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Discussion Starter #61
I finally filled up the tank (was sick last week and not driving as much as usual). My real mpg (#miles driven/#gallions input at gas pump) was 41.9. The display on the car said it was 43.0. That is the first time I have been over 40 MPG since taking possession of the car last Sept.

Here is the interesting part... I have been doing everything I know to do (many from suggestions of the people in this discussion board) and with tirres inflated, warming up the car before driving, driving slower, accelerating and deaccelerating slower, etc, etc -- I am still getting less mpg than the average person who is not doing anythig to enhance their gas milliage. I have even been driving with the airconditioning off but windows not open for short trips (sometiems uncomfortably hot) to help enhance milliage.

I really do feel that I have somehow gotten a lemon, because my car just is not performing like what I read the rest of you guys experiencing.

Does anyone know anything about the Lemon law? I believe there is some sort of law that requires a manufactorer to fix a problem and if they can't fix it after X tries, then then have to provide a new car that works properly. I would be very intersted in getting more details, as my previous experiences with Toyoto dealers have not been encouraing. I am also going to take it to a dealer that is over an hour drive away form my houes who is suppoed to have on of the best repair crews for Prius's and see if maybe they can help.

I would prefer to get my current car fixed than to get a new one, as this one is an unusual one with the tan interrior and the black exterrior (and most black exterriors come with gray interriors). Not sure how mine ended up that way colorwise, but it did. But the whole reason we bought this car was for performance at the pump.. and it doesn't seem to be capable of delivering more than 42 mpg no matter how carefully I drive it...
 

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In California, start with the Bureau of Auto Repair:

http://www.smogcheck.ca.gov/stdhome.asp

California lemon law page:

http://ag.ca.gov/consumers/general/lemon.htm


I am not certain which will apply, if any. It will be hard to prove that the car is at fault, but worth a look and try.

(FWIW: I put new tires on my car about 1100 miles ago and my mileage since has dropped to about 46 from a norm of 49-51. No other changes except for the tire upgrade was made.

And, now the temps in SoCal are 10 degrees warmer...)

Walt
 

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Did you have the car's nominal operating temperature compared to specs? If the engine doesn't get warm enough, such as if the thermostat was stuck open, it may never get to its most efficient operating mode, but may not be low enough to cause an error.
 

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t.e.s said:
I would prefer to get my current car fixed than to get a new one, as this one is an unusual one with the tan interrior and the black exterrior (and most black exterriors come with gray interriors). Not sure how mine ended up that way colorwise, but it did. ...
I thought ALL black Prii came with gray interior ? (I guess I'm wrong)

Good luck.
 

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Have you checked to make sure your brakes are not dragging?

PA P
 

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t.e.s said:
I finally filled up the tank (was sick last week and not driving as much as usual). My real mpg (#miles driven/#gallions input at gas pump) was 41.9. The display on the car said it was 43.0. That is the first time I have been over 40 MPG since taking possession of the car last Sept.

Here is the interesting part... I have been doing everything I know to do (many from suggestions of the people in this discussion board) and with tirres inflated, warming up the car before driving, driving slower, accelerating and deaccelerating slower, etc, etc -- I am still getting less mpg than the average person who is not doing anythig to enhance their gas milliage. I have even been driving with the airconditioning off but windows not open for short trips (sometiems uncomfortably hot) to help enhance milliage.
FWIW, since someone else mentioned Consumer Reports, if memory serves, when they reviewed the current gen of Prius, they got 35 city, 50 highway and 44 mpg overall.

My tires are only a few PSI over what's on the car's sticker. I don't warm up my car but I do adjust my driving habits to try to get better mileage and I do attempt to pulse drive when and where it's safe and where there are no cars behind me. I don't use my AC unless it's hot out.

I suspect that many posters here and on priuschat probably have adjusted their habits at least a litle ever since buying their Prius.

If you used AC during the winter, the colder weather combined w/the AC is a reasonably explanation for not very good economy during the winter.

If I were closer the South Bay to I'd be willing to give your Prius a brief test drive to see if things way off from mine (at least from MFD readings).
 

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t.e.s.

How many miles do you have on your vehicle? There is a "softening up" period, that is about 10k in length or a little more. I don't like calling it break-in because modern engines are broken in on the testing bench long before then end up in vehicles. However, most of the other components of the vehicle are all new and unused and require some settling in mileage.

I am convinced you do not have a lemon. I am lucky to get 41mpg average through the late fall, winter and early spring. Mornings are just too cold and my commute too short, and mostly downgrade, for the vehicle to reach optimum temperatures. As such my ICE doesn't shut off until I'm nearly to work, as a specific example of cold weather operations. It is a lot colder up here in the winter than most parts of N Cal. We also have oxygenated fuels during the winter. I hate them. They also kill FE averages and with the first tank you use.

The following link is my car's lifetime FE. As you can see, I'm not doing bad, but not nearly as good as others. I've come to accept that with regard to the topography of where I live, the climate, my commute and possibly the quality of fuel I'm using.

http://www.greenhybrid.com/compare/mileage/car/442.html

Speaking of fuel. There are some folks that only use Top Tier fuels which are only available at your major, and most expenisve, brand stations. If somebody wants to comment on that please do. I will continue fueling up with Costco or Safeway fuel for the time being.

