Dead Battery or Toyota's Revenge

This is yet another chapter in my ongoing problems with the 12v Starter battery in my Prius.

To recap, the battery died for the first time last December while I was using a 12v compressor to adjust the tire pressure. The second time I found a dead battery was when I returned from MacWorld Expo in January. At this point I bought a portable jump starter. I had to use it for the first time in March, after leaving the door unlocked for about 3 days without using the car.

I took it to the dealer and was told that I didn’t drive it enough to keep the battery charged. Since I work from my home office, I often don’t drive for several days during the week. I followed their recommendation and got a solar trickle charger after my friend installed Coastal Tech’s power outlet mod so it can be used with the accessory outlet.

I had no further problems until June, when I was away for over two weeks to Vancouver and San Francisco, which I sort of expected. When I got back from 6 days in Vancouver last month and found that it started, I thought the problems were behind me.

Until today. I didn’t use my car for only two days and found it dead this morning. I got my trusty jump starter, but this time it wouldn’t start. It came alive in Accessory mode with all of the warning lights on and an error message on the screen saying there’s a problem with the parking interlock (even though I had the parking brake fully engaged). Attempting to switch in and out of park and releasing and depressing the parking brake had no effect. Repeated attempts had the same result and I was never able to get it to Ready. I’m now making sure the jump charger is fully charged, since I didn’t use it for several months, on the off chance that it didn’t have enough of a charge to start the car.

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