flashing "E"

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Fuel Economy' started by sheila, Dec 26, 2003.

  1. sheila

    sheila New Member

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    near the end of my first tank of gas in my 2004, the last green bar at empty began flashing. I filled up about 10 miles later. it only took 7.2 gallons. i was happy that my mileage was pretty good (about 55.5mpg on the 7.2 gal), but dissappointed that it would start flashing at me with 150 miles left to drive. Is there another warning that comes up when the fuel is actually low?

    by the way, i love this car. i rented one in illinois and my (minivan, luxury car, suv and truck loving) relatives loved this car. i've had dozens ride in mine, and 4 others drive it. they all love it. it's been a non-stop little happy party on wheels. the only people who don't seemed thrilled are those who just bought a (sadly inferior) new car that is Not a prius. it's hard for them, but they still manage to be happy for me.
     
  2. efusco

    efusco Moderator Emeritus
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    This is a pretty much universal problem. 7.2 is lower than usual, the only time I experienced better than expected MPG (as you did) and lower amount of fuel filling the tank (as you did) was at a different gas station than I usually use. Guess what, my next tank I got LOWER MPG than I had expected, but between the two tanks it balanced out exactly at my previous lifetime average. My conclusion was that the first pump had an earlier 'click off'.

    The MOST I've gotten in a tank is 8.8 gallons and that was driving until I was sweating after the last bar started blinking. Someone claims their service person said that Toyota would be coming out with a 'fix', but that is of yet to be confirmed by anyone that I'm aware of. I plan to do, and would recommend the following.

    Once you have a GOOD grasp of your real tank to tank MPG average just drive the car, ignore the flashing bar until you've gone 10 times your MPG average. Thus, if your lifetime average after 2-3K miles is 45mpg then you should be able to easily and safely drive 450 miles between fill ups with a little residual for safety or in case you're a little low on your MPG aveg. that tank.
    --evan
     
  3. thinkgreat04

    thinkgreat04 New Member

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    I just ran out of gas today. I hear this is fairly common. I made a silly mistake but attribute it mostly to the confusing fuel level indicator on the 04 P :roll: :roll: rius.

    After the flashing "E" and one warning, there weren't other warnings (That I remember). I haven't driven it for a few days and kind of forgot.

    If the fuel indicator was more accurate/friendly this wouldnt have happened. I hope that there is some kind of fix.

    One the freeway the engine just stopped and the batteries were depleted in about a mile. It didnt take long. Toyota roadside towed it to the nearest Toyota dealer; they were cool. But when I realized I ran out of gas I felt pretty stupid.

    By the way, the vehicle travelled 505 miles on the tank. (45.7mpg as per computer)

    DAB
     
  4. sjr14221

    sjr14221 Member

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    People have been recommending that you multiply your average mpg by 10 to detemine when you need to refuel. :)

    Sharon
     
  5. efusco

    efusco Moderator Emeritus
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    Ok DAB,
    This is actually stuff the rest of us can use. Your 505 miles divided by the computer's 45.7mpg = 11.05 gallons...pretty dang close to the 11.9 gallon capacity minus the reserve volume. So how much fuel could you put into the tank when you filled up? What was your calculated MPG. Did you drive on the battery only or stop immediately. FEED US!!!
    --evan
     
  6. talleyid

    talleyid New Member

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    Attempting to get an answer from Toyota

    I emailed Toyota corporate about this gas gauge thing and was directed to my "local dealer customer relations manager." I spoke with her Wednesday and she was very willing to investigate once I got her to understand the issue. She wasn't aware of the problem but is in contact with the Chicago Region Service Manager. They are supposed to discuss with their technicians, who are out until Monday (1/5/04), and get back to me.

    I'm going in for an oil change on 1/7 so if I haven't gotten a call I try to speak with her in person. I'll pass along any info I get.

    I realize I can calculate mileage but I feel Toyota at least owes us a definitive answer/explanation regarding the operation of the fuel gauge.
     
