Don't Buy a 3rd Gen Prius! - Blown headgasket at 233k

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Care, Maintenance & Troubleshooting' started by Absalom, Feb 13, 2019.

  1. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sand Pounder

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    This attachment has the cylinder head torque instruction, more detail; it's not in the attachment I posted up the page:
     

    Attached Files:

  2. ekpolk

    ekpolk What could possibly...

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    Nice work and nice pics displaying it. Thanks for posting these!

    So, irony of ironies, a blown head gasket, and the unintended consequent "steam pressure wash" turn out to be far more effective at cleaning up the inside of an engine than probably all the expensive potions at the auto parts store together. . . I like clean -- but not enough to be wanting a bad gasket to get it!:p;):cool:
     
  3. Absalom

    Absalom Junior Member

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    So recent developments.

    First off, before I say, tell me if you can figure out (by using the pictures) why the car was unable to be completely reassembled today..

    Also, I think the head has been off this thing before. In fact, I think the PO has been through all of this in the past. The head was warped, and it's highly unlikely that this happened during the 10 mins that the car was misfiring. Next, the exhaust manifold gasket was missing as well, which tells me someone has definitely been that far.

    So perhaps the PO overheated the car, blew the HG, and warped the head all at once. And when replacing the HG, they didn't flatten the block, and it was just a ticking time bomb.
     
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  4. The Critic

    The Critic Resident Critic

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    Any update?
     
  5. Grit

    Grit Senior Member

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    So are you sticking to the statement, or topic/subject of this post then ?
     
    #85 Grit, Feb 26, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2019
  6. Absalom

    Absalom Junior Member

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    Fuel injector washers arrived at dealership today. Picking them up, and then going to class until 9pm. Hoping to have time to button her up on Thursday.

    It's funny, the shop I had warranty out the HV battery made the following comment just 600 miles before the HG went. "Ahh, you're at 230k miles. Careful, when you get to 250k, the head gasket goes." He is the owner of a shop in Phoenix that specializes (read: only touches) in Priusii. He also has a wrecking yard containing about 100+ Gen 3 Priusii, so I would argue that his opinion would at least carry some weight.

    So, if someone were to come to me and say "I'm considering buying a used Prius", I'd encourage them to look for one with less then 100,000 miles and newer than 8 years. Even then, I'd tell them to set aside $4,000 extra ($2,500 if they are DIY) for the inevitable HV failure. In the end, I'd probably suggest they look at a used Corolla/Camry.

    I'm a high-mileage fetishist and I enjoy tremendously a car that ages solely as a function of the maintenance received, not the miles driven. Unfortunately, I don't believe that the gen 3 Prius is a good candidate for a high-mileage vehicle. When the car passes 100k miles, you're basically maintaining two cars at once; the electrical drive-train and the traditional gas motor. It's true, Toyota has mastered the hybrid technology better than most, but I don't believe they offer a significant fiscal advantage, nor do they inspire the confidence that I'm looking for.

    Yes, this HG job has been cheap for me so far. But 99.99% of car owners would be completely unwilling to tackle a head gasket themselves. Instead, they'd be staring down the barrel of a $2,000 - $4,000 repair.

    TL;DR I stand by (for the most part) the title of this thread. I don't believe the Gen 3 Prius makes sense as a higher mileage used car.
     
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  7. FnRedPrius

    FnRedPrius Active Member

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    It's beginning to sound like I need to start looking for ones for sale with a blown head gasket and doing swaps since I am about to have a spare engine sitting around.
     
  8. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

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    I guess it depends on your definition of high mileage;).

    I’m at 197 k miles and still going strong:).

    I do preventatively maintain our 2010, but it’s all less than a new car payment, so I feel it’s money well spent (y).
     
  9. Absalom

    Absalom Junior Member

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    Update:

    It runs. Got her all buttoned up about 20 mins ago and took on a short test drive. Topped coolant and oil off. Motor sounded like crap for 5 secs until oil pressure built then it was super quiet. No leaks or unusual smells, sounds, or smoke.

    Cautiously optimistic at this point. Need to put some real miles on it this weekend.
     
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  10. ardashev

    ardashev Junior Member

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    isn’t it ironic that of all hybrid parts gas engine goes first :)
     
  11. Absalom

    Absalom Junior Member

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    Well, the car is on its second HV battery. I'm sure the inverter will let go soon too, lol. But I agree, it's not what I expected either!
     
