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We've been reading other posts about the issue with the PHEV Kia Niro having a high level of "vampire" drain on the auxiliary battery, compounded by the design flaw of having the Auxiliary Battery Saver + use the traction battery to charge the auxiliary battery over and over again when it is discharged over time while it is off and parked. This is apparently really bad for the auxiliary (12 V lead-acid) battery. Our experience was that the auxiliary battery started to die and we needed to jump start the car, first only when we went on a longer trip (and therefore the traction battery was low and couldn't be used to recharge the 12V), and we were parked overnight or had the doors open for more than a few minutes. We took the car into the dealer to check the battery, they told us it was still on its 3 year warranty but it was fine, not in need of replacement. We drove off hoping it could be managed by not leaving the car doors open and the lights on. Within the next two months, it would die every time we went on a longer trip and discharged the traction battery. Then it died even when the traction battery still was fully charged, when I drove to school 1 mile, and then spent 2 minutes with the door open loading up my kid in the car seat. By the time I went to start the car, it was dead. We put a volt meter monitor on the battery and it showed a high drain with the doors open, making our battery fail within minutes even when starting out charged. And yet, when we returned to the dealer, they said the battery was still fine and not in need of replacement. Are they corrupt? Incompetent? Or is there really a deeper issue with the car that is making it die even though the battery is actually OK? FYI they did eventually agree to replace the battery. With the brand new battery, within days we already started seeing the "Auxiliary Battery Saver used" notice when starting the car in the morning. I'm worried this battery won't last either. Any suggestions? Thanks!
 

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I have a PHEV also - a 2019 NIRO PHEV EX. It has 35,000 miles on it we bought it new.

I am happy to share my experience with you. The only time I have seen my AUX battery indicator come on is when I had set in the car listening to the radio with the car not running and the car in ACC mode.

My 12v battery did go dead on me once when I didn't drive the car for weeks at a time during Covid. This happened one time. After recharging it with my battery minder it never happened again- I may have not closed the hatch completely and this could have caused the problem.

Here are some ideas for you to possible explore:

Have you added any aftermarket devices which will draw current when the car is off - dashcam, obd reader, add on GPS etc?

Make sure that no interior lights are in the always on position with the doors locked and the car off especially all the rear interior lights.

Do you notice any unusual sounds when the car is off and all the doors are locked.

I realize these are a lot of questions but a good car technician with a sound electrical background should be able to make short work of this by the process of elimination. The exception would be if it is an intermittent ground condition but even that can be narrowed down by pulling fuses and reinserting them one at a time.

Items if you are confident in troubleshooting electrical issues

Take an voltage reading on the 12v battery with the car running to see that it is properly charging.

With the car off and the keys isolated from the vehicle and with all doors closed and locked check the amp draw from the battery and see what it is. The Niro PHEV has the battery in the rear but my Fluke meter leads are long enough to take readings with the rear hatch closed and locked with the leads and meter extending outside of the vehicle

Make sure the 12v battery terminals are clean and tight.

Check Battery condition

One word of caution- the PHEV is a complicated vehicle with many different electrical circuits and an individual needs to know what they are doing when working on it. A mistake where polarity is reversed or a short is introduced can have serious complications and pose a danger to the individual troubleshooting the vehicle and cause significant damage to the vehicle

As a temporary measure to allow you reliable use of you vehicle a Power Booster might help

or a battery minder charger

Here is one video from you tube there are many many more on this problem
 

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The battery in the PHEV is way too small but I don't think there is much option for increasing size.
From my past automotive repair experience, when a lead acid battery has been drained to the point where it will not start the vehicle, it never returns even close to "like new performance". The older the battery, the more pronounced the digression. My recommendation is to replace the battery and then take steps to make sure the new one is kept charged by using a battery tender or smart charger, especially when not using the car for a week.
As mentioned in previous post, you should have someone check for a parasitic draw.
 

