So after the 12V battery discharged the first time down to about 3.5V, I knew that I had to replace it before the Canberra Winter got too deep. (In fact, anything below 10V and a 12V battery is usually dead forever.) In Canberra, ANZAC Day on 25 April is the turning point for cold weather to start, after which any plants that aren’t frost-tolerant will suffer. I considered the expensive but high-tech Optima Yellow battery for about twice the price of a standard lump. Since the 12V battery doesn’t crank the engine, it doesn’t have to have cold cranking amps. The Optima Yellow is said to be better for running accessories like lights, sounds, windows and locks. But did I want to spend almost $400 on a battery?
Despite fairly mild weather, the fail occurred again on Friday 2 March. I couldn’t start the car because of the failed 12V battery. I tried my battery charger on the jump terminals under the bonnet. When I pressed the Start button the computer started and I could run accessories, but I couldn’t go to the next stage where the 270V hybrid battery starts the engine. After a few tries I rang roadside assist.
You’ll recall that my first fail was just after I got the car and that my roadside assistance hadn’t been set up. So my fleet people arranged the details and I got a serviceman in about 30 minutes.
Sadly, when I called the second time, I was on hold for 45 minutes! Another 30 minutes and the service guy arrived.
This time the battery analyser displayed “Dead cell” and “5.13V”. His range of replacements didn’t extend to a genuine Prius battery. He had one that would fit if only backwards. Since I wasn’t in a hurry (my wife caught a taxi home), I could buy a new battery the next morning.
The Prius started first time on Saturday morning. I dropped Chikako at work and bought a genuine Toyota battery. The spare parts man told my that he didn’t think much of Optima batteries and he often replaced them with the real deal within 12 months of fitting.
Extracting the battery from its packaging was a multi-stage operation. The box with rope handles opened to a plastic-wrapped cardboard support, into which the plastic-wrapped box contained the battery was centred. The void between the outer and inner boxes was filled with what appeared to be rejected popcorn. It was Health and Safety gone mad.
Fitting was easy enough. Well… the brackets and various connectors were a bit of a handful, but at least the battery was so small that it is quite light.
Then came the fun task of resetting everything and Bluetooth pairing my phones again. Toyota don’t make this process straightforward if you don’t have the navigation screen and you can only do it while the car is on but perfectly stationary.