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Prius: "guess" gauge vs gas gauge!

Got to 413* miles on the Prius yesterday before the “low fuel” light started to flash at me on the dashboard letting me know that I was apparently driving around on fumes. Had planned on filling up a couple of days before, but the Beltline traffic flow was, well, NOT flowing, and I got off to go home a different way that night. And ended up nowhere near the CostCo gas station. But I was at two pips on the gauge still, so figured I’d have time to get it after work yesterday.

It dropped down to one pip on the way to work in the morning, and as I was pulling up to the intersection right by the CostCo on the way home, the Prius beeped at me and my one remaining pip started to flash. Had a wee bit of a wait at the gas station when I pulled in, but since the Prius burns NO gas while it’s just sitting there idling, no worries about running out of gas while I waited. It gave me a chance to pull out the Toyota manual to see exactly WHAT that flashing light meant, if it said exactly how many gallons were left when it started to flash.

Nope. But DID find out that the tank held 11.9 gallons. So figured I’d just wait until I filled up, subtract how much it took, and find out how much gas was left that way. Yes, I’m a whole lotta years out of school, and I’m actually doing a WORD problem! :-O

It took 9.17 gallons. *does some quick math* Which left me with 2.73 gallons supposedly left in the tank. Now, based on the Prius getting, say, 50mpg, that should mean that I could still go another 136.5 miles before running out of gas. Seems a little early to be getting that “low fuel” warning.

HOW-EVAH! Every Prius forum I’ve ever looked at says thinking that way will, at some point, leave you stranded and out of gas someplace. Because while the tank officially holds 11.9 gallons, the amount that it can actually hold varies, depending on whether the car is warm or cold, if the gas is warm or cold, etc. Case in point: drove up to Virginia for a concert one summer. Filled the tank in the afternoon before I left when both the car and the gas were warm, still had half a tank when I got to Charlottesville. Topped it off before leaving the next morning, while the car and gas were still cold, by the time I got back home, I was nearly on fumes. So temperature makes a HUGE difference in how much the tank holds.

So, when is 11.9 gallons of gas not necessarily 11.9 gallons of gas? When you drive a Prius. Hence why a lot of Prius owners call the gas gauge the “guess” gauge instead. Which is why I usually like to fill up somewhere between 2 and 3 pips on the gauge, to make sure I don’t run out of gas. Although supposedly that even if you run out of gas, I read that a Prius will run on battery alone for about three miles if need be.

Not something I ever want to try, thank you very much. :)

*and for the record, I checked to see if 413 miles on one tank of gas was a record for the car for me, and actually either last summer or the summer before, according to the log, I apparently made it 415 miles, with one pip left, before I chickened out and filled up.

And also for the record, since filling up yesterday, current mileage? 51.1 mpg. 😀 Woot! Good thing too, since gas is up to $2.69 at CostCo.

One Response to “Prius: "guess" gauge vs gas gauge!”

Prius: "guess" gauge vs gas gauge!

by Karen Cusimano time to read: 2 min