From o2 sensor to engine replacement in 10 days?

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by FantasticalMagicOne, Dec 29, 2018.

  1. FantasticalMagicOne

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    I hoping to get some advice/guidance regarding an issue with my 2008 Prius (base). I haven’t been able to find anything that implies that others have run into this issue, in this manner. If it’s in a previous thread, then I missed it when I was looking through, and I apologize for the possible repost. And also for how long it is.

    The repairs began in the middle of November, but the saga started last Monday. Brief summary leading up to current nightmare. Mileage not as good, acceleration not what it once was, and the smell of rotten eggs on a 10yr old car with 170k miles on it. Time for a new catalytic converter (despite no check engine light), also discovered a small hole in the muffler and had it replaced. Both aftermarket parts installed by a mechanic friend. It didn’t take long for the check engine light to come on after that and I knew it was an o2 sensor, possibly both. I went to autozone and had them check, sure enough upstream sensor. So, I ordered one of those, also aftermarket, and we discovered that this replacement is a most unpleasant job. It also requires a SST (09224-00010), which costs more than the 1.5hrs of labor I’d be charged at the dealership. After failing to find any other thin walled offset socket, I made the appointment. And so, it begins…

    I spent the day at the dollarship (my 7rd old rebranded it, he’s right), and the sensor was replaced, I settled the bill and went on my merry way. I live about 30 miles from the dealership, and was happy to see an immediate change in my mpg, but about 5 miles into my drive, I noticed that the car wasn’t accelerating very well (an issue that had greatly improved with the new cat), and a quick glance at the MFD revealed 2 purple battery bars along with the horrifying assumption that the car wasn’t charging the battery the way that it should. I made it 30 miles to my first destination (son’s school), and the battery bars had creeped up to blue twice, but didn’t stay there very long. When I got back in the car, the battery remained at purple and acceleration was still not good and the check engine light came back on. I made it home (10 miles), but it struggled up the hill I live off of (2 miles and windy). I decided to go back to autozone after we ate, but when I started the car the vehicle stability control warning, brake system warning, hybrid system warning, and master warning lights were on in addition to the check engine. I was NOT driving it anywhere. It was an o2 sensor?! What the heck happened to my car!?

    I had it towed back to the dealership the following day, spent several hours there, and they called me back to show me what the problem was. The catalytic converter hadn’t sealed properly because that end of the pipe was too large, something my friend should have alerted me of when he put it on. Said that’s why he put goop on it (ugh!). So, I need another new catalytic converter as well as an o2 sensor (downstream). I agree to the repair, take the loner, and wait for the call. A few days later, your car is ready and “it runs like a dream!” I arrived to pick it up shortly before they closed (on a Saturday), returned the loner, settled the bill, and went into the show room where they have a dunkin and bought the kids donuts. That last bit is important because the show room is open later than service and service was long gone before we left.

    When we left, I started the car, and when I hit the gas pedal the car began to shake violently! This had never happened before and it stopped after about 30 seconds. I proceeded, very cautiously, to a friend’s house 3 miles away. The battery was blue, and it seemed fine. We visited for an hour or so, then drove to a store about 2 miles from there, no problems. We spent about 40 minutes in the store and then left to another store a few miles away, and after approximately 10 minutes in the car, the battery dropped to purple, it barely accelerated, and didn’t appear to be charging as I drove. At this point, we had driven 10 miles; if that. What the heck did they MEAN it runs like a dream?! I called my friend who agreed to meet me at the dollarship, so that I could leave the prius, and borrow her car (thank goodness for great friends!).

    They call me on Monday (christmas eve), and say that they confirmed the shaking, but the battery was charging as it should. They’re sorry, but they’ve never seen this before and need to reach out to other engineers who may have, but can’t do so until Wednesday (due to the holiday), in order to fix it. I called Wednesday afternoon and a service manager said that they think they know what’s wrong, and it should be ready tomorrow. But couldn’t tell me what was wrong because he’s not the technician who just happened to be unavailable to speak with. Fine, but if it’s not ready tomorrow, I need another loner because I have to return this car. Thursday morning, the manager calls me and tell me that I need a new engine because I’ve got oil sludge throughout the entire thing. Another $2,700, which he will gladly drop down to $2,300 since I’ve already done extensive repairs, but needs a decision by tomorrow!

    At this point, I’m already $2,300 in and I’m confused as to how you can spend days working on my car without noticing that the engine was filled with sludge. There’s also no black gunk on the oil cap or the dip stick. Now, I get my oil changed regularly (every 5K), there has been no burning smells (no smells outside of the rotten eggs that went away when my friend switched the cat), no noises, no clunking, rocking, or anything to note that there was something else wrong with the engine. I also never had an issue with powering the battery, the 1 or 2 lines of purple was new, the lack of charging while I was driving was new, and so on and so forth.

