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After several months of wondering why the "empty warning" light flashed when I had almost half a tank of gas, my complaint to the selling dealer (B-way Toyota in Portland) yesterday brought the news that's the way the "bladder" reports and "nothing can be done."
I protest! Especially in view of the dire warnings in the owners manual, an accurate guage is essential for this vehicle. A call back and reengineering is required.
 

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johnson487682 said:
dcstar said:
... my manual does say I can drive 50KM+ on the battery (but it doesn't reccomend it).
I wouldn't trust that 50km number, because it doesn't match up with other out-of-gas stories I've heard. Let's use some sample numbers to get a theoretical maximum distance................
Trust me on this. THIS VEHICLE IS NOT CAPABLE OF TRAVELING 50KM ON BATTERY POWER!!! Read my posting above. From the time the ICE cut-out, I traveled about one mile before the battery was drained. Granted, I was doing 52 mph and the battery level was one bar above 1/2 full. I still should have been able to squeek out at least 5 miles if this 50km+ figure is accurate.
 

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lastmarx said:
that's the way the "bladder" reports and "nothing can be done."
We ran out of gas once in our '02 Prius. I was just entering the freeway when the low fuel indicator bonged at me. I figured I could make it 5 miles to drop my wife at work before gassing up. After about 2 miles, the gas ran out. I was able to drive at 40mph for 1/2 mile to the next exit, coast down the ramp, and pull off the road. Apparently we were victims of the infamous bladder.

We took it to the dealer, and they cleared the alarm code and told us not to worry about it, everything was fine. Now we take the low fuel warning bong to mean "GET GAS NOW!"

Sean
 

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On our recent car trip, we ran out of gas. We ran out of gas only 2-3 miles after the blinking began. Fortunately, we were able to make it another mile and a half to the next exit on battery alone (not good, I know). There have been news reports in our area that the ethanol gasoline has been affecting the gas sensors on some vehicles. (I ran out of gas in my Chevy van and I have an analog gauge with a low fuel light that had gone on a few miles earlier--I used to be able to go 80 miles after the low fuel light came on).

Has anyone else heard of this (or any other critical info) with ethanol? Our city is in a legal battle trying to stay the EPA requirement that all fuel sold here be of the ethanol added variety....
 

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Running out of Gas voided my warranty

I posted about this in the Prius General Discussion the other day, but I now see that here's where I should have joined in....

I ran my 2002 out of gas a few months ago without incident. I got the same scary lights and symbols everyone else here reports, and made it to a gas station just yards away.

Several weeks later, I brought it in to my dealership (Freeman Toyota in Santa Rosa, CA) because the hybrid system warning light showed up out of the blue. The light went off and didn't return for the technician, but he did see the codes telling him I ran out of gas. They claimed that this is why the service light must have appeared, performed no other action, and refused to warranty the 1 hour of service time. My car is still within the 3 year/36k warranty period. I felt cheated, but unsure about whether I had indeed committed some grave misdeed to my poor Prius, so I paid it.

Reading this thread, it seems running out of gas isn't as evil as all that, and I don't hear any stories of dealerships penalizing those of you who have run out of gas, all of which makes me wonder if I should dispute the fee.

I'd love to know what any thinks about this. Did any of you have to pay the same way I did? Is it really possible that the hybrid system warning light could come on temporarily because I ran out of gas several weeks before?

Thanks.
 

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Hi Eddie,
Hmm, nothing particularly technical about running out of gas. Perhaps you should have posted to the Business Practices discussion. Oops, there isn't one :)

This is not a Prius problem, it's a service center or customer problem (depending on which side of the counter you're on). It seems that a lot of complaints have been coming in by people who bought cars with long warranties expecting not to have to worry about paying for service for several years. With all the car's systems run by computer and all the information available to the computers boiled down into one check engine light, it's very hard for people to diagnose problems on their own anymore. So when you don't manage to get the gas cap on tight enough, you get the same light as when a serious engine problem occurs. The car manufacturer will reimburse the service department for the engine problem since it's covered under warranty, but won't reimburse them for the gas cap alert. So some service departments have been charging the customers for the work to read out and clear the codes. Naturally, customers aren't too pleased to be charged $80 just because they didn't tighten a gas cap.

