Dead Prius battery, saying goodbye

Discussion in 'Generation 1 Prius Discussion' started by DenisKingly, Oct 10, 2015.

  1. DenisKingly

    DenisKingly New Member

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    The HV battery on my 2003 Prius has burned out at only 125,000 miles. I sent it to the shop after the warning lights came on and my car starting smelling like battery acid. A scan at home gave me codes P3000 & P3009, meaning I already had a good idea of the problem. The tech called it "the worst Prius battery we've ever seen," with an electrical short so bad that he deemed my car a serious fire hazard and wouldn't even park it in his shop.

    The battery will cost a total $2600 to repair. However, the tech also said there is a 50% chance the inverter/stator is also bad--something they can't say for certain with the battery still in the car causing problems. If that is also a problem, that's another $3000. So, I can replace the battery and the car will work fine, or I can replace the battery, be out $2600, yet still not have a working car because the inverter is also broken and the cost isn't worth it. The battery repair itself is about 1/5 of my annual income and I need a car, so this would be a major risk for me.

    I'm not tech-savvy enough to do a battery rebuild, nor do I have the tools for it. Even if I did, I'm not willing to learn car repair on a high-voltage battery. At this point, I think the car is headed for the scrap heap. I'm not looking for advice since I already know my options. I guess I just wanted to share this with other people who understand why it's going to be so hard for me to say goodbye.
     
  2. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Titanic Social Director

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    You've had it a long time? Every time we've traded in, left a car sitting at the dealership, I get this pang, seeing the car sitting there. Kinda like when you're moving, walk around the cleared-out place one last time.
     
  3. S Keith

    S Keith Senior Member

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    See what you can get for salvage and then offer it as-is on Craigslist for the same price. Someone be up for the challenge.
     
  4. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    welcome to priuschat! great car, i hope it finds a loving home. even though you're not looking for advice, i'm not going to give you any. all the best!(y)
     
  5. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web i3 and Prime

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    If you drove the car to the shop, the inverter is working. The only risk is if the 12V DC-to-DC converter as a 12V battery can operate the car for 3-4 hours before it is dead. My car, I'd replace the traction battery and drive my 52 MPG car another 125,000 miles for the price of the traction battery replacement.

    Bob Wilson
     
  6. DenisKingly

    DenisKingly New Member

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    The car does run. I had it towed to the shop because the strong acid smell, which is new, concerned me. They only know that the car showed up on a tow truck and they're getting codes that indicate problems with the inverter and the HV battery. I guess I should ask what you all think the odds are that it's just the battery. Everyone here seems to know the intricacies and quirks of the Gen I, so I trust your wisdom. (In fact, you all inspired me to get an OBD code reader when my car first started acting up, which helped me figure out the battery issue. The auto shop said I diagnosed the issue precisely.) Bob, sounds like you would give my car better odds than 50-50?

    Honestly, I would love to keep my car. I'm the original owner and it's been lovingly maintained since I got it. Strangers tell me how great my car still looks. The interior looks brand new. I can't let my attachment to my car lead me into a stupid financial decision, though. If I were sure it was just the battery, I would fix it, no question. But I'm not sure, and there's the rub.
     
  7. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web i3 and Prime

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    Everything you've told me tells me the inverter is OK.

    If you want a second opinion:
    (919) 774-4037 - Taylor Automotive
    1007 Hawkins Avenue
    Sanford, NC 27330

    Rex has sold the business but I would trust the people he trusts.

    Bob Wilson
     
  8. greasemonkey007

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    The battery will cost a total $2600 to repair.[/QUOTE]
    I say not so! You can buy a remanufactured battery through Dorman with a 3 year warranty for less than $1500, and install shouldn't be over $200. You could possibly even find a wrecked one with a good battery for a lot less, like maybe a salvage yard. Sounds like a fear to fix on the shop's part or a way to make big $$$. Also, there's the chance of finding a battery rebuilder in your area. I agree with Bob on the inverter.
    I'd get a battery in it and if the car still has major expensive repairs needed, you could recoup most all of the battery cost and still sell the car if you chose to. I wish I was closer. Here's an 01 I fixed with 246,000 miles on it and THE worst battery I've seen:
     

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  9. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    You say ONLY 125,000 miles.
    But this vehicle has been on the road for 13 years.

