What to do with my Prius in winter

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by ShaneBacon, Aug 18, 2015.

  1. ShaneBacon

    ShaneBacon Junior Member

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    We have a 2008 a Prius with 176,000 miles. The engine was ran low on oil (due to the lack of an oil gauge) and was driven up and down a steep mountain grade many times. We recently moved to a much colder climate and it ran well until one bitter morning where the temps in the garage were probably 0-5F the engine made a terrible clacking sound on start up. We considered it to have a shot engine and let it sit in our yard for a year and a half.

    We recently decided it was time to get rid of it because it was taking up space. We started it up and besides some noise lifters, it runs like a charm. I did more research into the knocking sound it made and I'm guessing it was (just?) a piston slap.

    With winter coming soon, what should we do with it? Store it for the winter to prevent further damage? Drive it till it drops? Install an engine block heater and hope for the best?

    Also if I installed an engine block heater how effective would that be if it was used to start in a garage that's typically 20F and then let it sit in a parking lot that's -10F for the day? Or does it run off of battery? (I'm new to this)
     
  2. 69shovlhed

    69shovlhed Surly tree hugger

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    run synthetic oil in it and drive it till it dies. and from now on check your oil every fill up.
     
  3. CR94

    CR94 Senior Member

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    Lame excuse. What car has an oil level gauge?
     
  4. ShaneBacon

    ShaneBacon Junior Member

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    I meant prussure... And I forgot to mention it started to guzzle lots of oil and the low oil prussure warning never came on. I've heard of other people who ran it completely out of oil and the engine has locked up.
     
  5. IMkenNY

    IMkenNY Im just being nosy

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    Drive it through the winter, I find the summer temperatures are far harder on the engine/ oil.
    Avoid hard accelerations for the first couple of minutes after startup in less than tropical Michigan winter months.
     
  6. Britprius

    Britprius Senior Member

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    Waiting till the oil pressure starts dropping before topping up the oil is just as bad. This means the oil level is so low the oil pump is picking up air instead of oil. This applies to both gauges and warning lights. Damage is being done long before the pressure drops. An oil level gauge is fitted to just about every car, it's called "a dip stick". Not using it is asking for trouble.

    John.
     
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  7. IMkenNY

    IMkenNY Im just being nosy

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    In this politically correct age I am no longer allowed to use the term "dip stick" My wife requires me to use the term " Engine Oil level measurement tool" is the presence of our small children :)
     
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  8. ShaneBacon

    ShaneBacon Junior Member

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    The point I am trying to make is it was ran low on oil so I can provide information on what shape the engine is in. Okay so many we should've checked the oil more often but my question was not about the oil. It was about running it in the cold Michigan winters. We've already been checking the oil every other day about to make sure it's good on oil. We also have changed the oil and oil filter and put synthetic oil in it. I might put a new engine in it when it drops if it's worth it at the time.
     
  9. Britprius

    Britprius Senior Member

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    One check you could make is to temporarily fit an oil pressure gauge to the engine and check the oil pressure when it is hot against the Toyota specification. This will give a good indication of damage if any to the engine bearings enabling you to make a more informed decision on it's condition.

    John
     
  10. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Another check would be to do a cylinder compression check using Mini VCI to rotate the engine at the proper speed, and a compression gauge that screws into the spark plug holes.
     
  11. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Underfoot

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    The block heater will raise engine coolant temp by at least 20 degrees centigrade. Normally this'll take around two hours; in dead of (prairie) winter maybe up to four hours.

    Toyota (Canada) now offers installed price for a bit under $250. The part only is around $80. I think you can also buy here? Install is a bit involved. I opted to get ours done, at time of purchase.
     
  12. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The OTHER One Percenter.....

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    Answer: fish or cut bait.

    Not many people ask whether or not they should drive a Corolla in the winter or up and down hills because Corollas are thought to be a "normal" car and it's expected that a normal car should be able to be driven up and down hills and in cold weather.

    Guess what?
    Priuses are 'normal' cars that happen to have a few additional components that allow them to get abnormally high fuel efficiency.
    That's it.
    As far as the oil thing is concerned, there are a lot of people who don't check their oil level regularly....and Priuses do have idiot lights (aptly named) that will illuminate when you go low out of spec for oil pressure. Usually....they'll flicker when somebody exits an interstate on a sweeping off-ramp and the oil sloshes to one side of the sump....causing the owner to check into things.
    I suspect that some of the more negative comments were not caused by the fact that the OP didn't check the oil, but rather the tendency these days not to take ownership of one's own mistakes.

    OK....so....
    Since you probably caused additional damage to your car by using it as a lawn ornament for six trimesters, it's time to make some decisions and weigh some options.
    I would fill the car with oil, jump start it, and drive it around for a while.
    You'll probably have to replace the aux battery (the small 12v one) and you still have some time before Old Man Winter throws some snow into the mix. I'm guessing that if you replace the oil (and filter) you might be surprised to find that your engine runs fine.
    In fact.....that would be my bet.
    Even if I'm wrong, you can sell the car as is/where is and get on with your life.

