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5 Reasons To Read Your Toyota Prius Owners Manual

Your Toyota Prius is quite the machine. Many who buy them are not even sure what they are capable of. Take a look at what answers you can answer by opening up your owner's manual.

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As part of the Prius community and an expert in the field, I get loads of questions from owners. After analyzing what Prius owners want to know most, I came up with a robust solution on how to help them.

The owner's manual is one of the most underused items that come with your new Prius. People know what Prius is about, so why take the time to read about it, right? Here are five things you can read about in your manual and get some tips on how to treat your Prius right.

2005 Toyota Prius Owner's Manual What Oil Your Prius Requires and How Often To Change It
I am sure I see this question at least a dozen times a week from people in various online groups. The sad fact is that not many people understand engine oil. Most owners do not because they get marketed by the oil companies. So much that they have no clue what is or is not okay for their Prius.

2005 Toyota Prius API and ILSAC Oil Ratings

There is one surefire way to tell what is needed for your Prius. Take a look in the owner's manual for what oil is required for the engine. In the manual, you will find everything you need to know about e oil for your Prius. The API donut and the ILSAC certification mark. If you know what API or ILSAC rating your Prius requires, find an oil that meets it, or exceeds it. Take a look at this article here about Amazon Basics engine oil.

You need not worry so much as to what brand of oil you are using unless you want a specific outcome. Most oil brands pick an additive that they market to you the consumer, and this is how they sell you their product. Do not be fooled by marketing. Most engine oils that meet your requirements for your Prius will take care of the engine just fine.

As for oil change intervals, pay attention to the Maintenance Required light and change before or on time. Proper change intervals will ensure that the oil does not break down too far and cause excess sludge buildup inside your engine.

What Fuel Your Toyota Prius Needs
I love it when people ask if 91 or 92 octane is better for their Prius. I will let you in on a little secret; it is not better; it is just different. Higher octane fuel controls the burn and is used in higher compression engines. It is a slower burning fuel that aids in controlling the pinging under load.

Toyota Prius owners manual fuel octane rating

Prius does not necessarily benefit from using the higher octane fuel because it is not a high-performance engine and has variable valve timing. Your Prius can adjust engine timing on the fly. If you ever have a question as to which fuel will work best in your Prius, consult the owner's manual. You need not waste money on fuel that will not benefit your Prius; however, you should use a top tier fuel for best results.

Understanding Your High Voltage System
A widely misunderstood system on our Prius is the high voltage system. Many do not know that the owner's manual says you need to maintain the system for the best performance. You should not let the hybrid system remain off for over two weeks, according to the manual.

2005 Toyota Prius hybrid system overview

The thing that the manual does not tell us is that you need to have a long term maintenance plan. Battery maintenance includes cycling the high voltage battery to help clear out the voltage depressions that form in the battery over time. Should you want to know more and get some free training, visit this article here.

What Tires Your Prius Needs
It never ceases to amaze me how many Prius owners skimp out on tires when they need to be replaced. Prius was designed to run with low rolling resistance tires, which attribute to the high fuel economy ratings the car gets. I can understand if you feel you are getting a better deal with cheaper tires; however, the long term would say otherwise.

2005 Toyota Prius Replacing tires

Cheap tires typically wear out faster, are more prone to separation and ride worse than a quality tire. Check the manual to see what is recommended. You can use the manual to also to check and see how your tires are wearing. There is a section in there that shows owners how to tell if their tires are needing replacement. Be sure you treat your Prius right, and it will take care of you also.

How To Care For Your Prius
I feel that this section of the owner's manual always carries the most dust. Many people do wash their Prius, but I am afraid many do not know how to clean the inside. I found it interesting poking around in the manual at how Toyota recommends you clean the carpet.

How to care for your Toyota Prius

I also found there is a section to help with corrosion resistance as well. I wish more people would take care of their Prius. The $600 Prius that I bought looked like a homeless person had been living in it. It was rather gross and had the previous owner read the manual on how to care for the car; things could have been different.

If you do not have your owner's manual you can request one from the dealer, or now in most cases download it right from the Toyota website. Make sure you give it a thorough reading and be sure to reference it when you have a question.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to seeing you in the next article. Treat Your Toyota Prius With Protection This Valentines Day.

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Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter is also an Instructor of Automotive Technology at Columbia Basin College. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting. Read more of Peter's stories at Toyota news coverage on Torque News. Search Toyota Prius Torque News for more in depth Prius coverage from our reporters.

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Sylvia (not verified)    September 10, 2020 - 9:38AM

Is there a way to get an editable Word version of a Prius owner's manual? It's hard to find anything useful in the official manual in a pinch. It seems to have been written for college graduates who have never been in a car, which must be a fairly small group. And it is 10 times longer than necessary or helpful because it chock full of admonitions such as, "ensure that all doors are properly closed" and "do not leave the lights on longer than necessary."

I'd love to make an unofficial, edited version of it for my glove box.