Classic Hybrid Battery Gone "Bad"

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Technical Discussion' started by 2001prius, Dec 15, 2008.

  1. 2001prius

    2001prius Freaking Out New Member

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    Basic Problem: I have a 2001 Classic Prius with just over 150,000 miles on it. It seems to have problems with the hybrid battery (HVB) very similar to those posted by titus37 on 11/26/07 (priuschat.com/forums/prius-technical-discussion/40050-my-2001-hybrid-battery-needs-replaced.html).

    I am the original owner, so I know that it did have the SSC-40G battery rework (from a recall) done on it. OBD-II codes it is currently throwing are P3006 and P3017. Dealership says that "Block 7 is weak", and that it's voltages are only hovering between 12.0 to 14.2. Apparently all of the other blocks are in normal range.

    They say that "recharging that type of battery is impossible", even though I've read stories about people doing it on this forum. They also say that it is impossible to replace just one block, even though I've read about it and even seen them for sale on Ebay.

    They want me to pay $2600 for a new HVB plus around $600 in labor, and they say that Toyota does not sell reconditioned HVBs. I mentioned that I'd seen some for sale for around $800 on Ebay, and they said if I gave them a part they would put it in but give me no warranty (understandable enough).

    I asked why my other mechanic did not see any of the diagnostic codes on their scanners, and I was told that only a Toyota Dealership's scanners can give the diagnostic codes for the hybrid battery. (That doesn't seem very helpful! Who knows what got "fixed" that didn't need fixin'???)

    This isn't my only car, so I am in more need of finding the least expensive solution than I am in getting it back ASAP.

    Please help with advice on what I should do from here. Am I better off buying the new HVB or getting one from Ebay? How would I know how long it would work or if it was any good to start with? Would I have to have the Toyota dealership install it, or would I be better off finding someone else? Any other suggestions????

    Background Story: For years, my Prius has been giving me the red triangle of death (you know, with the exclamation pt in the middle for emphasis that a Toyota dealer MUST help you right now) on and off for many years. No one could ever figure out "why", not even a dealership. So they just told me to keep driving with it b/c they couldn't find anything actually wrong.

    Well, two weeks ago, the BRAKE light started randomly coming on while I was driving. Like titus37 described, the accelerator wouldn't work again until I turned the car off and back on. Everything I read on this forum said to take it in to the shop right away. So I did.

    Well, my trusted mechanic said that it was time for all new brakes, and I'm actually sure that it was time for that. Unfortunately, fixing the brakes didn't stop the BRAKE light from coming on randomly. They tried 3 different scanners, but none of them would give any diagnostic codes (so they said). They did their best to try to figure it out for a couple of weeks but finally decided that I was going to have to get it towed to a dealership.

    So now the dealership has it in Raleigh, NC and is awaiting my call on what to do with it next.

    Thanks for any advice,
    Holly
     
  2. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Hi Holly,

    The DTCs logged are consistent with a failed battery module. It is not a trivial matter to replace the module and this action is contrary to Toyota's repair philosophy - so the dealer techs will not do this. The replacement module may not work well with the rest of the battery so there's some risk in implementing that solution.

    The least expensive solution in the short-term is to purchase a salvage traction battery and have it installed by your dealer. However there's no assurance as to how long the salvage battery will last or for that matter whether it is good to begin with.

    $3,200 is a lot to pay for a new traction battery considering the age and odometer reading of your car.

    Good luck with your decision.
     
  3. 2001prius

    2001prius Freaking Out New Member

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    Does anyone else think that I shouldn't bother paying the money to get it fixed? I was just figuring that even if it was $4,000, that was less money than I'd pay for a new car. At least I haven't been making any car payments on this one for a couple of years.

    Anybody know how long the internal combustion engine in these cars should last? At about what mileage do they usually need to have serious work and at what cost?

    I've never had to have any non-routine maintenance on the car (that wasn't a recall item) except to have to have the oxygen sensor in the catalytic converter system replaced about a year ago (~$350, supposedly because of bad placement under the whole rest of the exhaust system).
     
  4. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Hi Holly,

    The gasoline engine is quite reliable. With your Prius model, I would be more concerned about failure of the following systems: transaxle, inverter, electric power steering, catalytic converter, MFD, front struts/rear shocks. Failure of any of the first four will result in a four-digit repair invoice at the dealer; a new transaxle will be a $6K charge.
     
