Prius Gen1 - to buy or not to buy (2 dead modules)

Discussion in 'Generation 1 Prius Discussion' started by vk1, Jun 8, 2020.

  1. vk1

    vk1 New Member

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    Hello,

    I am looking at buying a 2001 Gen 1 Prius for $500, the engine is running, and there are no other codes besides P3006.

    The car has been sitting for ~6 months without driving.

    It appears that two cells are completely dead at ~4 volts, where the other cells range from 14.51V to 14.77V.

    Any advice would be much appreciated. I am confident I can replace the cells myself. However, after looking at the price of chargers and the time it would take me to do 3 cycles on every cell of charge/discharge makes me apprehensive about trying it, as it would take a week or longer with one charger. Please correct me if I am wrong. I talked to a Prius mechanic, and he said that a battery replacement with a refurbished one costs $1000 or he can replace cells for $500. The car also needs some minor body work, which I am also working at getting priced.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. dolj

    dolj Senior Member

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    It appears that two blocks are completely dead at ~4 volts. Each block contains 2 modules. Each module contains 6 cells but as the modules are sealed, you cannot do anything with the cells. So you are looking at 4 dead modules, at least.

    To be honest, unless you will enjoy pulling this battery on a regular basis to replace the next module that falls off the cliff, you would be better off buying a new HV (hybrid vehicle) battery from Toyota (the only place you can buy all new modules for a Gen 1) and replacing the whole lot in one fell swoop. That is assuming the rest of the car is in a pristine condition, both aesthetically and mechanically. You would want to get another 10-15 years out of the car to make the battery replacement worthwhile.

    Another option would be purchasing a couple of Gen 3 (or Gen 4, as long as they are NiMH) HV batteries (the newer the better) and harvesting 38 modules from them to rebuild the Gen 1 pack. You will have 18 modules left over plus the two cases that you can sell off on eBay/CL.
     
    #2 dolj, Jun 8, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2020
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  3. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    don't buy a gen 1 unless you are looking for a new hobby. if you need a daily driver on a limited budget, get something like a corolla.
     
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  4. Sandy Meyers

    Sandy Meyers Member

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    I have a different opinion. If you review my posts, I am an original owner with about 98,000 miles last I looked but don’t drive it very much. You didn’t say how you intend to use this vehicle or what is the current mileage.

    You could simply replace the modules, possibly replace the entire battery and keep the existing modules as spares and or part out without warranty. I see a lot of people rebuild these on their own. For $1500 total getting this vehicle running, I think that’s a pretty sweet deal. Of course much depends upon your use and other considerations.

    Some people have patience and tolerance for DIY and time on their hands while others appreciate a newer vehicle for their own reasons. Do what is in your heart and will give you the most pleasure from this purchase.

    I love my Prius and would likely purchase another Toyota SUV hybrid when the time comes as I could use the sporty utility aspect at this point.

    Best of luck to you.
     
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  5. ammdb

    ammdb Junior Member

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    Some Toyota dealerships will sell the battery pack for a reasonable price. The catch is you will have to swap over a bunch of parts from the old pack, like the ECU, before returning it to redeem the core charge. It also must be an original Toyota battery pack, they don't take after market batteries.
     
    #5 ammdb, Jun 10, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2020
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  6. chronon

    chronon Member

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    My advice, having had an 03 prius, having had a prius sit for a long time, ...
    dont even bother mucking around with cell replacement ... THE ONLY sure way to fix the hybrid battery is to find one intact that has been UNMOLESTED ... once u start playing with cells out of another pack and the differences try to integrate its only assking for trouble and your time and frustration !!

    the 1st gen (01-03) prius IS A DOG on accel .. it pisses everybody off behind you and thenthey flip u the finger when they pass, dudes in turbo diesels love to floor it and leave u in black smoke because they can ..
    if u live out in the boonies where it doesnt matter go for it , if your near a city forget about it !

    someone mentioned 'unless u enjoy pulling that battery on a reg basis '(if want to play whack a mole with the modules) .. that reminded me that the damn thing is nearly 100 pounds.. unless u are a big big dude, this is no dainty movement ... the 69 pound pack in the gen 2 is bad enough ,
    its bad enuf playing wack a mole with 28 modules, but the gen 1 has 38 ...

    if u got a lot of time and space to play and learn , ok , but if u are depending on something to be reliable u better have a solid, non-opened pull from a yard , if not it wont last long ..
     
