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ncklpltd asked Does anyone out there own a hybrid Prius or Civic? And if so is it true to change out the battery costs $2000?
And got the following answer:
There are 2 batteries in a Toyota Prius or a Honda Civic Hybrid. There's the 12v accessory battery, and the high-voltage hybrid battery. The lead-acid (Pb-A) 12v accessory batteries in hybrids tend to be smaller than those found in every traditional gasoline vehicle. Recycling programs are in place for traditional lead-acid batteries. Same as on a regular vehicle, if you leave your car undriven for a few weeks, or you leave your headlights on overnight, the 12v battery becomes drained/flattened and you need a jumpstart/boost (and probably might need a replacement battery as it usually doesn't hold a charge as well again). Since it's a little smaller, it can get drained a bit quicker than on a regular car, and it can be harder to find a replacement than just going to Sears Automotive or the like. On a Prius, it's about $200 from the dealer, or closer to $100 if you DIY with a Miata 12v battery. I am not sure of the pricing or availability of the 12v battery on the HCH, but I'd assume that it's the same as for the regular Civic. On a Prius, there is no alternator, the 12v battery is recharged from the hybrid battery, so you only have to be in READY (car full on), and you don't have to drive anywhere for it to charge. (Gasoline engine will recharge hybrid battery as needed, hybrid battery will recharge 12v battery as needed.) I'm not sure of the 12v charging arrangement on the HCH. The hybrid batteries in the currently available hybrid vehicles are usually listed by the manufacturer to last the lifetime of the vehicle, and have long warranties (not pro-rated!, usually 8 years/80,000 miles to 10 years/150,000 miles, depending on model and where purchased) to cover it. So far, hybrid battery replacements are VERY uncommon, and rarely out of warranty. Pricing is much better when buying a used unit from a wrecked vehicle (much less than $1000), and not paying dealer-inflated rates/labor prices. It is the hybrid battery that actually starts the gasoline engine through the electric motor. On the HCH, there is (or at least was on the HCH I) an emergency starter motor for the 12v to start the gasoline engine if there is an issue with the hybrid battery. On the Prius, the 12v battery is first needed to power up the computers and brake pump, and the computers then flip a relay to connect the hybrid battery to the car which then starts the gasoline engine. In the Prius, there is no 12v starter motor - only the hybrid battery can start the gasoline engine, but the hybrid battery is only connected once the computers boot up via 12v power... Hence the need for a jumpstart if the 12v battery is low. All the hybrids on the market use NiMH (Nickel-Metal Hydride) batteries, which contain no heavy metals (so they're not hazardous waste, like the Pb-A batteries), and are easily recycled. Often they'll have labels on the packs themselves listing who to contact to recycle them, and often there's a nice cash bounty reward as well. Usually the mythic "article" from The Mail on the nickel in the hybrid cars' NiMH batteries is quoted from a now retracted article. The retraction that clears up this bit of misinformation is at: http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=417227&in_page_id=1770 Maintenance is about the same as a regular car - use your favorite mechanic or DIY. Typically just oil/filter changes and tire rotations. Toyota scheduled maintenance guides: http://smg.toyotapartsandservice.com/ Honda scheduled maintenance guides: https://www.ahm-ownerlink.com/login.asp?brand=honda (free registration) http://www.honda.ca/HondaCA2006/YourHonda/HondaService/MaintCalcDefault.asp?L=E I've never seen anyone do a cost-benefit analysis for a v4 vs v6 vs diesel engine, so why do one for a hybrid drivetrain? Most cost analysis articles neglect trade-in value which the Prius does very well in maintaining. (in some areas, used Prius are still selling for new prices for availability and rising gasoline prices!). Don't forget to include federal and any state tax incentives in your calculation (Consumer Reports forgot, and had to issue a retraction that hybrids are cheaper to own/operate than their gasoline cousins). Edmunds.com still doesn't take into account the true depreciation value (as seen by manually looking for a Prius trade-in value) when calculating their TCO, but they still say that hybrids will pay for themselves even when using their lower than actual trade-in amounts: http://www.cnn.com/2006/AUTOS/08/22/bc.autos.hybrids.reut/index.html Hybrids do cost less in the long term than their conventional counterparts. (Intellichoice used a 5 year ownership comparison in 2006) See: http://www.intellichoice.com/press/Hybrid-Survey-2006 http://www.intellichoice.com/carBuying101/HypeOverHybrids While Consumer Reports in 2006 only found the Toyota Prius and the Honda Civic Hybrid would pay off within the same 5 year frame. The Honda Accord Hybrid, the Ford Escape Hybrid, the Lexus RX400h, and the Toyota Highlander Hybrid were also studied. (I'll note that there was a mathematical error in the initial publication of Consumer Reports' hybrid vehicle cost analysis, which a retraction was published later... http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11637968/ ) Since this publication, many more hybrid models have become available, so I can't use this to say about hybrids "in general." Check out the April issue of Consumer Reports if you want reliability information. Both the Honda Civic and Toyota Prius make their best bets for new cars and for used cars. http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/new-cars/top-picks-for-2007-4-07/overview/0704_top-picks-2007.htm http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/used-cars/used-cars-best-and-worst-406/index.htm