Preparing for Prius hybrid battery failure?

I’ve got a 2004 Prius (2nd generation) with 112,000 miles on it, which I bought used at 77,400. I’ve experienced no problems with the hybrid system, and get gas mileage in the 40s, depending on conditions. However, I’ve just gone through a replacement of the multifunction display, and earlier had to replace the stereo system, both probably due to manufacturing defects. (And both done with parts bought on eBay rather than paying Toyota’s insane overpricing.) I also replaced the 12v battery (at a dealer), but that’s to be expected.

Now, though, I’m getting a little nervous about the possibility of the hybrid battery itself failing, which I know they occasionally do. It’ll be a year or more till we’ll be financially able to even think about buying another car. OTOH, I have a sneaking suspicion it’s better to trade one of these in the week before the hybrid battery fails than the week after. :slight_smile:

My wife and I are having a debate about the subject, a pretty pointless debate since neither one of us really knows anything about it. Generally we drive cars till they don’t go anymore, or get wrecked. She figures if the hybrid battery gives out, the car can still be driven on the gasoline engine alone and might get reasonable mileage, and therefore be a usable second car. I figure that the car is essentially worthless as a trade-in at that point, and we would be better off violating our usual policy and trading it in as soon as we can afford a new one, for fear the battery will eventually go.

What do you all think? What really happens to these cars if the hybrid battery fails? What kind of mileage do they get on gasoline alone? Are they even drivable that way? Does their value totally tank? Would it be worth it to put even a used hybrid battery into a 10-year-old Prius with, say, 200,000 miles on it?

I’ve posted this on PriusChat as well, but I thought I’d try here for other possible perspectives. Thank in advance for any advice.

I believe you need the hybrid main battery to even start the car.
When the main battery goes, you’ll have a very expensive and heavy paperweight.
Call Toyota and find out how long the main battery is warranted. I believe it might be 10 years/150K miles in some states.
I think it’s too soon to trade it in. Apparently several Prius drivers get well over 200K on their first battery pack.
By the way, don’t consider putting in a used battery pack. There’s a good chance it would have even more miles than yours, because a lot of Prius drivers really rack up miles in a very short time.

When the HV Battery finally does wear out, perhaps twice your mileage, you have 3 choices.
For about $2500, the dealer will sell you and all new battery.
For under $2000, ReInVolt will sell you a re-manufactured battery. (There are other vendors, as well)
For about $1000, ebay will sell you a used battery from a wreck. (the battery is place in the car to survive a wreck)

Labor should be under $500 in any case.

Sadly so many more cars get in wrecks than actually wear out, there will always be used batteries.

Mileage, is not really an issue with any car battery, heat, cold, and time are the enemies.

Sure thing, JimboPalmer, but I’d only consider putting in a high-mileage used hybrid battery pack in a car that I was going to flip immediately afterwards.

Most used Prius buyers are aware of the projected life-span of the main battery (car dealers CERTAINLY are) so the cars value is going to be discounted accordingly…Whether you can still operate the car with a failed battery is another question you need to investigate. It will probably put itself into the “limp mode” and stay there until the battery is replaced, but a Toyota Dealer Service Manager should be able to tell you what happens when the battery dies…

'Refurbished" and Rebuilt" batteries mean the battery case has been opened up, dead and dying cells removed and replaced with used cells gleaned from salvage batteries…A crap-shoot at best…If the battery is relatively new, and fails, Toyota Dealers themselves open them up and locate and replace the failed cell or cells instead of replacing the entire battery…

Thanks, everyone, and apologies for not getting back sooner – kind of got busy over the holidays.

What I’m taking away from all this (and from a more extensive discussion on the PriusChat forum) is that (a) these batteries do not fail all that often, so there’s no need to be anxious about impending doom; (b) but they do sometimes fail, and there are certain symptoms that can be observed; © if it fails totally the car won’t run (I will gleefully inform my wife of this); and (d) it’s possible to replace the battery at a relatively moderate cost by buying a rebuilt or used one. (I take the point about a used one, db4690, and I’d definitely want to know something about the car that a used one came from.)

So, I’ll keep a steady mind, and if it looks like the battery is failing I’ll get it tested and do a cost/benefit analysis on putting in a replacement battery vs. getting a new car. I want an all-electric car someday, so I hope to keep the Prius till a reasonable one of those appears.

Thanks, everyone, for the advice. I feel like I’ve got a better grasp of the situation, and my wife and I can have a win/win discussion: she’s wrong about driving the car if the traction battery fails, but she’s right that there are financially viable options if it does.

@asecular, I did state that if the hybrid main battery fails, the car won’t run.

WRT “will it run if the hybrid battery fails,” there’s a pretty definite statement that it won’t in the thread on Prius Chat that I mentioned:

The battery he has now is used, he has 112,000 miles on it. When he doubles that and needs a newer battery, buying used (or re-built if he wants a 18 month warranty) is a sensible choice. If the donor car was wrecked, the battery clearly worked well enough to run the car to be run over in traffic.

I Was in the same boat as you a year ago and had my battery replaced by Prius rebuilders.
their are several places that replace the Hybrid battery at a fraction of the dealer cost.
I suppose as time goes on more and more of these battery repair shops will open up and you will have more options

Their are several options for a battery replacement.
Obviously the dealer but they usually charge $3500 and up…
I used a company in New Jersey called Prius Rebuilders
They did the whole job for less than $1500 and included an 18 month warranty (better than the dealer!!!).
The battery was installed about a year ago and its still running strong.
on the west coast their are several other options as well.