What Happens When A Toyota Prius Has A Dead Battery?
Remember when the Toyota Prius was new and everybody was worried its battery would fail and would cost a small fortune to replace? Me too. Well, it turns out that hybrid battery packs do indeed fail and are very expensive to replace from Toyota – roughly $4,000. On an older Prius, that could theoretically exceed the value of the car, leaving it totaled according to your insurance company. Thankfully, there’s a way around this mess.
Automotive journalist and YouTuber Tyler Hoover bought a 2005, second-generation, Toyota Prius for $1,500 suffering from just that – a dead battery with no more life juice to squeeze. Interestingly, the Prius will drive just fine with a dead battery, though the 1.5-liter four-cylinder is solely responsible for moving the car, making it even more doggishly slow. Naturally, it also makes the Prius’ fuel economy drop like a rock.
But, rather than spending $4,000 at the Toyota stealership… errr, I mean dealership, Hoover went to the aftermarket. These days, third-party companies dealing in hybrid batteries are growing in number and popularity. Used Prii (yep, the official pluralization of Prius) are everywhere now, and folks aren’t willing to spend big money on OEM replacement parts. One such company, Electron Automotive, sells an entire bank of battery cells. See, the Prius’ battery pack consists of 28 individual, iPad-sized cells. These are what fail but generally do so individually. That means some of the cells are still good. Electron Automotive takes these good cells from old Prius batteries, pairs them with other working used cells, “rebalances” the cells to work together, and sells the rebuild kit for $1,000. There’s also a warranty, too. That’s a pretty good discount off the price Hoover says Toyota is asking.
Best of all, replacing the cells within the battery pack isn’t all that hard. In fact, the process seems almost plug-and-play once the suitcase-sized battery pack is removed from the trunk. So, check out Hoover’s video from his YouTube channel, Hoovies Garage. It’s a fun watch.
The Forgotten Inline Engine: GM’s 4.2-liter Atlas I-6
General Motors has a long history with making innovative strides in engine development. The Chevrolet small-block V-8, for example, began life in the 1950s and soon became the standard for high horsepower in a small package – a legacy that continues into today’s fifth-generation GM V-8s. Even GM’s lineup of V-6 engines is impressive, ranging from the 60-degree V-6 that powered nearly every GM car from 1980 through 2010, up to the twin-turbocharged V-6 powering the Cadillac ATS-V. However, GM has a lesser-known engine family that deserves admiration for its outside-the-box thinking and outstanding technological advancements: the Atlas inline family.
That Atlas family had three main members, the front-running 4.2-liter inline-six, the 3.5-liter five-cylinder, and the 2.8-liter four-cylinder. All three shared the same basic architecture and a wide range of parts, though it was the 4.2-liter that led the Atlas program.
The 4.2-liter called the GMT360 platform home. This included the Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, Oldsmobile Bravada, Isuzu Ascender, and Saab 9-7X. Each of these mid-sized SUVs shared the same architecture, including the industry’s first fully hydroformed frame in a mid-size SUV. Introduced for the 2002 model year, the GMT360 platform sold a couple million examples worldwide before ending production after 2009.
The 4.2-liter Atlas LL8, otherwise called the Vortec 4200, was a groundbreaking engine for GM. It featured an all-aluminum construction, dual overhead cams with variable valve timing on the exhaust side, four valves per cylinder, a coil-on-plug ignition system, a high compression ratio of 10:1, and its cylinder heads featured GM’s then-prevalent “Vortec” engineering designed to maximize airflow.
This combination allowed for the production of 1.06 horsepower per cubic inch – a total of 270 horsepower at 6,000 rpm. Torque was rated at 275 pound-feet at 3,600 rpm, but 90 percent of peak torque was available between 1,600 and 5,600 rpm. These stats far exceeded every comparable V-6 on the market at the time, including GM’s own 4.3-liter Vortec V-6.
