A Question for Prius Drivers from the Frozen North.

Discussion in 'Gen 4 Prius Main Forum' started by ekpolk, Feb 22, 2019.

  1. ekpolk

    ekpolk What could possibly...

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    My step-mother and father live in New Hampshire. She's been a Honda Accord fan for many years. She does a lot of highway driving, and always buys I-4 Accords with the manual transmission. Various factors have led her to consider changing to a new Prius for her next vehicle, purchase coming soon.

    She has asked me a couple questions about the Prius, and I’m a tad embarrassed/flat-footed, since the questions relate to cold weather ops. I’ve driven my hybrids up north a couple times, but never during any challenging winter weather -- 99.99% of my experience is in mild-to-hot temps. They have a long (75-100 yds), smooth asphalt driveway that slopes fairly steeply up to the street. It's in a wooded area, so it doesn't get any solar heating. It’s a challenge to keep it free of both snow, and of more concern, ice.

    The internet has led her to stories about the aggressively protective traction control that is, of necessity, an integral part of the Prius design. She’s worried that this aspect of the Prius might, in her case, prove to be a “show stopper” because of the allegedly poor hill-climbing capability under such conditions. Being stuck at the bottom is not an option for her. Unfortunately, I can’t credibly speak to how the Gen-4 Prius (actually, any Prius...) might actually perform under this circumstance.

    Would any of our “north country” members care to comment?
     
  2. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The other One Percenter.....

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  3. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    Sound like your parents place is very similar to mine except the "up-hill" driveway. I live in fairly flat wooded lot, but our 100 yrd drive way is almost always icy a few days to weeks after snow depending on temperature. I have not had any problem with my previous Gen3 and now with PRIME driving on icy road as long as good set of snow tires are on it. Both Prius have done much better than my older and lighter Civic (ICE) which had no traction control. I think if the road is covered with snow and ice most of winter, studded snow tires will be the choice of tires on any cars.
     
    #3 Salamander_King, Feb 22, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2019
  4. ekpolk

    ekpolk What could possibly...

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    I'm concerned about deactivating the TC/VSC, etc. (I've read the 2018 manual in this regard) for two reasons. First, their driveway is steep. With enough ice, it's hopeless until it gets a dose of sand or sand-salt mix. Under marginal conditions, without any TC assist, the climb would probably be impossible also. Notably, that video fails to distinguish the TWO "shut off" possibilities (press+release and press+hold the button). Of course, I'm not sure that keeping VSC while shutting off only TC would make any difference in this situation.

    Second, if the TC is deactivated, is there still the possibility of over-speeding components in the transmission? This was, IIRC, a big issue in the Gen-2 car and was the very reason why the TC was so aggressive in the first place. With TC off, going uphill on ice patches, it would seem that there would be a pretty good chance of high speed wheel spin in the moments after losing traction. Still an issue with Gen-4?
     
  5. royrose

    royrose Active Member

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    How about the new eAWD Prius for her?
     
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  6. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Obtuse Angler

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    Just a hunch, but since the fourth gen is first time they've provided the button to turn off traction control, I'd think they've considered all this, made it bullet proof. Maybe it'll even bring traction control back on, if you get into the danger zone, on rpm or whatever?

    You can download pdf's of the Owner's Manual (Toyota Tech Info is one source), and see what it says on.
     
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  7. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    does new Hampshire allow studs on roads iced over?
    .
     
  8. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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  9. ekpolk

    ekpolk What could possibly...

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    Good point, I was wondering about that. There IS the switch in the Gen-4 car, which I remember being absent from the Gen-2. As for the manual, I've got both the print and the searchable pdf. I've already run the search, cover to cover in the 2018 manual. Despite the appearance of the TRAC/VSC OFF button in the Gen-4 car, in the section addressing getting one's self unstuck, this blurb appears,
    Apart from the instructions on how to turn off TC only or TC & VSC together, this is the only morsel in the entire 820 pages that touch on the issue. I'm thinking you're probably right, but Toyota doesn't want to pin itself down, or encourage any wheelspinning, even if the car is better equipped to handle it. :confused: EDIT: Maybe it's time to revive my dormant TIS subscription. . .
     
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  10. ekpolk

    ekpolk What could possibly...

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    I know both of them do snow tires each winter (each has a set mounted on steelies for their respective cars), but not sure whether or not they do studs. I'll have to check.
     
  11. padroo

    padroo Senior Member

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    Take one out for a test drive while the snow is on and the answer will be clear. Have her drive it up her driveway.
     
