The one and only Prius Plug-in FAQ!

Discussion in 'Gen 1 Prius Plug-in 2012-2015' started by lensovet, Nov 24, 2012.

  1. lensovet

    lensovet Not your typical youngin :)/BP Brigade 207

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    So, I got mildly tired of answering the same questions multiple times a week, so I put together this FAQ! I'm going to ask one of the mods to sticky it as well. Feel free to respond with other questions you think would be useful to have here, as well as links to older threads that would be useful to include as references of sorts.
    Also, here's the full manual in PDF, the navigation system manual, and warranty booklets (2012, 2013). Note that because Toyota doesn't publish the blank pages between chapters, the page numbering goes off slightly as the manual progresses (final page is 684 but there are only 675 pages in the PDF).
    This is now getting long, so it's broken up into three different sections: purchasing, EV-driving and EV-mode questions, and everything else. Also, some terminology to start.

    Terminology, common acronyms, etc.
    • EV – electric vehicle. Also, EV mode, a mode in the PiP which you can enable when you have sufficient charge remaining in the battery, which allows you to favor the battery+electric motor over the gasoline engine as the primary motive source.
    • HV – hybrid vehicle mode. In this mode, the PiP generally drives just like a regular Prius, with the additional caveat that it is able to accept regenerative braking longer due to its larger battery capacity.
    • ICE – Internal Combustion Engine. Generally used in the context of our favorite question, why does ICE turn on while in EV? :ROFLMAO:
    • MID – Multi-Information Display, the display that's directly to the right of the speedometer near the windshield. Press the DISP button on your steering wheel to cycle through the available screens on this display. On some screens, pressing the TRIP button will allow you cycle through some additional stuff.
    • MFD – Multi-function Display, the large screen that's in the center of the dash and shows your radio, nav, and car/setup information. Pressing the car button will allow you to show some of the same information that's available on the MID.
    • HSI – Hybrid System Indicator. This is one of the screens available for display on the MID. It shows a "power bar" that reflects how much throttle you're demanding from the car as well as the amount of regen taking place when braking. Reaching into the PWR zone is one really easy way to trigger ICE in EV.
    • LO – the lowest possible climate control temperature setting. Useful for avoiding ICE startup (see below).
    Purchasing
    • Do regional TFS incentives have a residency requirement?
      No. Some dealers, for some strange reason, mistakenly believe that this is the case. These dealers are wrong and are basically asking you to take your business elsewhere. Many people on the forum have bought their cars from out of state dealers. Consult this spreadsheet for prices that people have paid for the PiP – it includes TFS rebates but NOT any state or federal rebates.
      Relevant thread: Price Paid on PIP?
    • Can I buy the car out of state? How does this work? CA-related: am I still eligible for the $1,500 CVRP rebate?
      Yes. You will need to calculate the registration fees due using the DMV website. Then, after you have purchased the car and secured financing, the dealer will make out a check to the DMV for the registration fees amount and mail all the appropriate paperwork to your local DMV office. You will need to then come to your DMV office to finish the registration process and have them inspect the car. Yes, just submit the CVRP forms as usual and submit all the requested paperwork. The main requirement is that the car not be registered in any other state prior to California.
    • What incentives are available in my area?
      Consult the sticky thread dedicated to this topic: Federal and State Incentives for Plug-Ins, EV's
    • CA and other CARB states: What's the deal with warranties and passing smog?
      All Priuses, past and present and all variations, are 50-state vehicles. This means that a Prius purchased anywhere in the country is certified for the emissions regulations in all 50 states and you should not have any issues registering it. See the DMV for details on smog requirements for used cars.
      At the moment, the PiP is available for sale in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
      The warranties and rules mandated by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) apply in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
      As you can see from these lists, the following states are not technically CARB-compliant but do sell the PiP: Delaware, Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Virginia.
