Check engine light, red triangle, lack of power and constant running of the ICE on your Prius can all lead down the road to the same thing. High Voltage battery pack degradation. Ugh, that dreaded time in the life span of your Prius when it now becomes a thought in your mind, “was it really worth it?” Well wonder no more. In this article we are going to cover 3 solid options when it comes to figuring out what to do if you end up in this boat.
To fully understand what happens when your battery dies, stay subscribed to when I do a video explaining what happens to your battery over time. This should help you understand and make a clear decision on what you should do to either keep or get rid of your beloved Prius (and we all hope, keep)
Option 1 - Remanufactured Battery Replacement
While this is certainly an option, it must be noted here that not all remanufactured batteries are created equal. Even though companies such as Dorman Products are selling “replacement” units they are not always the better option. Dorman has a reputation with many of their clients for having terrible reliability and poor warranty as well.
Typically, from what I have seen even though a Dorman has a 12 month warranty, a customer is likely to experience a failure before then, and have to have another unit installed. Not only is this poor on the part of Dorman, but it sucks for you as the consumer. I do not think I can put any name in my mind of a person who wants to keep taking their car into the shop every few months for warranty work.
There are other places as well that offer reman batteries as well. Bumble Bee Batteries out of Gresham Oregon, has a state-of-the-art rebuild facility that not only allows for a battery to be given life again, but it has another step in the process that ensures it has a longer life as well.
Another company that is “gaining traction” (get it? Your HV battery is called a traction battery, lol) as well is Green Bean Batteries based out of the midwest somewhere but covers a vast majority of the lower 48. They too have a really great process similar to Bumble Bee and also a 5 year warranty. Best part? They will come and do it for you for an all inclusive price that is typically much less expensive than the dealership.
Typical costs are going to run you between $1549 up to $2500 depending on what company and what option you choose. Not bad all things considered.
Option 2 - Dealership Replacement
There is also the Dealership Replacement. Not a bad option, but more than likely the most expensive out of the three options we are looking into (remember a Prius is supposed to save us money). A typical Prius HV battery from the dealer should come with all new (not used or reconditioned) battery modules. This means that you should see your Prius running and acting like it was when new, pending you have taken care of it otherwise.
Make A Toyota Prius Hybrid Battery Last Past 350,000 Miles Performing Your Own Replacement and Click to Subscribe to Torque News Youtube Channel for Daily EV and Automotive Analysis.
All dealers have their own warranty and can take care of you in the most expensive way, usually they are also the most trusted to work on them as well. I would not ever tell anyone to not use a dealer especially if your other option is Billy Bob’s backyard mechanic shop or anyone else who “knows cars” but doesn’t know hybrids like the Toyota Prius. Solid option but for sure the most expensive, with batteries starting at about $2500 before installation, you are probably going to see a $3000+ dollar invoice, with your name on it.
Option 3 - Do-it-yourself battery reconditioning and repair
This is by far my favorite option. Why? I am a Tech, I fix things and learn to do it for cheap. When I bought my 07 with a bad battery, it was clear I was not going to buy a battery for more than the cost of the car. It did not make financial sense to do so.
I studied hard (because I am a teacher) to learn all I could about the technology that was in my next daily driver. I learned several cool things about the Prius battery
- NiMH batteries are susceptible to “memory” wear. Meaning that they lose the ability to store the energy that is needed to aid in driving the car. It would be like having a really small gas take on your car. You would fill it up super quick and also use it pretty fast too. Your battery loses that ability over time and that can lead to the P0A80 code we all hate with a passion on our Toyota Prius.
- The “memory” is most of the time fixable. With the reconditioning process that some of the above mentioned companies are doing it is allowing us to get more bang for our buck. One company I have fallen in love with is Hybrid Automotive and their patented Prolong battery reconditioning system. I have used it personally and let me tell you, wow, the results were amazing. This system is what Professionals are using to get the most out of the process your, new-to-you battery has gone through.
- Cleaning and nickel plating your bus bars. Most of these remanufactured places are taking the time to nickel plate the copper bus bars to help with corrosion. The process can be done at home by making a simple nickel acetate solution as you can see here on this killer YouTube video (even though I teach this stuff, I sometimes see what others are doing).
Once I figured out how to leverage these bits of knowledge together, I found a lesser mileage HV pack, took out the known good modules , balanced them and coated the bus bars. The result has been off the hook amazing. I am loving this Prius and the battery is doing so well.
If you are like me and you love your Toyota Prius, seriously take the time to learn the do it yourself method. Not only will it save you thousands of dollars, but you will also learn how to fix your own stuff. Which is really cool and you get some serious satisfaction out of it too.
Check out my previous story where I am discussing 3 top tire brands you should consider for your Toyota Prius as well to learn more about your Prius and the amazing machine it is. See you in the next where I am discussing how Hydrogen Fuel Cell could be the end of Toyota Prius.
Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He is an automotive technology instructor at Columbia Basin College. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and at Certified Consulting.