2012 Prius oil consumption - need help

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Main Forum' started by Nathan Kent, May 14, 2019.

Tags:
  1. Nathan Kent

    Nathan Kent New Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2019
    5
    1
    0
    Location:
    Southern California
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    Hi everyone! New member here, and I need some assistance regarding my 2012 Prius.

    I bought it used in February of 2016 with only about 49000 miles on it; according to Carfax it was a lease return. It was in overall great shape when I bought it and currently has 129,800 miles. The car drives totally fine and hasn't had any issues since I bought it. My problem is that between about 110k to now it seems to be burning oil between my 10k mile oil change intervals. I'll break it down like this:

    100 - 110k: no noticeable loss of oil at dipstick, maybe down a quart or so but level was still halfway between the full and low marks.

    110k - 120k: I usually change my oil at the dealership, but they were busy so went to my local mechanic that also changes the oil on my other vehicles. I bought Toyota 0w-20 oil and the oil filter from the dealer though, just because I've read on this forum and BITOG that the Toyota 0w-20 has a lot of molybdenum and seems to do well for 10k mile change intervals.

    120k - current: I went to the dealer and got the oil changed at 120k. The Service Advisor told me that it was low 1.5 quarts and to check the dipstick periodically. I forgot to check the dipstick at all during this change interval, but figured that maybe my mechanic didn't put the exact 4.4 quarts of oil and only used 4.0 quarts or something like that (which wasn't the case as I found out later).

    129,800: I checked dipstick yesterday and the oil was BELOW the low mark! The oil color looked fine, wasn't black at all and more like a honey/dark brown color. The engine isn't leaking oil because I park it in the driveway every single day in the exact same spot and found no oil drops on the ground. Also, I tried changing the oil myself once last year but gave up because the filter was on too tight, but I took off the shroud that covers the bottom part of the engine and it was bone dry.

    Luckily, I had the leftover quart of Toyota 0w-20 that my mechanic didn't use from the previous oil change before this one at the dealer and used the rest of the bottle. The dipstick is now between the low mark and just under halfway. The bottle had about a little more than half, like 0.6 quart left in it, which means that my mechanic did use the exact 4.4 quarts during that previous change.

    So now I'm at a loss for what to do. It seems I'm burning anywhere from 1.5 - 2 quarts per 10,000 miles. I've been reading there's a TSB for our piston rings but I'm way past the warranty period and I don't think Toyota would cover anything so I don't want to waste my time trying to deal with them. I can't really sell or trade it either because I still have about $7000 left to pay it off and the current market value is right around that much or less.

    Can a heaver grade of oil be safely used in this engine and possibly cut down on the consumption? Should I use a different/larger oil filter and try and get a bit more capacity? I've seen a lot of threads here about people switching to 5w-30, 5w-20 or 0w-20 with a different brand like Pennzoil Platinum, and even someone using 0w-40. OR should I stick to 0w-20 but change it every 5k miles (not desirable because that's about every 3 months for me). I'm planning on changing the oil this weekend and I want to use 0w-30 because if the consumption is due to the 20 weight shearing down below its viscosity during long drain intervals, then a 30 weight should shear down to 20 weight over time right? I want to stick to a 0w weight because the car sits outside every day and in the winter where I live, it does get to freezing temps and even below. I think a few days in January it was like 28 F or something like that. I don't want to increase any cold start wear if that's the reason why I'm burning oil now.

    On a side note, how much does driving conditions determine what oil to use? 0w-20 worked in this engine until recently and I assumed that most wear occurs during a cold start. Here it does get pretty hot in the summer >100 F and since I live about 2000 ft above sea level, there's a long climb up from the freeway to get to my house, and I have to keep up with traffic so I drive about 40-45 mph uphill and the engine is about halfway in the PWR section the entire time. Is this outside of normal driving conditions?

    Sorry for the long thread, I'm just very frustrated and wanted to be as thorough in my explanations as possible. None of my other (supposedly less reliable) vehicles burn oil so this is a first.
     
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    86,233
    38,139
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    welcome!

    there are a few threads here on gen 3 oil burning, and some potential solutions.
    it is very common starting around 100,000 miles.
    start checking it more frequently, search the threads for advice, and watch the @NutzAboutBolts videos on youtube regarding egr circuit cleaning and oil catch can.
    all the best!(y)
     
    NutzAboutBolts, RMB, scona and 2 others like this.
  3. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2016
    9,800
    13,317
    0
    Location:
    Bay Area, California
    Vehicle:
    2019 Prius Prime
    Model:
    Prime Plus
    Our old 2010 burned a quart of oil every 5-6 k miles. Not uncommon and if you check the dipstick often, you stay ahead of the problem;).

