Dealer wants $4000 for new head gasket...advice?

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Care, Maintenance & Troubleshooting' started by CanyonKid, Feb 10, 2020.

  1. CanyonKid

    CanyonKid Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    31
    4
    0
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    III
    I have a 2010 with 180,000 miles on it. Had a new big battery put in right at 150,000 miles when the whole system died on the freeway. Last summer it died again, they charged me $1200 for some sort of mysterious fuel line problem.
    On Wednesday, the brakes skipped a little bit when rolling to a stop. I parked the car, stopped it and waited, started it again and the brakes didn't skip anymore, they worked, but they didn't feel like Prius brakes, more like my truck. I made it home very carefully on empty surface streets because the dealer was closed, nowhere to tow it, the traction control light and the ABS light came on on the dashboard.
    Had appointment for car Saturday morning, when I started it, the engine made some strange noises and heavy vibration, then settled down. That has happened once or twice over the years, after car had been parked for a couple of days. But THIS TIME the "check engine" light came on while driving to the dealer.
    Car ran fine, engine very smooth, they called me this morning and said they couldn't fix the brakes without first doing a compression test (trying to keep this short) bottom line, they claim 2 cylinders are getting coolant in them, and I need a new head gasket...THEN they can worry about the ABS system.
    I don't know what to do. $4000 bucks is a ton of money when the repair guy is telling you he has no idea if it will run for another 2 weeks after he fixes it or another 2 years. It's still cheaper than buying a new car if I get another 2 years out of it.
    Any advice? I seriously don't know what to do. The almost brand new battery must be worth something if I sell the car like it is, right? Although I don't know how to proceed with that either.
    Fix it? Or just put $4000 toward a new car? I REALLLY don't want any more car payments. I have a truck but it's totally impractical for my work, which is why I bought a Prius in the first place, constantly driving around town all day.
    Any help appreciated, I have to tell the dealer one way or another by tomorrow.
    Thanks!
     
    Burna J likes this.
  2. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2018
    3,036
    2,841
    1
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Vehicle:
    2018 Prius c
    Model:
    Two
    Sketchy's Garage up the street can install a working used engine for a lot less than $4k.

    An engine swap is an engine swap. Toyota dealer is not a cost effective repair venue for a 10-year old off-warranty Toyota.
     
    Tande, Rebound and scona like this.
  3. Grit

    Grit Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2017
    3,059
    2,552
    1
    Location:
    BOY
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius
    Model:
    Four
    Plenty of issues, will eventually become a money pit. Sell now to a used car dealership once codes disappear and get a beater or prius C if bitten by the prius bug.
     
  4. CanyonKid

    CanyonKid Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    31
    4
    0
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    III
    Understood. But doesn't Sketchy have to know how to plug all the hybrid stuff back in and do the codes? Can't really afford to hire a tow truck for a day to go to different mechanics for quotes, etc., scared to drive it though because of the brakes situation. I've been in the car at 70mph when it experienced total system lockup, never want to do that again!
     
  5. scona

    scona Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2013
    161
    160
    0
    Location:
    Courtenay, BC, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2013 Prius v wagon
    Model:
    N/A
    Plan on using the truck for a few days to not worry about getting the Prius fixed quickly. A used engine is the way
    to go, where are you located? If you give us that info you may well get some good ideas about where to find an engine, from
    folks on this list.
     
    Raytheeagle and CanyonKid like this.
  6. CanyonKid

    CanyonKid Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    31
    4
    0
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    III
    How would the codes disappear?
    thanks
     
  7. CanyonKid

    CanyonKid Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    31
    4
    0
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    III
    I'm in Pasadena, California.I've been Googling, but can't find anybody who claims to actually be an independent expert on Priuses.

    Dealer wants my decision by tomorrow which I get, so there's some urgency. I may just try to drive it back home and look for engine swap, or make final decision.
    Thanks
     
  8. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2018
    3,036
    2,841
    1
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Vehicle:
    2018 Prius c
    Model:
    Two
    it's always best to use Toyota Techstream software on a laptop to analyze, diagnose & eventually clear codes from a Prius. More or less anybody can get set up with that for about $130 soup-to-nuts.

    But that isn't even the only way. It is not hopeless to do it with other pro diagnostic scanner systems.

    Not every random mechanic would agree to take on a Prius engine swap, but you're just trying to get the gas engine swapped. It isn't rocket surgery, as they say.

    Edit: You're in LA County? You've got options.
     
    CanyonKid likes this.
  9. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 'Orrible Oracle

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    37,589
    26,363
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    Just for the record: dealership is proposing a head gasket replacement, not an engine swap. That said, with 180K miles, swapping the engine with a salvage one might be most expedient.

    @CanyonKid:

    1. What's your location? <Ah, see location in one of the postings now.
    2. Is the car consuming a lot of oil?

    There are guys that'll come to you and replace the head gasket and various other gaskets/seals, for around a grand. That's rock bottom, no-frills:

    New head gasket replacement video from Gasket Masters | PriusChat

    ^ These guys are in San Fransisco.

