My husband is an electrical engineer like I am. He is a much better electrical engineer, in part because he still has a memory.

His father has been ill and has let his Toyota Prius sit for a while. Six weeks or so. So my husband went over to take him for a ride in the Prius. The old boy wants to go to Valhalla. Or something like that, he’s been going on about some non-existent amusement park with Ferris wheels and roller coasters up the highway near the bridge. Valhalla.

I suggested my husband set the car on fire and push them both off the bridge, a modern-day Viking burial of sorts. Where is that man’s sense of humor?

So my husband just called. “The Prius is dead,” he said. “The doors don’t unlock. Can I give it a jump without blowing up my car? It’s only been six weeks, it can’t be dead! Is the hood lock electrical?”

Yes, okay. Take a deep breath, Leslie.

The car is dead because – well, my 2002 Classic Prius uses 75mA when it’s just sitting. Do the numbers, Mr. Engineer, over six weeks that’s about equivalent to using 3 Amps for one entire day. Of course the bloody thing is dead. In practice, lead-acid batteries have more capacity if used at lower currents. Not sure about other types. I don’t do automotive batteries, thank-you-very-much, and no, don’t ask.

No, the doors won’t unlock automatically, the battery is dead. Use the key. That would be that ridged fob attached to the clicker key ring.

Do you have jumper cables? Yes? Then you can give it a jump. The high voltage system is completely isolated from the 12V system. Don’t connect to any neon blaze orange cables and you’ll be fine, at least at fine as you can be starting anything through your alternator. You’ll see those high voltage cables, did I mention that they’re NEON BLAZE ORANGE?

Uh, but the hybrid system likely won’t actually allow itself to be driven, not until the engine runs long enough to adequately charge the high-voltage system. The gas engine is supposed to switch on – in mine anyway – when the big hybrid battery is providing 20 Amps, however it does run when I start it if the hybrid battery is low. I don’t really know the algorithms. It would take me a few hours to find the new Prius manual online. You want to hold on? No? Okay.

Those Japanese are clever devils. The old boy was a fighter pilot in the Pacific theater in WWII, worthy of Valhalla I’d guess. The Prius is his first foreign car ever. I sort of doubt he would have bought a Tuna Can – errrr… Mitsubishi though. When they name a car the Zero I’ll buy one. Just don’t tie a “Divine Wind” bandana around my head before I drive it out of the showroom.

That being said, I hardly think Toyota would make it so that you can’t open the hood to charge the battery if it’s dead. I don’t know, exactly, I’ve never killed my Prius that completely. I know that I can creep three or four miles after I run out of gas, but that’s a different equation.

Okay, I’d better get dressed and start my errands. I probably should leave my phone at home just in case he decides he wants me to drive to Valhalla to slay something. I am not a Valkyrie. Or an automotive technician.

[tags]automobile,prius,auto,leslie ellis,toyota,batteries,hybrid system,viking,valhalla,automotive[/tags]