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#1 Old 12-11-2007, 02:44 PM
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Canada cold weather prius

It seems like the prius was designed for living in California. I was wondering if any cold weather prius owners have had any difficulty with their prius in cold weather and what they did to resolve the problem.

Here are some of my concerns/problems/questions (and solutions when i have found them) I've run across with my prius in cold weather (BTW I live in Thunder Bay, Ontario):
  • Heater is sub-standard for sub-sub-zero temps
  • why does the A/C automatically come on when i push the AUTO button for the climate? In the winter I want auto HEAT not auto A/C!
  • Tires are fuel efficient, but have NO TRACTION -- got studded tire. Excellent traction, poor fuel efficiency
  • Fuel efficiency plummets in cooler temps -- 4.8L/100km in hot summer, 6.7 in winter when below -15celcius. (I know this is a function of the studded tire, but even at -8celcius i can get 5.8L/100km. Why does fuel efficiency drop SO much when it gets cold, or are ALL cars like that?
  • For all of the other winters we've had our prius, it has started in any weather, even when it's -35celcius. But just this winter our prius seems to have a rougher start in cold temps (<-10celcius), anything i can do to have it start smoother? go to synthetic oil? oil additive? fuel additive?
any comments, suggestions, other observations from cold-weather prius owners would be appreciated.

thanks!!

hdh
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#2 Old 12-11-2007, 04:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hdh View Post
It seems like the prius was designed for living in California. I was wondering if any cold weather prius owners have had any difficulty with their prius in cold weather and what they did to resolve the problem.

Here are some of my concerns/problems/questions (and solutions when i have found them) I've run across with my prius in cold weather (BTW I live in Thunder Bay, Ontario):
  • Heater is sub-standard for sub-sub-zero temps
  • why does the A/C automatically come on when i push the AUTO button for the climate? In the winter I want auto HEAT not auto A/C!
  • Tires are fuel efficient, but have NO TRACTION -- got studded tire. Excellent traction, poor fuel efficiency
  • Fuel efficiency plummets in cooler temps -- 4.8L/100km in hot summer, 6.7 in winter when below -15celcius. (I know this is a function of the studded tire, but even at -8celcius i can get 5.8L/100km. Why does fuel efficiency drop SO much when it gets cold, or are ALL cars like that?
  • For all of the other winters we've had our prius, it has started in any weather, even when it's -35celcius. But just this winter our prius seems to have a rougher start in cold temps (<-10celcius), anything i can do to have it start smoother? go to synthetic oil? oil additive? fuel additive?
any comments, suggestions, other observations from cold-weather prius owners would be appreciated.

thanks!!

hdh
  • I found it adequate. But then again, it's warmer on the west coast . Use an EBH and block the grill
  • Because it's called an automatic climate control. A/C does not mean cold air!!!!!! People have to realise that. A/C stands for air conditioning - i.e. the A/C compressor conditions the incoming air. This means it also acts as a dehumidifier in the winter, drying the air before it enters the cabin so you don't fog up the windows. Also, in AUTO mode, just because it says it's on, doesn't mean it is. It means that it's will come on if the computer thinks it needs it. If you have it in AUTO mode and the A/C off (the light is not lit on the A/C button on the screen), then it's permanently off whether the computer wants it or not. (Hope that made sense. If not, tell me which part you don't understand and I'll try to rephrase it)
  • Yes the stock Integritys suck in the snow. I just replaced mine at 68,000kms with Nokian WRs. A world of difference in the snow!
  • 6.7L/100km is better than a Yaris in the summer. Why are you complaining? lol. And yes it happens to ALL cars! People don't realise that and think they're getting EPA/Transport Canada ratings even in the winter. Yeah right! Your Corolla will be doing 10L/100km, your Camry V6 at 13 and I don't tihnk you wanna know what those V8 SUVs get in the winter either.
  • No idea. Mine starts the same for the past 3 winters.
Oh and just note that the coolant thermos pump will sound differently (And also will be noisier) in the winter than in the summer. It does not indicate a malfunction.

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#3 Old 12-19-2007, 01:33 PM
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Is the main reason for poor gas mileage in the winter on the Prius because the heater comes on and the engine has to go on to warm up to provide the heat? Would it help to bundle up and not put on the heater.
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#4 Old 01-02-2008, 12:28 PM
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My wife's dad is having issues with their Prius as we now speak in Rural PA.
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#5 Old 01-11-2008, 12:47 PM
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Hi !

