• Nov 26, 2012
If you've got an older car in your driveway, which experts say is getting to be more typical lately, what happens when the battery poops out? You'll be paying $100 to $200 to pick one up at a retail parts store. But what about hybrid electric vehicles?

The Toyota Prius and Honda Insight have been on American roads for about a decade now, with some having more than 150,000 miles on their odometers. Battery replacements for these and other hybrids are going to cost much more than they will for internal combustion engine vehicles – about $1,500 to $2,500 to buy the battery pack and have it installed in a hybrid.

For those consumers attached to keeping their car, the hybrid does have its advantages. Consumer Reports has been impressed with the reliability of hybrid batteries and performance of the cars overall. For one thing, in the most popular hybrid design from Toyota, there are virtually no wearable parts in the transmission. "So if you have to spend $1,800 on a battery after 150,000 miles, you're still ahead of where you would have been in many less-reliable cars that are on their second or third transmission by then," said Eric Evarts, senior associate autos editor at Consumer Reports.

Hybrid owners need to look at their warranty coverage to see their options, which could cover as much as 150,000 miles. That was the case for a New York resident who owns a 2005 Prius and was quoted $4,000 for a new battery pack. He found out his car was covered by the longer 150,000-mile warranty that applies to owners in states like New York that follow California's stricter emission laws.

Toyota owners are also finding out that credits can be applied for the old battery. Toyota is charging $3,649 for a first- or second-generation Prius battery pack, but a $1,350 "core credit" can be applied to the old battery, bringing the actual cost to the consumer down to $2,299 for the replacement. Owners of 2006 to 2009 model year Honda Civic hybrids are paying about $2,000 for a replacement pack.