    So I'm not so sure it deserves that negativity.
    Regardless of the overall mileage on my Prius if I get 13 years of service from the HV battery I'm going to be happy.

    As far as repair?
    Well...as I say to almost anyone in any situation where a large repair comes up on an older car, to me it comes down to budget and really the condition of the rest of the car.

    A 3-5 thousand dollar investment into a vehicle that is in otherwise good shape, could result in another relatively problem free decade plus of having an economical paid for vehicle.

    But if you think the vehicle is on the verge of a cascade of multiple needed repairs or issues and hasn't been maintained well? Then it may be time to move on.

    Your Call.
     
  10. xliderider

    xliderider Senior Member

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    To the OP, sorry to hear about the failed battery... have you ever had the transaxle oil drained and filled in the vehicle's lifetime? If you didn't, that may factor in on your decision on whether to drop a new or rebuilt HV battery into this car.
     
  11. DenisKingly

    DenisKingly New Member

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    In looking back over my records, there were issues with the panel lighting up when I drove the car on a hot day but not in the mornings, which seems like an inverter coolant pump issue. At the time, the shop couldn't reproduce the problem (probably because they didn't drive it enough for it to overheat), so nothing was done. There's a chance that eventually burned out the inverter. Or maybe it just needs a new pump.

    Bob, I'll give them a call tomorrow. Thanks for the recommendation.
    greasemonkey, I think they're using a Dorman battery, which they priced at $2100 plus labor. They said they don't do rebuilds on the '01-'03 batteries anymore because they had a low success rate, whereas they do rebuild '04-'09. I'm not sure where I could get it done cheaper. That seemed to be the best deal around here. And that battery does look bad! Haven't seen mine, but I'll ask them to send me a pic.
    The Electric Me, thanks for the pros/cons. Though the car has been well maintained, it's certainly possible I overlooked something major.
    xliderider, not sure about that off the top of my head. General Prius maintenance has been done on it. If that's part of it, then yes.

    My mind is slowly moving back toward fixing the car. Yesterday I was sure it was scrap. :confused:
     
  12. greasemonkey007

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    I can buy the Dorman, retrofitted with 2nd gen modules in it, for less than $1500. Maybe they're marking it up more there. I don't suppose all resalers have to charge the same price. I've personally seen that the one I installed for a customer had the 2nd gen modules in it as I was told it would from the people at Dorman. And yes, the 1st gen modules are usually no good. I've got 34 good ones and out of 2 more packs (76 modules) I was unable to get 4 more good ones to make a complete pack. But the 2nd or even 3rd gen modules can be retrofitted into the 1st gen pack if you change all 38 of them. This is what I do when I can get enough 2nd gen cores. Right now I have just enough to build one 1st gen pack, which I need for my car.
    If the stator goes out in the transmission, the car will shake pretty hard from what I've heard. I haven't experienced that problem with any of mine. If you haven't either, then I wouldn't worry about that. If it were me, after I fixed the battery I would definitely make sure the inverter pump is pumping. Open the inverter coolant reservoir and turn the key to ignition and see if you see coolant swirling around. Also, look at the pump to see what color the mounting bracket is. I'm not sure when they changed it to silver, but if it's not silver and looks black or rusty like it's the original one, you may want to consider replacing it for preventive maintenance, depending on how much turbulence you see in the reservoir. If you change the pump, you'll want to add new coolant. I've tried the Prestone but you can't see the fluid level in the reservoir so I buy the recommended Toyota fluid. I buy the full strength and mix it myself. I gallon makes 2, which is enough to do the inverter AND the engine block. And as mentioned above, if the tranmission fluid hasn't been changed, I would definitely drop the pan to clean the magnet off, change the pan gasket, and put new fluid in it, 5 qts. of Toyota T-IV. Check the serpentine drive belt to make sure it's not all cracked up.
    Now you're probably back in a worry free car, ready for many more miles.
     
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