Just purchased a 2009 Prius; why my coolant disappears?

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by BrokePriusDriver, Aug 4, 2022 at 1:45 PM.

  1. BrokePriusDriver

    BrokePriusDriver New Member

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    Hey, I purchased a $6600 189K 2009 Prius for Uber. After driving for two days, I replaced the oil, tire, and serpentine belt at a repair shop. Right after that, I got a coolant overheating icon flashed on my way home. After 130 miles of driving the next day, everything was fine. But the day after, I got a red triangle/over temp icon flash again. I returned my car and spent $99 for a leak pressure test; they said everything was fine. They refilled the coolant. It was fine that day, but the next day I got an over temp icon again. I checked the coolant level, no coolant under the radiator cap. Overfill tanks do have coolant.

    I took my car back to the repair shop, and they said they could only perform the same diagnosis again but with a different person. I don't think they can find the cause. I wonder if it's a leaking gasket. What should I do from here?

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  2. BrokePriusDriver

    BrokePriusDriver New Member

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    The shop confirmed a blown head gasket, and the gasket master said they could not work on a 2009 Prius...
     
  3. JC91006

    JC91006 Senior Member

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    Did you initial service include a coolant drain? That belt you replaced, it's the belt that drives the water pump.

    If you had the coolant drained, they probably didn't bleed the air out properly and didn't put in the required amount of coolant. Try topping off the coolant in the radiator and run the car. If there is a blown head gasket (which is not common on this generation), the fluid will splash back up with the radiator cap off.
     
  4. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    That mechanic sound worse than worthless... I doubt their blown head gasket diagnosis. What were the original error codes from red triangle? This sounds like an inverter coolant pump problem. That's a cheap and easy fix too!
     
  5. Tombukt2

    Tombukt2 Senior Member

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    1NZ blown head gasket highly unlikely it's just not been bled and the only belt you could replace I would think is the one that drives the water pump so probably just a good bleeding and all that sort of thing.
     
  6. BrokePriusDriver

    BrokePriusDriver New Member

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    upload_2022-8-4_16-19-2.png

    This is what the mechanic showed me and claims I have a blown head gasket.

    There is a Temperature icon on the dash screen with a red triangle when it happens, but it only flashes or lasts about 10s. Because it's not always going above 245F. I did not read the error code yet. But it only happens when above 245F.

    Yes, I avoided purchasing 2010 and instead got 2009 to avoid blown head gasket... now I discovered gasket master doesn't do gen two.

    Should I just go to another shop to get its diagnosis again? But they would ask for $100 and may not come up with helpful information.

    I just need to drive two years' uber and finish my college... what about using gasket sealant?

    No, just oil change, tire, and serpentine belt replacement. But the seller and shady I have no idea what happened to this car before my purchase.

    By a way, since I drove over 200 miles on this... maybe I blew the head gasket myself??
    The overheating icon only come up for a few seconds every hour or so I thought it was a faulty sensor. but it turns out it only lights up above 245F. I think the max I have reached was 260F for 60s.
     
    #6 BrokePriusDriver, Aug 4, 2022 at 7:24 PM
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 5, 2022 at 7:17 AM
  7. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    why would the coolant disappear?
     
  8. JC91006

    JC91006 Senior Member

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    this would depend if the mechanic drained his coolant. If they drain 2 gallons and put back 1.5 gallons, the car would overheat.

    I'd be curious to see if there's actually a belt there, or the belt isn't there. Without the belt, the water pump would not be working.

    I find the "head gasket failure" strange as you have already driven this car for 2 days without the problem. Now after the maintenance, you get this problem
     
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  9. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    how much coolant are you adding?
     
  10. BrokePriusDriver

    BrokePriusDriver New Member

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    Don't really know at this point. They refilled it and said it was gone. Next time it overheats, I will find out.

    I think it may have something to do with a hybrid. It's hard to overheat. Plus, I am a slow driver.. so I might avoid overheating because the engine doesn't always run.

    Even after first encountering this problem after maintenance, the next day, I managed to drive 130 miles without issue.

    This car does have some shaking, just like my old three-cylinder engine car, but the oil does not look like milk.
     
    #10 BrokePriusDriver, Aug 4, 2022 at 7:46 PM
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 5, 2022 at 7:17 AM
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  11. BrokePriusDriver

    BrokePriusDriver New Member

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    I am thinking about two approaches to solve this...

    First, confirm its head gasket. (How?)
    1. Use a sealant and hope it will last for 10-20k miles, replace the engine afterward(Where do I find a shop that replaces the engine?)
    2. Find someone to fix the head gasket. (Who?)
     
  12. pasadena_commut

    pasadena_commut Active Member

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    It can take a while to get all the air out of the cooling system. Dig around on this forum and you will find some threads discussing how to do this. There are also videos on youtube. If you don't see white smoke coming out of the tail pipe, creamy oil, or coolant dripping out somewhere, then most likely it is still just air in the system.
     
  13. Tombukt2

    Tombukt2 Senior Member

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    Sitting around with the caps off is a good way to start getting the air out for sure Crank it let it run for a few minutes while you do whatever let it get warm all that stuff where things are open and hoses are doing their things. Turn it off leave the caps off air will work its way to the top has a funny way of doing that. I never have to overly bleed my '09 at all and I've had the fluids drained out of sucked it out with a hose stuck in holes with a vacuum and all that mess. And still can't get the rated quantities back in the thing burping and bleeding and burping and whatever so I don't worry about it but I also have no overheating and nothing vanishing once I get the stuff on the jugs where they need to be they stay that way for years.
     
