Stranded in a prius and need a jump start
January 14, 2017 7:58 AM   Subscribe

I'm stranded in a drained Prius after a night of car camping stupidity and am not sure what step to take next.

Hi mefi friends, I'm in the middle of a long solo road trip in a 2010 Prius. I slept at a rest stop up around Mt Shasta last night in my car and didn't notice my front lights were still on. 6 hours later, the battery is dead and I'm not sure where to go from here. I have roadside assistance but am wading my way through Prius forums talking about bad jump start horror stories. I'm not sure what my options are-- get a jump? Remove the 12V battery and charge it? A tow? Hope me, y'all, I am furious with myself right now.
posted by moonlight on vermont to Travel & Transportation around Shasta, CA (15 answers total)
AAA has jumped our Priuses a number of times, please take the fora with a grain of salt. Call someone and get a jump.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:03 AM on January 14, 2017 [11 favorites]

AAA will bring you a new battery and replace it if it is dead. Otherwise, have it jumped and take it to the nearest Autozone. They will test it for free. I had to replace it myself, though. Your owner's manual should have instructions. If not, Car Care Kiosk has very helpful and accurate tutorials.
posted by Young Kullervo at 8:10 AM on January 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Mt. Shasta implies an available decline. Have you tried roll starting it?
posted by cocoagirl at 8:28 AM on January 14, 2017

You cannot roll start a Prius.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:36 AM on January 14, 2017 [22 favorites]

We have a 2001 Prius and had to have it jumped recently (several times, in fact, because the 12v was dying and we didn't realize) and AAA jumped it with no problem. Because it was clearly on its last legs I took it to our lovely Prius garage (Luscious) here in SF and they replaced it.
posted by rtha at 9:09 AM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Jumped. Lyn and Kullervo, thank you for being clear-headed.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 9:12 AM on January 14, 2017 [7 favorites]

Better World Club affiliates, in my experience, can also properly jump star a Prius to get you back to town.
posted by tilde at 9:13 AM on January 14, 2017

AAA is your friend. They will let you join while you are making the distress call.

We've had a couple of odd situations with our 2009 Prius. Mrs. lhauser would take the oldest kiddo to an appointment and wait in the car... no lights, no radio. When kiddo returns, the car won't start. AAA came and jumped the car just fine, even replaced the battery once.

Go buy a jumpstarter when you return to civilization. We haven't had to use it yet, but we got this one
posted by lhauser at 10:13 AM on January 14, 2017 [5 favorites]

Future reference: buy yourself a 40 dollar battery pack (I use an Anker) that can charge your car battery, your cell phones (many times over) and provide an emergency beacon light, charge it fully every few months, keep it in your glovebox, and never be stranded needing a jump again,

I've stated elsewhere on Mefi that I think AAA is a ripoff. There's a good chance your car insurance includes roadside service and towing and they will send the exact same local guys as AAA. AAA doesn't have its own garages and trucks. They use the same database of providers your insurance or your car manufacturer, and even some credit cards, provide.

But seriously a portable lithium battery the size of a paperback is the new jumper cables. Carry one or the other with you at all times. Super cool for powering your phone in emergency situations too.
posted by spitbull at 10:52 AM on January 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Here's the Anker charger. I love mine. You can get one for a lot less than list price usually.

One pro tip: as soon as you get one of these wrap the handles of the alligator battery terminal clips in duct tape. They are cheaply made and the springs pop out (and fall into your engine compartment in the dark) very easily. Two inches of duct tape around each handle fixes that.
posted by spitbull at 10:59 AM on January 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

Just to throw this out there for anyone reading this in the future, some taxicab companies will also give you a jump.
posted by hydra77 at 12:09 PM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

In some places AAA does in fact have their own trucks. A friend of mine works for the. It all depends on the particular state affiliate. Their benefits are typically more generous than those provided by the cell carriers or auto insurance companies. And they do more than just roadside assistance.
posted by wierdo at 2:24 PM on January 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

My insurance company provides exactly the same devices AAA does for towing and roadside, for far less money per year. Exactly. And no, I don't believe AAA has their own trucks (certainly outside any major metro area.). They all use the *same* networks of service providers (managed by a third party vendor at that), is simply the fact. That AAA sticker on the truck just means they're authorized. They're authorized by many other providers too. Not all give them stickers. And car manufacturers (Ford for sure) use their own authorized dealer network where possible, genwaly better shops in many places than AAA does.

It's your money. But a lot of people have looked into this and done the math.
posted by spitbull at 2:42 PM on January 14, 2017

"Devices"="services," ugh.
posted by spitbull at 2:48 PM on January 14, 2017

It's an odd procedure to jump a Prius, but it's all in the handbook. You connect one wire to a special jump terminal under the hood, and the other to a any handy grounding point nearby. Meanwhile the actual 12v battery is hidden in the back behind a tail light. Once the hybrid system powers up though you are good to go.
posted by w0mbat at 10:30 PM on January 14, 2017

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