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  1. #1
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    Gas Engine Kicking In on Start-Up

    I just bought my NAH two weeks ago and I was struggling to get 25 MPG until I finally did some freeway driving this weekend (my commute is about 3 miles each way) and got it up around 34. Anyway, I noticed that first thing in the morning (and when I leave work)--in other words, after the car has been idle for an extended period of time--the gas engine kicks in almost immediately when I start the car. I get a few seconds of EV Mode and then the gas engine kicks in, even if I am still in park and haven't moved yet. Is that normal? Service guy at the dealership says that it is not normal, and that the battery should hold the charge overnight. Told me to bring it in, which I am doing tomorrow, but of course I would like to avoid that if I can. Let me know if your NAH does what I am describing.

    Thanks.

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  3. #2
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    Normal operation

    I think it's normal for the engine to start every time you start the engine "cold". It does this to heat the catalytic converter and O2 sensors and get the emission system up to normal operating temperatures. I don't think it's dependent on the battery charge although the colder the temperature the more likely the battery would be at a diminished output. A hybrid is, after all, mainly a gas vehicle with an electrical assist.

    A real killer for fuel economy, just like a non-hybrid car - is a lot of short trips where the engine cools down between them plus the AC in a hybrid also seems to take its toll as well.

    I've got a 20-40 mile commute (depends on the carpool) and I've averaging just over 39 mpg.

  4. #3
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    you also want to have about 30 seconds of the oil pump running to help lubricate the vital engine parts

    so yes, it's normal and it's bad if it doesn't.

    short trips completely kill your fuel economy due to the start up/warm up

  5. #4
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    Thanks for the input. I brought it in today and showed the service guy your posts, and sure enough, he checked around and you are indeed correct--what my car is doing is normal. Turns out, the guy I spoke to had just come over from a Toyota dealership, and he was used to the Prius and how it works. Even though it is the same technology, apparently the way the technology is used in the Altima is different than the way it is used in the Prius. So even he got a little education.

    Unfortunately, I was just starting to recognize the point made in the last post--that the fact that I have a 3-mile commute is counterproductive to my getting great gas mileage with this car. I guess I would have been better off with the Prius, but I don't really like the body style. Live and learn.

    Thanks for the advice, though--at least I know there's nothing wrong with my car.

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ms1388 View Post
    Turns out, the guy I spoke to had just come over from a Toyota dealership, and he was used to the Prius and how it works. Even though it is the same technology, apparently the way the technology is used in the Altima is different than the way it is used in the Prius.
    I'm curious how the Prius would be different on a cold start up. I would think that it would also need to start the engine to warm up the emission system.

    Does the Prius go to the EV mode even when cold and for how long?

  7. #6
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    Don't know. I'm just assuming from what he said about having come over from Toyota.

  8. #7
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    I have a Prius. It is totally normal for the ICE to kick on right after you start up the car. It has to warm up the catalytic converter. The engine coolant DOESN'T have to get warmed up, though, since these cars stash the coolant away in a thermos bottle when you shut down the car (you'll hear a distinctive humming sound for a couple of seconds after you turn off the car). In the heat down here in the summer (Raleigh) it does take less time for this to happen than in the winter.

    I notice the same thing about short trips. The mileage really is awful for the first 5 minutes or so (25 mpg or less). Once you're on the road for 10 minutes or so the mileage will go up. A hypermiler trick (which works on non-hybrid cars, too) is to combine your errands into a single trip, and start with the most distant destination first. Then, on the shorter legs coming back home, you'll get better mileage with your car already mostly warmed up.

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by lloyd123 View Post
    I'm curious how the Prius would be different on a cold start up. I would think that it would also need to start the engine to warm up the emission system.

    Does the Prius go to the EV mode even when cold and for how long?
    The Prius actually has a resevoir of hot water stored in it that flows through the engine when started. The water storage system can maintain the water temp above 85 degrees for 3 days.

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattm View Post
    The engine coolant DOESN'T have to get warmed up, though, since these cars stash the coolant away in a thermos bottle when you shut down the car.
    Wow - throw in a bucket of fried chicken and you could have a picnic.

    Does the Camy have the same set up? If so I wonder why the Nissan engineers didn't include this feature.

  11. #10
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    Not only does it run the ICE to heat the Cat I have noticed that after the Blue water temp light goes out it still will not go EV for about another 4 to 5 minutes.

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