  14. bisco

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    i would do this:

    1) fill the coolant every time you drive and calculate how much you're losing

    2) call the shop and ask them for the trouble codes they pulled

    3) try bleeding the air out, or take it somewhere that works on prius.

    where are you, maybe there's someone not too far away

    4) if all else fails, get another leak down test from a hybrid shop if there is one.

    sealants don't really work, and they gum everything up from what i've read.

    if it is a head gasket, the cost may be too much, but maybe you can keep driving if you keep the coolant topped
     
  15. BrokePriusDriver

    BrokePriusDriver New Member

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    I am in LA. Just got out of sam auto hybrid, and they confirmed the engine problem. They can do an engine swap for $2k with a 2yrs/20k mile warranty. I am not in a good financial state for this spending. I am hoping to keep this car running for now as long as I can. They strongly discourage me use head gasket sealant.

    I wondered, other than keep topping off the coolant, what else can you do? Maybe remove the o-ring on the radiator cap?
     
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  16. rjparker

    rjparker Tu Humilde Sirviente

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    Doing nothing is not much of an option for an engine with a head gasket problem. It is very likely to strand you and your passenger somewhere inconvenient. Overheating is the worst thing for an engine short of running out of oil. Which gen2s can do. My guess is the seller already used a sealer and it worked long enough to sell it. You need to get credit somewhere and get the engine.
     
  17. JC91006

    JC91006 Senior Member

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    Did you fill the car back up with coolant? Why don't you try that, every morning top off the radiator with coolant. See if the coolant is missing daily or it eventually will be full when you open the radiator cap. From my experience, it takes about 3 to 4 days before you actually see the coolant full when you open the cap.

    190k with a head gasket failure, that's pretty rare for the gen 2 cars. Also you don't really need a hybrid mechanic to look into a head gasket failure, it has nothing to do with the hybrid side. I'm curious if this mechanic offered to buy your car? The mechanics in LA are very shady, you go in there with a "I want to check if I have a head gasket failure?" they often will tell you the worst possibly scenario to your car and then offer to buy the headache off your hands. When there is very little wrong with the car
     
    #17 JC91006, Aug 5, 2022 at 11:34 PM
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2022 at 11:39 PM
  18. mr_guy_mann

    mr_guy_mann Senior Member

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    "How long can a horse run with a broken leg?"

    Coolant loss + sometimes misfire + overheat light + " positive" chemical leak test result = failing head gasket. The chemical test checks for CO2 (a byproduct of combustion) in the coolant and changes color in response. Blue is OK. Green is some combustion gas (CO2) present. A bad leak will turn the chemical piss yellow.

    Any engine can have a head gasket fail- it's just very infrequent on most any Toyota (except the Gen3 prius?). If you don't do something you WILL destroy the engine very quickly. Once the head gasket leaks it will get worse - faster.

    Sealer may or may not buy you some time. Weeks or months- who knows? Do your research as to what brand has the best reviews.

    Don't know why places make such a fuss- a Gen2 prius has the "same" engine as a Yaris or Echo. Just nuts and bolts. That said, many shops won't do "heavy" internal engine work (it's high risk of engine failure due to overheat/ damage, or they don't want to tie up a tech and bay for a long time when they can do other work - more $$ for less time.).

    Engine swap is the most money but when done correctly is the most reliable option.



    Posted via the PriusChat mobile app.
     
  19. BrokePriusDriver

    BrokePriusDriver New Member

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    At this point, I had twice coolent refill done by the shop as I brought my car in to check for problems.. but from now on, I will start doing this refill myself. The mechanic did not offer to buy my car, and I never said I wanted to sell it.

    That is possible, but according to google maps, the sam auto hybrid has a decent review. The lady in the office even helped me to call the seller and ask for a $2k refund. They spoke Spanish and then had an argument. Didn't work out. I purchased 2009 instead of 2010-2013 on purpose to avoid engine problems and get a cheaper car, can't believe I still ended up with it.

    The car feels like a 3-cylinder 2015 Mitsubishi mirage on cold start-up. Not a big vibration, but a very small one. I was a Mirage owner, so I thought it was normal.

    I had an inspection done at Pep Boys. I verbally asked if there was a problem with the engine, and they said they found no problem. Even though it was a free test (to entice me to change the tires in their shop), should they be responsible? I clearly informed the mechanic I was looking for a pre-purchase inspection, and I confirmed several times if there was an engine and hybrid battery problem. the mechanic at Pep Boys only told me they could not check the hybrid battery but verbally told me they found no problem with the engine.
    No one ever warned me there could be a major problem passing an inspection.
     
  20. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    Considering the prices most people in LA pay that's a pretty good deal, especially considering the warranty. Only other prices in the future that could be expensive is battery pack and brake accumulator, but as long as you didn't buy a lemon, the constant driving via uber will keep your battery pack happy. In coming years you'll want to upgrade to an advanced Lithium pack $2300 to boost gas mileage & overall performance, so set aside a little money every month for that soon as you're done dealing with the loss of $2K.
     
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