Having an awful experience with a Prolong kit.

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by ChrisPNW, Sep 6, 2019.

  1. ChrisPNW

    ChrisPNW Junior Member

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    Back in May I bought a Prolong deluxe kit for by 2nd gen. I had a code, replaced a module, and a few months later had another code for a different module. I decided to grab a Prolong since I planned to buy another 2nd or 3rd gen. I figured it would be an investment in some higher mileage Prius battery cells and all of the testimonials I read were positive here and on other forums. My experience has been a slow moving train wreck.

    A bit of background: I'm an IT guy and an experienced tinkerer. I have a lot of experience with DC voltage. I build devices that use thermoelectric plates that require high amp DC power. I'm not trying to brag, just making it clear that when I connected the Prolong wiring harness and checked the voltage with my Fluke 87, I knew what I was doing.

    After connecting the wiring harness, I connected the Prolong charger and it read a perfectly normal ~225V. I didn't have time to run the full charge since it takes days and I need my car so I'd set aside some time to do it later. I decided to use the Dr. Prius app to get a full smattering to test statistics before doing the reconditioning. When I hooked up the charger to start the initial balance, it read -1V. After a minute or so it reads 1V.

    I contacted Hybrid Automotive support. I was quickly told that it sounded like I reversed the polarity on the wiring harness, "all the power supplies of the unit most likely are completely fried", and that it wasn't covered by warranty. I explained it wasn't the case and went so far as to disassemble my car again to verify visually and again with my meter. They had me send the charger back, told me it was working fine, and sent me a photo of it reading a correct voltage. I was again accused of reversing the polarity or missing "something in the installation of the harness". I pointed out that when I was originally accused of reversing the polarity it would have "completely fried" the unit while this person telling me the unit was fine and the problem was I reversed the polarity? Either it fries it or it doesn't.

    I asked for the pinout of the wiring harness and verified that it was reading a correct (positive) voltage of 224V at the wiring harness. I also pointed out some blackening on the termination of the wiring harness as if some arcing was happening.

    They sent me back the charger claiming that it was working fine. I hooked it up to my wiring harness again and it was now reading a correct voltage. This was late June. I just now managed to carve out another week to do a reconditioning. I plugged it in. It read something like 217V. A half hour later I went to check on it again and it was reading 1V. Now it's back to reading -1V again when it's hooked up and 1V a minute or so later.

    The entire time this has gone on with the repeat accusations of my wiring this incorrectly, the deluxe discharger correctly reads the expected voltage from the battery even when the charger is reading -1V.

    Anyone else experienced such horrible service from this company? 4+ days is difficult to carve out to have my car out of commission. My battery needs to be serviced or replaced. I can't keep going back and forth with these people for a $750 kit that I can only manage to find time to use every couple of months while they refuse to acknowledge a problem with it.
     
  2. dolj

    dolj Senior Member

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    I have always had excellent service for HA.

    Was it Nick with whom you dealt? I believe he answers the phones. He does seem to be very good, but if you feel you're not being heard, I'd ask to speak to Jeff, the owner and founder. I'm sure a conversation with him would get this all sorted out quickly.

    One question, before you connect the harness, are you removing the orange service connect? It is a good idea to do this as it prevents a possible arching if you are not quick to insert the harness plug into the charger. It is actually hard to do a quick insert due to the screw ring on the harness plug.
     
    #2 dolj, Sep 6, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
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  3. Prodigyplace

    Prodigyplace Senior Member

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    Just in case he gets time I will tag @jeff652 here so he is aware.
     
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  4. TMR-JWAP

    TMR-JWAP Senior Member

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    When you returned the unit to them for testing, did you have to ship all components back to them or just the charger? Perhaps the problem isn't the charger, but a supporting item? This was one of the comments I had about the kit. The connections at the battery side terminals are pretty cheesy.
     
    #4 TMR-JWAP, Sep 6, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
  5. fotomoto

    fotomoto Senior Member

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    If you have an original 06 battery, the modules could have been manufactured in 05 so those could be nearly 15 years old! IMO, that's now too late for maintenance routines; especially a pack that's had two previous module failures. Get a new battery (modules).

    Gen 3 owners are the ones who should be investing in chargers. NOW.

    My 2 cents.

    GOOD LUCK!
     
  6. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    Sounds like this kit would be a pain for you to use in the best of circumstances, given the downtime schedule required. Looks like a poor fit for your case, and that’s without even touching the installation difficulties.

    I’d return it or re-sell it and put the money towards a new traction pack. Much less downtime, much better car afterwards.
     
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  7. Prodigyplace

    Prodigyplace Senior Member

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    Sonde you are DIY, put your money toward @2k1Toaster it of new cells for $1600. That basically gives you a new pack and you can sell your old non-failed modules to recoup some of the cost.
    Link is in my signature.
     
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  8. ChrisPNW

    ChrisPNW Junior Member

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    George is who I have been dealing with.

