Totalcar – Magazine – Hybrid battery if broken: can it be saved or trashed?

If I count correctly, I have been driving my 2006, second-generation Prius for the third year in a row, during which time I have covered a good 30,000 kilometers, which means that my watch now records 204,000 kilometers. I knew it would start to squeeze the oil over time, as it was very cold due to its operating nature, and I was also sure that the battery would wear out over time. The prius canon puts the latter somewhere around 300,000 kilometers, so I pulled the dipstick much more often than I worry about the battery.

It was a mistake: you don’t even have to top up on the oil between the two exchanges, but attacking me in the face of the already mentioned Triangle of Death. There was, of course, everything else besides it, Check Engine, a VSC lamp, and even a warning on the center display. According to the consensus, it is no longer allowed to drive a car with so many phenomena, but I have rolled over for a reading. No one was surprised that the car threw up DTC P0A80, ​​which is a hybrid battery failure.

When the fault occurs, the car saves the freeze frame data, that is, all the known parameters of the car at the moment of the fault phenomenon, from the accelerator pedal position to the intake air temperature to the lambda value, but also, really, the battery voltage of the hybrid system, broken down into panels.

Before we go any further, it is important to clarify the main features of the battery pack of a hybrid system. It is a 201.6 volt package made up of 28 panels. Each is a 7.2 volt, 6.5 Ah nickel metal hydride made up of six 1.2 volt cells, the array itself having a charge controller and relay. The 28 series-connected panels deliver 1.31 kWh of capacity, but the computer pays attention to the so-called operate in a shallow cycle, ie never immerse below 40% and never charge above 80%, keep the charge level around 60% if possible, and also monitor charging, discharging and heat management. Toyota has succeeded in ensuring that the battery itself is stable for tens of thousands of cycles, for example, in California, the hybrid system has a factory warranty of 10 years or 240,000 kilometers.

The already mentioned freeze frame so we imagine the data as if we were taking a screenshot of our phone’s display, only this captures the current state of the car. My freeze frame it was clear from my data that the voltage in panel 5 had dropped, it was 0.3 volts lower than in healthy ones, so the error appeared. I asked for an appointment at the service station and then we cleared the fault and tried to keep the car running as little as possible. The decreasing capacity was noticeable, of course: the car charged the battery much sooner than regenerative braking and dipped faster, so consumption started to go up, starting with 5 instead of 4.

I took the car to the Toycar service in Pomáz by the agreed time. The battery was removed by a trained mechanic in just twenty minutes, and then a multi-day inspection of the battery pack began on a desk. Peter, the service manager specializing in hybrids, still had several Lexus RXs in the hall at various stages of assembly. On my battery pack, a full diagnostics had to be run, meaning all the panels were charged and then discharged to see what condition they were in. This process takes at least two days, even if a pretty good machine is working on it.

Such a battery diagnostic machine can be bought for tens of millions, but Peter built it more: anyone who has played with a more serious remote-controlled car or plane has surely seen such a battery charger as it is on the shelf with a tenth here. They are not only suitable for charging and discharging, but also for balancing the cells inside the panels. The chargers conduct charging and discharging, and the information extracted from them runs into a USB hub, which sends a signal to the computer that can be interpreted by the software. Here it is clear that the program draws a chunky beam on the graph during the discharge, these are healthy panels, but five strands hang from the beam, the tension of these panels drops faster, i.e. they are worn out.

Of course, mechanics can’t spend the whole day in front of the monitor, but with a screen splitter, they can even see from home where the battery being tested is. Although not in the order of ten million, this diagnostic tool also cost a good three million forints, but it is essential for the work. As it turns out, five panels in my battery pack need to be replaced, but that doesn’t look like they’re just snapping in on the new ones either. There are hundreds of selected and organized panels under Peter’s desk, because, for example, it would be a mistake to build 3.5 Ah replacement parts in a battery pack that can stably hold 5 Ah per panel, but it would not be lucky to have two or three batteries on average. vibrant cell.

For example, if the capacity of the panels dropped below 3 Ah, if they are uniform, the array can still be used. Of course, the replacement of the panels cannot be continued indefinitely, above a certain number it is recommended to replace the whole array. Today, it is difficult to get a complete, dismantled battery pack for less than 3-400 thousand forints, as the Russians have discovered that in regions beyond the Urals, where the utility has not yet reached, Prius batteries, which are no longer suitable for driving a car, can store solar energy. they were also sniffed from the market. The factory battery pack is a million item, but if someone finds a good Toyota CH-R battery pack around 2020, it can throw away quite a bit at the 15-year-old Priusa’s usage value: it reduces power consumption, improves dynamics and refines the drive modes.

The biggest enemy of the panels is the heat, with the summer coming, according to Peter, the customers have thickened. In the dual Prius, battery thermal management is solved with a biosensor: the passengers. If the passengers are hot, the air conditioning is likely to be switched on, which is why the battery is being ventilated from the passenger compartment, with the grille on the plastic element between the right rear seat and the door. When you go to the car and put your hands in it, you can also feel the air flowing through it. Cooling can be said in many ways: one is the dirt when, for example, a dog is taken to the car and the fan collects hair and the air gaps between the battery panels become clogged.

You don’t have to catch your pet right away, if someone only cleans their car every year, we can achieve a similar effect with dust. Peter showed a fan in which the paddle gaps were completely filled with dirt. In the case of two Prius, the trunk of the tailgate may even get tired, the car will get wet and water will collect under the fan motor, cause a short circuit, cut off the airflow and damage the battery unnoticed. Interestingly, cars returned to a branded service center are not cleaned during general maintenance either.

Before my car was assembled, the copper connectors on the panels were even replaced, as in 16 years they also oxidized to green like the dome of the Basilica. The price of the repair can be limited quite well: the packaging and diagnostics of a two Prius costs 70 thousand forints, in addition, you have to pay 20 thousand forints per panel, although if a panel with a smaller capacity goes in, it is slightly cheaper. Peter said the warranty is a difficult issue, 1.5-2 years of stable operation can be expected, but since we are slowly talking about twenty-year-old cars, it’s hard to say smart. The company offers a 6-month warranty on the panels they install, but according to the measurement report, more old cells are expected to die out, but it also appears that the average capacity did not reach 3,000 mAh at the time of the fault, but now almost 4,000, the factory value was 6,500 in the new age of the car.

To be sure, my car is now like it was when I bought it three years ago: it charges slowly, it dives slowly, again it can cover quite serious distances, it consumes around 4.5 liters again. However, since I’m planning on it for at least another two years, I’ll definitely write down how durable an repaired battery is.