Winterizing a 2011 Prius for -60. (Ft Wainwright, AK)

Hello. First time on this forum. I need to winterize my car but I don’t know what I need to make sure it is done verses what is superfluous. I need a list or some direction to make sure it gets done right. Any help would be great. Thanks!

You’ll be driving it during the winter, correct? Not storing it?

I’d change the oil, put in full synthetic oil like 0W-20 (or whatever 0W is recommended for cold weather in your owners manual). I’d also check that the coolant is up to full strength, and make sure the tires are fully inflated at low temp (they’ll lose quite a bit a pressure just cooling off that much).

Any way to use a block heater?

Yea. I’m hearing a lot of stuff including block heater, coolant heater (and appropriate coolant), oil pan heater, trickle charger, batter blanket, and “three prong” which I think is the trickle charger.

And yes it will be my sole conveyance

Also, read about blocking the front grille for better efficiency here:

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Are you talking -60 degrees wind chill? Or -60 degrees actual temp?

Because I’m in Minnesota, and once it hits -30 degrees nothing moves.


If you plan on staying in AK Regular fluids and changes as specified in the manual should be fine. I use a block heater at 15 degrees or less, checking the amps on the battery is the next most important thing, and you may even consider a heating blanket for the battery.

-30 is a warm winter night in central Alaska…

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And whatever happens in Alaska comes to Minnesota.


And North Dakota, ever hear of snirt? it is the snow that picks up topsoil as it blows across the plains and turns black, snirt = snow dirt!

“And whatever happens in Alaska comes to Minnesota.”

But whatever happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas. Or so I’m told. :wink:

Use an ethylene glycol at a 2:1 ratio to distilled water. The genuine Toyota coolant is adequate, but make sure you are getting the full strength and not the premix.

First, have the current coolant tested just in case it has already been converted to a 2:1 ratio. You will probably need to find an old fashioned lead weighted tester to get a test in this range. If it tests at -34F then it is a 50/50 mix.

Check your owners manual for the cooling system capacity. Then drain the cooling system from the radiator drain and the block drain and measure how much is drained out. Now you have to calculate how much full strength coolant and how much distilled water you will need. All the coolant will not be drained out so this is critical, especially in your climate.

Lets say the coolant capacity is 8 quarts and you measured 5.5 quarts drained. That means that you have 2.5 qts of 50/50 still in there. That is 1.25 qts of ethylene glycol and 1.25 qts of water. You need a total of 5.33 to 5.6 qts of ethylene glycol total for a concentration of 67 to 70%. Now in a separate container, mix about 4.1 to 4.4 qts of full strength to 1.15 to 1.4 qts of distilled water. Then tighten the drain plugs and fill the system.

Based on the table at this site:

a 60% mixture is good for -62F

a 66% mixture is good down to -74F

and a 70% mix will protect down to -84F

In the example above, if you only bought 1 gallon of antifreeze, and added 1.5 qts of distilled water, you would still be at around 65% so you would be good for your area.

What you may really need is a battery warmer more than an engine heater. Not sure how well a Prius battery will perform in that extreme cold. Hybrid performance seems to be very disappointing in very cold weather.

Here is another reference for you but keep in mind that it is an add for a specific product, but it does compare ethylene glycol to propylene glycol. Propylene glycol is safer for the environment but for your area, you need to use it undiluted and that could be difficult to achieve unless you can find a freeze plug at the bottom of your engine and pull it out and replace it, or remove the engine and turn it upside down.

I would start the car whenever you can…and leave it running when ever it his -60. That may not be possible with a Prius. I would speak to a Toyota dealer to see what other preps could be made. I am thinking that a hybrid may not be the best vehicle and perhaps trading in the car for anything that generates heat all the time it’s running may be in order.otherwise, I would drive it from one heated garage to another.

In cold weather my hybrid engine doesn’t shut down.

-60 degrees is like being on the moon.

Just try shifting your transmission at -30 degrees, and you’ll see why nothing moves.


First I’d find out if anyone up there even drives a hybrid. Extreme cold and batteries are not a great combination, and a Prius relying on its gasoline engine as its sole source of propulsion is going to be very slow and not outstandingly efficient. Given their comparatively high resale value in places where they’re popular, you may be better off selling it and buying something more suitable for the climate. I’d also find out what dealerships are nearby before buying anything.

My understanding is that some plastics become quite brittle in those extreme temperatures and a lot of cars end up with badly damaged bumpers from very minor impacts. Not much you can do about that except drive very carefully and not nudge things with your bumpers. And maybe avoid cars with low-hanging air dams that are likely to hit things.

" @texases…my hybrid doesn’t shut down" Ah ha…perhaps another reason to consider a different car for driving in these conditions. Gas savings is minimized. Everything I have read about these temps is; you use block heaters and inside storage and keep it running all the time when driving without the heater plugged in while shopping etc.
Seems like a Prius would loose many of it’s advantages. I am less concerned with the Prius storage battery then I am the starter battery as with an ordinary car. I would use what the locals use for cars and drive and prepare as they do. Agree with @MarkM

@dagosa - you’re right, I wouldn’t buy a hybrid for Fairbanks. Don’t worry too much about the 12v battery though, it’s the big battery that starts the motor.

Fairbanks Toyota stealership, remarkably, highly recommends against a block heater for the third generation. They say it has led to many melted transmission wires with as long as people plug in their cars up here. I’ve gotten by with a 100 watt oil pan heater and just a simple battery charger for the 12 volt battery just fine. The engine is very tightly blanketed with all the splash/wind protection underneath and below -40°(Same C/F) I just lay a blanket I keep in the back across the motor provided it’s not too hot, it’s a hybrid, does it ever get up to temp in the winter?..

The nmh battery does better for the cold charging and you’ll see average mpg around the 40s still in the winter unless you like to warm your car for half an hour then you’ll see more like 30-35mpg.

They still shut down and you still save a bundle “going out to eat” in the pandemic long drive through lines.

Tons of Prius here and even several Tesla although they suffer range losses of up to 50%.

Are you operating a Prius?