Hybrid electric vehicle owners almost always needed to be willing to pay more for their cars than for a comparable ICE vehicle. Not only have these drivers been getting better gas mileage all these years, they could also be paying less to keep the old hybrids running.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 39 Comments
      2 wheeled menace
      • 2 Years Ago
      Even at $1,500, these are overpriced. The batteries are only typically 1-2kw-hrs. You can find them cheaper than that. Think about all the gas you saved, the lower brake wear, and smaller / less frequent oil changes needed. A good hybrid ( like a Prius ) can come out cash positive over the long run - by that i mean 15-20 years.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        No vehicle is "cash positive". A car is NOT an investment. The Prius CAN and DOES provide a lifetime savings for many owners compared to many equivalent vehicles. Once maintenance, fuel AND resale value are taken into account. And MUCH sooner than 15-20 years.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        Oh yeah? explain the money coming out of the body panels of my Prius! lol Take a chill pill, man!
          EZEE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          But personally I LIKE to over pronouce THINGS when people are using them to INDICATE sarcasm, or to MAKE A POINT about something they are TALKING about. Like, the other night at my GIRLFRIEND's apartment, RELATIONS had been occurring for SIX HOURS, when she bursts into LAUGHTER and says, "You have to WORK tomorrow, don't you." And this was at THREE in the MORNING. Now, I am going to scratch my ASS as it has an ITCH.
          bluepongo1
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          @ EZEE you realize your name is ALL CAPS right ? :-O
      • 8 Months Ago
      The information you are providing about the core credit is inaccurate. I received the following email from Toyota: "We are again sorry to hear of your dissatisfaction. Again, the $1,350.00 is not part of the customer's cost and is not be reflected in their repair order. The $1,350.00 is not intended to be - nor will be - refunded to the customer. We are providing Toyota's position on behalf of the dealership. As such, it is likely that at this juncture the dealership will not further respond, as your case is now closed."
      Anderlan
      • 2 Years Ago
      Interesting about the transmission. The more I learn about Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVTs, the transmissions in most hybrids and a handful of gas-only autos), the more I like them. I drove a Nissan Cube (has a CVT) a couple of years ago, and I was annoyed by the 'different'-ness of the tranny. But I was being stupid. The maintenance and MPG advantages are well worth embracing a slightly different drive feel.
        BipDBo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Anderlan
        An eCVT as found in a Prius is a completely different machine than a CVT from a Nissan. An eCVT is the simplest, most durable type of transmission. A CVT on the other hand definately has wearable parts and is prone to failure. A CVT, in general, is surely the least reliable transmission.
      HVH20
      • 2 Years Ago
      210k miles on my 2001 honda insight with the original battery pack. Balancing does wonders to keep it in check.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @HVH20
        When the driver sits just perfectly in the seat as to apply equal pressure to each buttock.
          EZEE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          The good thing (?) is, that will probably be your highest rated comment ever! :D
        Ford Future
        • 2 Years Ago
        @HVH20
        What is "balancing"?
          HVH20
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Ford Future
          Equalizing the cells so they all charge and discharge in uniform. For NiMh it only requires a long duration trickle charge directly to the battery pack.
      raktmn
      • 2 Years Ago
      Even cheaper options include buying a used battery out of a junkyard car, or having your current battery pack rebuilt/reconditioned.
        Car Guy
        • 2 Years Ago
        @raktmn
        Curious - what company will rebuild/recondition a hybrid battery pack?
          2 wheeled menace
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Car Guy
          Search eBay, there are a few companies who do do that. I know of a company in Boulder, CO who does it.
      Giza Plateau
      • 2 Years Ago
      Apropos, what happened to the Nissan Leaf/Chelsea Sexton thing?
      Ford Future
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sanyo has been developing it's hybrid batteries for a long time now. Can you buy the replacement batteries from the company? Or do you absolutely need to buy from Honda? As Honda doesn't offer a better battery, yet, I'm sure Sanyo makes better batteries...
        EZEE
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ford Future
        Would be a great selling point - 'Ours are cheaper and you can go farther on electric than other brands.' They do that with everything else (oil, filters) - why not batteries?
      fairfireman21
      • 2 Years Ago
      $100 to $200 for a battery for a standard car? What planet are you from? Since I have been driving I have never paid more than $70 for any given battery. I would like to know what size and type of batteries they are talking about. IE a 1000 CCA for a honda civic, or a deap cycle for a Chevy Spark. What is not said is why batteries are so high. A 1200 watt stereo may need 2 batteries, or that truck may have 6 off road lights and have 2 batteries, so in just 2 vehicles there could be almost $200 per vehicle, depending on what they wanted. My wifes car still has the factory battery in it after 80,400 miles and 7 years later. So after 150,000 miles it might cost me $80. For $1200 (if I had to replace it now and got 80,000 miles with each) I could drive our car for over 1,200,000 miles.
        Rob Mahrt
        • 2 Years Ago
        @fairfireman21
        That is the least significant sentence in the entire story and you took a paragraph to refute it. Replace $100 with $70, does that matter on the bottom line. Nope.
      goodoldgorr
      • 2 Years Ago
      Usually replacing an old battery that is finnish is very costly as you have to pay for a new one, pay for recycling and pay for the work. Also finding a similar battery is difficult as they are no longer produced as the market and technology have evolved so you endup with a supposedly new one that have been made years ago and is already wornout been stationnary for years. Since they started to sell susidised batteries for cars they never had a plant for replacing batteries and recycle them so don't be surprised if they increase the price of recycling as it is very costly and it's not regulated yet.
      TPGIII
      • 2 Years Ago
      I have known many people to spend several thousand on transmission repairs. One of my former coworkers replace/fixed her Buick transmission 7 times before getting rid of the car. I have a brother who spent about $1,200 just to replace the controls in the dash of his Tahoe. Another coworker spent $800 just for rear brakes for a Grand Prix. $1,800 for a battery that typically last more than 100,000 miles is not unreasonable and well within what I see people spending to keep their cars going..
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        @TPGIII
        $800 for rear brakes? Your friend is a sucker. Don't compare sucker prices to reasonable prices. If you were a sucker, I'm sure Toyota/Honda could manage to find a way to charge you the better part of $10K for a battery pack. You should be able to get rear pads and rotors (or drums) for a domestic car for about $200 installed. Maybe less. That stinks about your friend's Buick transmission. But why are you conflating replaced and fixed? WIth a transmission they are not nearly the same thing. Fixing a transmission can be only $100-$200. Replacing one is 4 digits just for starters.
          BF4ALTF
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          I heard there was a class action lawsuit on some of those GM rear brakes. Evidently they had a rather elaborate rear caliper that incorporated the parking brake with the hydraulic braking. It was not cheap and not reliable. In most cases they were replaced during a brake job, which drove the price sky high.
      bluepongo1
      • 1 Year Ago
      Keeping track of and maintaining thousands of points of failure means the car owns YOU *. I would rather have an ICE or BEV that I can fix MYSELF * * ( For EZEE's amusement.) :-P
      Ken
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Prius eCVT is less complicated than a traditional four or six speed automatic transmission is, however, it is not immune to wear and inevitable failure. The Achilles heel for the Prius eCVT will be one of the many bearings (roller or ball bearing) in either the planetary gear set or in the differential. Not sure why the CR guy thought there were virtually no wearable parts in the eCVT - probably since he didn't see an eCVT torn apart as I have - there are a few good YouTube videos for the eCVT. A conventional four or six speed automatic transmission can last up to 250K miles or more without problems with proper maintenance. Some manufacturers make good automatic transmissions, others don't. Unfortunately, it's not easy for a car buyer to determine if they will be getting a good one or not. As far as belt driven CVTs are concerned, they aren't as durable as a manual, eCVT, or automatic transmission. I wouldn't buy a car equipped with one.
        BipDBo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ken
        I very much agree. I do, however, wonder if belt (chain) CVTs may improve to the point where they are at least as reliable as the standard torque converter transmission. The idea of relying on pulley friction rather than the meshing of gear teeth makes me cringe. The standard auto transmission has so many moving parts, including many small clutches. These are all parts that wear out. Despite the fact that the industry has been working on these for nearly a century, they are still often the weak link on a car. I'm hoping to avoid the issue altogether. My car has a manual, which is very reliable. I am hoping to replace my wife's car with a hybrid equipped with an eCVT.
        Dave R
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ken
        The weakness in the Prius eCVT aren't the bearings, it appears to be the windings in the motor/generator integrated into the transaxle from the Prius repair blogs that I've seen. After some time the insulation on the windings short out or start leaking voltage.
          Ken
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dave R
          I doubt that many or most Prius eCVTs will experience failure due to the electric motor windings. From what I've read, lack of maintenance (not changing the ATF WS every 60K miles) or damage during a collision will kill the eCVT.
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