New 2008 Prius owner with dead car after 3 weeks of non-use

Discussion in 'Newbie Forum' started by PiperP, Feb 17, 2019.

  1. PiperP

    PiperP New Member

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    Hello All!

    I bought a new-to me used 2008 Toyota Prius (hatchback), the sole purpose being to save money on gas. Cost me 5K (top of my budget). Has worked great but recently after I had to get a new instrument panel after it went black for 2 weeks (cost at ~1K), I noticed the MPG went from about 49-51 to ~43. Not sure why...but the issue currently is a dead battery. When I tried to turn it on yesterday after 3 weeks of non-use (I was away for work), it wouldn't turn on but also various icons lit up on the instrument panel, including the brake icon (it wasn't engaged) and the danger/triangle icon...after reading some posts here about the 12V battery, I checked the last report I have when I got my initial inspection last August and according to the post, the number "shows the car's age but is ok." Of course now, 6 months later, I am presuming it's likely less than that, which means it should probably be replaced. Has anyone here tested the 12V battery with a digital multimeter (and no/little experience with cars like me) and then bought a new battery at a place like Autozone and had them replace it for free? Any special concerns with the fact that the car is a hybrid? I've heard horror stories of mechanics working on cars who are not hybrid-certified and I don't have surplus cash to fix damage caused by others...I am trying to save money but I also am happy to pay to replace the 12V battery rather than the larger battery which will certainly run me more (I'd rather replace individual cells than the whole thing, which is usually a rip-off). Any feedback is greatly appreciated!!! I am homebound until I can get this resolved without going broke...lol. TIA, everyone!
     
  2. LikeAPrius

    LikeAPrius Member

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    I wish I could help you hopefully this bump gets the attention of more experience owners
     
  3. 2k1Toaster

    2k1Toaster Brand New Prius Batteries

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    To answer your questions:

    Sure, lots of people have. The Gen-2 Prius does not take a "standard" American sized battery. They take a standard Japanese battery that most auto-stores don't carry. And if they do, the terminal sizes may not be the same, or the vent tube may not exist. So call ahead or order elsewhere.

    The 12v battery has nothing to do with it being a hybrid. Any competent mechanic should be able to work on hybrids. If they haven't figured it out in nearly 20 years of them being on the road, then they really should just retire.

    Now as for:

    Replacing individual cells is usually the rip-off. Especially if you're not a giant hybrid repair shop with thousands of modules sitting on the shelf calibrated and ready to go.

    If your work regularly has you gone for weeks at a time, I recommend turning the SKS system off via the push button before you park and leave it. Additionally, I would replace the battery with a deep cycle. I did on mine as it can sit unused for some time. A "yellowtop" is a famous (not the best, but not bad) brand that is carried many places. I bought it on Amazon for less than I could find a comparable battery in a store locally. And none of the stores carried something that fits the Prius. It showed up 3 days later.

    Another thing if you do travel regularly, the hybrid battery doesn't like to sit. On an aging vehicle, this is what will push it over the edge. When the car is off, the cells self discharge. And with age, they self discharge differently. When they get too far out of whack, you have a failed hybrid pack. You could use the Prolong as a type of tender but with this type of use on a 11-12 year old car, your battery will most likely fail within the year.
     
  4. Skibob

    Skibob Senior Member

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    There is a way to check the 12V batteries charge without a voltmeter. You can get into a hidden menu on the MFD and see what it is.
    Hopefully someone knows where the link to do that is, I can’t find it.

    It’s unfortunate you did not come here before you bought the car. The consensus here would have been for someone who can’t repair their own cars to buy a non hybrid. Like a Corrola or something.
     
  5. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    You can do a simple check of the battery's voltage with a digital multimeter, will give you some idea. For more in-depth DIY check use an electronic load tester (Solar BA5 is one DIY option): you input the battery type, rated cold cranking amp, and it'll test and give a rudimentary verdict, either good, good but recharge, or fail.

    Automotive retailers selling batteries will have a similar pro-level tester, will usually test yours for free. Check their website for compatible battery for your car, and that they have stock. It's pretty cut-and-dried now: Pep Boys for example has a Bosch battery that's 100% compatible, typically around $150~170 and they install for free.

    Once you've verified someone has stock, get a boost or jump start, drive over there, have them test to verify, and if it's dead get it swapped out.
     
    #5 Mendel Leisk, Feb 20, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2019
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  6. Skibob

    Skibob Senior Member

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    Yes but she doesn’t seem to have the skills to even remove the battery. The MFD test is free and it’s a start at least.
     
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  7. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    some auto parts store employees balk at the free labor because of the battery location. you would have to ask first.
    sorry your car is giving you so much trouble. how many miles on her?
     
  8. Greenteapri

    Greenteapri Active Member

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    I would tip the guy/girl a couple bucks. It's good for A cold pop or candy bar. I find philanthropy enjoyable. The unfortunate issue is that it takes away one employee for an ever growing line of other customers.

    Mendel makes some great points.

    Better to get a failing battery swapped out sooner rather than later.
     
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  9. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    I don't see the hatch battery location being any harder to do. Certainly cleaner.
     
  10. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    probably isn’t, but it’s scary to neophytes
     
  11. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    I hope for the OP's sake, that it is the 12 volt battery and only the 12 volt battery.
    That's much cheaper, any way you slice it, than having to make decisions about the HV battery.

    Not sure I agree with this in regards to the Hybrid Battery...

    Replacing the whole thing is more expensive...surely. Refurbished or New OEM.

    But from what I've read here with various posts, replacing individual cells can be a real "Whack-A-Mole" game as far as how successful that approach is, and it really requires the owner to be versed, trained and willing to do a lot of hands on work with the battery. Which is fine, if the owner IS and is willing to go that route.

    But IMO the best...least amount of worry, reset the problem for another decade approach is to replace the whole battery, hopefully with an new OEM.

    I wouldn't call doing so a "Rip Off" ....you can hunt around for best price, and it does seem to vary. Just make sure you are comparing Oranges to Oranges.
    I would say full OEM new replacement is the most expensive approach, but I also think it most quickly and most fully solves the problem.
     
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  12. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    What bothers me a little and worries me is that the OP admits that buying the 2008 at $5000 was " at the top of their budget ".

    Which is why, for the OP's sake, I really hope the problem is ONLY the 12 volt battery. And it could be.

    But IMO if $5000 for a 11 model year old Prius, is the ceiling of your budget? It actually might not be the best purchase choice. I pretty much default to the blanket advice to all people purchasing older Prius, that they be ready and budgeted to afford replacement of a failing Hybrid Battery. It may not happen, you could have years and years more time. BUT...IMO once past 10 years...failure could happen at any time.
    If you've maxed out...just purchasing the vehicle, it can put you in a very tough spot.
     
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  13. TMR-JWAP

    TMR-JWAP Senior Member

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    Piper, where are you, friend????
    90% chance this is merely a 12v battery issue. Especially if it's "old" after sitting for 3 weeks. Charge it and roll onnnn...

    The top of the battery should have a date code sticker or stamp. Post the numbers here if you can get them.

    Other 10% is that it's both 12v and HV after sitting 3 weeks. Any marginal module in the HV pack could potentially self discharge significantly in 3 weeks. BUT, many times, getting the car to start and then force charging the HV battery by pressing the accelerator pedal for several minutes, will boost it back up to allow relatively normal operation again.
     
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