    I ask about the HV battery, I want it tested before I decide if I want to move forward with this kind of repair. The car still starts and drives (I don’t trust it enough to see how far), but because it’s not completely dead, it can be tested. This man told me that there was going to be a charge to test it as getting to the battery is a lot of work and will take quite a bit of time (wow). He proceeded to explain that it was under the seat and taking them out would be… He was really laying it on thick, but I let him. So, I told him that it wasn’t up to me, but up to my spouse (not true) and that he’d have to talk to him. I called my other half and explained what was said and why it was BS, and had him call (after we rehearsed because he doesn’t know anything about cars). That manager changed his tune very quickly, and agreed to run the test. He called the boy and left him a message stating that the voltage is consistent and around 15.84V per block, but there’s nothing but his word in regard to proof of that.


    Something is not right here, and everything I’ve read regarding an engine replacement is get a second opinion, which I will be doing. I had it towed off the lot today. They’re clearly willing to lie (no shock there) and I know that the estimate on the engine replacement is WAY off, but do I really need one? What would cause this?

    I went in to get a sensor replaced and now my car barely runs.
     
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  2. SFO

    SFO Senior Member

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    Welcome to PriusChat!!

    You mentioned purchasing (and having the dealer install) an aftermarket A/F sensor (upstream).

    Did you purchase a Denso direct fit A/F sensor or something else?

    In the future can you please write down (and post here) any DTCs (codes) that are pulled/retrieved by Autozone, your 'mechanic friend', or the Dollarship / stealership.

    Though the replacement cost you were quoted for a "New" Toyota engine with installation is quite cheap (relatively speaking), you are correct in pulling back and assessing the situation.

    Just to clarify.. there are no visible lights of doom on the dash, and no known codes currently 'thrown' ?
     
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  3. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

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    Some additional questions:
    • Which dealer are you using?
    • Have you tried another one?
    • Do you know (or know someone who does) a different mechanic with access to Techstream?
    • Do you know any independent shops or willing to take your Prius there instead?

    I actually grew up in the Harvey’s Lake area, and the one place my old man will still go (non-Hybrid) is Caddie Labars off of the Dallas Memorial Highway. Might be worth a call or stopping by.

    I would get a second opinion though as you are racking up a decent bill and whichever dealer you chose will continue to be happy in taking your money around the holidays to help pay off their own debt.

    Good luck and keep us posted (y).
     
    #3 Raytheeagle, Dec 30, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2018
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  4. FantasticalMagicOne

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    SFO, Thank you for the welcome! I've been visiting this site for a long time, and it's been extremely helpful. Since I've always found answers to my inquiries, I never had reason to set up an account.

    Air/Fuel Sensor Part# REPT960917
    4-wire, OE Replacement, Direct Fit, M18-1.5 Thread Size, Threaded in Mounting Style, 7/8in. Hex Size, Male Connector

    The Master Warning light and Hybrid System Warning Lights are on.

    The dealership's "new" engine has 140k miles on it, and I've already located several options that are far less expensive. Included in their quote is 15hrs of labor at $109/hr ($1,635) making the engine $1,065, which is laughable.

    They didn't inform me what codes were thrown, but I've got techstream on it's way and will know before weeks end.

    Raytheeagle,

    I went to Toyota of Scranton despite Motor World being much closer. I've NEVER had a good experience at Motor World and am unwilling to set foot on their property. The car being that far away is actually a good thing as Scranton is my hometown and I've a few mechanic friends there that will be willing to take a look at it. They are unlikely to work on it as they don't really do hybrids, but will be able to determine if the oil sludge diagnosis on the ICE I've been given is true.

    My step-dad is a mechanic, and he feels very strongly that something is fishy about this. His advice on combustion engines is valuable but he's in no position to look at it as he's over 100 miles away and not in good health.

    I do not know of any independent shops willing to take a look at a hybrid, but I'll find one soon enough (never had reason to look before). Thanks for the suggestion of Caddie's, I've only been here 2 years and don't really anyone local.
     
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  5. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

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    Remember, from what you’ve reported so far is just issues on the ICE side of the equation, so it would be something a normal wrench turning mechanic could work on:).

    Now if the codes from Techstream show something in the hybrid system side, that’s where more specialized knowledge will be required;).

    Woody is a great guy at Caddie’s and the original families son. The other parts of their business are also family owned and Woody’s son works there too. They won’t take advantage of you and actually do some things gratis (my old man needed a tire balanced and we dropped it off before going to town then on the way back it was ready and he waved the money off). You also won’t find many mechanics more goofy than him:).

    Good luck and keep us posted (y).
     
  6. FantasticalMagicOne

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    I'm curious if anyone has experienced an engine failure diagnosis like this. Running fine, getting a fairly standard repair for a car this age, and then damned near dead right after?

