Prius Personal Log  #28

May 18, 2002  -  May 29, 2002

Last Updated: Sun. 9/14/2003

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5-29-2002

Alternate Tires - Wet Roads.  It was raining fairly hard after work.  My opportunity to test the wet handling abilities of the new alternate tires had come.  So I took the long, twisty, hilly, slower way home.  That residential thruway was a perfect testing course.  I wasn't disappointed either.  Driving went very well.  The abrupt test stop I did during a downpour was pleasing too; the wheels didn't slip at all.  The decision to try these particular tires is really paying off.

5-28-2002

48 F Degrees.  Seeing that temperature yesterday and today on my morning commute is bumming me out.  Isn't it suppose to almost be Summer now?  You know, that season of great MPG and super-sweet-stealth.

5-26-2002

ARCHIVE messages now in digest format.  Archived messages 1 thru 25,999 from the Yahoo Group have been reformatted.  They've been combined into plain text files, each containing 1000 messages.  Working with just 26 files should be faster & easier than nearly 26,000.  And each ZIP file is now only 400 KB.

5-26-2002

Hindsight is 20/20.  Major improvements are sometimes easy to justify afterward, but a struggle initially.  Hybrids will likely fall into this category.  The DVD evolution was obvious to me back in 1995 when it was just an idea on paper.  Then when the first few DVD discs became available in 1997 and I bought a player, most people didn't have a clue what the benefits over pre-recorded VHS could be.  But 5 years later they do.  The explanations I provide now about hybrids bare a strictly resemblance to what I did with DVD, except for this new technology I'm far more passionate.  There's a definite benefit to everyone by reducing emissions & consumption.  Let the reign of hybrids begin.

5-27-2002

Speeding.  Every now and then I catch myself slipping above the speed limit on the highway.  There's no hesitation at all to slow down, since the moment you do the MPG immediately jumps way up.  Then when it settles down again, it's a bit higher because slower on the highway typically equates to better mileage.  That's always nice.

5-24-2002

Average MPG.  Speaking of Consumer Report's statistics, their average value (41 MPG) was lower than my lifetime (44.4 MPG).  Yes, I drive very efficiently, but I also live in a very demanding climate.  (Minnesota Winter's are MPG killers.)  So I consider my overall results a fair representation of the typical Prius owner.  Hopefully, people will discover this website and find the detailed information more helpful than the brief summaries most (unfortunately) media articles offer.

5-24-2002

How did they get 30 MPG?  That was the result of Consumer Report's latest city mileage test.  My guess is they must have not realized there was a bladder in the tank.  That could have affected the measurement, especially if there was a big temperature change between fillup and refill (a common occurrence in the Spring).  The worse mileage I ever got was 33 MPG during the Winter when I was taking photos, which meant a lot of very short drives and idling the engine just for the sake of keeping from freezing to death.  When I drive like a fool, racing from stoplight to stoplight, I still get close to 40 MPG.  I wonder what they did?  Maybe the tires were under-inflated too.

5-24-2002

Alternate Tires - No Surging Anymore.  The new alternate tires caused this rare behavior to disappear!  Owning one of the first Prius delivered in the United States meant not having the computer update to prevent surging (soft thrust changes) that can occur under very particular circumstances (with the hybrid system cold still, you need decelerate slightly to maintain 70 MPH while going down a minor decline).  There's a TSB (Toyota Service Bulletin) now that allows owners to get the update for free, if they want it.  I really didn't need it, so I thought I'd wait to see what happened.  Well, it turns out the original tires contributed to the surging.  Having replaced them altered the rolling resistance, making the surging under those circumstances not happen anymore.  Whoa!  That was an unexpected benefit.

5-24-2002

Alternate Tires - First Gas Tank.  So many variables.  With all those changes, it's hard to get a good judgment of performance.  MPG after several tanks can be really revealing, but I haven't driven far enough yet.  So all I have is the first 372 miles from today's fillup to work with.  The outcome of that was 44.8 MPG.  More is better.  But that's nothing to complain about, especially when I'm so pleased with ever other aspect of the new alternate tires.  Time will tell.

5-23-2002

He was checking out the Prius.  When I came out of the coffee shop, there was a guy drooling over my hybrid.  Then when I waved to get his attention, he got very excited.  He immediately started asking questions as I approached.  Seeing that kind of enthusiasm was wonderful.  Starting up resulted in awe over such a futuristic dashboard.  And of course, when the engine shut off a few seconds later, his attention peaked.  So I silently backed up, put my finger to my mouth to emphasize the stealth (he laughed), then quietly rolled away.  That was fun!  I bet I made one heck of an impression.

