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Extreme Cold Weather Performance

Discussion in 'Gen III 2010+ Prius Main Forum' started by Tideland Prius, Dec 13, 2009.

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  1. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    Ok this probably only applies to a small percentage of you who actually hit -45°C :eek: in the morning. For the rest of you, it's probably just FYI. For starters, let's just say that a 50km drive did NOT warm up the engine even with grill blocking.


    Just for laughs, here's a photo that I took this morning

    [​IMG]


    The sharp-eyed among you would have noticed that the display reads -40°C... but in the manual...



    I'll let Toyota explain that for themselves cause I have no clue.



    So I went out for a drive today to capture some pics of the ice fog and the low temps. I had the "luxury" of starting out in the heated garage (19°C). Unfortunately, at the temps that I experienced this morning, that extra heat did nothing as the engine cooled right off and after about 30 mins, it was really burning fuel to stay warm. More on that in a minute.


    So I got to my first stop, one of the places that has one of those outdoor temperature signs. -34°C. Ok so maybe that part of town was warmer, so I decided to head to the edge of the city, away from the refineries and houses just to see how cold it can get and also to get some better pictures of the fog as around my area, it was more like mist as the ice particles were around streetlight level instead of ground level.


    Got onto an 80km/h highway and the windows were starting to frost up (I had the heater running since home) so I switched to the defroster. The rear window never fully frosted over but the front windows were frosted where the heated air isn't blowing and the corner of the windshield had frost (which stayed there the entire trip) and occasionally edged southward thus requiring intermittent defroster mode. I didn't keep it in defrost all the time because it was blowing at full speed and in these conditions, I'd like to be able to hear around me so a lower fan speed was appreciated.

    One thing I did notice, however, is that there's a lot more heat being pumped out in defroster mode than in normal AUTO. I can't remember if I was in ECO mode or not on that stretch of highway but something to keep in mind.

    At this time, I was on a 60km/h (38mph) road doing 50km/h (31mph) because of fog. It eventually led to a 110km/h (69mph) zone at which I was doing 90km/h (56mph) as the fog was thinner there. The coldest spot so far was, surprisingly, at the Visitor's Centre at -40°C/F. I decided to head out of the city in search of the coldest spot (the airport was reading -45°C which is where I headed to).

    Once I got out of the fog, the temperature rose to -35°C. I was doing 100km/h (62mph) in a 110km/h (69mph) zone and the engine is just spinning away. I was amazed (in a bad way) at how much fuel I was using at that speed. Normally, at 100km/h in the summer, I'll be doing maybe 4-4.5L/100km but the bar was nearly full and I could hear the engine "straining".

    Here's a pic I took at 90km/h (56mph). This was before I headed home so that included 20km at 100km/h and 6km at 80km/h.

    [​IMG]


    You can see that the instant bar is at 7L/100km (34mpg) :eek:. The heater at this point was set at 23°C/73°F and in normal mode. I can tell you that the engine did not sound happy (it was revving high enough to be noticeable in the cabin). It really was burning a lot of fuel to stay warm.


    I would like to point out that, yes ECO Mode still works as mentioned in my other thread and you can actually be in EV mode at -40°C!

    [​IMG]
    (For those in the US, an empty mpg gauge is a good thing for us because it means the engine is off at 0L/100km. It's the opposite of mpg where a full mpg gauge means > 100 mpg).

    The heater was set at 21°C/70°F, ECO Mode and as you can see, I was doing 43km/h (27mph) and the engine's off. However, I don't recommend it because then there's absolutely no heat coming out of the vents in the settings described above. So ECO mode works well up to a certain point and that point will be determined by you, the reader. You determine how cold you want to be before you switch to normal mode.


    And after all of that, I found the pic that I wanted


    [​IMG]

    Granted, by then it was just a low deck of stratus instead of fog but a pretty shot nonetheless.


