Red triangle, check engine light, battery warning

Discussion in 'Generation 1 Prius Discussion' started by SDeem, Sep 16, 2020.

  1. SDeem

    SDeem New Member

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    Vehicle:
    2003 Prius
    Model:
    One
    Hello everyone - new to this website but could really use some help. I have a 2003 Prius, first generation. I bought it back in 2017 and the battery was replaced prior to purchase. I've generally not had many issues with it, but I had surgery 3 weeks ago and it's been sitting and when I went to drive it the other day it is now showing a litany of problems.

    I'm getting the check engine light, the PS warning, the main battery warning, and the !-car warning. I am not sure what's going on. Prior to my surgery it was driving fine (we used it to come home from the hospital.) I'm not sure if it's a combination of kind of extreme weather in addition to being left to sit for longer than it has been since I've owned it or something else.

    It's really sluggish and doesn't feel "right" when I just pulled it a few yards ahead when testing it how it drove. I think I might get it towed if anything.

    My question is, I know from reading some of the forums on here that there are codes that a regular code reader won't pick up on when running the reader on a Prius. My instinct is to take it to the mechanic, but I feel like I should take it to the Toyota dealer (my concern is $$$ I have never gone to a dealer in the past--I'm also due for an inspection and would probably lump it all together). Should I take it to a mechanic or a dealer? Does anyone have any insight on what this could be about and why it showed up so suddenly like this? I am not a car person at all and am navigating this without a ton of knowledge; I REALLY appreciate any insight on this.
     
  2. Josey

    Josey Member

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    All of those warning lights mean that there are error codes stored in the computer, and there's no way to get moving without knowing the error codes.

    The "check engine" light will be associated with "generic" error codes that can be read by even very cheap code readers.

    But unfortunately, those errors will be the least of your problems. The red triangle / PS / battery light stuff needs something that can read Toyota specific codes. The best thing is to have access to the Toyota "Techstream" system - the dealer level stuff. If you're computer & somewhat car saavy search the forums for Techstream and you can pick up affordable knock-off versions online.

    If you just want to start by taking it someplace to get codes read, generic mechanics are often inadequate, and Toyota dealers will frequently overcharge you for substandard service. Ask around and web-search around for a local and independent (i.e. non corporate chain) shop that specializes in Prius. They're not on every street corner, but hopefully there's one around Pittsburgh.

    One simple thing to try - Do you have an electrical multi-meter and know how to use it? If so, pop the trunk, check the voltage on the 12V auxiliary battery and report.
     
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  3. SDeem

    SDeem New Member

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    2003 Prius
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    One
    Hi Josey. Thanks for your reply!

    So, weird thing. I went back out to the car after posting this and turned it on again and..... none of the errors showed up. It fired up like normal. When I first turned it on earlier I left it on for maybe like 2 minutes and pulled it ahead a few yards as mentioned in the past post. I'm wondering if this was just a weird thing where the battery needed to get something from the car being on and then it started normally after that?

    Any idea why all the warning lights would just disappear like that? I have heard of Techstream and am considering getting it set up to be able to find out the codes on my own. I unfortunately do not have the multi-meter you mentioned.

    Anyways-- the tires were really low so I drove it down the street and filled those up and then came back. It ran normally. So weird... It still needs the inspection, so I will definitely be following your advice about looking for a local mechanic who specializes in Prius and go from there...?

    Do you think I should be extra careful with it now, or does the absence of all the warnings mean it's generally safe to drive even with the big scare from earlier? I'm wondering if it just was because it hadn't been started up in a spell.
     
  4. Josey

    Josey Member

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    Vehicle:
    2003 Prius
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    One
    Unfortunately intermittent problems are the worst so nothing can be said for certain, including whether it's "safe to drive." You'll just have to make that call based on your own situation. I went through an "episode" partly like this once and it coincided with the death throes of my 12V aux battery and immediately preceded the need to replace my HV battery. The problems (including lack of full mobility) were when it hadn't been driven for a while and voltage in the 12V system was low. I went ahead and drove it to a shop (~ 20 miles), but A) the roads I needed are not particularly dangerous ones if one breaks down and B) I have a roadside service.

    Anyway, yours sat for a long time. (In Gen 1 Prius time, I call a week a long time, so 3+ weeks is plenty long). The batteries - both the HV battery and the 12V aux battery don't like to sit. So get it to people who know Prius and just have them check it all over. And don't let the car sit.
     
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