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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So here's the situation as far as I know it. We live in Tacoma, WA and my wife is going to some flying training in southwestern oklahoma. Today she was heading from our house to Salt Lake City and 3 miles past the Oregon/Idaho state line she said she got a red triangle with an exclamation point something that looked like it was for oil and "some other light" and the car stopped running and she coasted to a stop on an offramp. At this point she didn't know what had happened and she called me and I got her a number to a dealership who came and towed her.

After we got the tow in route I asked her what had happened. She said that she had been getting around 46 mpg and had gone 480 miles on that tank, that she had gotten the add fuel beep and message and then 5 miles later the car died. When they towed the car in and ran the diagnostic the only thing that came up was that she ran out of gas. The dealer put in 4.6 gallons of fuel and she put in 5.9 gallons. Actually she was in Oregon so someone else put in the 5.9 gallons and apparently they had a difficult time getting it to go in without the pump clicking so they turned the pump handle upside down. So they were only able to get in 10.5 gallons.

So has anyone ever experienced this or heard anything like this in the past? She was driving when she got the add fuel notice and she was on the phone and she remembers very specifically that it wasn't long after the notice that she ran out of fuel. This just seems very odd to me all the way around. What do you think?
 

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What is odd about running out of gas shortly after the car tells you that you are running out of gas?
 

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Well, she only got 5 miles after the blinking, that's a little odd. I've never had a car that was THAT stingy about the 'low gas' warning. (Heck, two tanks ago, I went 80 miles on the blinking pip.)

I can see complaining that she didn't fill up when it told her, but with only 5 miles, on Interstate 84 in Eastern Oregon, you can easily go 30 miles between exits, much less between gas stations.

And as a new Prius driver, 'knowing' that it has a 12 gallon tank, and seeing the display say 45 mpg at 480 miles, one can't fault her for thinking there is over a gallon left.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
KTPhil said:
What is odd about running out of gas shortly after the car tells you that you are running out of gas?
I routinely go 50 to 75 miles after the add fuel warning. That she was only able to go 5 miles past that warning is odd to me. I'm wondering if something else is wrong here.
 

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That fact that foolish behavior doesn't always have negative consequences is not a logical justification for the foolish behavior. Scientists have a name for this behavior.. it's called Russian routlette.
 

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You said that she put on 480 miles at 46 MPG. That is over 10 gallons depleted. The bladder in the Prius gas tank limits many people to about 10 gallons of "real" capacity (sometimes even less). I'm not suprised that she ran out of gas.

After she completes her flying lessons, I'm sure she will have a MUCH different view on running out of fuel!
 

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KTPhil said:
That fact that foolish behavior doesn't always have negative consequences is not a logical justification for the foolish behavior. Scientists have a name for this behavior.. it's called Russian routlette.
wow...that's pretty harsh.

So a mistake was made. It happens. I am guessing that a lesson was learned as well.

To the original poster. Sorry that happened.
 

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Much as I bag on Hyp over American car quality, I am 100% with him on the "oops I did it again" out-of-gas posts. Just because the gauge is digital does not mean it is any more accurate. It seems only in the Prius do people try to eek out that last mile or so. Think about the math, one mile at 50mpg is only about 5 tablespoons of gas. Would you dream of cutting it that clsoe in any other car?

The rules about filling and gauce accuracy are not suspended for hybrid vehicles. Running your tank past the "add gas" indications is asking for trouble.
 

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I think Prius drivers have a problem in adding gas at the proper time as a general rule. There seems to be a desire to get down as low as possible, this seems somewhat unique to the Prius community - not sure why. Anyway, it is best to never let any gas tank get below 1/4! The fuel is used to cool the in-tank fuel pump and when it is lower than this you are subjecting the pump to extra wear and premature failure.
 

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kirby said:
I think Prius drivers have a problem in adding gas at the proper time as a general rule. There seems to be a desire to get down as low as possible, this seems somewhat unique to the Prius community - not sure why. Anyway, it is best to never let any gas tank get below 1/4! The fuel is used to cool the in-tank fuel pump and when it is lower than this you are subjecting the pump to extra wear and premature failure.
Yeah, I am still buying gas 'the old way'. As in, I never let it get below a half tank. I have been like that for years, and see no reason to stop.

Sides, if I was on a real long road trip, and with the MPG this car gets, 300 miles would be a good place to stop and shake out the legs anyway.
 

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:roll: Flying Training..? One thing she may learn regarding aircraft fuel tanks... You have "useable" fuel which is a bit less than the full fuel tank capacities. Treat your Prius like a light aircraft.

The Prius "GUESS gauge" is squirrely enough that it's unwise to temp fate by trying to run it too dry. Be happy there was nothing harmed other than suffering the inconvenience of a tow. I always fuel up at the last "pip" unblinking.
 

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I like John's 9X rule. Take the MPG you are getting on this tank, multiply by 9, and fill up when you get to that many miles. Getting 50 mpg? Fill at 450. Getting 48? Fill at 432. Getting 60? Teach me how. Then fill at 540. 8)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
KTPhil said:
That fact that foolish behavior doesn't always have negative consequences is not a logical justification for the foolish behavior. Scientists have a name for this behavior.. it's called Russian routlette.
Is that supposed to help? This is not the first long trip, this is not the first time (by far) that we've gone more than 5 miles past the add fuel beep. You're saying that's something that's risky? 5 miles past the beep? Five?

Next.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
n8kwx73 said:
You said that she put on 480 miles at 46 MPG. That is over 10 gallons depleted. The bladder in the Prius gas tank limits many people to about 10 gallons of "real" capacity (sometimes even less). I'm not suprised that she ran out of gas.

After she completes her flying lessons, I'm sure she will have a MUCH different view on running out of fuel!
Another snarky response. What the hell is wrong with you people?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
hyperion said:
Come on. Be cruel. She was going to learn to fly?? Has she run out of gas before in any of her previous vehicles?? If so, I would check out another advocation.
Comedy gold.
 

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Occam's razor suggests that maybe the "beep" got overlooked the first time... lots of road noise, a tired driver. Unless its reproducible, I'm skeptical that the blinking pip starts with only some small fraction of a gallon left some of the time, but not the rest of the time.

I've trained myself to consider that getting gas is urgent once I'm down to the last pip. I just don't have the mindset that says its worth it to try to push down to the bottom of the tank. I can drive twice as long/far as I could with my old car, which I tried to fill before it hit "E" and the light came on, and that's good enough for me. I enjoy driving my Prius but not so much that I can't stand to get out of it long enough to pump 10 gallons of gas!
 

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Well, in defense of the young lady who ran out of gas, I will admit
that I have run out of gas....

...in East Germany on the way to Berlin so as not to spend more hard currency in that (now formerly) police state;

...on the way to an important meeting with my boss;

...with my 6 mos old princess in the baby seat on a brutally hot day (fortunately right next to a Dunkin Donuts, which is easy to do in Boston);


So, it happens to the best of us. And we learn (for example: East Germany was the 70s; my boss was the 80s; and the princess was early 1990)...haven't run out since, so I guess I learned :oops: :wink:

PS: Note in sig that Isabelle has celebrated 36,000, but she didn't get the extended warranty as a gift.
 
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