When do you need to change a hybrid battery?
Let's explore the options on changing a Hybrid battery pack
We were recently working on a Toyota Prius at our shop, A+ Japanese Auto Repair, and it needed a hybrid battery pack replacement. We thought this would be a good time to share a few photos and tell you a little bit more about hybrid battery packs.
A hybrid battery pack is made up of several batteries connected by a series of connections. The voltage at each cell can range from 9 volts and higher. The hybrid computer monitors two cells at a time and compares the voltages to all of the other paired cells. If there are a pair of batteries that are too far away from one another in the voltage category then the computer will set a trouble code in the hybrid battery computer.
There are some companies that will remove the battery pack from the car and only replace the battery cells which are low. They call this "reconditioning" the battery. One organization that advertises this is "The Hybrid Shop". The Hybrid Shop is a franchise around the nation that promotes this repair but be careful with this patch solution. Let me explain...
We can use the television remote control batteries as the metaphor for the Hybrid battery pack. Most TV remotes come with two batteries. They typically last many years, just like hybrid battery packs. Once the remote has trouble changing channels or controlling volume from the couch, this indicates that the battery voltage is getting low (hybrid pack will set a trouble code.) Now you have a decision to make, should you just replace one battery at a time or change both of them?
Of course, the Hybrid battery pack is a lot more expensive than the remote batteries but the swapping out of one battery at a time is the same concept. So here are a few more things to consider when determining whether to change the battery pack or change one battery at a time.
1. The cost of labor for the removal of the battery pack is the same whether your plan is to change one battery cell or change the pack.
2. How long will the other cells of the battery pack last? Use your common knowledge of batteries here. (i.e. Would you change out one battery in your television remote or both of them.)
3. How long is your car going to be down during the repair?
4. If you only choose to change a few cells, how long will the other cells last and will you have to do this all over again?
Okay now let's talk cost.
All labor rates are different across the nation but typically the part price will be similar. The replacement cost of a Toyota Prius Hybrid battery pack will run you from $1500 to $2500 parts and labor. For a Hybrid SUV, you can raise those estimates up an additional $1000.
If you wanted to save some money on the repair there is another option that you can ask of your local hybrid repair shop. There are many hybrid vehicles that get involved in vehicle accidents and they may have less miles or be newer than your vehicle. Ask your auto repair shop if they can find you a gently used Hybrid pack and get the details about the vehicle in which the pack was removed. You may be able to save quite a bit and get a great pack!
Written by Eric Sevim - ASE Master Certified Auto Repair Technician
A+ Japanese Auto Repair, Inc.
780 Industrial Road
San Carlos CA 94070