236k Mile Toyota Prius C Head Gasket Failing Sign?

Discussion in 'Prius c Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by Cilbit, Jul 27, 2022.

  1. Cilbit

    Cilbit New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2022
    2
    1
    0
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Vehicle:
    2013 Prius c
    Model:
    Two
    Hi all!

    I’m a proud owner of a 2013 Toyota Prius C Two with 236k miles as of yesterday July 26, 2022.

    I believe my head gasket may be on the way out, and this couldn’t be worse timing with the current car market….

    I’m trying to figure out the best course of action.

    I know I want to have the coolant system tested for combustion gases, but I don’t really want to go to any local dealership’s here in SoCal. I’ve had very poor experiences with every dealership I’ve visited down here when it comes to service.

    I’m an Oregon resident, but I do I.T. work, and client’s are spread throughout California.

    So, I drive a decent amount, when I’m required to physically be on-site.

    This “issue” I’m noticing again has been checked out previously by a dealership I trust in Portland, OR; and they determined there were no leaks at the time.

    The area in question is where the top cylinder head meets the bottom cylinder head on the driver’s side of the engine next to the inverter.

    I noticed 3 days ago the same pink crust was back after being cleaned away when my dealership originally looked at my vehicle for me, which was September 21, 2021 at 217,813 miles.

    I cleaned the area off again and I’ve checked back today to see if more crust had come back. It does in fact have the same pink crust again, so I know there’s clearly a coolant leak from the area.

    I did check my engine coolant overflow tank and noticed it had dropped a bit from where I originally filled and marked the level.

    I purchased some coolant yesterday and topped it back up to the blue mark I traced on the coolant tank. I plan to monitor the coolant level and the seeping from the block going forward.

    I have noticed that I’m not having any sweet smells or white smoke coming from my exhaust pipe on startup in the early mornings. The engine oil level and color also appear fine.

    I have had some weird roughness from the engine but it’s not consistent. It happens very very very rarely in the morning’s, but I chalk that up to moisture in the air or possibly forgetting to let the engine shut down before turning the car off.

    Sometimes the roughness happens when the engine is turning off at a stop when it’s up to temp, but that’s hit or miss as well. The car has always been kinda “rough” with the engine start/stop since I’ve owned it, and when my partner used to own the vehicle as well. (I purchased it from him).

    The car has a meticulous maintenance record from the 2 previous owners and myself being the 3rd. I’ve had 2 dealerships and an independent shop throughly inspect my car (anytime I had either service the car) before I drove down to California for work.

    My fuel economy is fine. Heat and A/C work. No weird sluggishness out of the ordinary.

    Everything seems to be fine, except what I can visually see with my eyes.

    I’m wondering if it could be a head bolt issue or potentially just an external leak due to heat cycling, as the car has spent nearly all of its 236k miles doing highway/interstate driving.

    I mention the head bolt issue as I saw that some other user’s here had an issue with that, but I’d assume the car would’ve had that issue earlier in its life?

    I did check my EGR Circuit (Cooler, Pipe, and ERG Itself). I cleaned them throughly and put them back on, changed my PCV Valve, and bled my cooling system again.

    That’s was roughly 18k miles ago. There were no clogs or anything like that. I just had them off already, so it made sense to clean them before putting them back on. The only item I didn’t touch yet is the intake manifold.

    I know that the Gen 3’s can have oil pooled in the bottom of the intake manifold/throttle body, and potentially have clogged ports in the intake as well.

    I didn’t have the time/energy to have my car apart for a few more days to get that maintenance out of the way, but I’m also not 100% sure the car needs it.

    I know the engine is closer to the Gen 2 1.5 liter and the EGR system is closer to the Gen 3 system, but as far as I can find online this car is damn reliable and has very little problems.

    So, I’d appreciate any insight, advice, or experiences anyone has had with dealing with something like this.

