Author Topic: Prius Battery Broke, $3600 replacement, too busy with life to search for Alts.  (Read 7435 times)

blackomen

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Note: I've already paid for the repair, but would like others opinions if it was reasonable given my extreme time constraints.

Background:

My fiancee's car, a 2001 Toyota Prius with 160,000 miles had its main battery break last week, resulting in a $3600 repair bill (we split it.)  We live together at roughly the midpoint between our jobs, and public transportation is not a reasonable option for either of us in our locale.  I've also been extremely busy recently with studying for the 3rd CFA exam.  If you don't know what CFA is, think of it as the CPA for Finance but 5x as hard and requiring 400-500 hours of solid study from January to June 7 (the date the exam is offered.)  The pass rate is about 40% and if you don't pass, you need to wait a whole year to take it again in June 2015.

Anyways:

I've been spending 60 hours a week at work (including commuting) PLUS another 20-30 hours a week studying for the exam.  My fiancee is a graduate student in Biology so her schedule's also just as packed.  The battery broke one day and we were desperate since one of us won't be able to make it to work.  Some options we've considered:

- Buying a salvage battery for around $1000 - 2000..  it seemed this would require a ton of research and we didn't have the luxury of time since our schedules were so packed.
- Buying another used car: We seriously considered this, but we asked ourselves: would you buy the exact same car with a working hybrid battery for $3600?  Since it was maintained reasonably well, we decided it was still worth it.

Keep in mind that searching for alternatives to spending the $3,600 in a battery replacement would eat into the little time I have left to study for the CFA exams (risking my probability of passing), and passing the exam would bring benefits to my career that would easily exceed a Present Value of $3,600.

What do you think? 
« Last Edit: May 23, 2014, 12:28:04 PM by blackomen »

TacoSaver

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Did you get the core credit from Toyota?  The table below shows what Toyota pays for the Core:

2001-2003 Toyota Prius (1st generation) $3,649 minus $1,350 core credit
2004-2008 Toyota Prius (2nd generation) $3,649 minus $1,350 core credit
2009-present Toyota Prius (3rd generation) $3,939 minus $1,350 core credit
Toyota Camry Hybrid $3,541 minus core credit (not specified)
Toyota Highlander Hybrid $4,848 minus core credit (not specified)

Guy Incognito

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All makes sense to me.  And yes, the CFA is ridiculous -- I passed L1, didn't pass L2 and then never took again - so you're a better man than I am!  Or just have a higher pain threshold :) 

blackomen

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Did you get the core credit from Toyota?  The table below shows what Toyota pays for the Core:

2001-2003 Toyota Prius (1st generation) $3,649 minus $1,350 core credit
2004-2008 Toyota Prius (2nd generation) $3,649 minus $1,350 core credit
2009-present Toyota Prius (3rd generation) $3,939 minus $1,350 core credit
Toyota Camry Hybrid $3,541 minus core credit (not specified)
Toyota Highlander Hybrid $4,848 minus core credit (not specified)

Yeah, we got the credit but the labor and sales tax ate the savings..  oh, and forgot but the actual price was $3400 net (we were originally quoted for 3600)

CarDude

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I think you did fine. The Prius is a good reliable car.

Thegoblinchief

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I would have made the same choice, unless there were a lot of unresolved minor issues with the car which were indicative of more expensive repairs to come.

Nords

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My fiancee's car, a 2001 Toyota Prius with 160,000 miles had its main battery break
What exactly does "break" mean?  Were you able to determine that a new battery was the only/best solution, and that the dealer/mechanic wasn't trying to gouge you?

I agree that a 13-year-old car/battery owes you nothing.  In fact the 2004 Prius models (and later) have had even better batteries, so this 2014 replacement battery may outlast the rest of your 2001 Prius.

blackomen

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My fiancee's car, a 2001 Toyota Prius with 160,000 miles had its main battery break
What exactly does "break" mean?  Were you able to determine that a new battery was the only/best solution, and that the dealer/mechanic wasn't trying to gouge you?

I agree that a 13-year-old car/battery owes you nothing.  In fact the 2004 Prius models (and later) have had even better batteries, so this 2014 replacement battery may outlast the rest of your 2001 Prius.

The battery died.  It means I determined, to the best of my ability and without consuming too much time as to miss work or interfere with studying for my CFA exams next month and that any further time spent on this endeavor would pose a substantial risk to the probability of passing the exams which will have an impact on the present value of my future earnings in excess of the supposedly inflated price of $3, 600.

In simple terms, I had too much going on with my life right now and even the temporary loss of transportation would have tremendous and irreversible long term reprecussions to my career.  I've already budgeted 90 hours a week for work and last minute studying for the exams.  This leaves no time to research saving a few hundred or a few thousand dollars on a battery.  Failing the exam would have devestating effects on my career.  Had this happened when I did not have a once in the life time important exam coming up in 3 weeks, I would not have made such a hasty decision.  If you cannot fathom the legendary stress arising from the CFA exams, please google it and you'll find countless stories of endless stress and sleepless nights 2-3 weeks before exam day.