      It is a matter of debate whether the state of purchase even matters for the warranty. In particular, while Toyota's warranty booklet supplied with the vehicle states "Vehicles…that are sold, registered and operated in California or any state that adopts California emission warranty provisions…" (emphasis mine), Ford's online warranty pages claim that the only requirements are that the vehicle is registered in a CARB-compliant state and that it was certified for operation in a CARB state at the time of its sale.
      Relevant thread: Are we sure a car from MD is CARB Approved and Pass Smog in CA?
    EV mode, EV driving, charging
    • Why is ICE turning on when there's still battery left?
      There are any number of factors that can cause this. The manual outlines them on page 40:
      ●The heater etc. is in use.
      ●The temperature of the hybrid system is high: The vehicle has been left in the sun, driven on a hill, driven at high speeds, etc.
      ●The temperature of the hybrid system is low: The vehicle has been left in temperatures lower than about 32°F (0°C) for a long period of time etc.
      ●Power is needed temporarily, for example when accelerating suddenly.
      ●Vehicle speed is more than approximately 62 mph (100 km/h).
      ●The accelerator pedal is depressed firmly or the vehicle is on a hill etc.
      ●The outside temperature is low (less than 14°F [-10°C])
      Bullet points 4 & 6 refer to accelerating so hard that the HSI progress bar reaches into the PWR zone.
      In addition, it will also turn on when
      ●You have driven in EV mode with no ICE usage for 200 km (~124 miles)
      ●When using the front windshield defogger and coolant temperature is too low (more on that below)
      ●When you are braking/"coasting" and the traction battery is full (see question regarding the B drive mode below)
      Relevant threads: ICE in EV Mode … Again, ICE in EV Mode, why is my ICE starting???, confused about when ICE should run?, ICE Engine ON Indicator, EV mode and my ICE kicked in., Fully charge but ICE still running?, Is there any pattern for when ICE comes on?, Is the ICE kicking on in EV mode?
    • How can I defog the windshield without engaging ICE?
      Lower the climate control temperature until the display shows LO, set the vents to foot+windshield, and turn on the fan. Do NOT press the front defogger button. If you follow this procedure, engine will NOT come on. NOTE! you must do this before turning the car on or within the first 10 seconds of starting the PIP! That is, if after the 10 seconds, you turn on the fan and your temperature is initially 70 and then you hold down the "lower temperature" button until you get to LO, you blew it and the ICE will kick on anyway. To avoid this, before starting the car, press the POWER button twice without pressing on the brake pedal, turn on the fan, and lower the temperature to LO. Then, press OFF and start the car as usual. Or, as mentioned above, adjust your climate settings within the first ten seconds after starting your car.
      Pages 362 and 366 in the manual mention that engine may come on when "regular" defogger is engaged. You can also crack open a rear window by about an inch and not turn anything on, which works for some people.
    • If I completely deplete the EV battery, can I regenerate EV miles to be able to enter EV mode again?
      Yes. The manual states this on page 39. A number of drivers have also personally reported seeing this behavior. Generally, you'll need to go down a fairly good downgrade at high speeds for this to happen.
      Relevant threads: Wow - suddenly got back 0.9mi EV after being out for a couple miles, EV miles can be regenerated by PIP after EV depletion, Yes, you can charge the battery while driving: my plug-in experience
    • Can I preheat the car interior when plugged in? What if A/C is set to a high temperature and I use remote A/C?
      No, the PiP does not come with an electric heater and requires the ICE to run to generate cabin heat. If the preset A/C temperature is above the exterior temperature, it will not turn on (page 372 of the manual).
      You can purchase the Toyota remote starter, part number PT398-47091 (available in the PriusChat Shop, your dealer, or any number of sites), which will allow you to preheat the car. Note that the charger must be disconnected from the vehicle before it will start.
      Relevant threads: Using heat tanks mpg, alternative?, Gas on to heat car - does it defeat the purpose
    • What does the number of miles remaining number mean? Why does it keep dropping?
      It's purely an estimate based on your past driving history of how many miles you might be able to drive. It does NOT represent the capacity or charge level of the battery, only the battery graphic does. It can also be slow to reflect changes in driving behavior, and it is not currently known how much of a history (one week? One month?) it keeps. It is basically useless. I sometimes drive to a shelter by my house. The drive is 2.2 miles at 35 mph speeds and has drop in elevation of 175 feet. However, the estimated miles drop by only half a mile on this trip!
      It's dropping because the initial number of miles in the computer is around 13, which is fairly difficult to achieve in regular US driving. The number will eventually stabilize once it reaches what the car thinks is representative of your driving habits. In my case, this is 10.8 miles. Note that lower temperatures, increased use of climate control and lights, and low tire pressures will all decrease your range as well as your overall fuel economy.
