Hybrid Car – More Fun with Less Gas

Running With Out Gas

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Posted by Geldbraucht on March 10, 2007, 8:46 pm

Given that the Prius has batteries, I have (a silly?) question

If you run out of gasoline, will the Prius still run?

And if so, for how long?

Or, can't the Prius run in "Electric only" mode

Posted by DougSlug on March 10, 2007, 8:50 pm

Not for long (I've heard a mile or so), and I understand that you risk
damage to the hybrid system in that case.

It is important to note that the Prius is not an electric car, but rather a
"regular" car that has an undersized engine which is supplemented by an
electric motor.  The hybrid system assumes that the engine is operational at
all times.

 - Doug

Posted by Paul Russell on March 10, 2007, 9:40 pm

Geldbraucht@hotmail.com wrote:

Outside the US the Prius has an EV switch which lets you run on electric
only (you can retro-fit this switch on the US model too if you want to).
You can't go very far on batteries though (maybe better on the next gen
Prius with higher capacity batteries ?).


Posted by mrv@kluge.net on March 11, 2007, 12:37 am

On Mar 10, 3:46 pm, Geldbrau...@hotmail.com wrote:

13. Can Prius run on electricity when it runs out of gas?

No. Though Prius can operate in electric-only mode when gasoline is in
the tank, it is not designed to run without gasoline. Doing so could
cause severe damage to the hybrid system, so drivers should be sure to
keep gas in the tank at all times.

gasoline the dash lights up with many warning lights, like a christmas
tree.  (A code is stored in the computer, which can later be read by
your mechanic...)  The gasoline engine then is unable to restart, and
you're on electric only.  Depending on the speed you were going when
you ran out of gas, and the terrain ahead of you, and the SOC (state
of charge) of the hybrid battery when you ran out of gas, will depend
on how far you can get on electric only.  The usual comment is enough
to get you to pull over at a safe place and call for roadside
assistance, or maybe to the next service station.  The farthest I've
heard of someone going on electric only after OOG is about 2 miles - a
UK NHW20 that was going about 65mph when OOG on a long downhill

I will note that you'll need at least 3 gallons of gasoline for the
car to recognize that you've added some and restart.

If you try restarting the car too many times when OOG, then you'll
deplete the hybrid battery (since the hybrid battery is used to start
the gasoline engine).  Rumor is that you'll need a special Toyota
charger to get your hybrid battery in a working state again, and that
there are few of these special chargers available (something like 2
for all of the US, maybe about the same number for UK/Europe).
Thankfully, no one has been silly enough to run out of gas AND
continuously restart their car without adding gasoline to get their
Prius to this state...

Posted by TKM on March 28, 2007, 10:11 pm

While I haven't tried running out of gas with my Prius, a friend has --  
twice.  Both times it was while the car was on a highway.  The battery
provided enough power to move at low speed to a gas station.  No subsequent
damage was apparent and the car continues to work just fine.


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