Head gasket confusion

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Care, Maintenance & Troubleshooting' started by 134HP Bard Womyn Magnet, Oct 29, 2022.

  1. 134HP Bard Womyn Magnet

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2021
    81
    25
    0
    Location:
    NYC
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius
    Model:
    Five
    Coming to PriusChat for an opinion since I'm feeling very stupid. I've read loads of head gasket posts on here at this point yet I'm still confused. I need some help with what I'm reading about HG symptoms vs. what I'm experiencing with my car.

    I took my 2014 to get its annual inspection and the garage owner points his light up into the engine and says "See that little drip of oil? You need to replace the head gasket." I couldn't really see anything but said OK. On the receipt it says "Head gasket replace - oil leak. EGR clean." (AFAIK, EGR has not been cleaned/replaced.). I know @Mendel Leisk will reprimand me for not doing that yet!

    Here's the state of affairs with my car:
    1. Oil looks totally clear (not creamy/coffee-ish) on the dipstick and is in the same spot it's been since the oil change ~2500 miles ago. If it's lower, the difference must be tiny - in other words it doesn't seem to be burning oil?
    2. Coolant looks very pink, was slightly below the "Low" line after the car sat a few hours and was cold; drove it a bit, checked, and now it is slightly above the "Low" line. (I guess the system pressurizing can make the apparent level raise?)
    3. I've had a single (1) rough start that threw a P0300 6 weeks ago, but it was after a very specific circumstance: I had to move the car a couple feet after it was sitting a day or two, and as the engine came on for initial warmup cycle, I shut it off. Started it up a couple of hours later and it rattled for maybe 3-4 seconds, then smoothed out. First time it ever did that - I read the codes and found the generic misfire code. I cleared it and haven't had a code (or the behavior) since.
    4. I usually drive in ECO mode and I don't know if this is psychosomatic, but ever since my car threw a P0A80 about 700 miles ago, it occasionally (rarely, but sometimes) feels hesitant on gentle acceleration in the first minutes of driving, when still cold. I live in the city and it only happens at low speed at the start of the trip.
    From what I've read my impression was with HG issues, oil starts obviously burning, your car drinks coolant, or it's death-rattling often (or consistently) on cold starts and sometimes during driving. Between the battery and now this, I'd love to DIY this, but I won't have a garage to work in until a few weeks from now. I need to drive the car and wonder if in the state it's in below if it's OK to do that a bit longer as it is, monitoring oil and coolant?
     
    #1 134HP Bard Womyn Magnet, Oct 29, 2022
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2022
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    101,094
    45,836
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    it's very unlikely that the oil drip was coming from the head gasket. how much did he quote you?

    more likely the valve cover or timing chain cover.

    do you have the updated pistons and rings? how many miles on her?
     
  3. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Patron saint of newly poured sidewalks

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    49,935
    35,524
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    Can you recall where he pointed out the oil drip?

    Is this a Toyota dealership, or?

    How many miles on it?
     
  4. Tombukt2

    Tombukt2 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2020
    3,313
    575
    0
    Location:
    Durham NC
    Vehicle:
    2009 Prius
    Model:
    Base
    All you need to do if you like unfortunately is to pull the plugs and the coils Note what coil is in what hole when you take them out you're looking for steam and rust red colored rust on the coil tubes or the extensions that go down into the hole in the valve cover and cylinder head That's the first thing you're looking for it's usually going to be on number two and three but anyway. Then as you take the plugs out make sure you know what plug goes and what cylinder you want to be looking at number two and number three with a flashlight and a magnifying glass and you're looking for very fine water droplets I mean they're almost microscopic they'll be separated from the oil and whatnot that are on the threads or on the tip of the plug The water will not want to go to the oil so it will beat up but it may be very small you can also take a paper towel and douse the end of the spark plug with a dry paper towel and then stick it to your nose and smell for coolant the ethylene glycol smell If you smell this from whatever touch the tip of the plug then you have some coolant getting in that cylinder usually going to be 2 and 3 but whatever it could be any of the four. If your car passes those tests then you probably do not have a head gasket leak or seepage yet and I would keep driving I don't think the rattle you described was truly a misfire but it's worth checking out I know it's a pain to pull the plugs but that's where the telltale is in the plug hole in the combustion chamber.
     
  5. 134HP Bard Womyn Magnet

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2021
    81
    25
    0
    Location:
    NYC
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius
    Model:
    Five
    Damn it I edited my post so much I must have removed my vehicle's details, sorry about that:
    Mileage: 155K and change.
    Extra info: bought a year ago @ $8500 and put in $1700-ish on new front brakes, shocks, links.

    Edit: I do not have updated pistons and rings, see below.
     
