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Toyota Hybrids and Prius - does not start right away, other strange messages - how to easily check the 12 volt battery

Do you have to try to start your Prius several times before it starts?


Lot of other strange problems.

These can all be symptoms of a weak 12 volt battery.

Here is how to test:

The best time to test if after the car has been parked for a while. (Keeping the electronics running while the car is parked is the main load on the 12 volt battery.)

  • The transmission should be in Park.
  • Engage the parking brake
  • 2004+ Press and hold the "Info" button on the MFD while turning the headlights on and off 3 times.
  • 2001-2003 Push on the upper left(1) of the display just inside the box, withdraw, push on the lower left of the display(2) and withdraw. (see picture) Do this three times. Keep trying till the screen changes. If the word "Display" in the upper left hand corner of the screen goes away hit the display switch again.
  • Push on Menu in upper right of display screen.
  • Push on Display Check
  • Push on Vehicle Signal Check
  • You will see the 12 volt voltage displayed. In accessory mode the voltage should be 12.6 (Note: for a 2010+ this voltage may be as much as .9 volts low. When in doubt use a volt meter. You can rapidly hook it up to the jump point in the engine compartment.)
  • With no electrical accessories on including lights the voltage should be fluctuate between 12.6 and 11.9. The lower the voltage, the less of a charge your battery currently has. If the voltage is low do not proceed as the load test might totally discharge your battery. (If you see a voltage around 13.8 you are seeing voltage from the high voltage battery being converted to around 13.8 in an attempt to recharge your battery. This normally does not occur till after you start the engine.)

  • You can also test the battery by turning on the headlights, rear window heater and the heater fan. For a new battery the voltage would be around 11.3. If the voltage drops below 10.2 it should definitely be replaced. For voltages in between the lower the voltage, the lower current charge of your battery.
  • Push on the brake pedal and push start. You should see Ready in the Speed display. The voltage should now read between 13.8 to 14.2 and higher in winter. This is the charging voltage!

If in doubt about the health of your battery charge it with a charger designed for sealed lead acid(SLA) batteries. We have two that we sell: This one is more expensive but it also de-sulfates if you disconnect the battery from the car. http://www.elearnaid.com/op5chandde.html

And a cheaper one which is slow but will still do the job: http://www.elearnaid.com/ac12voor6vob.html

We recommend the Optima battery because they last significantly longer. (We estimate they will last at least ten years! The one in my 2001 Prius is over 8 years old and still doing fine!) With an Optima leaving the lights on a few times will not destroy the battery. Your Prius is a great car with great gas mileage! it will probably be on the road for a long time! The Prius deserves a long lasting battery! If you are in the 48 states we can usually get you a a battery in 2 to 3 days and California NV, and AZ 1 business day.

Hybrid partsHybrid partsAs an owner of a Prius I have found some parts that you might want.(see below)

I have tested them on the five Prius cars I have owned. We have been selling 12 volt batteries for hybrids since 2005. The Optima deep discharge batteries work great on a hybrid. (These batteries have thicker lead plates to allow more discharges instead of lot of cranking amps. You do not need cranking amps on a hybrid because the high voltage battery cranks the engine.)

I have also been testing the Intimidator Prius Batteryand found it still had over 70% of capacity despite the fact that is was deeply discharged on several ocassions due to the car not being driven.

"A short time ago I sent an email requesting the USPS tracking number. I am now pleased to inform you that this information is no longer necessary, in light of the fact that USPS has already delivered my Prius battery. In my opinion this is nothing short of miraculous! Kudos to you and your shipper, the U.S. Postal Service!

The battery was very thoughtfully protected within the Priority Mail box, by the way. Thanks for your expert assistance!

Sincerely, J. H., Clarksburg, MD

P.S. I ordered this same battery about a week ago, from Amazon, whose Marketplace at that time was defaulting to a competitor of yours. Four days later, I received word from them that the battery was not actually in stock at their warehouse, but would arrive sometime within the next two weeks. When I pointed out that their online inventory through Amazon Marketplace had indicated that it was in stock at the time of my order, and that it seemed like they could have informed me otherwise in something less than four days, they got quite a bit "huffy" about it (putting it mildly). Anyway, more to the point, in less time than it took them to tell me that their own inventory control was deficient, you actually put a brand new battery in my hands, and shipped it all the way across the nation to get it here. I won't forget it!

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