    I was using 0w-40 and it helped lessen the oil consumption :).

    Good luck and keep us posted (y).
     
  4. spiralhelix

    spiralhelix Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2019
    238
    193
    0
    Location:
    Illinois
    Vehicle:
    2011 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    I will second what Bisco and Raytheeagle have said. Toyota says that oil is not being overly consumed unless it is more than 1 qt in 1200 miles. (originally they set it to 1.1 qts in 600 miles, YIKES).

    Though, cleaning the EGR and installing and OCC won't change your oil consumption, it will potentially save you from having headgasket/engine failures soon. I recently had an engine replaced and the new engine is consuming 1 qt every 2k miles, So i just have 5 qts in the back and just add back to full every 1k miles, but let it kinda go closer to low when nearing an oil change. I haven't tried the ow40 yet, but i plan on it at the next oil change.
     
    m.wynn, Bay Stater and Raytheeagle like this.
  5. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 'Orrible Oracle

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    38,291
    27,056
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    Considering that the oil consumption is likely caused by gummed up piston rings and/or clogged piston drain holes: maybe try some sorta SeaFoam soak, where you take out the spark plugs, put a few oz's in each cylinder. Let it sit maybe a day, crank the engine over by hand a few times (clockwise? Does anyone know? Does it matter? @cnc97?). Then try siphoning any that remains out, and maybe note which cylinder had SeaFoam vs not?

    Then drain and replace the oil? Just do that, leave it for a thousand miles or so while watching the oil consumption closely, see what it does, before going to other tactics.
     
    Bay Stater and spiralhelix like this.
  6. ETC(SS)

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

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2010
    5,843
    4,682
    0
    Location:
    Redneck Riviera (Gulf South)
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    II
    Yes they do.
    You just don't notice yet.

    The first thing you need to do is nothing.
    Really.
    Relax and try not to to worry about this.
    Then? watch a few videos and learn how to check your oil and make sure that the sump is full.
    Then you need to determine your oil burn rate.

    That involves mostly just driving and checking the oil about every 500 miles or every fillup.
    In about a month you should be able to tell us how much of the gooey black stuff that you're burning.

    While all of this is going on you can read up on some posts about EGR cleaning and oil catch cans.
    Oh wait....
    You don't live on free soil, so OCCs may not be legal for you, but there ARE PC'ers in your area that can loop you in on how to clean the EGR, and maybe look at the PCV.

    Mostly......it's about keeping your oil volume up to spec and making sure that you're not burning more than....oh....about 1q every 3,000 to 5,000 miles....but right now I'm not sure that you KNOW how much you're burning every 10,000 miles, except that it's more than about 1 quart and for that burn rate I would do nothing at all except for the above mentioned look into EGR cleaning.

    You drive 25,000 miles a year based on your post, and if you up your maintenance game a little bit then there's no reason that you cannot get 4-5 more years out of your 2012.....drinking habit and all.

    Good Luck!
     
  7. Grit

    Grit Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2017
    3,240
    2,646
    1
    Location:
    NorCal (Non Bay Area)
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius
    Model:
    Four
    I’ve owned 3 vehicles before this Prius, none had burn oil and all were up to 140,000 - 150,000 miles, vehicles which I passed down to family members. The one thing I consistently did was not use an OEM oil and OEM filter, doing same with my Prius and it’s not burning oil yet.
     
    Bay Stater and Raytheeagle like this.
  8. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 'Orrible Oracle

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    38,291
    27,056
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    Our 2010's the first car I've ever had that doesn't consume some oil. That's coming from a monotonous string of Hondas: I would top them up anywhere between a cup and a quart per maybe 5000 miles. Mostly just a cup or two.

    Our daughter's Pilot right now, with around 160K kms, is maybe 1.5~2 quarts per 5000 miles.
     
  9. cnc97

    cnc97 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2018
    1,080
    1,241
    28
    Location:
    Evansville, IN
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Three

    I’d only rotate the engine clockwise. If there is enough slack in the timing chain, it could jump a tooth or two. That is unlikely (5-7% chance tops). But for safety sake, just clockwise.
     
    m.wynn, Mendel Leisk and spiralhelix like this.
  10. CR94

    CR94 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2014
    1,747
    666
    0
    Location:
    Northwestern S.C.
    Vehicle:
    2011 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    ... And my 2011's the first I ever met that consumes it so sparingly, so far. I wonder how far it can continue that way.
     