    #5 134HP Bard Womyn Magnet, Oct 29, 2022
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2022
    bisco likes this.
  6. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Patron saint of newly poured sidewalks

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    49,935
    35,524
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    The VIN at which oil piston rings are revised is in one these, the first I think.
     

    Attached Files:

  7. 134HP Bard Womyn Magnet

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2021
    81
    25
    0
    Location:
    NYC
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius
    Model:
    Five
    • Location: can't be specific. Car was up on a lift...little plastic cover under the engine was pulled down, he shone a light up at what looked like a border between black metal and silver metal but maybe I was looking in the wrong place.
    • Dealer: no. I didn't want to get a reputation on her for someone who complains about every shop, since I was complaining about the shop who worked on the suspension, but I live in the city and don't trust this shop either! Didn't help that they charged me like 8x the cost of a bulb that took 1 minute to fix (captive audience because it was a state inspection and needed that to pass)
    • Miles: 155k and change
     
    Mendel Leisk and bisco like this.
  8. 134HP Bard Womyn Magnet

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2021
    81
    25
    0
    Location:
    NYC
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius
    Model:
    Five
    Yep that's the document I checked, and my VIN is unfortunately before that revision VIN number. Mine is JTDKN3DU3E03xxxxx
     
  9. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    101,094
    45,836
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    you said OK, meaning what? okay, i understand, or okay, do the work?
     
  10. 134HP Bard Womyn Magnet

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2021
    81
    25
    0
    Location:
    NYC
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius
    Model:
    Five
    Ha, no I was just saying "OK, I see it" (I lied, but I asked them like three times "Wait, where is it?" and it was getting slightly awkward)

    I did not tell them to do the work; got my inspection sticker and told them to send me an estimate which I've still not received. I'll mail them and also ask where they were shining the flashlight. Won't hold breath on getting that info.
     
    Mendel Leisk and bisco like this.
  11. CR94

    CR94 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2014
    2,283
    975
    0
    Location:
    Northwestern S.C.
    Vehicle:
    2011 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    My impression from that story is that the mechanic was probably trying to rip you off, and the car probably is ok, so far. However, you should clean out the EGR passages of the manifold ASAP, and check the EGR flow restriction value. Worry more if coolant (or oil) starts to vanish and rough starts become more frequent.
     
  12. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Patron saint of newly poured sidewalks

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    49,935
    35,524
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    At 155k maybe just clean complete EGR: cooler and valve will VERY likely need it.
     
  13. 134HP Bard Womyn Magnet

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2021
    81
    25
    0
    Location:
    NYC
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius
    Model:
    Five
    Thanks for the contributions all. I'll continue to update this thread as I get more detail, including from the mechanic (I've asked for quote and detail of what he claimed to have seen).
     
    CR94 likes this.
  14. 134HP Bard Womyn Magnet

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2021
    81
    25
    0
    Location:
    NYC
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius
    Model:
    Five
    In case anyone is interested I got an estimate for a repair with no answer to my pointed question about where the mechanic/owner spotted the oil:

    Zerex Asian Vehicle Antifreeze - 1 gal 24.42
    Cylinder Head Gasket Set - 352.86
    Engine Oil 1Qt. x 5 - 24.35
    Engine Oil Filter 8.12
    CYLINDER HEAD GASKET + EGR Service - Remove & Replace - [Includes: R&I Engine Assembly: 2,629.88
    Total : $ 3,312.66 (parts 409.75 + Labor 2632.88 + Tax 270.03)

    Since I'm superstitious, I'm now 100% certain I'll have a catastrophic gasket failure, but my rational side is noting there is no oil under my parking spot, no significant oil or coolant burning (that I can see) and no rough starts. I'm gonna keep driving for now, cross fingers and do EGR/manifold cleaning or replacement soon.

    Everything said "As per customer request" in front of it - maybe that's just part of their invoicing software, but my cynical side wonders if that's a CYA in the event they're making stuff up. No offense meant to any honest mechanics reading this!
     
  15. Tombukt2

    Tombukt2 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2020
    3,313
    575
    0
    Location:
    Durham NC
    Vehicle:
    2009 Prius
    Model:
    Base
    You can put a low mileage JDM engine and transmission for way less than this what looks to me like what $5,000 or something I did that for I don't even know man 2650 at most. And all in one fell swoop so you should consider that probably it would be way easier too All this working on that mess wouldn't be real good I don't believe.
     
  16. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Patron saint of newly poured sidewalks

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    49,935
    35,524
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    What would hybrid pit stop (@RightOnTime) charge for this?? Seems a LOT for labour, full retail for gasket kit. No mention of new head bolts, a better safe than sorry item.
     
    #16 Mendel Leisk, Nov 3, 2022
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2022
Loading...