Water pump or Head Gasket

Discussion in 'Prius v Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by sterlingtech, May 29, 2022.

  1. sterlingtech

    sterlingtech New Member

    May 29, 2022
    2013 Prius
    I have a big decision to make. I am hoping someone on here can give me their advice/knowledge.
    On the way home a couple of weeks ago from a 2+ hour one way trip the red thermometer warning light came on. I tried turning off the AC, but missed the button. The light went off anyway. It was on for about 30 seconds or so.

    We made it home safely. I forgot about it and took the car on some errands over the weekend. On Monday I remembered the warning light, checked the coolant and it was way past low. I took it into a Toyota dealership. They came back with a large list of repairs totaling almost $9000, but since I am such a good customer dropped it to $7700. They took less than 30 minutes to diagnose that I needed a water pump associated gaskets, seals, spark plugs, and an engine rebuild.

    I took it to another independent mechanic for a second opinion. Now I have driven the car on several short trips over the two weeks pondering what to do. Not once since has the warning light come back on. Never did I get a check engine. No coolant in the oil, No smoke from the exhaust, no loss of power. The independent mechanic said, the past error code is a malfunctioning water pump ($1300). He believes that it could be failing intermittently. He can only tell if the head gasket also has damage only after he pulls and replaces the water pump. The car has 207,000 miles and is on the original battery. I really need this car to last another year plus, but don't want to keep throwing money at it.

    Here is the simple question. Is it worth the $1300 gamble to do the water pump and hope that in the short time the red thermometer warning light was on that the head gasket didn't get damaged.
    rampante550 and bisco like this.
  2. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Patron saint of newly poured sidewalks

    Oct 17, 2010
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    2010 Prius
    If the EGR system has not been previously cleaned, very likely the head gasket. Leak-down test is definitive for determining if it's leaking and how.

    The water pump replacement is worthwhile; they seem to prone to failure somewhere between 100K~200K, but I'd check the head gasket first.
    #2 Mendel Leisk, May 30, 2022
    Last edited: May 30, 2022
    Tim Jones and rampante550 like this.
  3. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    May 11, 2005
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Plug-in Base
    $1,300. for a water pump? any other mechs in the area?
  4. rjparker

    rjparker Tu Humilde Sirviente

    Jun 6, 2008
    Texas Hill Country
    2012 Prius v wagon
    This engine does not put coolant in the oil, it burns it. No white smoke or loss of power at first because it normally seals up after a few minutes. An occasional severe rattle in the morning that sounds like a broken rod is the early sign. Later the coolant level drops enough to overheat, a bad sign for an aluminum engine. At this stage a borescope inspection of the cylinders tells the story with a steam cleaned piston.

    No, it is not worth $1300 for the water pump parts cannon. Most average mechanics have not seen how a Gen3 head gasket fails and the symptoms it presents. A dealer has seen it, perhaps every week. Some shops do three a week. In California there is one shop that does it mobile and is now selling franchises. California, Florida and Texas have independent hybrid shops specializing in head gaskets and hybrid batteries.

    What if you could get a head gasket for $1550 or $2,000? Many do. What if you really need an engine? With this car, a known flawed engine with many many head gasket problems, an engine is what you probably need. I would say 98% because of history and the dealer diagnosis. What if you can get another engine for $3,500 (used) or $5,000 rebuilt? Many do.
    Tim Jones and rampante550 like this.
  5. Tim Jones

    Tim Jones Senior Member

    Jul 17, 2018
    SE Texas
    2011 Nissan LEAF
    Water pump really easy repair.
    Under $300 if you do it yourself.
    The car will run very rough for ten seconds after sitting... If the head gasket is bad.
    Most of the time if you are low on water it's the head gasket.
    Expect more very expensive things to happen
    Very unreliable once past 200,000
    Brake system will go out $3000
    Traction battery $1600 if u do it yourself
    Gen 3 really not a car you can count on gets good mpg but u loose all the gas saving with super high repair costs.
    #5 Tim Jones, Jun 10, 2022
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2022
  6. PatrickBrian

    PatrickBrian Junior Member

    Oct 27, 2022
    2014 Prius v wagon
    Hi @Tim Jones. Could you give me some detail on the $3000 repair on the brake system?

    To the OP, @sterlingtech, what's the year and which sub-model?
    Also, what is the coolant level and when was anything last done to it?
    Do you have the specific code stored by the ecu?

    [EDIT] I see it now. 2013 Prius Three. I failed to look in the right place for this.
    No telling what it is now, but I would have to agree with RJ. Sooner or later, this engine is going to fail (IMO).
    For me, our car has 130k miles on it, and because I can do the work myself, I am putting a rebuilt engine in mine for $4500 including new water pump and various other parts. It was much less expensive than trying to replace the car.
    I got my engine from Hybrid Pitstop in California. It has updated pistons and rings, and a Fel-Pro head gasket.
    If you're unable to complete the work yourself, I would highly recommend finding someone to either rebuild it, or install a rebuilt engine. I would not go with a "used" motor. You'd just be paying for an engine with the same issues down the road.
    #6 PatrickBrian, Nov 8, 2022
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2022