Low oil - Red Triangle w/ Exclamation Point

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by priass, Jun 13, 2010.

  1. priass

    priass New Member

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    My Prius has about 145K miles on it and use it on a daily 130 mi round trip commute. Recently, a I got a Red Triangle w/ Exclamation Point and the displayed showed "Problem". I took the car to the dealership and they stated the problem was caused from a low oil level. The dealership changed the oil and I was good to go. 3k miles later, I got the same error and noticed my oil level was low once again. It seems that my Prius is burning oil at rate of 1 quart per 2500 miles driven. What can be causing this? Are there any remedies I can try before changing out the piston rings?
     
  2. 2maples49

    2maples49 Junior Member

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    Don't Panic!

    Apparently you've never owner an old or high mileage car before. This is not a high rate of oil consumption. Most new car manufacturers will not re-ring a brand new engine unless it goes less than 1,000 miles on a quart of oil.

    What you need to do is: 1. Check the oil every gas fill like we used to do in the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's and like some of us still do on our cars today (even though my 80,000 mile 2005 prius goes about 7,000 miles/quart of synthetic). Do not be hesitant to top up the oil between changes, but be careful not to overfill it. 2. Have a good mechanic check for leaks.

    This does not appear to be a serious problem at this point. However, if you continue to let it run low on oil it will become a serious problem very fast and would probably require engine replacement.

    Remember the Saturn owners motto because it applies to Toyota's as well: "Cars don't die, people kill them. Check the oil!"

    Best of luck, Dan
     
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  3. vertex

    vertex Active Member

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    1 check your oil more frequently! you damage the engine by waiting for the red light to come on, the oil pump is pumping air then, not just oil.
    2. On a normal car, 2500 miles is note excessive oil consumption. If your mileage is mostly highway, then the ICE is mostly on, and the consumption would not be excessive, for such a high mileage engine.
    3. What oil are you using? If you use 5 W 20 to go to 5 W 30 If oil use goes up (or when) to 1500 miles/quart, go to 10 W 40. Gas mileage might suffer slightly though.
    4. When you get below 1000/quart you probably want to rebuild.

    Others with high mileage can report here what their oil useage is.
     
  4. 2maples49

    2maples49 Junior Member

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    Also consider using a "High Mileage oil" (as in for cars with over 75,000 miles). I've had my oil consumption reduced significantly, but not dramatically, in my old non-hybrid vehicles. Later, Dan
     
  5. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    Maintenance history please. When do you change the oil on this car and what type and weight oil you usually use please.
    Thank you.

    BTW, you are way overdue for a cvt fluid change.
     
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  6. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Your engine is becoming worn due to your odometer reading 145K miles. A moderate amount of oil consumption is to be expected especially with heavy freeway usage where the engine is spinning at a relatively high RPM.

    I'd rather buy a quart of oil for $3 at 2,500 miles after an oil change, than spend $2K+ on an engine rebuild.

    When you get to the point where you decide that engine work needs to be done, it'll be less costly for you to purchase a salvage engine and have that installed.
     
  7. uart

    uart Senior Member

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    That in itself isn't a huge problem but letting it run low on oil IS a big problem. Every time that you let it run low on oil then you're potentially (likely even) making the problem a lot worse than it was before.

    Yes new cars will mostly go from oil change to oil change without requiring a top up and owners can get too used to this situation and expect it will always be that way. But you really should never take that for granted, even in a new car you should check the oil level from time to time and try to get some idea of the consumption rate. Certainly in a car with over 100k miles I would want to check the oil more often than just every oil change.

    I'm wondering how rapid was the onset of this increased oil consumption. With normal engine wear you would expect this to have progressed fairly slowly and thus you should have got plenty of warning. What would normally happen is that your oil change mechaninc should have started to notice lowish oil levels at each oil change interval and alerted you to keep an eye on it.

    The other possiblity is that you've developed an oil leak. A good trick here is to get a few large pieces of white butcher's wrapping paper and make a big sheet to put under the engine area of your car where it's parked at night. If there is any oil dripping you'll notice it very soon with this in place.

    If it's not an oil leak then just do what other have suggested above, use a "high milage" oil and buy a larger quantity so you've got an extra quart or so to use for top-ups about every 1500 miles. Most importantly just keep an eye on it.
     
  8. AnaTust

    AnaTust New Member

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    Ive had the red triangle appear over the years with my prius as well. This most recent time, as soon as I saw the triangle, I drove to the dealership. The service agent told me that the triangle was usually realted to a hybrid system issue. 2 hours later I was met in the dealership lobby with a clean bill of health. They even showed me a print out of the fancy computer system that showed that there were no issues related to the hybrid system. When I asked if the car kept some kind of event log related to why the triangle appeared, they said no. But as usual they said that if it happened again to bring the car back in. When I got home I jumped online and found this string. I ran downstairs to check my oil level and sure enough EMPTY. I had my father bring some oil over that night. I wish that toyota would have a low oil indicator instead of the triangle of death. Just thinking that it could have saved some time.
     
