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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I am a new Prius owner (as of late August) and I haven't been reading these forums for very long, so I apologize if I'm asking a question that has already been over-discussed.

I have been getting great mileage in my new Prius (currently averaging over 55 mpg), but my one complaint is that the gas gauge doesn't seem to correlate with my actual usage.

I know that the car has an 11.9 gallon tank, but by the time I get down to the last "pip" I have only gone between 375-425 miles. Then when I fill up with gas, it only takes between 6.5-7.5 gallons. My "calculated mpg" is very close to my "screen mpg" so I'm pretty confident that I am actually getting the mileage that the car tells me I am.

However, in theory I should be able to go another 150-200 miles before I actually run out of gas, so I don't quite understand why the gas gauge reads so low. I'm sure there is some reserve left when the "pips" run out, but 1/3 of a tank? That seems like a lot of reserve. I'm not exactly willing to test the limits of how far I can go because I'm afraid of running out of gas and doing some damage to the car. But I'm curious if anyone else has noticed anything similar in their Prius. I recently took mine in for its 1000-mile check-up and mentioned this issue, but Toyota checked it out and said everything was fine.

It's not a huge problem (the only thing it's affecting is my frequency of trips to the pump!) but I'm just wondering if it really is normal.

Thanks in advance for any insight! :)

Allison
 

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We affectionaltely call it the "guess gauge"! :)
You are right, it is not very indicative of your gas usage. The first pip may give you 120 miles and the second 30. When you fill, fill very slowly until it shuts off. Then leave it. Don't try to squeeze in more or the bladder may spit it back out when you remove the hose. A nice system is the 9 gallon rule. Take you indicated mileage on the tank, multiply it by 9, and fill up when you get to that many miles. If you are getting 50 mpg, fill at 450 miled. If you are getting 45, fill at 405. Don't push it to the end of the tank. It's just not worth the hassle or the possible negative affect on the car if you run dry.
 

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For over a year now the predominate complaints about the Prius have been seat comfort and the fuel guage, If you are going to fool with the "pips" on the guage or a low fuel warning light you will probably be running out of gas and finding out that you may be able to drive as little as one mile on the battery. A good suggestion would be to treat the car as you did your previous and when you get to a little below half tank or 350 miles start thinking on filling up.
If you go back in history of this website you will discover more people who have run out of gas with this car than anything else on four wheels!, however if you use a little common sense you will never have a problem.
Use your odometer and forget the MFD.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks!

Well, I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one and that there's not something wrong with my particular "guess gauge." :)

I am a little paranoid of letting it get too low (this is my first car with a digital gauge, so I think that's part of it, too). I've been filling up right when I get down to the last one (or two) pips, if not before, but since they're so finicky I get scared that that last one might disappear at any moment...

I guess the best thing to do is just fill up every 400 miles or so. I was so wanting to brag to people that I got 600 miles on a tank of gas, but... I guess I'll survive. :wink:

Thanks!
Allison
 

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It is not a digital gauge. The pips only make it seem that way. It is an analog gauge. A pip does not inidicate a precise amount of gas...their display is an approximation, just like a needle dial.

The way I do it:
When the light blinks (or before), I get gas.

When the pump automatically clicks off, I stop filling.

ENJOY your great car. :)
 

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hyperion said:
A good suggestion would be to treat the car as you did your previous and when you get to a little below half tank or 350 miles start thinking on filling up.
I think this may be a bit too conservative for convenience. I have a commute that is 40 miles each way. For over a year, if I have at least 2 pips showing when I leave, I can make the 40 miles without the last pip ever flashing. This is true, even if I lose the 2nd pip one mile into my trip. One of the nice things about the Prius is that its range is much longer than almost any other car. I agree with you that you shouldn't push it to the limit though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
hyperion said:
Allison, you can still tell folks that your car will go 600 miles on a tank of gas. Just don't try to personally prove it.
Hmm, good point. :)

I have one other question (for everyone who has experienced it). What happens when gas starts getting really low? I have gotten down to one pip but it hasn't blinked. Does it just start blinking and then you know you better go straight to the gas station, or does it start blinking slowly, then faster, or does it change color, or anything like that? (These are the kinds of things I would like to know, but not from firsthand experience). :lol: Thanks!