    Raytheeagle and Mendel Leisk like this.
  11. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 'Orrible Oracle

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    38,291
    27,056
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    What do they call it, waiting for the shoe to drop, or the other shoe.
     
  12. spiralhelix

    spiralhelix Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2019
    238
    193
    0
    Location:
    Illinois
    Vehicle:
    2011 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    Welcome to left field! Hahaha. I’ve always understood it that if your neighbor drops a shoe in the middle of the night as they go to bed, don’t try and go back to sleep until the other shoe drops making noise and potentially waking you up again. So the saying says you expect something to happen and won’t continue until it does so you don’t waste time/energy.


    -Spiral
     
    CR94, kc5dlo and Mendel Leisk like this.
  13. Nathan Kent

    Nathan Kent New Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2019
    5
    1
    0
    Location:
    Southern California
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    Do you use Mobil 1 0w-40 European formula? I already use it for my father Mercedes so that would be super convenient. Are you sure that the 40 weight during operating temperatures isn't too thick for this Prius? I've read that during stop and go city driving, the oil temps usually never go past 170º F. Are you using the OEM toyota filter? If not what filter are you using?

    What brand and weight of oil are you using? What brand and type of filter?

    Interesting. Of all the cars I've had in my family, none of them have ever burned oil. My father had a 2003 Honda Civic that was super abused and probably got its oil changed once in a blue moon. Never burned any oil, switched from conventional to synthetic at the 150k mark, engine ran smoother on synthetic. Drove it all the way to 237,000 miles before it got totaled in an accident. On the other hand, I've religiously maintained the Prius but my commute for the first year I owned it was more brutal.
     
    #13 Nathan Kent, May 15, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: May 16, 2019
    Mendel Leisk likes this.
  14. kc5dlo

    kc5dlo Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2015
    226
    149
    0
    Location:
    DFW TX
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    If it were me under those circumstances, I would buy a 5 quart jug of Mobil-1 and check and fill the oil when the service reminder comes on at 5000 miles. Since the dealer is doing your regular oil changes every 10,000 miles, that brings your interval for adding oil yourself to every 10,000 miles. Start using a calendar reminder or other means to increase the frequency of checks/fills as needed. Way cheaper than getting a new car. Buy the way, When walking thru Walmart yesterday, My store had a display in the isle for Mobil-1 in the 5 quart jug rolled back to 22 dollars and change. Down a couple of dollars from its regular price.
     
    Bay Stater and Raytheeagle like this.
  15. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2016
    9,800
    13,317
    0
    Location:
    Bay Area, California
    Vehicle:
    2019 Prius Prime
    Model:
    Prime Plus
    Mobil one would be a fine choice;).

    I was using Pennzoil Pure Platinum 0w-40 Euro Blend as some refer to that as the nectar of the oil gods:).

    But a Toyota oil filter was paired with this oil. Don’t forget that when it is up to operations temps, it’s just like 0w-20. Some argue the 0w-20 is too thin, implemented to meet CAFE compliance and leads to the oil consumption :cool:.

    Channeled my inner @orenji there for a minute:whistle:.

    Hope that helps(y).
     
    Bay Stater and orenji like this.
  16. orenji

    orenji Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2013
    4,640
    3,248
    0
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    How would a 40 weight become a 20 weight?
     
  17. Nathan Kent

    Nathan Kent New Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2019
    5
    1
    0
    Location:
    Southern California
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    Interesting. I've been reading a lot of good things about Pennzoil Platinum and Ultra Platinum on BITOG compared to Mobil 1 and the more recent TGMO formulations which apparently have less molybdenum than they did before (cause of my premature wear?). Are you sure about 40 weight and 20 weight being the same viscosity at operating temps? That's a whole 2 grades higher. I'll probably take a look at the websites and compare the cST at 100 C for 0w-20 and 0w-40.
     
  18. Nathan Kent

    Nathan Kent New Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2019
    5
    1
    0
    Location:
    Southern California
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    Yeah I was wondering the same thing. That doesn't make sense to me.
     
  19. Nathan Kent

    Nathan Kent New Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2019
    5
    1
    0
    Location:
    Southern California
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    I think I'm gonna go to Walmart today and see what they have. I'll most likely end up going with Pennzoil Platinum or Ultra Platinum 5w-30 and the best filter I can find. I'll update you guys on what I end up with.
     
  20. Grit

    Grit Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2017
    3,240
    2,646
    1
    Location:
    NorCal (Non Bay Area)
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius
    Model:
    Four
    Good luck, let us know about the variety available on the shelf.
     
Loading...