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Head Gasket blown - replace or get a different car?

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Main Forum' started by Neets, Jan 3, 2023.

  1. Neets

    Neets Junior Member

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    My husband and I found out today that our 2011 Prius needs to have the head gasket replaced. The total quote is $4,750.00 which was a huge shock to us! The car has about 180,000 miles on it. It's not an option for us to do it ourselves so we're left with do we get the work done even though the car has that many miles or try to find something else. Any perspectives or food for thought would be appreciated.
     
  2. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Luddite

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    Is that quote through a dealership?

    Besides the head gasket failure, if it’s gone on long enough, there may be bent piston arms and/or broken damper springs.

    A salvage engine swap might be your best bet, if the car’s otherwise in good condition.

    For your information:

    The head gaskets tend to fail in a way that allows coolant into a cylinder, typically cylinder one or two.

    This can lead to hydro lock, pistons coming up, encountering incompressible coolant. This in turn may lead to piston arms getting bent, and/or broken springs in the engine-to-transaxle damper.

    The head gaskets on 3rd gen Prius are failing quite regularly, around your miles, IF the EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) components, including EGR passages in intake manifold, have not been periodically cleaned.

    The EGR system introduced with 3rd gen has proven reliably prone to carbon clogging, which prevents it doing one of its design purposes: reducing oxygen in the air/fuel mix in combustion chamber. This changes the peaks and duration of temps during combustion, and engines with this condition, around your miles, blow head gaskets.

    The simple way to avoid this, short of an EGR system redesign (which Toyota did with 4th gen), is to clean the EGR system, say every 50k miles.

    This is relatively easy and inexpensive to do, doubly so for professional mechanics with training and experience. Toyota could have implemented a program to do this, but hasn’t.
     
    #2 Mendel Leisk, Jan 4, 2023
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2023
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  3. BiomedO1

    BiomedO1 Senior Member

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    Yea, that quote seems a bit high. Use repairpal.com for area quotes to do the job. I'm pretty sure there are a couple of Prius specialty shops in Port Washington.
    As Mendel stated, If you caught the issue soon enough, a head-gasket replacement would be fine. If there was a potential for hydro-lock; I'd replace the engine with a used 4th gen.
    If your going to replace with a used 3nd gen motor; do a preventive head-gasket & timing chain replacement - before placing the engine into the car. No telling how many actual miles on that replacement engine and the parts isn't that much more expensive.

    Good Luck....
     
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  4. Neets

    Neets Junior Member

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    Thank you for all that information. Yes, that was the dealer's quote. My husband looked into the engine swap. The dealer would charge an exorbitant amount of money to put in another engine as he said all the parts would have to be checked and inspected carefully. In fact he said that would cost more money than replacing the head gasket.
    The reason why this decision is so difficult is because we have been doing a lot of reading and it appears the 2011 model has the most complaints - especially after 200,000 miles. Yes, the car appears to be in good condition otherwise and we do very regular maintenance and oil changes on it but since we're at 180,000 miles, it doesn't look too good. On the other hand used cars have not come down in price in our area and we're not prepared to finance a new one. I'll pass on your post to my hubby.
     
  5. ColoradoBoo

    ColoradoBoo Senior Member

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    It would be helpful to know what the $4,750 entails. New Toyota engine or used/rebuilt or rebuild/repair the existing engine? Much of the cost is labor so, of course, having the dealer do it is the most expensive but, also, has pros and cons. (Warranty, OEM parts, etc.)
     
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  6. Neets

    Neets Junior Member

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    Thanks for the repairpal tip. I found another location and was quoted a price considerably less but they are booked out until March. Thank you for the other information as well.
     
  7. Neets

    Neets Junior Member

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    That would be repair of existing engine. Basically it's all labor and the head gasket is the minor cost. That's what kills us! Will ask about the warranty and a breakdown of cost. Thanks.
     
