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.

83 comments

  1. I’m finding that when I start my 2017 rx450h I’m getting a long beep (sometimes broken) when I press the power button.

    After I’ve driven for a bit and start and stop it the car goes back to a short beep on pressing the button.

    I’m worried that the battery is going flat.

    1. Hi Carl,

      We recommend contacting a Lexus centre so they can inspect your battery and advise further.

      Thanks

  2. “It can be beneficial to leave the vehicle with the parking brake disengaged to prevent the brakes from binding….” say Lexus. If only. My new NX has a handbrake that automatically engages when parked and I run the permanent risk of the handbrake binding. I have to wonder what apprentice that that was a great idea!

    1. Hi Chris,

      Thanks for getting in touch. You should be able to disable the automatic parking brake. To do this, while the vehicle is stopped, press and
      hold the parking brake switch down until the automatic mode lamp turns off. Once this has been done, you should be able to leave the vehicle in P mode without the parking brake engaged.

      Thanks

  3. I plan to be out of town for 10 to 12 days. Will there be a problem with my 2019 Lexus UX hybrid battery upon my return?

    1. Hello Melinda,
      Thanks for contacting us.
      We are only able to advise on UK specification Lexus vehicles.
      Please contact Lexus in your region for advice specific to your vehicle.
      However, for UK vehicles, a 12V battery trickle charger, or a solar panel charger can be good option to keep the battery fully charged while the vehicle is stationary for a period of time. This may be worth looking into with Lexus in your region.
      Thanks.

  4. Hi

    I suspect my Lexus CT 200H 12v battery is discharged therefore the car would not unlock with the electronic key, smart entry or the mechanical key. The mechanical key does not turn at all whilst in the door key cylinder. I’ve changed the battery on the key fob but still not working.

    I am unable to access the car to jump start it.

    Please advise.

    Kind Regards

    1. Hello Habib,
      We would recommend taking your CT 200h to your nearest Lexus Centre.
      They will be able to physically inspect your vehicle and provide any necessary recommendations and/or repairs.
      Thanks.

    1. Hello Robin,
      We do not have any specific recommendation for this.
      We would recommend using whatever you are comfortable with.
      Thanks.

  5. I have to go away on business for up to 4-5 months soon. How do I ensure My 2015 NX300h 12volt battery and Hybrid battery remain fully charge and ready for use on my return?

    1. Hello Steven,
      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.
      Thanks.

  6. Hi I have a 2019 Lexus NX300h I’ve been away for 6 weeks, I didn’t know I had to do anything to keep the batteries charged. On coming back I tried to start the car but it won’t start the engine, will putting the 12 volt battery on charge solve the problem or do I have to get it towed to the nearest Lexus Garage?

    1. Hi Howard,
      A trickle charger is meant to maintain a fully charged battery.
      We would recommend contacting your Lexus Centre for further assistance.
      Thanks.

  7. I have a fairly new UX250h 71 plate. With the summer warm weather upon us, I would like to leave the window slightly down. Can I lock the doors without the alarm triggering ?. The car is on my drive. I would alors your response.

    Thanks

    1. Hello Francis,
      Please provide the full vehicle registration so we can look into this for you.
      Thanks.

  8. Hi , I have a Lexus IS 300 h 2018 and have had a few issues in starting it , how can you tell if it the main 12v battery or the hybrid battery. The car is totally died , new lights nothing comes on , I had jumped started it a few times and it will work for t if at day and leave over night nothing happens!

    1. Hello Robert,
      We are sorry to hear that you are having troubles with your IS 300h.
      Please contact your nearest Lexus Centre for further assistance with this.
      Thanks.

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