  5. philmcneal

    philmcneal Taxi!

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    yea there was a 01 prius with 300 k highway miles on it so the gasoline engine is the least of your worries.

    we had classic owners that had transaxle problems before HV battery problems arises.
     
  6. 2001prius

    2001prius Freaking Out New Member

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    Would there be any warning signs of the transaxle going bad?

    This is a tough call....
     
  7. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    No. One day the car is fine. The next day your dashboard resembles a Christmas tree and you can hear strange drivetrain noises.

    Speaking of the transaxle, have you periodically replaced the transaxle fluid using 5 qt of Toyota ATF T-IV and also replaced the engine and inverter coolant fluids per the maintenance schedule?

    Sorry, but an older, highly complex vehicle like Classic Prius has the potential to be highly expensive to maintain post-warranty, unless you can DIY and install salvage parts as needed.

    Regarding the "background" story on your post #1, did any warning lights appear besides the master warning light (red triangle)?

    Regarding the BRAKE light appearing two weeks ago, did the dealership determine the reason for that light coming on?

    Regarding your question about your independent mechanic's inability to retrieve DTC, this is because Prius has multiple ECUs that can produce DTC: engine, hybrid vehicle, skid control, electronic power steering, traction battery (to name the most likely). This will confuse a regular OBD-II code reader, so you need to rely upon a Toyota dealer service dept or an independent that specializes in Toyota vehicles and owns the correct diagnostic laptop or hand held tester. Certain of the ECUs can produce three digit subcodes that provide additional detail regarding the failed component; a regular OBD-II code reader has no ability to retrieve the subcodes.
     
  8. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web i3 and Prime

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    There are not a lot of choices with a bad traction battery. One member of "Prius Technical Stuff" tried module replacements but what happens is the next weak module fails. There are 38 so it doesn't take long.

    A salvage traction battery is possible but it is a 'pig in a poke.' You don't have anyway short of the word of the seller that it is OK, much less, how much life it has left in it. Even now, we don't have a good protocol for measuring the capacity of modules except to remove them and individually test them.

    The price of a new NHW11 battery is high but it also returns the car to service. Find another way to spend $4,000 for a car that gets 52 MPG (in my case) or even 45 MPG, the GreenHybrid average.

    We have seen some transaxle failures associated with a 'humming' due to shorted windings of MG2.

    I checked the distance but 552 miles from Huntsville is 10 hours, one way just to travel there. There is one excellent Prius mechanic in that area but he may have work limitations that prevent him from helping on this one.

    Check with the dealer and maybe he'll let you use the old vehicle as part of a down payment on a 2009. But this puts you back in the car-payment mode. Still, with the price of gas down, between now and about the end of February, you have some 'negotiating' room.

    Now if you have an interest in self-maintenance, it is possible to keep an old Prius running for a long, long time. However, this is not for everyone.

    Bob Wilson
     
  9. paprius4030

    paprius4030 My first Prius

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    Here'sy 2 cents. I'd get a battery off ebay, get your car running, then sell it or trade it in on a new Prius.
     
  10. andyprius

    andyprius Senior Member

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    How does the Prius HV battery warranty apply in your state? If not at all. I would be tempted to buying as newer battery as possible from salvage. Since you have another car, time is not of the essence, and it may be really fun disassembling the HV baterry and determining the healthiest modules. This way you'll have some extra spare modules. I suppose also determining good modules would require some research and building a load bank. By just comparing modules, good ones should be quickly recognizable. As for selling or keeping after repair that's of course your choice. As Pat said, for a new battery (guaranteed by dealer) for $4000, is not a bad price.
     
  11. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

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    You may be willing to negotiate with Toyota Customer Experience Center 800-332-4331 for a cost share. Such efforts have had some success in the past.

    Also Toyota talked about battery refurbishment in a press release

    Toyota: Reconditioning Can Extend Hybrid Battery Life

    But I have not heard of that program actually happening in the real world.

    With appropriate caution and skills, a salvage HV battery and yours could be combined into the best 38 modules, which would hopefully have a long service life.

