Prius Generations in cold weather

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Main Forum' started by teraja, Dec 12, 2012.

  1. teraja

    teraja New Member

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    Hi everyone and greetings from snowy Finland!

    I'm new here and the reason I registered is that I'm fed up with the gas and diesel prices today and am planning to buy a Prius in the next few months. The two main reasons I'm buying a Prius are the high mpg and unbeatable reliability (todays gas prices: regular 2.10 USD/litre = 7.95 USD/gallon, diesel about the same). Although Prius isn't really a cheap car to buy here (new Prius starting at 46000 USD) you can still get good deals for used ones (2008, 75000 miles, 18000 USD ; 2010, 50000 miles, 27000 USD). Most used Prius have JBL audio, SKS and some have navi. I know you guys can get a new one for 27000 USD... :(

    I have a couple of questions regarding Prius Gen 2 vs Gen 3 in cold weather. I live in Helsinki, where the normal winter temperature is about -10 °C (14 °F) but some days it might even be -25 °C (-13 °F). The winter season takes up to 4-5 months, so the winter abilities on a car are high priority. I don't have the possibility of pre-heating my car. My current car, Chrysler Sebring has coped very well, but as you might guess, the fuel consumption is too high when the engine is warm and disastrous when it's still cold. Oil change every 15000km (9300 miles) as the service plan suggests and just the normal maintenance.

    So this goes out to all you Canadians and Americans living in the Northern states: Is there huge differences between the 2nd and 3rd gen Prius when it's cold? How is the fuel consumption when the engine is still cold, how cold is it inside the car etc. I don't know if you have them, but I think we have some kind of electric heaters inside the air vents in Finnish import Prius, at least the 2nd gen. We, on the other hand, don't have those hot coolant storage tanks on our Prius for some reason.

    The price difference is pretty huge between used gen 2 and gen 3, so is there any other reason than the looks to buy the gen 3? I don't need the extra power, so I guess the main question lies in the cold performance of the 1.5l vs 1.8l.

    Thanks for all your replies!
     
  2. walter Lee

    walter Lee Hypermiling Padawan

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    Get a black car - black absorbs solar heat faster.

    You need to grill block a Toyota Prius when the temperature drops below 60F degrees.

    On cleanmpg.com there is a FAQ article on winterizing a prius/hybrid at...

    http://www.cleanmpg.com/forums/showthread.php?s=349e74d6181a59e6ec080b61e7f3ad37&t=17560

    It sounds like Finnish Prius have a 400W Engine Block Heater(EHB) standard. If you can use an EHB - the optimal pre heating warm up time is from 30minutes to 90 minutes. After 90 minutes, the Return on Investment diminishes. Since you cannot pre-heat your car - I would suggest you look at installing additional engine hood insulation as an option.

    2nd gen vs 3rd gen

    If you get a 2nd gen Prius then you should get something to monitor the engine speed (RPM) and fuel consumption rate (GPH) like a scangaugeII or an Android Torque App if you want to optimize your fuel efficiency. The 2nd gen Prius fuel efficiency display is clumsy and primitive.

    If you have a 3rd gen then you can get by with the onboard HSI display to optimize your fuel efficiency.

    The 2nd gen Prius has a Coolant Recovery Heating System (CHS) -- atleast in the USA --but the 3rd gen Prius does not. The CHS keeps the Prius coolant warm for over an hour after the car has been turned off. The CHS makes the 2nd gen Prius more fuel efficient than the 3rd gen Prius when the driver does multiple short trips in sequence (where each min trip is only in less than an hour apart from one another). The 3rd Prius has an Exhaust Heat Recovery (EHR) system which heats up the coolant faster by recovering extra heat expended from the exhaust to heat up the coolant faster. Hence, the 3rd gen Prius tends to be more efficient when one is just driving one simple long trip. You can click on my fuelly.com signature to see my mileage log for the winters - please ignore the winter of 2011-2012 since it was very mild and the average winter time temperatures were way too high.