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  7. ammdb

    ammdb Junior Member

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    I've owned an '01 for sixteen years, and acceleration has never been a problem, either off the line from a stop, at highway speeds, or going over a steep pass. Only time I recall getting flipped off was when I first bought it, I was feeling smug and was tempted to flip off an oncoming Hummer, but as we passed it looked like he was flipping me off.

    It's a great car, and has now gotten both my kids through college. I agree that once cells start failing it's the beginning of the end for the battery pack, Replacing with a new Toyota battery is the best way to keep the car going over the long run, but it's hard to justify the cost.
     
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  8. chronon

    chronon Member

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    *** 0-60mph in '01 prius , 1/4 mile
    Sedan FWD CVT 13.0 sec ,19.2 sec @ 73 mph Car and Driver
    Sedan FWD CVT 13.7 sec, 19.4 sec @ 69.9 mph Motor Trend
    Sedan FWD CVT 12.2 sec ,18.9 sec @ 75 mph Motor Week

    '04 did 0-60 in about 10 -12 sec.
    Doesnt seem like much , but when most things around you were v6,v8 .. they don't have patience taking off from a 30-60 second intersection stop.
    People in a city over 100k usually don't have the patience for it ... (gen 1 prius) seems the gen 2 is just enough with the more power engine, larger electric motor and less weight from fewer modules to meet acceptability in city conditions ....
    Even 11 years ago, getting a battery out of a pull on an 01-03 prius was extremely limited, I can just imagine how much more rare they are today - You could try the whole set of new cells of a newer generation but they are pricey at 10-30 each * 38 .
    In 2009, the way I finally sold my 01 or 03 prius(buy getting it running reliably) was to have a battery shipped from PA to FL , shipping was ````~$85 and the battery was about 500 .. was not found on regular means of ebay and local craigslist, .... It was this guy that found it up north for me that was on this board ..
    " Tue, Sep 8, 2009 at 7:03 PM
    GW Krauss : " I'll
    > consider you part of my extended DIY Prius family and not worry about
    > the timing of things."
    > --------------
    > >
    > >I was just looking on craigslist and saw this
    > >(http://philadelphia.craigslist.org/rid/1220180366.html). You might
    > >want to contact this guy... Or maybe look on craigslist in general
     
    #8 chronon, Jun 11, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2020
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  9. vk1

    vk1 New Member

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    Thank you for all the replies folks. I am loving the comments about acceleration haha. I live in LA, and people have fast cars here. But then again, if I wanted a fast car I wouldn't have bought one for $500...

    Which is to say, I liked @Sandy Meyers' reply the most, so I bought the car. It was manufactured in 2001. It didn't have any engine codes. I ended up putting in a newer 12V battery in it, and I learned how much of a hassle the 12V battery is with the smaller posts, for which you can't find terminals at Autozone or similar parts stores. It ended up working, after clearing the codes, I was able to drive it with a failed battery to the mechanic in Costa Mesa, CA, a considerable 40 miles away. The car would lose power on the freeway, but shifting the transmission around would get it going again. Not too sure what's going on with it.

    As for a little backstory, this would be my first car. I've lived in LA for a while and have managed to do without a car while paying off student debt and living close to work. I don't particularly need a reliable car, though I wasn't intentionally shopping for an unreliable one either, so I bought this one from a friend.

    What is the difference between the Prius 1 Gen and Prius 2 Gen batteries anyway? Why are the Prius 2 Gen batteries considered easier to refurbish and fix?
     
  10. vk1

    vk1 New Member

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    I plan to use the car around the city and to get to the mountains once in a while, about a 300-mile drive one way, which is why getting a hybrid for next to nothing sounded like a good idea. Seeing the community on PriusChat perhaps enabled my buying the car as the repairs didn't seem as daunting. Having a Corolla didn't seem appetizing, I think I have a predisposition towards hybrids. It would be great to learn how to work on the electrical systems on it, though I should be careful what I wish for.

