non-starting 2006 Prius--12V?

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Technical Discussion' started by archae86, Jan 1, 2011.

  1. archae86

    archae86 Member

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    Our 2006 Prius declined to start this afternoon.

    baseline facts:
    about 32,000 miles
    original 12V battery
    no previous history of trouble
    unusually long delay since last start (4 days)
    unusually cold, but garaged--so probably about 45F at moment of attempted start

    Symptoms:

    1. continuous beeping when car door is opened

    2. When Start button is pressed with brake pedal already depressed:
    Lots and lots of symbols lit up.
    Then all the possible shift indicators illuminated.

    3. when actually actuating the shift shaft attempting to get in reverse, no change in displays, and no actual action.

    Thus reported my wife. I fetched the camera, meaning to capture images to do a better job than "lots of symbols", but I failed to get decent focus and exposure on first try, and on second try all I saw on hitting start was the "check engine" blinking and one other symbol light up.

    Sorry for the vague and inaccurate stuff, but does it seem likely this is a weak/failing 12V battery?

    I own a cheap Sears 6A charger, and also a cheap Harbor Freight jumper pack. Is it better to give the battery few hours charging before trying again, or to attach the jumper pack and try to start shortly thereafter?

    Thanks for any help.
     
  2. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    If your jumper pack is charged up and ready to go, I would say that you should try it now and see if the car will become READY. If so, that will prove that the 12V battery needs to be replaced.
     
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  3. archae86

    archae86 Member

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    Thanks for your answer--I fished out the owner's manual, and found that the HF pack cables were just barely long enough to connect to the suggested points. The dome light (which had become dim yellow during my very few minutes of previous effort) was brighter, and the system did indeed reach READY.

    I left the HF pack attached, which I believe will transfer a moderate amount of charge to the Prius 12V battery, and I plan to attempt to actually start the system and drive a few minutes after supper, hoping that will add a bit of charge, and make getting the thing started in the morning more certain. I'm cheap about some things to the degree of changing my own bulbs on the Audi despite the owner's manual stating I should go to the dearer, but on this I intend to take the safe and simple way and advise my wife to get the dealer to change out the battery this week.

    I'll report here, just in case some other person as inexperienced as I happens on this thread and might be helped.
     
  4. JimN

    JimN Let the games begin!

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    Trickle charge the battery. Enter Diagnostic Mode on the MFD to check the voltages. You're due for a new battery. If you don't mind the wolrk you can swap it out yourself. Get the dealer quote for the battery with & without installation.
     
  5. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    A "few minutes" is not going to do much for the 12V battery state-of-charge. I suggest that you either use your battery charger or else leave the car READY overnight if possible (and assuming you have sufficient fuel in the tank) so that the 12V battery has plenty of opportunity to be recharged. It is not necessary to actually drive the vehicle. The 12V battery charging rate does not change whether your vehicle speed is 0 mph or 100 mph.

    I also suggest that you plug your jumper pack in to recharge it, in the event it is still needed tomorrow morning. Good luck.
     
  6. archae86

    archae86 Member

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    I left the jumper pack attached during dinner, then went out and made ready again. Something had changed by then, as the beep on opening the door was gone. Detached the jumper pack while in ready. Car started fine, and I drove it about three miles.

    Leaving it in ready overnight is awkward, as the night here is very cold for Albuquerque (already 16F) and I'd not want to have the ICE cycling in the closed garage. So I think I'll take my chances on whether it will start in the morning without help, or need fresh application of the jumper pack. And, yes, I put the jumper on to recharge as soon as I came in.

    For double darn sure the 12V battery was very, very low. So either it is expiring or there was something else seriously wrong. Given the age of the car and the fit of unusually long delay between trips and cold weather, I think the battery is the strong bet. But I'll pay the money and let the Toyota folks decide if they think something else is wrong.

    I don't know my way into the voltage display on the MFD, but rather than dope it out, I think I'll just take a Fluke out to the garage and get the right answer. Thanks for the suggestion.

    If it has trouble starting in the morning, I think I may leave the Sears charger (6A max, kinda sorta regulated) on it for a few hours a day until I can get it serviced.

    Many thanks for advice and assistance--I was leaning toward the battery from the beginning, but I am kind of afraid of this car (first car in forty years that I've never changed the oil on), so advice here got me to dive into the owner's manual and give it a try.

