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Traction battery needs to be protected


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Hi all, I would like your input on this please... I've just been to an automatic car wash where they require you to put the car in N neutral. About half way through the wash the car started kicking off with a persistent warning alarm and message on screen about needing to protect the traction Battery (see screenshot). I found this rather disturbing but could not actually do anything about it for a good few minutes until the car wash ejected my vehicle at the end of the wash. I then put the car in D drive mode, the message disappeared and all seemed to be perfectly normal. I checked the hybrid Battery display and it was showing 4 bars - 50% full - so it's not like I was almost out of juice.

I'm not overly worried about this as no harm appears to have been done but curious to know what/why this warning was triggered. Do any of you have any ideas? It's rather off-putting to think this might happen again in future. 😟

Cheers.

Traction battery.jpg

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When the car is in N neutral the ice is unable to recharge the hybrid Battery and as in your case a warning message will appear. Best not to use auto car washes anymore and not to keep the car in N for a longer time. If continue to keep the car in N and hybrid Battery goes below certain level the car will shut off itself and then you may not be able to restart and you have to tow your car to a dealer. Car should be kept only in D P or R. 👍

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I presume this was a Californian Wash where the car is dragged through the Wash rather than driven. 

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31 minutes ago, TonyHSD said:

When the car is in N neutral the ice is unable to recharge the hybrid battery and as in your case a warning message will appear. Best not to use auto car washes anymore and not to keep the car in N for a longer time. If continue to keep the car in N and hybrid battery goes below certain level the car will shut off itself and then you may not be able to restart and you have to tow your car to a dealer. Car should be kept only in D P or R. 👍

So do Toyota users not use the auto car wash? @roy124: in our area, we have this type of carwash, where one loads the car on a belt like thing and put the car in neutral. The car moves on the belt as per the wash program. What do Toyota taxi drivers do? They must be washing their car frequently for customers.

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People in the US use them all the time in their hybrids to no ill effect.

Shutting off the AC/heater should make a significant impact in terms of how long the car will let you stay in neutral before it decides there is risk to the traction Battery. AC is the biggest draw when you're not moving.

I don't recommend this, but you can force charge the Battery by pressing the brake and accelerator at the same time whilst in D. However, there's the obvious risk that if you remove pressure to the brake pedal, you go flying into the nearest solid object.

Alternatively, if you switch to the Battery display, turning the heater up on your approach to the car wash will run the engine. You'll notice that the bars will climb to near the top. (The car always leaves a buffer). The car will charge itself at the same time to avoid wasting the fuel solely as heat up to a pre-determined cap.

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Auto car washes are the worst thing for any car anyway. I rather not wash it at all. There are plenty of manual car washes that serve the taxi trade. 

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11 minutes ago, TonyHSD said:

Auto car washes are the worst thing for any car anyway. I rather not wash it at all. There are plenty of manual car washes that serve the taxi trade. 

The manual wash does not wash under the chassis?

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I never go to any car wash auto or not. It stays dirty untill I clean it myself. Car washes are bad news if you value your paintwork especially if it's black. Totally agree with Tony HSD.

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20 minutes ago, bigblock said:

I never go to any car wash auto or not. It stays dirty untill I clean it myself. Car washes are bad news if you value your paintwork especially if it's black. Totally agree with Tony HSD.

Same, that’s what I was about to say 👌👍 I take care myself and clean underbody, engine bay , suspension everything properly. When I was a cabbie we used to have a contract with a car wash in the city but the job they were doing was nasty indeed and our black cars did not look good at all. The car user manual also note not to use automatic car washes as they can cause a damage to some parts like aerial on the roof, spoilers etc. 

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Thank you all for your responses so far.

Yes, this is a car wash where the wheels engage with a rolling track that pulls you slowly through the wash. I have used this car wash several times before without this problem so this Battery issue came as a complete surprise today. Maybe my previous washes just happened to be when the Battery had more charge in it.

Points I am taking away from the thoughts so far:

  • ensure AC/heating is not active when using a car wash (neither was on today BTW)
  • maybe only use this type of car wash when the hybrid Battery is charged more fully - maybe 6 bars+ / 75%+ ?
  • consider getting car washed by hand instead - plenty of these outfits around here

My current theory at the  moment is that when the hybrid/traction battery maybe gets to around 50% the car starts thinking about topping up the charge. Anyone who has sat around waiting for a lengthy map update to finish installing with the car switched on but in P mode will know that it will periodically fire up the ICE for a few minutes every now and again to top up the battery. Presumably the ICE is prevented from doing this when in N mode so it responds by activating this warning alarm to alert the driver to the threat of a draining battery when it gets to that <50% mark.

I am not able to wash the car myself these days so all talk of doing it properly by hand and thoroughly cleaning under the body is just wishful thinking on my part. It's probably the safest way to protect the paintwork but it's just not an option for me.

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5 minutes ago, Velvet--Glove said:

My current theory at the  moment is that when the hybrid/traction battery maybe gets to around 50% the car starts thinking about topping up the charge. Anyone who has sat around waiting for a lengthy map update to finish installing with the car switched on but in P mode will know that it will periodically fire up the ICE for a few minutes every now and again to top up the battery. Presumably the ICE is prevented from doing this when in N mode so it responds by activating this warning alarm to alert the driver to the threat of a draining battery when it gets to that <50% mark.

