Looking After a Toyota Prius

The Breaking-In Period

The advice Toyota give for the Prius break-in is modeled on a conventional car.  You can't go wrong following it, but there are a few things that don't make much sense for the Prius.  The admonitions to avoid constant speeds and not use the criuse control are intended to avoid getting the engine into a rut of supplying the same torque at the same revolution rate for long periods.  In the Prius, you can avoid this by varying the engine load as well as the speed.  So, if you live somewhere hilly, like most of New England and many other parts of the US and other countries, you can ignore this rule and just drive it.  The computer will take care of varying the engine r.p.m. for you.  None of the break-in limits are particularly meaningful either and vary from country to country.  If you can't remember all the rules, the common sense rule of "take it easy at first" will probably get you by.  Start off below the speed limit, work up to the speed limit at several hundred miles and by a thousand you can drive normally.  Note that even after the break-in period of 600 or 1000 miles or whatever, your Prius may not be fully in its stride.  Wait until you have a few thousand miles on the car before comparing your fuel economy to others or getting worried because you can't stay in EV mode as long as other people seem to.

For an analysis of the breaking-in process, see toyota-prius #20429. and #19919.

Gasoline Grade

In the US, use 87 octane, not higher.

Tire Pressure

Toyota recommend 35/33 (front/rear).  Popular pressures with members of the Yahoo! group toyota-prius are 40/38 and 42/40.

Spare tire.  Full spare does fit in well.

Monitoring Tire Wear

Experience with the OEM tires (Bridgestone Potenza) varys widely, but most people feel that their quality does not match the car.  Of particular concern is the low wear rating of 160.  Some people have driven straight from the auto dealer to a tire shop and had the tires replaced.  Others have tens of thousands of miles on the tires with no problems.  Unless you have a predisposition against Bridgestone tires, a reasonably policy would be to watch and wait.  Watch especially for uneven wear and get the wheels aligned if there is any sign.

Experience with Michelin tires, toyota-prius message 11522.

Washing the Car

Don't squirt water directly into the battery vent.

Diagnosing Problems

Passenger Windows Won't Operate

Check disable switch on driver's door - this disables passenger windows from their door switches and driver's switches as well.

Poor Fuel Economy

Several thousand miles to fully settle in.  Heater control on defrost runs air conditioning.  Lots of short trips.

Electric Heat Won't Come On

See toyota-prius message 4821 for conditions under which electric heaters turn on.  Only expect a little warmth.


Last edited October 16, 2001.  All material Copyright  2001 Graham Davies.  No liability accepted.