Cost of Cleaning EGR system

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Fuel Economy' started by PriusOnTheFence, Feb 21, 2020.

  1. PriusOnTheFence

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    My MPG has fallen to 37 MPG and I am in despair. Yes, it is cold, but it's been a long term trend and now it has reached rock bottom. This is no longer a fuel efficiency car. It's a 2010, but only 80,000 miles.

    I'm taking various steps advised on here, I increased the tire pressure (put it up to 38 on the front/ 36 back, as the tire guy did not want to go higher, but the Defenders can take 44 so I will go back and ask for 40 and 38 on the back). I will be checking the 12 volt battery. I am changing gas supply (I will try ethanol free on the next tank too see as well).

    The service guy also mentioned EGR cleaning, but the dealer wants $800-1600, depending, they say, on what turns out. Is it really so difficult or expensive? It's also not clear this will fix FE, as some people report no change. I will only do it through the Toyota dealer, I live in a small town and don't trust the other service places here on a Prius.

    I know prices differ according to location, but at least I'll get a range.

    PS As this is obviously relevant, I will add that I have been changing oil every 10k, because that is what was recommended for synthetic oil. The only problem is that it took me longer than 6 months to go through 10k, so this may have been a problem. But I otherwise do all the recommended things at the big mileage milestones, following the manual.

    There are no strange noises, runs smoothly, they say other things checked out fine.

    They offered a price range, because they said they may need to replace something, but my memory is poor, I will ask again.
     
    #1 PriusOnTheFence, Feb 21, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2020
  2. ETC(SS)

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

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    I strongly recommend you either re-consider this plan or just plan on buying a new car.
    Our own @NutzAboutBolts made a video, detailing the EGR pipe cleaning process.

    So....I have not done this myself, but I suspect that it's not an $800 job - even at a stealership's maintenance department.
    If your car's mileage is dropping off more rapidly than normally happens when Jack Frost is nipping at your nose there might be more things wrong on a neglected car than just the EGR pipe.....including plugs,Throttle body, PCV valve, MAF sensor...etc.

    If I'm wrong when I said 'neglected' then I apologize sincerely, but usually people who have their car "serviced by the dealer" often do not bother to read and comply with the Warranty and Maintenance guide which states that you need to check your oil once every 30 days or 1,000 miles.
    Quite frankly....you don't have to be very anal about it.
    You can probably make this once every 5,000 miles, and know whether or not your car is using oil (Spoiler alert: it probably is) and how much and just keep it topped off.
    ONLY you know if you've been doing this regularly.

    Your sig info says you have a 2010.
    That means you're probably sitting on about 120,000 miles.....and it's time for some maintenance.

    If your dealership cannot tell you exactly how much it will cost to do the EGR cleaning, then this is either because they don't know themselves (because they haven't done one yet) or they're going to go looking for something other than exactly what is causing your MPG problem - like how big a check they think you will wrtie to get to drive your car back out of the dealership.

    One last thing.

    Throttle body maintenance.
    I strongly advise AGAINST letting a dealership do this.
    Because?
    They mostly won't DO IT.
    They will charge you $100 for a $5 bottle of snake oil and not even remove the Throttle Body Assembly.
    With a little fingernail polish (on a hidden fastener) you can tell.

    One LAST last thing.
    If your car starts a horrible knocking/shuttering act - Shut it down immediately.
    You might be dealing with a blown head gasket and you'll only have a few seconds to react to that if you want to effect a repair without replacing the engine.


    Then again.....if you're just going to take it to the dealer???

    You might as well floor it.
    The result will be the same in the end.

    Good Luck!
    (You're going to need it!!)
     
    #2 ETC(SS), Feb 21, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2020
  3. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    I'd second: how many miles on it?

    What's your situation?

    Do you have any tools, floor jack or ramps? Do you do basic maintenance, say oil change, spark plug change, that sort of thing?

    Watch @NutzAboutBolts videos for EGR cleaning, and intake cleaning, to get a feel for what's involved. They're linked in a thread pinned at top of 3rd gen maintenance forum.

    If you can DIY, it can be done for more-or-less nothing, either the EGR or the intake manifold cleaning.
     
    #3 Mendel Leisk, Feb 21, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2020
  4. PriusOnTheFence

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    Hi there both. Thanks for the feedback.

    Car has 80,000 miles.

    I have not neglected it, but I have been changing oil every 10k, because that is what was recommended for synthetic oil. The only problem is that it took me longer than 6 months to go through 10k, so this may have been a problem. But I otherwise do all the recommended things at the big mileage milestones, following the manual.

    There are no strange noises, runs smoothly, they say other things checked out fine. I was actually bragging the other day that I've only need to change light bulbs and tires in 10 years!

    They offered a price range, because they said they may need to replace something, but my memory is poor, I will ask again. The service guy has two priuses and knows them well, so I trust him as a mechanic--it's just as you said, this is a stealership, as they have no competition. He was the first person to start talking about solutions to the low MPG problem, before they would just say nothing can be done. Also recommended the mass airflow sensor cleaning.