    I’m still in California for a few days, so I could always take it to Gasket Master’s and have them take a look at it, before I make my long drive back to Oregon where I can have one of the 3 places I trust look at it once I’m back.

    I’ve attached pictures below, but I do apologize for the order they’re in and for any misspellings/formatting mistakes in the response I’ve typed here.

    It’s 2 a.m. here, I should’ve been asleep hours ago as I have work bright and early today… but I’ve been stressing a lot over this.

    Worst case scenario I’m putting close to $5k into the car, and I can keep it going longer. I’d love to put the $5k towards a newer car, but the market is horrible right now.

    I’m 22 and I’m finally in a financially stable situation, so I believe I could stomach the hit to my budget, but I’d like to not waste any money if possible.

    Okay, I’m done rambling. I look forward to any advice. Thanks. :)
     

    Attached Files:

    PriusCamper likes this.
  2. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2012
    8,773
    3,597
    0
    Location:
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    When Gen 3 headgaskets fail it's usually coolant getting into the engine. And good news for you is Prius C don't have the same headgasket problems as Gen3.

    What's more many people with Gen3 and a minor headgasket failure can go years before engine starts running rough.

    So far you're only rough running engine issues on cold start are typical of all Prius/Atkinson engines so no worries there.

    Basically keep monitoring and try to get a number for amount of coolant lost per 1000 miles and try to do your road trips at night when its not as hot out. But in general your coolant leak is so minor that you don't need to do anything until it gets worse.

    The hard limit on this problem is when engine runs rough on startup consistently and rattles so much that you risk damaging the dampener in the transmisison. But again these are Gen 3 problems, not Prius C problems.
     
    Cilbit likes this.
  3. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2018
    5,123
    5,023
    1
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Vehicle:
    2018 Prius c
    Model:
    Two
    I think it's much more likely to be an external leak than a head gasket. Pinhole in the radiator or something.

    Don't panic and don't spend big bucks yet. Even if this is a head gasket failure it's early.
     
    mikey_t and Cilbit like this.
  4. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2012
    8,773
    3,597
    0
    Location:
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    It's hard to see in the photos but the very tiny coolant leak is indeed weeping out from the seam where headgasket is...

    But more to the point, fairly certain I've never read of a Prius C headgasket failure on here? Wondering if you have?
     
    #4 PriusCamper, Jul 27, 2022
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2022
    mikey_t and Cilbit like this.
  5. Cilbit

    Cilbit New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2022
    2
    1
    0
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Vehicle:
    2013 Prius c
    Model:
    Two

    I’ve never heard of a Prius C with head gasket failure, and I couldn’t really find any solid answers online.

    I’ve looked everywhere in the engine bay area that I could see, and I can’t where the leak is coming from.

    I have had someone suggest it might be a coolant hose but I don’t think that’s the case.

    I think it might be potentially where the cooling sensor is or whatever is near/around the radiator hose that goes into the engine in my pictures.

    That area is super cramped! So, I can’t really get a good look to see where the leak is originating from. I don’t have any type of mirror or mini camera I could use to scope the area out more either.

    I’ve been monitoring coolant loss and it’s very very very minimum. I’m driving back up to Oregon after finishing up work in the Sacramento/Fresno Area.

    It’s soooooooo hot here! Lol

    And just my luck; I hit a piece of blown out tire trying to merge back onto I-5 North at night.

    Cracked my front bumper and screwed up the under shielding on the bottom of the car. It even bent my license plate and the “Prius C” license plate holder thingy (can’t thing of the actual name) you can purchase from a Toyota dealership that still has some.

    I only hit the tire going 43 mph, so the damage wasn’t too bad. I was able to push things back together, etc to make the car look fine.

    I’ll be out $450 for my insurance deductible, but the car will get fixed. So all is good.
     
