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Stranded until we repair head gasket - any advice for a diy head gasket repair?

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Care, Maintenance & Troubleshooting' started by beemando, Nov 3, 2023.

  1. beemando

    beemando New Member

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    Our Prius currently has around 177,000 something miles on it. We recently moved from UT to AZ and were driving everyday for a week straight, 770 miles one way.

    When we finished moving, our Prius started showing symptoms. At first it was minor engine knocking noises upon start, but the knocking became louder and started lasting longer. We also noticed that his coolant level was extremely low and required frequent top offs. We decided to drive him as infrequently as possible and to take him in once we settled and found some stable jobs.

    Unfortunately, we had to travel from AZ to CA for a family emergency, this is roughly a 500 mile trip. The knocking is worse and our check engine light came on. It gave us the following codes; P0300 random multiple cylinder misfires, P0301 cylinder 1 misfire detected, P0302 cylinder 2 misfire detected.

    We're kind of stranded here now. I'm wondering if a head gasket replacement will fix our car, or if it will at least get us back to Arizona? (500 miles) We are unable to take it in due to finances and would be doing repairs ourselves. We have family here with mechanical knowledge that would be able to help.

    Is a head gasket replacement just a band aid fix for a deeper problem? What should we pay extra close attention to while doing repairs? Are there any common mistakes or hiccups with these projects that would be good to know of? Any recommendations for checking him for further damage?
     
  2. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    With Gen3 its a matter of how much coolant it's using and how consistently it starts out really rough when cold... You can safely make your drive unless you're gonna need many gallons of coolant. As for running really rough, that can damage your transmission dampener.
     
  3. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    duplicate
     
    #3 PriusCamper, Nov 3, 2023
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2023
  4. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    #3 PriusCamper, Nov 3, 2023
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2023
  5. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    generally, anewer engine is advised, preferably gen 4
     
  6. rjparker

    rjparker Tu Humilde Sirviente

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    Depending where you are in California you might get it fixed for $1500 - $2,000. A dealer would be double and most will only rebuild an engine.

    A diy is possible with perhaps $500 worth of parts but extended driving may have warped the head or block. The head can be rebuilt for perhaps another $500 at a good automotive machine shop.

    The key is properly checking the head and block after a teardown so a hg only repair does not repeat itself in days to months. Reinstalling the timing chain and cover has proved difficult for some diy’ers, forcing another disassembly to rectify.

    If you truly can’t afford to fix it you could use sealer and risk radiator and heater coil damage in the future. This could be extremely costly to repair down the road, particularly if a clogged heater coil forces removal of the dash. Sealer sometimes works for weeks or a few months but the hg problem will return worse and may include the extra damage above. Or cause easy overheating, never a good thing in Arizona.

    Options:
    Clean everything still knock when pressing on gas pedal | Page 2 | PriusChat
     
  7. rjparker

    rjparker Tu Humilde Sirviente

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    Should you wait on the repairs and try to get home? I would sign up for long distance towing and even then would not risk it.

    Shudder video


    Hybrid Pit
    IMG_3400.jpeg
     
    #4 rjparker, Nov 3, 2023
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2023
  8. beemando

    beemando New Member

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    The rough start appears to be getting progressively worse. I don't think I can continue driving it, the rattle was quite scary on cold start this morning. Will DIY the HG replacement
     
  9. beemando

    beemando New Member

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    What does the $500 in parts entail? I bought this head gasket set for $195.95 after taxes (can't post links yet but here's the SKU 04112-37254) just waiting on it's arrival. I was considering a new water pump but it'll have to wait until I can get back to AZ. I plan on getting a 300pc. O-ring set for $10 at harbor freight. I purchased some NGK Iridium Spark Plugs for $55 on AutoZone. That's about as far as I've gone with parts' purchases, am I missing something important?

    I will be following Gasket Masters step-by-step tutoriala, as well as cross referencing with Let's Drift Media's video for good measure.

    I have a family member that's mechanically inclined that will be helping me with this project.

    I plan on taking the head to a machining shop for inspection of any leaks and for any machining that may be needed. I don't have time for errors so I will be as diligent as can be.