    The freaky thing is how varied the symptoms were, even over a few minutes things kept changing. Not much like the simple symptoms of a low battery on an old automobile in the simple days.--dimming lights, slowing crank, no crank but solenoid clack, not clack but dim panel lights, dead silence with no lights... Been there, done that.
     
  7. richard schumacher

    richard schumacher shortbus driver

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  8. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Other owners in the same situation as you have asked the dealer service dept to diagnose the problem and been told (erroneously) that there was nothing wrong with the 12V battery. Some time later, the battery failed. What a waste of time and money.

    You really would be better off replacing the battery yourself, or if you don't want to do that, just tell the service dept to replace the battery. After the battery is replaced, you'll see if there are any other problems.

    Use of a Fluke DMM is much better approach vs. trying to read battery voltage via the MFD.
     
  9. KD6HDX

    KD6HDX New Member

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    For those folks surfing the web and finding bad things about the Prius, this is the Achilles heel I often refer to in the 12 volt issues with this car. My 2005 GenII has had a new battery every 2.5 years just to avoid any weirdness that occurs when the 12 volt auxiliary battery is low in voltage. Recently, I replaced my second original dealer bought battery with an Optima from E-LearnAid. Since this battery has more capacity than the stock original and is a deep cycle battery, I may leave it in the car longer than my usual 2.5 year change interval. Since my wife drives this car a lot now, I think it is cheap insurance to keep up on changing out this battery sooner than later. This prevents her from having trouble in another county when I am somewhere else and cannot arrive quickly to assist her. For people considering a future purchase of a Prius, let these posted anomalies serve as a reminder that a wonderful car can be brought to its knees by a low 12 volt battery. I also noticed the temperature in Albuquerque was 16F in Archae86's original post. As the temps drop, so does the voltage in the little auxiliary batteries in the Prius. I have a neighbor who has a daughter that owns a GenII Prius. She will be moving to Michigan soon. I mentioned to him that if he wanted to help his daughter avoid future problems he should look into the condition of the aux battery. He just shrugged it off and said, it's only 4 years old, what could go wrong. I never mentioned it again.
     
  10. richard schumacher

    richard schumacher shortbus driver

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    Cali residents often don't appreciate how nasty a Midwest winter can be. I see an anguished phone call in his future :_>
     
  11. David Beale

    David Beale Senior Member

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    Because the Prius doesn't actually draw much current from the 12V battery to start, I find cold weather doesn't really affect it much. Prius takes approximately a 50 Amp 1/2 second pulse to reach ready. Even at -40C the Prius battery can supply that, and can do so even when 4 years old. Unless it contains no charge, of course. ;) Do note that a Prius living in a cold climate will probably get longer life from the 12V battery than one in, say, Texas, where temps reach over +40C regularly in summer. The Prius 12V battery is not heavily used, so heat more than anything else will effect its' life.
     
  12. archae86

    archae86 Member

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    Quick update.

    After sitting my garage overnight, so about 45F, having only had about an hour of whatever it sipped from my HF jumper plus about five minutes of driving, the 12V battery reading by Fluke before doing anything was 12.01V. The car made ready without assistance or obvious symptoms, and the ICE started up at about the usual interval (maybe 10 seconds). By the time I got to look at the Fluke again, it was stable at about 14.10, so obviously the system was putting a considerable current into the 12V battery. I waited a couple of minutes, hoping to observe what would happen when the ICE turned off but the car was still ready. From Patrick Wong's post, I presume it would continue in this case to read near 14.1, with the required power post ICE turnoff coming from the traction battery. But I ran out of patience and desire to put more exhaust into my garage (yes the door was open, but...)

    As the dome lights got pretty yellow yesterady before I brought out the jumper pack, our battery got fairly low at low load, and if it tried to pull the make ready pulse near the end may have had a very, very low transient voltage. I expect a few anomalies from scrambled memories here and there. Candidates possibly observed so far:

    1. When I tried to open the passenger side door with a fob in my pocket, it did not let me in--perhaps some lost initialization of the keyless entry system?

