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Can you push a turned-off Prius forward like you can a manual car in Neutral? Plus, hill-holding!?

Discussion in 'Gen II Prius Technical Discussion' started by PurpleGecko, Feb 26, 2012.

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  1. PurpleGecko

    PurpleGecko Junior Member

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    Hi guys,

    I've recently bought a used 2007 Prius and I'm generally pretty happy.

    As I'm from the UK I've never driven an automatic before, and I'm pleased it is so easy.

    However, I'm curious about one thing. Previously when I went to get my car hand washed when they were doing the inside I'd jump out, taking the keys with me, and they'd get on with it. About half way through, they'd roll the car forward 2ft or so by releasing the hand brake with the car in neutral so that its easy to push. Is it possible to do something similiar in a Prius, or this impossible as it is always in 'park' when switched off?

    Secondly, I'd be curious to know what other drivers who are used to a manual do with a Prius on a hill if they want to stop for a decent amount of time. (I.e. where you would usually put the car in neutral and apply the handbrake.) I know from North American friends that the handbrake doesn't get much use, even in a manual, but European drivers are taught to use it whenever the car isn't in motion. I really dislike the way the Prius rocks back when you engage Park and even the footbrake (only a fraction, of course, but it feels very unsatisfactory when you're used to having the car stay still.) Do people just sit on the brake until they're ready to move, blinding the poor sod behind them?

    Thanks for any help in advance!
  2. uart

    uart Senior Member

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    Re: Can you push a turned-off Prius forward like you can a manual car in Neutral? Plus, hill-holding

    Yes, unfortunately there's no easy way to leave the Prius in "N" when it's turned off. There is kind of a way to do it where you power on and remove a relay that it requires to engage the "park" mechanism, but no other easy way.

    Re the other issue "where you would usually put the car in neutral and apply the handbrake" I just um, put the Prius in neutral and apply the "handbrake" (meaning the foot operated parking brake). Honestly I really don't understand your question, just do what you'd normally do. Or have you not yet discovered the foot operated parking brake?
  3. babybird

    babybird Member

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    Re: Can you push a turned-off Prius forward like you can a manual car in Neutral? Plus, hill-holding

    In my 2008 I apply the foot brake and put it in either neutral or park. Which one I use depends on what my battery's state of charge is and how long I'll be sitting and whether I have the lights and climate control or A/C on or not. With the lights on and the A/C running, the hybrid battery runs down a lot faster (it should still last for quite a few minutes even powering all of that, but as a rule of thumb, the car will automatically start and charge the battery when it reaches either 1 or 2 bars of charge, so if it gets that low in Neutral, be sure to shift into Park so you don't risk over-discharging your hybrid battery-- discharging it too far can be very costly to correct), so I'm more likely to use Park than Neutral because in Neutral the car can't start the gas engine to charge the hybrid battery if it gets too low. If I'm not stopping for more than a few minutes or I'm not running the lights or A/C I'll be more likely to use Neutral so I don't have to hit the brake to put it back into Drive (Neutral to Drive doesn't require stepping on the brake pedal like shifting out of Park does).

    If you apply the foot parking brake BEFORE shifting into Park (my usual procedure is to stop, apply the parking brake, shift to neutral, release the normal brake pedal, shift to park), you won't get that rocking movement or slight lurch when shifting out of Park, which annoys me in any automatic-equipped car. If that doesn't bother you then do what you like, but I prefer not to feel it personally.
  4. Wimble

    Wimble Junior Member

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    Re: Can you push a turned-off Prius forward like you can a manual car in Neutral? Plus, hill-holding



    As also from the UK I think I understand your queries.

    For car washes you can turn off the car and if you fail to engage p or the foot break (handbrake to you and me) the car will roll. However, I am not sure if this is mechanically a good thing and at the car wash I use I leave the keys and they move it on. It's worth noting that if you need to use an automated car wash like Arc you need to put the car into N and make sure the foot break etc is off.

    Your other query I can completely sympathise with you as I have to park my Prius on a steep driveway. Also you are right in what you say as when taught to drive we are encouraged to put the handbrake on as a matter of routine. What I would say re driving is that it's a change of driving style more than anything, and knowing when it's best to apply P or the handbrake equivalent. The rock is unnerving, I know, but is a sign it's working. That said I am considering parking blocks for my drive more for my own peace of mind. Your query likely comes as, like me, you have thought that P would suffice on occasion, only to find the car roll and you have to dive for the brake. It comes as you get used to it.:)
  5. PurpleGecko

    PurpleGecko Junior Member

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    Re: Can you push a turned-off Prius forward like you can a manual car in Neutral? Plus, hill-holding



    Thanks for the reply, yes, that is exactly what has happened to me, where I think P will hold it, and it starts rolling back. I'll probably have to adjust my driving slightly to an automatic car.

    I confess that in a manual I might quite often just hold on the biting point on a hill, for example, at a junction, to save the hassle of using the handbrake. But if I know I'm going to stop, for example, at traffic lights, I'm used to being able to take all my feet of the pedals. I suppose as a UK driver you're taught - and so are your passengers! - that any rolling back at all is poor car control, so I find it very unnerving.