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  12. dbf

    dbf Member

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    Despite the recommendations from various people on Prius Chat to change to snow tires for winter driving, when I asked the local dealer about it they said they haven't heard about the need to change to different tires. I was going to change to snow tires until they told me that. Anyway, so far I haven't had a problem despite the effects of the winter vortex here this year. I've gone up some pretty icy streets and have yet to lose traction up a hill (knock on wood). I have however lost some traction when I went down a hill a little too fast, but the trac/vsc control kept me in a straight line at least.
     
  13. Jeppefinn

    Jeppefinn Active Member

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    This is the driveway to my house. 15-20% hill and solid ice this time of the year.
    You can't see it in the video, but you can hear the studs when the tyres start to slip.
    I've never turned off traction control yet.
    IMO Prius traction control is just like any other car (except 4WD of course), it's the tyres that matter.
    You can drive up this hill in any old car just fine with real winter tyres, traction control or not.

    Without studs it might be a problem if the ice has water on it (when it's below freezing the ice is more grippy, the wet ice is the worst).

    I've only got stuck once on this hill (rainy warm weather and there was 15 cm of softened ice that gave up under the tyres).
    And the only thing that helps with that is a snow shovel or a 4WD.

    The only tip IMO is to easy it through, don't let your foot off the gas but easy on the gas.
    And never stop midway through the hill.
    :)
     
  14. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North
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    I would suggest that she looks at the AWD-e Prius. My cold weather driving has taken place in flat prairie land. In the hillier but milder PNW, all-weather tyres have helped but I've gone back to two sets of tyres for my new Prime - AS and dedicated winters. The weight of the car with narrow tyres should give it good grip and stability (assuming you get a good set of winter tyres) in loose snow. On ice, I'm not sure since I don't drive on ice very often. (western Canada winters are different from the east).
     
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  15. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    LOL
    That's so very much reminded me of a few of our Montana neighbors, where if you had any sense at all, you take a good run at it before you even thought of making the approach. And never, without studs. This was on our RX hybrid Lexus AWD. fun times.
    .
     
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  16. dbf

    dbf Member

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    As an avid winter hiker and trail runner, I agree about the wet ice being the worse. In a pinch I can get by hiking on even hilly icy trails without nano spikes if the ice is relatively dry and I can keep some momentum, but if the ice is wet then there's no way.
     
  17. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    yep. equally stupid, is whwn when neighbors insist that they make it right up to your driveway. But if a steep 250 ft run is too much, you park at the bottom of the Run, & strap on these, or similar bad boys, & jus5 hoof it .... broccoli casserole in hand.
    boots.jpg
    Better to land on your arse & spill your side dish, then your car over the side of a ravine.
    .
     
  18. dbf

    dbf Member

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    Lol! Those are some impressive looking spikes, but the nano spikes look more like studs in studded tires and have impressive gripping power on ice.
    nanospikes.png
     
  19. ekpolk

    ekpolk What could possibly...

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    I noted the "taking a good run at it..." part. That's one of the major problems. The hill starts maybe two car lengths out of the garage, and it's at about a 90 degree angle to the garage exit, so there's little opportunity to build momentum before starting the climb.

    Also keep in mind that neither of these two (Dad or step-Mom) are winter driving rookies. Anything but. We moved to NH in 1964 when I was a small child, and Dad has been there since. Step-Mom her whole life. That's well over fifty New Hampshire winters for both of them.

    What they're really curious about is whether the Gen-4 has any specific issues, with TC or anything else, that weigh against its daily use in icy and hilly terrain. Stories about the Gen-2 car (not sure about the G-3) and its hyper-protective traction control still abound on the internet, and that has them concerned. Sounds like maybe that's less of an issue with the G-4. I've watched one of those Weber State videos on the Gen-4 trans and there are some clues there. It is a new design, no longer a single shaft, and the MGs are geared differently, generally being higher rpm/lower torque designs, that multiply tq via gearing. I don't know whether this info suggests the answer, but I suspect I'm getting warmer (pun intended...).

    Anyway, it's not sounding like any Gen-4 drivers are having substantial problems in this regard, but my "investigation" is far from over, so the more feedback, the merrier! Thanks everyone.
     
  20. dbf

    dbf Member

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    I guess what I'm really trying to say and am not doing a good job so far is that my Prius does a really good job of handling the winter weather here with its frequently snowy and icy hills on regular tires except maybe for the steeper hills. With studded tires I'm sure it could handle those as well.
     
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