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Another "Headgasket?" Thread - Short Duration Death Rattle with Cylinder Borescope

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Technical Discussion' started by STL314, Jan 17, 2023.

  1. STL314

    STL314 New Member

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    Hi all,

    Decided to enjoy the freedom of high mpg - so I purchased a new-to-me 2011 @ 177,000 miles.

    A few thousand miles later and I'm neck deep in forum threads trying to sort out how deep in trouble I got myself. :) Scouring for the last few weeks has me feeling like a veteran, but I know I'm not - so much respect for the forum veterans. First post, sorry and thanks in advance.

    So - this car is not my first high mileage car, and it drove like a high mileage car feels - for the most part. That is until one winters morning, like many stories on the forum start. Anyway - I've read many threads. I've replaced the likely original plugs with genuine NGK - and the car really does run a bit better, better mpg, etc.

    Problem is, the ICE now kicks in with a 1-2 second harsh clatter from start - not quite the "Death Rattle" that spooked me so much a few weeks ago - but noticeable, and foretells the same story of an impending head gasket and the eventual regret of not biting the bullet when it made sense to.

    Haven't done a compression test - but have done several rounds of Leak Down tests. If the results are to be trusted, each cylinder indicates a 10% leak down average - with an occasional odd 15% result on Cylinder #2, and then one real odd 40% leak on Cylinder #4. I don't know if #4 had a stuck valve - at the time I just assumed I wasn't TDC so moved on.

    **No observed coolant loss...yet...**

    Unconvinced by the leakdown, went ahead and got a camera to look at each cylinder more closely.

    Uploaded a video of the borescope for each cylinder to Youtube:


    At first glance, it looked to me like the headgasket was starting to wash out on a few cylinders - but when I got real close with the camera, those lighter areas appeared dry and just not as carbon clad as the other part of the piston head. Not sure though, I'm hoping someone has seen enough of these to give a hint of what Stage Of Suck the head gasket has gotten to.

    Anyway - going to keep this on the short of the long of it:

    The clear next step it to buy parts to clean the intake manifold, PCV Valve, etc - debating on an OCC, since I'm already going to be in there cleaning everything up.

    This is where I need the wisdom of the forum -- the car is at 179,000 miles now and I wouldn't sell it to the "next guy" without making it right first. Could maybe do a trade-in and let the dealer break even on the deal - the car is fixable and/or ready for the car auction.

    Simply, I've got the wiper cowling and all that off - will have the Intake manifold, etc off after the parts are delivered. I am mechanically inclined and can tear into the head gasket replacement IF it makes sense to do so.

    Maybe it makes since to swap in a Gen4 engine, as I've seen others on the forum go that route.

    What would you do?

    Appreciate thoughts and guidance - sorry for *another* one of these threads - figured the borescope video may be of interest for some to see at the very least. Haven't seen many videos, maybe it will be of use.

    Thanks all to have made this forum as helpful to the thousands of us who typically don't post but unendingly search the forums!
     
  2. Tombukt2

    Tombukt2 Senior Member

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    If I had access to an imported JDM gen4 engine at the ready that could be shipped to me when I called I might give it a whirl I replaced my 13 persona with a JDM spec engine and transmission of similar mileage so when I dropped it into my 200 and some odd thousand mile 13 persona I would be back to around an 80,000 mi engine transmission MG1 and 2 The rest of the car 230 plus thousand on it and in relatively good shape all the hubs and everything good. I initially started with having the head gasket replaced by a mechanic from my local Toyota dealer or I know almost everybody there that person did not realize the number two piston was trying to roll over and it's bore and there was probably crack in the back of the center girdle which houses the crank the pistons and the reciprocating mass because of that I went about 11 or 12 mi and then the small end of the number two rod broke but still spun but made an awful clicking noise I knew the reciprocating mass was in trouble I should have skipped having the dealer technician try to replace the head gasket that was my mistake I knew when I looked at the guy he was just a kid and this was not probably going to go well and it didn't I should have listened to my inner voices my mistake not his He was just a kid now that the new engine's in everything is running great it's just a few cosmetic things here and there but the car runs flawlessly so I'll get close to 180,000 mi out of this one before it's ready to go and by that time this car should be long finished. It's not the heavier duty Gen 2 version that will go the 600,000 I own one of those I'm heading to 600K now others have made it Gen 3's not so much half that mileage is normal from what I see so far. You can buy the JDM engines for fairly cheap If you shop fairly hard in your area you should be able to find somebody who will change out your engine and transmission for about $800 right around that so if you have about 15 in your engine and transmission and the eight to put it in well you do the math it's a far cry from $5,000 even with oil transmission fluid and the like still quite a bit off the five grand mark I think I had 3,300 all in and then I had to turn around and change out the hybrid battery another 550 for me and that made the car back to like essentially new this is a woman driven car that I only see when something goes wrong
     
  3. Grit

    Grit Senior Member

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    Leak down test first. If no sign of blown gasket, move forward with cleaning. If blown, replace engine or sell it as is. If you spent plenty of cash on the car already...

