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Not sure what happened to my battery, any ideas?


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Hi all. I will preface this by saying I do not know much about cars so please go easy on me. 🙂 I have a 2014 Yaris Hybrid Excel, keyless entry. 

 

Something strange happened today - my car wouldn't start. I was able to unlock it initially, but then I sat down inside and tried to depress the brake so I could start the car, but the brake wouldn't depress. I didn't hear the initial whirring of the brakes that normally happens when I enter my car with the fob. I tried anyway to push the start button, but the car wouldn't start at all. I then gave up, got out and tried to lock the car. It wouldn't lock. I used the spare fob to try and lock it, still nothing. So I thought the 12v Battery had completely drained somehow. I say 'somehow' because I can't think of a single reason why it would. I have never left any lights on, I've never left the car idle for too long, I always turn off everything, etc. And I do regularly drive it. The last time (before today) was four days ago. And the weather hasn't been extremely hot or cold either. 

 

With my dad's help, we decided to jumpstart the car. So I removed the fuse box cover and the exclusive jumpstart terminal cover. Nothing else was touched. After a few minutes, there was that familiar whirring sound. I sat down inside and sure enough, I could depress the brake and car was able to start. I put it in D, and there was a bit of a clunk when it jerked forward (same thing has happened once before in the Winter in sub zero temperatures, sounded like it popped into gear abruptly) but other than that it was fine (it hasn't happened again). I drove a few mins, turned off the car. Waited around 30 seconds, started it again. Everything was normal. It seems the Battery wasn't drained (right? 😅).

 

Anyway, now the car seems fine. But I don't want this to happen again. Anyone know what happened? What could have caused it? I have searched and can't find anyone who's had a similar problem. Why did everything magically go back to normal when I removed those covers?

 

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Hi, you had a low state of charge on your 12v Battery. You managed to wake it up and start the car. Only half an hour run or charge it’s not sufficient and you have to take an action ASAP or you are risking to have same experience very soon. Buy a ctek trickle charger and hook up the Battery, give it a long charge until charger shows is ready it could be 12hrs or more and if you are lucky you may save your Battery. If your Battery is dead and can’t hold a charge you will have no choice but to buy a new one. And btw the nights are still freezing cold., weather is too cold for the season, if you only use the car every 4 days for a short run and it’s over 6 years old that’s normal to happen IMO 

 

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As Tony and Bernard have already said, it is you 12v Battery that is an issue. Batteries do not like the cold, and we have had a cold winter, and even though the weather is now warmer if the 12v Battery has got to a poor state it is going to take more then a few minutes drive every 4 days to bring it any where near good.  You say “you never left the car to idle for too long” - it is advantageous to the 12v Battery for the car to idle, see my comments quoting Toyotas comments further down.

I hate using the search engine on Toy.Owners Club, but in the last 7 or 8 months there are loads of posts on here, complaints of owners who have not driven their cars for many days repeatedly due to Covid lockdown, come to start their cars and cannot - just like you. Some have bought new batteries, and yours is now 7 years old and if not already been replaced, is very possible near the end of its life, as Bernard has said.

Toyotas recommendation for those not using the car much is to put the car into ready mode and let the car sit for an hour. The power in the big hybrid Battery will recharge the 12v Battery. The engine is likely to start a few times during this period, that’s ok, it is charging the hybrid Battery so the hybrid Battery can charge the 12v. Unless the car is secure whilst doing this, you have to stay with it - you don’t want anyone to steal your unsecured car. The alternative is to drive the car for that hour. Of course if the 12v Battery is on its way out the less likely the procedure will be successful. A new Battery will cost maybe up to £150 as a guess.

Tony did mention buying a slow charger that may bring the Battery back to life again. The CTEK 5 is a good one, cost just under £70. Modern batteries benefit from a slow charge. As Tony said, it can take up to and beyond a day to charge up a weak Battery, and the Battery may be gone too far for it to work. But it would help you maintain a good Battery in a good condition. I bought one during this winter and now do not have a problem. Because of power cables to the charger, which will be at your car, again, off road standing will be desirable.

