Battery Troubles to Inverter Failure

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by Kodota, May 5, 2021.

  1. Kodota

    Kodota New Member

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    Hello!
    My 2008 Prius has been experiencing quite a few troubles lately, culminating in the local Toyota dealership telling me it would run me $5500 to fix. Since that's way outside my budget, I'm coming here for a second opinion. Allow me to start from the beginning.

    My car had been running completely fine up until recently. But when last winter hit (and because of the pandemic), I spent an extended period of time not driving the car anywhere. As you might expect, this killed the 12-volt battery.

    So spring rolls around, I try starting up my car again and I get nothing. So we jump start the car off of my brother's vehicle and it works first time. We give the car plenty of time to accumulate a charge, and by the end of the day I've driven it around a fair bit and turned it on/off a few times. All seems well.

    The next day, I try starting up my car again, and the 12-volt seems to have died overnight. That's disappointing, but not too bad. We figure if we can jump the car again, we can bring it into a shop this time to have the battery replaced. So instead of my brother's car, we use my dad's diesel pickup. Unfortunately, something goes wrong. The car turns on but won't exit accessory mode. We tried turning the car on and off again multiple times. We tried leaving it sitting in accessory mode hooked up to the jumper cables. We might have overdid it, and nothing that we did fixed anything.

    Eventually, we figured "It's probably the 12-volt battery". So we order a new battery and have a local mechanic come out and replace it. Well, it wasn't just the 12-volt battery. Once the new battery was in, we could turn on the car without needing the jumper cables, but it would still be stuck in accessory mode. So I research around and find out that jumping a Prius regularly leads to a fuse under the hood getting blown. I check that fuse on my vehicle and whaddya know, it's blown. So we buy a new fuse, replace the one under the hood.

    Here's where we are today. We put the new fuse box in, and now the car turns on all the way, only to show me a pile of warnings. The big red exclamation mark turns on. The check engine light is on. The lights indicating problems with the battery and the hybrid system are on. It's all pretty dramatic. Luckily, now that the car is turning on we can put the dang thing in neutral and get it towed. So we figured "This seems serious enough that we should send it in to professionals at a dealership and let them deal with it."

    So I sent the car into the local Toyota dealership. After two days of running diagnostics, they get back to me. They tell me the high-voltage battery isn't holding a charge and they think it's caused by a faulty inverter. They say replacing the inverter is going to cost me $5500+. Then once the inverter is replaced, they say maybe the high-voltage will also need to be replaced which would mean another charge. 5k is way outside my budget. The car was originally 4k to buy so at that point I might as well just get another car. I'm having the dealership hold onto my car until Monday. If I can't find an affordable solution in that time, I'm going to have no choice but to scrap the thing.

    Please help. All this mess has been going on for over a month now and it's really wearing me down. Having it all end up being pointless because of an insurmountable charge at the end would just be soul-crushing. Thank you very much in advance to anybody who takes the time to read through all of this and offer any advice.
     
  2. JC91006

    JC91006 Senior Member

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    If the dealer did their diagnosis on the car, there would be trouble codes that were present. You can get that list of codes from them.

    The dealer is probably trying to scare you out of that car and into a new car. It would be reasonable to assume the 2008 HV battery would have an issue since it's 13 years old and wasn't driven for a while. It would be odd for them to say "it doesn't hold a charge", unless their meaning is that one of modules has a failed cell (which is not uncommon for a 13 year old car). And their diagnosis of an inverter failure, might just be a stretch to tell you to dump the car since it'll cost $5000 for the inverter plus another $4000 for an HV battery.

    You have to ask yourself how much you're willing to invest into this car? There are a few items on this car that will need to be replaced if they have not yet been replaced. So this will need some commitment on your part to keep spending money. Here are the common problems that come up after 10 years on this car

    1. combination meter failure - somewhat minor repair
    2. brake actuator failure - major repair
    3. inverter pump failure - minor repair
    4. shocks/struts being worn - medium repair

    5. inverter failure not common (which yours may or may not have) - minor/medium repair if you buy used parts
    6. HV battery failure (common after 12 years) - major repair if you buy new parts

    So basically if you open the one can of worms in investing $xxxx into the car, you will be committed to keep on spending. Either let go now if you have the funds to buy another car or take a gamble and see if you can keep this old girl going.
     
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  3. Kodota

    Kodota New Member

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    Thank you for the advice. I've called the dealer to get ahold of the codes and will post an update when I hear back from them.