    Then there are independent shops that'll do a more thorough job, and sends the head out to a machine shop for cleaning, valve seal replacement and check over, for $2000~2500. Probably the best option.

    And an installed salvage engine through and independent shop, probably about the the same price.
     
    #9 Mendel Leisk, Feb 10, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2020
  10. scona

    scona Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2013
    161
    160
    0
    Location:
    Courtenay, BC, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2013 Prius v wagon
    Model:
    N/A
    Once you decide on the used engine option forget about the dealer. As Leadfoot says, you have choices where you
    live that are better than almost anywhere else in the country.
     
  11. The Critic

    The Critic Resident Critic

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2005
    2,985
    1,962
    0
    Location:
    CA
    Vehicle:
    2011 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    Take it to Avi. He is a member on this forum and specializes in these cars. He is a bit of a distance from you, but is probably worth the one-way tow.

    Hybrid Fix, 310-426-8432.


    iPhone ? Pro
     
  12. JC91006

    JC91006 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2013
    14,103
    6,811
    0
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    V
    I highly recommend you DO NOT go ahead and replace this head gasket issue BEFORE getting the brake problem addressed. The brake issue could be a major problem that will run you thousands of dollars. $4000 for a head gasket and then get surprised with a $3000 brake repair after you spend $4000. JUST DON'T DO IT.

    I'm not sure why the dealer cannot address the brake issue first. The engine should not be that big of a deal at this moment. If you have it at Pasadena Toyota right now, those guys are just trying to rob you of your hard earned money.

    I think you should tow the car to Avi's advanced automotive (near USC), he is a member here and specializes on Prius cars. Get a second opinion before doing anything to your car. It may just be time to move on from this car as it is needing thousands of dollars in repairs.

    Send me a private message if you don't have AAA for a free tow, I live 10 minutes from Pasadena and I can arrange a free tow to where ever you want it towed.
     
    Tande, Merkey, Rebound and 5 others like this.
  13. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 'Orrible Oracle

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    37,589
    26,363
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    I had similar brake issue, and it was apparently just a communications hang up. I had a ScanGauge constantly hooked up, and started getting "check hybrid system" warning, plus the all the brake warning lights, and that strange "work to rule" feel with the brakes. They got you stopped, but that's about all the good you could say.

    The dealership looked at it at 3 such events, and on the last, the mechanic pointed out how jiggling the Techstream connection was causing his signal to drop. He suggested to take off the ScanGauge, see what that did. I did, and that was maybe 5 years back: no further problems.

    Not necessarily OP's issue, just a possibility.
     
  14. CanyonKid

    CanyonKid Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    31
    4
    0
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    III
    Thanks JC. The dealer says that the coolant in the cylinders has sent a message to the system and it's gone into "safe mode", and the brakes are now in safe mode (if that's even a real thing) and can't be re-set until the engine sends out OK signals, something like that. But yeh, a ton of money on the engine, then find out more $$$ on the brakes, not really a viable option.
    I love that car but it may just have to go. Can't believe a modern Japanese car is dead at 180,000 miles though, what a rip off.
     
    #14 CanyonKid, Feb 11, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2020
  15. CanyonKid

    CanyonKid Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    31
    4
    0
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    III
    Thank you, will do!
     
  16. SFO

    SFO Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2017
    2,217
    2,502
    0
    Location:
    Northern California
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    Is this dealer charging you a diagnostic fee?

    If so, they should supply the OBD2 codes (DTCs) which led them to claim that the engine and brakes need work.

    If not, and if you asked nicely maybe they would be so kind and supply such. When you have the DTCs, please post them here.
    Could you please tell a bit more about this situation.
     
    dig4dirt and JC91006 like this.
  17. 2012 Prius v wagon 3

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2019
    102
    79
    0
    Location:
    Redwood City, California
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius v wagon
    Model:
    Three
    Definitely decline any future work from the dealer. Get as detailed a report as you can from them. Written. No chance for misunderstanding based on you recalling what they told you verbally.

    I bet many people on this list would be able to work their way out of your problem very efficiently, due to their knowledge of these cars. Could do it better and cheaper than any dealer, and most mechanics.

    So for you, the best option may be to get it back in your driveway. Drive your truck for now. And sell the prius on craigslist to someone with sufficient knowledge and skills to get out of this problem efficiently. Give the full story, the dealer's written report, etc. If your new battery is worth something, the car should command a higher price because of it. Then buy a newer one of your choosing.

    This is a general problem with many older cars. If you're not the right person to handle it, sell it to someone else who is better suited. Good luck.
     
  18. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 'Orrible Oracle

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    37,589
    26,363
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    I really think that's not true.
     
    Grit likes this.
  19. CanyonKid

    CanyonKid Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    31
    4
    0
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    III
    Neither do I.
     
    scona, Grit and Mendel Leisk like this.
  20. Burna J

    Burna J Knot Right Performance....

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2012
    1,016
    3,196
    53
    Location:
    Long Beach, CA.
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    Looks like its time for a Gen 4 motor swap...(y)
     
Loading...