12 Volt battery woes – Part 2

Having an indicator to show the charge level of the battery has been a boon.  However, its location is not very convenient.  In order to charge the battery I had to open the hatch and keep it from closing while the charger was plugged in.  It was not easy to position the charger.

Another trip to Battery World at Phillip to pick up a CTEK COMFORT INDICATOR PANEL M8.  I chose the model with the 3.3m leads so that I could fit it into the dashboard near the steering wheel.  Convenient to see the charge level and convenient to plug in the charger.

The battery is on the right rear behind the back wheel.  So it was a straight and fairly easy run along the sill to the dash.  Using my Kinchrome Panel Removal levers I popped off the plastic sill covers; from the front, the driver’s side kick panel (held to the firewall with a plastic nut), the front and rear sills and the B pillar cover.  I lifted the panel that includes the HV battery vent, but I didn’t have to remove it; it was sufficient to see where the metal clip for the rear seat was.

Note: The B pillar cover is a bit tricky.  Tip: Remove the cover from the seat belt bolt and then push the seat belt down until the bolt fitting is pointing to the floor.  Then you can pull out the B pillar cover over the bolt.

The sills on the right hand side contain the 12 volt battery cables in one clip and the rear window washer fluid pipe in another.  There’s enough room between those clips for the cable to sit snugly.  The cable routing from the rear door sill to the battery takes some trial and error, but there is a safe path.

First problem – the panel

The panel is larger than the Toyota standard.  There’s a 1.5 mm ridge around the opening and the CTEK panel would not fit.  And I had to fit it first before I could run the cable.

There wasn’t much in it.  I took a sharp hacksaw and cut into the corners.  Then I cut away only the bottom and left ridges.  This was enough to allow a tight fit and avoid more cuts that could have damaged wires behind the dash.

With a bit of fettling I found a cable path that was neat.

Second problem – not enough cable

Too short, very annoying
3.3 m is not enough

Annoying.  3.3 m should have been plenty, but it was 10 cm short.  No amount of fiddling would make it reach.  I had an idea to retain the original cable intact and create 2 cables to join it to the battery.  However, I didn’t want the fuse holder to be inaccessible under a panel.

So I spliced some heavy gauge wire into the cable.  And then connected the eyelets to the battery terminals.

Crimped, not spliced, strictly-speaking
Crimped, not spliced, strictly-speaking

Replacing the panels was straightforward.

The Comfort Indicator Panel’s traffic light system differs slightly from the Comfort Indicator Eyelet as green is 100%-90%, yellow from 90%-40%  and red for below 40% charge.

The beauty is that I can plug in the battery charger much easier.

You couldn't tell that it wasn't original
You couldn’t tell that it wasn’t original
IMG_1036
CTEK charger plugged in securely through the driver’s window.
Ridge in the panel openings visible in the upper left

Very convenient and easy to use and only slightly more effort than I had hoped.

And I still haven’t found (or looked for) the drain.

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12 Volt battery woes – Part 1

Two weekends in a row I had to get a jump-start from the Allianz roadside assist.  Either the less-than-1-year-old battery is on its last legs or the something is quickly draining the battery.

Unfortunately it is not easy to analyse the battery using the otherwise sophisticated piece of kit because it isn’t easy to rev or idle in a Prius.  The results of the test were inconclusive.  The Prius does not have an alternator to charge the battery, it uses the HV battery to do that with the HV battery in turn being charged by the small Motor/Generator (MG1).  So the fact that the battery is charging when the car is running doesn’t tell you anything.

So, out to Battery World at Phillip for a battery check and to discuss options.  Their testing suggested that the battery was in very good shape.  So rather than buy a new Optima Yellow Top for $385, I purchased a spiffy CTEK MXS 5.0 battery charger and because the battery is tucked away a bit, I bought a delightfully-named Comfort Indicator Eyelet M6.  Once again Scandinavia comes to the rescue.

The CTEK MXS 5.0 has 4 programs and 8 phases to cover small, large and almost dead batteries.  There’s a special setting for very cold conditions, which I might have to use in Winter.

CTEK MXS 5.0 battery charger.  Does your battery charger have that many lights?  Didn’t think so.

Since the charging current doesn’t get above 4 amps on the normal program, I could charge the battery in-situ without worrying about creating gas or excessive heat.

Since access to the battery terminals involves the removal of several panels, the Comfort Indicator socket provides easy access and it’s traffic light system shows when the battery is at 100%-80%, 80%-40% or below 40% charge.

CTEK Comfort Connector with indicator
CTEK Comfort Connector with indicator and masking tape solution.  I can see the flashing light through the back window, even with the tonneau cover on

So, before I need to use the car, I check the indicator.  If it’s red, I charge the battery.

Now to find what’s draining the battery…