We decided to take a closer look at the Vortec 4200 and its forward-thinking design. We reached out to GM and found Tom Sutter, the Assistant Chief Engineer for the Atlas. Sutter has been involved with engine programs for the last 30 years, ranging from Oldsmobile’s Quad Four to Cadillac’s current V-Series mills. Sutter was able to give us a deeper insight into the Atlas program, so keep reading for more.
Continue reading for more information.
2005-2010 Nissan Trucks and SUVs prone to Tranny Failures
Usually when there is a transmission failure, it is something internal that, after many years of dutiful service, is expected to start breaking down. However, Nissan has announced that some of their best selling trucks and SUVs (2005-2010 Nissan Frontier, Xterra, and Pathfinders) are experiencing radiator leaks that are finding their way into the components of their automatic transmissions. This leak is causing premature wearing of the automatic transmission that warrants replacement often at less than 100,000 miles. The New York Times reports that even after Nissan extended warranties on the effected models by 5 years/50,000 miles (for a total warranty coverage for 80K miles/8 years) owners still reported that "the radiator issues have affected the vehicles transmissions, causing premature failure...Lance Wiggins, Technical Director of the Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association points out ’what’s happening is the radiator cooler tanks are rupturing, forcing coolant into the five-speed automatic through the transmission cooler lines." Motor Trend also points out that for many of the owners of these vehicles (particularly the older models) are beyond the extended warranty. If the transmission fails, they will have to put forth a substantial investment for a new one. Nissan says they "would cover transmissions damaged by coolant, as long as they met the extended warranty guidelines." No warranty, no fix.
Although Nissan says "only a small proportion of models are affected," we are perplexed by their actions. They seem to be doing enough to belay a lawsuit, yet don’t seem to be real concerned about maintaining a loyal customer base, which is a real pity because we love the ruggedness and the utility of the Nissan trucks and SUVs.
My father had a habit of pointing out "it’s always the one ya least suspect." If you asked the public what they thought the Lotus Elise’s reliability was, the answer was a resounding "very good." However, now this Rembrandt of the racetrack has a small smudge and is now under investigation for a possible mechanical deficiency concerning the oil cooler.
The 2005-2006 Lotus Elise is at the center of this investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA). This problem centers on the right front oil cooler which can potentially come loose and spray inside the wheel well and the engine bay which can lead to a fire. This problem is described as" .. [Complaints centered on] an oil cooler line [that] had failed causing oil to spray within the engine compartment area, and/or near one of the wheel or brake assemblies." It is important to note that no one was hurt due to this malfunction although one person’s car did catch fire. That being said, the NHTSA has received 17 complaints and have calculated that around 4,400 Elises may be affected due to this malfunction.
An important distinction to note is that although this investigation is ongoing, a recall has not been issued for the Elise.
If you were considering a Lotus and now are suddenly running like Usain Bolt towards another sports car, think again because all of us here at TopSpeed would still love to have this pocket racer in our garage. Its combination of incredibly reliable Toyota innards and speed make the Lotus Elise a must have for any car enthusiast. Take this complaint for what it is; a small bump in the road for a great vehicle.
You may well have never heard of the Orca C113, but this killer whale can sure make a splash on the racetrack. The supercar was designed and built by Rene Beck of the Orca Engineering company based out of Liechtenstein, Sweden. Many people have the dream of creating their own supercar, but few are ever able to take that dream and create something of it. This specific model of the Orca took nearly fifteen years from inception to production and was first introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 2003.
As with many supercars, the overall idea is quite simple. Keep the weight down, use aerodynamic architecture, and have plenty of power under the hood. Through the hard work of Rene Beck and several other aftermarket tuning companies, the Orca came from concept car to production model in 2005. Its shape was reminiscent of other supercar greats from Lamborghini and of smaller firms like Mosler.
The use of a heavily modified Audi sourced V8 and the lightweight construction have made this car one of the fastest on the road. Albeit, the top speed has never been “officially” tested, the company claims that the car will top out around 224mph.
Hit the jump for more details on this Orca C113.