    I also park overnight on a steep drive, and worry each time I get out that it is going to go rolling off down the hill. I guess I'll start to worry about that less each day when it is still where I left it in the morning!
  6. uart

    uart Senior Member

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    Re: Can you push a turned-off Prius forward like you can a manual car in Neutral? Plus, hill-holding

    I still don't understand the problem. The foot operated park-brake on the prius works just the same as any other park-brake or hand-brake on any other car that I've ever owned.

    I never totally rely on the park mechanism of the transmission to hold the car a slope. I always apply the park brake and switch to "N" before releasing the regular foot brake to make sure it holds. Like any park brake there is a very small amount of movement as the weight is transferred onto the rear brakes, but once you've got it holding on just the park-brake you engage "P" (or just turn the car off which automatically engages "P") as an added safety margin.
  7. uart

    uart Senior Member

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    Re: Can you push a turned-off Prius forward like you can a manual car in Neutral? Plus, hill-holding



    No you can't, not unless you've busted the parking pawls on your transmission already. Park is automatically activated when the Prius is powered off. There is no such thing as failing to engage "P".
  8. Wimble

    Wimble Junior Member

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    Re: Can you push a turned-off Prius forward like you can a manual car in Neutral? Plus, hill-holding



    Yes you are quite right and I must have had a momentary lapse when posting this.

    To clarify - for the auto car washes you drive up and put the car in N - and leave it on. :rolleyes:
  9. Wimble

    Wimble Junior Member

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    Re: Can you push a turned-off Prius forward like you can a manual car in Neutral? Plus, hill-holding



    No worries. I think most people share your technique as it allows a swifter getaway if you arrive at a junction and anticipate the lights changing quickly. And rolling in any direction when you didn't intend to would certainly fail a Uk driving test :D:D. I have been wondering what technique is taught to drivers learning in an automatic...all about technique I guess?!

    I find with my drive that upon pulling up, I hold my foot on the normal brake, engage P, and then firmly apply the footbrake. I gently release the normal brake and the wheels will turn a fraction (gravity is a bitch). The first few times it's like the worlds ending but when you measure how far it actually moves it's negligible. I do wonder long term about the stresses and whether this is placing any gradual wear, but I'm certain I would notice any additional movement....particularly as the car would be in my kitchen.
  10. RikM

    RikM Junior Member

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    Re: Can you push a turned-off Prius forward like you can a manual car in Neutral? Plus, hill-holding

    Regarding the "jump out with the keys" at the carwash...
    As has been detailed elsewhere on here (can't find the link, I'm afraid), you can leave the car "on" in neutral, without the key being in it.
    That's not dependent on having the SKS system, either.

    Just push the fob into the slot then ease it back a touch before turning on, so it doesn't lock in place. Once the car is on, the key does not need to be in the slot, or in the car.

    The "handbrake" question is interesting. This is my first automatic, and I assumed the normal practice is just to hold the car on the footbrake when stopped temporarily (hence "parking brake"). A change of practice, just like no longer following "handbrake-neutral" as a matter of course. But then I've been told by sales staff (apparently in all seriousness) that you have to put the Prius into neutral before hitting the park button...
  11. SageBrush

    SageBrush Senior Member

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    Re: Can you push a turned-off Prius forward like you can a manual car in Neutral? Plus, hill-holding

    IIRC your car has a 'hill holder,' meant to prevent backslide while you move your foot from the brake to the fuel pedal. I cannot remember the details how to engage it, but I have read about it in the car manuals at home.
  12. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    Re: Can you push a turned-off Prius forward like you can a manual car in Neutral? Plus, hill-holding



    Are you referring to the biting point of the clutch? :eek: When learning to drive farm equipment, long before driving age, I was very strongly admonished to not cause premature clutch wearout in this fashion.


    Different countries, different driving cultures.

    In the U.S., I've never heard of being trained to be able to take one's foot off the service brake at lights or stop signs. In traditional automatics, that would require shifting out of Drive, which is discouraged as causing needless transmission wear.

    Rolling back six inches at startup in a manual is not a sin. Any competent driver here will leave enough space to see the point where the rear tire of the car ahead contacts the road, so it should have plenty of room for a short rollback.