    Saving gas cost a lot of money.
     
  4. Tombukt2

    Tombukt2 Senior Member

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    So when you pull the plugs 1 and 2 didn't show droplets of water on them didn't smell like cool when you pull the plug out especially in number one and two there were no orange stains on one and two's coils that look like coolant rusting if you will or red coolant those are telltale signs in these engines usually all four coils will have this residue on them at least all the ones I've seen so far have they usually kind of a green color the extensions and whatnot The aluminum part the metal whatever and when they come out with $130,000 mi plus on them they're like reddish color and they smell of coolant that's kind of to me it did giveaway that things are happening that shouldn't
     
  5. CR94

    CR94 Senior Member

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    Unclog the manifold EGR passages, which is fairly easy and doesn't require buying parts. If testing via OBD2 shows the EGR cooler needs cleaning, clean it out too.
    Don't do anything drastic without solid evidence there's a serious problem. Occasional rough starts happen on these engines even when they haven't (yet!) developed head-gasket leakage.
     
    #5 CR94, Jan 17, 2023
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2023
    Brian1954 likes this.
  6. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    What “parts” are coming? With the EGR system, you can just clean, everything, very inexpensive. It takes patience. See first 2 links in my signature.

    still, with around 180k miles, and presumably never been cleaned, and the rattle: could be a head gasket needs replacement first.
     
  7. STL314

    STL314 New Member

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    Thanks for the insight on the JDM gen4 - I haven't started researching this just yet, but will definitely consider it. I am in St. Louis, MO and will probably call for estimates for each of the jobs today...if anything to see how much I'm saving to go DIY.

    Sorry to hear of all the bad luck with your 13 persona - I know I paid too much at $7000 for what I have, but hopefully DIY and catching things before they go too far south might save the day. Bought the car from a reputable neighborhood service/dealer who I think buys a lot of these at at auction. I don't think they intended to sell me a car with problems, but alas here I am. I was hoping to get to 300,000 with this one, but now 200,000 sounds good enough for me, haha. Thanks again!
     
  8. STL314

    STL314 New Member

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    Haha, that quote embodies pretty much everything doesn't it - classic! Painful, but classic, truth hurts. I'm into it for $7000, not including title/license/etc of course. It was too much for it even in the current climate of things - I just negotiated poorly.

    I'm thinking going the standard course of things so far - getting a small fortune in cleaning chemicals in the garage, several hours and a few tasty beverages to help the time go by.

    Hopefully will keep the costs manageable - we'll see.

    Leakdown test was done with that cheapo Harbor Freight cylinder leakage tester. I don't know if 10% leakage is ok for these engines, but after 7 rounds of testing that's where the cylinders each averaged out. I was going to buy the OTC leakdown tester, but the borescope camera was cheaper and I felt would give some conclusive findings. I did hook the cylinders each up to shop air at 80 psi at TDC - I didn't hear much with my mechanics steth except for through the oil fill lid and dipstick hole. I checked for leakage between the cylinders at the spark plug hole -- and fortunately it was silence -- I don't believe air was escaping into the adjacent cylinders.

    I'll probably go back with the camera and look better at the cylinder walls - I think that was the part I didn't do well.

    Thanks again for the help.
     
  9. STL314

    STL314 New Member

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    This is my first Prius/Atkinson type engine, so thanks for the confirmation these rough start sounds can happen.

    Didn't realize OBD2 would show the info on the EGR cooler - will be sure to check when I get back to the car this evening!

    From the sounds of it, cleaning is the next best thing and go from there. Will be nice to go ahead and put the wiper cowling back together tonight - think I've done all I can do with the spark plugs and coils at this point.
     
  10. STL314

    STL314 New Member

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    Humbled and honored for your response! Thanks Mendel! Truly I'm well informed thanks to many, but namely you. You are very much appreciated.

    The only parts on order are the replacement gaskets for the intake manifold cleaning, PCV valve -- and brushes, etc to clean passages and hopefully do a respectable job. Since you and other owners have good luck with OCC's, I'm just going to get what seems like the best one. I'll be in there, might as well.

    Yes, the whole time I've read many other threads, I had your and others comments in my head. Around 150,000 - 200,000 is almost a prescribed Head Gasket replacement on these gen3's - Toyota might as well have included this repair in the Service Manual it seems.

    Thanks again for the feedback - I'll be cleaning things up this week and will report back. Sounds like going straight in to do the head gasket is getting ahead of myself, even if it's the eventual outcome. :)

    Thanks again Mendel!
     
    #10 STL314, Jan 17, 2023
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2023
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  11. ASRDogman

    ASRDogman Senior Member

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    It won't hurt to clean the EGR circuit. MOST important is the cooler and manifold.

    The gaskets needed are $20-30 from the dealer. They usually give a 10% if you are a veteran.
    The piston tops don't look too bad.
     
  12. STL314

    STL314 New Member

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    Thanks - really good insight. I, nor my family who had a delightful time smelling my plugs, had the sense of a sweet smell on any of the plugs other than possibly #3.

