Seeking advice about sourcing a new engine (blown head gasket)

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Main Forum' started by PsychicNumb, Aug 10, 2021.

  1. PsychicNumb

    PsychicNumb New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2021
    10
    1
    0
    Location:
    Knoxville, Tennessee
    Vehicle:
    2013 Prius
    Model:
    III
    Hello, I'm a long-time reader of this forum, but this is my first post. I guess the bottom line to my question is:

    How much should I aim to pay for a used engine? What details should I look for and confirm? Minimum warranty time? I'm seeing ones on eBay right now from $700 to $1500 w/ free shipping; The ones I looked at all seem to be around 50k miles and have a 30-day warranty.

    The TDLR is that I have a blown head gasket at 255k miles. I have a reputable mechanic who says his labor cost would be about the same to either fix/replace the head gasket, or swap in a new engine (quoted me around $1500 for labor; seems pretty good?). He got me a quote of $1800 for a locally sourced used engine but suggested I could find something less expensive on eBay. Do you think this is my best route? Aim to get a new/used, low-mileage engine in for around $3k (total) or less? I'm not really mechanic savvy. Also, FWIW, I recently used Dr. Prius to test the hybrid battery and it estimated 56.74% capacity left in fair condition. Don't know if that's the most reliable way to know the life of the battery?

    A little more background regarding the blown head gasket: I drove to Nashville a couple of weeks ago and noticed the engine vibrating and the "check engine" light came on. It seemed to only be knocking when driving at lower speeds, and not really consistently. I chose to drive it the 180ish miles home to Knoxville, and I did not notice any knocking on the highway, and there were no obvious signs of the engine overheating. When I got home, I looked up the codes that indicated misfires of cylinders 2 and 4 and random misfires. I checked the coolant level which was below "low," but not empty. I honestly have no idea where the level was previously because it's not something I have been in the habit of monitoring (I know, I know-- lesson learned!) I went to the Toyota dealership the next day and paid them $180 for them to tell me I had a blown head gasket; Apparently, they stuck a camera down the cylinders and saw fluids spraying around in #2.

    I've been bouncing back and forth about whether or not to just fix the head gasket, replace the new engine, or move on and invest in something "new." Not that I have much money available for spending. Any other feedback, questions, or suggestions?

    Thanks for taking the time to read this!
     
    charlesinoc likes this.
  2. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2008
    4,052
    2,125
    2
    Location:
    Texas Hill Country
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius v wagon
    Model:
    Three
    I would likely chose the local engine IF it was under 100k miles and it was from a known car, hopefully a mid 2014 or a 2015. See pic for acceptable vins, last six digits. You can include 2016-17 v wagon engines. Then have a leakdown test run before installation in an attempt to verify it has no head gasket or other serious issues. Otherwise I might go ebay but a lot of these have no traceable vin and shipping to return could be an issue.

    The better solution is a full rebuild for similar money starting with an engine without a prior hg issue. In any scenario the mechanic should clean the egr cooler, valve and intake manifold passages. Most will not know these cars have egr clogging issues and may only clean the egr valve.


    Excessive Oil Consumption Years Vin.jpg
    BCA8134F-5080-4EFE-9083-7459AE14A9FC.jpeg
     
    #2 rjparker, Aug 10, 2021
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2021
    dig4dirt and burrito like this.
  3. PsychicNumb

    PsychicNumb New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2021
    10
    1
    0
    Location:
    Knoxville, Tennessee
    Vehicle:
    2013 Prius
    Model:
    III
    Thanks for your input! What about all these "JDM" motors on eBay? There seems to be a bunch from various sellers, all noted to be imported from Japan from vehicles with around 50k miles. They all say they've been compression and leak tested and have a 30-day warranty. They don't appear to have a VIN # provided, however.
     
  4. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2008
    4,052
    2,125
    2
    Location:
    Texas Hill Country
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius v wagon
    Model:
    Three
    Questionable if the miles are accurate on those JDM engines and odds are it would be an early model. But the price is right.
     
  5. Ultimate_Combination

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2020
    43
    35
    0
    Location:
    Durham, NC
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    Stay away from any front end or rollover donor engines....I took a gamble and lost :(
    [​IMG]
     
  6. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sand Pounder

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    45,568
    32,534
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    Heed this. There's a growing body of evidence that clogged EGR and blown head gaskets go hand-in-hand. Just replacing the engine, and ignoring the likely culprit, I'll wager the replacement will blow it's head gasket in about 20K.

    More info in my signature.
     
  7. Colorado Boo

    Colorado Boo Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2021
    283
    161
    8
    Location:
    Monument, Colorado USA
    Vehicle:
    2021 Prius
    Model:
    LE AWD-e
    While I haven't purchased an engine on EBay, I have bought other car parts and was almost always disappointed. If it were my car, I would want my engine, that I know, repaired, especially since I can get other older parts easily replaced once he has it apart.
    Keep us updated!
     
