Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Bolton, Connecticut
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Re: 2003 Prius Question
I know nothing really about the first generation Prius (2001-2003) other than it seems to have a large, awkward shifter coming out of the dashboard. That said, I don't know if the shift positions are the same as on the 2nd generation Prius (2004-2009) which I do know about.
In the 2nd generation, if you're not moving but want to keep the car running, you use "P" for park to keep the batteries (high voltage & 12V) charged. Otherwise if you're in neutral, nothing gets charged & any accessories that are on & draw power could cause your batteries to get depleted, therefore causing the car to shut down with possibly no ability to re-start without the use of a jump start (which if not done properly, could possibly cause a repair bill in the neighborhood of $4,000 if the power inverter gets fried.
Also, in the 2nd generation, if you use "B" (brake) mode (the other position you inquired about), it has nothing to do with setting a parking brake, but the batteries will still charge & the car can still roll forward into something if your foot slips off the regular footbrake (if you haven't set the parking footbrake---using "P" will NOT let the car roll even if neither footbrake is used because that engages the parking pawl into the transmission). "B" is used mainly to help control the car's speed or help slow it down on a long downhill incline (thus saving some wear on the brake pads & shoes). And you can only get into "B" by being in "D" already. So use "P" in the example you described.
Ken (in Bolton,Ct)
Ken (in Bolton,Ct) 2005 Pkg #4 (AM)