Will my Toyota hybrid be okay if I don’t drive it?

As the UK government has instructed the nation to stay at home and only venture out for specific, essential reasons in light of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) situation, many of us are being encouraged to park our cars if we can. Some owners of Toyota hybrids might be wondering what will happen to their car during long periods without use, particularly when it comes to the level of charge in the batteries.

The reassuring news is that no difficult car maintenance is necessary. However, there are some tips that, if followed, can help ensure your Toyota remains in tip-top condition during an extended layoff.

To recap, Toyota hybrids generally contain two batteries: a 12-volt battery (which powers systems such as the headlamps and audio) and a high-voltage hybrid system battery (which supplies the power to start the combustion engine and drive the electric motors).

The simplest way to maintain charge in both of these batteries is to simply go through the normal start procedure: press the ‘Start’ button with your foot on the brake and ensure the ‘Ready’ light is illuminated on the dashboard (you don’t have to keep your foot on the brake thereafter, but ensure your vehicle’s transmission is in ‘Park’ and the parking brake is engaged).

We recommend you put the car in ‘Ready’ mode for about 60 minutes before switching it off again and repeat the process at least once a week, providing you can carry out this procedure while adhering to the government’s advice regarding social distancing and Coronavirus (Covid-19). Please do not leave your car unattended when it is in ‘Ready’ mode.

During the time that that car is in ‘Ready’ mode, you may hear and feel the internal combustion engine kick in; this is a normal part of the self-charging process. You might be tempted to switch on the radio to pass the time, or turn on other systems, but bear in mind these will consume small amounts of electrical power so it is preferable to leave them off.

Ensure the handbrake is on; there’s no need to go for a drive, although we must stress that this procedure should take place in a well-ventilated area – something to consider if you park your vehicle in a garage.

What if my Toyota isn’t a hybrid?

Our petrol and diesel cars only have a 12-volt battery, which provides the power to start the engine in addition to the other systems mentioned above. Regular start-up of the vehicle on conventional petrol and diesel engines needs approximately 20 minutes of running to put back into the battery what you remove on start up, so to maintain this battery we would suggest 60 minutes of running at least once a week.

Is there anything else I need to do?

Whether you own a hybrid or a Toyota equipped solely with an internal combustion engine, there are a few other easy car maintenance points that can ensure your Toyota hybrid remains healthy and happy during an enforced hibernation. Again, please adhere to the latest government advice regarding social distancing.

  • Check the tyre pressures are fully inflated to the recommended level and top-up if necessary. It can be a good idea to repeat this process when you first drive your car after a long period of inactivity.
Toyota hybrid storage
  • Clean the car thoroughly inside and out. If you are storing your car in a garage, make sure the vehicle is completely dry before you put it away.
Toyota hybrid storage
  • If you do plan to store your car in a garage, ensure the chosen storage area offers plenty of ventilation. If the space is secure, you could consider opening one of the car’s windows a small way to ventilate the interior. If you do this, you might have to change your car alarm’s setting to prevent it setting off the intrusion sensor – please consult your car’s manual for more information.
Toyota hybrid storage
  • It can be beneficial to leave the vehicle with the parking brake disengaged to prevent the brakes from binding, but only do this if you are certain the car is on level terrain and isn’t going to move. Ensure the transmission is set to ‘P’ for park and place wedges or chocks, if you have them, under the wheels.
  • If you have a 12V battery trickle charger, or a solar panel charger, and are confident using them, then these are a good option to keep the battery fully charged while the vehicle is stationary for a period of time.
  • If your vehicle is equipped with smart entry and start but the system isn’t operated for a long time, a battery-saving function will automatically be activated to prevent the electronic key battery and the 12-volt battery from being discharged. Battery depletion in the key is minimised by stopping the electronic key from receiving radio waves. On many models equipped with this system, it is possible to manually put the key into battery-saving mode, so please consult your car’s handbook for more information. If you aren’t planning to drive your car for a long time, consider putting the smart key in a safe place and not carrying it around with you in your pocket. This will prevent the car from ‘waking up’ unnecessarily should you happen to walk near it in your garage or driveway.
  • If the vehicle will be kept on private property (such as inside a garage) for the duration of its storage, you could consider applying for a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). This informs the DVLA that the car is off the road and you will receive a refund of any remaining full months of tax. However, you won’t be able to drive your car legally until you tax it again, so it is only advisable if you are positive you won’t use your car for a long time. You can read more information about how to SORN your car here.

Read more Toyota GB’s latest statement on the Coronavirus (Covid-19) situation

420 comments

  1. Is the 2.4w “AA” Solar trickle charger,suitable to use on a 2022 reg Corolla 2ltr GR sport,whilst left at the Airport for 2 weeks?

