the NHTSA info. is a 2012 Prius C. I have a 2012 Prius C. But the dealer said since my specific car wasn't recalled, I couldn't have this issue.

    In the case of the electrical panel defect, which caused a 2012 Prius C to experience a total loss of power and total failure of the hybrid inverter engine, the dealership replaced the entire hybrid inverter motor component under factory warranty.

    But again, my dealership couldn't get any codes for any of these loss of power and non-starting issues or even for the air intake vent, so that was the end of that. The two to three times the car just lost power as I was parking or backing out of a parking space, I was concerned about solving the problem and getting my mom and myself to safety, so I didn't take any screenshots or video.



    merged.


    My mom has almost constant appointments and it takes her forever to get anything done, so to accomplish anything of my own, I have to stay up all night, which tends to worsen my fibromyalgia pain.


    Merged 2


    I wanted to try another dealership, but my warranty wouldn't cover it, apparently. I called Toyota Owner Services multiple times, only to be told that they don't care or to keep taking my car back in to the dealership who can do work on it under my warranty.

    Toyota did get one of their Toyota troubleshooters in there March 22 and that's when they said it was the air intake vent (no code, no warning) and charged me $375 to clean it out.

    I wonder if a mechanic who doesn't actually work for Toyota might be better?
     
    #17 AZPriusdriver, Mar 27, 2016
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  18. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    you might be hard pressed to find someone qualified. is there no way to leave them the car so they can experience it? it's odd that it doesn't throw any trouble codes when it happens. the car is pretty good at sensing that something is wrong, even an overheated battery due to lack of venting.
     
  19. AZPriusdriver

    AZPriusdriver New Member

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    They wanted me to way back in summer 2013, but they said I'd have to go back every day to start it, that they weren't allowed to, and offered me no rental car or other transportation in the meantime. It could have been days I left it there since there is no rhyme or reason to this. I wish they had cared about my screenshots and video then.

    Now, even if the car has lost all power, I hope to get pictures and video before someone hits me. Or maybe I should just have it towed under the extended warranty at that point. Not sure.
     
  20. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    can you post them here?
     
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