Advice I gave my son when I gave him my Gen II at college graduation

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by WolfB, Jul 19, 2015.

  1. WolfB

    WolfB Junior Member

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    I thought it would be interesting to get reactions on Prius Chat to this. Maybe what I've written will be valuable to others. At a minimum I hope it will be entertaining to see what a helicopter parent says to his child about car maintenance. For a bit of background, my son just graduated from college and needed a car to commute. He hadn't driven very much in the four years that he was at college so you'll see some pretty basic advice and I tried to make it relevant for a 21 year old. As you'll see, not all the advice is Prius related. Thanks, Wolf

    Driving in snow - drive slowly but keep car moving when on a hill
    Drive slowly but keep car moving when on a hill. Inevitably when the first snow of the season hits I drive too fast and slide right through the first stop sign I see. Maybe you’ll learn from my experience.

    Shovel and windshield scraper
    There is a hidden storage area under the back hatch. To access it, move the carpet and you will find two knobs and a piece of nylon that you can put your finger through near the back of the car. When you pull on the piece of nylon

    Windshield washer fluid
    You can check it by opening the hood and looking at the tank of blue water on your left. Purchase the fluid at Target.

    Cabin air filter
    Check the filter every month for a few months to see if there are mouse droppings. If so, put 5 or so drops of Peppermint oil on the filter. Replace the filter when it looks dirty. Replacement filters are under the back storage area

    What to do if triangle appears on dash
    This is extremely rare, but it has happened to me once. If a red triangle appears on the dash, read the owner’s manual. It’s possible that you’ll have to have the car towed. Our insurance company, has a towing service. There is a special number to call for this service. I think it is on the insurance card.

    How to call tow truck
    See insurance card

    Insurance card & registration
    In an envelope in glove compartment. You should know where these are so find the envelope and look inside and look over both the insurance card and registration to make sure you have ones that are current (not expired)

    Owners manual
    In the glove compartment. You should know where this is because you will need to reference it if you have a flat tire or if you have questions about how certain things work.

    Tire pressure
    A light on the dash comes on when the pressure in one of the tires is low. The correct pressure to inflate a tire to is posted on the frame of the driver's door.

    How to put car in neutral - needed for automatic car wash
    Let me know if you have questions on how to put the car in neutral. I practice this before I go to a car wash so I don’t have trouble when I’m in the line

    Oil level
    The oil will be drained and refilled every 5,000 when you bring the car to the Toyota dealer for service

    Service records
    The service records are in a plastic case in the hidden storage area. When you have the car serviced, please add the receipt to this folder. Cars with complete service records are sought after.

    Setting up Bluetooth
    Reasonably intuitive to set up.

    Using smart key
    Turn it off when not using the car for a week or more. To turn it off you press a button that is below the steering wheel. I’m sure there’s a YouTube video that will show you where it is.

    Engine air filter
    At some point I’ll show you how to change the engine air filter. In the meantime we’ll get it done when you get the car serviced.

    Puddle under the car

    Sometimes you'll notice a small puddle under your car. 99.9% of the time it isn't a cause for concern. It is the condensation from the car air conditioner and is normal.

    The only time to be concerned is if:
    a. you see green or orange fluid which is from the car's radiator. The leaking fluid is a sign you have a problem and generally you shouldn't drive the vehicle although in cold weather you can usually drive for a short time without causing an issue. The radiator is an essential component of the car engine cooling system. The engine gets very hot and the radiator tempers the heat. Call a tow truck

    b. you see brown fluid - this is oil. you can tell it's oil by putting your finger on it and rubbing your fingers together. The oil feels, well, like oil as opposed to water. It is a lubricant. You only need to stop driving the car if there is a large puddle under the car and, in those cases a warning light will come on on the dash letting you know the oil level is low. If it is low you can put oil in very easily. you can buy oil at Walmart and Target and most grocery stores.

    it is very unlikely you'll encounter either of this issues. I just thought I'd bring it up because occasionally people think they are being helpful by saying - you left a puddle in the parking spot you just exited. They are almost always just seeing the water from the air conditioner.

    If there's a problem with the car while you're driving
    . If you ever do have to pull over on the highway because a big red triangle light has come on on the dash or the car isn't running properly, always pull over to the right and pull over as far as you can. Your safety is more important than the car, so if you need to, go completely off the road. It might damage a tire or even both passenger side tires, but your safety is more important than $200 or $300 to replace tires, which is pretty much the worst case scenario. It's even safer to get out of the car, walk in front of the car and sit on the guardrail. That way the car is protecting you from someone rear ending you. It doesn't happen a lot, but in the world of texting and driving, it's not unheard of that someone rear ends a car parked on the side of the highway. Obviously you can and should use your own judgment when it comes to all this.

    Here's how I ended the letter: Do you feel better reading all this? Maybe, maybe not, but I got these thoughts off my chest and that's good enough for me.
     
  2. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    Very nice.
    The only thing I might of changed was I would of just gone ahead and told him how to put it in neutral. Since it's pretty easy. At least on my Gen 3, it's basically just hold the selector knob in the neutral position and it takes an extra second or two for the system to react.

    The first time I tried to go through a drive through car wash I panicked not realizing it took an extra beat or two for The Prius to shift into neutral, I thought something was wrong. I was able to figure it out before anything happened BUT it made for a few seconds of panic and adrenaline as I kept flipping the selector knob to neutral and releasing like I would for Drive or Reverse and it kept NOT taking it.
     