    I live in central VA so weather is not that bad.

    But I don't want a new car right now, I am only going to switch to electric for my next car, not worth getting anything else and I am not ready for that at this point. So I want to improve my Prius.
     
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  5. PriusOnTheFence

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    Oh, and I am not a DIY-er at all. I'd only have an authorized dealer touch it.
     
  6. ETC(SS)

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

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    80,000 miles isn't bad.

    Start checking your oil.
    AT LEAST every third fill up or so.

    The Mass Air Flow Sensor cleaning should be a 1/2 hour job only because their minimum billing is 1/2 hour.
    An independent mechanic should only charge about $20-40 for this 5-minute procedure - but I would only suspect the MAFS if you're throwing codes or idling roughly.
    In a car that's burning oil, this cleaning should be done anyway.

    One advantage to having a dealership do this is that they (should) at least have the right stuff and won't be tempted to use Brake Cleaner.

    If your dealership's mechanic drives a Prius, invite him to read through this (and other) threads in this forum.
    If he's honest (some are) then he SHOULD be angry at the fact that there's so much truth to all of the tales of horror that internet chuckle-heads like me tell about stealership mechanics.

    If he's not part of the solution?
    He's one of the crooks.

    I'd recommend checking the oil level immediately and taking topping it off - then start monitoring your burn rate.

    I'd also have him (you said 'guy') look at the PCV valve and LOOK AT the intake instead of just putting a bottle of junk in your fuel tank or blindly spraying stuff into your intake.
    Again....I would expect that a lot of dirt in the TB would result in a rough idle as well as lower MPG.

    The EGR coolant pipe cleaning is a MUST.
    If they charge $800 and they're the only people you "trust" to work on the car - then pay the $800!

    Also...watch the video I included in the earlier post to see what you're paying for.

    This fairly important.
    Ask your mechanic if he knows what an oil catch can is.
    If he doesn't.....that's too bad.
    If not....find out yourself. READ UP about them yourself in this forum.

    It might be legal for you to use one.
    Virginia has some pretty comprehensive car inspections. It's one of the advantages of being a "Commonwealth" instead of merely a 'state'....but don't get too swell-headed about it.

    ....Kentucky is a Commonwealth too. ;)

    KEEP AFTER THIS.

    With any luck.....you'll be trading this car in on a BEV in about 10 more years....IF you pay closer attention to the Warranty and Maintenance guide!
     
    #6 ETC(SS), Feb 21, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2020
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  7. PriusOnTheFence

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    ETC(SS) thanks for feedback.

    When you say 5000 miles, is that for synthetic oil as well? I thought that was for regular. I use 0W-20.

    The problem is that I do few miles, so the oil is there sitting for more than 6 months.

    I am going to be more vigilant in the future, and will start checking, but I don't want to overdo it. Service people had said it was generally fine.
     
  8. ETC(SS)

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

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    It might be.

    As far as I know, all G3s (2010-2015) use synthetic oil.....yours most especially since the dealer puts the oil in. It would be a VERY disreputable dealership that the wrong oil in your car (the right viscosity is on the oil fill cap) BUT(!!!) there have been numerous posts about dealerships over-filling or under-filling the oil.
    IMHO it's not often that this happens - but you do need to check.

    The important thing is that you make sure that you keep the oil level topped off.

    Priuses have a small oil sump, and your oil is in there for 10,000 miles.
    If you burn as little as 1 quart during this 10,000 miles that means that you may well be driving for thousands of miles with only 75% of an already small supply.

    Don't over think this.

    I check mine every 2-3 fill ups and it takes about 30 seconds and all you need is a paper towel.

    Don't obsess over having the oil exactly at the full mark.
    If it's consistently between the marks (holes/dimples..etc) time after time......then you're fine!

     
  9. PriusOnTheFence

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    Thanks, will do!
     
  10. royrose

    royrose Senior Member

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    PriusOnTheFence, I am in a similar situation, a 2010 with 98,000 miles. I have changed the oil every 10,000 miles and have done almost nothing to it. I do check the oil level regularly and add quart or so between changes. I have Michelin defender tires.

    My mileage may be somewhat lower than it used to be but it is hard to tell because I do shorter drives these days. Like yours, mine runs perfectly.

    One of the theories about EGR cooler clogging is that, once clogged, the engine runs hotter leading to a greater risk of problems such as blown head gasket. My guess, and it is only a guess, is that how you drive can play a role in that risk. For example, if you are not driving many miles per year, then you may not be doing much high speed, long range driving and your engine might not get excessively hot even with a clogged EGR cooler.

    In our case, my Prius is now our secondary car and just used around town. My attitude at this point is that MPG doesn't matter so much anymore when I'm putting so few miles on it. It is cost per year that counts and with a 10 Y.O. Prius, that is ridiculously low.