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We've been reading other posts about the issue with the PHEV Kia Niro having a high level of "vampire" drain on the auxiliary battery, compounded by the design flaw of having the Auxiliary Battery Saver + use the traction battery to charge the auxiliary battery over and over again when it is discharged over time while it is off and parked. This is apparently really bad for the auxiliary (12 V lead-acid) battery. Our experience was that the auxiliary battery started to die and we needed to jump start the car, first only when we went on a longer trip (and therefore the traction battery was low and couldn't be used to recharge the 12V), and we were parked overnight or had the doors open for more than a few minutes. We took the car into the dealer to check the battery, they told us it was still on its 3 year warranty but it was fine, not in need of replacement. We drove off hoping it could be managed by not leaving the car doors open and the lights on. Within the next two months, it would die every time we went on a longer trip and discharged the traction battery. Then it died even when the traction battery still was fully charged, when I drove to school 1 mile, and then spent 2 minutes with the door open loading up my kid in the car seat. By the time I went to start the car, it was dead. We put a volt meter monitor on the battery and it showed a high drain with the doors open, making our battery fail within minutes even when starting out charged. And yet, when we returned to the dealer, they said the battery was still fine and not in need of replacement. Are they corrupt? Incompetent? Or is there really a deeper issue with the car that is making it die even though the battery is actually OK? FYI they did eventually agree to replace the battery. With the brand new battery, within days we already started seeing the "Auxiliary Battery Saver used" notice when starting the car in the morning. I'm worried this battery won't last either. Any suggestions? Thanks!
I have a 2018 PHEV Kia Niro and have the exact same problem, as do my friends the own the same vehicle. We both have to use the booster several times a week. We both took it to the dealer and were told nothing is wrong. There is clearly a design flaw in the system and it is really aggravating. I'm taking the car back tomorrow and plan to just leave it with the dealer until they fix it.
 

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The PHEV 12 volt lead acid battery is not used for starting. It is used for all the 12 volt equipment and the computers. The traction battery starts the car and you will see the orange high voltage cables attached to the motor starter generator which is the serpentine belt driven device under the hood. Since the lead acid battery runs the computers the car cannot start with a bad lead acid battery even if the traction battery is good. Unfortunately the dealers assessment of the battery was not initially correct and it now appears the new battery is going to suffer the same fate as there is still an unidentified draw. Also consider if there is a loan on the vehicle that many dealers install a hidden GPS device to repo the car if loan is defaulted. They won't always tell a customer that they have fitted this device.
 

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The PHEV 12 volt lead acid battery is not used for starting. It is used for all the 12 volt equipment and the computers. The traction battery starts the car and you will see the orange high voltage cables attached to the motor starter generator which is the serpentine belt driven device under the hood. Since the lead acid battery runs the computers the car cannot start with a bad lead acid battery even if the traction battery is good. Unfortunately the dealers assessment of the battery was not initially correct and it now appears the new battery is going to suffer the same fate as there is still an unidentified draw. Also consider if there is a loan on the vehicle that many dealers install a hidden GPS device to repo the car if loan is defaulted. They won't always tell a customer that they have fitted this device.
You are correct on all points.
I suggest the OP gets someone to test the amperage draw from the 12V battery when everything is apparently turned off. That would mean actually removing a battery cable to insert the meter in the circuit and the hatch would have to be closed as well, while testing.
 

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You're right -- if a clamp meter can't detect a parasitic load, that isn't the problem.
You are not being helpful with that comment...
I am a licensed tech and know that a cheap clamp on meter is not worth its money for amp testing. It might be fine for volt & ohm testing.
On the other hand, an expensive clamp on meter will be accurate but unless you are using the meter professionally, you will not spend the $300. DYI people do not spend that kind of money on a meter that is used sparingly.
A cheap meter, if connected in the circuit directly, will give a reasonably accurate reading.
BTW, there will always be some parasitic because even when powered off, there is going to be slight drain on every car.
With a Niro, the battery's small size is not going to do well with that if left sitting for long periods of time. If there are additional small drains on the battery, then the small Niro battery does not stand a chance of living past 2 years.
ETN550 brought up a very good point when mentioning the GPS tracker.
 

