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Toyota Camry Hybrid Driving Tips & Tricks

PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,870
This is the place to share the things you're doing to get the most out of your TCH!

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  • willybillwillybill Posts: 83
    I noticed the other day while stopped in traffic for a construction delay that while stopped with the AC running, the Hybrid battery drains fairly quickly. The display was down to two purple bars. :confuse: What happens if you are in traffic stopped for a lengthy time and the battery does deplete. Is the car smart enough to run the engine at that point to charge it up or is the correct procedure to hit stop and open the windows while you wait.
    Just wondering if anybody has the answer. Upon starting up again, it was only a short while until the battery regained it's full charge. :confuse:
  • houtex1houtex1 Posts: 82
    I'm pretty sure the ICE will start up and charge the battery as needed. I think this is the case as long as the car is in Drive or Park. If in neutral, you may very well run into trouble, as I don't think the battery will recharge in neutral.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,792
    The ICE will engage and charge the battery.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    The computer is very smart. It will start up the ICE whenever the battery reaches a low enough point. This feature is what makes the hybrids so great for minimizing air pollution and saving fuel. The ICE runs as little as possible when it's not needed such as sitting in heavy traffic.
  • houtex1houtex1 Posts: 82
    I've only driven my new TCH for less than 200 miles as I went on vacation last week and the car sat in my garage. One thing I have a question on is the Best MPG display on the Consumption screen (for cars that have the Navigation system). My best MPG seems to be stuck in the 20's even though I believe I am consistently getting in the high 30s to low 40s. The ECO drive display always shows your avarage when your current trip is over and I always get the "Excellent!" remark.

    Any idea why the best MPG would be in the 20's? It doesn't make sense to me?
  • I've only driven my new TCH for less than 200 miles as I went on vacation last week and the car sat in my garage. One thing I have a question on is the Best MPG display on the Consumption screen (for cars that have the Navigation system). My best MPG seems to be stuck in the 20's even though I believe I am consistently getting in the high 30s to low 40s. The ECO drive display always shows your avarage when your current trip is over and I always get the "Excellent!" remark.

    Any idea why the best MPG would be in the 20's? It doesn't make sense to me?


    I believe it updates when you refill the tank.
  • willybillwillybill Posts: 83
    My BEST reading was stuck on 36.0 until I got my 3rd tank of gas and hist the lower right reset button. Then the current tank avg. moved to the BEST display. I learned last time, don't reset all it seems to wipe out the BEST display as well.
    WillyBill ;)
  • houtex1houtex1 Posts: 82
    Thanks! So basically, when you hit Reset, the best MPG is updated if the current average MPG is better than the displayed Best MPG.

    When you hit reset all, all history is lost including best MPG
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    For those of you new to the posting, here's a good link to help you understand your TCH operations (note tabs at the bottom of the page for the various parts of the system:

    http://www.hybridsynergydrive.com/en/battery.html
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    That's a great explanatory link. Thanks :D
  • jbolltjbollt Posts: 734
    Enjoying the very few miles I have driven in the new TCH since I brought it home a day and a half ago...

    Can someone please explain the "reset", "reset all" and "Best" features of the Consumption screen. There are only dashes --- under "Best" currently.

    The manual is vague, at best.

    thanks!
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    Can someone please explain the "reset", "reset all" and "Best" features of the Consumption screen.

    I believe if you push the reset and there are currently dashes under the best it will simply transfer your current FE to that category. Pushing the reset all will clear all the data including the "best". Pushing reset will clear the current data, including the bars on the consumption screen and if the current FE is better than the "best" it will take the new number under "best".
  • jbolltjbollt Posts: 734
    Thanks, wvgasguy! I hope I understand.

    With so many places to see the FE...it gets confusing.

    Can you confirm my understanding???...if you will graciously give me a few minutes....your previous posts have been a significant part of my decision process to buy the TCH! THANKS!!!

    Here's how I currently understand the many guages:

    Left of the Speedometer: an analog guage showing instantanious mpg. This is clear! lol

    Under the speedometer, there is a multifunction guage...among other things, it shows:

    1. A stepped ECO Drive level guage...this is the average mpg for the current trip, in bar graph format. Seems this resets every time the car is started.