    As far as my budget and what I was looking for, when I sent the car in, I was hoping to spend around 2-2.5k at the most. My hope was that I could keep the old thing running for at least another year at relatively low cost, but that might be a lost cause. If a new HV battery is going to run me 4k, it sounds like I'm just SOL.

    My main goal in the short-term is to be able to drive across 2 states for a move. Once I've arrived, I'll be able to mostly get around using public transportation, but getting myself and my belongings there is the issue. It sounds like I'll have to give up on the Prius and find another way to get there.
     
  4. TMR-JWAP

    TMR-JWAP Senior Member

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    If you connected the jumper incorrectly, it typically blows the main fusible link in the underhood fuse box, along with 2-3 fuses. Even with this fusible link blown, the dash will power up but a few ecus won't get power, causing the car to not function. I've been through this rodeo with a few Prii. The fusible link is the white plastic rectangle in the upper left corner of the fusebox. It has a clear plastic cover. Take a look at the fusible link and see if it looks like this under the clear plastic. If so, it will need to be replaced, but can be temporarily (!!!!) jumpered by the method shown in the second photo to allow you to see if the car fully functions or needs additional troubleshooting. Remove and verify ALL the other fuses in the fuse box, one at a time, and make sure you put them back in the proper location.

    Popped.JPG

    Emergency.JPG
     
    #4 TMR-JWAP, May 6, 2021
    Last edited: May 6, 2021
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  5. TMR-JWAP

    TMR-JWAP Senior Member

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    and if you end up scrapping the car, the OEM catalytic converters in the exhaust are currently selling for $1950 on ebay. That should take a bite out of your expenses.
     
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  6. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

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    I agree with TMR, your diesel jump was reversed blowing fuses and you still have some bad. Not guaranteeing the inverter did not get zapped but several others have reverse jumped, replaced all the blown fuses and were able to run again.

    By the way the smart money buys a lithium jump pack with reverse polarity protection. That fusible link isn't cheap or easy to replace and some have been left with lingering parasitic draws even after restoring operation.

    Prius Gen2 Fusible Link Passenger & Drivers Side Views.JPG
     
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  7. Kodota

    Kodota New Member

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    The fusible link box was what I meant when I said we replaced the fuse box. So you're right that it was a problem, but it's already been replaced. I should've been more specific but I forgot the exact term when initially writing. After replacing the fusible link box, I ran into the issue where the car turns on but indicates problems with the hybrid system. Any chance that was caused by a blown fuse somewhere else? It sounds unlikely to me, but I know very little about cars. If all I'm dealing with is another blown fuse that would certainly be a much simpler problem to deal with.

    Anyways, thanks for taking the time to respond. I really appreciate it!
     
  8. Kodota

    Kodota New Member

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    Thank you very much for the tip! That really calms my financial worries in the event that the car doesn't make it.
     
  9. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

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    There would have been other fuses blown besides the fusible link. If you did the link, verify all the cables are secure. One would think the dealer would have checked the fuses but it may be worth doing it again. Be sure to do it one at a time if pulling them AND be sure to return them to the correct slot using a reference. Of course there are more fuses under the dash.

    Finally clear codes, check your 12v and try again.
     
  10. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    Exactly what does or doesn't survive during a backwards jump can involve a certain element of chance, so sometimes just working through things methodically will help you eventually find all the pieces. You can see an example in this thread, where DMAndy made things easier by getting ahold of the wiring diagram, which is a pretty good idea.

    If you look over that thread, I suggest not looking at it thinking "ok, what I find will be just like what DMAndy found" because of the elements of chance involved, but instead thinking "ok, that shows what the process of sorting it out was like, checking something, looking in the diagram to see what that meant, choosing what to check next...".
     
  11. Kodota

    Kodota New Member

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    Would a blown fuse not trigger a code for the dealer to spot? If it wouldn't, then I can see them not checking it, since when I sent it in I only described battery troubles. But also I wonder if a blown fuse can lead to the sort of errors I was getting. The exact indicators were the Charging System Warning Light and the Hybrid System Warning Light (As well as the check engine light). When I saw those, I assumed I was beyond fuses and into some more advanced problem which is why I sent it to the dealer.
    prius-warnings.png

    I'm really hopeful that it's just a fuse issue but I also feel like that's just wishful thinking.

    Thanks for the help!
     
  12. Kodota

    Kodota New Member

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    The vehicle is still at the shop right now, but if/when I bring it back, even if I'm just expecting to scrap it, I'll make sure to give the fuses another look over. I'm sure your link will be very helpful when I do. Thank you so much!
     
  13. JC91006

    JC91006 Senior Member

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    No sure if it's legal to list a used catalytic converter in CA or NY.
     
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