    Per the instructions, I removed the main disconnect before plugging it in for the first time for the initial test which was successful. After that, removing the disconnect is not part of normal operation. If I remember right, I followed the initial test instructions a second time and the charger continued to read -1V after that. It also reads -1V with the wiring harness disconnected with it powered on when I believe it should be reading 250V. You are correct about arcing. I noted in my emails to support that there was obvious arcing going on. The device would "pop" when plugged into the wiring harness and the screen backlight would flash. There's also visible fouling on pins 1 and 4 of the wiring harness. However the wiring harness reads the correct voltage when checked with a meter or the discharger.

    I just left it on overnight and checked the voltage directly at the wiring harness with my meter. It's gone up from ~221V (read by the charger before it stopped reading correctly again) to 239.7V. So I can still check the voltage and the charger is working, I just have to disconnect the charger every time I do which is a pain. Since I carved out a weekend to do this I might just keep doing it like this then start another RMA because I don't think I'll be able to find time to do this again until late October.

    They told me to just ship back the charger. The only other component involved is the wiring harness which is simply a cheap plastic plug connected to the hybrid battery terminals. If I connect my volt meter to the wiring harness power delivery pins I can read the expected voltage from the hybrid battery. Also if I plug in the discharger it displays the expected voltage. And as noted above, the charger appears to be working based on the overnight voltage delta, I just have to check the voltage manually by disconnecting the charger and connecting my volt meter to the wiring harness.

    You are very correct. The wiring harness termination feels incredibly cheaply made which is disappointing for something that costs this much.

    As mentioned, I have plans to buy a gen 3 soon which is why I see this as a good investment, if it functions correctly. The car I'm using this on isn't getting a new battery because of an unrelated AC issue.
     
  9. Prodigyplace

    Prodigyplace Senior Member

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    Except Gen 2 & Gen 3 use different charger models according to Hybrid Automotive's site..A charger for a Gen 2 will not work for a Gen 3.
    Gen 2 charger is CO-PR-2
    Gen 3 charger is CO-PR-3.
     
  10. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    That's just a marketing thing... For example the charger they sell as "Master Shop Starter Kit" is the one I bought from a local shop after they upgraded to $6K system.

    This starter kit charger is the highest power charger that's round, not rack-based and is good for the bigger packs in Lexus and Highlander up at 350v... This charger will work on all Toyota & Hondas they sell charging systems for... The sensors in the system will recognize the difference between max charge of an early model Honda at 168v or Gen2 Prius at 240v... HA explained to me that if you're using a more powerful charger than your system needs the final voltage climb in balancing phase will be slightly slower than a charger specific to your exact vehicle. But other than that, as long as you have the most powerful round charger all vehicles are compatible with it.
     
  11. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    Two reasons for such tiny (cheap) wires and terminals:

    1) The white plastic covers over live side of the relays will no longer fit if they used larger terminals. Or at least that's what happened to me when I upgraded to more heavy duty.

    2) For product liability/biz insurance reasons, bolting wires into the live side of a high voltage system is sketchy, but if you build your system to make those wires tiny soon as there's a system failure that wire is going burn up if the fuse doesn't do it first and there's no danger of prolonged arcing/fire starting.
     
  12. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    Just yesterday I plugged in a pack at 224v and 10 hours later Turned it off at 241v as balancing phase was wrapping up. Sounds like you have a defective charger that works sometimes and when you shipped it back them them it was one of those times when it was working.

    One of the best things I like about Hybrid Automotive is that while their prices may be higher than I like, their willingness to replace a failed fan box or charger has always been extremely generous.

    You're less than an hour's drive from me... I'm down in Olympia... So next time you're driving through my town stop off at my place and we can put my Prolong charger on your car and confirm the problem is in your charger. We could also double check you work, which sounds like you did it correctly, but let's get this resolved and get your investment providing value rather than hassle to your life.
     
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  13. TMR-JWAP

    TMR-JWAP Senior Member

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    Camper,

    I have no problem whatsoever with the wire gauge on the harness. The termination is where I have heartache. They easily could have made the terminal lug be the same size as the nut that tightens against it. To me, this would maintain the integrity of the "crush" placed on the HV cable lugs, especially with the specific style nut Toyota uses on the relay terminals. When you install a "small" lug between the nut and the HV cable lug, you're reducing the surface contact area between the nut and the main HV lug. It's just low quality. Not to mention it's a cheap*** insulated crimp on. They could do much better.

    My previous photos:

    Just Another HV Battery Thread and Experiments | Page 4 | PriusChat
     
  14. ChrisPNW

    ChrisPNW Junior Member

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    It appears that way from the checkout screen but this is not the case. The different models of charger/discharger target different battery cell counts and voltage floor/ceilings. 2nd and 3rd gen Priuses have the same number of cells and run at the same voltages. You can see this on the documentation for the charger and discharger (can't post links here yet). The only difference would be a 3rd gen, based on specs, would technically be able to be safely charged and discharged faster but I don't know of the Prolong is taking advantage of the lower resistance rating in 3rd gen batteries.

    Don't worry. I did my homework here and I'm very familiar with battery tech.

