New (to us) Prius- Combo Meter issue!

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by WebVixen13, Dec 14, 2018.

  1. WebVixen13

    WebVixen13 Junior Member

    Dec 14, 2018
    2009 Prius
    Hi all!

    Finding my mom a reliable used car has been quite a saga. I tried to research as much as possible. Well, we pulled the trigger on a local 2009 Prius with 99k & clean title sold by a private seller. We thought we got a decent deal for 6k. Even paid our local Toyota dealership $150 for a pre purchase inspection. Turned out it needed minor stuff, all 4 tires and alignment, air filter, fog light, windshield wipers. But still it was a stretch for our limited budget, mom is retired.

    Long story short- tonight when mom started the car, the dashboard didn't come on. One month after buying. I researched it, panicked a bit, and the key fob trick worked.

    We're not at all capable of DIY fixing the Combination Meter, and the warranty is no longer applicable (purchased orig 9/2008).

    I'm stressed thinking of the repair bill, that we can't really afford. I'm also feeling naive about the cost of upkeep for a ten year old hybrid. Worrying already about the hybrid battery, which I had thought was one of the priciest fixes! Had no idea of the faulty and pricey combination meter.

    Anyway, any suggestions towards fixing it cheaper? We live in the south bay, california.

    How to maintain an aging Prius low cost? Should we try to sell it?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    May 11, 2005
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Plug-in Base
    welcome! sorry for your troubles. try having the 12 volt battery tested at an autocrats store for free, before proceeding with meter replacement.
    i don't know of a cheap way to do it because it is almost all labor.
  3. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

    Oct 28, 2016
    Tampa, FL
    2017 Prius
    The combo meter is not terribly hard to replace, but it is a chore to totally disassemble the dash to get it out. There are some very helpful Youtube videos out there. If you need help, maybe there's someone in your area that would be available to help with it. You can buy a reconditioned combo meter at Texas Prius Battery Replacement. Matt is a member here and extremely well respected. I've had two CMs out and found it surprisingly fun. I also understand that repairing your own CM is a pretty simple replacement of a capacitor.
    #3 jerrymildred, Dec 14, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2018
    Jakob likes this.
  4. exstudent

    exstudent Senior Member

    Jul 11, 2009
    Torrance, CA
    2007 Prius
    If the current car had a lot of maintenance done at a Toyota dealership, it behoves you to call Toyota Customer Service, 800-331-4331, and ask for Goodwill Assistance. Worse they can say is NO; your situation has not changed for the better or worse. Best they can say is Yes (100% covered), or maybe a percentage is covered (50%). If you get no assistance from Toyota or the Goodwill Assistance/Gesture is still "expensive," price shop the labor. The drawback with asking for Goodwill Assistance is, you have to pay for dealership diagnosis ($100+) before Toyota will even consider it.

    1) Buy a repaired Combo Meter from Matt at Texas Hybrid Batteries.
    $150 repaired combo meter + $75 core charge (refunded when you send your defective one back to Matt) = $225.
    NET cost will be $150 after you send your core to Matt. LIFETIME Warranty too.
    The ComboMeter is a well known issue, and it will be a ONE TIME repair.

    I would avoid cragislist and eBay selllers for this item.

    To turn the car OFF when the Combo Meter is not visible, but the car is READY, KEEP THE POWER BUTTON DEPRESSED FOR THREE+ SECONDS. The car will turn off (READY will turn off, along with any other dash lights, and the Power Button will go from amber to OFF).

    2) You could watch YouTube videos to see if this is something you want to undertake.

    3) Contact shops for labor charge to install a replacement Combo Meter.
    Avi at Hybrid Fix (near USC), has a good reputation here and he occassionaly posts.
    3790 S Western Ave, Unit B, LA, 90018; (310) 426-8432
    Hybrid Fix - 49 Reviews - Auto Repair - 3790 S Western Ave, Exposition Park, Los Angeles, CA - Phone Number - Yelp

    Hillside Auto Repair
    24467 Hawthorne Blvd,Torrance, CA 90505; 310-504-1243
    I can't comment on the quality of their work, as I DIY. I only know they advertise as Hybrid Specialists.
    They are in a great location, b/c lots of Hybrids in Torrance and PV.
    There is a $25 web coupon for new customers on their site.

    There are many other independent shops who claim Hybrid expertise, so be careful.
    4) Assuming "clean title" means you got a CarFax report, you should be good. Smart move paying to have the car inspected! Many horror stories of people who thought they knew enough about cars in general, and thought they could uncover any hybrid prepurchase issues themselves.

    Your fear is understandable since you don't DIY and are new to hybrids/Prius, and are fearing the worst about the Combo Meter. Remember, this is a well known problem, and a ONE TIME Repair. A Prius that is well maintained, NEVER run low on oil, will likely give you a low cost of ownership (not too much in repair bills).

    5) Prius that are driven regularly, seem to do better, esp w/ regards to the HV (High Voltage)/Hybrid battery and 12V battery longevity.
    How many miles did mom drive with her previous car per week/month/year?

    If mom does not drive much, say 30miles per weekday, or an hour per weekday, invest in a 12V AGM battery charger. You will want to use this with some regularity for a Prius that is not driven much or enough. This will eliminate the headaches a low 12V battery will cause.
    Noco Genius G3500, now $50 at Amazon (bummer, the $40 sale ended a few days ago).
    CTek Mus 4.3 is $65 at Amazon​

    6) Check the engine oil with some regularity: weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, every gas fill-up, etc. The more frequent the better, so any sudden changes will be apparent. There are many horror stories of people who never check, then come here wondering with all these lights mean and/or the car is making funny noises.

    7) TIre Pressure.
    The factory recommendation of 35PSI front and 33PSI rear is too low. 40/38 or 38/36 seem to be pretty popular with most people. If you don't have a good digital tire gauge, get one.

    If you don't have an air compressor, consider getting one. I have this one from Sears; $17 is a great price. The built in gauge might be off 2lbs, or my separate stand alone gauge is off 2lbs.

    8) READ the owners manual, the Maintenance handbook, and this What services you need and what you don't | PriusChat
    jerrymildred likes this.