Hybrid Car – More Fun with Less Gas

Battery warranty question

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Posted by B. Peg on October 23, 2004, 11:00 pm
From what I hear, the battery in the Prius is warranted for 10 years by

That seems a bit much.  I'm old enough to remember J.C. Penney's had a
lifetime battery (free replacement) as did Firestone (I think it was them).
I also had a Ford/Mercury that had a "We fix it once and you never pay to
have that part fixed again warranty."  Well, Ford did away with that in
short order too (I had one so I know).  It was even in their owner's manual
for the '86 era cars.

Around here in the heat, my car's batteries only last maybe 2 years before
they are gone.  Doesn't matter how many months it is warranted for, they
just pro-rate it and you basically buy another battery.

I'm suspicious if I consider buying a Prius that Toyota will somehow weasel
out of the battery warranty or perhaps pro-rate it as some exorbitant
amount.  Seems to good to be true if the battery is indeed thousands of
dollars of the cost of the car.

Anyone have or read the fine print of the battery warranty to see what it
actually says?


Posted by richard schumacher on October 24, 2004, 2:26 am

It's eight years or 100,000 miles (longer in California, I think 10
years or 150,000 miles) on the *traction* battery, the big 201.6 Volt
nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery which is part of the drive system.  
After seven years and some 150,000 cars sold I can find no report that
Toyota has been asked to replace any of these batteries under warranty.  
They really seem not to have failed yet.

The 12V battery used for booting the car when you press start is a small
but otherwise ordinary lead-acid battery which is covered under the
comprehensive 3 year warranty.  After the warranty on mine runs out I
plan to replace it with an Optima or equivalent long-life battery.

Posted by Michelle Vadeboncoeur on October 24, 2004, 4:38 pm
The hybrid traction battery is covered for 8 years or 100,000 miles
in the US under the Hybrid Vehicle System warranty.  If you're in one
of the California emissions states (CA, MA, ME, VT, NY) the hybrid
battery is further covered by the California Emission Control Warranty
out to 10 years or 150,000 miles (for 2004-2005 Prius, anyways).

The regular 12v lead-acid accessory battery in the Prius (which is the
same as in your regular cars, except maybe smaller in size) is not so
certain.  Some people have it covered under the basic new vehicle
limited warranty (3 years/36,000 miles in the US), while some dealers
see it as one of those expendable items (like tires, light bulbs, and
wiper blades) and won't cover it if you abuse it (let it run flat).
If you're tough on your 12v battery (have a bad habit of leaving
lights on in your car when it's off, for example), you might have to
replace it sooner, and that would be a perfect time for you to take
advantage of any "lifetime" offers that you quoted at other auto parts

Posted by Larry Morphew on October 29, 2004, 5:06 am
 Michelle covers the warranty question very thoroughly and accurately.

Recently I visited with my bro-in-law, who trains estimators for State
Farm, Ins., about this battery. Apparently they are quite spendy (he
estimated, off the cuff, somewhere around $,000.00 to $,500.00) but
said that there had been so few replaced because of accidents that he
really didn't know for sure. He hadn't personally worked on an
estimate but was just relaying what he'd heard from others in his
office (rumors, essentially).

He did tell me this though and it may be of interest.

Tow truck drivers are supposed to have training for handling the Prius
in case of an accident - or at least State Farm wishes that they had

The battery is apparently pretty potent. He told one story he'd heard
from his boss about a Prius that was rear-ended and the battery case
was cracked during the accident. Apparently it leaked on the tow truck
and ate a hole through the truck bed as well as a hole in the concrete
roadway under the truck.

So, if that's true, I'm sure State Farm (et.al.) will see the
handwriting on the wall and insurance costs will increase eventually.
It gets pretty expensive repairing highway surfaces and tow truck
beds... ;-)

Larry Morphew
1955 Studebaker Commander
2004 Toyota Prius

mrv@kluge.net (Michelle Vadeboncoeur) wrote in message

Posted by dbs__usenet on February 3, 2005, 8:36 pm
I would ask your brother why he's pulling your leg.  It just does not
eat through things that way.  It's exactly the same stuff that's in your
rechargable shaver and telephone handset, NiMH.  Have you ever heard of
a telphone leaking and eating a hole in the floor?  I haven't.

The special training is so they recognize the simple fact that you don't
grab the high voltage wires if they are torn lose.  The circuitry at
the battery pack will disconnect the voltage, but they need to be safe.


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