The Prius beeps and displays a large “Add Fuel” banner on the display. Vicki always starts looking for a gas station almost immediately after it beeps on her car. But with my older cars, I always knew how far I could go after the low fuel warning – on both of my Corollas, it was about 100 km or more. I never ran a car out of gas.
And so I decided to test it. I read on-line that the Prius tank is 12.5 gallons, but I’ve never put more than 9.6 gallons in it. So the last time the low fuel warning came on, I drove 50 miles before filling up. That got me 9.879 gallons. So this time, I figured I’d go 100 miles. After all, the display was showing that I was averaging 40 mph (it’s been really cold and my trip to work is too short for the car to warm up properly) so 11 gallons would be 440 miles, and the warning went off at around 325 miles, so it should have worked out.
So imagine my surprise when I was driving home tonight, and at 75 miles from the low fuel warning almost exactly, this big red warning icon came up on the dash, and the gas engine cut out. I quickly hit the “nearest gas station” button on the GPS, and put on the emergency flashers. I was able to drive on electric only for nearly a mile. Unfortunately the gas station was a mile and a half away. And these days, gas stations don’t carry gas cans. So I walked all that way for nothing.
Fortunately Vicki came to my rescue. Between the gas can and the fill up afterwards, I put in 9.92 gallons. While I was waiting for her, I googled and discovered that the Prius tank might be 12.5 gallons, it has a bladder inside that restricts the capacity to somewhere between 9 and 11 gallons, depending on the temperature. So I guess I was lucky to get nearly 10 out of it. And I guess I’ll start looking for gas 25-50 miles after the warning, rather than 75.