    • No oil sludge on the oil cap or dipstick and none visible when I pop the hood, oil light never came on (though I know the check engine light will do it too)
    • They spent hours working on the ICE part of the car and didn't notice an engine destroyed with oil sludge?
    • No sign of engine failure prior to this
    You're right, it is just the ICE and the folks at the dollarship kept insisting that a hybrid mechanic was necessary because others truly don't know what they're doing; I know better than this. The only reason I took it in, in the first place was because of the o2 sensor socket, which I completely regret not purchasing. Experience has taught me not to argue facts with these people. I'm a woman and therefore don't know what I'm talking about* - which is why I coach my other half and have him call. It was very difficult to keep a straight face as the manager described to me, in great detail, the massive amount of work involved with testing the voltage on the HV battery. I don't pretend to know a lot about cars, and I'm not claiming that I didn't miss anything, but I know about my car and something isn't right here.

    *This is not a blanket statement, I'm aware that not ALL mechanics perceive women as easy targets. Though it is quite unfortunate that it is common.
     
  7. strawbrad

    strawbrad http://minnesotahybridbatteries.com

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    Try cleaning the MAF sensor. This is the first thing to do when a Prius ICE is not running right. It's a ten minute job. All you need is a really short phillips screwdriver ( I use a socket and ratchet) and a can of MAF cleaner. The MAF sensor is located in the throttle body front and center in the engine bay. It's close behind the radiator thus the need for the short screwdriver.

    I have personally taken dozens of shaky, stalling, and half dead Prius back to running just by cleaning the MAF sensor.
     
  8. M in KC

    M in KC Member

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    If you think you have HV battery issues get ahold of Matt at Texas Hybrid Batteries. He's in DFW and on this message board as Texas Hybrid Batteries. Sorry for your saga.
     
  9. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

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    You’re not in the right state:cool:.
     
  10. Prodigyplace

    Prodigyplace Senior Member

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    Dallas PA is a long way from Dallas TX,
    Just sayin'...
     
  11. FantasticalMagicOne

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    Happens all the time.

    Posted via the PriusChat mobile app.
     
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  12. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

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    My local hints must not be enough:(.

    Oh well(y).
     
  13. fragglestickcar

    fragglestickcar Junior Member

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    If your engine is indeed ruined, then that could easily have caused your cat to get plugged. I think we can all agree the cat did go bad what with the egg smell.

    You say you changed every 5k, but had you been checking the dipstick in between? High mileage prii do burn a lot of oil, and letting the oil go low will cause overheating and sludge build-up.

    I think it sucks you're already in 2.3k for the other repairs. If the engine's bad, I'd sooner take the tax deduction on junking the prius, and getting a corolla for 4-5k. I've had engine work done, and it rarely feels quite right afterwards.
     
  14. FantasticalMagicOne

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    It's not the engine. I had a mechanic look at it today*. When he plugged in his reader, the battery jumped up 5 or 6 bars and drove fine, so we took it to his garage (about 10 blocks away). No sludge or any signs or engine problems. He did clean the throttle and MAF despite it not looking dirty (said it couldn't hurt). All of the warning lights went out and when we drove it around for a bit, I lost battery power very quickly. Going up small inclines had it drop drastically. The only code he pulled was P3190, poor engine power (shocking), which can be a number of things. I was able to get it home (30 miles), but dropped very low power a few times (check engine light came back on a few miles into the trip). I had to pull over and force charge the battery a few times just to get here. I did coast and brake as much as I could, but I live in the mountains...

    The check engine light is now the only one on.

    Anyway, the techstream I ordered is arriving tomorrow and I hope that will help further identify the problem.

    * Just in case anyone is wondering how the heck I found a shop open on New Year's Day - I didn't. A friend of the family, who is also a mechanic (I always forget that about him), had some free time today.
     
  15. JC91006

    JC91006 Senior Member

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    If you have a weak battery and live in the mountains, your battery meter will drop faster than normal on uphill driving. I suspect you have other issues that are not battery related. Maybe clogged catalytic converter our bad injectors/spark plugs/coils. Techstream will be able to pull additional codes and possibly get to the bottom of the problem.
     
  16. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

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    Might be worth checking fuel delivery if you are getting the P3190.

    Fuel pumps can go bad.

    But the hv battery isn’t sounding very strong either.

    Good luck and keep us posted (y).
     
  17. FantasticalMagicOne

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    JC91006 - The catalytic converter was replaced the week before last, and I had the spark plugs replaced in May. I suspect that something wasn't put back together right after the sensor was changed, as none of this happened prior to me taking it in to the dealership. I didn't have any battery issues before this.

    Raytheeagle - I was just reading about the fuel pump, as it's a common issue related to this code.

    All I can do now is wait and see what techstream pulls.
     
  18. SFO

    SFO Senior Member

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  19. FantasticalMagicOne

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    Thanks!
     
  20. strawbrad

    strawbrad http://minnesotahybridbatteries.com

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    Yea, It is the engine. It's not that you need to replace the engine but the root of your problem is that the engine is not running right. The trick is to figure out why the engine is losing power.

    Don't let the battery getting drained mislead you. Without the engine to charge it any battery will quickly drain.
     
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