    Hopefully, I can get this thing to pass smog. Has anyone tried to convert a Gen 1 into a plug-in hybrid?

    The car was in an accident in 2012, was auctioned, and subsequently repaired. It needs some love for sure.

    One the freeway on the drive to the mechanic, the engine was going at 4,500RPM, and idles at 1,600RPM. The mechanic quoted me $500 to cycle charge the batteries and replace the two broken blocks (thanks for the correction @dolj), and another $300 for the fuel injectors/spark plugs and throttle body cleaning to get the engine to run better. I am not sure why I didn't get engine codes though; this was exactly one of the things that I wanted to avoid.

    I will keep everyone posted on how much it actually costs me, in the end, to get this thing on the road. I am now aware I would be looking at a Gen 3 battery for it in a year...


    [​IMG]

    One of my friends is confident and sent me this:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    #10 vk1, Jun 17, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2020
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  11. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    congrats!
    enjoy your new (expensive) hobby!:p

    all the best(y)
     
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  12. chronon

    chronon Member

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    turbo ? well that's a game changer ...
     
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  13. Kbarb

    Kbarb New Member

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    >> "another $300 for the fuel injectors/spark plugs and throttle body cleaning to get the engine to run better. I am not sure why I didn't get engine codes though; this was exactly one of the things that I wanted to avoid. "

    It sounds like those issues weren't serious enough to throw a code. E.g. in my old Ford Escort, fuel injector problems won't set a code. I had them cleaned anyway and it didn't make any difference.
    Either the mechanic is offering to do things that might help the engine perform better, or is drumming up work.
    It sounds a bit like the latter, unless there are clear signs the work needs doing.

    Anyway, have fun with your project. Sometimes learning and doing new things is half the fun.
     
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  14. ammdb

    ammdb Junior Member

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    I took my gen1 to a hybrid service center. They load tested and balance the cells, which cost $1,000 and ended up being a waist of money, because I replaced the entire HV battery a few months latter. They did however also clean the throttle body at no extra charge, which fixed an issue where the IC engine would sometimes stall at idle, and wasn't staring properly.
     
    #14 ammdb, Jun 21, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2020
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  15. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    Given that it's 2020...and the accident was in 2012, that's a LOT of "subsequently" between the accident and today.

    Accident, Totaled, Salvage, Rebuilt Title....
    To be honest I wouldn't of bought it. BUT...

    I think you know what you are potentially getting into, so shouldn't be blind sided by any challenges that arise.
    So I have to also say, enjoy, hopefully it will be a useful automobile, a enjoyable repair project, and not turn into a rebuilt title, salvaged vehicle nightmare.
     
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  16. AzusaPrius

    AzusaPrius Member

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    Swap out the two bad modules and throw the pack back in the car. Let the car charge the pack up, no need to for special conditioners or chargers.

    Posted via the PriusChat mobile app.
     
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  17. dolj

    dolj Senior Member

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    I notice a lot of similar posts you have made in various threads, and feel a bit of push back is required.

    While you might have been lucky in that this may have worked for you on your Gen 3, be aware that what works in one generation is not universally applicable to all generations. Unless people have specific knowledge about a particular generation, it might be safer to stick to your area of experience and post only in those forums.

    Your idea that all is required is to find the module or modules with low voltage (i. e. a module with a dead cell) and replace it is but one problem that a failed pack can have. Just replacing one (or two modules) and then doing nothing else very seldom works long term and if it works initially, very seldom works for an acceptable time frame (for most people) and they will be back in there to whack another mole. If you find the whack-a-mole hobby fun, keep doing it for long as it is fun for you.

    There are no special conditioners or chargers, apart from using a charger that is made specifically for NiMH. Conditioning is about a process using the said charger.

    With the exception of the Gen 1, and it might not be more than a theory based on observation as to whether it actually does do any balancing, charging and discharging in the car will not do anything useful as far as balancing goes, due to the tight control within 40% - 80% SoC band enforced by the battery management's charging/discharging algorithms.

