Prius Owner Advice #1

Last Updated: Sun. 10/19/2003


This information is a summary of Prius Owner questions, answers, comments, and suggestions.



Just Drive It     back to top

Ignore all the advanced technology!

It's too easy to get preoccupied with everything Prius automatically does for you, especially with such the Multi-Display providing constant performance information.  The hybrid was designed so you could to drive it like a traditional car.  That way, you can enjoy the remarkably smooth & quiet ride.  Let the computer worry about how to save gas and reduce emissions.  But... if you absolutely insist on knowing more, check out this page:  how it works


Startup     back to top

There's no need to hold the key.

The user-manual states to turn the key and hold it until you hear a beep.  Realistically, you can actually let go of the key immediately.  Once the computer accepts your request, the engine will startup after preparation is complete.  Think of it as clicking a button on a computer-mouse.  The catch is you must still wait for the "READY" prompt before shifting into Reverse or Drive.


Cruising     back to top

A beneficial technique for efficient cruising is to feather the accelerator pedal at particular times.

Learning to do this is simple and will quickly become second nature with very little practice. (In fact, you may already have that foot control if you in-line skate or bicycle occasionally.) To do it, just lightly reduce pressure on the accelerator-pedal whenever you encounter a section of road thatís perfectly flat or has a slight decline. The MPG indicator will sometimes jump all the way to the +100 mark, even though your speed ends up dropping only 1 MPH. Then lightly push the accelerator-pedal to efficiently regain that speed afterward. Overall, MPG will climb a little bit when each time you do that.

Youíll end up taking advantage of the hybrid design. Changes in the road pitch naturally cause changes in speed anyway. Using the multi-display and large digital speedometer helps you discover when gains from that are possible.


10% Ethanol Mix Gas     back to top

90% Gasoline mixed with 10% Ethanol, known as E10, will not harm any part of the Prius fuel or emission system.  Owners in the metro area of Minnesota, where E10 is required by law, have used this type of fuel in their Prius for years without experiencing any problems at all.  So there is no need for concern


Low-Sulfur Gas     back to top

Without the loss of performance or power, low sulfur gasoline helps to reduce emissions by preventing efficiency loss within the catalytic-converter (a pollution control device) due to sulfur build up.  This also extends the life of the emission components.

In the Minneapolis/St.Paul area of Minnesota, extremely low sulfur gasoline (only 20 ppm) has been sold at Holiday Stations for the same price as other gasoline since September 1999.  For more information, refer to


Running Out Of Gas     back to top

Don't ever do it !!!

Not having the engine available makes driving a Prius using just electricity very risky.  Without gasoline it is very easy to push the motor & battery-pack beyond the tolerances they were designed to operate.  The motor is never suppose to exceed 42 MPH (68 km/h) all by itself and the battery-pack is never suppose to be fully depleted.  Avoiding running out of gas will insure the mechanical & electrical components won't overheat and the battery-pack provides the longest life possible.

Since the Prius can go quite a bit further between fill-ups than most vehicles, there's really no reason you should ever run out of gas anyway.  But if you do, drive very slowly to get out of harm's way.  Then call the customer-care phone number Toyota provided as part of the warranty; they will provide enough gasoline for you to drive to a gas station.


Engine Braking     back to top

This is the "B" mode for driving rather than "D".

It works like a "Jake Brake" on a large truck.  The engine is used to slow down the vehicle.  There is no charging benefit over regular braking.  It just allows you to reduce how much you rely on the brake pads & shoes.  So for steep declines, like driving down a mountain, it's a great way to avoid overheating the brakes.


MPG Measurement     back to top

LIFETIME is the most useful measurement.  Total miles driven, divided by total gallons consumed, informs you how efficiently the car has performed overall.

TANK is the measurement between each fill up.  You press the RESET button when the tank is full.  The results are informative, but not perfectly accurate.  In cold weather, the bladder inside the gas tank shrinks.  This reduces the overall capacity making the "full" level variable.  Also, "full" can be misrepresented if the pump doesn't shut off at the proper time.  These factors make calculations based on fill-up less accurate.

TRIP is mostly for fun, since a multitude of variables can affect the measurement to a single destination.  Watch the 5-minute summary segments shown on the multi-display.  Remember though, if you were to start a drive downhill, with a tail wind, a warm engine, a fully charged battery-pack, and a warm outside temperature, the MPG would be very impressive for that particular trip.  But then if the return trip back was uphill, against the wind, with a cold engine, a drained battery-pack, and a cold outside temperature, the MPG would appear very disappointing.  In summary, trip results can vary greatly.  The overall average is what really matters.


Yahoo Group & Club     back to top

The Yahoo Group is a fantastic way of sharing information about the Toyota Prius.  Daily messages are posted asking questions, providing answers, and sharing experiences.  Please visit this website and choose to either participate directly online or receive emails of posted messages. 

The Yahoo Club still exists, but it is not used anymore.  Owners prefer using the much larger Group instead.


Polish / Wax     back to top

I recommend "Nu Finish".  7 salty Minnesota Winters and 106,000 miles (170,590 km) later, the shine on my Taurus was almost unbelievable.  The glossy finish still looked great.  One application in the Fall and one in the Spring is all I've ever had to do to accomplish that.

The polish is quite odd though.  When you wipe the dried residue off, it actually leaves lightly faded streaks for the first few days.  Then it disappears and turns rock solid.  That nice polished look lasts for 6 months, getting me through an entire Winter.  But be careful not to spill it on an unpainted surface.  I dropped a blob on my driveway once.  A whole year later, it was still there!  So you can imagine how well it protects.

In between polishes, just wash as normal.  The hot liquid wax commonly sprayed on by automatic car-washes won't harm the glossy finish.


Multi-Display Care     back to top

The best way to remove fingerprints from the touch-screen is actually simpler that some owners realize.  You don't need a special solvent or material.  Just a plain old soft cotton fabric, like an old clean t-shirt, and some purified drinking water is all you need.

Also, make sure to only clean when the Multi-Display is off.  This will make the fingerprints easy to see and will prevent the "Reset" button from accidentally being pushed.


Extended Storage     back to top

Disconnect the small 12-volt battery.

It is helpful to disconnect the small, auxiliary 12-volt battery on the driver side in the trunk.  With it disconnected, there will no longer be a drain from the alarm system.  (Make note of the radio buttons you have programmed.  You'll need to manually restore them after reconnecting the battery.) 

Draining the 273.6-volt battery-pack while in long-term storage is never a concern.  When you shut off the Prius, an electric relay is deactivated.  So it isnít even connected to the rest of the system until you turn the key again.


back to home page       back to top