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Prius and filling the tank

I have a 2006 Prius and love it. However, when filling up my tank today, the gas pump kept cutting off, only putting 2 gallon in tank that was in need of at least 8 gallon. So I put another 1/2 gal. in and it cut off again. It's cold here in WV, is that my problem?


  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,962
    Sounds like this is something that just happened to you rather than a recurring issue. If that's the case, I'd be leaning towards a malfunction with the gas pump/filler nozzle rather than assuming it's a "problem" with your car.

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  • After 3 1/2 yrs with an'04 Prius I've come to understand and deal with the quirks of the "bladder" gastank of the hybrid. Some stations' pumps deliver the gas at a higher volume than others. That being said, you have to gingerly release the gas nozzle slowly. You're right though as to the winter effect on the tank and its volume. I seldom can put more than 8-9 gallons in frigid weather. I suppose that Toyota feels the advantages of the "bladder" tank outway the quirks. Even the gauge can fail to show a full tank when you know its filled to the max.
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Posts: 1,015
    The Prius fuel tank bladder requires a little pressure from the pump to expand. As pf_flyer said, the pump you used may be too sensitive. Also, if the nossle is a really tight fit it can cause problems. The Prius fuel bladder does get stiff in cold weather, and will usually accept a few gallons less than normal, but your estimate is too great for that to be the problem.

    Try another pump/station, to confirm which case is the cause.
  • dgw2dgw2 Posts: 2
    I have a Prius T4, 05, bought a couple of months ago when it had done only 3500 miles. Have the same problem you describe each time I fill up. Exactly the same problem. I find that if I pull the pump nozzle an inch or so out of the tank, squeeze the trigger slowly to get it started and then gently pull up the trigger to get full flow once it starts going - that usually works. But what a silly damn system, the worst bug on the car. Desined by a moron who never tested it in the real world.
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Posts: 1,015
    While I understand your frustration, you can be sure Toyota thoroughly tested the bladder system. The fuel tank bladder is what takes the Prius the final step to being the most environmentally benign vehicle currently in mass production. It severely lessens fuel vapour escape to the atmosphere.

    I felt the same way, BTW, the first time I travelled in Washington State, and attempted to fill up at a station with the "vapour recovery system". Not with a Prius, at that time I had a 4Runner. As I recall, I got 2 gal at a time in the vehicle.
  • acdiiacdii Posts: 753
    I just got a Prius, so I have yet to fill the tank, but I do have a 99 F350 Diesel from Ford, and their designers in their great wisdom decided to cut costs and use the same tank for the diesel that they use for the gassers. Well, diesel doesnt have the same properties of gasoline, less vapor, less expansion/contraction, but lots of foam. There is a tube in the tank the extends a good 6-8 inches down from the top, the overflow tube. If they had shortened that tube to about 2-4 inches, it would be much easier to fill the tank. When it gets to the tube, the foam shoots out, and stops the nozzle. I have to stand there and trickle in the last 4 gallons of fuel.

