I rented a Prius yesterday and it showed 1/4 tank full (two bars). At the dealership, the said "you have plenty of gas, it practically runs on fumes!" and I left to get to a meeting. About 15 minutes into my trip, the car just DIED. Completely quit, shut down at 75 MPH in the middle of the 280 HWY in San Francisco. The engine light went on, all the lights went on. I tried to push the 'restart' button of course works only when the brake is on. Thank god the steering worked.
Coasting at 75, then 70, then 65 - the cars behind me are starting to get annoyed - there is NO indication of anything wrong from the outside. I barely manged to merge through heavy fast traffic to the left shoulder - not my ideal choice, but the only choice at the time. The police arrived about 45 minutes later to completely shut down the 280 highway and push me to the right shoulder where it was safe. The tow truck arrived about 45 minutes later. I was shaking and practically crying after these events.
The gas meter read 1/8 and NOW it was blinking, where it had not been before. There was absolutely NO indication that the car was low in gas when it shut down - and even I know that when the gas light goes on, I usually have a few miles, if not many miles to get to a station. I have to say - Toyota needs to do a much better job of warning that the car is going to literally sut down - I have very little faith in the electronic systems (like if your computer froze and you needed to restart, only you were going about 70 on the freeway.) I am lucky to be alive, and not to have gotten into an accident where I could have hurt or killed someone else.
TOYOTA - PLEASE LEARN FROM THIS. THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOUR CAR. PEOPLE MAY DIE.
I thought you get the red triangle on screen when you're out of gas. And even then people have been known to limp to gas station on battery only. Are you sure that the incident is related to gas level, and not an engine problem? The dealer should be able to dig out some error codes from the control units. What do they say?
And speaking of people can get killed, I was in a head on collision last year. It was on a 270 degree two way exit ramp and a large part of it was blind. When I cleared the blind part, there was a car heading right towards me, IN MY LANE. The guy claimed that he had mechanical problem, but I think he thought it's a two lane one way on ramp. Anyway, even with all the braking, I'd say the two cars were still closing at 70km/h when we hit. AND MY AIRBAG DIDN'T DEPLOY! Afterwards, we discovered that the electrical system in my car was completely dead. The impact probably killed the electrical system before the airbag had a chance to fire. That, people can get killed in...
By the way, that was a VW TDI. And it's part of the reason why I switched camp from diesel to hybrid. The other reason is my wife's refusal to drive a stick shift car. She wants an auto. Well, she doesn't get to drive the Prius either because I don't want here to screw up my LMPG :-)...
All - thanks for your comments. I looked at the link posted and it looks as though others have experienced the "inverter failure" where the engine just cut out (which is what happened to me) and all of the warning lights went on. However I was not able to use any battery power and it seemed later that filling up with $5 worth of gas solved the problem. Since this was a rental car, I do not have as much invested in finding out what happened - however I am a bit concerned that this could happen to someone else.
Please tell me if there is someone at Toyota I can contact to find out more information. I was given a free rental and upgrade (whoopeee) by Enterprise rental who I find was not at fault - however I am truly concerned that this is happening at high speeds on major highways.
Also - can someone confirm what happens when the gas runs low? Looking through the booklet, it seems that there is a blinking bar - however this did not appear until after my engine shut down and I was off of the freeway. Is there any other indicator?