      Relevant threads: Confused: Why does estimated EV miles keep dropping?, 12 miles EV after fully charged?, EV On/Off Charge Depletion Miles and Control Not Making Much Sense, After recharge how many miles be displayed?, EV Miles estimate after Full Charge LOW, How many miles at full charge?
    • Why can't I engage EV mode even though the battery is full?
      Because the battery is not actually full.
      Both the PiP and the Liftback have an EV button. However, they work differently. Liftback EV has a maximum speed of 25 mph and only allows gentle acceleration. PiP EV is similar to a real EV, with a maximum speed of 62 mph and much more brisk acceleration.
      The PiP will allow you to engage EV mode only if there is an estimated number of miles remaining shown next to the battery indicator. If the battery is "full" but no estimated miles are shown, that means that you are in HV mode and there is no way for you to "engage" the Liftback-like EV mode (which I like to call golfcart mode). This does not mean, however, that you can't drive around with just electricity. Here's how: make sure that the HSI display is showing on the MID (if it's not, keep pressing DISP on the steering wheel until you get it). Then, accelerate gently and be sure to keep the "progress bar" filled in BELOW the vertical line in the middle. You should also see a green car with the letters EV inside above the "bar graph". This works exactly the same as in the Prius Liftback.
      Consult page 60 of the manual for a graphical explanation of the different modes.
      Relevant thread: EV Mode Question
    • Can I use an extension cord with the supplied charger?
      The manual advises against this, but you can do it assuming you use a cord that's thick enough for the cord length that you're using. Use a cord that's at least 12 gauge to prevent overheating. Longer cord lengths (100 ft) should probably use 10 gauge. The first time you use the cord, just monitor the temperature of the plug and the cord itself during charging. If it remains cool, you should be fine.
      Relevant threads: Extension cable, Using an extension chord for charging, Extension Cord
    • When should I charge the car?
      If you are in a colder climate (lows dipping below 40), time your charging so that it finishes as close as possible to your departure time, so that the battery is still warm when you leave and ICE doesn't need to come on. You can use the End time charging timer to accomplish this (consult page 86 in the manual for how to set that up, since it's a little complicated). Otherwise, just plug in whenever. It doesn't really matter. The manual does recommend depleting the EV portion of the battery (so that the car operates in HV mode) when storing the car for long periods.
      Relevant threads: When Should I Charge?, more questions - charging in rain? topping off? saving EV?, bad to leave plug in after charging complete?, PIP charging, I'm confused: Charging, Timer
    • What's the story with the charge timer?
      The story is that there's actually two charge timers: a start timer and an end timer. That is, you do not set a "start time" and an "end time". The start timer works as follows: at the set time, the car will begin charging and continue to do so until it has fully charged. The end timer works as follows: the car will begin charging whenever it feels like to make sure that it is fully charged before the end time that you have set. I say "whenever it feels like" because it doesn't seem to take into account the amount of energy left in the battery when it starts charging, so even if your battery is half full, it will still start charging about 3 hours before the end time you have set.
      In addition, note that you must press the timer button on the dash to activate the timer every time you want to use it. Otherwise, the car will start charging immediately after you plug it in.
      For details on how to set the timer, consult page 87 of the manual.
    Everything else
    • What is the B gear? Does B stand for Battery?
      First, a quick primer on Prius braking: the Prius has two kinds of brakes, regenerative and friction. Friction brakes are just like the brakes you have on all "regular" cars. Regenerative brakes work by using the force of the axle turning to drive the electric motor in "reverse" as a generator. This process creates resistance and therefore slows the car down.