    Even with hypermiling I normally get about 53 to 56 mpg (US gallons not Imperal gallons) during the cold winter days on my 3rd gen Prius on my 15.8 mile /60 minute commute to work in the cold mornings using 10% ethanol gasoline. It takes about 30 minutes to 45 minutes for the 3rd gen Prius ICE coolant temperatures to warm up to about 160F-188F degrees and reach 45 to 55 mpg. BTW - When I drive my 3rd gen Prius for less than 2 miles from a cold start in -32F degree temperatures , the Prius will get between 12 to 30 mpg. Short trips in cold weather causes the Prius MPGs to drop.

    hope this helps

    Walter
     
  3. john1701a

    john1701a Prius Guru

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    That isn't a necessity. Blocking simply reduces the burden on the engine, by limiting the flow of air and helping to retain heat. This is my 13th winter here in Minnesota driving a Classic (2001), Iconic (2004), Definitive (2010), and now PHV (2012). That benefit becomes quite obvious when you drive the plug-in, since the engine runs less.

    Each generation has shown improvement. That's certainly not a purchase decision maker though. There are plenty of other differences to make that choice with.

    As for an engine-block heater. I haven't ever used one. Obviously though, it does indeed help. But if you're like me, who's Prius is parked outside all day in temperatures well below freezing, the ability to warm up quickly unassisted is a big deal.

    Usually about 10 minutes into my commute home on those brutally cold evenings warmth emerges from the heater, enough to start to feel comfortable. Of course, with heated seats, warming takes less than 2 minutes.
     
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  4. jsfabb

    jsfabb Active Member

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    That seems like a long time to warm up. I have an Ultra Gauge and it reaches those temps in about 10 min. First 2 miles local then highway.

    You didn't really mean -32F? Maryland isn't that cold. :)

    With temps in the 30s in the morning going to work I have been getting about 54-58 mpg (display) on my 35 mile commute into work. On my way home lately, temps usually 45-55, my mpg is about 62-64 (display). It's the short trips that really hurt. Typically, I don't do too many during the week this time of year ... golfing has come to a screeching halt.

    BTW - great job on the readability of your post!
     
  5. pichner

    pichner Metallic Maniac #001

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    As a fellow MN I can tell you that -32 was probably an accurate number a few mornings in the winter here (if you count the wind chill is can be lower than that every now and then
     
  6. spiderman

    spiderman wretched

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    The description of your winter closely matches Anchorage, Alaska. My 2010 (GenIII) does quite well with about 52 mpg summer and about 43 mpg winter. I do have a warm garage to park in at night however. A few other members that do not have a garage suffer a bit more in fuel economy.
    I think you would still come out ahead with the prius, assuming you got a good used one.
     
  7. jsfabb

    jsfabb Active Member

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    You are not a fellow MN, since Walter is from MD. If MD got that cold, the government would be at a standstill. Well I guess they are at that anyhow! :mad:
     
  8. David Beale

    David Beale Senior Member

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    In my experience the "block heater" (400 W) is pretty much useless in our climate. Not really noticeable. I tried the one in Pearl (GII) and gave up on it. Pearl S (GIII) doesn't have it installed, so I didn't -waste- the $400 or so they charge for it.

    You WILL need to block the grill. We use pipe insulation for this. Search the forum. There are lots of posts on it. It helps a lot speeding up the warm up of the engine. I recommend a Scangauge or some other OBDII reader with real time gauges so you can watch the coolant temperature.

    Here in North America the GII has the thermos as you have listed. It was useless as well. At an ambient temp much below freezing the coolant in the tank by morning is not very warm and there isn't much of it. My observations with the Scangauge showed it raised the coolant temp by perhaps 5-10 deg. Not very effective when it starts at 0 C or lower. Driving a block does the same.

    In my opinion both the block heater and the thermos are useful in more temperate climates - below latitude 45 deg. in North America or along the coasts.