I have a Prius since September 2007 and I live in Toulouse (France, south-west).
The climate is not so rough than in Ontario, but with get sometimes under 0c during December/January.

I agree with you, the Prius consumes more fuel when it gets cold, about 0.5 L/100 more each time it get down of 15c.
Currently the temperature is around 5 to 10c now and I have 5.6 L/100.
At Chrismas we got -5c in average and it was 6.1 L/100.
It's less true with thermic cars but for Hybrids the thermic engine has to keep a minimum T because it can start at any time and wouldn't have time to get hot. You can not sollicite power before the engine is not hot enough. And when it's cold outside, the engines cools quickly, so it needs to run more often to heat... So you understand why cold is the enemy of hybrids

"The A/C automatically come on when i push the AUTO button for the climate", it's normal. "Automatic A/C" doesn't mean to produce cold anytime.
When it's cold outside and you set for instance 22c as consign, it will heat not cool the car !

I have no experience of rough start by cold but if it's the first season you have such problem over 3 years, the reason is maybe elsewhere. Ask to your support/garage. For sure synthetic oil 5w50 may help when it's cold.

I hope it helped,
Richard.


Quote:
Originally Posted by hdh View Post
It seems like the prius was designed for living in California. I was wondering if any cold weather prius owners have had any difficulty with their prius in cold weather and what they did to resolve the problem.

Here are some of my concerns/problems/questions (and solutions when i have found them) I've run across with my prius in cold weather (BTW I live in Thunder Bay, Ontario):
  • Heater is sub-standard for sub-sub-zero temps
  • why does the A/C automatically come on when i push the AUTO button for the climate? In the winter I want auto HEAT not auto A/C!
  • Tires are fuel efficient, but have NO TRACTION -- got studded tire. Excellent traction, poor fuel efficiency
  • Fuel efficiency plummets in cooler temps -- 4.8L/100km in hot summer, 6.7 in winter when below -15celcius. (I know this is a function of the studded tire, but even at -8celcius i can get 5.8L/100km. Why does fuel efficiency drop SO much when it gets cold, or are ALL cars like that?
  • For all of the other winters we've had our prius, it has started in any weather, even when it's -35celcius. But just this winter our prius seems to have a rougher start in cold temps (<-10celcius), anything i can do to have it start smoother? go to synthetic oil? oil additive? fuel additive?
any comments, suggestions, other observations from cold-weather prius owners would be appreciated.

thanks!!

hdh
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#6 Old 02-07-2008, 10:02 AM
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I own a 2005 prius and live in Northern New York. My MPG drops in cold weather because the gas engine has to run to heat the car. The tires that came on the car new are junk. If seeing the A/C light on bothers you use the heater manualy.
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#7 Old 02-09-2008, 03:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dolphin5140 View Post
Is the main reason for poor gas mileage in the winter on the Prius because the heater comes on and the engine has to go on to warm up to provide the heat? Would it help to bundle up and not put on the heater.
There are several things that decrease your gas mileage. Lets start with the LESS obvoius: The CVT system has fluid in it, so the colder the temp the thicker the fluid - the thicker the fluid the less efficient the system.

The more wll know reasons are: the engine runs more to stay at optimal operating temperature. Running your heat more does not matter, other then running anything that drains your battery more requires the engine has to run to charge the battery. So if you run your AC a lot, or your radio, leave lights on, anything and everything that needs battery power will run the battery down and require the engine run more to keep it charged.

You shluld expect about a 10% difference between your summer MPG and winter MPG in most climates.
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#8 Old 02-09-2008, 04:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isaiah58 View Post
There are several things that decrease your gas mileage. Lets start with the LESS obvoius: The CVT system has fluid in it, so the colder the temp the thicker the fluid - the thicker the fluid the less efficient the system.

The more wll know reasons are: the engine runs more to stay at optimal operating temperature. Running your heat more does not matter, other then running anything that drains your battery more requires the engine has to run to charge the battery. So if you run your AC a lot, or your radio, leave lights on, anything and everything that needs battery power will run the battery down and require the engine run more to keep it charged.