      There is one additional wrinkle to this. In regular cars, when you take your foot off the accelerator and do not press the brake pedal, the car applies engine braking, which slows the car down. If you take it out of gear (put it in neutral), no engine braking takes place and you are actually coasting. In the Prius, taking your foot off the accelerator engages regenerative braking instead, assuming that the battery has sufficient room left over to accept a charge. If the battery is deemed full by the hybrid system, then regular engine braking will effectively take place instead (why effectively? can't you see this is already too long? lol. anyway, effectively because what actually happens is that the electric motor still runs as a generator, but instead of charging the battery, it spins the ICE with minimal gas usage. this is effectively what happens when you have "real" engine braking, except that there's the intermediary step of having a generator there). You can also get "true" engine braking by engaging POWER mode.
      When you press on the brake pedal, only regenerative brakes are engaged initially (or engine braking if the battery is full). If you press harder, friction brakes kick in as well. Ideally, you brake far enough ahead of time and gently enough that you can brake on regenerative brakes only. My mom's 2003 Prius, after 10 years of driving, still had over 50% left on its brake pads because of this.
      Now, to get back to the question, no, B does not stand for battery. As just explained, the Prius will always use regenerative braking initially whenever you press down on the brake pedal. The B gear is the equivalent of "turning off overdrive" on regular cars (or choosing the L/D2/2 gear), or "downshifting" on cars with manual transmissions. The Prius doesn't have a transmission, so this just means that the HSD system will apply more engine braking than normal. In general, you will only want to use this mode when going down long and steep downhills, as it actually reduces the amount of regenerative braking that takes place (since the engine ends up slowing down the car more than usual and there is less energy left for regeneration).
      Note that the situation in EV mode is a little different, because the engine is not actually running. In this case, the B gear simply uses regenerative braking more aggressively whenever you let your foot off the gas pedal. So, if you prefer to switch back and forth between gears with your hand, instead of switching between the gas and brake pedals with your foot, you can use the B gear. I don't think that it makes any difference on longer downslopes, however, because you will be exceeding the capacity of regenerative brakes anyway.
      The manual provides some additional description of the B driving mode on page 251.
    • Does Entune require a USB connection?
      Depends. If your phone supports tethering over Bluetooth (aka personal hotspot), then no. If it doesn't, then you'll need to connect your phone via USB. Note that it makes no difference what OS you're using! Also, Android phones support connecting over Bluetooth regardless of whether you have personal hotspot.
      Note that certain iPod features are not available over Bluetooth (such as music browsing).
    • What are my options for dealing with the lack of spare tire?
      • Get a spare tire of the right size and leave it in the trunk
        The wheel size is 16 x 4T. The tire size is T135/80D16 101M. Your best bet is probably a salvage yard/recycler (i.e. car-part.com, choose Wheel (display w/image) as the part, and 2010 Toyota Prius as the model), where you should be able to find something for $30-50. You could also just buy a steel wheel from TireRack.com and put some cheap rubber on it – this has the added benefit of letting you drive at normal highway speeds if you get a flat – but it will set you back $110+shipping+tax and it will take up more space in the trunk.
        The car does come with a jack. It's under the driver's seat. See page 449 in the manual.
      • Use the supplied tire repair kit
        Note that according to Toyota's own documentation, the goo in the kit will destroy your TPMS sensor. This seems like an expensive undertaking and you can do better
      • Use a third-party repair kit that won't destroy your electronics
        Pick a TPMS-safe sealant such as Slime 10011 Tubeless Automotive Tire Sealant - 16 oz. : Amazon.com : Automotive and carry that in your car instead. Note that the air compressor that comes with the PiP cannot be attached to the valve stem directly and needs to be used in tandem with the supplied goo bottle. What you can do is drain the bottle and then run the pump some more to completely empty the bottle ahead of time, or you can scrap the whole idea and just buy a standalone compressor. Some people prefer to use tire plug kits, i.e. Slime 1034-A T-Handle Tire Plug Kit : Amazon.com : Automotive, which are TPMS-safe by definition and can potentially repair larger holes. Of course, none of these options will be of much use if your sidewall is destroyed by the time you discover the leak/have a chance to pull over.
      • Call Toyota Roadside Assistance
        Note that your PiP comes with three years of complimentary roadside assistance service, which will give you a free tow to the nearest Toyota dealer. If this happens after-hours, that means that you need to arrange for your own transportation to your destination as well as back to the dealership after the tire has been repaired by the dealer.
      Relevant thread: Dreaded flat tire and I dont like it a bit :(

