Auxiliary Battery Failure

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by IsrAmeriPrius, Aug 29, 2009.

  1. IsrAmeriPrius

    IsrAmeriPrius Progressive Member

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    Auxiliary Battery or Inverter Pump Failure?

    A few nights ago, I was about to take the 05 Prius (53,400 miles) to fuel it up after my 16 years old daughter arrived home from her summer job. She pulled in the driveway and left the car on. I got in and noticed that a warning light just illuminated. It was the VSC light. At that time, the car was on for about half an hour and driven a distance of about fourteen miles. The air temperature along the drive ranged from the low 90’s at her starting point to just over a 100 at home. I started driving. Within a couple hundred feet, I noticed that the air conditioning was blowing hot air and that the Master Warning light, the Check Engine light and the ABS light were on as well as a red car icon with an exclamation mark through it on the MFD (Hybrid System Failure as I found out in the owner’s manual).

    I stopped and turned the car off and on several times to see if the problem could clear up. It did not. I decided to take it to the dealer the next warning, but did not want it to be very low on gas. A mile into the drive, after making a right turn, the car lost power (shifted into neutral) and a message displayed on the MFD to the effect that the parking pawl was abnormal and that the car had to be parked on level surface. I could not shift the car out of neutral or turn it off. Finally, after pushing and holding the On button for a few seconds it turned off. I waited a while and turned it back on and continued on my way. It took a couple more power losses and restarts to get to the gas station which was about two miles from home.

    As I was pumping fuel, I called the service department. They just closed. I called Toyota Roadside Assistance, but it was going to take an hour to get a tow truck. Since the car was outside the initial 3/36 factory warranty, the tow was not automatically covered, even though I have the 7/100,000 Platinum Extended Care Plan. I told the Toyota rep that I’d use AAA. I did not want to leave the car overnight at the gas station or outside a closed dealership. I asked if it was safe to try to limp home. He assured me that it was safe if I felt safe driving it.

    I started driving home. All of a sudden all the warning lights were gone and the car drove normally. The air conditioning was blowing cold air. About a mile from home, the warning lights and message reappeared. It took about half a dozen restarts to make it home.

    I had AAA take the car to the dealer the next morning on a flat bed truck. The car started right up to drive up the truck’s ramp. The mater warning light flashed on and off once as I turned the car on.

    The diagnosis was that the auxiliary battery shorted out internally and resulted in low battery positive charge (code C1241) and low power supply voltage (Code 2318). I was charged $460 for a new battery and labor charges for installing it and clearing all the trouble codes and stored memory codes. Because the failure was attributed to the auxiliary battery, none of the labor charges were covered by the power train or hybrid system warranties or the Extra Care Plan.

    The warning lights returned the day after the repair, as my daughter was on the way home from her summer job at the UCLA Medical School. Fortunately she was only ¾ of a mile from home, off the freeway and away from busy commercial traffic. She freaked out and pulled over. She is not sure if she lost power. She does remember seeing the master warning as well as the Check Engine, VSC and ABS lights and the Hybrid System warning icon.

    We went to get her and I drove the Prius home.

    Yesterday morning, I drove the Prius to the dealer. The drive was unremarkable. The Master Warning red triangle with an exclamation mark and the Check Engine Light were on.

    This time, I was told that the cause was inverter cooling system failure caused by a Hybrid Inverter Pump internal failure (code POA93).

    At least this repair was covered by the 5/60 power train warranty.

    I asked to be refunded some of the labor charges from the previous repair. The dealer insists that the two problems were totally unrelated and that the pump failure code did not appear after the first episode. OK, I was shown three pages of codes printed after the initial repair. Can’t say that I went through the list with a fine toothed comb, but I’ll take their word for it. Only one code showed up on the printout from the second repair.

    I simply cannot understand how similar problems, at similar points in the drive, under similar conditions, two days apart are not related.

    As a good will gesture, they offered to comp the next minor service on the Prius or the Camry Hybrid.

    My questions are as follows:

    • Why would a weak or shorted aux battery cause a low power supply in the system when the car is running off the HV battery and the 12v system is powered by the inverter for almost as long as an hour? After all, the battery was strong enough to allow the SKS system to function and to start the car. Can I really accept that it was really the root cause of the initial failure?
    • Isn’t it more likely that the low power supply was caused by an overheated inverter than by a failing aux battery?
    • How do I go about proving it?
    Thanks.
     