    Mendel Leisk likes this.
  8. Gliderguy

    Gliderguy Junior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2019
    46
    11
    0
    Location:
    Prescott Valley, AZ
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius
    Model:
    Four
    I replaced my own head gasket based on some of the "gasket masters" youtube videos. I spent around five hundred dollars on a gasket, new head bolts and the appropriate special 12 point star head "allen keys" , machining the head true, replacing the coolant pump and thermostat, and two weekends. I only had basic mechanics tools prior to starting the job beyond what I have mentioned here, but I did already own a torque wrench, floor jack and jack stands, and a pretty complete socket and ratchet set. For a physically fit person it would probably be a full day job to disassemble, and another full day (10 hours or possibly more) to reassemble. If your head is any out of true add how ever long it would take for your local machine shop to mill your head flat (that is why mine was two weekends, got the head milled during the intervening week) at 170,000 miles, my pistons and cylinders still looked very good.
     
    borgestes and ASRDogman like this.
  9. PsychicNumb

    PsychicNumb New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2021
    10
    1
    0
    Location:
    Knoxville, Tennessee
    Vehicle:
    2013 Prius
    Model:
    III
    Thank you everyone for the feedback. I have a few more questions...

    Could you please clarify what I should be looking for here?
    I just spoke with the mechanic who said he has not been able to get an EGR cooler as clean as it should be, so he sourced one for $500 for a customer. I am seeing EGR coolers on eBay for around $200. Does this seem like a reasonable option; To just buy a new one?

    This is such a touch/scary choice to make. I'm considering taking a gamble, and just trying to have the head gasket fixed (assuming I can also get the mechanic to make the EGR, valve, and intake manifold right). I was leaning towards getting a new motor, but I'm feeling intimidated.
     
    #9 PsychicNumb, Aug 13, 2021
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2021
  10. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2008
    4,052
    2,125
    2
    Location:
    Texas Hill Country
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius v wagon
    Model:
    Three
    If you get a replacement motor ideally it should be a higher number to ensure the improved pistons and rings.
     
  11. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sand Pounder

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    45,568
    32,534
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    Check online parts retailers yourself; last time I checked the new coolers were around $200~250 USD. And: unless your cooler is hopelessly blocked, it should be cleanable. I had very good results (as new) with repeated soaks in strong Oxi-Clean solution. Others use oven cleaner and/or pressure washer.
     
  12. PsychicNumb

    PsychicNumb New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2021
    10
    1
    0
    Location:
    Knoxville, Tennessee
    Vehicle:
    2013 Prius
    Model:
    III
    Well about a month later I have finally landed on the decision to take a gamble and get a used JDM motor off eBay and have that installed. I plan to pull the trigger within the next week. Hopefully I can get through this whole thing for around $3k and get some more life out of my Prius.

    I'm wondering if I should go ahead and purchase a new water pump while I'm at it?
     
  13. PsychicNumb

    PsychicNumb New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2021
    10
    1
    0
    Location:
    Knoxville, Tennessee
    Vehicle:
    2013 Prius
    Model:
    III
    I just wanted to provide an update for those who are interested:

    I bought a used JDM motor off eBay for $1400 (including tax & shipping) and had a mechanic install it a couple of weeks ago for $1500. So for just under $3k, my 2013 Prius is up and running again. I also immediately had a muffler shop put an aluminum shield over the catalytic converter. I have already driven 1000+ miles and so far, so good... I think...

    The check engine light was still on when I got the car back, and I assumed the mechanic just neglected to clear it. A couple weeks later I have just now taken the time to connect the OBDII to clear the CEL and noticed that it has actually thrown a different code. It was previously throwing misfire code prior to the motor swap, but now it is code P2238: O2 Sensor Positive Current Control Circuit Low Bank 1 Sensor 1

    I am feeling a little paranoid... is this a serious issue, or does it seem like it could just be an inaccuracy that somehow got triggered due to the motor swap? I'll probably start a separate thread to get a read on this situation.
     
  14. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2008
    4,052
    2,125
    2
    Location:
    Texas Hill Country
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius v wagon
    Model:
    Three
    Take it back to the mechanic if it won't stay cleared. It is indicating a short in that O2 wiring or sensor. Could be a wire was pinched during the engine swap. Not a big deal to fix as long as you fix it. Otherwise the engine fuel air will be off.
     
  15. PsychicNumb

    PsychicNumb New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2021
    10
    1
    0
    Location:
    Knoxville, Tennessee
    Vehicle:
    2013 Prius
    Model:
    III
    The CEL was on when I got the car back, but I have not actually cleared it yet. If I clear it and it stays off, is it safe to assume there's nothing to be concerned about?
     
Loading...