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I have a 2018 PHEV Kia Niro and have the exact same problem, as do my friends the own the same vehicle. We both have to use the booster several times a week. We both took it to the dealer and were told nothing is wrong. There is clearly a design flaw in the system and it is really aggravating. I'm taking the car back tomorrow and plan to just leave it with the dealer until they fix it.
I agree with a design flaw but that is going to have to be solved at the manufacturer level and one can only hope that Kia receives enough complaints to make changes in future new cars.
 

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I never heard of a GPS tracker incase a car has to be repossed. Does any one know if it is widely used? Do alot of dealers do it for the bank?
 

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I never heard of a GPS tracker incase a car has to be repossessed. Does any one know if it is widely used? Do a lot of dealers do it for the bank?
More than likely it's the smaller used car lots that offer "buy here pay here". I would never expect a franchised new car dealer to do something like that. Not saying it's impossible, but highly unlikely.
 
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I never heard of a GPS tracker incase a car has to be repossed. Does any one know if it is widely used? Do alot of dealers do it for the bank?
I have heard of instances in Canada where a finance company has attached a GPS immobilizer for high risk borrowers, without their knowledge and that is a very grey area. The company has found that it encourages payment of the loan??
I expect if it becomes widespread the govt will step in and stop it.
 

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You may want to ask your Dealer if this applies to your vehicle

Technical Service Bulletin For Some Niro's concerning parasitic current draw


There have been a couple instance of malfunction door lock being reported as sources of current draw
Good to know. We've owned our 2018 Niro PHEV for almost 3.5 years. Do we get the auxillary charge message when not starting our car for several days? Yup, have been since day one of ownership. Has our 12 volt lead acid battery ever failed? Not yet. One thing I try to do is make certain all the car doors are fully closed after reading how many times that was the cause of an owner's dead battery. One thing's for sure, I'd be extremely nervous about leaving our car at an airport parking lot for 10 to 14 days. Nothing ruins a good vacation than coming back to a car that won't start. It would have been nice if Kia hadn't put this battery anxiety on their customers.
 

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Good to know. We've owned our 2018 Niro PHEV for almost 3.5 years. Do we get the auxillary charge message when not starting our car for several days? Yup, have been since day one of ownership. Has our 12 volt lead acid battery ever failed? Not yet. One thing I try to do is make certain all the car doors are fully closed after reading how many times that was the cause of an owner's dead battery. One thing's for sure, I'd be extremely nervous about leaving our car at an airport parking lot for 10 to 14 days. Nothing ruins a good vacation than coming back to a car that won't start. It would have been nice if Kia hadn't put this battery anxiety on their customers.
On my 2017 HEV there is a "fuse switch" inside the "inner fuse panel" located under the dashboard on driver side above the hood release lever. The manual recommends to turn the switch off for longer term parking just to prevent the discharge (some of the convenience features causing parasitic loads will be disabled: e.g. clock, radio, smart key, alarm).
 

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I have heard of instances in Canada where a finance company has attached a GPS immobilizer for high risk borrowers, without their knowledge and that is a very grey area. The company has found that it encourages payment of the loan??
I expect if it becomes widespread the govt will step in and stop it.
I was finalizing a deal on a new Elantra hybrid at Napleton Hyundai Carmel (Indinapolis) Indiana and the sticker had $500.00 adder on the dealer sidebar sticker for GPS locator. They said it's on every car they sell and wanted an additional $450.00 to remove it no credits back. I told them the car with the introductory comm package has GPS location why do I need another one? They said it was not for my use. I quit the deal and moved on to buying my Niro from Kia in Lawrenceville Kansas. BTW Napleton Hyundai has dealerships all over the country. That was my experience for what it's worth and I also get the battery drain message on my Niro but not too often.
 
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