Modern vehicles have systems that read signals from various components to diagnose and alert the driver of possible issues. Any detected issue is displayed in light, symbols, or words on the dashboard. And one of these warning messages is the Toyota Prius check hybrid system.

Toyota Prius hybri system: image

Hybrid vehicles are dominating the market. Automakers, especially Toyota, have been on the front line in the fight against global warming. For this reason, hybrid car sales have drastically increased since 2004.

However, these cars have malfunctioned, just as with all computer systems. Unfortunately, not all drivers have a clue about all these error codes. That said, check hybrid system alone creates a nightmare for many drivers.

So, what’s the best approach to this issue? The first step to solving the hybrid system problem is understanding it. Luckily, today we will walk you through all the basics. Read on.

What is a Hybrid System?

As the name suggests, hybrid cars have two systems that work together to power the whole vehicle. Hybrid electric vehicles are powered by an internal combustion engine and electric motors.

The motors use power stored in a special hybrid battery. However, hybrid electric cars cannot be plugged in to recharge the batteries. Instead, the battery is recharged by the internal combustion engine and regenerative braking.

Hybrid System: image

The two systems deliver the maximum power required to propel the car. Secondly, they minimize gas mileage, therefore reducing emissions to the environment.

What Does a Hybrid System Mean?

Once you see the warning message or light on the dashboard, the computer system is alerting you of hybrid system malfunction. When this warning pops up, you might notice some other symptoms. They include:

  • Reduced speed due to activated limp mode.
  • Switch from hybrid to full-time gasoline use.
  • Poor gas mileage

hybrid system malfunction: image

In most cars, you may notice that the hybrid system message comes in two colors; yellow and red. Yellow light signifies there is something that needs to be diagnosed. But the red light indicates severe issues that need to be addressed quickly.

Note that not all cars have two light indicators. The check hybrid system Toyota Camry warning comes in yellow light only.

What Causes the “Check Hybrid System” Warning?

Several issues can disrupt the hybrid system. They range from simple components like fuses to hybrid battery cell damage. Without further ado, let’s get into details about each possible cause you can diagnose after seeing the check hybrid system warning.

1. Blown Fuse

A fuse is an electric appliance that protects other expensive components from damage once the electric current flows in excess. If there is a higher-than-usual voltage, the inner fuse connection heats up and melts, creating a gap in the circuit. This stops the electricity flow, therefore, protecting the other components.

Hybrid cars have fuses connected to the batteries to serve the above-described purpose. Whenever the fuse is blown, the power won’t flow from the battery o the system. As such, the system will fail to work, and the Prius check hybrid system warning message will pop up on the dashboard.

2. Inverter Failure

A car power inverter is a device that takes direct current (DC) from the battery and converts it to alternating current (AC) required to operate other electric appliances. The inverters are prone to overheating, which weakens their coolant and passes excessive heat.

At this point, the inverter may fail, and the hybrid system will run out of power. This will be the possible cause of the check hybrid system warning message.

3. Hybrid Battery Cell(s) Failure

Hybrid cars have two batteries. They have the usual 12 volts battery that powers the internal combustion engine. And on the other hand, there is a special hybrid battery that powers the electric motor.

Hybrid Battery Cell(s) Failure: image

The 12 volts battery is located under the hood around the engine. But the hybrid battery is located at the rear of the trunk. Usually, it’s fixed under the hood carpet, creating space for the luggage.

These hybrid batteries have a lifespan in terms of mileage. So, cells get damaged once the battery reaches its end of life. Once you see the Prius hybrid battery warning light, check if the battery charge fluctuates. It can quickly move from full to empty or vice versa.

In models like Lexus, you can get up to 50% discount purchasing the battery. So, check the hybrid system Lexus hasn’t been too expensive for the owners to fix. 

