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Car ran out of gas, won't start

Discussion in 'Gen II Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by GreenCleaner, Aug 11, 2010.

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  1. GreenCleaner

    GreenCleaner Junior Member

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    I know this subject has been addressed but it seems as though everyone else's circumstances and solution was different.

    My car ran out of gas, I was able to accelerate enough to get it full speed to drive about a mile on the eway closer to the gas station. I stopped literally across the street from the station. Walked over 3x to get gas (2 gal, 1.8 gal & 1.5 gal). After each refill, I shaked the car and no start, just lights and the "PROBLEM" status on the screen with the red death exclamation point. The gas gauge went up to a half tank after the 3rd time but on the 3rd "start", no "ready".

    I called road side assistance. They did several jumps. My once empty hybrid battery that was on 1 red bar was now on 4, 5 blue bars. The red exclamation point was now gone but the brake, ABS, yellow exclamation point in a circle and the engine light stayed on. Not to mention the digits for my MPH was gone. There was no zero.

    Now my car is home because the dealerships were closed and none nearby for another 20, 30 miles. Based on the other responses, I'm wondering if I should disconnect my battery and if so, how do I do that? If that doesn't work what is normally done? I can't afford another bill so any free advice would be helpful right now. And if you don't have free advice, any advice on what I should be preparing myself for would be appreciated.
  2. GreenCleaner

    GreenCleaner Junior Member

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    And I don't know if this makes a difference, it was 98 directly in the sun when this happened. Sat in the sun for at least an hour and half during all this.
  3. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    I assume that your car did not start after the jump start attempts and that it was towed to your home.

    Do you have metric tools available? If so, you could try disconnecting the 12V battery although I am not confident that will help.

    Locate the 12V battery in the right rear hatch floor, under the triangle-shaped floor piece. Find the negative battery cable where it attaches to the body. Remove the bolt that attaches the cable to the body and leave the battery disconnected for 5 minutes. Then reconnect the cable and tighten the bolt securely.

    I am concerned that you say the speedometer display does not light up. Maybe the DOME fuse has blown. Do the interior cabin lights work? If so, then that fuse is OK.

    If that fuse was blown then it was possible that your car was jumpstarted with reverse battery polarity, which could mean that your inverter was also destroyed (a four-digit repair bill.) In that case the 100A DC/DC fusible link probably was also blown. This is located within the fusible link plastic box within the main relay/fuse box next to the inverter.
    dave77 likes this.
  4. GreenCleaner

    GreenCleaner Junior Member

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    You are correct, it was towed to my house.

    However I don't have any metric tools but I planned to call road side assistance again in the morning to tow to the dealership.

    All the lights are coming on. It's just the zero on the speedometer isn't on or maybe it doesn't come on until it fully powers. However everything else is lit.

    Now I'm getting a message about apply parking brake because of a transmission lock, etc etc and the red triangle.
  5. sub3marathonman

    sub3marathonman Active Member

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    I am almost 100% sure that disconnecting the battery will solve the problem. Don't ask me how I know, that is another story, just take my word for it.

    Also, from what I've read, if you run out of gas and stop immediately, then add the 3 gallons or more of gasoline, the car will restart. If you run out of gas and continue to drive, thus depleting the main battery, the car will not restart without clearing the codes, speculation is it is some sort of self-protection built into the Prius, even if you've added much more than 3 gallons. As is the case here, and others I've heard about.

    Also, to disconnect the battery you only need to disconnect the negative lead where it attaches in the back hatch part. It is a 10mm if I remember. There will be a spark, but that shouldn't hurt anything. I would wait for 5 minutes or so before reconnecting the battery.
  6. uart

    uart Senior Member

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    Ok I'm confused. How does a 12 volt jump charge your hybrid battery? That doesn't make sense to me.
  7. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    It didn't charge his HV battery, it only confused the electronics.

    Driving a Prius after it runs out of gas is a bad idea. Only drive far enough to safely pull off the road.

    Tom
  8. GreenCleaner

    GreenCleaner Junior Member

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    It sounds like the main battery drained down because I dd at least a mile after it ran out of gas. I tried to get it to the station and on the side as close as possible. Will the delearship charge me to disconnect the battery and whatever else is necessary?

    I'm sitting and waiting on road side assistance, so I'm trying to see if it's something he could do before we pull off.
  9. sub3marathonman

    sub3marathonman Active Member

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    Yes, the dealership will charge you. The question is will they charge you the correct amount.

    If you can get that 10mm bolt on the negative cable disconnected you should be fine. It really isn't that difficult. It can be done with a pair of pliers if necessary. But of course a 10mm socket makes it much easier.

    Also, when reconnecting, make sure the bolt touches the threads first, since there is a bit of spark, and keep it touching the threads as it is threaded in.
  10. richard schumacher

    richard schumacher shortbus driver

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    Have it flat-bedded or dolly-towed to a dealer. At this point the high-voltage battery most likely needs to be recharged, and only a dealer has the special charger needed to do that. On the way, pray that nobody used the wrong polarity when trying to jump it.
  11. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    Running out of gas in any car is a bad idea.

    Maybe a little worse of an idea in a Prius.