    Mendal Leisk has in the past suggested checking the condition of the EGR pipe as a relatively easy way to get some info on the health of the EGR system. Checking (and cleaning) that is much easier than a full EGR cooler cleaning. I'm not much of a DIYer and I plan to do that when I cross 100,000 miles later this year, then decide whether to go further.
     
  11. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    Yeah there's a video in the aforementioned video link thread, for checking just the EGR pipe.
     
    #11 Mendel Leisk, Feb 21, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2020
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  12. PriusOnTheFence

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    Hi Royrose, that is very helpful. What is your MPG?
     
  13. PriusOnTheFence

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    Mendel Leisk, are you still getting 47 MPG on a 2010? That's not fair! What have you done? ;)

    Have you cleaned the EGR? What tires do you have? And what gas do you use? Sorry for the interrogation!
     
  14. royrose

    royrose Senior Member

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    Of course it varies but I would say that now, in a pretty cold winter, mid to upper 30's. In summer probably mid 40's. Under ideal conditions such as a longish but not fast drive in Summer I can still get a bit over 50.
     
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  15. PriusOnTheFence

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    Our cars are twins then! Don't tell me yours is black!
     
  16. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    Yeah, that's our current lifetime average. It ticked up a bit, was 4.9 liter/100km, but new (17") tires took their toll last summer; I'm hoping they're breaking in. A bit.

    Yes, at 70K kms. Also the intake manifold cleaned, and Oil Catch Can.

    We're on 195/65R15 Michelin X-Ice about 4 months of the year, actually doing better on them than the new Michelin Primacy MXM4 215/45R17's.

    Chevron regular.

    No problem. Only 86K on the car now.
     
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  17. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    The tire guy may well not consent to this. Do it yourself, it is a very basic and easy DIY task. If you don't have your own air pressure gauge, then go buy one, it is cheaper than any shop visit and is an essential maintenance tool.
    If it is old, it may be a good idea to replace it regardless. But unless it is really bad, don't expect much MPG improvement.
    I'm doubting that EGR cleaning will do much for MPG, it is more to prevent a blown head gasket. I cleaned mine Christmas week, at 92,000 miles, and while definitely very dirty, it was not yet anywhere close to what many others have pictured when cleaning at much greater mileages. So I have doubts that yours is close enough to really need it, unless it has a substantial oil consumption problem.

    I also have very strong concerns that having any dealership do this cleaning will not be cost effective. It is cheap but somewhat time consuming as a DIY project, with the repeated soakings and flushings of the EGR cooler (and intake manifold? which I have not yet done) taking a fairly significant time. Shop mechanics with time pressures are not likely to take enough time to do it right, but will still charge horrendous labor rates. And dealerships in my area tend to not do such things, business policy it mostly to replace with new parts. And that EGR cooler is E$pen$ive.
    I have doubts that exceeding 6 months will be much of an MPG problem. It would show up as other problems, such as engine longevity.

    Look close at the maintenance guide, there are numerous uses where the oil should be changed at 5k intervals. Do you have mostly short drives?
     
  18. PriusOnTheFence

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  19. PriusOnTheFence

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    And I will check the oil more often--service guys had said it was fine when I took it in. But maybe they just did not really notice.
     
    #19 PriusOnTheFence, Feb 22, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2020
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  20. PriusOnTheFence

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    And an update. The problem was much more simple, so much I have difficulty believing:

    Gas quality. Perhaps also the slight increase in PSI.

    I used to fill up with Kroger Fuel--they share points with Shell and I thought the quality could not be that different.

    The difference is shocking. I now just use Shell. Though the temp is higher now, I went from 36 MPG to 49.8 MPG (which includes a lengthy period of idling with the heating on). This over about 200 miles. I am not making this up.

    I don't think the temp explains more than a few MPG, as I rarely got more than 42 even in the summer. My year-long average over about 10,000 is 39.8, including the latest awesome numbers.

    I am floored. My only complaint about the car was due to such a simple thing/mistake.

    I am going to return the tire pressure to the recommended 35 (I had it at 38 for the front and 36 for the back, following recommendations on this page). If the good numbers continue, I will keep it that way, as the higher pressure decreases tire life of course.

    It's like getting my old car back. Have not seen those numbers since, well, I made the stupid decision to use the silly discount of 5c from Kroger.

    Please, no lectures, as in "You should have read the posts." True, but not many talk about it in such terms (though enough for me to try switching gas). Most go on about many technical fixes, hence the above post.

    In case you have another non-expert asking about MPG, do make sure to ask them if they are using Shell or not.

    I even tried a tank with no ethanol gas--Shell is actually doing better, though here it may be the temps that are making the difference. Anyway, non ethanol does not make sense cost wise, it is 30% more expensive.

    I think over the summer I will be hitting over 50. I'm in love with my Prius again!
     
    #20 PriusOnTheFence, Mar 14, 2020
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2020
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