    Believe me, I feel your pain. ;)
  • dgw2dgw2 Posts: 2
    One other thing .. if you open the car, leave your keys on the seat and then close the door to go back into the house to fetch something, when you get back the car will be locked with your keys inside. Aside from "niggles" like this ( also lousy windscreen wipers ) it is a great car. Excellent engineering. Have fun. Dont try and drive it in the snow - useless. Maybe better with snow chains or studs - we dont use those things in UK.
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Posts: 1,015
    The smartkey system is supposed to prevent that from happening. The car isn't supposed to lock unless you do it manually from inside when the fob is in it. There are a few places you can put the fob inside the car that the system can't detect it, but they are hard to find. Of course, if you don't have SKS, you can lock the keys inside.
  • Guess what, if the diesel fuel you are pumping "foams up" you may be pumping fuel that has too much sulphur in it. It used to foam up years ( 9-10 ) ago. Then they removed most of the sulphur. As of 15 October, almost all of the sulphur was removed ( 15ppm from 500ppm ) is all that is to be used in any new vehicle. If yours foams, it may be off-road fuel for construction equipment ( diesel #2 ).
  • I have the same problem with my new 2007 Toyota Pruis. I noticed it right away. I took it into the dealership and was told they were unable to duplicate the problem when filling with gas. At first, I assumed it was due to cold weather...but I've had it happen during the summer months too. I'm taking back in to have reviewed again. It's frustrating when you know you need to put in several gallons and the tank shuts off after only putting in 30 cents.
  • I have had a similar problem to the one "jchshade1969" described. Twice, while gasing up, the pump has cut off prematurely and at about the same time in the gasing process. I had pumped about 8 1/2 gallons when I really needed about 10. There must be an air-lock problem that makes the pump think my tank is full. I do know that if you pump too fast, it can make the pump cut off. But it stilled happened at a slower pumping rate.
  • sherry9sherry9 Posts: 14
    I have a 2007 Prius and have been having problems with the fuel gauge registering correctly. My car will not take more than 6.5 gallons when filling up and my mileage has been cut in half. After having it at the dealer 7 times, having the complete instrument panel replaced 3 times and the entire gas tank replaced once, the problem is still there. After calling Toyota and making my complaint, they tell me it is a regional problem due to weather temps here (WV). They do not want to do anything till it gets warmer to see if it corrects itself. Has anyone else had this problem with this car?
  • yermellyermell Posts: 6
    I have a 2006 Prius with 39,000 miles. I love it. I have started having problems filling the fuel tank this winter. I live in the northeast and in December the tank started taking only 7-8 gals or so when filling up even if it was empty. It has continued all winter. I compared this to last year's fillup records and this problem did not occur, I was able to get 10+ gals in last year through the winter. I took it to the dealer and after two different technicians, the only explanation is the cold weather and stiffening of the bladder tank. They said wait until it gets warmer... They also recalibrated the computer. How frequently is this happening? As I said to the technician this is a loss of 30+ % of the tank capacity. The gas gauge shows full when I only get the 7-8 gals in and the computer and manual mileage calcs match.
  • stevegoldstevegold Posts: 185
    I have a 2004 Prius with no prior history of tank filling problems. This winter has been unusually cold. A few months ago my wife washed the car on a very cold day. From then on, no gas would go in the tank even though the gage read only half full.
    I tried 3 or 4 times but the gas would instantly overflow. I assumed the tank was full (and the gauge was wrong) and did nothing more until I had driven about 300 miles at which time the tank took 7+ gallons and the gauge read full. It has been working properly ever since. I think it was some combination of the prolonged very cold temperatures and the car wash.
  • sherry9sherry9 Posts: 14
    I knew I couldn't be the only one having this problem. This has been going on since November 07. I have not put more than 6.5 in mine every time, sometimes no more than 5 gallons. This is the only problem I have had with this car. Mine has 19,000 miles on it. I bought it the first of April 07. It was still cold then, too. I have had it to the dealer 7 times over this. They cannot fix it. I have contacted Toyota and they don't seem to want to do anything till it gets warmer. The weather may be part of the problem, but something else is going on too. I have sent a certified letter to Toyota arbitration over this. Look in your owners rights book to see the steps for doing this in your state if you want to pursue it. We do have lemon laws and one way or another, they will do something about this. If nothing else, they can replace the car. That mpg is very hard to give up. I don't think any other car can compare to it. Still, I am not going to go through this every winter. I'll post what happens with that. Thanks for your reply.
  • yermellyermell Posts: 6
    I think the problem is more common than we know. I love the car and we plan to get a second one. I think Toyota could be more up front on this. My first technician tried to tell me the tank was only 9.9 gals, that the 11.9 was liters! The bladder tank is the most environmentally friendly according to my 2nd tech and they did have serious filling serious problems on the 2004 year. I am going to wait until it gets warmer and see what happens. As I said, last winter I had fills of 10.7 gals, 9.9 gals etc. so this problem with only 6-7 gal fills is new this year.
  • sherry9sherry9 Posts: 14
    I love this car, too. I will be more than happy to have a new one. I would be happy with fills of 9-10 gallons, I'm just not getting it. With the yo-yo gas prices, I could always wait this out before. Now I can't. It's starting to get warmer now, so we'll see how it does. You would think if they had serious problems before they would have done something about it in the last three years. I did buy an extended warranty, so hopefully these problems will be covered.
  • chadxchadx Posts: 153
    This might be frustrating to some, but is it really worth pursuing a lemon law claim? If you are only able to put in 7 gallons, that means your range is 280 miles (at 40mpg). While that may be 80 - 100 miles less of a range when compared to a summer fill-up (plus summer gas mileage is often higher, which is a double whammy), it's still pretty good miles per tank compared to many other vehicles.

    Many recent vehicles have spoiled us with 350 - 400 mile range, but on a day to day basis, why carry around all that weight and gasoline? You get worse mileage because of the weight, plus, the gas starts to age if it takes you two or three weeks to use it all. I can see this being more frustrating for those that put a lot of miles on everyday, but on a day to day basis, if that is one of the bigger issues with this vehicles, I'd say things are going pretty good.

    Part of it might be just changing our mindset. We are so used to pumping 12 - 20 gallons into past vehicles, that when we only put in 7 - 10 gallons, we feel like we are barely putting in any gas. The fact that fewer gallons gets a prius owner a LOT more miles down the road than other vehicles takes some getting used to. I had to change my mindset similarly on a recent motorcycle purchase. I was used to 5.5 gallon gas tanks on bikes that only got 40mpg. But I bought a bike with a 4 gallon tank. Every time I fill, I feel like I'm just going to run out of gas right away, but since it gets 70mpg, it's range is actually significantly longer on those 4 gallons than my other bike travels on 5.5 gallons.