    2. Tank average: mpg for the current tank (only resetable automatically after a refuel??)

    On the NAV consumption screen:

    1. bar graph showing average mpg by minute, for the last 30 minutes of driving. Bars change color to show the previous trip, until current trip goes over 30 minutes.

    2. "Average" mpg... average for the current tank since refuel? Is this resetable? or only automatically after a refuel? Is this an exact duplicate of tank average display under speedoneter?

    3. "best" ....from your description above, I understand this to be the highest instantanious mpg recorded in the bar graph of the 30 min????

    4. "Reset" restest curent info display, 30 min graph, and best???

    5. "reset all" resets tank average, 30 minute bar graph, "best" and average mpg (on this nav display)??????

    I would like to be able to have a running total for the mpg that doesn't reset at refueling. So...is there a running total mpg that can be kept indefinately...as in "since I have had the car" average?

    thanks for your help..this is one heck of a car!!!

    I will be an active poster here with info on my experiences, here and in the thread "New TCH Owners, give us your report"

    I noticed this morning, there is a blue colored "ring" that shows up around the instantanious mpg guage and speedometer when the mpg reaches a certain level...40mpg???

    Sorry for long post!
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    All yes, with this further information:

    On the NAV Screens, 2( The average can be reset any time you want by resetting the reset button. Trip to the store, red light to red light, trip to mom's what ever you want to measure. I set it on trips I make frequently and experiment with slow starts, steady driving and coasting techniques to see what's the best way to drive a specific route I drive often. It's not for the tank average, it's for the trip and it can be used, I'm 99.9% sure, over the course of several tanks like on vacation.

    The "best" screen will be reset to a higner number when you hit the reset and your trip has a higher average than your previous best. It's probably meaningless to anyone but you. Reset like I just did on a trip to the store and I got 49 mpg. I can use it as a coversation piece I suppose.

    Reset does not change the "best" if the current is lower.

    I don't think there is a running mpg for the total unless you just don't ever reset. That's probably not practical. I keep my running total on an EXCEL spread sheet I keep on my laptop and then I move the same data over to the GreenHybrid.com "COMPARE" page. (Check it out for my tank by tank milage) If you just keep your receipts and enter the milage and gallons there it will keep your running total for you. Since you can go 600 miles on a tank it's not all that often you'll need to do this..

    I believe the blue ring shows up when ever you get to 36 mpg, the same FE where the ECO gage rewards you with an "EXCELLENT" as you shut off the system.
  • spiff72spiff72 Posts: 179
    Actually, I think the blue ring illuminates dimly when you are in the first band (between 25 and 30), and it gets brighter with each step up the ECO level ladder. The band is not there when you are below 25mpg.
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    It's good to have a thread specifically for this. I have repeated several tips several times on different threads. Also every month when new shipments arrive new owners are asking the same question. There are already a lot of posts that could be read but unfortunately they are scattered all over the board.

    Several of us have a lot of tips and I'll probably go to the trouble of adding them again, but for now:

    First, If you're new to the TCH experience and you're getting less than 30 mpg, you're not doing it right. Several have blamed their car wanting to take it back to the dealer only to get the hang of it later. Study, practice and don't worry about it for the first tank of learning.

    I'd also recommend going to the station and filling up so that you know for sure you have a "full" tank. Too many people are getting lousy first tank actuals that could be the result of a low fill from the dealer. If you're going to start tracking this the first place to start is with a full tank.

    If you want high FE you will have to drive this different than you past car. To maximize FE it takes understanding how to work the system. With a little practice it's second nature. However many posters have no intention of changing their driving habits and that's OK, they are still getting 34 to 35 mpg for the most part.

    I'm currently over 8400 miles and averaging 38.7mpg. I live in rural hilly central WV. I don't have heavy urban traffic as some but I don't have flat ground either. Unless you become compulsively obsessed with the stive for a high FE number (as many of us are) realize with such a high fuel effecient car as the TCH (and other high 30's cars) there is really very little savings working hard to get a 36 mpg average up to say 38. For you it just may not be worth the effort.