QED

Sent from my GT-N8013 using Tapatalk
« Last Edit: May 24, 2014, 12:14:35 AM by blackomen »

Nords

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My fiancee's car, a 2001 Toyota Prius with 160,000 miles had its main battery break
What exactly does "break" mean?  Were you able to determine that a new battery was the only/best solution, and that the dealer/mechanic wasn't trying to gouge you?

I agree that a 13-year-old car/battery owes you nothing.  In fact the 2004 Prius models (and later) have had even better batteries, so this 2014 replacement battery may outlast the rest of your 2001 Prius.
The battery died. 
Um... I'm just curious what the symptoms of "break" and "battery died" look like.  If you had a mechanic's opinion on it, I'm curious about that too.

I have a 2005 and a 2006 Prius and if your battery symptoms (whatever they may be) ever started to show up in my cars then whatever information you could share (about the symptoms) might mean that I could be better equipped to deal with them. 

DollarBill

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My fiancee's car, a 2001 Toyota Prius with 160,000 miles had its main battery break
What exactly does "break" mean?  Were you able to determine that a new battery was the only/best solution, and that the dealer/mechanic wasn't trying to gouge you?

I agree that a 13-year-old car/battery owes you nothing.  In fact the 2004 Prius models (and later) have had even better batteries, so this 2014 replacement battery may outlast the rest of your 2001 Prius.
The battery died. 
Um... I'm just curious what the symptoms of "break" and "battery died" look like.  If you had a mechanic's opinion on it, I'm curious about that too.

I have a 2005 and a 2006 Prius and if your battery symptoms (whatever they may be) ever started to show up in my cars then whatever information you could share (about the symptoms) might mean that I could be better equipped to deal with them.

I'm wondering this too...does the Prius have the option to keep driving with the battery disconnected or will it go into limp mode? I would think the car would still get good MPG's without the hybrid system.

socaso

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We have the same Prius and I recently learned that you can have the battery rebuilt for about the same as buying a salvage battery. We live in a large city and I found 2-3 places that can do the job but it does take time and as you pointed out, you are not possessed of a great deal of spare time.

Rural

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We have the same Prius and I recently learned that you can have the battery rebuilt for about the same as buying a salvage battery. We live in a large city and I found 2-3 places that can do the job but it does take time and as you pointed out, you are not possessed of a great deal of spare time.


That's a good time to get a rental car, though.

Jamesqf

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In your circumstances, I think I would have done the same.  Think of it as spending the $3400 on a new-to-you used car.  But things like this are one of the reasons I like having two vehicles.  Plus they're optimized for different uses - pickup & Honda Insight - but if the Insight needs work, I can always drive the pickup even though I'll pay more for gas.

DollarBill

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My fiancee's car, a 2001 Toyota Prius with 160,000 miles had its main battery break
What exactly does "break" mean?  Were you able to determine that a new battery was the only/best solution, and that the dealer/mechanic wasn't trying to gouge you?

I agree that a 13-year-old car/battery owes you nothing.  In fact the 2004 Prius models (and later) have had even better batteries, so this 2014 replacement battery may outlast the rest of your 2001 Prius.
The battery died. 
Um... I'm just curious what the symptoms of "break" and "battery died" look like.  If you had a mechanic's opinion on it, I'm curious about that too.

I have a 2005 and a 2006 Prius and if your battery symptoms (whatever they may be) ever started to show up in my cars then whatever information you could share (about the symptoms) might mean that I could be better equipped to deal with them.

Nords,
I looked up the answer:
The Prius cannot be driven without a functional traction (large "hybrid") battery.

In fact, if the traction battery is bad, you will not even be able to start the engine because the traction battery provides the power to spin MG1 which turns and starts the internal combustion engine.

The symptoms:
Q. What are the signs of a weakening traction battery? We have an '05 w/110,000 miles, and have been noticing that the charging gauge swings from the low to the high levels very quickly. Whereas it seemed to sit in the blue range most of the time, now it is in the red or green ranges a lot more of the time. Overall mpg performance has not changed, though. We are in hilly Colorado, so a lot of downhill grades where the charge can go full green. One odd thing, when at full green charge and stopped, the engine continues to run with the charging arrows switching directions. Like the charging system is confused. Any ideas?

A.This is a sign that your battery is losing capacity. Many older Priuses will have reductions in battery capacity but wont necessarily notice it so much if they drive in flatter terrain. The Prius will tolerate a fairly large reduction in battery capacity before it throws a code, and though I'm sure this is partly to minimize warranty claims, tests have shown that the Prius can still get very good MPG even with quite a large percent of the battery capacity gone.

Remember that losing capacity (amp hours) is not the only way a battery can fail. Other problems like shorted cells and rapid self discharge will badly screw up performance and cause it the throw a code. If you're still getting good mpg then it's most likely just a loss of capacity, and at this stage you can probably just keep driving it.

It also looks fairly easy to repair yourself for $45 to $500. Maybe you can add extra batteries and go full electric :).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8p8Im1eL67Y