Car manufacturers don’t mention this, but it is important not to drive “on fumes”. As a matter of fact, AC Delco in its Women’s Car Care Seminar recommends that we make a stop at the gas station any time the tank is less than 1/3 full.
The reason for this advice is to protect the fuel pump. The fuel pump in modern vehicles is an electrical/mechanical device. All such devices need to be cooled. There are two ways that a fuel pump is cooled:
1) Gasoline flows through it and heat pass from it to the engine.
2) The fuel pump is immersed in gasoline and cooled in a fuel bath.
As the fuel tank gets close to empty, this second way of cooling the fuel pump becomes less and less effective.
Running “on fumes” will usually not destroy your fuel pump immediately but it does cause it to work at higher than optimal temperatures. Over time, this will cause faster wear. That may make it necessary to replace the fuel pump sooner than expected.
Another reason not to run “on empty” is that fuel pumped from a “dry” tank may contain moisture and deposits. Over time, these contaminates could damage the fuel filter or the fuel pump itself.
So be good to your fuel pump – keep the fuel tank at least 1/3 full at all times.
This will also keep you from running out of gasoline. Being out of gas is not only a hassle, but… you guessed it – it’s really bad for the fuel pump.
The Prius battery is a great design but it must be kept cool. It is really important to make sure that your Prius battery cooling system is in good operating condition.
There is a cooling fan located in the rear trunk area of the car that should be inspected at least annually. Perhaps more often if you travel with a dog in your car. The cooling intake duct is located in the rear seat area and will easily fill itself with dog hair and cease to cool the High Voltage Battery. This may set a MIL code and cause your warning triangle to illuminate. If this happens it can be easily repaired if it is addressed promptly. It is really important to have your car inspected quickly for any warming lamp.
A battery that is overheated for an extended period will have a shortened life. It is possible to have a cooling fan that is partially clogged. This may not set the code but still be harming your HV battery.
HV cooling fan inspection is part of our regular service at Sturken’s San Jose Hybrid Shop.
If you have not had your battery fan inspected in the last year, it probably should be looked at.
Call us to schedule your preventative maintenance:
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Being busy, we try to squeeze in as much gasoline as possible to stretch out our trips to the gas station. But topping off after the gas pump automatically shuts off is a bad idea. There are two very important reasons why topping off is bad for you and the environment.
1. When the automatic shutoff occurs, your tank has the right amount of gasoline. If you put more gasoline in the tank, some of the gasoline may get into the carbon filter – this component is only supposed to carry fumes. This will not destroy your car. But over time, it can result in lower mileage, higher emissions, and unnecessary repairs.
This is bad for your pocketbook, and bad for the environment. Don’t over fill. You’ll keep the Bay Area a bit less smoggy.
2. When you continue to top off your fuel tank after the automatic shutoff, there is a possibility that the extra gasoline will spill out.
Three reasons why this is bad:
a. You are spilling money on the ground – literally.
b. Gasoline runoff goes into the ground, into the air and into the storm water system. No fuel spill is good for anything alive.
c. Gasoline fumes are bad for you – topping off and spilling that stuff makes it more likely you will breathe the fumes. In extreme cases fuel spills at filling stations can become fire or explosion hazards.
So next time you are at the gas station – let the automatic shutoff do its job – save your money and save the environment.