    Enjoy you car, save fuel, send less American dollars to the Persian Gulf

    Things to know:

    1) The ICE is always on above 41 mph.
    2) When you first start the car expect the ICE to kick on after about the first 7 seconds. If the car is warmed up already it will kick back off if you're sitting stil or pulling away slowly on level ground
    3) It's better to mildly accelerate to speed and then let off the throttle and as the ICE either kicks off or drops to the 60 "instant" gage FE mark, gently apply pressure to maintain speed at a considerably higher FE
    4) If there is a grade you may lose speed to max out FE, if that's acceptable every little bit contributes to a high FE number
    5) This thing coasts very well. Many times before you crest a hill you can let off the throttle and drop the FE to 60 and as you top the hill on the cars momentum you will then gain speed downhill "gliding".
    6)If you have a NAV system you have many extra screens available. Watching them as you learn will help with the understanding. The dash screens that all TCH's have are adequate but not as much details as the NAV (go to info, trip info and there is a Consumption and Energy screen.
    7) ECO mode for A/C appears to provide adequate cooling for most all of the climates and assists with higher FE.
    8) Before you ask, yes (on the NAV models) the battery will show a full charge and when it gets to the next to top bar they turn green. If you drop to the bottom bar it turns violet.
    9) The bottom charge level and top charge level does not mean the battery is fully charged or depleted. The TCH computer in order to maximize the life of the batteries keeps the system charged between 60 to 80%.
    10)If you drive for 200 miles and don't see a full charge and thus don't belive me (like several posters) find a very long down grade and watch the charge. Try to start with as full of a chage as you can and you should be able to "top off" the battery. Actually it's not all that important, but it will assure you that it does go the full range.

    This is a great forum as it has topical threads. I would add that at GreenHybrid.com there is database for showing your milage and seeing milages of other drivers and other hybrids.

    Got to go,

    More postings to come.
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    www.hybridsynergydrive.com/en/regenerative_braking.html
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    www.toyotaiguide.com
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    (You'll hear of this soon if you just got your hybrid. I copied this from another website)

    First, Pulse - Getting The Car Up To Speed
    When the car needs to get up to speed, gently accelerate. As much as possible, avoid using energy from the large hybrid battery while accelerating.

    Second, Glide - A Special Kind Of Coasting
    Once up to 40 mpg ease slightly back on the accelerator. Then ever so slightly press down the accelerator again and hold the pedal in that position. On the energy screen there should not be any arrows of energy going any direction. If you press to much, repeat the process of easing up and pressing down again until you get it in the right spot. You will notice that there is no energy flowing in any direction on the Prius’ energy screen and the “arrows” are black. In this state, the Prius is basically coasting, without any energy being drawn away to regenerate the battery.

    Then, Repeat The Process
    Once the car decelerates to the given bottom end of your Glide, usually 30 mph, start the whole process over again. Alternating between periods of Pulsing and periods of Gliding as long as the driving situation allows. The bottom end of the Glide can actually be any speed, but the record breaking drivers generally used 30 mph.

    Pulse And Glide For Everyday Driving?
    It is unlikely that you would be able to do like the record breakers did and Pulse and Glide for an entire tank of gas, but this technique can be implemented, when appropriate, in different parts of your normal driving routine. Every little bit helps when trying to squeeze extra miles out of a tank of gas. When employing this technique, of course, you should always drive safely and not impede other motorist.

    Pulse And Glide In Other Hybrid Cars And Hybrid SUVsThis technique can be implemented in any Toyota or Lexus hybrid car that has the “Hybrid Synergy Drive” (HSD) system. In fact, as a test, I once took a Toyota Highlander Hybrid on a 21 mile drive using this technique and achieved 47.1 miles per gallon. Try that in any other SUV!
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    Hard to remember all the tips and to find them later???

    You need to study the posts here and on other forums. An easy way to do this is to open up a blank word file and with every post or suggestion you see that you like just copy and paste over to the word file and save it, then you can have a fairly lengthy document with a lot of useful information to review at your leisure.
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    Think about it. Just after you fill up you either see "0" because you're burning gas and not moving, or you'll see "99.9" because you started moving witout applying the throttle and possibly are moving on battery alone, thus the high milage mark. As soon as you pull out onto the highway you're probably going to see 10 then 15 mpg as you give it gas to get that mass moving, then as you get to speed and are say instant averaging 40 mpg the overall tank average will start rising.

