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7 Possible Reasons Your Hybrid Prius Won’t Start

prius won't start

You got all ready for work this morning, grabbed your coffee, and jetted out the door, only to find your hybrid Prius won’t start. 

But, why?

Here, we’ll give you seven possible reasons your Prius won’t start and offer some tips on repairing the issues. Let’s dive right in and get your problem resolved as soon as possible.

Common Reasons Your Prius Won’t Start

The Toyota Prius is a reliable hybrid, but like any complicated machine, something can go wrong at any time. Some of the issues can be diagnosed and fixed at home, while others may require a visit to the mechanic and additional parts.

Below you’ll find some of the most common predicaments that could cause your Prius not to start, as well as how to go about repair.

Overfilled Engine Oil

Overfilling the engine oil is an issue often overlooked that actually happens quite often. 

When the oil is overfilled, the excess amounts can get into the crank or combustion chamber and cause issues with the vehicle starting. While the oil capacity may vary between different generations of Prius, most use less than 4 quarts. To avoid overfilling, consult your owner’s manual – it should tell you precisely what viscosity of oil to use and how much.

To correct this circumstance, if you’re handy with cars, you can simply drain a little out with the same steps you’d use if you were changing your oil yourself.  Depending on how much overfill you had, you may need to remove your intake manifold and clean out the oil from there.

Key Fob Battery

If your vehicle starts typically using the key fob with a push-start button, a bad battery in the fob can result in the car not starting. If you aren’t currently changing the battery and only have one key, try putting it as close as possible to the start button. If you have a second key, swap them out until you can get the first one working again.

Ignition Problems 

A faulty ignition is one of the most common problems. If no spark is created, the engine will fail to start. 

Defective or incorrect spark plugs are a common cause. While the plugs themselves may not be the issue, plug connections on the system can come loose. To remedy this, if you’re comfortable doing so yourself, try tightening the spark plugs. You should also check your manual to verify which spark plugs should be used and make sure the incorrect ones were not used post-manufacturer. 

Otherwise, they’ll need to be checked and replaced at the mechanic.

Blown Fuse

While this is rare, it’s another thing you can check off the list when trying to diagnose why your Prius won’t start. Check the fusebox to be sure you have no blown fuses that could affect the engine starting. Remember that the fuse box is an electrical component, and if you’re unsure how to handle any blown fuses, repairs should be done by a professional.

Fuel Problems

Checking fuel issues may sound like a given, but we don’t just mean your fuel gauge (but if you are out of gas, we’d suggest filling the tank as your first step). 

Your fuel filter can get clogged by dirt and particles over time. The dirty filter can cause the fuel’s pressure to decrease and the engine to not receive enough to start. A clogged fuel filter will require changing the filter, as you can not clean it.

The fuel pump could also be the culprit. Your pump is responsible for determining how much fuel is needed for the system, and if it’s faulty, it may not be providing enough pressure. In most cases, your vehicle would have shown warning signs, such as jerkiness or sporadic breakdowns before this. 

A faulty fuel pump will need to be replaced by a mechanic.

Issues With Security System 

Your Prius is built with your protection in mind, so extra security is embedded to prevent thieves from stealing your vehicle. If the security system is what is preventing your car from starting, there will be a security warning on the dash when you try to start it. You can remedy this by simply making sure the key fob is near you.

Battery Issues

Another of the most common issues are battery problems. Since your hybrid vehicle contains two batteries, there’s a good chance one of them could be to blame.

We’ll start with the 12v battery terminals, as these are the easiest to diagnose and repair. Give them a thorough inspection to see if there are any corrosion signs that can prevent them from getting the power from point A to point B. Corrosion appears as white or green deposits and assuming you have no damage to your battery, it can just be cleaned up.

If the engine fails to crank, a weak or dead battery may be to blame. In some vehicles, the 12v battery starts the car, but in a Prius, the hybrid battery is responsible. Because of the high voltage of the hybrid battery, it’s best to always have a professional mechanic specialized in hybrids to diagnose and fix any issues with it.

If you determine a new hybrid battery is needed, be conscious of pricing, as many dealerships ask top dollar for replacement batteries. Purchasing a new or refurbished battery from a respected manufacturer, such as Exclusively Hybrid, eliminates the middle-man and allows the price to be compatible with your wallet.

Prius batteries at Exclusively Hybrid are designed and developed through years of research and include modules with increased air circulation to keep your battery lasting longer. Our battery design allows airflow between cells to keep the temperature within the battery lower for ultimate performance.

Overall, the best thing you can do to keep your Prius in tip-top shape is to adhere to all of the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations. Toyota recommends scheduling service every 5,000 miles or six months, whichever comes sooner.

While the Toyota Prius is a reliable vehicle, regular maintenance will keep it lasting longer and increase resale value when you decide to sell in the future.

FAQ About Why A Prius Wont Start?

1. Why is my Prius not starting after overfilling the engine oil?

Overfilling the engine oil can lead to issues as excess oil may enter critical components, hindering the starting process. To resolve this, consult your owner’s manual for correct oil specifications and capacity. If overfilled, draining the excess oil might be necessary, potentially involving the removal of the intake manifold for a thorough cleaning.

2. Can a key fob with a bad battery prevent my Prius from starting?

Yes, a key fob with a weak or dead battery can impact the car’s starting, especially in push-start button systems. To address this, place the key fob close to the start button or use a spare key while dealing with the battery issue.

3. How can I troubleshoot ignition problems in my Prius?

Ignition problems, often caused by defective or incorrectly installed spark plugs, can prevent starting. If comfortable, tighten spark plugs following manual specifications. If issues persist, seek professional help for inspection and potential replacement.

4. What fuel-related issues could prevent my Prius from starting?

Clogged fuel filters or a faulty fuel pump can impede fuel delivery, affecting the engine’s ability to start. If the fuel filter is clogged, replacement is necessary. A malfunctioning fuel pump requires professional attention, especially if warning signs like jerky performance or sporadic breakdowns are present.

5. How often should I adhere to maintenance recommendations to avoid starting issues?

Regular maintenance, as recommended by the manufacturer (every 5,000 miles or six months), is crucial for keeping your Prius in optimal condition. Following these guidelines helps prevent potential issues and ensures a longer-lasting, reliable vehicle. Regular maintenance can significantly contribute to avoiding starting problems.

These answers provide detailed information on each issue, offering practical solutions and guidance to users experiencing Prius starting problems.

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