    So, a summary:



    1. Face it, the engine will never get warm at -40
    2. Don't use ECO mode at these temperatures unless you're dressed warmly or can stay warm using the heated seats
    3. EV mode is possible even with the fan running but you get no heat and you must be in ECO mode
    4. Expect much higher than normal consumption even at highway speeds and grill blocking
    5. If you want heat, use the defroster. It seems to pump out a lot more heat, all else being equal (i.e. you didn't touch any other setting)
    6. Stuff creaks at these temps when going over uneven surfaces but surprisingly, none from the suspension. I think most of the noise was the tonneau cover lol
    7. I'm amazed that the power windows work at a reasonable speed and not slow down to a crawl at these temps
    8. Damn windows frosting up!
    9. Rear defroster and heated mirrors work very well. In fact, I only had them on for a few mins at the start and that's it.
    10. I think Toyota should consider a heated windshield. (kinda like the optional heated windscreen for the MINI). It'll work a lot better (and probably faster) than the regular defroster

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  2. DetPrius

    DetPrius Active Member

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    Very interesting experience in weather that cold. I wonder about the experience in that weather if you are NOT starting in a heated garage. Does the engine turn over more slowly when it is that cold like a non-hybrid due to the reduced oomph of the 12 volt battery or does it turn over just as fast as at higher temps since the HV battery is starting the ICE? Even with the HV battery, the oil has to be thicker at these temps.
  3. Sneezy

    Sneezy Member

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    I know with the temps below freezing here my wifes mileage has dropped to about 42. I havent checked my HHR but I imagine it's close to 22. Once we go below zero, forget it, nothing gets good mileage.
  4. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    With my '04, the grille covered with the winter front, had PLENTY of heat at -40. Grille open, forget about it

    Only with the winter front on could I keep the interior glass fog-free

    Even with the studded snow tires, my fuel economy never dipped that low.

    BTW the one photo was blurry, but is the dash display in French?
  5. Spartane

    Spartane Member

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    Thanks for sharing the experience. I'm in Toronto where it almost never gets below -24C (at the worst), and so far I haven't experienced anything below about -10C in the Prius.

    Regarding the heater temperature control -- I suggest you could try setting it all the way up until it reads "HI". Then don't use the auto setting; rather manually set the blower speed to something that feels right to you. I'm guessing you'll get the same heat as from the defroster if configured like this.

    A ScanGauge would be an interesting item for this environment; you'd learn pretty quickly how your engine water temperature was ranging.

    Have you completely blocked the entire grill including the inverter radiator area at the top?

    I wonder if covering the engine with reflective insulation would make any difference?
  6. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    Oui.



    60% blocked. I should really just fully block it til March. I guess I could. 23°C in normal mode was adequate for me but I was layered so I'm comfortable as is and don't need a super heated cabin. Even then, the engine was working to keep warm. I don't know how it would've fared if I blasted up the heat. I'm trying to raise the mileage :p. 5.7L/100km is the worst I've seen, ever.

    David Beale said the coolant temperature barely made it into the +ives.



    David_Beale had no issues (insulated, non-heated garage w/ EBH).
  7. john1701a

    john1701a Prius Guru

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    I saw -30°C (-22°F) earlier this year with the other Prius.

    I'm not looking forward to that with the 2010, simply because there is nothing to prove anymore. We already know it will perform well and the better snow photos come from warmer temps.

    Confirming that ECO-mode alters heater behavior, just like it does with A/C, is good to point out. Many have wondered to what degree (pun intended) the engineers had optimized for us.
    .
  8. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    But remember that our ECO is the most aggressive anywhere in the world so that means my "you don't get heat w/ ECO mode at -40) may not apply to those outside of NA since theirs is tuned less aggressively.
  9. F8L

    F8L Protecting Habitat & AG Lands

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    You're nuts for living there bro! lol
  10. Airbalancer

    Airbalancer Active Member

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    I had the "luxury" of starting out in the heated garage (19°C).
    Hey , I thought you were a really northerner, having a heated garage is for a Candy A$$ :D


    I have not had square tires since I lived in Tbay back in '85, the coldest has been around -30 but that not until January

    How did you get that screen in the second picture, the one with 90 km/hr?
  11. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    I alternate with my roommate (depending who's working next) and thus it just so happens I got to park downstairs this time. The last time it hit -20, I was stuck outside so I gave the outside report (along with the getting stuck report)


    That's the radar cruise screen. It's no locked onto anyone (so only the "Prius" on the screen) and 3 bars is the maximum distance ("Long" in owner's manual speak) that the cruise will keep its distance from the car ahead. You can shorten it to 2 or 1 bar although 1 bar is fairly close at highway speeds. It's more suited for 50km/h speeds.



