2 Reasons I Do Not Trust A Junkyard Toyota Prius HV Battery
Look, I get it, no one wants to have a hybrid battery go bad in their Prius, myself included. The issue is what comes next after you get the diagnosis your battery is bad—battery replacement. The question then becomes, what route do you go? Dealership? Aftermarket? DIY? or Junkyard?
I want to cover a few things here on why the first two options, dealer and aftermarket, will be the best solution to do it yourself or go the junkyard route. But first, my three reasons why you should stay away from the junkyard when getting a "new to you" HV battery.
Reason 1: Time
Now, there is probably some person out there who got super lucky and found a wrecked Prius in a junkyard that just had a new dealer battery put in it. To you, whoever you are, congratulations, you saved a bundle. For the rest of us who are always looking, I hope you will look elsewhere.
One of the main reasons I urge consumers to stay away from HV batteries out of the junkyard is time. You do not know how long that battery has been sitting on the shelf, and here is why that is bad.
Nickel Metal Hydride or NiMH does not like to sit. When it does, the battery will degrade, and the cells inside the modules will fail to accept a charge. If you want to know more about dendrites and why they are killing your battery, check out this article.
You have to understand with a salvage yard battery that there is zero history on that car other than what the people tell you. You will not know if the battery is good or not. So the risk is here is that you could get a good battery, but more than likely not.
The next thing to think about is that even if the place you got it from will give you a warranty, you are going to have to keep swapping them in and out. That does not sound like a good time for me. So my question to you here is, what is your time worth?
I know for me that my time is worth something in dollars. If I was not mechanically inclined and trying to save money, this may seem like a very appealing option. However, if you are not aware of how these batteries work, you will not know if you got a good one.
Reason 2: Your Money
A salvage yard is going to sell you a HV battery at what they believe it is worth. I have seen batteries go from $300 up towards $1200 depending on the yard and who you know there. The second thing with this is that the yard selling you the battery does not have to warranty it as the part is used.
Just looking at the problem from this perspective, getting a battery from a junkyard seems like a very high-risk deal to me. Now, as a Prius owner, I like to save money, so I am going to look at all my options.
My caution though, is that again, you do not know what you are getting, so why risk it? I do not know about you, but I am going to look at it like this. If I spend $2500 on a new Toyota battery, I will not spend the time or money to keep having batteries swapped into my car. Add time and the hassle of working on or having your Prius worked on, and the money adds up.
You could easily spend $2500 to $3000 on shop time, your time, and used parts to get your car going again. When you think about it like that, the dealer option makes a lot more sense.
If you are a gambler, take the risk and visit your local junkyard to save some dough on a potentially good hybrid battery. Experience shows to me that you are better off getting one that is a known good battery and saving the headache.
I hope this helps. As always, if you have battery questions, please reach out to me on social media. I am happy to help where I can. Other than that, have a great day.
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Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter is also an Instructor of Automotive Technology at Columbia Basin College. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting. Read more of Peter's stories at Toyota news coverage on Torque News. Search Toyota Prius Torque News for more in depth Prius coverage from our reporters.