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  2. Sandy

    Sandy Hippi Chick

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    I had the same issues and it was the 12V battery, I had no issues now in a week, the battery installed and a oil change was 200.00 not sure why yours was so much more.
     
  3. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    A bad 12V battery can drag down the 12V bus, resulting in weird problems.

    As an example let's talk about house wiring. Say you have an old toaster and it shorts out, causing the circuit breaker to trip. Now you go to use the mixer, which is on the same circuit. Funny, the mixer doesn't work? Maybe there is something wrong with it.

    The 12V power supply on the Prius has a finite capacity, so a seriously bad battery can be too much for it.

    Tom
     
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  4. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    I agree with the OP's assessment, and would say that it is likely that the following was the sequence of events:

    1. The inverter coolant pump failed.
    2. The inverter overheated, causing the DC to DC converter to shut down.
    3. When the DC to DC converter shut down, the voltage on the 12V bus dropped, causing the various warning lights to illuminate.
    4. When the 12V battery was put under heavy load, running the vehicle ECUs, brake system, cabin ventilation fan, etc., it failed. (By the way, this is one reason why I advocate preventive replacement of that battery, rather than waiting for it to fail.)
    5. The 12V battery was replaced and the trouble codes cleared, allowing normal operation until the car was operated long enough for the inverter to overheat again (item 2 above).
    6. Item 3 above repeated.

    The way to prove the above would be to see whether the first DTC list included the P0A93 code that warns of inverter overheating.
     
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  5. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    Re: Auxiliary Battery or Inverter Pump Failure?

    Your post has classic symptoms of a low 12 vdc bus, especially the warning about "park pawl abnormal." The first winter I had my 2004, the 10-15 minute commute at -40, constant use of headlights, Max Heat, and constant electric defrost, all dragged the 12 vdc battery down enough to cause weird problems.

    I solved all those weird problems by hooking up a VDC Electronics Battery Minder directly to the 12 vdc battery

    [​IMG]

    and leaving it plugged in overnight when the Prius sat in the underground heated parking at the condo I used to have.

    A battery with a shorted cell can be one symptom of a battery that is badly sulfated and actually overdue for replacement. Since the Prius doesn't use the 12 vdc battery for cranking the motor, it's a lot smaller. You also don't get the typical warning symptoms until it truly dies

    Thing is, if a cell is shorted, you will usually never have over 7-9 vdc. Maybe SKS might work, but I don't see how the car could boot up. But a badly sulfated, old battery can recover a bit if left to sit for awhile. Best option is to replace it

    I'm hoping they properly bled the inverter coolant circuit when the pump was replaced. I guess you'd know by now if they had not! I'm also hoping they fully charged the replacement battery before installing it
     
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  6. IsrAmeriPrius

    IsrAmeriPrius Progressive Member

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    I was shown the three pages list of codes from the first repair. I did not personally go through it; it was too overwhelming. That being said, I doubt that they would lie to me that the P0A93 code was not present while at the same time showing me the list.

    That was the original 12v battery. The car's production date is 08/15/2004. I am sure it was due for replacement. We have seen intermittent signs of a week battery. Weird beeping after turning the car off and refusal to lock or unlock with the SKS (mostly solved by the replacement of the fob battery). If there were newer or more persistent symptoms, my daughter has not told me of those. She has been the Prius' primary driver for the past year. I do know that she sat in the car for an extended period of time, in the Acc mode, about a week before, participating in some survey conducted by GM engineers. I cautioned her never to do that again. The car performed normally for the next four days before the problems started.

    On the day the car started acting up, I had no trouble rebooting it numerous times when it kept stalling and displaying the parking pawl messages as I was limping home.

    It is a large dealership with a well reputed service department. It has many master mechanics who are well trained to work on the Prius. I have a service adviser I trust. Unfortunately he was on vacation last week. My crisis of confidence started when the guy who took care of me, tried to sell me a new air filter and a new a/c filter when he called to give me the diagnosis and the repair estimate. The car was in just three weeks earlier for a routine service and underwent a 27 points inspection. My skepticism only got worse when a nearly identical problem developed the day after they fixed the initial problem.