Allison
 

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Allison said:
I have one other question (for everyone who has experienced it). What happens when gas starts getting really low? I have gotten down to one pip but it hasn't blinked. Does it just start blinking and then you know you better go straight to the gas station, or does it start blinking slowly, then faster, or does it change color, or anything like that? (These are the kinds of things I would like to know, but not from firsthand experience). :lol: Thanks!

Allison
The last pip starts blinking, you hear a 'beep' and a temporary banner appears on the MFD reading 'LOW FUEL'. (The MFD banner disappears after a few seconds.) You will get the beep and banner every time you restart the car until you fill up; and the last pip will also continue to blink. There is no 'more urgent' warning than blinking pip.
 

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Allison said:
hyperion said:
Allison, you can still tell folks that your car will go 600 miles on a tank of gas. Just don't try to personally prove it.
Hmm, good point. :)

I have one other question (for everyone who has experienced it). What happens when gas starts getting really low? I have gotten down to one pip but it hasn't blinked. Does it just start blinking and then you know you better go straight to the gas station, or does it start blinking slowly, then faster, or does it change color, or anything like that? (These are the kinds of things I would like to know, but not from firsthand experience). :lol: Thanks!

Allison
I routinely drive until the last pip blinks. I usually can put in 8-8.5 gallons at that point. That's life on the wild side for me. :twisted:
 

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Hi Allison...

I recently did all of the above :roll:

I too wanted the 600 mile fillup. If you ever watched Seinfeld with Kramer and the new car salesman passing gas station after gas station on an empty tank that was me.I was however on my way to the gas station and ran out about a mile and I made it on battery power alone.I wouldnt recomend this to anyone but I thought I was safe since the mpg's were at 62.And with every car I've ever owned I have always wanted to "know" just how everything acts.At 652 miles I ran out The display read something like engine failure and ALL the lights in the dash lit up. You want to talk about an adrenalin rush? The last pip starts to flash and I got almost a hundred miles on it.My gauge has been fairly consistant but it is difficult to "fill" the tank.From what I can see, there is a rubber seal around the opening so diaplaced air cannot escape.I think this is why we have to fill sooo slow.I found out that it can take 5 minutes just to put 8 gallons in the car.This does get me looks from drivers that are thinking "fill it already"They think that I am trying to fit another penny when in fact I am probably only half full! The day I ran out of gas the pump was cutting out at 1 dollar! And I had to go unusually slow to fill it.I'm talking not even the first notch on an automatic pump! I have tried every angle imaginable and it still cutts out at barely a trickle.I will bring this up at the dealership.I have been filling up at 150 miles and I'm still at the pump a long time.Dunno if anyone else is having a similar experience.It wasnt that way when I first bought the car.My first first 3 fill ups were pretty quick.

Welcome to the board it's a fun place to check and a fun car to drive. :D

Regards,Ed
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Re: Hi Allison...

edlambert said:
My gauge has been fairly consistant but it is difficult to "fill" the tank.From what I can see, there is a rubber seal around the opening so diaplaced air cannot escape.I think this is why we have to fill sooo slow.I found out that it can take 5 minutes just to put 8 gallons in the car.
Hi Ed,

Thanks for your reply. This is actually pretty interesting. I just filled up my tank last night, and I had to put in more gas than I expected - about 8.5 gallons. That worked out to about 46 mpg on this last tank, but my screen said that I got 55.5 mpg. Given what you said, I wonder if maybe I didn't completely fill my tank the last time I put gas in. Maybe next time I will go slower and see what happens.

