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Hybrid Backup

I’m considering a hybrid, and the salesman doesn’t know the answer. If the hybrid runs out of gas, will the electric motor continue to function and get me to a repair facility?

No, the gas engine is the primary factor in charging the batteries (and powering the car around for the most part anyway). No gas engine, no electricity for the batteries. Some hybrids will travel at slow speeds (25 MPH or less) for a mile or two before the batteries are exhausted.

Why would you need to get to a repair facility if you were out of gas?

Like FoDaddy said, the electric-only range of the present hybrids are extremely limited and so even if they did have this feature it would only be of limited usefulness. I’m interested in what running out of gas in a hybrid is like since it’s probably not the usual step on the gas and it sputters thing like in a normal car.

It depends on the hybrid. They’re not all the same. In general, though, the answer is no. If the hybrid you buy has a battery-only mode the range will be very limited. A few miles at best. Some hybrids never drive by the batteries alone.

No, it won’t, but that leads to the inevitable question:
How often have you been in a situation where you ran out of gas?

In 46 years of driving, I have never run out of gas, and I suspect that most people could say the same.

While the number of gas stations is diminishing, there are still more than enough remaining stations to prevent anyone–except for those who are very much distracted from their driving tasks–from running out of gas. And, if someone is so distracted that he/she does not notice that his/her gas gauge is dropping dangerously low, that person is likely to encounter many other problems related to inattention to driving tasks.

Not very far. The good news is that if it happens you will likely be able to get to off the road safely and while you are waiting on the side of the road you can use your cell phone to call for help. Frankly I consider that ability one of the few good things about cell phones.

If you run out of gas often enough for it to be a concern for you, what you really need to find out is how much a fuel pump replacement will cost on the hybrid you are looking at buying.

To all who answered my post, thank you. In response to a few comments, I do not run out of gas often, but it has happened twice in my 50 years of driving, and I vacation in desolate areas with few services close by. Getting to a repair facility was just poor wording: sorry. Again, thanks for the clarifying answers to my question.

Maybe some computer nerd will devise a software update for that or something close like an ‘almost empty’ limp mode.
I’ve often wondered about that with my 06 Ford hybrid Escape. When you’re driving slowly the engine goes completely to sleep, zero rpm, for many a mile. But if you just turn the key to the run position ( without starting the gas engine ) it will not drive. And as I get way down on fuel ( 20 miles to empty ,say ) I’ve wondered; what if the car went into a high mpg,( low top speed, low acceleration rate ) limp mode ?

It depends on the hybrid. The Prius is supposed to be primarily electric, so the gas engine only charges the battery and provides more acceleration. It would probably be able to go at a reasonable speed until you get to a gas station. The range would depend on how much power the battery has left.

The Civic Hybrid, on the other hand, is a primarily gas car, and it uses electricity only to aid the gas engine on acceleration.

That’s not correct, the gas engine on the Prius provides the majority of power directly to the wheels during hard acceleration, high speed use, or when the batteries are low.

It sounds like OP is hoping there’s a ‘safety net’ with a hybrid. Absolutely don’t count on it. Besides the very small range of the batteries in a hybrid, you don’t want to let a modern fuel injected car run dry, anyway.

OK, but theoretically a Prius could go farther on batteries only than a mild hybrid.

Seems as though none of the replies to-date have actually run out of gas while driving a hybrid. I have run out of gas in my 2007 Prius.

About a mile after the low fuel idiot light chimed the dash lit up like a Christmas tree and had a sudden loss of power. Started to pull over but realized I still had “go”. Turned the A/C off and checked the battery status which was at the usual 6 blue bars so I kept going. No other cars on the 55 MPH 4-lane road. Found I could go 45 MPH or faster but decided to nurse it at 35 MPH.

All gas stations had been boarded up the past 15 or 20 miles. Fortunately found one (and only one) about 2 miles later. Battery status was still blue, 3 or 4 bars. 11.7 gallons later the car started as if nothing had happened.

Suspect had I stopped and turned the car off it would not have let me go.