    The GIII here has the exhaust heat recovery device, and it -may- speed up the warm up cycle. Proper grill blocking is easier, cheaper, and probably more effective (keeping the cold air wind out of the engine compartment as you move).

    You can expect the following mileage:
    GII - summer - 4.6 l/100 km winter - 6 to 7 l/100 km
    GIII - summer - 4.4 l/100 km winter - 5 to 6 l/100 km

    The car works best if your trips take 20 min or longer. It won't warm up sitting and idling when it's real winter, as you and I have (actually I think it's a bit colder here). You will find the car cold inside until you have been driving that long, though the GIII has been noticeably faster, perhaps twice as fast to warm up.

    The reason for all this is the engine is just so darn efficient, and produces little waste heat. Add to that the fact it will shut off when not needed, and you will find the coolant will run in the 60C temp range for a long time in the GII, but the GIII seems to reach 80C in the same time and gives better cabin heating.

    Oh, and I only noticed the effect of the two electric heaters in the A/C system once, on a day when it was above freezing, perhaps 10C. Otherwise they are ineffective in our climate.
     
  9. jsfabb

    jsfabb Active Member

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    I forgot to mention, that I am completely lower grill blocked. I have been since about 9/20 here on Long Island.

    Walter Lee - are you grill blocking? I just assumed you were, since you are up on these type of matters.
     
  10. pichner

    pichner Metallic Maniac #001

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    HAHA, I misread that state abbr... my bad (y) nothing like putting your foot in your mouth within your 1st couple posts. I should blame it on my laptop screen but with 20/20 vision I don't really have an excuse.
     
  11. walter Lee

    walter Lee Hypermiling Padawan

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    Yes. I'm blocking both the top and bottom air intakes right now. :) I monitor my coolant temperature with a ScangaugeII FWT Xgauge. Because I'm hypermiling my Prius - I don't run the ICE as often as someone who isn't hypermiling - hence it does takes longer for my Prius' gasoline engine/coolant to heat up. I'm sure if one drove the Prius like a normal car - it would heat up faster (but at the same time it wouldn't be optimizing the Prius' fuel efficiency) I'm getting about 59 mpg overall over 32 miles per day commute right now with my tire pressures set at 44 psi front and 42 psi rear. The average driving temperature is between 30 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit here in DC Metro Area. Oh yes, that "-32F" was a typo :oops: - it should have been "32F " :rolleyes: - I miss that one. :whistle: It sounds like taraja(the OP) knows about EBH but he doesn't have access to a garage/electrical outlet to plug the Prius' EHB in so it's basically worthless standard feature for him:( :cautious: - hence - I suggested getting a black car and maybe upgrading the Prius' hood insulation + grill blocking. :coffee: You can buy automotive grade hood insulation over the net but you have to cut and install it yourself... I've been thinking of doing that myself.... :coffee:

    I forgot to mention that the Prius fuel efficiency depends partly on using Low rolling resistant (LRR) tires and that taraja should make sure that if he buys a used Prius to make sure the tires are LLR tires if he wants to optimize his fuel efficency. Unfortunately the downside to LRR tires is that often they dont perform as well in ice and snow as good conventional performance tires o_O - something a driver in "snowy Finland" might decide is not a good engineering trade off. :(
     
  12. teraja

    teraja New Member

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    First of all, thanks for all your informative and kind replies!

    Lots of useful information and ways to improve the mpg on a Prius. Most cars in Finland come indeed equipped with a pre-heating system of some sort, so I'm almost certain that the Prius I shall pick will have it too, and if it doesn't I will have one installed. Most people here use block heaters but some have these gasoline powered heaters, for example Webasto or Eberspächer. Gas heaters I guess are not an option for Prius because of the very small capacity 12V battery.

    It's funny many of you mentioned blocking the air intakes. It reminds me of the 80's when most cars here had them blocked during winter time but for some reason no one does it anymore. I guess they were forced to do it in order to keep the car running as back then there weren't any automatic systems and sensors in cars and even the stroke was manually adjustable from inside the car. All in all, blocking the grill seems like a good idea as it helps the motor to warm up faster. Do they sell some Prius specific covers to use?