Oh, and have you thought about finding or asking a Prius pilot in your area to drive your car and see what kind of mileage they get? Sometimes that shows differences in FE based on differences in driving style.
 

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If the travel distances are often short, that would be true. But t.e.s. seems to have tried decent distances and still gets low mileage. During this time of the year, the ICE and O2 sensor should warm up quickly and get to S4. If the thermostat is stuck open, ICE may not be able to reach optimal temperature, but close enough to not trigger Check Engine. Since the operating temp is still low, the hybrid system doesn't reach optimum mode of operation and will tend to run the ICE more than necessary.

I say give it an hour run on the highway, then see what the engine/coolant operating temperature is using a scanner. Then report back and we'll compare to specs.
 

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Discussion Starter #70
I say give it an hour run on the highway, then see what the engine/coolant operating temperature is using a scanner. Then report back and we'll compare to specs.
That sounds like a great idea, Dan, except that I don't have a scanner. I am not a mechanic type of person and neither is my husband. Is that something that could be done easily/cheaply at a local gas station? If it is, then I will do it. Otherwise, I don't have the necessary equipment...

[It is really difficult to get to the dealer cuz it is an hour drive away when no traffic (about 2 hours in commute traffic) and they say I need to be there before 7:00 AM or I will have to sit around their dealership all afternoon waiting fo rmy car's turn to be looked at by the one mechanic they have who specializes in the prius. I probably won't be able to do this until after the 4th of july weekend, but when I do go to the dealer, I am planning to tell them your theory that perhaps the thermostate is stuck open and the engine is not reachign the optimal running tempertature for s4.]
 

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Any gas station that can service modern cars should be able to read the ICE coolant temp with a generic scanner. I doubt even a dealer would understand about stage S4. Just say you don't think the car is able to get to its most efficient mode of operation and you think it might be the coolant temp not getting hot enough.
 

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t.e.s said:
I probably won't be able to do this until after the 4th of july weekend, but when I do go to the dealer, I am planning to tell them your theory that perhaps the thermostate is stuck open and the engine is not reachign the optimal running tempertature for s4.]
You don't have to be in S4 to check the thermostat.

The normal thermostat opens at about 82 C.
During the first S1 stage, the warm up is done up to 50C in one minutes or more.
The radiator is still cold during the nornal warming up.
If you feel it warm, the thermostat is stuck.

[email protected]
 

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I live in the Bay Area (Pacifica) and have a somewhat similar commute that you do (1.5 to 2 mile climb up a steepish hill, then mostly flat freeway driving with some moderate hills). I'm averaging 43 to 45 MPG overall for my tanks. However, my commute is 32 miles to work, so I do get the advantage of running longer at freeway speeds than it sounds like you do. I do know that the hill I have to go up (Sharp Park Road) can significantly affect my milleage. And even though I do recapture a lot of energy when I go down the hill at the end of the day (I typically have 8 green bars by the time I reach the bottom of the hill), I know that there is no way I'm recapturing all of the energy I spent getting up that hill earlier.

You noted that you have your A/C set to 80 on hot days, and 70 on cold ones. Is your car kicking into defrost mode in either of those conditions? I found that my milleage would dramatically drop and the engine would continue to run at stops if I was in defrost mode. I also found that the engine would continue to run when my A/C temp set point was significantly lower than the outside temp, or the cabin was really really hot. Adjusting the A/C temp up a few degrees usually resulted in the engine not running as often, but was still comfortable inside. I typically run my A/C between 72 and 75 degrees. I leave the A/C in auto mode and adjust the temp up down to get a reasonable amount of airflow directed at my face (I like a decent breeze on my face) at a comfortable temp setting.

It is entirely possible that something is wrong with the car and it is using too much gas for some reason. As others have posted, it's possible the emergency brake is dragging. One possible way to correct this is to push down as far as you can when you apply the parking brake. Then hit the parking brake again to release it, and let it rapidly come up. Doing this a couple of times may be enough to release the stickyness.

In order to invoke the lemon law in normal circumstances, you need to have had a problem with the car that requires at least 3 repairs on the same part of the car within a certain time frame (1 or 2 years, if memory serves). So far it sounds like you haven't had any repairs done to the car that would allow you to invoke that part of the law. Typically, low gas milleage isn't normally considered a lemon law trigger, unless it's really really really low, and I don't know what the threshold is for that.

Is there anyone else in your neighborhood with a Prius? If so, you might try talking to them to see what sort of milleage they are getting. And do you gas up at the same place everytime? If so, it's entirely possible that the gas at the station, especially if it's an off-brand place, is bad or marginal.

Also, try using a brand-name gas, like Chevron, Shell, or 76, for a few tanks to see if that has any improvement. At least in my neighborhood, I'm finding that the brand-name gas stations are as cheap (and sometimes cheaper) than the independant places. And I'm willing to spend upwards of an extra dime a gallon (which is only a buck more for a tank) for the better brands of gas if I have to. Note, I'm not suggesting you use 89 or 91 octane gas in the car. Using those grades can actually hurt your gas milleage in a car that is designed to run on regular 87 octane.

Good luck with the car.
 
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