5-22-2002

That could have been a Nightmare!  I tried selling my Taurus today.  The state wouldn't allow it.  According to them, the loan had never been paid off.  Imagine having discovered that error while finalizing the purchase of my Prius.  Finding out my trade-in couldn't be accepted would have been a nightmare.  Now I'll just have to wait for the bank to send the paperwork.  Too bad I don't have a little more money available.  I could have paid off the Prius and technically called it the very first car I ever "owned".  Oh well, I'll have to admit I'm from the age before the hybrids... when monstrous, wasteful vehicles roamed the world.

5-21-2002

Alternate Tires - Lots of Regenerating.  The new alternate tires I just put on seem to be generating a lot more "E" values than I'm use to seeing.  It's probably only be a lucky coincidence, or maybe it's due to the higher rolling resistance of these tires requiring more electricity for acceleration.  The computer appears to be taking advantage of the hybrid design, giving the regenerator a workout to replenish the battery-pack.  Whatever the case, seeing six "E" values got me excited so I took a digital photo:  photo album 31

5-21-2002

It's fixed now.  The service people said that happens once in a blue moon (either that or it was my super-spider-strength).  It wasn't covered under warranty.  (Though I bet I could have contacted Toyota Service, rather than just accepting the decision of the dealer.)  Replacing the stud, washer, chrome lug, labor, and "supplies & hazardous waste fees" added up to $64.11.  I'll document this experience (under repairs), which makes me wonder how many little things other people deal with but just plain forget about as the years pass.  My Prius will be one of the few vehicles that will have every little detail readily available.  I hope I serve as a good baseline for others.

5-20-2002

The final drive.  When I got the Prius, I kept my 1994 Ford Taurus LX (with lots of options).  Just 6,000 miles earlier, I had put in a new engine, new suspension, new brakes, and a new windshield.  The transmission only had 28,000 miles on it.  There was no rust at all.  The paint and luster of the clearcoat finish was in fantastic condition.  In short, it was a great used car for a family member or friend to buy.  So I kept it.  That meant needing to occasionally drive it to keep the fluids circulated and prevent the tires from going flat.  It was a routine opportunity to do comparisons.  So I did.  Today was my last opportunity to do that though, since I'll be selling it in 2 days.  It was enlightening taking it on my routine commute, something I hadn't done in a awhile.  (It wasn't without amusement either.  I merged onto the highway next to a Prius.  That's figures.  Within just minutes of driving, I was already missing my hybrid.)  Handling didn't feel as good as in the Prius.  Not having the engine shut off at intersections was just plain frustrating.  I lost interest in MPG without any feedback available.  (It's amazing how much you end up missing the Multi-Display.)  And the brakes were a pain.  In the Prius, my stops consist of releasing the accelerator to allow the regenerator to slow the car.  Then two-thirds of the way through I step on the brake using the same pressure the accelerator requires.  In the Taurus, what used to be considered normal pressure, now feels like a huge effort.  Having to step that hard is absurd.  The Prius is still drivable missing a stud.  Saying goodbye to the Taurus will be very easy.

5-20-2002

Stopped at Toyota.  As I silently entered the work area, I was pleasantly greeted.  They setup the work, then found out the part wasn't available.  I'll be back tomorrow.

5-19-2002

The shifter isn't so unusual.  I saw a mint condition 1958 Chevrolet Bel-Air pull up beside me.  It was quite an impressive sight.  Then I noticed the weird position the driver had his arm in.  It was strangely hanging over the steering-wheel.  Looking closer, I realized he was holding a column shifter.  How odd!  Lots of people used to have to do that!!  I think I'll have to remind those that comment about the Prius shifter about that.

5-19-2002

Alternate Tires - Detailed Info.  We know the MICHELIN X-ONE and DUNLOP SPORT D60-A2 SP work well, but expanding the selection makes things even better for owners.  So I decided to research an alternative.  And yesterday, I opened up my checkbook.  Here's what I bought:  Goodyear Allegra, $54.98, 175/65R14, 81T speed rating, 44 PSI maximum, 1019 lbs. load maximum, A Traction, B Temperature, 560 Treadwear, 75000 mile life.  I'm running 42/40 (front/back PSI).  Removing the wheel and pulling that nail out of the tire will hopefully be the only unexpected events with these tires, but you never know.  Check my logs for updates.

