2012 Prius (150,000+ miles) low coolant = water pump replacement?

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Care, Maintenance & Troubleshooting' started by Magill, Jan 19, 2020.

  1. Magill

    Magill Junior Member

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    In November I had my transaxle, and engine coolant oils changed and the shop noted my coolant was low. The suggestion was to replace my water pump for $700. I was told most folks wait until the water pump goes out and at that point it's a much bigger (expensive) issue. I opted to keep an eye on the coolant level in the hopes it wasn't really an issue.
    At first it seemed like the coolant level was steady but I just looked and it has dropped probably a little less than an inch from the top.

    Was the recommendation and quote for the water pump reasonable? Is there anything else I should be concerned may be wrong? Without investing a ton I'd love to keep the car going another 50k miles.

    Oh and the car seems to be running great, no issues or warning lights to note. I'm in Southern CA if that matters. Thanks
     
  2. tankyuong

    tankyuong Senior Member

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    Head gasket issue more serious than water pump
     
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  3. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The OTHER One Percenter.....

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    Do you have a garage?
    If so do you notice any coolant on the floor?

    I would be VERY VERY suspicious of this diagnosos, and I would immediately do three things:

    1. Check your coolant level. YOURSELF.


    2. Check back in about a week.

    3. Get an independent diagnosis from some place that does not sell new cars.

    From the Googles:
    The average cost for a Toyota Prius water pump replacement is between $1,013 and $1,424. Labor costs are estimated between $161 and $204 while parts are priced between $852 and $1220.

    My diagnosis:
    Your water pump is fine.
    Your dealership needs to be replaced.
     
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  4. Magill

    Magill Junior Member

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    ETC(SS) Thanks for the info...

    1) Yes car is garage parked and I have not noticed any liquid on the ground (haven't been looking for it but I think I would have noticed
    2) I have been checking coolant levels myself about every month, I am now realizing (thanks to your video) I have been looking only at the coolant reservoir level, which has gone down about an inch since I checked about a month ago. I marked on the tank with a sharpie last month so I can clearly see the change. However there is dried up pink stuff around the tank that wasn't previously there. Coolant R.jpg Coolant.jpg The other coolant level is just above the full mark.
    3) The quote / diagnosis was actually not from a dealership but from Hybrid911 in Westminster... I thought they were suppose to be very reputable so now I'm not sure where to go...

    So to recap... should I just add more coolant to the reservoir or take it somewhere to be checked? Could the cold (for So Cal) weather we've had lately be a factor in this or should I be concerned there's a problem... Again no warning lights have come on...
     
  5. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    where are you checking the coolant level?
     
  6. Magill

    Magill Junior Member

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    Can you see photos above that I posted in my reply?
     
  7. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    150K miles, presumably with no attention paid to the EGR and intake manifold condition, they're likely getting pretty clogged, engine running hotter, and it could be early stage head gasket failure, allowing coolant to leak into the combustion chambers. I would continue to monitor the coolant. If it's steadily dropping, probably the head gasket. A leak-down test will help to diagnose.

    That said, 150K miles, not a bad time to change the coolant pump. But I would make assesment of the head gasket number one priority:

    Monitor coolant level, and if it continues to drop, get leak-down test, to verify head gasket failure.

    If it turns out to be head gasket failure, you can get it replaced, with a fairly complete replacement of any and all gaskets, O-rings and seals, for maybe $1500~2000, through an independent mechanic. Or (I'd speculate) $2500~3000 through dealership.

    Probably best to do the coolant pump at the same time, since the coolant will be drained. And at 150K miles it's about time.

    After all that, get the intake manifold and EGR completely cleaned. It's the carbon clogging of those two components that likely caused the head gasket failure.

    The sand pounder in all of this: if you're not a rabid DIY'r, lurking on forums, learning all this and keeping on top of it, the 3rd gen Prius is a lemon. An expensive one. And Toyota doesn't want to know about.

    Gasket rebuild kit (includes head gasket, and most every gasket, O-ring, seal): 04111-37315
    (Engine) water pump: 161A0-29015
     
    #7 Mendel Leisk, Jan 20, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020
  8. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The OTHER One Percenter.....

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    ^
    True all.

    This means that you may get socked in the wallet for a $700 water pump replacement only to have the head gasket let go a little later on.

    My original diagnosis stands.
    If you're not a DIY-er it might be a good time to go shopping for a Prime.

     
  9. Rebound

    Rebound Senior Member

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    If the coolant pump isn’t working, the coolant won’t circulate — which is bad. But how does that make you lose coolant?

    If there’s no coolant circulating, the engine will overheat and this could blow the head gasket. That would put coolant in your engine oil and could lead to complete engine destruction. If you drain a little engine oil, you can tell whether it’s contaminated with coolant.

    But it’s also possible that your coolant pump is fine and something else is causing you to lose coolant. Any puddles under your car? If you’re losing coolant it’s entire winding up on your floor or going into your engine. It has to go somewhere. The coolant pump doesn’t drink it.
     
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  10. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    There would be evidence of coolant leak on the underside of the engine, and/or the top (inside) of the plastic engine under panel. Pink, crusty, crystalline stuff.
     
  11. 2012 Prius v wagon 3

    2012 Prius v wagon 3 Active Member

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    Based on OP's initial description only ...

    Sounds like they are getting sustained coolant loss. I'd continue to top up and confirm that for both coolant systems. Topping up with 50/50 of the Toyota coolant mix, or just distilled water while debugging here should be sufficient. As long as you keep the coolant from running low, there is no urgency.

