Best Way To Open Car When The 12V Battery Is Dead?

Discussion in 'Prius v Technical Discussion' started by cobolisdead, Nov 15, 2020.

  1. cobolisdead

    cobolisdead New Member

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    So, I am new here. I have had a 2013 Prius V since June of 2013, and it has ben a great reliable family car.

    The only work I have had to do on it was back in 2015, replacing two of the door locks as they weren't working with the power locks.

    This spring, my kids got into the car when no one was looking and left an interior light on. Three days later, the car won't open, because the original factory 12V battery was dead. And the emergency key wasn't working. the local Toyota dealership, who installed these new locks back in 2015, said that it was probably not aligned right when installed, and it would cost at least $110 to fix.

    So on May 6th, after paying a wrecker service $75 to open my car door in my own driveway, I got a new battery from Autozone, and installed it. The car worked perfectly fine, until September 28th when that 12V battery was dead and wouldn't charge. Fortunately, this time the car wasn't locked, and I was able to get a new battery under warranty.

    Cut to Thursday morning, and that battery was dead. Again, the car was locked, so $75 again to get a wrecker to open my car in my own driveway, and yet another new 12V battery later, the car works again.

    Yesterday, I spent the morning working on the locks, and I got the emergency key working! The bad news is that it uses the power locks to work, so if your 12V battery is dead, the emergency key doesn't do anything. That seems like a design flaw, but then again, this is a car with the battery in the back behind an electric hatch so what did I expect.

    So my question is this, what should I do about this problem?

    1. I am not too sure that the kids left a light on the last time, but for that to completely kill a new battery twice is a bit crazy isn't it? Should I be looking for another issue killing these batteries?

    2. Anyone have any suggestions of somehow running some charge points from the 12V battery to the underside of the vehicle to allow me to hook up a charger to it so that it can be opened when the battery dies?

    3. Should I just buy one of those $50 kits on eBay to break into my own car for next time? With three kids 5 and under, I can see this happening for the next few years.

    Thanks for the read and any suggestions that you might have!
     
  2. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

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    Interesting problem. There is no doubt that the incandescent hatch light will run the battery down overnight. Its not a matter if the battery is new or not.

    First thing to do is to avoid the drain. The rear hatch light is marginal at best so I just removed the bulb after a drain incident. The rear hatch is the most common since the hatch is easy to leave partially open while it looks closed. I believe the map lights will stay on as well if they are manually turned on. When operated by the door switch they will time out and turn off.

    As far as an accessible outside jump point, I might consider a fused trailer harness wired into the battery and left under the bumper. Then a mating connector would allow a jump pack to be connected. Obviously this setup would be prewired with great care to avoid a polarity problem.

    [Update: Verified manual key works without power]

    Finally if there is excessive off state current draw, one way to find it is to temporarily wire a meter in series with a battery lead. Using the amp mode and connections on the meter. Ensure all lights are off and the keyfob is away from the car. Breaking the battery connection and inserting the meter will restart all the computers so it takes a few minutes to see the off state current. Normally you would expect to see less than 30 ma. All of this is a little advanced, another approach is to simply measure the 12v voltage in the evening and again in the morning (off in both cases). Hopefully its not below 12v after it sits for hours.

    Measuring off state current:
     
    #2 rjparker, Nov 15, 2020
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2020
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  3. cobolisdead

    cobolisdead New Member

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    I like that idea! I have a trailer hitch installed already. (I should note that I did this to haul little lawn mower trailers, but neve r have done so in the past 5+ years since i got it)
     
  4. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    I was thinking of the plug-in pigtail that comes with many 12V battery tenders. Though this may be too short to reach outside (I was thinking of running it through the rear hatch seal), and really needs to be fused inside the car in case the insulation gets cut where it goes through. So the trailer harness idea is likely better.
    This is news to me, I had understood the key to work purely mechanically at the front door. Then use the (very inconvenient) inside manual release to open the hatch. Or pop open the hood to reach the front jump point.

    Some folks do experience phantom drains that must be tracked down. Aftermarket accessories are sometimes the cause, but not always.

    During these reduced-travel pandemic times, many people are also experiencing dead batteries from insufficient run time to replace the charge continually lost to the always-on electrical housekeeping listening for remote controls, etc. Using a battery tender occasionally, helps out.

    If interior lights keep getting left on, and you don't want to delete the offenders (lamps, not kids), consider replacing the factory incandescent lamps with low current LED models. For this to help, select LED lamps for low current, not for bright stadium lighting as some people prefer. This won't solve the problem of lights being left on, but will greatly extend the amount time you have to discover them before the battery goes dead.
     
  5. cobolisdead

    cobolisdead New Member

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    The key itself turns a little rod that has a large connector on the end that fits in a hole in the actuator. when the key is turned, It spins the little plastic piece in the lock actuator. If you turn it one way, it locks the all of the doors, the other way unlocks all of the doors. It doesn't do anything if the lock actuator isn't plugged into the power locks.

    I should note, that this is a 2013 Prius V replacement lock actuator that I got from the dealership 5+ years ago. Maybe the factory is different, but I doubt that it is.


    I will definitely look into replacement bulbs to help, but the car doesn't get driven every day, as its the family car.
     
