Re: Hybrid cars HOV Lanes



There are two potential trouble areas that could be problematic down the road: battery replacement cost (if you have to buy a pack out of warranty) and the extremely complex electrical system to control all the components.
I once owned a house with an advanced heat pump that didn't use outside air for exchange, but rather ground water in a big loop of plastic pipe buried in the side yard. We did have lower electrical bills, but the annual repair costs on the heat pump and the big bill for replacing all the underground pipe when it sprang a leak more than negated our savings.
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wrote:

Inasmuch as the hybrid system is warranted for 100K miles or 8 years (150K and 10 years in California and a few other states) I am not worried. One of the techies in the Yahoo Prius Technical forum bought a battery pack from a wreck for $500 US, barely twice the core value. There is a supply of batteries from totalled Prius cars and no demand.
If you drive a car newer than 1980, you have a lot of sophisticated and critical electronics in it, too. ECU, transmission controller, ABS controller, probably power window and power lock controllers (depending on make/model/year). Any of those is as vulnerable as the hybrid system computers in the Prius and many are about as expensive... and are about as available on the used market and as reliable. Electronics in a car are nothing to be scared of these days - the moving parts are still the big problems, and the Prius as fewer of those than probably any conventional car on the market.
Buying any car is a risk. Head gaskets in some 2.5L DOHC Subaru engines, throttle position controllers in some years of Volvo (not to mention the transmissions and evaporators in '93 and '94 Volvo 850s), automatic transmissions in some years of Honda/Acura V6s - all of these are real and present frustrations experienced by buyers of conventional cars. The least of those will set the owner back $1000. Some (like the trannies) are three times that much and some unlucky owners have to drink from that well several times.
It is interesting to google 'honda transmission fail' and 'prius battery fail' - the first produces nearly half a million hits, mainly dealing with why the transmissions are failing and what to do about them. The second produces nearly 100K hits, mainly wondering if the battery will fail and when that would be. Notice one post that claims to document a hybrid battery failure - if you follow the link http://tinyurl.com/ahc2x it's clear it is bogus. He claims the battery put out sulfur dioxide, while there is no sulfur in the NiMH hybrid battery. I suspect the 12 volt lead-acid aux battery failed instead, unless the post is just a hoax. I canna change the laws of chemistry.
In the end, we are not born to live in fear. We pay our money and take our chances. The experiences of people who have a lot more miles (183K miles for the Yahoo Prius forum owner, last I heard) and a few more years on their Prius than I have on mine are very encouraging indeed.
Mike
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wrote:

hold
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But that is only now since most Priuses are still under the battery warranty. And those battery packs have a very short shelf life if they are not kept charged up, like any battery. 2 years after the wreck unless the wrecker has been keeping the battery on a trickle charger, it's going to be shot just by sitting there doing nothing, due to natural self-discharge.
10 years from now I think the used battery situation will be quite different. And there is another thing you and all the Prius owners should worry about. Toyota does not seem at all interested in addressing the points that the Prius critics keep bringing up about service and repair of the Prius post-warranty expiration. It is constantly pointed out how expensive a new replacement traction battery is. Toyota's response seems to be that the traction battery never fails so why worry. Toyota should be instead adressing these concerns and working with the aftermarket to bring out alternatives that are cheaper, as well as every year reducing the battery cost, as increasing volume production and economies of scale reduce the cost of those batteries to Toyota. It is also pointed out that the car is more expensive to repair since you can't take it to any other place than special Toyota dealerships that have special hybrid techs available. Toyota seems to be responding that the car never breaks down and so never needs repair. Instead they should be offering very low cost training to any independent mechanic that is interested in working on these cars in his own shop.
It is like Toyota's whole attitude about the Prius is that there's this big long warranty on it and the day after the car passes the end of the warranty period, it should be scrapped. I'm surprised that all you Prius owners aren't hammeing Toyota about reducing the list cost on the traction battery.