5-19-2002

Oops!  I damaged my Prius.  I'm not afraid to admit I made a mistake.  I did today.  After pulling the nail out and putting the tire back on, I went for a drive around.  Then I stopped to retorque the lugs (all aluminum rims require secondary tightening).  I found out the hard way a human has plenty of strength in his/her arms alone to over tighten.  I broke the stud right off the car.  Now I'm down to just 3 lugs.  Oops!  Does the Prius have easily replaceable stems like some other traditional vehicles do?  If so, my incident should be no big deal.  Asking for help on the Prius Yahoo Group resulted in reassuring replies.  I'll find out soon from Toyota itself.

5-19-2002

Alternate Tires - I only got to enjoy them 1 day.  I was checking how the tire pressure was holding.  A glimmer of light reflected back from the rubber.  The new, deep tread had already picked up something.  Touching that spot revealed thick, hard metal.  Oh! Oh!  I jacked up the Prius (a surprisingly simple task) and took off the tire (an extraordinarily easy task, the aluminum spokes act like handles).  There was an imprint of a large nail head.  It had been ground off though.  That meant there was plenty of opportunity to push that nail deep into the tire.  So I deflated the tire and grabbed a tool.  Pulling on it seemed endless.  More and more nail kept coming.  Finally, 1.5 inches later it was out.  No leak?  It appears as though I was incredibly lucky.  Wish me luck.

5-18-2002

Alternate Tires - First Impressions.  Switching from low-rolling-resistance tires near the wear-limit to standard tires with new, rough tread is quite a change in itself.  Then you have to factor in the minor difference in revolution-size and the fact that I'm using a higher PSI.  Measuring the effect on MPG will be hard.  To make matters even more confusing, the most recent tank of gas was my best performing ever (52.1 MPG).  But I've started driving with the new alternate tires now.  Road noise is quiet, similar to the original tires.  Supporting the extra weight of the hybrid systems appears to be trivial, the sidewalls aren't bulging at all.  Handling is better.  It feels likes the tires are digging into the road rather than efficiently sliding over it.  Most people will label that as a welcome improvement.  I think I'm one of them.  According to the Multi-Display, MPG is around 3 to 5 lower.  It makes me crazy watching the MPG go down (47.1 after 104 miles).  But the car is still Super Ultra clean.  And stealth hasn't been lost, though it's a bit harder to achieve.  The important aspects are the tires are convenient to buy, they're less expensive ($20 lower each), and they will last quite a bit longer (an additional 45,000 miles).  In other words, my first impression is very positive.

5-18-2002

Encounter with an Insight.  It was silently waiting in the parking lot for a passenger.  The driver noticed me roll up, also silent.  Introductions weren't even necessary.  We both had hybrids.  That creates an instant bond.  Swapping stories was the priority.  Right away, I drew attention to my brand new alternate tires.  Since she had a little over 83,000 miles on her hybrid, that was a worthwhile topic.  But in the end, I was left with a question: does my choice match my expectation?  (That's why we have gatherings.  Answers aren't readily available... yet.  So just confirming that our efforts are helping is reassuring.)  She got excited when I mentioned I had encountered a Civic-Hybrid just a few blocks over a few hours earlier.  We chatted a little more, then parted.  Hopefully we'll see each other sometime soon.  I actually forgot to mention the upcoming gathering.  (Oops!)

5-18-2002

My first Civic-Hybrid sighting.  I was pulling up to a quiet intersection (just 2 minutes after getting the new alternate tires).  There in my rear-view mirror I noticed a tiny familiar shape (which I know well from the gathering).  When it got bigger, I confirmed it was a Civic-Hybrid.  It turned right.  So I did the same.  Then I punched it to get on the side.  That was followed by a series of honks.  The response was a bunch of waving hands.  They obviously appreciated getting noticed.  So I pulled in front.  Seeing I was in a Prius resulted in a big thumbs up from the driver.  When I got onto the off-ramp (the regular road we met on changed to a highway) the passenger in front made sure I saw him waving as I drove away.  That was cool!

5-18-2002

You still had plenty of tread left.  That was the first thing the tire guy said after putting the new ones on.  Then I explained that in just 3 weeks (1,000 miles from now) I was going on a 1,500 mile driving vacation.  Early replacement made sense then.  What I didn't tell him was I was also dying of curiosity.  Trying Goodyear tires have only been suggested, no one has ever tried it before.

5-18-2002

They couldn't resist.  The new alternate tires for my Prius weren't quite ready yet.  So I walked across the street for a coffee & donut.  From where I was, I saw 2 service people drive the Prius out from the garage.  They walked around it a few times.  Then they opened the hood.  Curiosity got the best of them.  

 

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