What should I do if my Lexus hybrid has been parked for a long time?

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 keep our cars parked if we can. Some owners of Lexus 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 Lexus remains in tip-top condition during an extended layoff.

To recap, Lexus 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 Lexus 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 Lexus equipped solely with an internal combustion engine, there are a few other easy car maintenance points that can ensure your Lexus 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

63 comments

  1. Hi I currently own a 2013 lexus ct200h and have recently been having issues with the alarm coming on when I press the keyfob. Is it something to do with the fob itself or could there be another underlying issue? Thanks

    1. Hi Boniface,

      Thanks for getting in touch with us. We’re sorry to hear you’re experiencing an issue with your key fob. In this case, as we can’t assess your car ourselves we can’t accurately suggest what may be causing this. We would recommend contacting your nearest Lexus centre for further help as they are best equipped to look over the car and make any necessary recommendations. You can find the contact details for your nearest dealer, here: https://www.lexus.co.uk/forms/find-a-centre

      Thanks.

  2. I have a Lexus 450h, reg. 2011 The last service completed was a full service by the previous owner at Lexus Sheffield on 18-4-18 at a cost of £1000 at 64000 miles. obviously quite comprehensive. I have since covered mileage to 78,000. my question is would it be appropriate at this time to have an interim
    service completed rather than the very expensive one which I can save for later on,
    Thankyou< Phil

    1. Hi Phil,
      Thanks for getting in touch with us.
      For our service schedule, we usually recommend getting a service either once every 12 months or every 10,000 miles – whichever comes soonest.
      Normally, we would recommend alternating between an intermediate and a full service every 10,000 miles or year, but, as your car has not been serviced in over two years, we would suggest getting a full service this time, especially as this is an older vehicle.
      Thanks.

  3. All electrics start up after I press the power but as usual, however now the engine does not start or the ready light does not come on.

    All electrics seem to be working fine. After a few tries and walking away and locking the car and re-opening, the engine eventually starts.

    Its becoming a problem that the engine won’t start but all electrics turn on with the power button. I recently did a 40 mile journey last week so the 12v battery should be charged?

    1. Hi Adam,
      Thanks for getting in touch. We’re sorry to hear you’re experiencing an issue with your Lexus.
      As we are not in a position to assess your car, we would recommend contacting your nearest Lexus centre. They are best placed to offer a diagnosis and any necessary advice.
      You can find your nearest dealer’s contact details, here: https://www.lexus.co.uk/forms/find-a-centre
      Thanks.

  4. I have a IS300h (64 plate) and having increasing problems starting the power up process. It can sometimes take 5-10 minutes for the car to get the hybrid to work. It is usually more problematic first thing in the morning. The car has not been stood, is serviced in line with Lexus etc. The key fob battery has been changed. If you were to rule out the 12 volt battery what is the next fault on the list please. Is there a fulat finder list?

    1. Hi Chris,
      Thanks for getting in touch with us.
      Just like systems on any car of any type, they need to get up to temperature to work at their optimal level. Our hybrids are no different.
      As this seems to be happening more in the morning, and increasing recently, the atmospheric temperature is colder, particularly in the autumn and winter.
      If you the car’s hybrid system working at an optimal level as soon as you start driving, try starting the car and waiting for it to warm up before you set off.
      Thanks.

  5. Hello! I have a NX 300h, 2018 model. All was fine till it was parked for a week in an Airport parking, open air. Since then, the navigation system does not start. It displays that the navigation is starting and that’s it. It stays that way for hours and did not change for days now, no matter how many times i stopped and started the car. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Ciprifil,
      Thanks for getting in touch. We’re sorry to hear that you’re experiencing a problem with your NX 300h navigation system.
      As we are unable to assess your car personally, we would recommend contacting your nearest Lexus centre.
      They will be able to look over your vehicle and make any necessary recommendations.
      You can find your nearest centre, here: https://www.lexus.co.uk/concierge-tool/contact-us/
      Thanks.

  6. Hi my 2008 LS600H has been on ‘lockdown’ and the 12v battery was fully drained. It has been boos charged but will only charge 50%.
    Will this be sufficient just to run the car to charge the hybrid battery?

    1. Hello Hanif,
      Thank you for getting in touch. Sorry to hear that.
      If you have charged the battery as much as possible, we recommend trying to start the car to see what happens. If the car starts, you will be able to drive it and charge the hybrid battery.
      Thanks.

      1. Thank you.
        By the way will the 12v battery charging maximum only to 50% of its capacity be generally fine to continue with if hybrid charged?

        1. Hello Hanif,
          Thank you for your reply.
          This is dependent on the length of your journey, as a longer drive will charge the 12v battery more. It also depends on the frequency that you use the car.
          All cars have systems that drain battery over time, like the alarm system for example.
          Ultimately, if the 12v battery is not holding its charge properly, the best thing to do would be to replace it.
          Thanks.

  7. Hi Lexus UK,

    Since the lock down started I have been using my UX less then I used to. This has resulted calling the AA on 4 x time to jump start the car.

    My UX had its first service done soon after the first lockdown was released. The UX was taken back to the dealer to get 12V Battery checked. Dealer said their report was ‘OK’. (Please take a note that I had to insist for them to do the battery check). Since then there were further 2 incidents of flat battery even though car was used on every 2/3 days including journeys not less than a 50miles.
    I have now purchased a good recommended trickle charger and fully charged the battery. But very next day when I checked the battery again it was very low means it could not hold the charge.

    This is my first Lexus and I am somewhat disappointed with the issue. Car has done 8500 miles in the first year.
    My question is do Lexus feel that car should go under proper investigation to find out what drains the battery? Or replace the battery as it is under warranty?

    I would really appreciate your response.

    1. Hello Soham,
      Thank you for contacting us. We’re so sorry to hear that you’re experiencing an issue with your UX battery.
      As we are unable to assess your car, we would recommend re-contacting your nearest Lexus centre in order to have this issue further investigated.
      We hope that this issue can be resolved quickly.
      Thanks.

  8. Hello Ross,
    Thank you for contacting us. We are so sorry to hear you have been experiencing a problem with your battery.
    Your nearest Lexus centre are best equipped to diagnose the issue, so we would definitely recommend booking your vehicle in with them.
    We would recommend contacting our Customer Relations team should you wish to discuss your situation further as they are best placed to offer more support.
    They can be reached here: https://www.lexus.co.uk/forms/customer-relations-contact-us?enquiry_type=general
    Thanks.

  9. I have a 2008 LS600HL that I absolutely love but, after being in lockdown for two weeks, now, I went to start it today and it shows an airbag fault and it’s unable to find the handbrake. When I pull the gear lever back it tells me to put it in P to start. I’m sure it’s just because it has been stood. Should I switch it on and leave it for 60 minutes and see if it clears?

      1. Hello Mick,
        Thank you for contacting us.
        We are very glad to hear that you have rectified this issue.
        We wish you many more happy journeys in your LS.
        Thanks.

    1. Hello Rui,
      Thank you for your reply.
      For specific information relating to your vehicle, we would recommend contacting the Lexus distributor in your region.
      Thanks.

    2. In my Lexus IS300, there is a kind of SCART socket above the brake pedal under the steering wheel. I attach a solar panel to that with its connecting cable. You have to crouch outside the car door to see the little rectangular socket first time round.

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