    I don't see any droplets, but there is a heavy-ish yellowish/orange crust on the backside of the ground electrode on each - slightly more on the #3 plug than the others. My wife innocently said, "not bad I guess for 180,000 miles" - I guess I feel that way also.

    The Iridium center electrode definitely is caked with burned oil, the plugs were way paste due for replacement.

    Had a hard time getting focus with the camera, but attached are pictures of the 4 plugs left to right 1,2,3,4.


    The coils each themselves have a slight orange/red dust formed on the them as you described at the point where the plastic joins the aluminum like you said - I didn't even consider what your saying until now. 1 and 2 were slight red powder, 4 had a bit more powder, and 3 had clearly the most. I didn't smell coolant - the family was done smelling my stuff at this point - but the red powder as you described truly is there on each.

    Gosh great points - I did switch the coils between 1 and 4 - but not yet 2 and 3 while troubleshooting.

    By the way, I've never had a Check Engine Light so far - other than the rattle, had no instinct to hook up the ODB2 scanner. Will tonight for sure.

    Thanks again - have more research to do on the coil and plug analysis - good call!
     

    Attached Files:

  13. STL314

    STL314 New Member

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    Thanks for the feedback on the piston tops - I wasn't certain at all how to feel. I pretty much had myself talked into a head gasket replacement before posting, but thanks all for pulling me back from the edge - for now.

    The backup beater minivan fortunately still runs, so will take my time and get it all cleaned at this point. Thanks all!
     
  14. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    Ah, good. I was thinking a grand or so, for the EGR components and intake manifold.
     
  15. ASRDogman

    ASRDogman Senior Member

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    Use oven cleaner spray and a pressure washer to clean out the cooler.
    Spray the oven cleaner into both ends. Let it soak in for several seconds, then spray
    again. Then let it sit for 30 minutes or so. Then pressure wash it. Do it a few times
    so there is clean water coming out.
    You can use Gunk (flamable one) or equivalent for the intake manifold and a .22 cal bore
    brush and a dril to clear the egr pasages. Only a few seconds to clear them out.

     
  16. CR94

    CR94 Senior Member

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    See thread Techstream EGR Valve Blockage Data | Page 3 | PriusChat , and let us know the pressure you see reported by your car, please.
     
  17. STL314

    STL314 New Member

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    Perfect thanks! Gearing up to do it this weekend - thanks for the tips!
     
  18. STL314

    STL314 New Member

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    Smart - will be good to know the before and after. Ran a BlueDriver Mode 6 report for the car this evening and attached.

    Odometer: 177,698 miles

    Looking at the thread, looks like this is the test/values to look for?

    EGR Monitor Bank 1

    Manufacturer Defined Test
    Status: Complete and Pass
    MID: 31 Min: 0.99 Val: 13.65 kPa TID: BD Max: 655.35


    Thanks for the thought here, really appreciated
     

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    #18 STL314, Jan 19, 2023
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2023
  19. vvillovv

    vvillovv Senior Member

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    The is a link to another thread in the middle of page 3 EGR valve blockage data that is not easy to see.
    The link 2014 prius v eats oil only on road trips | PriusChat
    show the other scan tool that shows the automatic test data for another tool besides techstream.

    If you post to that thread what you posted above about the results you got using the blue driver that will also help. Any info about the EGR system/ components condition relevant to the test too.

    I read through the entire thread I linked above this afternoon and have to go back and read the rest of the EGR valve blockage data thread tomorrow.
    This post is also a basic reminder for me that the blue driver will show the automatic test data, and thanks for sharing.
     
  20. STL314

    STL314 New Member

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    Is the BlueDriver report data good enough? I have another OBD2 reader, but probably won't go to the effort of TechStream.

    And thanks, I got so buried in research I was just concerned with getting the steps in my head - I should have been remembering to document data and images before cleaning for the thread. Will document what I can and post up to that thread when completed.

    According to the carfax history, 13.65 kPa @ ~178,000 miles of Nebraska (mostly flat driving for ~120,000 miles) and Southwestern Missouri (generally hilly driving for ~50,000 miles) seems around expected/average based on the results I was seeing from others.

    Looking back through the carfax indicated regular oil changes at dealers, etc - so there's confidence in maintenance there, but obvious to me - the plugs weren't changed. An easy task on most cars, many gen3 prius' probably had that regular maintenance overlooked - what could go wrong? Not a difficult job to remove the wipers, etc -- but it's a hybrid Prius, many might think it's not as needed as on other cars. Design and Engineering fail. The engineers more than likely fought the good fight and lost, fortunately tho we're not driving around Ford Pinto's with these gen3's.

    Will be delayed a bit starting the cleaning - there's a million OCC options out there, reading the threads for sub $50 OCC, etc recommendations has taken longer than the time to finish the job once started.

    Anyway, I'm scrubbing and washing for a 20+ kPa A-grade cleaning. Wish me luck!