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Aging Hybrids and Expiring Warranty Woes

It's been a decade since the Gen II Prius hit the market and truly began the seed change of the global automotive industry with the truly first durable hybrid. As the 10 year warranty on the high-voltage systems expire, more and more drivers are left with few alternatives to their local Toyota dealer when faced with failing HV systems components. With more than 2 million Gen II Prius sold, I predict the service market for expired warranty hybrids is due to explode in the next few years. If you have been in this situation, you understand the extravagant costs for the dealer to repair your system which can often outrun the actual present value of the vehicle.

As a second-hand owner of a 2005 Gen II Prius, I have personal experience with this issue. While my experience was the result of a front-end collision that happened before we purchased the car, the challenge is the same.

In 2008, we purchased a 2005 Gen II Prius for the primary purpose of researching the possibilities of the Lithium PHEV which have resulted in our 10kw PHEV conversion offering. We know the history of the vehicle and that it suffered a front end collision. But we throroughly inspected the vehicle and began our chapter as Pruis owners. A few months after purchase, I got the dreaded triangle light during a normal daily drive. Mind you, this was before we installed the PHEV conversion kit for the first time, so I know it could only be related to the OEM Hybrid System. So I pulled the error codes and looked them up only to find it was related to the Hybrid System. After further investigation, I deemed it was best to take it to the dealer to have them diagnose exactly what the issue was.

A few days later, the dealer called to inform me that the inverter, which is basically the high voltage controller for the hybrid system needed to be replaced due to a crack in the high-voltage cable housing, and quoted me a whopping $7500 U.S.D. to do the job. Being staggered by the price, I inquired why so much to which the dealer told me " We have very few technicians that are qualified or willing to work on these "dangerous high voltage systems" Toyota mind you.

Prius Inverter

Prius Inverter

Well, me being who I am, I started to research my options and located a used inverter for about $1000 bucks with a core charge and decided to do it myself. It took me less than a day. Had it not been for the accident, the inverter would have been covered under the 10yr/100k warranty. But alas, that was the risk I took buying a used car and a learned some valuable lessons. The most glaring lesson is that while the Prius got awesome mileage, the technology in it was far beyond the normal auto mechanic's skill set or comfort level.

Prius Inverter

Prius HV Battery Pack

This also hold true for other high voltage system components like the Prius Battery. And while the dealer will replace it, they are doing so at a premium. I am certainly not suggesting that these are DIY jobs. Working with high voltage systems is a serious and potentially lethal occupation if you don't know what you are doing. And those that do the work like me should be duly compensated for the risks. But the owners should have options other than the dealer, especially when the warranty expires.

We have very few technicians that are qualified or willing to work on these "dangerous high voltage systems.

Toyota Service Manager

As the Gen II Prius now begin aging out of warranty this will become an increasingly bigger issue as owners will seek to find cheaper, yet qualified alternatives to keep their hybrids on the road at a reasonable price. Based on my personal experience as both an EV Designer/Converter and a Prius owner, I felt it not only a good business opportunity, but also a public service to my fellow hybrid drivers to offer options. And it is our hope that other qualified professionals follow suit as well and create the level of competition that will ensure a reasonable market value for these services.

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