You need to do something, the more a Battery drains, the more likely it will give up completely.  Do you have a reliable garage who could test your exiting Battery? Put a load test on it? If you existing Battery is now so bad it needs replacing, don’t just think all will now be ok. For sure it may not cause problems in the summer, but if lack of use for days next winter, you could be back in the same situation if it gets really cold.

See the link below for Toyotas help.

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HERE IS A GOOD LINK FOR YOU

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At 7 years old age is against any Battery that isn't seeing fairly frequent use (charging  when driving). A charger may seem to help but will only delay the inevitable. I would look at replacing the Battery with one of the correct type as listed for that car.  

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8 hours ago, SheHateMeXFL said:

I put it in D, and there was a bit of a clunk when it jerked forward (same thing has happened once before in the Winter in sub zero temperatures, sounded like it popped into gear abruptly)

This is most likely the cars transmission brake (the one that isn't the handbrake) releasing.  You have probably released the handbrake before the 'system' turned on properly, or it wasn't on hard enough, and the car is then being held by the transmission brake only, in which case it can release with an abrupt operation, as its tension is unloaded.  Or, it's the rear brake pads, after having got wet beforehand, that have lightly rusted to the disks, and are then becoming unstuck when you move off.  Neither of these situations need be of concern to you at all.

Note that the 12v Battery doesn't turn the engine over, it just operates everything until you put the car into 'ready' mode, when the high-voltage Battery takes over.  On the way to doing that, after you open the driver's door, the brake pump motor will pressurize the brake system, up until that moment everything may be seeming to work normally, then the brake motor flattens an already heavily discharged Battery completely, and nothing seems to work beyond that. 

With these hybrid cars, it goes against user expectations that the car will start normally (energetically!) right up until the moment it doesn't start at all - the engine will not start in a strained fashion in the run-up to a problem (like a normal car would), as it is using the high voltage battery system to spin the engine over, which still has loads of power!  There is either enough 12 volt Battery power to run the computer, brake servo motor, and contactor, or there isn't - it's binary!  And at some point in time, when its old, the 12v battery will eventually fail, usually without warning.

The cheapest place for a new Battery that is identical to the old one is actually the Toyota dealer, at £125 (as Catlover mentioned above).

There are other types of battery readily available, but as to if they are as safe to have inside the boot/car(in an accident etc.), is the subject of a long, long debate.

As Mooly and others have said above, keeping the Battery more regularly charged (by being driven or with a separate charger) will probably keep you going in the shorter term.  But without further testing on the existing Battery, then you won't know when this can happen again. 

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1 hour ago, Gerg said:

With these hybrid cars,

Full electric cars have exactly the same problem. Many of them have 'died' like this during the pandemic.

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If the Battery is 6 years or so old I wouldn't bother with a charger (which may cost as much as a new Battery anyway).

If a car Battery is more than 3 years old and gives any sign of getting weak or actually fails I replace it. Life's too short, and I don't want to be worrying about whether the car is going to work or grovelling around keeping it charged when not in use*.

At the end of the day it's a consumable like fuel, Oil, tyres and Wiper Blades.

 

( * Unless it has been intentionally stored for a long period of course.)

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48 minutes ago, MikeSh said:

If the battery is 6 years or so old I wouldn't bother with a charger (which may cost as much as a new battery anyway).

If a car battery is more than 3 years old and gives any sign of getting weak or actually fails I replace it. Life's too short, and I don't want to be worrying about whether the car is going to work or grovelling around keeping it charged when not in use*.

At the end of the day it's a consumable like fuel, oil, tyres and wiper blades.

 

( * Unless it has been intentionally stored for a long period of course.)

Agree 100%.

 

Just buy a new Battery.

 

Most I have had a Battery last in a conventional car is 11 years: the maximum warranty on most batteries  is 5 years, yours has exceeded that.

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