As a side note, I am definitely enjoying my new car. :D I only wish I had bought it sooner! Our other car is a Corolla, which my husband drives. I've driven it to work a couple times since getting the Prius (so he could show off the Prius at his work) and I can't stand how it drives (idling at stoplights, etc.)!! It never bothered me before, but now I don't think I can ever go back to a normal gas engine. When it's time to get rid of his car, I think we'll be getting another Prius... :)

Allison
 

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I've been experimenting over the last little while with the best way to fill the tank up on my Prius- slow fills, fast fills, shaking the car, etc, etc.. The method I've found that is most convenient and most consistently fills the tank is to put only the first 1/2" or so of the nozzle in the filler, then fill up full speed like you would any other car. The filler should still stop automatically, but be careful when rounding up to an even price as you have much less room with the Prius than any other car.. You do still have to be careful and watch as you fill as it doesn't take much to dislodge the nozzle if you've only got 1/2" in the filler, and occasionally, you may find a nozzle that doesn't stop, so you'll want to slow down the fill rate as soon as you hear the gurgle of gas in the upper filler tube and especially if you hear a whistle of escaping vapor, but I've found that I can get the same fill level (ie, right "up to the brim" if I want) with this method as I would get with the alternate method of putting the nozzle in all the way and filling at a dribble..
 

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c4 said:
I've been experimenting over the last little while with the best way to fill the tank up on my Prius- slow fills, fast fills, shaking the car, etc, etc.. The method I've found that is most convenient and most consistently fills the tank is to put only the first 1/2" or so of the nozzle in the filler, then fill up full speed like you would any other car. The filler should still stop automatically, but be careful when rounding up to an even price as you have much less room with the Prius than any other car.. You do still have to be careful and watch as you fill as it doesn't take much to dislodge the nozzle if you've only got 1/2" in the filler, and occasionally, you may find a nozzle that doesn't stop, so you'll want to slow down the fill rate as soon as you hear the gurgle of gas in the upper filler tube and especially if you hear a whistle of escaping vapor, but I've found that I can get the same fill level (ie, right "up to the brim" if I want) with this method as I would get with the alternate method of putting the nozzle in all the way and filling at a dribble..
Not to bring up this kettle of fish again, but you are probably defeating the vapor recovery system of the pump, and putting unnecessary, and unhealthy vapors into the air we breath.
 

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I usually put in at least a gallon after first stop, with removing the nozzle at each .2 gallons after first stop.

I have gotten 700+ miles on a tank twice, this past tank being the latest where I got 701 miles @ 59MPG on MFD, filled up 12.2 gallons. I consider the blinking pip to indicate 1 gallon left, though it is more like 1.5 gallons for me. I drove 62 miles on the blink.

When last pip goes blinking, banner says 'Add Fuel'. When you run out (did that once :oops: ) the display shows PROBLEM with the icon of a car and an ! in the middle.
 

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If you live in hilly country, a blinking pip can represent very nearly empty. Accelerating up a hill will uncover the intake in the bottom of the tank and you can stall.
 

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I didn't know there was a 1,000 mile "check-up" - what did they do? I just got my regular 5,000 mile check-up. They didn't say anything was wrong.

Also - is running the car without any gas damaging? I ran out on a long trip (Seinfeld/Kramer experience), and got about half or three-quarters of a mile on the battery alone before I could pull off safely and stop the car.

Got the <!> symbol and screen readout others have mentioned but it all went away after I put some gas in, and it operated normally.
 

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My guess gage

Depending on how much gas I stuff in the tank at fillup (more in summer/warm weather, less in winter/cold weather), my first pip will go out anywhere between about 70 and 150 miles. I average about 115 in the summer and about 70 in the winter. The one time I accidentally spilled gas from the tank, I went 185 miles before the first pip vanished. From this point on, I lose one pip about every 30 miles. I never risked going to the blinking pip yet... I've never been able to put more than about 10 gallons in the tank. I don't really care if I have to fill up every 2 weeks instead of every month...
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
mr.fadedglory said:
I didn't know there was a 1,000 mile "check-up" - what did they do?
I think all they did was change my oil. I only did it because it was free and they gave me a loaner car to drive to work that day, so I figured I might as well... I've never taken any of my previous cars for any of their mileage checks, but since this car is so different I might think about doing it.

I don't know if you can damage the car by running out of gas, but it seems like something to avoid. However if everything seems fine, then it probably is!

Allison
 

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mr.fadedglory said:
Also - is running the car without any gas damaging? I ran out on a long trip (Seinfeld/Kramer experience), and got about half or three-quarters of a mile on the battery alone before I could pull off safely and stop the car.

Got the <!> symbol and screen readout others have mentioned but it all went away after I put some gas in, and it operated normally.
IMH OpInIoN: It is never wise to risk running out of gas.
 
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