    2. Last night when I wanted a bit of heat during my drive, I noticed that it ignored my pushes on the up and down errors of the climate control panel. This morning, I asked my wife's help (she is the Prius driver). She noticed that no icon was active on the fan row, pushed one, and things were normal. But we doubt she left it in that state (not sure how to get there)--so maybe another scramble.

    On other cars it would be pretty easy to leave something with moderate power draw on and get this effect. More things on the Prius are shut down (e.g. cigarette lighter/auxiliary socket, lights, ...) Are there any candidate things she might have failed to turn off which could mostly but not entirely deplete a tired battery in four days? My Garmin 855 GPS would do it on a fresh Prius 12V battery in roughly that time (about 110 mA when "off"), but it was not in the Prius

    I'm not arguing against replacing the 12V--believe me, I don't want my wife stranded somewhere staring at a panel full of abnormal warnings and no Ready. Just shopping for extra understanding at this fine brain trust.

    She'll call for a service appointment in the morning. Until service I intend that we shall drive it a minimum of once a day, and for now a fully charged HF jumper pack is travelling in the back seat on all trips.
     
  13. David Beale

    David Beale Senior Member

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    The most common thing that is left on is the the light in the hatch area. It's dim enough that in daylight you may not notice if it is on. Even at night, with the cargo cover extended, you may not notice.

    Do note that all interior lights except the ones on the front two doors can be left on. They use three way switches. OFF - Door activated - ON.

    Note that the engine has no effect on 12V battery charging. The 12V system charging voltage is produced by an electronic charging system in the inverter. Whenever the car is in "ready" that charger is active. A -fully charged- battery in good condition will result in 12 V system voltage running at 13.8 V. If the battery is down on charge you will see 13.9 to 14.0V +or- a bit. Because of this it takes a while to charge a depleted battery. Typically 8 hrs in "ready" should do it. This can be done over several days, of course. Just keep in mind the 12V battery is a lead-acid unit and will sulfate if left discharged too long.
     
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  14. booger

    booger New Member

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    I experienced your exact same problem (car not starting, lights flashing on around all the shift options and then all of them). I replaced the battery (via the dealership today for $200). I'm pretty confident this will fix it, I drove it to work. We'll see if I make it home...

    Quite the contrast from my '93 Lumina battery lasting 9 years. :eek:
     
  15. archae86

    archae86 Member

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    My wife took the Prius to a local dealer today. They attached their tester to the battery and pronounced it fine on amps and a bit low on volts but overall just fine. They suggested somehow there might have been a power drain left on and that she look at the vehicle after it had been home a couple of hours without the fob in her pocket.

    On doing so, the only obvious illuminated thing is the dashboard symbol that looks like a car shape with a key inside it. We both have reviewed the owner's manual information on this item and find it ambiguous as to whether it should normally flash when the vehicle is unoccupied or not. The flash rate is roughly once every two seconds. We cannot see any other lights in a very dark garage.

    By the way, the voltage I measured by Fluke this morning was 12.08, higher than yesterday at 12.01, so it appears that the small amount of use yesterday trumped the leakage overnight--whether from rogue loads or from self-discharge.

    My take is that there might or might not be a rogue load (any other hints where to look?--the cargo area definitely has no lights on, I looked in serious darkness with no cover deployed), but the battery is near end of life. Their diagnosis may mean I have a little longer to replace it, so I'll look into the suggestions for doing it myself and perhaps getting a somewhat better battery.

    [only slightly related story]I owned a 1987 BMW 325i, for which I bought a Sears DieHard probably after about 4 years on the OEM battery. Ten years later, I got symptoms begging for replacement, and after I used my Sears cheapo charger to revive it headed on down to Sears. Having checked the glove box and only finding the ten year old ticket, I apologetically said to the service guy that I had lost the current ticket, as the one I had was ten years old. After he pulled out the battery and read the date code on it, we both marvelled that it had actually lasted ten years. Especially since I had mistakenly left my parking lights on at work at least five times and each time depleted the battery to the point of needing a jump (on the 1987 BMW 325i, leaving on your headlights is automatically downgraded to parking lights when you turn of the ignition. At my place of employment, this guaranteed that no one would report your vehicle lights on, but the battery capacity would not start the battery after a normal Intel working day).[/only slightly related story]
     
  16. BAllanJ

    BAllanJ Active Member

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    The dealers seem to always pass a battery that should probably be changed... if a dead battery is likely to inconvenience you at all, I think I'd change it anyway after 4 years and a draining. At least get a booster pack and be very sure how to use it if you want to put off battery replacement for a bit. The dealer tests don't seem to adequately predict an imminent or even a current failure.
     