  6. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

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    Just checked on my Prius v and the manual key will work to open the driver's door without power. I disconnected the battery negative at the chassis with a 10mm socket. Rotate the key 90 degrees clockwise and the lock disengages. Then open the hood and jump it. No outside jump points needed.

    If you do have power the manual key will energize the power door lock with an audible click.

    If yours doesn't work that way, I would see the guy who changed the locks.
     
    #6 rjparker, Nov 15, 2020
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2020
  7. cobolisdead

    cobolisdead New Member

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    Well, I don't know who it was at the dealership that did it, because it was under warranty they just fixed it. That was five years ago though. Judging now by the work that they did, you can tell they not be the best folks to ask about it. :)

    Take your panel off and give it a try. On mine, without the actuator plugged in, it won't unlock the door.
     
  8. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

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    What panel are you talking about? As mentioned above I disconnected the battery and the manual key still unlocked the driver's door. I could feel the mechanical resistance as it was opening the lock.
     
  9. cobolisdead

    cobolisdead New Member

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    I am talking about the interior panel on the door where you can get to the actuator.

    The forum won't let me post a link to the picture of it, but the Actuator plugs in. You can disconnect that once you take the door panel off. On mine, it had resistance, but simply didn't do anything unless it was plugged in. When I plugged it in, it just used the power locks for the entire car.
     
  10. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    Now that you are past 5 posts, try again.
     
  11. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    It's possible that the shop that did the lock work before left part of the linkage disconnected. The mechanical key cylinder should have a link that mechanically unlocks the door, and a link that electrically signals the actuator (so that the alarm won't go off when it sees the door mechanically opened).

    If somehow yours has been left only connected to the electrical switch, it would behave as you describe.
     
  12. cobolisdead

    cobolisdead New Member

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    I have to wait until tomorrow.
     
  13. cobolisdead

    cobolisdead New Member

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    The link that connects to the key cylinder was disconnected, but after I connected it, all it did was use the power locks when the actuator is plugged in. That is only one place on the actuator where anything electronically connects to it, and that is the plug behind the interior panel.
     
  14. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    Hmm. I do not have a v to go look at. I do have a Gen 3 liftback, very similar car, and the mechanical key definitely mechanically unlocks the driver door. You also have rjparker, who indeed has a v, also telling you the mechanical key mechanically unlocks the driver door, and will do so with the battery disconnected.

    Who replaced the actuators in 2015, and were they Toyota actuators or aftermarket?

    Experience with aftermarket replacement actuators shows that they can be bad in surprising ways, such as completely missing some of their internal parts. This old thread documents that in the specific case of some Gen 1 Prius actuators. Those were built without one of the electrical switches inside (so they would work normally with the power lock, but would trigger the alarm if you used the mechanical key; the car would think you were forcing the door.)

    They weren't one-off defects; if you follow that thread, they came from more than one eBay seller, and when the sellers were informed of the issue and how to test for it on the bench, at least one reported back that every unit in their inventory had the same problem, and at least one completely delisted the product from their store after finding that.

    The disassembly photo of that one showing what's missing inside is an SVG, which PriusChat won't display, so it shows as a broken image where linked above. It was also reposted as an attachment here.

    If you look at that photo (different generation, remember), you can see it has two different linkage 'arms', one in each case half. Both of them would engage mechanically with the latch assembly (and one also took the end of the Bowden cable from the inside lock button).

    If, after double checking very carefully, you do not find a missing or disengaged external linkage in your door, it could be possible that you also have an, um, 'incomplete' actuator, where instead of missing an internal electrical part like the example above, it might be missing an internal mechanical one.
     
  15. Kenny94945

    Kenny94945 Active Member

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    FWIW.
    One could try hooking a the positive cable of a battery charger to the point on the starter where the 12V battery cable attaches.
    Then ground the other charger cable to the frame.

    Just might supply power to open the doors.
    I have not tested this option.

    Good luck.
     
  16. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    There is no starter to connect to on a Prius.

    The hybrid motor-generators have the role of starting the engine, and they are both high voltage AC motors with no accessible terminals.
     
  17. cobolisdead

    cobolisdead New Member

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    Both of my front door lock actuators have been fixed by Toyota under warranty back in 2015, so I would hope that the parts are good.

    If you look at the part for a 2013 Prius V, which I still haven't been on here 24 hours so I can't post a link to, you can see what mine looks like. The actuator connects in a few places. There are two cables coming from the internal door handle. One for the lock and one for the handle. It also connects electronically only in one place, and that is inside from behind the interior door panel. The outside door handle connects to the actuator by pushing down a lever with a rod on the side. The key cylinder has a mechanical rod with a plastic tip on the end that fits into the plastic white piece at the top. When the key is turned, it activates the power locks if the actuator is plugged in. It didn't do anything for me otherwise.
     
  18. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    There are some images available here. I haven't succeeded (so far) in finding any with the case opened.

    The part for my 2010 (non v) liftback is a different part number, but a recognizably similar part. And I can definitely confirm the mechanical key mechanically unlocks that door, power or no. Just as rjparker confirms for the v.

    That one's easier to find inside images of:

    [​IMG]

    You can see there is some mechanical linkage involved from the part twisted by the key cylinder.

    I'm not sure what you'll find if you take yours apart.

    But after all, you did post a forum question about the best way to get into your car when the mechanical key won't mechanically open it. It's possible you have the question because your latch isn't working quite the way other owners' latches work.
     
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