    The NAV consumption gage can be a little deceptive as it shows consumption per minute not per mile, and since in the US we measure MILES per gallon the bars don't simply balance out. For example you drive 30 mph for 2 minutes averaging 20 mpg and then you drive 60 mph for 2 minutes while achieving 60 mpg. Is the average 40 mpg? Looking at the bars it looks like it would balance out. But actually you covered 1 mile in the 2 minutes at 20 mpg and 2 miles at 60 mpg so you go twice the distance at the 60 mpg level and thus your overall would be 46.67 mpg.

    So you're cruising through town at stop lights for 2 miles getting 25 mpg and complaining and then you hit the freeway or better yet a rural road where you can freely practice good hybrid driving. Within two miles of filling up and seeing 25mpg, within 1 minute you've doubled your milage and within 2 minutes you have twice as many miles at high FE as you do at low FE and the number climbs dramatically.

    many posters get upset on test drives when what they are doing is driving a "cold" car and seeing the worse driving conditions for FE during that drive. That is pulling out of the dealer lot, probably not taking any chances and pushing it some so as to not hamper traffic (and possibly wreck a car that is not yours). You probably want to goose it at least once to prove you could be happy with it. All in all it's a good test drive but in no way does it really reflect the way you would drive it everyday. Some people are lucky and get to test the new car and take it home and drive it on their commute route. Few got to do that with the TCH.

    The less miles on the "new" tank the more variance you'll see because a good mile or a bad mile can overly influence the overall average.

    BUT once you have say 300 miles on a tank and you're averaging 40 mpg then what happens when you drive a mile at 20 mpg? Not much. I don't have my calculator but it's probably only a drop in overall of less than 0.1 mpg. I live on a steep hill and I typically lose 0.1 every time I drive up the hill to my house. I seldom gain it all back gliding my cold car down the hill when I leave as my ICE is running warming up the converter and even though I'm going downhill it appears that I'm getting in the 20's for that short time..
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    I have "reverse" calculated that my "indicated" lifetime tank average would be 39.54 mpg. My current measured actual is 38.69. This is after 21 tanks (and about 8400 miles), each time I filled up by letting the pump kick off then squeezing two times to try to assure I topped off at as close to the same level as possible. (I don't top all the way off, that's not good for the environment or your FE)

    These numbers are actually fairly close. HOWEVER, if you click on my milage link on GreenHybrid,com and then hold your mouse over "more" on my tank information I have listed the indicated tank reading with each tank. As you can see several are very close and a few are as much as 2 mpg different, and not always on the same side of error. I wish I could figure out why it varies.

    I can't explain it but I know that last week I was disappointed with my 39.8 mpg performance on my trip but only because the TCH gage was indicating 42 mpg.

    Just thought I'd pass this info along as it's a question that's came up several times and because 1) I've got so many tank readings to show the effect over time, 2) I've tried to be consistant in the filling procedure, and 3) because I've kept track of all my indicated readings and was able to "reverse" calculate what my overall indicated would have been had I measured it from the start of ownership.
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    If you're new and notice your trip computer shows that you have a range of say 550 to 570 miles on your tank (rather than the 600+ you thought you should get), be aware that there is about a 3 gallon reserve. If you have the NAV system and you get your tank to "E" mark on the gas gage and "0" cruising range on the NAV screen, several posters, myself included have only been able to get 14.5 to 15 gallons in the tank at this point. At least two posters have run their tanks to where the car was actually empty (no actual gas). Don't do that, it's not recommended by Toyota and it's not good for your car (the system should shut down soon after the gas tank is empty_you can't run this on electric alone).

    Others have tested this and you don't need to chance being stranded or screwing up your car to find this out.

    I would recommend just once for you to take your tank to the "0" mark (don't do this in the desert) and fill it up so that you will have the knowledge and confidence as to what reserve you have. Most all of us will be able to drive 90 to 120 miles once the tank shows empty.
  • jbolltjbollt Posts: 734
    WOW!!! wvgasguy - Thank you so much for all this info, and the website with all the tech info. You are realy dedicated to helping here....I'm almost ready to fill my TCH's tank for the second time....it takes soooo long to use a tankfull! LOL It is an absolutely amazing car!