    Based upon what you and gbee42 have written, I can accept that this was an unlucky coincidence.

    Thanks
     
  7. Salsawonder

    Salsawonder New Member

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    I ran my battery (the 05) down once and had to be jumped then. Like your car mine started doing strange little things like odd beeps here and there. I went out to go to work and it would not start at all. Taxi to work and went out the next day....It opened and "started" but would not work normally (ICE never came on) and I could not shut it back off, all the warning lights were on. Finally (like 3-4 minutes) it just ran back down and totally shut off. New battery installed for $200. Then I got "suckered" into buying a 2010..... ah not much of a push for me I knew I'd never make it off the lot without taking a new one home with me!
     
  8. djasonw

    djasonw Active Member

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    I'm glad to hear everything worked out for the OP. I am just annoyed that he paid so much for the aux 12volt battery. The cost for this part is ~$120. I bought it through a dealer in the midwest online and paid $107 incl shipping. My friend and I installed it ourselves. The most you should have been charged is $200. I'd raise a fuss for sure. As for clearing the codes. Nonsense. Takes all of 3 minutes tops!!! Sorta like taking three duplicate files on my MAC and dragging them to the trash bin. I can assure you that if you raise a fuss, they will reimburse you. Question them on the breakdown of the bill. THIS is why I hate stealerships!!!!
     
  9. Sandy

    Sandy Hippi Chick

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    The price was high for just the batt I paid 138 with tax and 25.00 to install 400.00 seems very high
     
  10. IsrAmeriPrius

    IsrAmeriPrius Progressive Member

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    The battery itself was $189.33 including Los Angeles County usurious 9.75% sales tax. I was charged 2.5 hours of labor for installing the battery and clearing the codes.

    BTW, last year just before the economy tanked, when my daughter got her driver's license, I got suckered into a fully optioned '09 Toyota Camry Hybrid. My daughter now drives the Prius. That is party the reason that I am so upset that a previously very reliable car had two similar break downs in such quick succession.

    Well, the way it was explained to me, they actually had to re-flash the computers, much as they did during the recall a few years ago. I recall that Toyota paid the dealerships for several hours of labor to perform that repair. Do you have any documentation from Toyota that shows that the trouble codes, literally dozens of them, can be cleared in a mere three minutes?

    I did raise a fuss. They gave me $90 credit against my next service. I'll make sure it is used against the 15,000 service on my Camry Hybrid.
     
  11. hobbit

    hobbit Senior Member

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    A couple of things to keep in mind, as our second-gen cars
    continue to age, are:
    .
    Powering up to IG-ON lets the driver *hear* the inverter pump
    running, from inside the car. You can always get out and open
    the hood and hear/feel the pump doing its thing, too. See this
    inverter pump discussion for some backstory.
    .
    While you're up in IG-ON a simple voltmeter check at the underhood
    charging terminal can go a long way toward determining the health
    of the 12V battery. Since the car is powered up from it alone when
    in IG-ON with no help from the DC/DC converter, it's a mild load
    test by itself. If it's getting down toward 11V or less just
    trying to keep the car's electronics alive for a short time, it's
    probably due up for replacement.
    .
    _H*
     
  12. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    Well, it sounds like you had quite the adventure. But at least things are resolved now

    Of course, you still have exciting adventures what with ash raining down on LA from the fires. We've had so much rain this summer, I just about have to wear hipwaders when I mow in the back yard
     
  13. kcpistol

    kcpistol Byte Stylist

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    Patrick do you have a timeframe when the battery should be replaced?

    Thanks
     
  14. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    If you live in an area where you have snow on the ground during the winter or you log below-average miles on the car (say 8K miles or less annually), I suggest you replace the battery after 4 years to reduce the likelihood you will be surprised with a no-start situation.

    My 2004 gets lots of usage and is at 87K miles now, driven in moderate to hot climates. I plan to replace the original equipment battery this winter as the battery will be 6 years old then.
     
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  15. richard schumacher

    richard schumacher shortbus driver

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    The same thing happened with mine. It is plausible that overheating the inverter would cause the flash ROM to lose its mind and require re-flashing. "Clearing the codes" is a poor description of that.
     
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