  9. adamace1

    adamace1 Senior Member

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    FYI Toyota says burning 1 quart of oil every 600 miles is "Normal".
     
  10. BAllanJ

    BAllanJ Active Member

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    Ah, so that's why they overfill.
    :)
     
  11. uart

    uart Senior Member

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    Hi AnaTust. When you say your oil level was "EMPTY" do you mean that it was at or about the lower mark on the dipstick. Or was it so low that it didn't even register on the dipstick?

    If the oil was merely at the lower mark on the dipstick then this is actually still a long way from empty and should not have triggered the warning light.

    Can you tell us approximately how much oil was added to bring it up to the top mark on the dipstick.
     
  12. derkraut

    derkraut Member

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    You meant to say "every 6000 miles" Right?:eek:
     
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  13. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    No. The purpose of the 600 mile spec is that Toyota doesn't want to install a new engine under warranty, unless oil consumption reaches that amount.
     
  14. pbui

    pbui Member

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    My Prius is also burning oil, started around 145Kmiles, it has 185K now. My '95 Corolla is also burning oil, with 187K, though is getting 41mpg on hwy. I am starting to think that there is a general problem with Toyota oil ring. Oil is being burned either through deteriorated valve stem seal or worn oil rings. It is getting so bad now that it is showing up in my Corolla HC emission test.

    People over in corolland.com has good report using

    Auto-Rx Internal Engine Cleaner

    to clean their crankcase. I am thinking of flushing the Prius engine as well, after all, the Prius engine is essentially a modified, a la Atkin (sp?) Cycle, Corolla engine.

    Has any one tried any oil additive to clean the engine internal ?
     
  15. tedjohnson

    tedjohnson Member

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    These mileages seem awful low to have oil burning starting due to worn or stuck rings. My last Honda had almost 300 k mi on it and it never burned a drop between oil changes.
     
  16. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    Maybe you didn't read all the posts. As Patrick pointed out - the folks that are more frequently driving ballz out are the rides that are more prone to oil consumption. That's why you read just a hand full of posts reporting the phenomena. Read up on how some of the Cab companies using the Prius have 200 & 300K miles on them. Our 2004 has over 100K miles and we use synthetic oil. At change-out, 10K miles, the level is still on the full line.

    .
     
  17. seilerts

    seilerts Battery Curmudgeon

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    How much oil are you burning? You've got to be careful, because sludge released by the cleaner can clog the screen in the oil pickup as well as the oil filter itself. There was a spirited discussion of this last week. AMSOil suggests not using their product on hybrid engines.
     
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  18. pbui

    pbui Member

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    Just keep an eye on it; our 04 didn't start to loose oil until 150K. Up til then, it was zippo. The surprising thing is how quickly it seems to deteriorate.
     
  19. pbui

    pbui Member

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    Loosing about 1qt/2000 miles or so. Still within the "norm"; but i think it's ridiculous that the consumption suddenly jumped around 150K.

    The Auto-Rx supposedly doesn't loosen the sludge, rather processed to be caught by the filter.

    What is so special about the "hybrid engine" ? without the motor/batt/computer/special transmission; it's still just a combustion/heat engine running a Carnot Cycle, converting hydrocarbon to motion.

    do you have the link to the "spirited discussion" last week ?

    Thanks
     
  20. seilerts

    seilerts Battery Curmudgeon

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    http://priuschat.com/forums/gen-ii-prius-technical-discussion/97628-oil-consumption.html

    At 1 qt/2000 miles, I'd say try running 3.5 qts of Royal Purple on the next change. It has helped 2 fas 4 u, the guy with the 400,000 mile car. I'd really like to see people with a burn problem try 5W30 Royal Purple so that we can have more data. If that doesn't help, then think about trying a cleaner. I think one of the issues regarding "hybrid" is that you can't ordinarily crank the engine, or make it run at fast idle for 30 minutes, as required by the directions for the cleaner. They are also talking about problems with small engines like motorcycles, so it might also be related to the size of oil passages. Anyway, right now, the only thing that you are losing is an extra $1.50 per thousand miles. There is a steep asymmetry between the risk vs. reward. You might save $150 over the remaining life of the car and not have an out of oil when running event, if curing the problem completely vs. having something go wrong in the process and need to install a new engine from a wreck at $1500 parts + labor (or DIY for $500). That's what I mean by asymmetry, a small chance at causing an expensive problem..
     
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