    Based on my tinkering this morning I think the charger is "working" just fine, but not displaying the correct voltage reading. It's pushing around 354mA and the battery voltage has risen to the expected ~240V and is now fluctuating indicating a balance is in progress. I'm going to check it every 1-2 hours throughout the day. I think I'll leave it on until tomorrow morning. If I take it off at 7AM it will be about 34 hours on the charger, well under the 48 hour max. Then tomorrow I'll do a 134V discharge, connect the charger again, and check the amps the battery is pulling. I might be able to get through a full recondition and take some detailed videos to send to HA for this second RMA.

    What I would really like to do is disassemble the charger and diagnose the thing properly myself but I'm sure that would void my warranty.
     
    #14 ChrisPNW, Sep 6, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
  15. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    Actually your homework was done incorrectly, I confirmed my point direct with Hybrid Automotive when I first bought the charger... The battery packs are identical in Gen2 and Gen3, the difference is the wiring harness is configured differently (wire lengths) and the fan control box for Gen2 and Gen3 operate in a slightly different way. I've used my 350v Prolong (Pro Starter Kit) Charger on 168v max Honda packs and 240v max Gen2 and Gen3 packs without issue. The charger is smart enough to not screw that up...

    If your charger is not displaying voltage correctly than your charger is not working correctly. As long as you brought this issue up with them before Warranty expired they'll replace it.

    Anyways, glad to know the charger is working again, but make sure it's not at 354ma all the time, the charger is supposed to rapidly fluctuate between .999amp and zero as defined by NiMH algorithm and sensor readings.
     
  16. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    If you find a terminal to replace it with that allows the white plastic covers to still correctly mount on top please send me a link to them, because I've yet to find more heavy duty terminals that fit.

    Also these terminals were designed for a one time install... Unfortunately, because prius drivers are cheap and they don't want to spend $150 on their own harness I have to install my harness just to charge and balance after a rebuild which wears those tiny terminals out real quick. I've though of mounting a plug into the side of the metal casing of the pack for Prolong harness so I don't have to remove the cover to put the harness in every time, but have yet to find a plug and terminals that would be best, meaning safe from shorting out due to water or other unforseen calamities inside the car.
     
  17. ChrisPNW

    ChrisPNW Junior Member

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    I'm well-aware I'll have to buy a new wiring harness for a gen 3. I was not intending on re-using the gen 2 wiring harness.
     
  18. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    --There's no seal on my charger that voids warranty... I've opened mine to look inside and study it more than once....

    --Prolong updated the discharge times to be less severe/less damaging to weak cells a couple months back... If your automated discharger hasn't been updated to new numbers on their online chart/owner's manual you can ship it back to them and they'll reflash the unit for free. This will speed up the reconditioning process big time!

    --Your charge times are taking way too long... Something is definitely wrong with your charger.
     
  19. ChrisPNW

    ChrisPNW Junior Member

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    Thanks. I hadn't heard about the update. I'll mention that in my next support inquiry today after this video finished processing.

    I'm not sure why you say my charge times are taking way too long. I don't actually know how long it took to charge as it left it on over night.

    Thurs:
    07:51PM: 221V
    Fri:
    08:30AM: 239.7V
    09:17AM: 240.1V
    10:04AM: 239.8V
    11:04AM: 239.1V
    11:22AM: 238.9V
    11:41AM: 238.8V
    12:22AM: 238.6V

    The manual says 4-16 hours for initial charge and another 4-12 for initial balance. 239.7V is within the peak charging voltage range to consider it balancing. So if we consider it charged at 8:30AM today it should be balanced completely by 8PM tonight. It already seems to be plateauing around 238V.

    Everything seems to be working within spec except the voltage readout on the charger.

    Ahh, I see. They've changed the discharge voltage floors from 134/84/17 to 134/101/84.

    I think what I'll do this weekend is run my second discharge set at 84 under supervision and manually cut it off at 101. Then I can do the third 84V discharge automatically.
     
    #19 ChrisPNW, Sep 6, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
  20. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    Thanks for clarifying... Looks like you don't have charge time for non-balancing phase this time around... In my experience with my charger, the basic charge time from ~220v up to approximate start of balancing phase at 235v is super fast for pack in need of reconditioning 3-4 hours and a bit slower of 5-6 hours for a more healthy pack.

    The balancing time is a different animal entirely and is going to fluctuate wildly, because that's a heat disspation thing for the modules already at full charge while the other modules catch up.

    Lastly, I've never seen peak voltage charge drop down with charger still connected... Only after charging is done... So sometime between 9:15am and 10:04am your charger stopped working or came loose/was turned off? Perhaps the black soot you saw on plug is indication of an intermittent connection problem? I have replacment plugs so I can build my own harnesses if you need one, but again, you gave lots of money to Prolong already and I'm sure they'll replace anything that seems wrong at your request if warranty window is still open. Or for cheap is warranty is over. I had a bad fan controller once and it was outside of any warranty and they sold me a replacement controller for $10. That was a such a great deal I bought more than one. :)
     
    #20 PriusCamper, Sep 6, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
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