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  8. Tombukt2

    Tombukt2 Senior Member

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    Cheaper quicker faster to rip out the engine and transmission order a JDM spec unit from the JDM suppliers throughout the United States be finished with it have a 60 to 80,000 mile engine and transmission in your 200,000 mi vehicle or whatever it is I didn't read the whole article Don't fool around with shops changing head gaskets and doing all this work to an open deck engine assembly It is not worth your sanity You can get places to change your engine for about $800 they'll add another $200 if they're doing the engine in the transmission at the same time generally speaking If you know how to shop around for this kind of work it's not a big issue It took me 5 minutes to find somebody in my local town to do the swap I paid $1,300 for the engine and transmission delivered on a flatbed to my door or I could have had it sent to the shop I took the car the engine and transmission in a trailer over to the guy shop who swapped everything out and then I went over and put the orange plug in and got the car running because I didn't want this person to be doing that it would be a waste of his time and my money this has been almost 10 months ago and the car is running great with almost 30,000 mi on it Don't waste time .
     
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  9. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Luddite

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    Maybe look up Hybrid Pit Stop. They do rebuilt 3rd gen engines, will ship. There's a couple of members here that are with them: @GregC1979 and someone else, name escapes me; something like justintime??

    If you go with engine swap, you'd likely better off with someone other than dealership. If there's more than one dealership nearby, at least get a quote from them as well.
     
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  10. Wrecit

    Wrecit Active Member

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    Quote sounds about right to me. Engine swap was going to run me $7000 for an engine with 100,000 miles on it here in western pa.

    The issue with a blown head gasket is the very real potential for aluminum head warpage.

    You will definatly get much cheaper quotes to have the work done by someone other than the dealership. If the price seems to good to be true however it usually is. Any mechanic can pull the head, slap a new gasket on it and send you down the road. This will land you in the same spot a few months to a year or so down the road.

    I went with a guy that pulled the head, checked it for true, we discussed tolerances then chose to have the head professionally decked/trued. It was also discovered that my EGR was 70% blocked. I had my guy put a new EGR on it and will be using a oil treatment every 15000 miles/3 oil changes that claims to help keep the EGR cleaner.

    Did I have my engine overkilled to fix the issue? Maybe, but as someone who has been racing for 2 decades I understand what is needed to insure optimal performance on an engine. Granted I did approach the equivalent of a generator motor we have in our prii with the same eye I do an engine that goes in a 410 sprint car but in my mind right is right be it a generator or a checker flag chaser.

    As for your situation my recommendation would depend on if you have a trustworthy hybrid mechanic. A dealership can serve this roll but with the turn around in those shops at times if you can find an independent that has hybrid certs (preferred Toyota certs) you will be ahead of the game. Without that find out what they will give you for trade
     
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  11. Neets

    Neets Junior Member

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    Thank you. Great information we'll put in the mix.
     
  12. Tombukt2

    Tombukt2 Senior Member

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    Open deck . Replace or get ready to possibly dump vehicle if center sections damaged . . Happens often by my reading . Camry had this too. I never had issue w 1 zz
     
  13. rjparker

    rjparker Tu Humilde Sirviente

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    There's really only one decent answer if you want to keep the car. You need a good rebuilt gen3 engine.

    The true smoking gun on these engines from 2010 through 2014 are bad design factory pistons and piston rings. Yes, there are plenty of systems that get clogged up by the carbon and blow by caused by the piston ring flaw but Toyota themselves admitted the pistons and piston rings needed revision, and replaced them free for many users. That largely unadvertised service bulletin expired at 60,000 miles and was only available for those with the worst engines.

    Most dealer mechanics will not recommend head gasket repairs alone. I have to assume your dealer recommended you either trade the car or you have them install a rebuilt engine. If they didn't, you need to get a second opinion from another dealer because the first dealer was not looking out for your best interests.

    The reason for a rebuilt engine is obvious. If you leave the root cause unrepaired, eg the pistons and piston rings, the $5000 head gasket repair may only last a year, maybe a few months. Many have changed a head gasket two or three times before they bit the bullet and replaced the engine.