    1. Hi Keith,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Providing the 12v battery is in good health and no underlying vehicle issues there is no reason to suggest that the vehicle could not be left at the airport without a charger fitted.
      However, you would have to refer to the charger manufacturer/supplier to see if it is suitable for use.
      Thanks.

  2. Hi, I have CHR Toyota im planning to park my car in the airport for a month long stay parking, Am I able to start my car in my return? Does the Battery holds till I return ? Please I need your advice Thanks.

    1. Hi Sergio,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Your C-HR should be okay for this period of time.
      However, if you would like further reassurance, your nearest Toyota Centre should be able to assess your battery.
      Thanks.

  3. My wife owns a 2020 Yaris Hybrid, we had problems with the 12v battery’s not holding it’s charge. We were advised by our local dealer to have a solar trickle charger. We had ordered this and “fitted” by our local dealer, but to our amazement we have wires on display as it has to be plugged in via the “diagnostic” socket. An adaptor had to be ordered separately from the kit, as only crocodile clips and a cigarette plug were supplied. Can this be fitted any other way please.(wires hidden).

    1. Hi Kevin,
      Thanks for your comment.
      We would recommend contacting your Toyota Centre to see what options are available.
      We hope this helps.
      Thanks.

  4. Hi there, I am going on holidays for 5 months, can I just cover my hybrid and leave? Or should I ask somebody to regularly check it?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Julio,
      Thanks for your comment.
      We recommend you put the car in ‘Ready’ mode for about 60 minutes before switching it off again and repeat the process at least once a week.
      We hope this helps.
      Thanks.

  5. Really disappointing to read that I am destined for all this battery maintenance faff once my new “self charging” hybrid car arrives. I see a common response it to buy a trickle charger. Perhaps this should be included as standard given how small the battery is.

    1. Hi Leigh,
      Thanks for your comment.
      We appreciate you taking the time to give this feedback.
      We are always looking for ways to improve our product offering, so we will pass on this feedback to our wider product team.
      Thanks.

  6. what happens when both 12 volt and hybrid batteries go flat if the car is left in storage for 6 or so months…
    Thank you

    1. Hi Syed,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Your Toyota should be okay to leave in storage if you are able to maintain the batteries during this time.
      The simplest way to maintain charge in both of these batteries is to simply go through the normal start procedure.
      We recommend you put the car in ‘Ready’ mode for about 60 minutes before switching it off again and repeat the process at least once a week.
      However, Toyota Roadside Assistance would be best placed to assist you if something does go wrong.
      You can view TRA on our website here – https://www.toyota.co.uk/owners/roadside-assistance/.
      Thanks.

  7. Toyota Uk

    Thank you for reply, however if the car runs out of fuel in storage and 60 minute interval is not possible, what could be the possible solution, would that require towing to toyota and get it surviced or is there recovery process we can follow.

    Thx

    1. Hi Syed,
      The start process does not use much petrol.
      However, if this was to occur, Toyota Roadside Assistance would be best placed to assist you.
      Thanks.

  8. Hi people at Toyota,
    Having read all the pages here relating to the new hybrid vehicles, we also have had many Toyota in the past and none have had thus problem of starting until now, my wife has had AA out four times now all for the same fault, not starting, her previous vehicle did same mileage, stood not being used for several days, always started first time, never a problem, have to agree with all comments relating yto toyota, NOT listening to customers, this fault existing it cannot be the figment of so many peoples imagination, this fault needs sorting toyota, or you stand to lose not only reputation, but also loyal customers.

    1. Hi Kevin,
      We are really sorry to hear about the inconvenience this has caused.
      Your Toyota Centre would be best placed to assist you with this, as they can physically inspect your vehicle and diagnose any potential faults.
      Thanks.

  9. Hi – I will be leaving my 2 year old Toyota Hybrid Excel for 12 weeks garaged. There will be no opportunity to start the car during this period. Previous posts suggest the battery will not survive this time without running flat. Is this true?
    If I need to trickle charge can you please advise a suitable charger for my Toyota (and confirm I do attach this to the 12v battery not the big one in the boot?)
    Many thanks

    1. Hi Simon,

      Thanks for getting in touch. Vehicle systems drain the battery even when the car is off, so we would recommend a trickle charger for such a long period of not running. We have a range of Toyota approved trickle chargers. Your Toyota centre is best placed to advise you on the best one for your car.

      Thanks

  10. I assume the charge level of the 12V battery is something that the car’s on-board systems monitor (so that it knows when charging is required). On Smart Connect models it could automatically send an alert to the MyT app on your phone if battery voltage drops below a certain level and before it becomes a problem. Perhaps something that could be pushed out as an update?

    1. Hello Leigh,
      Thank you for your feedback.
      We are always looking for ways to improve our MyT app, so we will pass this comment onto our connectivity team.
      Thanks.

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