  6. アレン・スピクタロン

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2020
    410
    76
    7
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius c
    Model:
    One
    Could be a leak in the radiator. I don' think your Prius C has a head gasket issue, does not looks like it. Take a look at all the coolant hoses and the radiator coolant thing [forgot the name] used to drain the coolant from the radiator and make sure is screwed all the way in.
     
  7. z80

    z80 Junior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2017
    23
    5
    0
    Location:
    California
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius c
    Model:
    I
    Hello!
    Based on the description it looks like I have the same exact problem. The same spot, driver side, where the block connects with the head. I don't notice any visible coolant level drop in the tank yet. The car is Prius C One 2014 with about 118,000 miles.

    Cilbit, is it how it looks on your car (see the picture attached)?

    I used a mirror to check if there is any traces of coolant above the head gasket area. But unfortunately right above the gasket line the head and all connections are clean. So the only place I can imagine it can come out of is through the head gasket.

    Doesn't look like a radiator leak to me though :) How would coolant get so far from the radiator?

    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

    #7 z80, Sep 8, 2022
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2022
  8. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2018
    5,123
    5,023
    1
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Vehicle:
    2018 Prius c
    Model:
    Two
    The fat hose connected to the 90° steel elbow is your main engine coolant line. If you're seeing a residue in that area, it's much more likely to be the result of a weep at the hose/elbow union or where the steel elbow was pressed into the aluminum casting.
     
    PriusCamper likes this.
  9. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2012
    8,773
    3,597
    0
    Location:
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    Yeah I agree with leadfoot... Do some deep cleaning of that area and tighten up the clamp if possible and see if it comes back... I've yet to see a Prius C have legit headgasket problems, just people worried about it who've been unable to confirm.
     
  10. z80

    z80 Junior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2017
    23
    5
    0
    Location:
    California
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius c
    Model:
    I
    Hello!

    Thank you for the opinions! And I appreciate the advice as well! Following the hypothesis I've double checked the areas you've mentioned today again.

    I've put a small mirror on the transmission and took a few pictures of the radiator hose elbow from under near. Please see the pictures below. I've also inspected what I believe are a heater hose elbow and a temperature sensor the same way. I cannot find pink crystals in those areas.

    Am I wrong assuming that if it was an elbow/hose connection, pink crust would be found on the bottom of the elbow itself and below the elbow? And if it was elbow/head connection, the crust would reside on the head itself between the elbow and the head gasket area?

    I'd appreciate any hints on how to localize the problem! Thank you in advance!

    20220909_085240.jpg 20220909_085246.jpg 20220909_085304.jpg 20220909_085309.jpg
     
  11. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2018
    5,123
    5,023
    1
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Vehicle:
    2018 Prius c
    Model:
    Two
    I think those are both fair intuitions, but neither would be conclusive. Sometimes a coolant leak is in the vapor state, and where you find the crust is just the first thing in its escape path cool enough to condense the steam.

    What's the coolant loss rate? Have you found any wet leaks or just dry crusts? Have you looked at the exhaust heat recovery underneath?
     
    PriusCamper likes this.
  12. z80

    z80 Junior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2017
    23
    5
    0
    Location:
    California
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius c
    Model:
    I
    Thank you for the hints! Here are the answers to the questions below.

    I've noticed this crust not so long ago. So I don't know yet what the loss rate is. Level is still near MAX. And today is the day 3 since I've noticed the crust formation.

    It is crust what I see. If there is any coolant in liquid form I'm not 100% sure. I don't see or feel any with my finger tips. Even if there is any liquid squeezed out shouldn't it quickly dry out on the surface of the hot engine?

    I've checked the exhaust heat recovery and the two hoses under the car. Just in case I also have checked the exhaust pipe end (might it be an internal leak). I was unable to find any coolant signs in those areas. Honestly, I must confess, I'm not sure I understand how exhaust heat recovery can make pink crust to form on the driver's side of the engine. Would you please provide some details?

    I'll double check it. But I'm almost certain I didn't hear any hissing sounds under the hood. I'm not sure though if there should be any.