battery
There is a reason for this. The Prius hasn't been out that long. And sophisticated computerized chargers that continually probe battery condition and set the charging optimally will add years to the life of any battery. But batteries are all time-dependent, they will fail You might get 10 years out of them, 15 tops., but that's it. And it has nothing to do with mileage.
Ted
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These really aren't rocket science. I am doing my own maintenance, and it is different from conventional cars but not hard to learn. I bought the Toyota manuals and a $200 aftermarket scanner to allow me to interface with the hybrid and battery "ECUs", but I understand the current model uses CAN. If Toyota's hybrids don't make it farther into the mainstream, if Toyota backs out of their commitment to convert the bulk of their fleet to their hybrid system, it may be a problem. Otherwise we will see independents attracted to the market. The advent of EFI in everyday vehicles in the 80s was a bigger challenge, as computers (gasp!) appeared in cars. Today's garages cope with ECUs or fail. tomorrow's will cope with hybrids or fail.

That is the error I hear the most. What makes you think that is the case? It defies the nature of failure patterns because it supposes there is a timer that will cause the battery to fail the very year the warranty expires. Will your car be scrap when the standard warranty expires? Or will your refrigerator only last one year? The reason those things don't happen is that manufacturers know better than to push the envelope on warranty periods; that is the sure way to loss where there should be profit.

You are still thinking of car batteries. Industrial batteries have been getting 20 year life expectancies for ages: http://www.batterypowersystems.com/products/absolyteIIP.htm says (in part) "Absolyte IIP VRLA batteries range from 105 to 4800AH and have a twenty (20) year life expectancy." Batteries are not all that sensitive to time, but mostly to operating conditions. Put 5% too much voltage on one of those puppies and it will last less than a week, as I too well know :-( Treat it right and it will be at rated capacity when I retire.
Toyota only puts their money where their mouth is for 10 years, but a lot of cars don't last that long, either. Every car dies of something. My first new car was a 1970 Mercury Capri that went to salvage at the tender age of 8 years when it needed yet another u-joint... they were integral with the driveshaft, which was then as expensive as the market value of the car. My second new car was a 1984 Dodge that made it to 6 years or so before it needed a timing chain change. Step one: remove engine so the cover could be removed. More than the car was worth. My last Volvo wasn't worth a new carburetor at 25 years. Anyway, I have every expectation that most Prius will end their days with the original battery somewhere around the 15 year mark, which is what Toyota estimates the battery life is.
I can't understand the fixation on the battery. If Toyota is confident enough to pick up the bill for the first eight or ten years, what is the likelihood there will be a drastic change in the curve at 11 or 12 or 13 years? What is the chance this major automaker with a reputation for reliability has gone nuts and made a car that will bite them hard on standard warranty on a major item? I think the odds are in my favor. If you want to hold off, I understand.
Mike
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Don't care aboqut the power windows and power locks failing on me on the highway.
On the other hand, the computer is MUCH more integral to the simple starting and driving away of the parallel hybrid (Toyota system) than I like.
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wrote:

Have you had a lot of trouble with your ECU or transmission controller failing you on the road? The controllers in the Toyota hybrid system are very much like those devices: crucial, low power and very reliable. You may be hearing of ECU replacements in the pre-2004 Prius cars; those are replaced because the software could not be updated otherwise and was too touchy about the speed with which the combustion engine fired up. As the engine aged it would sometimes get too slow about firing and would set the hybrid warning. The present model just takes flash upgrades.
Worry more about power handling devices. There have been a smattering of inverter failures, which have the same effect as the igniter failing in Hondas - call a tow truck. It isn't nearly as common as igniter failures, but will be more expensive when out of warranty... probably $300 or more on the used market. Let's not get started on main relays!
What I am trying to say is that the reliability and longevity issues are somewhat different from those in conventional vehicles but are no more worrisome. The car you are driving today, if it was made since 1996, is every bit as complex and high tech as hybrids are. As a practical matter, this Prius has been so far the most reliable car I've had in my 35 years of driving... by a large margin.
Mike
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The last two cars I got rid of were dumped because they had persistent electrical system problems; mechanically they were still perfect. The moving parts in the engine will outlive anything else in the car. The only weak point in terms of moving parts is the automatic transmission, in my experience.
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