    If you're getting a confirmed continued loss of coolant, from either system (sounds like the inverter coolant is the suspect), next step is to isolate the leak / point of loss.

    It could be that the dealer was honestly and accurately identifying the WP due to observed leak residue at that location. On the other hand, dealers don't generally have much incentive to make accurate diagnoses.

    To carefully isolate a leak source myself, step one is to clean everything carefully (garden hose, toothbrush, paper towels, whatever it takes, carefully done), then a few days of driving later, observe. Maybe obvious, maybe not. If not obvious, pressurizing the system while it is cold may allow for easier inspection - engine off, cold, safe for removing things for a better look, etc. You can buy or freely borrow pressure testers at most auto parts stores.

    If it ends up being a difficult isolation process, fully removing the engine undercover until the problem is resolved may make it easier to inspect things.
     
  12. Magill

    Magill Junior Member

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    First off THANK YOU everyone for the responses so far!

    I'm not a "car person" or DIY for car maintenance so this is a bit for me to process and fully grasp but what I'm understand from the different posts is...

    Problem could be one, a combination or all of below...
    1) Clogged Head Gasket
    2) Coolant Pump
    3) Water Pump

    Yes?

    In about 2 months the level in the coolant has gone down about an inch (observed when engine was cool), there is per pictures I posted above a pink crystalized deposit on the outside of the coolant reservoir tank (I don't see that anywhere else under the hood). I have not observed any liquid on garage floor (but I haven't been looking for it - I will now)

    Next steps...
    1) Top off Coolant in Reservoir tank with 50/50 Toyota Coolant mix (is this how it's sold or am I making a 50/50 combo with distilled water?)
    2) Observe drop off level
    3) Consider getting a leak down test to determine where/if there's a leak or if issues... How much does this typically cost?
    4) Depending on leak down test results consider selling :-(

    I'm the original owner on this car and it's honestly my favorite car ever. Not crazy about the current options but I guess the end comes eventually for all cars

    Did I process everything correctly? The current work was done at a Hybrid shop, not a dealership which I would be inclined to return to but worried about some responses that felt the water pump suggestion was a scam...
     
  13. tankyuong

    tankyuong Senior Member

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    Start selling car soon
     
  14. Magill

    Magill Junior Member

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    I found somewhere to do a compression test for $89... worth it, will it tell me where the issue is?
     
  15. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    is the overflow reservoir a reliable source for gauging coolant loss?
     
  16. Magill

    Magill Junior Member

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    OK new thought... I may be over thinking and I'm really hoping the car isn't on it's way to it's untimely end.... but when I had the coolant changed in November I remember the reserve tank being completely full by the shop. Seeing the residue now outside the tank is it possible the shop over filled the tank and it overflowed causing the residue and now it's just at the level it should be?

    Still thinking I might get the compression test if it will tell me where the leak is... hoping for a (relatively) inexpensive solution. I do love this car and not a fan of the current Prius models....
     
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  17. Eddie25

    Eddie25 Member

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    Clean your coolant reservoir off and make sure it's not leaking.

    Did the car ever overheat? If your water pump stops working I'm pretty sure you will overheat fairly quickly. You can monitor temps with an OBD2 adapter and hybrid assistant app, should typically stay around 190 when fully warmed up.

    Is a compression test the best test for a headgasket?

    I don't actually know, but seems checking coolant for exhaust gas, leak down, or boroscope would be cheaper and/or better?

    Water pump is $250-300 and it's an easy job. Don't know what it's billed at, but if you can buy the part and find someone to put it in you could save a few hundred. Shouldn't take more than an hour for anyone competent.

    Those pink crusty's would make me very suspicious of a leak though
     
  18. Magill

    Magill Junior Member

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    Eddie25 My guess is the coolant is leaking unless my theory of it overflowing due to being overfilled has any merit.

    The car has never shown any signs of any issue, no overheating, no engine lights, no weird noises. It has been running perfect (knock on wood).

    Water pump was quoted from a local hybrid shop (not the dealership) at $700, if I thought that would solve all issues I'd happily pay and move on but it seems like there might be more or multiple things going on. I don't have the aptitude to change the water pump myself and not likely my husband would take it on with his current work load.

    I'll try to find out if I can get a quote for leak down or boroscope... but not sure I have a good local option for that... the Hybrid shop is about 40 minutes away so not an easy trip....

    Welcome any other suggestions thoughts...
     
  19. mikey_t

    mikey_t Active Member

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    The coolant resevoir has "Full" and "Low" markings already on it. They can be a bit difficult to read b/c they blend into the opaque container. I'm not a mechanic, but based on your sharpie marking and that you say the shop filled the container to nearly full I think it was way over filled. The crusty pink substance along the outside of it means that it's coming out of somewhere (it looks like from the cap) as it gets hot and pressurized, but I don't think it's going through your headgasket and into your combustion chamber within the engine. It wouldn't show up on top of your coolant tank unless some really wacky things were happening.

    I think you should wipe away the pink crusty residue and check the coolant level according to the official markings. The "Full" mark should be just above what looks like a lid edge, along the right side in your photo. The "Low" mark should be maybe four inches below that. If the level is below that full mark, top it off to the mark and then observe it from there once a week. And make sure the cap is tight and secure.
     
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  20. Eddie25

    Eddie25 Member

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    As long as you aren't only taking short trips, it sounds like your water pump is most likely OK. As has been said there's no way it's losing you coolant unless it's leaking externally. I wouldn't worry about that for now personally.
     
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