    However if you cannot go any of these routes, Paprius4030 may offer the best plan. Good luck and keep us informed please.
     
  12. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Hi Bob,

    I wanted to comment on this. IIRC that member lives in hot Florida, and relatively high ambient temps year-round don't help battery longevity as electrolyte loss is accelerated. I agree that the concept of replacing one failed module is not going to result in a long-term solution.

    Recall Florian Steiper's approach of replacing six modules at once: the two modules from the failed module pair plus two modules on either side of the failed pair, under the theory that localized heating would prematurely age the adjacent modules so for preventive reasons replace them all at once. He's reported good luck with that approach. Of course ambient temps in Germany are lower than in Florida and that may also help.
     
  13. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web i3 and Prime

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    There have been two module replacement experiments with different results and I wish we had better documentation for both experiments. Meanwhile, I'm hesitant to recommend this approach to folks who don't have the equipment, understanding of series batteries or a work area. I could be wrong and the original poster might yet volunteer that she has these resources and/or the time and energy to acquire them. If so, I'd welcome her at PTS and we could begin the experiment.

    Bob Wilson
     
  14. Winston

    Winston Member

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    I would go the ebay route. It is an older, high mileage car. It does not need a new battery. A used one should get you another 50k miles. It is a gamble, but you are also gambling on the transaxle, etc. A used battery is a $1500 gamble. A new battery is a $4000 gamble.
     
  15. archae86

    archae86 Member

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    I have no specific Prius insight regarding single module replacement, but speaking from general terms, partly drawing my professional background as a semiconductor reliability guy:

    Replacing a single module is essentially a bet that is was a significant outlier compared to the rest of the pack. If true, and if it has not harmed the neighbors by heat, you might do well.

    However, if the module differs from the rest of the pack only by normal manufacturing and (local environment) heat history variation, then more modules are likely to follow rather soon.

    My impression--others can correct--is that for your generation of Prius and your likely usage scenario, the failure is not enough earlier than expected to warrant optimism on the single module path.

    So if you really want to keep the car, a salvage battery seems a better bet, if you can find one for which there is good reason to think it is quite a bit earlier in its usage history than yours.
     
  16. donee

    donee New Member

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    Hi Archae86,

    The earlier generation Prius batteries had higher resistance cell-to-cell connections. This is why the point was brought up. Its also probably why the Florida Prius had the battery become defective at 150K miles. This was one of the improvements between the first and second generation - reducing battery interconnect resistance.
     
  17. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

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    Please forgive my ignorance of the battery/charging system but doesn't the series design put more load on an entire bank when a single module gets weak? If a single module is failing then the cells in the whole bank are going to be driven to a higher state of charge to compensate (and at a slightly increased current per cell, correct?) In doing so their lives would be shortened as well, correct?
     
  18. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Hi Shawn,

    A separate ECU is dedicated to monitoring the Prius traction battery. This resides within the traction battery enclosure.

    Voltage sense wires run to each module pair, so that the traction battery ECU is constantly monitoring the voltage of 19 module pairs in the case of Classic (and 14 module pairs in the case of 2G).

    The battery ECU expects that the various module pair voltages will track very closely to each other. If one module pair voltage drops down below the others (due to a failed module) then the ECU will log DTC P3006. It may also log a DTC that identifies the specific failed module pair, as was the case with the OP's vehicle.

    Since the battery ECU is keeping track of the health of each module pair by constant voltage monitoring, then if a module pair incurs a failure, this will become immediately apparent to the driver (via master warning light aka red triangle and hybrid vehicle or traction battery icon appearing in the MFD).

    Regarding your question about whether a failed module will lead to premature deterioration of the other modules due to overcharging, I think this is unlikely since the battery ECU is monitoring module pair voltages and will not allow excessive voltage to develop. The battery ECU communicates with the hybrid vehicle ECU so that the appropriate charging voltage is produced via MG1 and the inverter.
     
    Diminick likes this.
  19. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

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    Thanks for that explanation, it makes more sense now.
     
  20. That_Prius_Car

    That_Prius_Car Austin Kinser

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    I know when your battery goes bad, you will hear the fan turn on all the time, even when the battery is not hot. And if you ask me, I would go with the new battery, so that way you KNOW it will work, and not go bad in a few weeks after paying all that money.
     
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