    Thank you again for the advices!
     
    #12 z80, Sep 9, 2022
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2022
  13. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2018
    5,123
    5,023
    1
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Vehicle:
    2018 Prius c
    Model:
    Two
    The coolant loss rate is the most important thing.

    A pink crust can form with the loss of just a few ml of coolant. It really doesn't take a lot.

    So establishing the loss rate is a very important factor in deciding if you've got a gasket leak. You can use a grease pencil to put a witness mark on the reservoir and check it a week or month later to see if it has dropped. (other markers work too, don't feel constrained)

    I asked about the exhaust heat recovery because it is the weirdest part of the Prius coolant plumbing. Poorly understood, out of view and often forgotten, it can also be a leak point. I don't think it could have contributed to the deposits found on your engine.

    In another thread recently, somebody raised the possibility that someone had paid for a head gasket replacement yet still saw coolant loss, when it may have just been a leak at the exhaust heat exchanger the whole time.

    Are you getting any other symptoms of a breached head gasket?
     
  14. z80

    z80 Junior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2017
    23
    5
    0
    Location:
    California
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius c
    Model:
    I
    Ah, got it! Thank you! Another important thing to keep an eye on.

    No. Really nothing what would indicate an internal leak; no misfires; no water in the motor oil; no smoke out of the tail pipe.

    It is only the location of the crust makes me believe that it might be the gasket leaking externally instead of into a cylinder and/or into an oil channel.
     
  15. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2018
    5,123
    5,023
    1
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Vehicle:
    2018 Prius c
    Model:
    Two
    I'd say don't worry about it. Not a significant marker of an active problem. It's not uncommon for any car to develop appearances like that, and yours has apparently had ~8 years of a head start.

    If you want to be constructively paranoid about your car, clean the battery cooling fan and attached ductwork, and set a reminder in your phone to repeat that at least annually.

    Get a good sunshade for parking. Consider tinting the windows if they aren't already. The MPG in the c is very sensitive to air conditioner usage, and a good tint job can cut the heat load paid once instead of every fill-up.
     
  16. z80

    z80 Junior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2017
    23
    5
    0
    Location:
    California
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius c
    Model:
    I
    Hello!

    I've measured the loss rate. A week ago I've topped the coolant level to exactly the max mark. Today (1 week/60 miles/8 trips later) it is ~1 inch below max level. I'll re-check again in a week to see if it is consistent.

    Is 1 inch per 60 miles a considerable rate?

    Thank you!
     
  17. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2018
    5,123
    5,023
    1
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Vehicle:
    2018 Prius c
    Model:
    Two
    Assuming you made both measurements cold like first thing in the morning, then that's a significant loss rate. Are you finding any drips in your parking spaces? Deposits on the back of the car or under?
     
  18. z80

    z80 Junior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2017
    23
    5
    0
    Location:
    California
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius c
    Model:
    I
    Hello!

    No, unfortunately I don't see any other traces of coolant like you've mentioned.
     
  19. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2018
    5,123
    5,023
    1
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Vehicle:
    2018 Prius c
    Model:
    Two
    At this point I'd suggest taking it to a pro (not necessarily a Toyota dealer) and asking them to diagnose the coolant loss.

    I'm a bit suspicious of the hose/pipe union next to the head. Not saying it couldn't be a head gasket failure, but those are just darn rare in the 1NZ-FXE engine. Besides, you'd want it to be a hose. Much cheaper.
     
  20. z80

    z80 Junior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2017
    23
    5
    0
    Location:
    California
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius c
    Model:
    I
    The original author of this thread, Cilbit; their pictures look almost identical to what I observe on my car. I'd be very interested to know the progress with the issue.

    Yes, a hose would be quick to replace.

    Head gasket would be at least 3 full days. And I already imagine lots of wrestling with the harmonic balancer bolt...
     
Loading...