    Thanks for mentioning the difficulty of reinstalling the timing chain and cover, will keep that in mind!
     
  10. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    This is a pretty standard coolant leak between two of the cylinders. There's not gonna be any issues on the head with heat related warping or combustion damage worthy of sending the head off to a machine shop. So you can save on that by figure out how to DIY inspect it to confirm.

    I haven't seen the videos you're pointing out but gluing oversize sandpaper to a sheet of glass is how DIY folks machine their heads.

    Also consider replacing the piston rings while you're in there!
     
  11. Prius DIY nut

    Prius DIY nut Member

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    This is just my opinion based on what I learned about this issue, I do not have personal experience changing Prius engine head gasket, but did major engine overhaul in the long past. If you follow Gasket Masters you will have more chances of success. The HG job must be doable, I did EGR system clean and it was only a few hours job for me doing that for the first time. The HG replacement may take a day or two while doing that carefully and for the first time. Since the cooling system is pressurized the coolant is now leaking dangerously into cylinders and may cause major damage to pistons and shafts requiring a full engine rebuild. You could remove the o-ring in coolant tank so there is less pressure in the cooling system if you still trying to start the engine, which I personally would not until HG repair is done. I would NOT add any sealants as they will cause more damage (overheating, sludge deposits and clogging of entire cooling system) than good.
    Good luck with the job!

    I found another video of the HG job:
     
    #8 Prius DIY nut, Nov 5, 2023
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2023
  12. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    Last link in my signature is the full engine section of Repair Manual, will come in handy. There's also a couple of other head gasket repair links, above that. If you're viewing on a phone, turn it landscape oritentation to see signature.

    My 2 cents: the way to avoid head gasket failure is to periodically clean the full EGR system. Every 50k would be optimum interval. Toyota doesn't want to acknowledge this mess.
     
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  13. Prius DIY nut

    Prius DIY nut Member

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    There maybe something else going on with the engine that caused HG failure. I have read that one of main causes of HG failure is engine overheating. Then I read that one of the causes for overheating is EGR system clogging. This is what I did with my Prius EGR system, this is just a personal take based on my own research, not a professional advice.

    TAKE OFF all sensors from air intake manifold before cleaning. I cleaned an entire EGR system(EGR cooler, EGR Valve and piping, Intake manifold and throttle body), and changed PCV valve. The procedure took me about 5 working hours, I used pipe brushes with "GooGone Oven and Grill cleaner" bottle spray. I spayed EGR cooler, pipes and air intake manifold with it, let it sit for a 15-30 min then rinsed it with boiling water. Carbon deposits were washed off that way relatively easy. Then rinse and spray, brush, repeat until all is clean and shiny. Finished off with oxy clean and water hose, then blow with compressed air to dry.
    Then I used paint thinner soaked paper towel pieces to carefully wipe out engine head air intake pathways from carbon deposits.
    Wiped and disposed and taken a new soaked towel piece to wipe every time. I was surprised how easy the hard deposits came off, just need to use quite a few fresh thinner soaked towel pieces. To clean EGR valve I used parts and brake cleaner and brushes. I also cleaned all sensors in the system with Mass Air Flow sensor cleaning spray. It feels that engine is running more smoothly after the job.

    Hope it helps.
     
    #10 Prius DIY nut, Nov 5, 2023
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2023
  14. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    I would recommend to only use caustic cleaner on stainless steel components, say only the EGR cooler. Everything else is relatively easy to clean, brake cleaner or sim will suffice. The issue with caustic cleaner, Oxi Clean for example, is even trace amounts of residue will react with non/stainless metals. Aluminum will turn pewter grey and dusty (not sure how detrimental, but doesn’t look good), and the metal embeds in the intake manifold will corrode too. Hitting the latter with WD40 (after scrubbing) should help.
     
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  15. Prius DIY nut

    Prius DIY nut Member

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    Good to know, thanks! As a final touch I wiped all plastic and metals with silicone spray in hope for more slippery surface so EGR carbon deposits may be sticking less to the surfaces. Will check how that worked in 50k again :)
     
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