Toyota Prius Hybrid Battery Replacement – Everything You Need to Know
Hybrid cars bridge the gap between electric and gasoline vehicles. They combine two distinct types of power: the internal combustion engine and the electric traction motor. It is a more environmental-friendly option for the drivers, together with better fuel economy and efficient propulsion.
Hybrid cars use hybrid batteries, which provide electricity. Full hybrids have an electricity source from a high voltage battery pack that captures energy through the regenerative braking system. The system is designed to capture the kinetic energy during the deceleration in a battery so it can be used as an electrical power source. Another type of battery charging is plugging the battery into an outlet (so-called plug-in hybrids).
Toyota Prius Hybrid has only been around for 20 years but became a top-rated hybrid vehicle representing the best of both worlds. The second-generation Toyota Prius uses a nickel-metal hydride battery, while the third generation uses a lithium-ion battery.
In this text, you will find detailed information about Prius hybrid battery and how to replace it.
Prius Hybrid Battery Failure Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of battery failure are sometimes tricky to detect and understand. Here are some of the most evident:
1. Decreased Fuel Economy
MPG (Miles Per Gallon) is the distance that a car can travel per gallon of fuel; it is the primary measurement of the car’s efficiency. When you notice a drop in MPG, it may be the sign that your Prius battery is not being charged to its total capacity or not retaining the charge as long as is expected.
2. Battery Charging Problems
When the system is overcharging or undercharging the battery, it may be the first symptom of battery failure. Also, the battery must lose charge at a steady and very predictable rate.
3. State of Charge Fluctuations
State of Charge (SOC) is the level of charge of a battery relative to its capacity. It is shown on the driver information display in the percentage points. When it shows full one minute and low the next, losing and gaining charge too quickly – there is something wrong with your Toyota Prius battery.
4. Strange Noises in the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE)
Because the engine is running more than usual and kicks in too often, or when a fan is constantly running may be the sign that the battery is overheated. It is not good neither for the battery nor the surrounding components.
5. Increased Usage of the Internal Combustion Engine
You need to check your Prius Hybrid battery when your ICE operates for longer than usual. If it is starting or stopping randomly, you need the Prius battery replacement.
6. Warning Lights
Red lights on the car dashboard are often a reliable sign that something is wrong. In that case, it is advisable to take your hybrid vehicle to a trusted mechanic for an inspection.
Toyota Prius Battery Life
Toyota Prius Hybrid batteries can fail like any other car part. The battery life will depend partly on its chemistry, partly on the process of charging itself. Maintenance is also one crucial factor.
Battery life span is not definite; it is estimated between 12 and 15 years by the owners, depending on the car usage and the driving conditions. In some rare cases, battery life reaches the mileage volumes of 200,000+ miles.
In California, hybrid electric vehicles are warranted up to 150,000 miles or 10 years (whichever one comes first). In other countries, the guarantee to the life expectancy of a battery goes up to 100,000 miles or 8 years.
There are few useful tips to make your battery lasts as long as possible.
Do not Allow Battery Drop Down to 20% Capacity
Do not allow your battery to become fully drained because it will have a tough time pushing the initial 20% – it is much harder to begin the charging process when fully depleted. Keep your battery between 25% and 80% charging area.
Check the Battery Pack Cooling System
Every 12-15 months, get your Cabin Air Filter checked. The air filter will affect the airflow to your Prius hybrid battery pack, so it will not get cooled to run effectively. Also, it is highly advisable to keep the battery’s cooling fan clean.
Avoid Extreme Temperatures
Parking in the sunny lot is not a good thing for battery. It can eventually lead to the degradation of the core of your hybrid battery. Also, constant exposure to cold temperatures can make cracks in the core. Extreme temperatures will speed up the process of degradation within the electric battery core.
Slowly Accelerate and Slow Down
Coast to a stop instead of coming to a hard stop as much as is possible, and you will extend the lifespan of your Prius battery. Coasting generates large amounts of the kinetic energy that charges the battery. Also, use slow acceleration because hybrid vehicles shut down their gas engines when you stop. When you lightly press on the accelerator, the electric mode will be on for a longer time. Getting used to it may be a bit tricky but saving on gas is your goal.
Do Not Fully Charge the Battery
Like the abovementioned 20% rule, the final 20% of the charging process is the toughest on your Toyota Prius. The processes within the battery can withstand only a certain amount of stress over time.
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Prius Battery Specs
The hybrid battery has 2 electrodes (positive and negative) immersed in an electrolyte solution, separated by a thin polymer film that prevents short-circuiting. The complex process of electrical charge occurs when the positively charged ions move toward the negative electrode. The positive ions then accept the electrons given up by the negative electrode.