    Based on years of experience don't spend your money for major repairs at a dealership where they charge $150-$175 an hour using parts marked up 100%. You need a quality independent mechanic and or rebuilt engine supplier.

    This forum is full of do it yourselfers who assume anyone can change an engine or teardown an EGR system. It also has quite a few members with gen3 engines under 100,000 miles. One by one they slowly fall, realizing their brand new head gasket problem wasn't prevented by egr cleaning.

    Bottom line, trade the car, sell it independently or have a quality rebuilt engine installed by an independent.
     
    #13 rjparker, Jan 5, 2023
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2023
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  14. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Luddite

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    Do you think that carbon build-up in the EGR components only commences in conjunction with oil consumption?
     
    #14 Mendel Leisk, Jan 5, 2023
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2023
  15. rjparker

    rjparker Tu Humilde Sirviente

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    No but I and most Toyota mechanics I know don't believe the poor egr design is the root cause of hg failures. Liquids in the intake is just as bad and happens before oil consumption. But overall the rings cause excessive blowby and eventually excessive oil consumption.

    I suggest a rebuilt engine to anyone with a blown head gasket who wants another 150k miles. With smart choices that rebuilt engine can be professionally installed for the price of a dealer head gasket repair. A pro rebuild install will include a cleaned egr and optionally an oil catch can.
     
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  16. Grit

    Grit Senior Member

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    New car for sure. Buy a tesla with one time small cash payment of $65,000 which bill norton approves!
     
  17. GregC1979

    GregC1979 Active Member

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    "RightOnTime" I think he goes by here. Yes, we rebuild them better than the LKQ engines the dealer might give you and for MUCH less. We can ship anywhere in the lower 48 for you.
     
  18. Tombukt2

    Tombukt2 Senior Member

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    To be clear LKQ doesn't rebuild anything It is just a salvage yard that strips cars that they buy from junk yards and holding lots which people have gone through stolen stuff out of beating out windshields whatever You never know when a car gets to LKQ how long it's been out in the wild sitting in a storage lot people sleeping in it whatever goes on LKQ is just a reseller of salvage. The JDM spec engines that are brought into this country are done so because of what goes on in the respective countries that these engines come from You can read about all that online if it interests you their cars are taken off the road by the government at certain criteria met levels. I've been involved with racing before a lot too I don't have racing folks's budget to make it right or not when you're Rick Hendrick you haven't infinite amount of cash You could be racing open deck ZZ engines without problem because you're not paying for your sponsors are You don't have any sponsors when you live high on the hill in California you have your checkbook an open deck engine is not something I would be spending a lot of money on I would be getting another in better condition like one was 65,000 mi on it or so along with its transmission It just makes sense to me You see this throughout the United States with the open deck Toyota engine designs and I think that maybe what Hyundai is also using now a lot of these manufacturers have gone to the open deck design and as you see Hyundai has excessive engine failures so open deck may give you a modular type design easy to take apart easy for machines to slap together etc. That's great stuff just realize when it breaks it's much easier and better to deal with an assembly than trying to put sections of the same engine back to spec least it seems so to me and seems so to a lot of other folk. And that's all I had to go on like I say I see Camrys all across the country and beautiful shape dead with blown engines is a chronic problem it seems with the Camry not the hybrid just the Camry
     
  19. keaton85

    keaton85 New Member

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    Look for a local independent mechanic to do it. It's a simple job and parts cost very little.

    Or toss head gasket repair in and hope for the best, since the leak is so small most times on cyl #1 that this gimmicky fix can actually work. If its a nice vehicle though, might want to just offload it to someone that can DIY.
     
  20. GregC1979

    GregC1979 Active Member

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    Paragraphs are everyone's friend. So in what universe is it okay for the DEALER to use a junkyard engine and charge someone 8-10k for install? Notice how I didn't say the Dealer "rebuilds" you one. A sucker is born every minute. We've seen some crap Toyota has sold a customer recently that also blew a head gasket within a year's time, it was lawsuit worthy.
     
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