    Tell me 'bout it. I gotta get outta here!
  12. Airbalancer

    Airbalancer Active Member

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    That's the radar cruise screen.
    That explains it, we do not have radar
  13. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    It's only on the Technology Package, yes. It worked well in the fog. (Vis ~ 400m)
  14. Rhino

    Rhino New Member

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    Is there a point where it gets too cold and the High Voltage battery gets ruined by being frozen solid? I guess not from your experience.
  15. FireEngineer

    FireEngineer Active Member

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    Your looking at temps that low and you haven't fully blocked the grill. Get that grill 100% blocked ASAP.

    Wayne
  16. David Beale

    David Beale Senior Member

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    Well, Pearl is fully blocked, though there are intentional "leaks" on each side of both grills. While Pearl is a GII it's still info so here goes.

    I drove about 70 km yesterday, about half on the 70 km/hr "highway" (Yellowhead Trail), still in the city. Yup, ambient was around -35C. Coolant got just past 60C twice, and got me into stage 4 when it got up to 63C once, but only when I was travelling at 70 km/hr. Once I slowed to 60 or less the coolant dropped to high 50s C. I WAS getting heat out of the vents, and there was no window frost. I wasn't using front "defrost". I had the A/C set to 22C. It never made it there. Over the 70 km I averaged 6.5 l/100 km. In winter I -usually- see 5.5 or slightly better. Just so you don't think the Prius is worse than "other cars", the anti-Prius (2001 Nissan Pathfinder LE AWD) burned 18-20 l/100 km in similar conditions. -It- averaged about 16-17 l/100km in winter, and used Premium fuel. Don't miss it a bit, except for the heated seats. :)

    I had Pearl plugged in and sleeping in an unheated but insulated garage overnight. Left the block heater on all night. Coolant was at +20C this morning!! Garage was at -8C or so. Tires were NOT "square" (Nokian WR). ;) Now I went to a restaurant with friends for a few hours. When I got back in for the trip back, coolant was at -10C. Pearl took -much- longer to warm up than on the trip there. So I guess the block heater is "worth it". Pearl started with coolant at -10C with no trouble. Engine was a bit noisier, but not bad.

    Be careful in that ice fog. It sticks to the road, making "black ice" conditions. Lots of "fun". Makes the trees pretty though. :)

    Oh, and I'll take this weather any time over +35C and up temps in summer (we see +30C tops), hurricanes, tornadoes, (well we get one every 30 years or so), and rain all winter.
    I grew up on the wet coast and like it here just as much. :)
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  17. Spartane

    Spartane Member

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    I keep wondering what would happen if you put in a cheap 10W-30 conventional oil that solidifies at -35F, and then tried to start the Prius at -40F with with the 230-volt battery.

    Sort of like the irresistible force meets the immovable object. I'm guessing something might break -- but then again, maybe not...
  18. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    Oh geez, get a room you two!



    If it got that cold, you'd probably instantly die from exposure



    We get the same thing here, and yes makes the roads INSTANTLY treacherous! I'm firmly sold on studded tires just for that reason



    Well, what happens to a conventional car, it will barely even crank. So - naturally - the person will boost the car. What usually happens then is the either the oil pump drive shears off, or the front seal on the crank blows out

    BTW: cheap 10W-30 does NOT turn solid at -35 F, usually it does so at -15 F

    Once the temps hit -40 and colder, a cheap 5W-30 will sometimes get too thick and you'll blow a front seal. A tow to the garage, around $500 later, just because the person was too cheap to spend an extra $20 on good synthetic motor oil

    I have zero sympathy for those folks
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  19. ajc

    ajc Member

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    Why do you have your AC on? :D
  20. David Beale

    David Beale Senior Member

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    I've been caught with 10W30 "normal" oil in -40C/F temps (they are the same). Landcruiser, forgot to change the oil and an early cold snap. It started, with no damage. It was an amazing vehicle. Would start at about 150 RPM no matter what. It went "chuff, chuff, chuff,..." for about 20 seconds, then went to full cold idle at 1200 RPM. I had to use two hands to get the gear shift to "N", bracing myself with my feet. :) Now THAT was thick oil!

    I did test the "pour-ability" of that oil at -40C. It does flow. Fast, if you're a turtle. :) I've never seen -any- oil go "solid". It all flows, if you have the patience to wait and watch.
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