Unfortunately the red triangle of death reappeared on the Prius yesterday. This time it was accompanied by the battery cooling fan kicking into high gear which from my experience is a sure sign that the refurbished pack has once again failed, making it the fourth time it has occurred in a little more than a year. When I bought the replacement pack from battery4prius.com it was with the knowledge that I planned to migrate into an EV as my daily driver, although at that time I did not think that EV would be a Tesla.
The replacement battery experience has been rocky at best. In the first three months I had them come out twice more to swap out the battery as the replacements shit the bed as well. The battery in the car has been good for about 8 months but that now has also hit a wall. When I went the refurbished battery route I had no idea I would be giving the Prius to Katie in the future. If I did, I may have made a different decision, especially considering the poor showing the refurb batteries have had.
A Prius battery is comprised of 28 individual cell packs. What these companies do is crack open failed batteries and identify the cells that are bad and just replace those, leaving the rest intact. This approach will normally get the battery functional again. Unfortunately this approach also leads to poor reliability as the cells are not properly balanced or matched, hence why I have had four packs with this formula fail so quickly.
So anyway, this was bad news but my initial thought was Katie would need to spend another $900 to get another pack with a one year warranty. I contacted the company that did the work and was told they are not currently doing installs in Florida. Hmm well that sucks. A quick internet search revealed there are a bunch of people selling refurb Prius batteries so if she wants to go that route again it is an option. However the research revealed a more expensive, much more labor intensive, but much longer lasting DIY solution.
newpriusbatteries.com sells a kit that replaces the guts of the battery pack with fewer, brand new, better cells. Instead of 28 cells this only uses 14. The batteries have a two year warranty but realistically you should get a lifespan that rivals what a brand new OEM pack offers. The kit costs $1600 so it is almost double the cost of what the one year refurb cost but as is always the case, you get what you pay for.
Going this route comes with a big labor penalty, not only would I need to pull the battery pack out of the car, I would also have to perform the transplant operation of the batteries themselves. I have investigated what is involved, it has a lot of steps but it is nothing I couldn’t do, given I set enough time aside to do so.
I talked to Katie about it last night. It’s a tough call. She really likes the Prius but the reality is the car is only worth maybe 3k WITH a functioning battery pack. I told her it really comes down to how long she plans to drive the car. If she thinks she will keep with it for a couple years at least then the new batteries make sense to me. I told Cindy I would be willing to take on the job, it would be a nice challenge and good YouTube content after all. Since Katie has not gone back to work yet she is going to just sit tight for now. She has her truck for emergency transport if needed and she also can borrow Cindy’s car as needed.
Last night I tried to cut into my weekend work needs by weed whacking the property. I didn’t get back inside until about 7:30. The fact that my lower back has been hurting all week made the task less fun that it already is.
I feel pretty exhausted this morning. I was up after 11 (late for me). I then was awakened for a prolonged period of time in the middle of the night by an intense storm. Actually, I think Elsa may have been the one that woke me up. She typically likes to sleep with her body pressed up against me. She is also terrified of thunder and the sound of intense rain, so much so that she will shake with fear. It was her shaking that I think awoke me.
I did my best to comfort her as I pulled the blanket on top of her and laid my hand on her back. It took awhile for the storm to pass but she eventually settled down. I awoke this morning groggy and saw our first backyard standing water of the season out the window. Hopefully it absorbs quickly into the ground to allow me a dry mowing experience this weekend.