Friday, November 03, 2006

The yellow snowflake

I love my Prius in many ways, not least of which because when the gas light came on last night 40 miles from home, I knew I could just ignore it and get gas today. (At least I hoped I could, since there was an overtired little girl, and her worn-out father, waiting at home for me to put her to bed. And I was right.) But the car has some nanny-like features that really irritate me.

Chief among them: the dreaded yellow snowflake, which appeared last night on my drive home (as did frost on the windshield, but that's another gripe entirely). On the dash, it appears as a road, depicted by two lines that converge in the distance, with a snowflake superimposed on it. When it appeared last fall, illuminated in Warning Yellow, I panicked. What the heck could be wrong with my new car?

So I consulted the owners manual, which informed me that the yellow snowflake signifies that it is below 37 degrees. I hunted around some more, trying to discover what's so important about the thermometer dropping below 37 -- a temp that for much of the year would be considered quite balmy in these parts. Would the hybrid engine be affected? Would I have to change my driving habits? Or, more likely, did I need some kind of pricey seasonal tuneup?

Nope. Toyota just wants me to be aware that it's cold out. And, I guess, that in a few more degrees, it might possibly -- gasp! -- snow.

So if you weren't aware that winter is coming, there's your official confirmation. My car says so. (It added that you might want to think about wearing a hat.)