Driving to Valhalla

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 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 going on about some non-existent amusement park with ferris wheels and roller coasters up Rte. 413 near the Burlington-Bristol bridge. Valhalla.

I suggested he set the car on fire and push them off the bridge. 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, ok. Take a deep breath, Leslie.

The car is dead because – well, my classic Prius supposedly uses 75mA when it’s just sitting. But people also tell me that the auxiliary battery will discharge in two weeks if you don’t start the car. I don’t know, I take one-week vacations. The new Prius has all kinds of electronics. Of course the bloody thing is dead. Some quick calculations tell me that it must use around 1 Amp. Seems excessive.

As an aside, 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. Just errrrrrrr…. never mind.

Of course the doors don’t unlock automatically, the battery is dead. Use the *key*. That would be that ridged key fob attached to the clicker.

Yes, 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 car likely won’t actually allow itself to be driven, not until the engine runs long enough to charge the high-voltage system. The gas engine is supposed to switch on – in mine anyway – when the big hybrid battery is providing 20A, but 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 on-line.

Those Japanese are clever devils. I hardly think they’d make it so that you can’t open the hood to charge the battery if it’s dead. Unless… I recently discovered a hidden auxiliary battery in my trunk. 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.

Ok, 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.

Update 5/24/2006:
The new Prius actually started, and after three tries it stayed running long enough to charge up the auxiliary battery. The hybrid battery was nearly at capacity. I don’t know why he doesn’t park it at my bro- or sister-in-law’s houses and have them use it to run out for groceries every week or so. Or drive it to work every day if they’re so inclined. That would be more convenient.
It turns out that there is indeed an old abandoned amusement park exactly where the old boy said it would be. I’ve never seen it, but my husband grew up near there so it’s rather surprising that he hasn’t.
There was no necessity for a Viking burial.

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