  17. archae86

    archae86 Member

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    Yes, there is a fully charged Harbor Freight yellow pack in the back seat of the car at the moment. Use of it is how I got the car started after initial trouble. Thanks for reminding me to demonstrate use to my wife.

    The Prius manual instructions are actually pretty good on jump-starting. I found by far the most difficult moment to be getting the plastic top off the fuse box. It was still a bit awkward on the third time (I've been taking voltage measurements there--probably should find the battery and see if access is easier).
     
  18. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Press hard on the latch in front of the lid with a finger, then lift up the lid.
     
  19. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    1) The flashing red key icon is normal. That is the immobilizer icon. It is supposed to warn potential thieves to leave your car alone.

    2) 12V is too low for a charged 12V battery. A fully charged battery without load should be at least 13V, often a bit more.

    3) Always lock your Prius when you park it. Locking is the quickest and easiest way to make sure all of the doors and the hatch are fully closed, as your Prius will beep and refuse to lock if they aren't. This won't save you from leaving on a light that has been manually turned on, but it will avoid the accidental door open light on problem.

    Tom
     
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  20. archae86

    archae86 Member

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    As others suggested, I purchased the elearnaid Optima 51 battery kit for my Prius. It arrived by USPS Priority Mail yesterday, with excellent use of foam inserts to assure no movement in the large flat rate box.

    At room temperature, that battery as shipped is 12.90 volts at zero load. My HF jumper pack, after resting overnight from being recharged yesterday is 13.07 (I assume it uses lead-acid cells). This morning the Prius with its near-dead battery reads 12.01. Admittedly it is not quite at zero load, and the garage ambient temperature is probably 50 or 55F, compared to 65F for the other two. Still, that seems too low, and I've no second thoughts about deciding to change the battery.

    I did the battery swap today, and for the benefit of other neophytes who come upon this thread will comment on how easy or hard it seemed. Unlike some of the serious car guys who helpfully frequent this site, I'm just a guy with a fair supply of hand tools who handles most household repairs himself, but never got higher on the car work ladder than changing the oil and changing some head and tail light bulbs on my 2002 Audi A4 (both of which, by the way, are way harder than they were on my 1987 325i, which lowers my respect for Audi design a bit).

    Right at the start I had trouble. My master plan was to use the HF jumper pack to avoid memory loss during the transition, as suggested by the elernaid instruction, but also to collect trickle current data. So I attached a 10 ohm 10 watt resistor in series with my jumper pack and set up a couple of Fluke meters to monitor the voltage across the resistor and the total voltage from chassis paintless screw to the under-hood jumper connection. But I heard a click as of a relay changing state just before I started connecting wires, and never from start to finish of the battery swap got any evidence that the under-hood jump point was actually connected. Can anyone here advise if there actually is a relay which disconnects this point under some conditions--and if so how one might manipulate things to get it hooked up for this project?

    I had a handful of other difficulties, more than one of a bit of trouble getting my available tools to bear on the (usually 10mm) nuts. Having available a 10mm deep socket and an extender were both helpful but not sufficient. The documentation from elernaid failed to match the actual Toyota and supplied hardware in more than one way. In particular the provided plug for the meant to be unused vent hole was a very difficult to insert (I used both near-boiling water to soften the plug and a hammer). Possibly because I guessed wrong on which mismatch to ignore my final result had the Toyota shield over the positive terminal less than snug. A few other mismatches slowed me as I pondered what to do.

    But the bottom line is that it worked. And the penalty for failing to keep 12V supply during the swap seems not very severe:

    1. on first attempt to start, it took two button pushes to get to Ready, not one.
    2. forgotten climate control settings
    3. forgotten radio presets
    4. forgotten trip odometers
    5. forgotten mpg and miles since last reset

    The main tool comments I'd make is that (as the instructions say) having a socket extender, and also a deep socket for 10mm was pretty important. Also a couple of steps require a surprising amount of force.
     
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