Dear Car Talk:
I bought a 2010 Toyota Prius last year. It is a great car, returning 45 to 50 mpg.
How long will the hybrid battery last? The previous owner said that it had the original hybrid battery. Thanks. -- John
Well, Toyota warranties the hybrid battery for 8 years or 100,000 miles in most states. In California, due to state law, the warranty is 10 years or 150,000 miles. But that doesn't tell you how long the battery lasts in real life.
We don't have a precise answer for you, John, but I can tell you that we've had a number of Priuses in the shop with over 250,000 miles on them, with the original battery still doing fine. And there are plenty of taxi and Lyft drivers that put hundreds of thousands of miles on Priuses without battery failure.
That doesn't mean the battery will last forever. At some point, you'll see that dreaded warning light. Then you'll have to consider your options.
If you plan to keep the car for another 10 years or 200,000 miles, you can go to your Toyota dealer and have them put in a brand-new Toyota battery. The price keeps coming down on those, but it's still an expensive repair. Expect it to cost you a good $3,000, including the credit you'll get for your old battery.
Another option is to price out reconditioned, aftermarket batteries. They might cost you $1,000 to $1,500 less. But you should expect them not to last as long as the original Toyota batteries. If you're only planning to keep the car a few more years, and you can get a good warranty with an aftermarket battery, it might be worth considering. Maybe.
Finally, our auto writer pal John Goreham from cartalk.com tells us that individual cells can be replaced. If one or more cells go bad, a mechanic trained in hybrid batteries can replace just that cell and then balance the battery and adjust all the voltages.
That's a good solution if you have a single defective cell or two. But if you've got 200,000 miles on the car, it's probably the beginning of the end for the battery anyway, and you could end up spending more on cells than if you had just bit the bullet and bought a new battery.
So, we can't tell you exactly how long your battery will last, John. But just like with internal combustion engines, we do have expectations. For example, we would expect a Toyota Corolla engine to last at least 150,000 miles. Some fail sooner, many go much longer.
Given their track record, we now expect Prius batteries to last at least 150,000 to 200,000 miles. We hope yours lasts even longer. Many do.