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Just wondered....Are there any "catastrophic" consequences of running out of gasoline with the Prius and restarting? :roll:

1,434 Posts
dzitlow said:
Just wondered....Are there any "catastrophic" consequences of running out of gasoline with the Prius and restarting? :roll:
Probably not, unless you continue to drive on electric mode. Once the car runs out of gas the ICE will, obviously, not start or run...but you're still in "drive" and the ECU sensing that the battery is draining and that you're depressing the accelerator will try to start the ICE by spinning MG1.

That accelerates the rate of energy drain from the battery even more than driving in electric only mode alone. Also, your protective system for the battery is defeated and you can force the HV battery to drain WELL beyond it's design specs (40% SOC). Thus, the warnings of damage to the hybrid system from Toyota.

So, if you run out of gas you can drive for a very short distance in electric mode...depending upon your speed you may be able to coast into a gas station, if the distance is very great at all it is more advisable to pull off the road.

An interesting thought occured to me while writing this.... If one has an EV button (use mod or standard outside NA), and you run out of gas, once your speed is slow enough it seems wise to try to go into EV mode. Obviously it will still kick out once you hit 3 bars on the battery SOC, but you may be able to delay that happening by disabling the attempts at ICE restart and thus safely increase the distance you can go on Electric mode alone.

1,661 Posts
dzitlow said:
Just wondered....Are there any "catastrophic" consequences of running out of gasoline with the Prius and restarting? :roll:
You won't get wife to hospital "in time" and baby will be born in the cargo area. or You won't make it to family Thanksgiving supper on time, and you'll have to deal with Mom about it.

Catastrophes, each and all. I think the latter is worse, though. So, I'd keep it above zero pips.

83 Posts
I ran out of gas on my first tank of gas!

It was the middle of winter and I was expecting a lot more mileage after the lights started blinking than what I got....

No problems starting back up when I added more fuel....

2,237 Posts
Great story, running out of gas

This Running out of gas story borrowed from Yahoo-Prius post.

My silver 2002 (Platypus) has run out of gas twice. The last time
happened a few weeks ago returning to New Jersey from a visit to
western Pennsylvania. I made a mistake not topping off before leaving
Pittsburg. I was travelling east on Route 80.

I don't reqcall quite where the fuel light started blinking. I must
have drove about 60 miles on empty. Not a good idea.

I thought I could make it to New Jersey.

I thought I could make it to Dover.

I thought I would just stagger across the state line . . . . which is
exactly what happened.

Just after crossing the Delaware to NJ, the gas motor stopped. Now,
in a hybrid car, the gas motor starts and stops all the time as the
motive power is handed off between the gas engine and the electric.
But this time I knew the jig was up. Sure enough, a moment later the
screen lights up with all sorts of warning lights with drastic
messages. You would have thought it was the end of the world.

"Hybrid System Failure"
"Power Steering Pump Failure".

There was a third one, but I can never remember it.

Before it was all over there was a forth one that I'd never seen
before: brake failure.

All the power assists are electric, you see.

Well, I decided I would continue until the car rolled to a stop and
then figure how to proceed. I was travelling at 70 mph whe the motor
failed, and the electric drive held the car between 60 and 70 for well
over a mile. Then the car slowed as the traction battery became

Then the computer shut down the system entirely to prevent the
traction battery from being damaged. So I wwas coasting. There was a
sign saying that exit 4A was 1/4 mile away. I didn't think I would
make it. The car was already slowing when the sign came up. 50-45-
40-35 . ..

I tuned on the blinkers.

I was rolling maybe 10 mph when the exit came up. It was an uphill
exit. I said, "I don't think we'll make it." But we came to the top
still moving, if barely. There we had to turn left and cross the
overpass over the highway. The gas station was on the other side.

I said, "I don't think we'll make it" and to tell the truth, I was
sweating gumdrops. I thought I'd have to get out and push. But we
were still moving, if barely. So I steered left and we started across
the overpass.

I tell you, I walk faster than that car was moving. And I don't walk
very fast at all. But moving, if only at a slow creep, the car
crossed the overpass.

On the other side I had to do another left and then a quick right to
get into the gas station. The car was moving so slow, I could have
stopped it by opening the door and putting my foot on the ground. I
thought "We'll stall in the middle of the intersection".

But I steered left and held my breath, and the car creeped across the
intersection. Then I steered right into the gas station. And when
the car finally stopped of its own accord, it was exactly infront of
the gas pump.

You may be asking, "Why didn't you stop for gas in Pennsylvania?"
Well, everywhere except New Jersey, gas is more expensive and you have
to pump it yourself.

New Jersey has cheap gas and self-service is not allowed. But this
was the first gas station in New Jersey. It was the most expensive
gas in New Jersey.

I think paid $1.92 for a gallon of regular.

I admit it was foolishness not to stop for gas sooner.

Platypus started promptly after fill-up (hint: you must re-boot) and
there was a little unacustomed jerkiness coming off a dead stop until
the traction battery was recharged, but by the time we got home (after
another 60 miles on I-80/280) it was fine and so far as I can tell, no
ill effects of my folly.

Next time, I promise, I'll gas up in Stroutsburg!

Is this story Great or What !! So please _do_not run out of gas in a Prius
you probably won't make it !

1,043 Posts
I mean no disrespect to anyone...but

when my immigrant father, with a 4th grade education, was teaching me to drive in his old 4th hand, beat up 1937 Plymouth, over 50 years ago, he gave me some very basic rules, in his lovable broken English:

1. When you drivin, you don do nuttin but drive, you don eat, you don smoke, you don drink (of course we didnt have phones)

2. Always tink other driver gonna make mistake, or do somethin crazy, so watch careful.

3. Sometime car break, but stupidest ting you can ever do is run out of gas.

(and there were far fewer gas stations)

928 Posts
An04Prius said:
. . .3. Sometime car break, but stupidest ting you can ever do is run out of gas.

(and there were far fewer gas stations)
So another "catastrophic consequence" is the severe damage to your pride.

157 Posts
No man's land

True cold war history story....

I was once on the way back from Prague to Berlin (1979) in a Beetle. I didn't want to buy gas in the Commie East, because it's expensive and you have to pay inflated hard currency prices. I had already paid a bribe to a Czech police officer after I hung a right into a streetcar tunnel (it looked like any other tunnel!). :oops:

As I approached Berlin on fumes, I ran out of gas in the so-called "transit zone" between "real" East Germany and Berlin. An East German "Volkspolizei" stopped...and was astounded that anybody would ever be so dumbkopf stupid as to run out of gas in such a place. It's actually illegal in many European countries to run'll get cited.

At some risk to himself, he took my money and can and went to get me some gas (he could have been in trouble for possibly taking a bribe).

I said "Thanks, now why don't you folks take down this wall?"

I am not making this up (except for the last line).

7,161 Posts
I doubt EV would engage with the car in a fail-safe condition, and if your dash is lit like a Christmas tree, you are indeed in failsafe mode.

You will deplete your HV battery more than normal, but the ECUs won't let you deplete it completely, as others have testified. It will shut down on you, which hopefully will clue you to not turn it on again until you get gas. Then it will start ICE and charge itself. If you keep pushing it, I suppose you would get to a point where HV will refuse to even engage system main relays, in which case a tech would have to somehow force it on with the scantool. However, repair manual instructs for battery to be replaced if depleted.
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