The AMG side of Mercedes Benz began as something completely different than it has grown into today. Essentially two Daimler engineers were sitting at home late at night and tinkering with various Mercedes models to make them faster and more powerful. These grease monkeys were eventually recognized by Mercedes and began to collaborate for racing and eventually production models. The first of these was a C36 model that sold in Europe. It was a fantastic car that packed 276hp, but AMG did not find real traction in the United States market until the introduction of the E55.
For starters, theE-class was already a best-selling model for Mercedes and its combination of size, luxury, and price fell directly in the middle of the Mercedes demographic. When AMG began to tune this model, it was clear that a V8 would need to be used and the standard 5.0-liter from the E500 would be the starting point. After being completely bored out and reconfigured, the 5.4-liter legend was born.
As competition in the entry-level segment began to heat up during the 1990s, Mercedes and AMG saw the opportunity to up the ante in the C-Class and include the same 5.4-liter V8. It was not the first time a V8 would be used in a C-Class, but the new platform introduced in 2005 gave engineers and designers the opportunity to create a model that would rival the other German brands.
Hit the jump for more details on 2005 Mercedes C55 AMG.
The Acura RL entered production in 1996 after Honda took their Legend model and slapped on the Acura badge. Since then, fourteen year have gone by and only two automotive generations have passed. Still in it’s second generation, the Acura RL is getting some new features for the 2011 model year coming in three different trim levels: RL, RL with Technology Package, and RL with Advance Package.
For starters, the 2011 Acura RL is dumping its "Double Power Plenum Grille for a newly designed front end and getting plenty of technology to make the drive a bit easier. The inside of the sedan also sees some changes with a new interior color (Sea Coast) and a new Dark Burlwood textured trim.
Power updates are non-existent, so expect to get the same V6 engine from last year that produces 300hp. However, the RL is getting a new all-sequential SportShift six-speed transmission that allows the sedan to boost its fuel economy from 16/22 to 17/24.
"The RL continues to set the benchmark for the innovative use of customer-relevant technology," said Jeff Conrad, vice president of Acura sales. "There aren’t many production cars at any price that offer more advanced technology or drive system sophistication."
Hit the jump to read more about the 2011 Acura RL.
Produced from 2001 to 2006 model years, the original Acura broke new ground in the emerging luxury SUV segment. Taking its predecessor’s best qualities and radically expanding them, the all-new 2007 MDX pushes performance and sophistication in the luxury SUV segment to new levels. Benchmarked against some of the best performance SUVs in the world and tuned on the Nurburgring racetrack in Germany, the new MDX clearly establishes itself as a driver’s SUV. Outfitted with Acura’s tenacious Super-Handling All-wheel Drive system and an available sport package with Active Damper System, the MDX yields a combination of handling and comfort that is truly on the cutting edge.
Voted "Car of the year" by Motor Trend and North American Car of the Year (NACOY) at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Chrysler 300C marks the return of great American cars. With an intense competiton from other cars, the 300C was declared winner for unique combination of contemporary styling and powerful performance.
The 2004 Acura TL attacked the performance luxury sedan market with its impressive styling, a luxurious and technology-packed interior, and its best-in-class horsepower.
Confronted with the new competition from Lexus, BMW, Infiniti and others, the 2007 TL has been impressively updated. Now the TL is available in two versions, the luxurious TL and the reintroduced high-performance TL Type-S, to crystallize its place as the standard representative in its class.
Sportiness and elegance packaged in a unique, exclusive style. Harmony of shape and volume that add up to a good-looking, powerful and solid car supplemented by Alfa Romeo mechanical and engineering excellence. This, in short, is the soul of the Alfa Brera, a new prestige coupÃ© that is able to arouse great emotion and guarantee maximum driving satisfaction.
The Acura NSX supercar exemplifies the precision crafted performance that lies at the heart of every Acura vehicle. Developed out of years of racing experience, the NSX sets the benchmark for Acura technology, combining world-class performance and styling with exceptional drivability and refinement.