Batteries in a Toyota Prius typically last a long time. As we mentioned on the previous page, the company guarantees them for the life of the car, and drivers have documented at least two 2001 Toyota Prius models, the earliest Prius model to hit North American roads, lasting for more than 200,000 miles (321,869 kilometers) without a battery pack replacement. That's more than twice the manufacturer's warranty period [source: HybridExperience.com].
In the rare case that a driver encounters a problem with the battery pack before the hybrid reaches 10 years or 100,000 miles (160,934 kilometers), Toyota will replace the pack with a brand-new one. Instead of scrapping the old pack, however, they hang on to it. This is because battery packs built for the Prius consist of 28 separate modules, and any problem in a battery pack is most likely due to one of those modules, not all of them.
Toyota also has a main recycling center that collects battery packs from scrap yards. In fact, there's a toll-free number on every Prius battery that informs callers that a $150 reward awaits them if they bring the pack to any Toyota or Lexus dealer. Instead of letting batteries degrade in a landfill, Toyota pays scavengers to reclaim them.
So, although Toyota can't replace the battery pack when the warranty has run out on a Prius, it can recommend reconditioning the battery pack as a cheaper alternative to outright replacement. If anything goes wrong in a unit after 100,000 miles (160,934 kilometers), Toyota can locate which one of the 28 modules is causing problems and replace that individual module. By harvesting from the older, recycled battery packs they've collected, technicians can find a matching module that has a similar chemistry and age as the other 27 modules and recondition the battery by replacing only the faulty module.
Reconditioning the battery in a Toyota Prius not only extends the life of the battery by adding another six years; it also reduces maintenance costs for the owner. At $750, battery reconditioning costs about one-fourth the price of replacing the battery pack entirely.
For lots more information about hybrid cars and other related topics, follow the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- CostHelper.com. "How much does a car battery cost?" November 2006 (April 27, 2009) http://www.costhelper.com/cost/cars/car-battery.html
- Hybrid Car Review. "Recondition Your Hybrid Battery to Help it Last Longer." Sept. 24, 2007. (April 27, 2009) http://hybridreview.blogspot.com/2007/09/recondition-your-hybrid-battery-to-help.html
- HybridExperience.com. "Reliability." (April 27, 2009) http://hybridexperience.com/content/view/60/67/
- TheAutoChannel.com. "Toyota: Reconditioning Can Extend Hybrid Battery Life." (April 27, 2009) http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2007/09/23/063663.html