4. 12V Battery Failure

The 12V battery also reaches its end of life. But one good thing is that it isn’t as expensive as replacing the hybrid battery. How is the 12V battery connected to the hybrid system failure? It powers the internal combustion engine, which recharges the hybrid battery.

If the 12V battery fails, the engine will have less power to function and recharge the hybrid battery. This will cause the battery to undercharge, and the hybrid system will have less power to operate.

How Do You Fix a Hybrid Warning Light?

A quick way to fix the hybrid system warning light Prius is to diagnose and fix the problem first. First, open the fuse box under the dashboard. It’s on the left side in Toyota models. But you can check the user manual to confirm the location.

Use a multimeter to test all the fuses. You need to replace the fuse if the multimeter shows a continuity break. Secondly, test the 12V battery with the same multimeter. Set the multimeter to DC and place the positive and negative leads to the positive and negative terminals of the battery, respectively.

A healthy battery should show 12.6V. As such, if the multimeter reads less than 12V, your car battery is dead. Visit the battery shop and purchase and new battery for your car.

The hybrid battery will require an OBD II scanner to detect if cells are functional. If the battery is dead, you will need to replace it. Finally, drain the inverter coolant and flush it. Then, refill the coolant and test if the system is functioning.

Once everything is right, you will need to reset the system to turn off the warning light. Ideally, park the car and allow the engine to cool. Afterward, disconnect the 12V battery negative terminal for a few minutes and reconnect. Finally, start the car engine, and the light will go off.

Hybrid Warning Light: image

How Much Does It Cost to Fix the Check Hybrid System Light?

The costs vary depending on your location and how you choose to fix the issue. However, we have researched and come up with an estimation for fixing various issues. Read below:

  • Fuse replacement – $10;
  • Inverter replacement – $2000 to $2500;
  • Inverter coolant flush and refill – $150;
  • Hybrid cattery cell replacement – $2000 to $3000;
  • 12V battery replacement – $150 to $250.

Are There Any Recalls Addressing the Issue?

Yes. There are a couple of recalls by Toyota to address certain issues with the Toyota Prius, Toyota Prius Prime, and other models. To be specific, Toyota recalled some 2012 to 2015 Prius cars. 2010 Prius check hybrid system wasn’t included, although it’s common.

ECU software faults were the most reported issues with the check hybrid system Prius and Prius prime. Also, in the Prius check hybrid system, there was an issue with high voltage in the inverter’s Intelligent Power Module (IPM). However, any Toyota dealer can repair the car for free.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What Should You Do When the Light Comes On?

When you see check hybrid system stop the vehicle in a safe place and allow the engine to cool. Then, try to restart the computer system by disconnecting the 12V battery.

Restart the car and check if the warning light has gone off. If the light is still on, diagnose the problem, starting with the fuses to the batteries. You will need a multimeter and OBD II scanner to know what caused the warning.

To determine the area needing attention, check other symptoms like the increased gas mileage and the car’s performance before parking.

Can I Still Drive With the Check Hybrid System Warning?

It’s not recommended to drive when the check hybrid system light is on. This is because you can cause further damage to the car, which will later cost you more to repair.

The car can also fail in the middle of the highway and result in a crash. Still another drawback is that the car will activate the limp mode, driving slower. This can be time-consuming and tiresome.

How Often Does a Hybrid Battery Need to Be Replaced?

One hundred and fifty thousand miles is the recommended mileage for a hybrid battery replacement.

Some manufacturers will also indicate 15 years, whichever comes first. Bear in mind that this is not a guarantee because some manufacturers can produce stronger batteries that can last longer, or the driving conditions can damage the battery before achieving the mileage.

Refer to the user manual to know the exact lifespan.

Closing Thoughts

Check hybrid system warning means the hybrid system has some faults. Sometimes, the issue may be simple software errors that require only the computer system reset. However, hybrid battery cells or overheated inverters can be severe cases. Ideally, have a multimeter and OBD II scanner to diagnose the problems once the message appears. But if the problem is complicated, seek professional services.