I am not able to wash the car myself these days so all talk of doing it properly by hand and thoroughly cleaning under the body is just wishful thinking on my part. It's probably the safest way to protect the paintwork but it's just not an option for me.

With the older hybrids (Ni-Mh) at least, there are a couple of cut-off points measured on an OBD2 gauge. I can't imagine the newer ones are a million miles off, just with more usable capacity between the points.

The car will stop charging even when the ICE is running at about 65 to 70%. The upper limit for regen charging is somewhere between 75-80% depending on the day/battery temperature etc.

As for discharge, the absolute cut-off point for charging is when the car gets down to 40%, it'll run the engine but only long enough to bring it back up to 45%, before cutting out again and cycling in that very narrow window of charge. It doesn't make sense to the car to idle the engine for longer than necessary if it can help it.

I have seen it go as low as 30% when pressing on and really trying to work the car hard.

The other thing is, the bars display, as seen on the car has a bit of fuzziness to it, and overlap, depending on how the car has been being driven etc. They don't always match up to the exact same percentages. See below to give you an idea of what I mean.

What's the Hybrid battery charge supposed to be? | PriusChat

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Yes I got the same warning when checking my tyre pressures and I had the small compressor fed by the (cigarette lighter socket). However, I only used the compressor for a very short period and the car performed perfectly afterwards. If I’m using it again I will have the car in P and in ready mode. 

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1 minute ago, Spo2 said:

Based on these, hand wash seems to be the best option. 

Properly done hand washing is without a doubt the best option and won’t be harmful to paintwork. I for certain wouldn’t go near a car wash of any kind.

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Potential bummer here.  Aldi has just relocated.  There was a hand car wash in a part of that estate and possibly largely dependent on Aldi trade.  They might close.

There are two others but neither as convenient 😁.

For a proper wash though I use a Karcher with an angled head and even jack the car up to get wheel wells done.

Last year we drove through a heap of dead hen chicks that had been dumped in the road. The local Iraqi car wash didn't touch it.  My jet was cleared a lot, but I had to get on my back and pull feathers and greasy body parts from underneath.  You have no idea how many little gaps there are in the sill covers.

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43 minutes ago, Bernard Foy said:

Yes I got the same warning when checking my tyre pressures and I had the small compressor fed by the (cigarette lighter socket). However, I only used the compressor for a very short period and the car performed perfectly afterwards. If I’m using it again I will have the car in P and in ready mode. 

What I do when checking tyre pressure and top up.
I start the car and press immediately ev mode button them switch off the heater fan and the car stays in P with parking brake on. No engine running.
I do my tyre job it takes about 10 min all corners and then turn off the car, hybrid Battery remains almost the same charge, but because I live at bottom of a long downhill my hv Battery is always full when at home. 👌🔋

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I could be wrong but doesn't this notification come up as a warning as to prevent the electric motor/traction Battery from over heating as it would be generating electricity as the car is moving

I doubt the car will know the difference from this situation to it being towed which is also not recommended without the front wheels from being off the ground

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If it is in neutral the wheels are completely disconnected from the transmission and engine/motors/battery so it won't charge when pulled along.

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I stopped using EMO drag type car washes several years ago after one caused a problem with a low profile tyre.  The drag mechanism disturbed the tyre/rim bead on the front right and caused a slow puncture.  Hand wash only ever since.

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I always have the car valeted by a mobile valeting service. A bit more expensive than a car wash, but they do a proper job, I know / can choose the products they use etc. 👍

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38 minutes ago, bunnyrabbit03 said:

I always have the car valeted by a mobile valeting service. A bit more expensive than a car wash, but they do a proper job, I know / can choose the products they use etc. 👍

I have mine serviced 😄

I admit I do have to do it myself in between. 

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46 minutes ago, bunnyrabbit03 said:

I always have the car valeted by a mobile valeting service. A bit more expensive than a car wash, but they do a proper job, I know / can choose the products they use etc. 👍

How much is that out of curiosity, and can you get them to put on a ceramic coating as they do it or is it just cleaning/waxing only?

 

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50 minutes ago, Cyker said:

How much is that out of curiosity, and can you get them to put on a ceramic coating as they do it or is it just cleaning/waxing only?

 

It is anything from £35 (basic valet) upwards, depending on what I ask them to do. I can choose the wax etc. that I want, so for example Carnauba wax for winter (takes longer, more expensive) and a somewhat cheaper wax for the summer. And yes, I had ceramic coating applied from new (four different types/makes to choose from). Depending on how dirty the car is, it usually only needs a basic valet every two months and with waxing etc. added as required. 

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It seems I am a super saver here too. I do wash once a week, polish once or twice a year. Mini valet at £35 x 48 weeks as to include some holidays total £1680, probably spent on water £180 car shampoo, tfr and others £60 = £1440 savings., not bad and the enjoyment of doing it myself is priceless 🚗😉👌

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I'm the opposite, *really really* hate having to clean my car! I just find it really soul-destroying that I'll spend ages removing every little blemish (That's the OCD kicking in :laugh: ) and then in a week it's back the same way again :crybaby: 

My dream would be a coating that just stops anything sticking to it so the rain will clean the car for me :laugh: 

The slipperyness would be good for a few mpg too I wager :laugh: 

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