    Lots of reading ahead!
  • When I can anticipate several blocks in advance that I am going to have to stop, I appear to have a choice as to what to do. I'd like to get opinions as to which practice has the greater impact on FE. One choice is to let the car coast (glide?) and as I approach my stop I would start applying the breaks with normal pressure. Another is to ever so slightly begin applying breaking pressure as far away as I can anticipate that I am going to stop. Does that gain me additional charging of the battery because I am charging the batery from coasting AND braking over a longer period of time?
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    It's always good not to have the ICE running.

    As far as the regenerative braking, the link I gave above has a graph that may show some insight to this if you can understand it (I didn't study it). My understanding is that UNDER about 12 mph the regenerative braking does not supply significant charging. Applying the brakes lightly, if you are not in traffic or don't mind slowing is good down to the 12 mph range.

    However you would not want to apply the brakes for a long distance (a couple of blocks) and then find that you have to go to EV mode to get to the stop sign. That would use up any charge you just received from the braking.

    Coasting in most instances, especially if you do it well in advance of your stop will provide significant charging as well as not use gas. ANYTIME your foot is not on the throttle you are charging the battery.
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    ANOTHER TIP: Most of you know this BUT you do have to physically lift your foot and let off of the throttle to achieve maximum battery support. Most of us are used to resting our foot on the throttle and always having some pressure on the throttle when driving a regular ICE car. If you have even the slightest pressure on the throttle the regen won't be charging the battery.

    This practice has to become a habit with the hybrid for best FE.

    Look at your instant FE gage on the dash as you drive and you'll catch yourself in most situations applying significantly more throttle than is needed to maintain speed.

    Many times I have pulled out onto the road (55 mph rural highway) and be accelerating to look down and see that I'm getting an instant read out of 20 to 25. (I still have my foot pressure on the throttle). I'll immediately let off, allowing the FE gage to drop to E mode (if I'm under 41 mph) or to the 60 mpg mark (if over 41 mph). Within an instant I gently apply the throttle (it's a feather touch) and I will be able to maintain speed with a reading more near the 35 to 40+ mark.

    If you are on a slight grade you may notice you can't fully maintain speed. If you're willing to let it drop gradually for say 5mph, you simply speed up and repeat the procedure. This is in the pulse and glide explaination.
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    You'll see many posts where folks say 34 mph or 53 mph are their sweet spots. I've found several and have come to the belief the sweet spot matches up with particular sections of highway, not just the TCH.

    I have areas where I can go EV all day (at least until the battery has to be charged by the ICE for a brief time). Also I have a route I take on a rural highway where I can drive near 45 mph and achieve 46 mpg for the trip. I've also found on the interste long streches of road where 67 mph gives me excellent results. Point is I think it varies greatly based on your particular "touch" on the throttle and the road you're on.
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    Another interesting thing I've noticed while watching the NAV screen is that there are some sections of road that while they are rolling hills I am still achieving great FE AND topping off my battery.

    I didn't expect that to happen but what is happening, once up to speed the ICE was propelling the car but there was more hp generated with the ICE that was used to charge the battery. If I gave more pressure to the throttle that battery would start supplying power to the wheels, if I let off too much then it simply went into regen and the car would slow.

    I would watch the screen and was able to apply just enough pressure to propel the car at the speed I wanted but still apply enough pressure to the throttle to be using the ICE to charge the battery as well.

    What does this matter? Possibly not much as the computer knows what it's doing. However some posters have wanted to "fool" the system so that as they approached the city driving area they would have a FULL battery charge (in the green). If you had a rural route (or even an uncrowded interstate (?)) such as mine that dumped you into a town or city situation, this would allow you to give up a minimal amount of FE for 4 or 5 miles while enabling you to have a full charge when it came time to EV around town for a while.
  • funpilotfunpilot Posts: 66
    As a Prius owner, I can tell you that what ever fuel mileage you get now, it will drop by 20% in the winter. Just do not be surprised.

    In my Prius, I get about 42 mpg commuting in summer, 38 in winter. On the highway I get 55 in summer, 48 in winter.
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