     
    #1 lensovet, Nov 24, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2016
  2. 3PriusMike

    3PriusMike Prius owner since 2000, Tesla M3 2018

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    You forgot one more reason the ICE will come on. If you drive in EV mode with no ICE usage for 200km (~124 miles). The ICE comes on just to keep it working normally. This has happened to me, I think, twice.

    Mike
     
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  3. lensovet

    lensovet Not your typical youngin :)/BP Brigade 207

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    Good catch, I always forget that. Fixed.
     
  4. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    great job len! (y) looks like i'm out of business.:(
     
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  5. lensovet

    lensovet Not your typical youngin :)/BP Brigade 207

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    Nah, plenty of people don't bother looking at these. So you can still respond to them but just give them a link to this thread lol :)
     
  6. CharlesH

    CharlesH CA HOV Decal #5 on former PiP

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    Just a comment about the Entune functionality. At least on the Advanced, you don't need the tethering feature on your smartphone to use Entune over Bluetooth. I know that it doesn't with my Blackberry and Android phones, but I cannot speak for iOS.
     
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  7. lensovet

    lensovet Not your typical youngin :)/BP Brigade 207

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    Thanks for the clarification. I've updated the answer (sorry for leaving out blackberry but I think you're the only person on the forum using it lol).
     
  8. CharlesH

    CharlesH CA HOV Decal #5 on former PiP

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    That should change with the Blackberry OS 10 release in February. Either there will be a lot more Blackberry users, with Blackberry being a reasonable (albeit minority) contender in the smartphone market, or there will be no users at all, with the company going bust. Tech reviewers and the stock market seem to think RIM might have a chance. Meanwhile, I will keep using my rock-solid and secure e-mail/messaging device, including on my PiP. :)
     
  9. lensovet

    lensovet Not your typical youngin :)/BP Brigade 207

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    If it does, I'll be sure to update the FAQ lol
     
  10. lensovet

    lensovet Not your typical youngin :)/BP Brigade 207

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    updated with spare tire info and links to threads
     
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  11. usbseawolf2000

    usbseawolf2000 HSD PhD

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    How can I defog the windshield without engaging ICE?

    If you can crack open a rear window by about an inch, the fog clears up for me.
     
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  12. lensovet

    lensovet Not your typical youngin :)/BP Brigade 207

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    Hm, I'll have to try this. The front window never works, that's for sure.
     
  13. lensovet

    lensovet Not your typical youngin :)/BP Brigade 207

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    i did stick this in. however, it's problematic in rainy weather, because i don't feel like getting all that water into the interior.
     
  14. Zimmy 1

    Zimmy 1 Junior Member

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    Someone talk to me, I love the car but the fact I have no spare tire is playing on my mind. How does all you Prius Plug-In owners handle this? Any tips? On my last car I had 2 flats in 7 years.
     
  15. lensovet

    lensovet Not your typical youngin :)/BP Brigade 207

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    Check out the Relevant thread link provided under the corresponding question :)
     
  16. lensovet

    lensovet Not your typical youngin :)/BP Brigade 207

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    i have updated the FAQ above with the various options you have apart from just buying a compact spare from a recycler
     
  17. usbseawolf2000

    usbseawolf2000 HSD PhD

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    Yea. I forgot to mention that the air vent setting has to be set to "windshield + foot". That's the only icon that direct to windshield.
     
  18. retired4999

    retired4999 Prius driver since 2005

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    I usually crack the drivers window about a 1/8-1/4 inch and the passenger rear about 1/8-1/4 inch, gets air moving better I think. Works well if not raining. :)
     
  19. CarmelPrius

    CarmelPrius At 1 mile.

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    No spare worried me too. So, I bought a spare wheel and mounted one of my summer tires. I keep it in a big plastic bag, behind the passenger seat. It wasn't cheap, as I got the wheel from my Toyota dealer. I wanted the wheel to match the others as will change things over in the spring and fall. I have 4 winter tires and 4 summer tires. Anyhow....no more worrying. I also have AAA so I'm not going to be changing the thing when it goes. :) Too old for that stuff.
     
  20. lensovet

    lensovet Not your typical youngin :)/BP Brigade 207

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    Carmel, did you want to say something lol? You can hit the edit link to fix that :)
     
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