2018 Prius Sputtering and Smoking after sitting in 0 degrees

Discussion in 'Gen 4 Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by Pennystocks, Feb 15, 2021.

  1. Pennystocks

    Pennystocks New Member

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    Hey guys long time lurker but need some help. 2018 Prius, ~78k miles. Has always ran great, all highway. Drove it yesterday no issues. It sat outside in almost 0 degree weather. Started it up today, had a rough idle. I'm used to that when it's really cold in the 2012 Prius. But rough idle didn't go away. The ICE actually died after a minute of trouble idling and had to restart the car. Started seeing some white smoke from engine bay and still rough idle.

    Figured blistering cold didn't help so I backed it into the garage. Sputtered it's way in. After some troubleshooting, it does it right way, runs rough. A few seconds after running, white "smoke" is seen coming from behind the engine. I don't think it's actually smoke, it dissipates really quick and has a heavy gas odor. None of these issues were seen last night so guessing something rubber or plastic cracked, fuel line? Nothing on the ground either fluids wise.

    I tried peeking back there by the firewall but can't see anything. In the process of warming up the garage and going to take the windshield lower cowl off so I can see back of the engine better. That or jack it up and look underneath.

    I need to figure out how to scan for codes. Torque found nothing. Using OBDLink LX adapter and dedicated android device.

    Does anyone have any freaking ideas what it could be? Seriously hoping nothing major. I had a 2012 Prius go 235k miles with 0 major issues, got rid of it fully functional.



     
  2. Elt31987

    Elt31987 Active Member

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    Weird that smoke comes from behind the engine. Oil level look good? Oil looks normal when you check the dipstick? Its not chocolate or milky? Coolant appears to look good from the video.
     
  3. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    welcome!
    i wonder if ice has formed in your fuel lines? maybe some dry gas in the tank or some such would help
     
  4. ETC(SS)

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

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    Could be a fuel line.
    That could explain the rough idle and no CEL....and the white vapor.
    If you thaw the car out in the garage and put it in ready mode and detect a strong fuel odor then I would peek at the lines and the rail.
     
  5. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sunday driver DIY’r

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    Assume that ambient temp was 0 Fahrenheit? That equates to -17 Celsius, ugh, bitter cold.

    No ideas really, except maybe might be warranty issue still? Tread cautiously with dealership though; they can get their hooks in.


    See you’re having crazy weather:

    3 million without power in Texas | PriusChat
     
  6. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    Cold temp alone isn't enough to explain things.

    A low fuel level/lots of humid air in the tank coupled with rapid temp drop will lead to water condensation in the fuel, which can lead to poor running.

    An engine just starting up and not really warm yet will boil condensation into steam from its exhaust header first- that's right behind the engine.

    If you had extreme humidity and a big temp drop that could maybe begin to explain this? Worth dumping in a $2 can of gas dryer to find out.
     
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  7. sam spade 2

    sam spade 2 Senior Member

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    The "white smoke" very likely is really just water vapor.
    The gas odor might mean that an injector is stuck open.

    Then again, you might have a blown head gasket.

    Can't make good guesses without more information.
     
    amos likes this.
  8. Pennystocks

    Pennystocks New Member

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    Thanks for the replies! 0 Fahrenheit and I think we might have just dipped into the negatives. I let it run for a bit, scanning w/ Torque, nothing. Nothing on dash either, just idled like garbage and sounded like it had an exhaust leak like an old beater car with a small leak. Engine would borderline stall when hitting the gas. The smoke/vapor went away after idling for a bit so thinking exhaust fumes leaking somehow, plus it's cold so they should be very visible. I remember seeing either ICU or ICE? unavailable, on dash once. Didn't snap a pic tho and didn't leave a code but the engine still ran.

    After running for a few, I shut it off, ran back inside to get my phone to take some more videos and it started up just fine! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Took it around the block and she's back to her old chipper self. Absolutely no idea. Best theory is the EGR valve was stuck open but you would think it could have thrown a code. EGR would explain the smoke, if it were dumping exhaust back into the engine and it found a way out behind the engine. Would also smell bad like gas fumes, sucking in fresh exhaust to the intake and combusting them. But same deal tho, the O2 sensors should have been freaking out but I doubt it was running in closed loop. Don't know how the Prius works but I know most cars run in open loop when cold so it ignores most of the sensor and runs off programming until warm. I have 100% no idea just glad nothing major.
     
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  9. Pennystocks

    Pennystocks New Member

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    That makes some sense, injector stuck open, flooding a cylinder. Explains the fumes and smell. Something must have gotten stuck from the cold because it's fine now. In Texas, I really doubt we have fuel/anti-freezing gas additives like up north for winter, we're hitting record lows for decades worth of low temps. Little bit of water in the gas maybe.
     
  10. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    I sounds to me more like a fuel flow problem. The smoke is a little alarming because with the bluish tint it does look like actual smoke and not steam. It might be that something plastic broke off and landed on the exhaust header? What's it smell like?
     
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  11. Pennystocks

    Pennystocks New Member

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    Smelled like gas/exhaust. It didn't linger either like smoke and it would only do it with the engine running. The second you shut it off, the smoke/mist would instantly dissipate and a few seconds after starting, it would appear.

    It's been running for a few hours now, running as in it's on/ready. I have a AC/DC inverter hooked up to it powering our WiFi and living room TV/lights because of the rolling blackouts so the engine cuts on and off when it needs to. Issue hasn't reappeared.
     
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  12. sam spade 2

    sam spade 2 Senior Member

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    Your assumption is wrong. HEET is available everywhere because water in the gas can cause problems without freezing.
    And most "multi-purpose" fuel additives remove moisture too.

    At the very least, I think you need a dose or two of Techron in your gas.
    Cheap insurance.
    The sticking injector may have nothing to do with moisture.
     
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