  7. Swampthing

    Swampthing Junior Member

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    My latest MPG

    Recently I drove 482 miles on one tank averaging 49.2MPG. Started to get a little nervous that there might be some inaccuracy in the gauge, so I didn't go much further. Upon refill, I ended up only getting 8.something gallons in the tank in 55 degree weather. I still feel pretty good about the mileage, and plan to take advantage of the planned 70 degree weather today in Washington, DC to top off the tank as much as possible. Just wish there was a visual way to actually tell how many gallons currently are in your tank...
     
  8. wesj49

    wesj49 Junior Member

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    Due to this fuel tank controversy, I intentionally drove out of fuel on our first tank. I was on the 101 freeway when it happened and drove about a 1/4 mile fully electric off the freeway and onto a surface street without incident. Red warning icon, check engine icon, et al all lit up. Unfortunately, I did not know the exact amount of fuel in the gas can I was carrying but estimate it at 1.5 gal +or-. Interestingly enough two squares appeared on the guage after filling. However the guage was flashing again almost exactly when I arrived at a gas station about 6 miles later. The tank took 9.6 gal to the first click and I couldn't get it to take but .3 more. I had managed to trip the ODO when the bar had first flashed and put 97 miles more of mixed driving conditions with the consumption gauage registering 44.8 mpg. From this experience I am going to assume that the bar begins flashing with approx. 2 gals remaining in the tank and I will feel comfortable driving 1 times the current mpg on the consumption sceen in miles. This all happened on the central coast of ca in 55 degree weather in street and highway traffic.
     
  9. talleyid

    talleyid New Member

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    Toyota's Answer on Fuel Gauge

    My Customer Relations Manager relayed information she obtained from the Chicago area Service Techs. According to them "this is not a defect" but they consider it normal that the fuel gauge will indicate low on fuel even when I can only squeeze in a little over 7 gallons. According to her they have heard of several owners having a 3-4 gallon variation which I feel is excessive. I'll follow what many have already suggested and use my mileage to calculate when to fill up.

    I'm continuing to press with Toyota for more concrete information. I'm aware that the gauge is not intended as a scientific measurement of the fuel remaining but this is a little inconvenient since my range is no better than my previous vehicles if I trust the fuel gauge.

    That being said I still love the car and the fact that this is the only thing I can find to complain about says volumes! Never enjoyed driving so much or felt so good about it.
     
  10. talleyid

    talleyid New Member

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    Additional Toyota Response

    I received the following via email today in response to my email to Toyota (see below response for my email):

    Thank you for contacting Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
    Our technical staff and engineers are actively investigating the concern you expressed about the fuel gauge accuracy. As soon as more information is available, we will be providing this to our dealerships so that they may properly advise you.

    In the meantime, we recommend that you follow the guidelines in your 2004 Prius Owner’s Manual and add gasoline as indicated by the low fuel indicators, if not before. We also suggest that you keep records of your fuel filling history with mileage and fuel efficiency as stated on the multi-information display in your vehicle.

    Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this situation has caused.

    We appreicate your patience.

    ----------------------

    My email:

    Could you provide any information regarding the difference between the
    stated capacity of the fuel tank and the gas gauge readings?

    Specifically many owners, including myself, are displaying low or near
    empty on the fuel indicator but a fill-up only accepts aprx. 7 gallons.
    This is obviously a significant difference from the 11 gallon capacity
    even considering environmental shrinkage of the fuel tank bladder. Any
    information you can provide would be appreciated. Thanks.
     
  11. stevemwz

    stevemwz New Member

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    Unexpectedly ran out of gas!

    Our new 2004 Prius was delivered on New Years Eve -- just in time for 2003 tax year!

    We thought the fuel gauge was just being way over-conservative -- it would flash the last bar at "E" but then would take only 5 or 6 gallons at the gas station. We didn't get a Prius so we would stop every 250 miles to fuel up, so we multiplied the average mileage (44.2 mpg on our rural roads) by the miles on the trip meter, and figured we had a hundred miles or so left on the tank -- then the car ran out of gas!

