Pro Tips From An Auto Instructor Allows Toyota Prius Owners To Steal Back Robbed Fuel Mileage
If you are driving a Toyota Prius, chances are you're doing so to keep money in the bank, not put it in the tank. It is owning and operating a hybrid car that yields many financial advantages. It also never hurts to apply simple tricks to your daily drive to stretch that gallon of gas even further, stealing back fuel mileage you may be missing.
So, what can an average driver do to increase those MPG’s? Let us discuss just a few tricks that will cost you nothing to implement but reap MPG rewards.
Prius Tire Pressure System
Many places in the country are in the winter season. Most vehicles now come standard with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) to alert drivers of low tire inflation. The tolerance of the system is significant enough to steal MPG’s before alerting the driver.
Many systems allow tolerances of up to 5 psi before illuminating a low tire indicator or warning message. Meaning if your tire placard states the recommended tire pressure is 35psi, the tires themselves may be as flat as 29 psi before a sign or signal gets shown to the driver. That 5psi difference can steal fuel mileage.
There is a lot of documentation showing that for every 10 degrees of ambient temperature drop, tire pressure can lower between 1-2 psi. A suggestion is that if your weather has stabilized as we have transitioned into the cold season, take the time to check and fill your tires yourself. Use recommended PSI setting per the vehicle placard with the tire cold, or after it has set for an extended time. If your access to an air compressor or tooling required to perform the check is limited, swing by your local repair facility. This is one of several easy things you can do to improve your fuel economy
Stop and Go, The Hybrid Effect Of Your Prius
The act of braking and accelerating has always been a requirement of all types of vehicles. Although these tips can benefit any car on the road, we Hybrid supporters lean even more on the art of driving. Prius and other hybrid car owners have found a technique that can help them capture the most energy possible.
Hypermiling is the art of driving, which requires the driver to take longer stops and slower starts. The law of conservation of energy states that energy is neither created nor destroyed. Instead, energy can only change state from one form to another. Energy transformation is what occurs through the stop-go process. The goal of all drivers should be to limit the amount of energy used when these changes occur. This action helps minimize brake pad wear as well.
The real art of this process comes with your ability to plan, take your time, and at times stand out. I am not saying you must go 10mph below the speed limit, be the last one to leave a stoplight, or be the person everyone in the office complains about when they get to work after a morning commute. Instead, observe the changing of lights on your street and adjust your speed to try and miss the stops and continue on the go.
Work towards finding the flow of traffic to avoid sudden braking or the need to speed up at an aggressive rate. Use the gas pedal like a paintbrush; one must control the speed of the strokes to keep paint on the canvas without intention.
Toyota Prius Comforts.
If you want one thing, it will cost another. True in all aspects of life, including vehicle comforts, being if you want them, it will cost you. In this case, the expense is your fuel mileage. When you utilize comforts in the vehicle, controlled through electricity, a load gets placed on that system of the vehicle.
Like all vehicles on the road, hybrids still have a low voltage battery or 12v, which gets utilized for things like the lighting systems, heated/cooled seats, and cabin air temperature control, to name only a few. This low voltage battery must stay charged so it can meet the needs of the operating systems of the vehicle.
With a hybrid vehicle, the low voltage battery is maintained by the high voltage system through the use of a DC-to-DC converter. Loads put on the high voltage system of a hybrid vehicle to keep the low voltage system charged reduces the output of the high voltage system to other critical components like the Motor Generators used to propel the car. In turn, this steals from your max MPG’s.
Some vehicle systems will put more demand on the charging system than others. Conserving energy can be easy and comfortable following these few tips. Turn down the blower motor speed when the cabin temperature has reached the desired level. Utilize the seat heater or cooling option less often, run the A/C system less, and open a window more.
You have intentionally left a smaller carbon footprint by driving a hybrid, now deliberately keep money in the bank, not put it in the tank. Steal back your fuel mileage with these easy to practice, free to employ tips.
I want to personally thank Ethan Burk for helping me out with this story. There are a few additions and adjustments from the original document that he submitted to me for publishing. His ideas and the essence of his message have been captured in this article today. Ethan is an automotive instructor who has a passion for the Toyota Prius like I do.
Thank you for reading. I will look forward to seeing you in the next story. The Corolla Hybrid Of The Luxury World Is The Forgotten Lexus HS250h
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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