You shluld expect about a 10% difference between your summer MPG and winter MPG in most climates.
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#9 Old 02-09-2008, 04:15 PM
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Optimal temp or not if you want heat in the cabin, your gas engine needs to run to create heat
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#10 Old 02-11-2008, 09:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken05Prius View Post
Optimal temp or not if you want heat in the cabin, your gas engine needs to run to create heat
I know "this is the how it has always been done", but Prius if full of new technology. I would think that Toyota engineers would be smart enough to design an electric heater that could be used at least until the gasoline engine is warm enough to do the job efficiently.
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#11 Old 02-21-2008, 08:45 AM
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Canada cold weather prius

Quote:
Originally Posted by isaiah58 View Post

You should expect about a 10% difference between your summer MPG and winter MPG in most climates.
Try typically 25% less fuel efficient, and as much as 40% when it's really cold.

I switched to synthetic 5w30 and that seems to make a bit of a difference for cold weather starts, but not much for fuel efficiency.

I wish the prius was designed with colder climates a bit more in mind.
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#12 Old 03-05-2008, 12:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JARHTMD View Post
I know "this is the how it has always been done", but Prius if full of new technology. I would think that Toyota engineers would be smart enough to design an electric heater that could be used at least until the gasoline engine is warm enough to do the job efficiently.
Electric heating in your house is the least efficient method (disregarding fireplaces) of producing heat. For example, it takes an electric hot water heater using 5000 watts 2 hours to heat 50 gallons of water. A gas/oil solution can do it in 20 mins. Just because something can draw power from the hybrid battery doesn't mean it is the most efficient solution. My Corolla throws off about as much heat as a 4000 watt electric heater in my townhouse. Would you want a constant 4000 watt drain on the hybrid system?

For comparison, according to the EPA, the AC compressor in a Highlander Hybrid/RX400h draws 3800 watts when it is under maximum load. This number obviously decreases as the cooling load is lower, and is at a minimum in the winter. Also remember that the compressor does not run full time. There were no numbers I could find for the Prius compressor, but I expect it to consume considerably less power given the lower interior volume.

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#13 Old 03-24-2008, 08:03 AM
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I would think that Toyota engineers would be smart enough to design an electric heater that could be used at least until the gasoline engine is warm enough to do the job efficiently.


Ford has done this with their Super Duty pickup.It has an electric heater untill the engine temp reaches a certain temp.

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#14 Old 03-24-2008, 09:31 AM
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the prius does have a container below the driver front headlight that can keep coolant warm for 3 days

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#15 Old 03-24-2008, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gideon1331 View Post
Electric heating in your house is the least efficient method (disregarding fireplaces) of producing heat. For example, it takes an electric hot water heater using 5000 watts 2 hours to heat 50 gallons of water. A gas/oil solution can do it in 20 mins. Just because something can draw power from the hybrid battery doesn't mean it is the most efficient solution. My Corolla throws off about as much heat as a 4000 watt electric heater in my townhouse. Would you want a constant 4000 watt drain on the hybrid system?
Electric heat is 100% efficient and provides 3.41 BTU/Watt-hour. So a typical electric HW tank (Ontario Canada) is about 4500W or 15,000BTU (approx). A typical oil HW tank is about 40,000BTU and gas HW is about the same or a little less. So, if your electric hot water tank takes much longer to heat up, then that is why. Regardless, electric heat is still 100% efficient at converting electrical energy into heat, and an electric hot water tank is about 90% efficient at putting that heat into water.

Efficiency of Water Heater Energy Factor
Type of Water Heater * Typical New Unit * Most Efficient on Market
Oil-fired * 48 - 53% * 60 - 63%
Gas-fired * 51 - 56% * 71 - 86%
Electric resistance * 87 - 91% * 96 - 98%
Electric heat pump * 250 - 350% * 310 - 350%

http://www.hydroonenetworks.com/en/efficiency/water/upgrading_hotwater/

If the alternator was sized larger, then it in combination with the gas engine could increase the heating rate in the cabin for cold start ups. I think a better approach is to use what is already available. For example why not use heat ducting around the electric motor (co-generation)? I imagine it must get hot with use like all other electric motors I have worked on. Double insulated windows may improve energy consumption in winter and summer (they use them in Siberia). How about closed cell foam (urethane) inside the body? How about a foil heat reflective blanket behind the head liner, door pads and carpet (Dynamat)? There are many potential areas to help decrease energy loss from the cabin to the outside for both heating and cooling; many cars are a tin can with a thin veneer of fabric for sound reduction and esthetics (Disclaimer: I have not had the pleasure of dissecting the innards of a Prius). The trade off of course will be an increase in weight with an associated reduction in performance and fuel economy.
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