    But with the near universal adoption of automatic transmissions, some drivers have forgotten that others can roll back, and stop far too close. Some of them nearly even rear-end my manual transmission car during my shift from 1st to 2nd.
  13. V8Cobrakid

    V8Cobrakid Green Handyman

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    Re: Can you push a turned-off Prius forward like you can a manual car in Neutral? Plus, hill-holding

    just as a note... the system can't charge in N... so leave any accessory OFF... such as the radio and a/c. if you have the a/c blasting and extra draw is coming from the radio, then you could possibly have a dead prius before it gets out of the wash. keep in mind that from the second you pull up, everything is pretty much on electric and the time it takes a decent car wash to write up your order, vacuum, and pull it up to the trolly line, your traction battery could already be low. further recommendation: never use EV to cruise in and around the lot before washing. faster traction battery drain. (some people out there, including me, have the aftermarket switch... genIII has it already)
  14. richard schumacher

    richard schumacher shortbus driver

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    Re: Can you push a turned-off Prius forward like you can a manual car in Neutral? Plus, hill-holding

    Nope, I still don't follow: when you stop on a hill, why not just push the service brake pedal until you come to a stop, and continue pushing it until it's time to move forward again? None of that shifting to Neutral or Park or applying the parking brake is necessary, and the car will never roll backwards. Is it really so tiring to keep your foot pressing on the service brake pedal for a minute or two?
  15. Sagitar

    Sagitar Junior Member

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    Re: Can you push a turned-off Prius forward like you can a manual car in Neutral? Plus, hill-holding



    Because it puts on the brake lights and dazzles the person behind you.

    In the UK we have a statutory Highway Code - I quote the relevant section below

    114You MUST NOT

    • use any lights in a way which would dazzle or cause discomfort to other road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders
    • use front or rear fog lights unless visibility is seriously reduced. You MUST switch them off when visibility improves to avoid dazzling other road users (see Rule 226)
    In stationary queues of traffic, drivers should apply the parking brake and, once the following traffic has stopped, take their foot off the footbrake to deactivate the vehicle brake lights. This will minimise glare to road users behind until the traffic moves again.

    [Law RVLR reg 27]
  16. SageBrush

    SageBrush Senior Member

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    Re: Can you push a turned-off Prius forward like you can a manual car in Neutral? Plus, hill-holding



    I'm trying with limited success to remember why days of driving a manual car in hilly urban areas. I used the handbrake so that I would not backslide when it came time to move my foot from the brake to the fuel pedal if the car was on a steep incline.

    That is really not a problem with automatics unless the hill is quite steep; and in that case, use the hill grabber mechanism I mentioned earlier.

    Avoiding light glare for others was never mentioned; keeping a foot on the brake when stopped -- in additiion to the handbrake -- was demanded as a safety precaution
  17. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    Re: Can you push a turned-off Prius forward like you can a manual car in Neutral? Plus, hill-holding



    I've never heard of any similar law or practice anywhere in the U.S. Such a law would seriously collide with our love of automatic transmissions.

    And with our profligate use of brilliant non-ergonomic stationary lighting along the road, plenty of poorly designed and poorly aimed headlights on oncoming cars, and even traffic lights not dimmed at night, I don't believe our brake lights are a significant contributor to nighttime vision problems. Those other lights would need considerable improvement before our pupils could dilate enough to be dazzled by common brake lights.
  18. PurpleGecko

    PurpleGecko Junior Member

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    Re: Can you push a turned-off Prius forward like you can a manual car in Neutral? Plus, hill-holding



    This does cause clutch wear, but if you know you will only be holding the car stationary for a short period it is typical behaviour, as wear will be minimal.

    In the UK a typical driver would be expected to be able to hold a manual car stationary on a steep hill without use of any brakes via clutch/throttle control. You then gradually increase throttle/decrease clutch to pull away. A hill start of this sort is part of the driving test. Because any backwards motion at all would result in a failure, I can only equate backwards motion with poor driving; however minimal.

    Of course, if you are going to be stationary on a slope for more than a few seconds it is usual to engage the handbrake, put the car into neutral so that you can disengage the clutch and won't stall. This also allows you to sit without using any pedals.

    I have been experimenting with using the parking footbrake on my Prius as I would a handbrake on a manual, however the car still rolls back (albeit only a small amount, but as mentioned, I find this personally unpleasant). However, it seems that this is unavoidable unless you just sit with your foot on the brake all the time, which - as mentioned above - is against the Highway Code.
  19. Wimble

    Wimble Junior Member

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    Re: Can you push a turned-off Prius forward like you can a manual car in Neutral? Plus, hill-holding

    This is certainly a case of cultural differences in terms of driving, driving laws and the fact that in the UK, even now, automatics are still very much in the minority. Indeed, I would guess it's rare that many people will pass their test in the UK on an automatic licence.

    I was testing this on my way home tonight, and I think it's very much down to the mental block of not feeling in total control of the vehicle, as with a manual. I agree that the rollback of perhaps a couple of inches on the hill is entirely disconcerting, but it works fine. Says the man who still hovers over the brake :) ...just in case! As an aside, unless the hill has quite a steep gradient I find that if you bring the car to a gradual halt, remain in D, the car will hold in any event in a perfectly acceptable fashion...Assuming you are facing up hill of course!
  20. RikM

    RikM Junior Member

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    Re: Can you push a turned-off Prius forward like you can a manual car in Neutral? Plus, hill-holding

    Yes, well... My lack of experience with an automatic showed at the weekend.

    I left my wife, kids and mother-in-law in the car, while I popped into Tesco. I left the car on with the stereo going for them.
    When I came back, my wife asked about the message on the screen. The car was complaining about being left in "Drive"!
    Still, I now know the parking brake works fairly well...
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