    Specifically, for Gen 1, it is very difficult to get a good reconditioning/rebuilding job purely because Gen 1 modules are very well-aged (both existing and replacement) these days. A good job most often requires replacing all 38 modules with newer ones. Because of the age of the car, it seldom makes sense for a new OEM pack, but if it suits an owner's plan that can be done too and would be the gold standard option.

    YMMV.
     
    #17 dolj, Jun 22, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2020
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  18. AzusaPrius

    AzusaPrius Member

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    No worries it was for the OP to decide not you, same applies to different gens. Low voltage is low voltage.

    Posted via the PriusChat mobile app.
     
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  19. vk1

    vk1 New Member

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    Hello all!

    Just to update everyone on the status of the car...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    I got some bodywork done in the days following the rebuilding of the HV battery. The bumper was replaced. Doesn't look 100% as the quarter panels also need replacing, but I am much happier with it. Due to the rear impact on the car in 2012 (I am assuming), the trunk didn't latch, but the owner of a great body shop took care of it, aligned the trunk and hatch, trunk closes now (important). Headlights were polished with limited success, car was smogged, peeling window tints replaced, cracked tires replaced, well you get the idea.

    I committed to a 400-mile trip. I made it on one tank of gas!!! My MPG is around 40-42. Sometimes it dips to 39. Right before setting off, I took the car to another mechanic, asked him how to replace the bulbs in the lights (rear lights didn't work). He sent me to get the filter and oil to replace as he was about to close, and he changed the oil. It was clear that the air filter was never replaced, as it had leaves in it and whatnot. I asked him to listen to the engine and tell me if anything is wrong with it for some cash. He said he could for sure hear a misfire. It is clear the car was not regularly maintained.

    I took the trip and took photos of the battery levels right before setting off (my iPhone doesn't talk to my VEEPAK Bluetooth LE adapter through the Dr.Prius app, unfortunately, so this was the last time I was able to do this with a borrowed android). This was a few weeks ago, so I don't know the condition of the battery now. Effectively, this was right after I got the car back from having the battery rebuilt and battery fan replaced. I've got a 3-month warranty on it. How soon do you think I will need to have work done on it again?

    [​IMG]
     
  20. vk1

    vk1 New Member

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    And here starts the fun... and I deperately need your advice.

    The sensors finally caught the misfire, and I have the P0300 code, P0302 code, and pending P0420 code (fun!).

    The first two codes are misfires on cylinders 1 and 2, and the P0420 (catalytic converter) is my worst nightmare besides having to rebuild the engine.

    I stopped driving the car, and now I'd like to ask you what I should try and what service I can undertake to try and resolve the issue. I am hopeful that the P0420 is connected to the cylinders misfiring and not fully burning the fuel, and I hope it goes away after I fix the engine. What do you think? Or do you think I already cooked the cat with 500 miles of driving?

    [​IMG]

    The engine misfires only when cold from what I can tell (never seen an engine before really). It never threw the codes before, but in the mornings, the engine shakes quite a bit and adjusts its idle up and down rapidly. Once warm, the engine runs more or less smoothly (I think). At least it's a big difference from when it is cold. What could cause a cold misfire?

    When the car first starts, maybe the smaller generator isn't producing enough power with the engine running rough, and the display glitches up a bit, this also goes away after the engine is warm and the little "F" degree symbol turns off on the dash.

    [​IMG]


    Here is the RPM on the engine at idle, it oscilates between 1,200RPM and 950RPM, which is much lower now than where it used to be (used to idle at 1,600RPM when I first bought it):

    [​IMG]

    Here is a video of the engine running when already warmed up. This isn't when the misfires occur, but please let me know what you think! How does it sound?



    A friend sent me a guide to diagnose misfires, though I can't post it as I cannot post links yet. The order of operations in it is sparks, coils, wires, and fuel injectors.

    What should the order of operations be?

    What other service recommendations would you have for me to perform assuming the car has had none? I checked the service manual for the car. It said to flush the coolant from the inverter and radiator/engine, replace all the spark plugs. Something else I came across is replacing the transaxle/transmission fluid and cleaning the pan. Another item is pulling out the sparkplugs and soaking the engine in seafoam, to try and remove some of the carbon deposits. Of course, the latter two are never recommended by Toyota.
     
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