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Engine light is on - 2002 Prius

Discussion in 'Gen II Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by prosec34, Dec 4, 2006.

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  1. prosec34

    prosec34 New Member

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    I've had my '02 for five days now, and it's been a really neat car. But this morning, I started the car and while I briefly fumbled with an MP3 player, the engine died. I restarted it, and the engine light came on, and on the informational display, it read "PS" and showed the battery symbol.

    The temperature outside was in the low 20s, and this was the first time I had started the car when it was that cold, if that matters.

    I made a short trip (2 mi), and when I restarted the car in five minutes, the same thing was on the display.

    Any ideas?
  2. hobbit

    hobbit Senior Member

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    There have been many reports of similar things in the Classics
    ['01 - '03] as we're heading into this winter. Let me see if I've
    got all the potential causes in mind here:
    __ throttle body crapped up underneath
    __ wrong oil or oil overfill
    __ needs ECU upgrade
    __ fuel pump and/or control relays
    Unless the fuel pump or related really is bad, it's a case of the
    ECU being a little too sensitive to how long the engine takes to get
    running, and the engine being just a little too sluggish. That's
    why it's a sporadic condition that's worse when everything's cold.
    .
    Search the forums and/or google for "P3191" and "prius" to find many
    more accounts of this. Bottom line is that it's likely you can still
    drive the car, with minor annoyances here and there, but you should
    get it looked at for the common causes as soon as is reasonable.
    .
    _H*
  3. jdenenberg

    jdenenberg EE Professor

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(prosec34 @ Dec 4 2006, 08:57 AM) [snapback]357316[/snapback]</div>

    Just a little more information for you (adding to Hobbit's info).

    1 - The throttle body get fouled and it's been assumed that it is due to overfilling the oil. There may be other long term causes as well.

    2 - Cleaning the throttle body is not a big deal, get it done or do it yourself (the instructions can be found by a search).

    3 - The reason Hobbit mentioned the P3191 number is that it is the TSB code for a free replacement of the ECU by your friendly Toyota dealer to make it less sensitive to slow starts. Get it done. They are likely to say that other work (not free) is also necessary, do the ECU first (and throttle body cleaning) and see if the problem goes away.

    How many miles are on your Prius? You may want to consider changing the ATF fluid (in the HSD) if it hasn't been done (do it every 30,000 miles) and the spark plugs (also related to a possible starting hiccup).

    JeffD
  4. prosec34

    prosec34 New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(jdenenberg @ Dec 4 2006, 09:57 AM) [snapback]357341[/snapback]</div>

    It has 35,000 miles. The guy I bought it from had it for 4,000 miles or so and hadn't changed the oil. He said he'd never had a problem with it, and he is a very credible fella.


    FYI: It's two hours later, and I just went out to see what happened when I cranked it.

    This time, the "Triangle of Death" light did not come on, the informational display was normal, but the engine light was on. I cut it off, started it again, and everything looked fine (engine light gone).
  5. eagle33199

    eagle33199 Platinum Member

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    That makes sense... it takes 3 restarts to clear the CEL if the condition is no longer present (and from the description from Hobbit it's an intermittent problem that probably isn't currently present).
  6. jdenenberg

    jdenenberg EE Professor

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(prosec34 @ Dec 4 2006, 10:40 AM) [snapback]357365[/snapback]</div>

    At 35,000 you shouldn't need spark plugs.

    You should put in new ATF (Type T). Bob Wilson has been collecting data that shows a 30,000 mile interval is about right for the classic Prius (2001-2003). My data on a 2004 Prius suggests a 60,000 mile interval for ATF (type WS) is about right. Of course this has nothing to do with your current intermittent problem, but is important for the long term health of your Prius.

    JeffD
  7. prosec34

    prosec34 New Member

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    Thanks to everyone for their responses. The internet never ceases to amaze me.
  8. tofani

    tofani New Member

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    I have a 2002 Prius with 35,000 miles. I never have any problems with it until the temps start dropping. If it is below 30 degrees at times it will turn the check engine light on with the triangle of death on the first start of the day. I got tired of making an appointment at my Toyota dealership and by the time I was able to get it in to be checked out the light was not on any more and they were charging me a $70 diagnostic fee. I purchased my own code reader on-line for around $50. Now when the check engine light comes on I just clear out the code myself. I only use Amsoil oil and a factory TRD oil filter and I only use Shell gas,regular grade only, as they are listed as a top tier gas station. I have been considering having the ATF fluid changed. What is everyones thoughts on either using the factory ATF fluid of Amsoil ATF Fluid? Thanks!!!!
  9. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web 03 and 10 Prius

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    Chaining the transaxle oil is an excellent idea. However, my testing with Amsoil ATF showed excessive copper in the subsequent tests. There are reports that Amsoil ATF is hostile to 'yellow' metal like the bushings in our transaxles.

    There are two schools of thought on using the OEM Type T-IV or newer Type WS. I'm pretty happy with Type WS and frequent changes. But I also respect those who decide to stay with Type T-IV. But please avoid Amsoil ATF unless you are prepared to test the oil, frequently.

    Bob Wilson
  10. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    I'm interested to know what DTC is logged by your car. If P3191 or P3101, then I suggest that you have the engine ECU replaced under TSB EG011-03. That is covered under the Federal 8 yr/80K mile emissions warranty.

    I hope you are using 5W-30 viscosity engine oil. If you instead are using a heavier viscosity oil, that might be the reason for your engine no-start problem.

    Regarding the transaxle fluid change, I suggest using Toyota ATF T-IV since that is the correct fluid for Classic vehicles, and Classic transaxles seem to fail at a non-trivial rate based upon complaints posted on this and other Prius forums.
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