    Warning lights popped up like a crazy pinball machine: Check Engine, Brake malfunction (?), and the dreaded red triangle "Do Not Drive This Car" warning light.

    I suspected it was out of gas, but after I poured in a gallon and a half, though the engine started up, warning lights still glowed. We locked it and left it on the roadside, and returned to our poor stranded car a couple of hours later to meet AAA, and, on trying the power button again, the screen showed the message "Trouble" and then "Add Fuel." AAA put in 3 more gallons, and this time the warning lights went out. The car started and drove normally, but where was the missing gas?

    A chat with Toyota service today revealed that the tank is a flexible bladder to avoid fuel vapor emissions -- like filling a balloon with gasoline. If you fill it too fast, it won't "inflate" entirely, stopping a couple of gallons short of the 11.9 capacity. They told me to wait a minute or so after first fillup cutoff, then pump the rest of the gas. If the last bar on the gas gauge is flashing, then you really should fuel up soon. Don't assume you got a full 11.9 gallons last fillup.

    I understand earlier Prius models have bladder tanks like this. Do they get more flexible with use?
     
  12. Wolfman

    Wolfman New Member

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    I don't know. All I know is that the infernal bladder is the one part of these cars that I truly hate. There was a trick that I picked up lurking in the YG right before this site was started. Fill up the tank using the slowest latchable flow rate on the nozzle. Let it sit for a minute and then trickle the remaining fuel in. It's alot like letting the foam dissipate on a diesel when filling. I'm getting to where I can consistenly fill right up to the top of the filler neck. I'd still rather just fill it, top it off and fly, saving the diesel fuel filling process for the truck and classic car.
     
  13. green4evr2003

    green4evr2003 New Member

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    I know it's fun to see how far the Prius can be driven between fill-ups, but I've discovered over the years that rather than pushing the envelope, it's much more practical to not let the gauge register lower than halfway between empty and half full. Maybe not as much fun, but lowers blood pressure under certain circumstances.

    Bruce Webster
     
  14. stevemwz

    stevemwz New Member

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    Frequent fillups are more of an issue in rural areas like ours in northern California -- fuel is much more expensive in our town, and we like to wait to fill the tank when we have an opportunity to buy it in the city, where gas is substantially cheaper.

    Cheers!

    Steve
     
  15. penpendisarapen

    penpendisarapen New Member

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    Unless that city is San Francisco.
    :D
     
  16. kmbell

    kmbell New Member

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    I don't know where exactly in rural northern CA the other person is located, but SF fuel prices are generally lower than the Sonoma County town where I live. Vallejo is the best and is consistently 25-30 cents per gallon cheaper. Too bad I don't have a need to go there much! :lol:

    And for the record, I have filled up 3 times since my purchase 3 weeks ago. Each time I have filled up within 20 miles of the beep/flashing and have put 8.8 or 8.9 gallons in the tank. I have not done the secret trick of first notch, wait, trickle - only fastest notch then quit. I will probably start trying the trick to see what changes.
     
  17. green4evr2003

    green4evr2003 New Member

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    I feel at this point as if I should apologize for what I thought initially was advice. I did not realize that squeezing as many miles as possible per tank was a matter of financial survival in California. Where I live - in Pittsburgh - gasoline prices might vary on an average of 2 - 5 cents per gallon along a 10-mile stretch of driving. We were in Beaver Falls, PA yesterday (about a 60-mile drive) and the price for gasoline was the same as it is where I live. I'm almost embarrassed to tell you what we're paying for fuel here.

    Bruce Webster
     
  18. Horst_Hannover_GER

    Horst_Hannover_GER New Member

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    Gas Prices in Germany
    Oh thats an discussion I like (not really) , because the gas prices in Germany are not very different in the regions and cities - but they are very high - we have to pay ~ 4,80 $ per Gallon. :(
    Now I drive a Prius 1 one week ! - there are in this week 47mpg.
    HORST
     
  19. Batavier

    Batavier Member

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    $4.80 is nothing... :) In the Netherlands we're paying $5.50 per gallon... :? :(
     
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