The second-generation Toyota Prius uses a nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery pack with the following specs:
- A type of a traction battery
- It is made of 28 Panasonic modules
- Has 1310 kWh
- Each battery module is made of 6 individual 1.2V Prismatic cells
- Produces 201.6V
- The computer-controlled charge keeps the battery between 38% and 82% (shallow cycling the battery); it dramatically improves the cycle life, thermal management control, and battery life.
- Active cooling is achieved by a battery fan, and the passive by the metal case design.
- It weighs about 118 pounds
- Located behind the back seat
- Enclosed in a metal case, rigidly mounted to the cargo area floor pan
Toyota Prius Battery Cost
If you purchased a new car, your battery might be replaced under warranty for free. But if your warranty has expired, you will need a Prius hybrid battery replacement at your own expense. The first thing to do is check if the dead battery is still covered under your warranty.
The cost to replace Prius battery varies with the year of the Prius, also depends on labor and parts needed. Here are some indicative new hybrid battery prices offered since 2001 (without labor cost):
- 2001 – 2003 Toyota Prius (1st generation) – $3,650
- 2004 – 2009 Toyota Prius (2nd generation) – $3,940
- 2010 – 2011 Toyota Prius (3rd generation) – $4,080
- 2012 – 2015 Toyota Prius Liftback – $3,940
- 2012 – 2016 Toyota Prius V – $3,940
- 2012 – 2016 Toyota Prius C – $3,800
Another option is to buy a refurbished Toyota Prius battery. It will cost you less, around $2,000 or more, without labor fees.
Core credit is a program coming directly from Toyota. When you find yourself in need of a Prius battery replacement, you can recycle the old one. You will have a discount of around $1,200. So, the price of the new battery pack will be reduced by a core credit.
Top 4 Toyota Prius Hybrid Batteries
Here are some remanufactured Toyota Prius batteries together with new module packs available on Amazon.
2. Dorman – OE Solutions 587-007 Remanufactured Hybrid Drive Battery
This battery is compatible with the Toyota Prius 2010-2015 standard version. Remanufactured Dorman – OE Solutions 587-007 Remanufactured Hybrid Drive Battery is a NiMH high voltage battery with a 2-year repair or replacement warranty.
How to Replace Toyota Prius Hybrid Battery
Prius battery replacement is possible to do on your own. You will need some basic tools, some skills, and it is essential to take caution because you are dealing with a high-voltage battery. It usually takes an hour and a half of longer to replace it, especially if it is your first time doing it.
As for the tools, you will need a socket wrench with 8, 10, 12, and 14mm sockets, a ¼” impact drill, and an upholstery removal tool.
First, you need to open your trunk and remove the carpet, tray cover, tonneau cover, and fold the rear seats down. Hybrid battery location is behind the rear seats. Then remove the tray. Pull the left storage bin, remove 12v (auxiliary) battery cover and remove the latch trim piece.
Then pull the fabric away to reveal four 14mm bolts from the seatback. Remove eight 10mm bolts and screws from around the side panels, four D-Rings, two bolts from inside the tonneau recess, two black screws from the rear upper panels.
Disconnect 12v Negative (10mm bolts) from the auxiliary battery and use an upholstery tool to remove the two plastic clips in the carpet panel by the seat hinges. After that, remove the carpeted battery cover, remove any white clips in the battery, and put them back on the bottom of the cover.
Use upholstery tool to remove five black plastic clips – one on each side panel, two on the top vent tube, and one on the bottom vent tube (inlet and outlet). Then remove the orange service plug grip. With an upholstery tool, pop off the rear of side panels and disconnect the light wire harness from the left side panel. Tilt the top of the narrow trim panels at the front of the side panels towards the car’s front to free the side panels and remove them.
Remove the relay from the vent tube and remove the vent tube – slid it into the battery and free the small end from the fan case. Remove nineteen 12mm bolts from around the battery. Five of them are on the battery frame, and fourteen are on the two metal brackets.
Then move the seat out of your way, remove the rest of the 12mm bolts and remove the rubber vent tube from the battery. Remove two nuts and three bolts (10mm) from the battery computer end cover. Make sure you double-check the service grip plug. Then remove the cover and silver RF shield, disconnect three wire harnesses, and make sure you tuck them out of the way.
The next step is to remove two 8mm nuts that connect the mainframe wires to the battery relays and move the wires out of your way. The bad battery is gone, so you need to take the new battery and put it at the same place the old one was.
Ensure both plastic vent tubes are appropriately inserted into the battery case because they will overheat if done incorrectly. From this point, you do everything in reverse.
Some useful tips:
- Start every nut and bolt by hand during reassembly to prevent cross-threading.
- When you start tightening bolts – do not tighten any of them with a drill until they are all started because you would never get the last one in properly.
- Check for the seat belts to make sure they move freely and the seatback locks in place.