Buying a second hand hybrid seems like a risky thing to do, with all those batteries just waiting to go bad… This is the story of imgur user scoodidabop who recently purchased a Toyota Camry Hybrid, without warranty.
Around two weeks after he acquired it, he was heading home one day when his dashboard started flashing all kinds of lights at him. At first he thought it could be a malfunctioning brake actuator, although the fact that the “Check Hybrid System” light was on along with the “Check Engine” light did foretell the problem.
Turns out it was the battery pack that was faulty, and the Toyota garage where he took the car for verification wanted $4,456 to replace the entire unit. A hugely steep price equating to roughly half of what had been paid for the 2010-ish MY Camry Hybrid.
There was nothing really wrong with the pack itself, as scoodidabop discovered when he began taking it apart (he says he’s a seasoned electrician with experience in hybrid batteries, recommends you don’t try this unless you know what you’re doing and take required precautions).
All that needed doing was to freshen up its copper connectors, as they were heavily corroded. None of the actual cells had any problems, all showed normal voltage when tested.
So, basically, scoodidabop saved a heap of cash and just cleaned off the surface oxidation by soaking the connectors in vinegar for 34 hours, then scrubbing them down, then placing them in water and baking soda.
He put all of it back together and now his car reportedly runs just fine – what a waste it would have been on Toyota’s side to replace the entire thing for something that could be fixed as easily as that. Perhaps hybrids should get even more specialized treatment at dealers, as they clearly require it, especially since the prospect of disposing of dead batteries will seriously unnerve your inner eco-warrior.