  3. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    An excellent message.

    Oil level addendum: Check the engine oil level using the oil dipstick, at least every other time that gasoline is purchased. The car should be IG-OFF. Wait 5 minutes after the engine has stopped, then use a clean paper towel to wipe off the dipstick. Reinsert the dipstick fully, then pull it out to see the oil level. The oil should be between the two dimples on the dipstick, higher is better but do not allow the oil level to be higher than the upper dimple. The fluid difference between the two dimples on the dipstick is 1.6 US quarts. The engine oil capacity is ~3.9 US quarts. So you can see that if the oil drops down to the lower dimple, that means the engine only has 2.3 US quarts of oil which is only 60% of rated capacity.

    Add 5W-30 viscosity oil if necessary, by removing the black oil filler cap on the engine valve cover. The cap rotates counterclockwise to remove. Use a funnel to prevent spilling oil on the engine valve cover.

    Puddle under the car addendum: The correct Toyota coolant is Toyota Super Long Life Coolant which has a pink color.
     
  4. WolfB

    WolfB Junior Member

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    To The Electric Me, thanks for your post. Maybe it's just me or maybe it's the Gen II, but I find I need to rest my arm on my leg to stabilize it enough to make the slight movement from Drive into Neutral as opposed to Park. My wife had exactly the reaction you did when she brought her Prius v to the car wash. You're right. I probably should have included some instructions.
     
  5. WolfB

    WolfB Junior Member

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    To Patrick Wong, great addendums. Thanks. My only concern with the oil level addendum is that I wrote this for a 21 year old who isn't a car guy. He might be turned off with this level of information. You and I wouldn't be, but I wanted to keep it simple for him. All the best, Wolf
     
  6. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Yes, I understand that concern.

    A different concern is that not being a car guy, your son may not recognize the possibility / significance of the engine consuming oil, as more miles are logged on the odometer. Then he will be surprised if he doesn't check oil level, only to find that the engine has died one day due to a lubrication failure - and that he or you will face a healthy four-digit repair bill.

    So - too much information and he might tune out.

    Too little information, and you may hear this one day: "Why didn't my Dad tell me that the engine oil level needs to be checked?"

    Can't win either way. That is a normal condition to be in, as the parent of a young adult.
     
    #6 Patrick Wong, Jul 19, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2015
  7. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    wow, i gave my kids a hug and god luck in the future.:oops:
     
  8. 69shovlhed

    69shovlhed Surly tree hugger

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    i make my sis in law and niece check their oil while I watch every so often. so they don't have an excuse if they run it out of oil. they're both stubborn so I doubt they'll check it if I don't make them do it though. the wife is so dumb I don't even try...
     
  9. Munpot42

    Munpot42 Senior Member

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    I gave my children the following driving advice. You should pay attention to your driving at all times because the driver on your left is drunk, the driver on your right is stoned, and the driver behind you is texting. You have to protect yourself and you can only do it if you pay attention, it is a life or death thing.
     
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  10. Priusyipee

    Priusyipee Active Member

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    You can also put together an "emergency kit" with extra oil, antifreeze (super long life - pink), wiper fluid, extra HID bulbs, an extra belt for the ICE water pump, wiper blades and filters in a small box that could be kept either behind the front seat or in the back area. I, too, gave my son a Prius and he is currently living 200 miles away.

    I demonstrated the proper manner to ID problems including checking for inverter turbulence (inverter), all fluid levels, location and and procedure to change all filters, how to properly raise the vehicle, check tire pressure, etc.

    I would have also included a small hydraulic jack, tire chocks, a tire pressure gauge, and a power pack to jump the engine (from the engine compartment).

    VERY IMPORTANT: I told my son NEVER to allow anyone to jump the vehicle. That includes AAA. Many tow companies are unaware of the proper procedure and could fry the inverter.

    I also MADE SURE that he knows how to access priuschat.com

    For winter driving, I bought extra rims and winter tires all around. When he visits, we change out the tires seasonally. The winter tires help a great deal in the snow and improve traction. Another tidbit: If stuck in the snow and can not go forward, put it in reverse and back up and out of the problem area.

    My added advice to my son was this: YOU are responsible for the upkeep of the vehicle. If you neglect to care for the car, YOU will have a VERY expensive repair bill on your hands for which I bear NO responsibility. You have to let them grow up sometime...

    Since I grew up around cars, I expect him to take the initiative and learn. I have always had him with me when purchasing cars, parts, negotiating, etc. etc. It is important for them to learn so that they will not be "taken" by dishonest mechanics, salesmen, etc...

    **I also would not get out of the car and sit on a guardrail in front of the car. If the car is struck from behind, there is a good chance that the car will be pushed forward and into that very guardrail. Get out of the car and get AWAY from the highway... far enough to be safe while keeping an eye on the car.

    **As Patrick stated, Toyota SLL coolant is pink...
     
  11. WolfB

    WolfB Junior Member

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    Thanks Priusyipee. I appreciate all your comments. Great points. My son lives 1,200 miles away. When I visit it looks like I have a few more things to review with him.
     
  12. Priusyipee

    Priusyipee Active Member

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    WoW! That is quite a distance! There are many You Tube videos posted online for many of the basic repair and troubleshooting tasks. That should help as kids seem to enjoy this avenue of learning. :)
     
  13. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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