    And if all that fails, consider what others have mentioned. This is an emissions reduction tool. Make up your mind that it's worth the fluctuation in capacity for the good it does. After all, that mind set is likely a large part of the reason everyone decides to purchase a prius in the first place. "Embrace it" as they say.
  • sherry9sherry9 Posts: 14
    Do you own a Prius? You haven't said if you are having this same problem. Yes, as far as I am concerned, it is worth pursuing a lemon law claim. I am not able to put in 7 gallons and get 280 miles. The most miles I have gotten has been 227. I do drive a lot every day. My mindset has already been changed since I bought this car. For the amount of money I spent, I expect it to work correctly. Most people do. Maybe you don't. If I wanted an ordinary car that I had to fill up twice a week, I would have bought one. I will "embrace" a car that works correctly.
  • HI I live in Canada and I own a 2005 Prius and a new 2008 with about 8,000 miles. I think I am having the same problem with both cars. It hit me worse this week because I ran out of gaz with my 08 nodel. Everytime I get down to the flashing light I do 10-15 miles and then tanl up and I find that I still had 3-4 gallons left based on the capacity. So 2 days ago - it was snowing - raining and ugly and I was late so I figured that I had 3-4 gallons left and I had about 55 miles to go so I went for it and I ran out of gaz at 49 miles, this is the first time in my life I run out. So I filled up with a 1 gallon reservoir and then I put in about 8 more gallons and it was full - so my tank is 9 gallons? evidently we all have the same problem. ( this is all with the 08) With the 05, I (which my wife drives) I haven't really stretched it but yes I always thought that I had more left in the tank than appeared to be - but now I see it is the tank that is smaller. I agree with others - this is not acceptable - winter or summer. A small variation might be acceptable but has anybody really measured this summer and winter? They tell us not to overfill and I have never really tried to overfill - what would that do.
    I will follow this forum to see what happens with this problem - did anybody write to Toyota Motors?
    BTW in Canada we are all in litre and the tank is 45 litres per the book.
  • sherry9sherry9 Posts: 14
    Your problem does sound like mine but I am only putting in 6.5 gallons. The most I have gone on the empty light is about 20 miles. I also assume there should be more in the tank but I'm not willing to try it. I have contacted Toyota and they tell me it is normal, I don' think so. They are not willing to do anything till it gets warmer. Have you taken yours in for service? I have been asking other people I see if they are having these problems and they aren't. I sent a letter to Toyota arbitration last Monday and am expecting to hear from them this week. I requested a buy back or replacement since it can't seem to be fixed. It is out of Toyota's hand now and they have to abide by the arbitration ruling. It has to be settled within 40 days. I will post what happens.
  • yermellyermell Posts: 6
    well my tank problem is improving, I've gone from 7.5 gal. or so last month up to 9.68 gals. today. I was on my flashing light. The temp was 43 F. I too wish Toyota would come clean on this. If the bladder tank is best technology I could probably live with it in the winter, if that is what I was expecting. But as I said in an earlier post, I didn't have this problem last year.
  • stevegoldstevegold Posts: 185
    My bladder problem this winter disappeared a few weeks ago but I did NOT have it in 2007, 2006, 2005 or 2004.
  • sherry9sherry9 Posts: 14
    I just filled mine up today and it took 5.2 gallons with 1 bar still lit. It has been in the sixties here for the last few days;
  • Worth mentioning is the method by which the Prius should be filled. My point being: Over the last 4 plus yrs of filling my '04 Prius I found that filling very slowly makes fill-ups attain maximum fill. When I do hit the blinking fuel gauge lite I know I can go approx. 25 miles. With that in mind, I find fill-ups usually are about 9 to 10 gallons. Again I reinterate. FILL VERY SLOWLY. It works for me. Last note...Winter's very cold weather does vary fill-ups about a gallon or so less.
  • Well spring is almost here in Canada. I will watch this closely this summer and next winter. On my 05 and the 08 and I will advise - up here in Canada we are in litres so I will be converting. It is still a great car - I just wish I could depend on the gauge - is full really full?
  • stevegoldstevegold Posts: 185
    Does your Prius (or HH) have a spring loaded round metal flap that covers the hole where the filler nozzle gets inserted? My 2004 does not, but it may have fallen in the tank causing the filling problems I experienced a few months ago. I don't remember if there ever was such a flap. Other owners report having such a flap.
  • sherry9sherry9 Posts: 14
    Not that I know of.
  • gscheil1gscheil1 Posts: 72
    Add gas very,very,very slowly.
  • stevegoldstevegold Posts: 185
    There is no flap. The problem must have been caused by very cold temperatures that did something to the rubber bladder in the tank. Once it warmed up, the problem disappeared. I don't know why it never happened in previous winters.
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