    Insulating the hood, that's a good idea too! I've never heard of anyone doing so here, maybe our cars have an extra insulation fitted as a part of the import localization process. I need to find out more about that! Maybe I should ask Toyota Finland too. I know a couple of taxi drivers who have used their gen3 Prius in Helsinki for 250000 miles without any major problems. They are still a minority here, the most common taxi car still is the Mercedes E220 CDI.

    About the tires we use... About 80% use studded winter tires while the rest have friction tires. Helsinki lies by the sea, so we have the sea wind blowing and making the roads go icy, and so studded tires are the only safe type of tires here during winter. Nokian Tires is the brand I use and surely they're trying to make them as LRR as possible while improving the safety BUT the main concerns are the safety and reliability in extreme conditions. The summer tires are easier to choose with the rolling resistance in mind.
     
  13. Sporin

    Sporin Prius Noob

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    For me here in cold, snowy Vermont USA, I generally drop 5-8% overall MPG in winter time. That's a combination of high friction snow tires and the consistent low temps. We use the heat and defrost plenty and we are not hardcore hypermilers.
     
  14. David Beale

    David Beale Senior Member

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    The Nokian tyres are very LRR. One of the best according to the charts. My favorite. Pearl wears the WRGII. Pearl S is on the stock tyres, which work very well when parked in the garage for winter. ;) Actually they worked fine for the few days I tried the car. Now the snow is too deep and I refuse to plow the roads for the city with Pearl S! So I burn about 2-2.5 times as much fuel driving the FJ Cruiser. Good for our local economy, bad for the environment.
     
  15. jsfabb

    jsfabb Active Member

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    I think I'm going to also try blocking the upper grill, now that the morninga are pretty much in the 30s. I'll keep a close eye on the temperature with me UltraGauge. Worst case if the temp gets too high, I pull off to the side of the road and just pull it off. No harm, no foul!
     
  16. kbeck

    kbeck Active Member

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    I'll let others argue about grill blocking or not. In New Jersey, not that cold a place, it doesn't seem that necessary. But I've never used it, so who knows.

    What I have heard though, is that the GEN 3 traction control is better than the GEN 2. Something about if a GEN 2 is in a place where the car has to be rocked to get free, the traction control tends to prevent the driven wheels from spinning. The GEN 3 has, apparently, software changes that allow for better wheel spin/rocking.

    Turning traction control off on a GEN 3 is possible, but time consuming and difficult. (Open this door, close that door, hit a button twice, stand on one foot and blow a nose, that kind of thing - I've got the instructions around here somewhere. :) )

    KBeck
     
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  17. retired4999

    retired4999 Prius driver since 2005

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    I have blocked the grill on my prius cars for going on 8 years now and it does make a diffrence. Under 50 degrees I block the bottom 1/2 of grill, car warms up faster and helps hold the heat longer. Really helps when it is -20 degrees and below!
     
  18. jsfabb

    jsfabb Active Member

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    Here on Long Island, I have been blocking my lower grill since late September and I just started blocking my upper grill this morning. It was 27* when I started out for work and 39* when I got there an hour later. According to my UltraGauge the highest temp it reached was 197.6* and that was only for a few seconds at a time. It literally took my 5 minutes to cut and fit my upper grill.

    For such a cheap and easy retrofit, everyone should be doing it ... even in NJ!
     
  19. walter Lee

    walter Lee Hypermiling Padawan

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    If the Prius is driven longer than 30 minutes at over 50 mph, you shouldn't grill block your Prius. :coffee: My 2010 Toyota Prius stability sensors are very sensitive - and just joustling around in the driver's seat can turn it on. :rolleyes:
     
  20. jsfabb

    jsfabb Active Member

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    Can you please explain in more detail? :sick:
     
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