  12. cnc97

    cnc97 Senior Member

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    Even if I would have known that I would only get 4K miles on my Gen 3 a year ago before I had to put an engine in it, I would have still bought it. I have enjoyed every day of it and can not think of a better way of having spent the money on it that I have.
     
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  13. Raidin

    Raidin Active Member

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    My mechanic also noticed from research that the water pump seems to have intermittent failure which could be a cause for the HG issue.

    I guess I'm lucky that mine blew at 375k miles. While I maintain it very well, I did once have a piece of road debris fly under my car and sit down there for a few seconds bouncing around until it finally released. It turns out that it took out a coolant line.

    Next day, overheating light flashes...then goes solid. I was in slow traffic so I dropped my speed to go into EV mode. Solid light went back to flashing then gone. Went through this a few times as I tried to merge off the highway and pull over and get it towed.

    Had to deal with this on my way to the shop too. This may have caused it, or exasperated the situation. Anyway, water pump was replaced while we were at it. So far so good at 457k miles.
     
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  14. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sand Pounder

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    What's a good proactive engine water pump replacement interval? And the inverter pump?
     
  15. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

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    Engine water pump I did around 175 k miles. Inverter water pump I have the replacement on hand, just need to find time to do it;).

    At 197k miles and almost 10 years, it’s time in my mind on both accounts(y).
     
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  16. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sand Pounder

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    Pretty sure I'll never get there..., in kms. Thanks. (y)
     
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  17. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

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    But you are on years;).

    I am slightly jaded in my view on this due my profession, where we proactively replace equipment (like mag drive pumps) before they fail because if we play the “run to failure” game, bad things happen:cool:.

    So for me 10 years on a pump is a good run and met my needs for longevity :).

    Now if you look at it when the vehicle ages, is still operating well and the requirement of reliable transportation exists to get you back and forth to work with no built in spare car for transportation (my wife commutes as well and we do not have a 3rd car), that also shapes behavior. But if you don’t require that level of reliability due to retirement factors, that decision is different ;).

    My belief is if I stay ahead of things through preventative replacement, I’ll keep our 2010 in service longer, leading to less spend on the second highest expense (first being a mortgage) in a household and achieving the ultimate end goal of retirement at an age where we can enjoy the remainder of what life has to offer.

    Here’s my decision tree:

    • Is the engine water pump $250 on Amazon for the Aisin pump: yes
    • Is that slightly pricey catching the eye (and getting the 3rd degree) of my CFO: yes
    • Would a monthly payment for a replacement for our 2010 be north of $250 a month: yes
    • If the pump failed and I had to fix it (unplanned downtime which with my luck usually happens at the worst time), would I incur more cost than the replacement (rental car to get back and forth to work, potential to farm the job out to a mechanic, additional parts required due to the pump failure, etc): yes
    • Is my CFO supportive given the above factors as well as keeping me busy and out of trouble: yes :love:

    So it’s a time value of money equation. @The Critic and I have talked about that recently given his recent head gasket opportunity. He is fortunate to have alternate transportation (and a large tool chest paired with the mechanic’s dream garage) while he tackles the head gasket. If I found myself in a similar position, I’d have a more expensive result if I followed the decision tree above (I am not implying that what happened to @The Critic he brought on himself or that this is entirely preventable). So do I go above what most would do: sure but it’s to ensure I meet my commitments and keep the cash flow positive and the wife happy:).

    The inverter water pump falls into the same category and decision tree for me(y).
     
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  18. ekpolk

    ekpolk What could possibly...

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    Something to do with aviation? Back in my Marine Corps flying days, one of my friends was honored to be selected to fly with HMX-1, the squadron that flies the President around in "Marine-One" (we, the Marines, do the presidential helo flying; the Air Force the fixed wing, hence, "Air Force One"). We've spoken a time or two during and since. They had almost zero equipment failure on their birds, since virtually everything that suffered any degree of mechanical stress was preemptively replaced well short of its normally expected/designated service life. Alas, I doubt many of us could afford to keep our cars in the same manner, at least as to all such parts. . .
     
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  19. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

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    Chemical industry and there isn’t just water running around in all the pipes and equipment ;).

    Aviation is similar though :).

    Thanks for sharing(y).
     
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  20. ekpolk

    ekpolk What could possibly...

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    Yup, that'd be another area in which "exploring the boundaries" is a distinctly (maybe "extinctly") bad idea. . . :eek:
     
    #100 ekpolk, Mar 2, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2019
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