    I know it doesn't help you today, but I've hung around this forum enough to know you accidently handled almost everything badly. You don't want a Prius to run out of gas, and if it does? You don't want to run the battery down trying to keep it moving. Then (and this is opinion) I wouldn't of let a generic roadside assistance do a jump to my Prius...and certainly not multiple jump start attempts.

    I'm sorry you have the problems you now have. I suppose at this point the simple disconnection and reconnection of the battery "probably" couldn't hurt and might become the miracle that restores your Prius to operation. BUT given the expense of inverter damage and other horror stories I've read about problems coming out of improper jump starts of The Prius? If it was me? I'd tow to a dealership. If it's an easy fix from that point? Well you paid some extra bucks. But at this point you don't know exactly what is happening or has happened and taking guesses in the dark as to what may help or what may be hurting is dangerous.
  12. sub3marathonman

    sub3marathonman Active Member

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    OR, you could first do the simple thing, disconnect the battery, and see if that fixes it. Five minutes to do. It won't hurt or damage anything, and if something is already damaged it won't add to the problem.

    The main battery shouldn't need to be recharged either. It is my understanding that the Prius won't allow the car to go any farther and goes into neutral when the main battery is depleted to the maximum allowed by Toyota. And at that point it will still recharge on its own once the car is started. And don't ask how I know this either. One mile is also within the range of the main battery if it is driven gently. And if there were cars running the main battery down just from being out of gas, Toyota would need more than one or two chargers for the entire country, which is what I understand that they have now.

    Also, I suppose it is possible to reverse the polarity when jump-starting it, and I'm sure somebody somewhere has done it, but I find it incredible. The little post is clearly marked as positive, and is so small that you really can't get a gigantic set of jumper cables attached anyway.
  13. GreenCleaner

    GreenCleaner Junior Member

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    Well I planned to go in and use the "My car wasn't out of gas, I don't know what happened and it won't start" story but the tow truck driver (from today was the SAME genius from last night) began screaming out the window before I even got out the truck to his "favorite" mechanic that I ran out of gas, etc etc.

    Because of the tow truck driver and his story to the mechanic, they said I voided the warranty which would've covered it and I had to pay $129.

    I was expecting to pay more but I'm glad it wasn't super high. But thanks to the cigarette puffing with the windows closed and trash on the floor tow truck driver I had to pay $129.

    I've DEFINITELY learned my lesson. And yes I know no car is good to keep rolling when the gas is running low or completely out but crossing the intersection of 3 major highways in 98 degrees was not where I wanted to start my trek for gas and praying that a tow truck driver would come in less than 45 minutes.
  14. Colonel Ronson

    Colonel Ronson New Member

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    you might have drained your hybrid battery to depletion and destroyed it. Not helpful advice i know, but the all-EV range of a prius can't be more than a mile or two. Since the battery drained to depletion it might've thrown the ECU haywire.
  15. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Even if the tow truck driver was out of the picture, the Toyota tech would have realized that your car was out of gas because the engine ECU would log DTC P3193 "Fuel Run Out". The hybrid vehicle ECU would log DTC P0A0F "Engine Failed to Start" with a subcode that would point to an out-of-fuel situation.

    Since you paid only $129, my guess is that the tech retrieved the DTC, had a laugh at your expense, cleared the DTC, and then put the 12V battery on a charger. After working on another car or two, then s/he returned to your car, started it, and then drove it back to the parking lot for you to pick it up.

    The good news is that the tow truck driver correctly jumped the vehicle.

    In the event that this sequence of events should happen to you in the future, my suggestion is that you add at least 3 gallons of fuel before you attempt to start the car, after an out-of-fuel incident. Since you added less than this amount over three separate occasions, it is possible that the engine ECU did not register that the car now had fuel although the fuel gauge showed your added fuel. That may be why the car refused to start.
    dave77 likes this.
  16. V8Cobrakid

    V8Cobrakid Green Handyman

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    this is what i would have done... as soon as you notice you're out of fuel, pull over and shut off the car. run to the gas station and get fuel. come back and try over a few times. these attempts can not be long. turn it on, tap the gas, turn it off (if you don't hear the ICE instantly). if it dies, turn off and repeat process. i hear there is a limit of failed attempts before it simply locks you out and forces a tow.

    this is why hybrids need a plug... with adaptors (120, 220), or a 12v system that can supply power from the standard 12v to the high voltage hybrid battery. the computers only pull a couple hundred watts. it might take a while but it would make the car more problem free.
  17. richard schumacher

    richard schumacher shortbus driver

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    In the 2010, correct. In Gen II, not so; you can drain that sucker stone dead if you keep working at it.
  18. richard schumacher

    richard schumacher shortbus driver

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    Stop whining: you did something stupid and got off about as cheap as could be hoped. It would have been a lot worse if you had drained the hybrid battery. And as Patrick points out the car itself snitched on you regardless of the tow driver. Now go, and sin no more :_>
  19. northwichita

    northwichita .

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    interested in where your information is from , this source (couldn't copy directly) states otherwise,halfway down the page.
    (Edit for qbee42 , was referring to entire link, end of 'page' 5.8 to be exact)
    http://www.autoshop101.com/forms/Hybrid15.pdf


    Another hypothetical I have, has any DYIer charged a HV battery from another HV battery in a running car? Curious what would happen, or why this is not practical.
  20. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    That document has 14 pages. Halfway down which page?

    Tom
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