This is an industry wide problem that car manufacturers and service departments are going to have to figure out. They better do it soon, because the news media are starting to pick up on this due to the growing number of very irate customers.

Seems to me like it wouldn't be too hard for service departments to have a drive up window where you could get an initial readout of codes for a nominal fee of $10 or so (free to good customers?). If it's something minor, they could just clear the code right there. They could give you a printout that you could use to schedule real service if needed and/or modifiy your behavior (tighten gas caps, fill up earlier, ...). The whole service could be done in about 5 minutes. But the service dept. would probably have to buy an extra scanner. I'm not sure if they could get by with one instrument for an entire manufacturer or if they would need one for each model. Thus the manufacturers would probably also be involved in this solution.
 

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RSnyder said:
...Seems to me like it wouldn't be too hard for service departments to have a drive up window where you could get an initial readout of codes for a nominal fee of $10 or so (free to good customers?). If it's something minor, they could just clear the code right there. They could give you a printout that you could use to schedule real service if needed and/or modifiy your behavior (tighten gas caps, fill up earlier, ...). The whole service could be done in about 5 minutes. But the service dept. would probably have to buy an extra scanner. I'm not sure if they could get by with one instrument for an entire manufacturer or if they would need one for each model. Thus the manufacturers would probably also be involved in this solution.
An excellent idea that could save dealerships and manufacturers a lot of haggling over wasted shop time, while improving their customer service.
Drive happy,
Moo :)
 

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Out of gas @ 416 miles? 50 MPG, 11.8 G. capacity

We love our (NOV) 2004 Prius and are averaging 52 this summer. But a few things are bothering me and any insight would be appreciated. If the tank starts full and we are averaging 50MPGs on that tank, then based on only 10 Gallons we should be able to travel 500 miles, and still have 1.8 gallons in the tank. However I ran out of gas at 416 miles. WHY? Is the computer miscalculating our mileage? I have manually calibrated the average and it jibes. It really annoys me that the car tells me I'm empty, I fill it up and it only takes 7 gallons. I realize that Fuel injection vehicles should not let the tank get empty but this is ridiculous. Something is very, very funny here.
After reading more in this thread, it seams that the bladder is the issue although I still I don't understand it very well.
I disagree with the comment that running out of gas is not technical, considering the unusual nature of this fuel tank and mystery of the 11.8 gallon tank.
 

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clearing the codes

I ran out of gas. The maintenence required light came on a few days later. We disconnected the battery in the back of the 2004 Prius for an hour and a half the other day to try to "clear the codes". Is that the right battery? The maintenence required light is still on so I wondered if it is OK to now take it to the dealership. I am worried that if there is a "this stupid idiot ran out of gas" code then my warranty will be voided. Please advise. I paid way too much for this car to have no warranty to go with it! Thanks!
 

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Re: clearing the codes

EcoMama said:
I ran out of gas. The maintenence required light came on a few days later. We disconnected the battery in the back of the 2004 Prius for an hour and a half the other day to try to "clear the codes". Is that the right battery? The maintenence required light is still on so I wondered if it is OK to now take it to the dealership. I am worried that if there is a "this stupid idiot ran out of gas" code then my warranty will be voided. Please advise. I paid way too much for this car to have no warranty to go with it! Thanks!
Disconnecting the 12v accessory battery for long enough should clear any stored codes.

The maintence required light will come on at about 4500 miles, and then go away. Once you hit 5000 miles, it'll stay on solid, until it is reset at your next service. (If your dealer forgets, or you go somewhere other than your dealer, you can do it yourself: http://www.vfaq.net/FAQ-screen.html#maintenance ) It's just to remind you that it's about time to get your 5000mile service.

You can ask the dealer to change the interval of the light to be something other than 5000 miles if you really want it as something different...
 
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