    If I'm right, and the motor runs OK then just drive the car.
    Check your fuel efficiency and the rear-view mirror.
    If you're still getting 40+MPG and if the county doesn't want to use your car for mosquito control, then your motor will probably outlast the rest of the car.
    I've been to Michigan a few times BTW.....and you can use all the help with the mosquitoes you can get!!!
    The only thing is your car will use a little more oil than it did before - and since we already know that it was using oil before, you're going to have to check it more often.
    Probably every fill-up at first, and then once you get a handle on the rate at which you're burning oil - you can adjust your top-offs as necessary.

    Here's the thing:
    Mechanically speaking, it's very hard for a trashed motor to get 40+ MPG.
    So....drive it and see.

    Good Luck!
     
    #12 ETC(SS), Aug 19, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2015
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  13. ShaneBacon

    ShaneBacon Junior Member

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    Thanks! There is now a Prius shaped dirt patch in our lawn...
    But anyways we've been driving it for a week with no problems and we're getting 41 mpg. We'll probably need to get a new 12v because it appear as though it is dying.

    Do you know if it'd cost much to get it checked out at a dealership and see what they say about the engine? Though they'll probably hook me into buying a new engine for it... If not I can do a DIY check myself since this will probably end up being a project car for my dad and myself.
     
  14. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The OTHER One Percenter.....

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    I have a cheaper idea.

    Just go to the dealership and throw your pocketbook on the counter and tell them to tell you that the engine needs to be replaced, and only take as much money out of the pocketbook as you think that you'll need to make your next boat payment to cover their time and effort for the diagnosis.

    You have a decade old Prius with 175,000 miles on the clock.
    Would you spend $4,500 to put an engine in it from the dealer???
    Would you even spend $900 for a junkyard engine if you had the ability and time to install it yourself?

    If you're getting 41MPG, then your motor can't be running that badly - especially if you're not burning enough oil to see in your rear-view mirror.

    I wouldn't waste my time with the dealership.
    I would put a $200 battery into the car.
    If you're really tht worried about it?

    Sell the car and use some of the money to put a Prius shaped vegetable or flower garden in your yard.
    You've already de-sodded a place for it. :)
     
  15. ShaneBacon

    ShaneBacon Junior Member

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    Well I guess the engine is probably in good shape but I'm scared to have it die in the middle of the winter. If it dies it dies my mom used to own a Chevy blazer (10mpg) and the Prius has more than paid for itself in gas it's been a good car and if it dies in winter I'll be fine with that.

    Thanks everyone for the advice!
    I'll update this thread if there's any news.
    And maybe I'll think about that Prius shaped garden ;)
     
  16. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    What should you do with it?
    The answer really becomes what do you WANT to do with it?

    You evidently let it sit for a year and 1/2, because you thought or feared it was damaged more than you think it might be today.

    To an extent, you know what you have, which is an older, very high mileage Prius, that has had a tough driving history coupled with being sat for 18 months.

    I would speculate...purely speculate, that since you were willing to let it sit, without confirmed diagnosis of it's problems for over a year, that you aren't really that motivated into great investment into any repair it might need.

    But as long as it's SAFE to be on the road? You can do whatever you wish. And really ONLY you can determine what you feel you should do.

    If my idea was to simply keep driving it into the ground, my greatest concern would be the safety of the vehicle from a brakes, suspension, steering and TIRES..POV. If it sat in your yard unmoved for a year plus, exposed to the elements, I'd be concerned about all these things.

    As an owner I think you can push a clacking, potentially abused engine as far as it can take you. But you want to balance that against the safety of the vehicle on the road for yourself and those around you.

    If I felt I had passed the line of where being in the vehicle or on the road with the vehicle was safe? That would highly influence what I felt I should do with the vehicle.

    You evidently have a garage, but sat the Prius "in your yard"?
    Which makes me obviously think The Prius isn't your ONLY vehicle option.
    Also if you let is sit outside, without much attention if any, for a year plus, I'd be really concerned about the state of both the Hybrid Battery and the 12 volt.
     
  17. FroggyTaco

    FroggyTaco Member

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    Huh?

    How is "dip stick" politically incorrect?
     
  18. FroggyTaco

    FroggyTaco Member

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    Look at the attached 2013 PHV Prius quick reference guide.

    On page 10 it identifies the "Engine oil level dipstick".

    :censored:
     

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  19. IMkenNY

    IMkenNY Im just being nosy

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    Im sorry, that was my early morning attempt at humor.....good thing I have a real day job :)
     
  20. FroggyTaco

    FroggyTaco Member

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    Oh.. I get it now... dirty..dirty..

    How are the levels?

    :D
     
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