2011 Prius Symptoms

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Care, Maintenance & Troubleshooting' started by Mitzie, Apr 17, 2021.

  1. Mitzie

    Mitzie Junior Member

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    My 2011 Prius 3 is at 216,000 miles. It makes the occasional loud knocking sound when you start it especially if it hasn’t been driven for a few days. I noticed that if I start the car and it’s ready, I put it on reverse then wait for the engine to start & once it starts, I release the parking break simultaneously. When I do this, I don’t get the knocking sound or if I do it only lasts a second. Also if idle, the hybrid battery charge goes down to two lines after a few minutes but if I keep my foot on the brake, it charges back one line at a time after a few minutes. Or if I start driving around, it charges back up no problem. Although if I sit in traffic or the drive-through for too long, my battery goes down to 2 lines again and it shakes & makes a sound. But if I press the gas pedal harder, those symptoms stop. After a few months of these symptoms, the check engine light came on & off until it stayed on. I remember checking the codes a few months ago at Autozone and I got the misfire codes on 2 of the cylinders, can’t remember which numbers. Lately I noticed that I’m loosing coolant faster. And when I do, the overheat sign comes out of the dash, and I hear this motor-like sound that seems to be coming from the front. It’s hard to describe it, but it’s a nagging sound that stops if I stop driving. It’s almost like a muffled grass cutter sound that you hear from a distance - it’s not too loud. Or it’s like a long, continuous sound of a cow.

    From the threads I’ve read, I believe these are symptoms of a blown head gasket. But what else could be the problem?

    Smog check will be required this year and with the check engine light on, it would fail. Was quoted $3-4K for repair but not sure if it’s still worth it or should I let the car retire?

    Thanks for taking time to read.
     
  2. mikey_t

    mikey_t Active Member

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    I'd retire the car. It sounds like hybrid battery is dying which is no longer covered under the 10yr / 150k mile CARB warranty (if originally purchased in a CARB state), but if the head gasket is blown then it's not worth the time and money to get it fixed unless you can do it yourself.
     
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  3. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

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    Classic head gasket and very likely a failing hv battery. Retirement might be best or else a replacement engine and new cells for the battery, at least $5k if you shop. Maybe Gasketmasters would change the hg alone for less and you could get a "rebuilt" battery for 2/3 overall but reliability would then be a concern. Be sure to check out your replacement car options first, used car prices are high now and some new cars are getting harder to find.
     
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  4. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

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    I would also verify your brake pump and master cylinder are not excessively running before committing to a repair for the rest of the car.
     
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  5. Mitzie

    Mitzie Junior Member

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    I’ve watched videos on how they fix a blown head gasket and it’s not an easy job for sure. Can’t DIY. I think the cost is more than the value of the car..
     
  6. Mitzie

    Mitzie Junior Member

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    That is my concern too.. If we spend $5k but not sure about the reliability of the car, I don’t think I want to gamble
     
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  7. JohnPrius3005

    JohnPrius3005 Junior Member

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    You have quite a lot of miles on your car. I also put high miles on my Prii, and I know from experience that it's possible to limp along for quite a long time, albeit with real risk of a breakdown and getting stranded. What part of CA are you in? I'm in So Cal and may be able to refer you to someone who could help you with cheaper repairs. Also, I might be interested in buying your car if you decide to retire it. You also just might be able to do a very few things, if you're lucky, and get the check engine light to stay out long enough to pass a smog test. Of course getting a new car, with good warranty, would take away a lot of the stress which is always present when you know your car has serious issues.
     
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  8. Mitzie

    Mitzie Junior Member

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    Yea I’ve driven it a lot. For work mostly since I moved farther from work. I’m in NorCal, north bay area. What cheap repairs could be done?
     
  9. JohnPrius3005

    JohnPrius3005 Junior Member

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    Well, I'm far from an expert. I keep my Prii limping along until I either get a newer one, or find the time to really fix them. If I was in your shoes, and from what you've told me, I would look into tightening the cylinder head bolts, if accessing them is practical. You say you have 2 plugs possibly misfiring - I would look closely at the plug wires (rats love eating them) and the plugs (again, if practical - some things are hard to reach and the job can become a "real repair"). If practical I'd change the plugs - all or the misfiring ones. I'd keep the coolant level topped off on a frequent basis. Also disconnecting the 12 V battery will make the check engine light, and the other fault lights, go away for a while. Of course if the faults still remain these lights will come back on. But, as I said, if you're lucky there's a finite possibility that they stay off for the smog test. Sometimes you can also get away with charging the 12 V battery while it's disconnected. Next I would consider "reconditioning" the HV battery using Prolong or some other type of charger (depending upon your skill level and comfort working around potentially lethal electricity). You also might be able to get a "green" Prius place - like "Luscious Garage" to help you with some/all of these issues without charging you a fortune (or refusing to do anything less than a "full, real, repair"). Carolyn at Luscious is pretty smart, and a good person.
     
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  10. Mitzie

    Mitzie Junior Member

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    Thanks for the tips. I’ve gone to Luscious Garage a number of times when my car was newer mostly for the major maintenance services. My last service done there was for 150K. All other services were done at Toyota dealerships around my area. I will look into that. And if we plan to just retire it, we will let you know. Thank you so much!
     
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  11. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    Are you sure the grass cutter or moo is not just the electric fans behind the radiator? They come on high if the coolant is hot enough.
     
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  12. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    Agree with everything except the above bit: those guys are a little on the testy side, I'd pass.
     
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  13. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

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    He may have a multiple offender 2011 on his hands, certainly three strikes and it is out.

    However the OP lives in their Nor Cal area and Gasketmasters is certainly a option if he has budget constraints. Assuming a properly diagnosed HG or replacement engine is needed. I have only heard one complaint on Gasketmasters which originated out of their midwest franchise. We know individuals make the difference in any business, regardless if its across the block or across the nation. And we know there are two sides to every business issue.
     
    #13 rjparker, Apr 18, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2021
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  14. Mitzie

    Mitzie Junior Member

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    I’m not really sure where it’s coming from (not a car expert), but I know I could hear it coming from the front
     
  15. Mitzie

    Mitzie Junior Member

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    Thanks! I did watch their videos before and have asked them for a quote. I would say it’s more than what I would want to spend for my prius...
     
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  16. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    If you pop the hood open and look at those fans while listening for the moo sound, you will instantly become that much more of a car expert. :)
     
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  17. frodoz737

    frodoz737 Top Wrench

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    Based ONLY on what you have provided...

    Your blackbook value is less than the repairs and you are not a Mechanic. So...you need to decide if you want to feed the monster...or start over. 216,000 miles is a good run, but like all cars...even a Prius wears out.
     
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  18. Mitzie

    Mitzie Junior Member

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    I hear the sound when I’m driving the car, lol. It stops when I stop.
     
  19. Mitzie

    Mitzie Junior Member

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    I’ve looked for a similar car online to have an idea of its value. A 2011 prius 3 with 209K+ miles was around $5-6k. That’s 7k miles less than mine and most likely without the symptoms I mentioned. Repairs quoted around $4k. Reliability of the car after repairs - we’re unsure.. For those reasons, we’re leaning towards retiring.
     
  20. frodoz737

    frodoz737 Top Wrench

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    "Blackbook" is wholesale auction value/price...and you would be lucky to get that for trade in. You know what to do. Wish you the best.
     
    #20 frodoz737, Apr 18, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2021
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