Toyota Prius in bitter cold.

I drove the car yesterday afternoon. Don’t plan to use it again for over a week. The real temps are around zero, single digits in NYC. Were last night, will be through tomorrow.

This is my first full winter a hybrid, and certainly first time with severe low temps with it. It’s parked in an unheated garage.

Do temps this low affect the battery packs? Do I need to bundle up and hustle on down and get it out and drive it around for a while?

I tried calling the dealership twice, only got a recording in the Service Dept. ( No surprise really… )

Google “Prius Cold Weather Performance” and you’ll find lots of discussion.

Cold Weather Performance | PriusChat › … › Gen II Prius Main Forum‎
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For straighter dope you should probably google up a Prius owner’s discussion forum; I’m sure there’s more than one out there with a knowledgeable enthusiast.

For the straightest dope, you should consult the owner’s manual in the glovebox.

My non-owner’s perspective:
A low temp just means the battery will be less powerful and less energetic, which just means the computer will decide to fire up the engine a little sooner when you step on the accelerator. This will continue until you’ve been driving the car for a little while with electricity flowing in/out of the battery and causing it to warm up a bit. But as to what I think you’re worried about - longevity/durability - I don’t think you have anything to worry about.

The biggest issue with cold weather and Prius-type hybrids is that the heater still requires the gas engine to be running. Once the engine starts it runs it until it’s warmed up and will periodically restart it to keep it warmed up. If it’s really incredibly cold out, the gas engine is going to run a lot more than usual even if it’s not needed to recharge the batteries.

When the batteries are cold, they do discharge more slowly, meaning less acceleration or requiring the gas engine to come on sooner. Whether that’s a noticeable effect or not is a point of argument among some circles. Especially since while the heater is running, the gas engine is running anyways (see above) but once the cabin warms up the batteries will be warm too.

I did place foam insulation into the lower front grille, as per these suggestions and others found online. Lacking a thermostat, I’ve avoided 100 % blockage. But I must say, blocking the portion I could really helped. I did it out on the prairie on Rt. 70 between Topeka and the Colorado border, at a Home Depot.

Realized the difference after stopping for a while. Engine cooled completely; came up to warming temp MUCH faster. Nice !

Will remove once the stupid cold passes.

Anecdotally mine certainly runs the engine a lot more (and at a different RPM) than normal, but no issues starting at -20F


I own a Ford Fusion Hybrid, and the main thing that has happened to it in the four winters I’ve driven it now is that very cold weather = shitty gas mileage. By which I mean, mileage more on the order of a comparable, conventional sedan in summer driving.

If you were parked in under zero F for more than a day or two, and wanted it to start, an engine block heater would probably be necessary.

Anyway, a week off of driving and just sitting in an unheated garage shouldn’t hurt it, either. Been there, done that, with the Fusion hybrid. It’ll be fine. If it were more like a month of sitting then you might have some more stuff to figure out.

Oh, if I had to leave it for a month, I’d toss the keys to a pal so it’d get used every week.

I think you’ll be fine.

Indeed, i was!