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Kupuntu

3rd gen Prius oil consumption / head gasket issues?

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I've noticed the US based forums often talk about the high Oil consumption and head gasket issues. However, I have not noticed much talk about that here. I'm looking to buy a 2013 Prius with roughly 75k miles on it. The only thing I'm not sure about is the possible head gasket issues or Oil consumption I've heard of on the internet. Is it really as common as the US forums say?

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I had a gen3, 2010 model, bought with 100k miles, sold 6 months later with 105k, and during that time used no Oil. My wife has an Auris hybrid 2010 model, presumably same engine, now done about 78k miles (bought with 65k miles approx. 2 years ago) and again no Oil used. My research before buying these two cars didn’t throw up any issues with Oil burning BUT my friend bought a 2010 Prius  14 months ago with about 65k miles and it was a shocker for Oil usage, though no blue smoke and no leakage. He bought it from a Toyota dealership (at top retail price), and in the end they stripped the engine and replaced rings, not sure if they rebored. But that is the only occurrence I know of.

Maybe you think why did I sold the gen3 after only 6 months/5k miles. I bought the Auris hybrid for myself late May 2017, but really wanted a Prius. Bought the gen3 Prius late Jan 2018 and passed the Auris to the wife (selling a Yaris diesel). Loved the gen 3, really going well, but decided to go for Gen4 and keep for a good few years. So late July 2018 bought a 21 month old Prius Exel with 20.5k miles, in Hypersonic red and 15” wheels - exactly the spec I wanted. No Oil problems with that engine.

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Historically, Gen 1 & 2 Prius often started to use a little Oil at around 100k (miles).  A gen 1 I had for 9 years used none until then, then started to use a little, but with no signs of leaks on the drive nor visible exhaust smoke.  By the time I sold it at 163k, it went from Max to Min in about 7,000 miles, and adding 1 litre saw it to the next service well above the min mark.

My last Prius was a Gen 3 which had done 60k when I traded it for my current Gen 4, and the dip stick didn't drop at all between services.

My current Gen 4 Prius will not have reached 40k by the time my new RAV4 Hybrid arrives (hopefully late June if not sooner) and unsurprisingly consumes no Oil at the moment.

Back the in 1970s/80s, using less Oil than 1 litre every 10,000 miles would have been wonderful on most brand new cars! (and they probably wouldn't still be going at 100k!).

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Thanks for the replies. The lack of issues on this forum made me think it'd mostly be an issue in the US but that wouldn't make much sense, considering that they use the exact same cars (to my knowledge?) there. However, this makes me more confident in buying the Prius.

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1 hour ago, Kupuntu said:

.... considering that they use the exact same cars (to my knowledge

As far as I'm aware in previous years the US had different emissions standards to the EU. The US used to be stricter on NOx emissions and particulates, whereas the EU were stricter on CO and CO2. There were also differences in how the emissions were measured.

So there will have been differences between US market vehicles and EU market vehicles. As to whether these make a difference in engine wear, etc is anyone's guess.

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And they have a tendency to change their Oil too frequently, which doesn't help the rings bed in when new.

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3 hours ago, kithmo said:

And they have a tendency to change their oil too frequently, which doesn't help the rings bed in when new.

yes, now that you mention it, I remember US Prius owners saying their Oil change was required every 5,000 miles.  I don't know if that's still the case these days...

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43 minutes ago, PeteB said:

yes, now that you mention it, I remember US Prius owners saying their oil change was required every 5,000 miles.  I don't know if that's still the case these days...

They seem to do this with every car in the US. I don't understand why but apparently even European/Japanese manufacturers recommend much shorter Oil change intervals there.

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In the hot regions cars engines are working under higher temperatures and leaving same Oil for a long time cause a lot of sludge buildup and premature engine failures, that’s most common reason. Since gen 3 Prius I think anywhere around the world Oil change is 10k miles or 12 months, and again depends on personal circumstances, if the car driven only occasionally and on short journeys two Oil changes per year can help keeping engine cleaner and prevent stuck Oil rings. Also using 0w20 Oil is important too. 

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I wonder if the different fuel affects the piston rings differently? "Regular" petrol in the US is the equivalent of 91 RON, so is lower octane than the 95 RON we get over here. I've heard that the piston ring design was modified some time around 2015, so any 2ZR-FXE engine up until that point (Gen 3 Prius, Auris Hybrid, CT200h, Prius+) could potentially run into Oil consumption issues.

Regarding head gasket failures, I've seen evidence on PriusChat that a blocked EGR cooler can lead to this due to excessive heat. Some suggest cleaning out the EGR valve pipe and cooler around 100k miles. Again, I've only heard of this in the US.

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30 minutes ago, QuantumFireball said:

I wonder if the different fuel affects the piston rings differently? "Regular" petrol in the US is the equivalent of 91 RON, so is lower octane than the 95 RON we get over here.

I'd always thought the same as you do, that US spec engines ran on lower octane petrol, and to back that up, cars and motorcycles often had lower quoted compression ratios and BHP figures than the equivalent models sold in Europe.

But then, a while ago, I stumbled across this information (not from this link - I've just googled this to put on here!):-

https://www.economist.com/babbage/2012/09/17/difference-engine-who-needs-premium

In the middle of this article it says,

"In Europe, the octane rating on the pump is simply the RON figure. America, by contrast, uses the average of the RON and the MON figures, called the AKI (anti-knock index). Thus, 97 octane “super unleaded” in Britain is roughly equivalent to 91 octane premium in the United States."

When did that come about, eh?  I'm happy for this to be disputed, of course

I've cleaned out a secondhand Prius gen 3 EGR cooler that had 55,000 miles on it (it was claimed), it didn't look very bad, I could still see daylight through the matrix easily, but the carbon build-up was going a bit '3-dimensional'.

 

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Re: head gasket failure, if you have the time to spare (quite a lot), then this US posting on the topic of detonation, pre-ignition etc. is quite useful, but it's not everyone's cup of tea.

This was from a light aircraft magazine, in that field,  EGT (exhaust gas temperature) seems to be an essential reading to have as a measure of the correct engine operation.

http://www.contactmagazine.com/Issue54/EngineBasics.html

For what it's worth, I have seen dynamometer operators using the 'tin ear', exactly as described by the author, whilst trying to remap a Camry (yes!) V6 engine that was being tuned at Lotus cars in Hethel for use in an Exige, if I remember correctly.  Basically, I believe they were slimming down all the Toyota built-in safety margins in the map, with the aim of improving throttle response and top end power, so efficiency, arguably. 

In the Prius engine I think in the goal of efficiency (outright mpg this time), they have reduced the safety margins to the extent that detonation is possible if the engine is not running with an effective EGR system.  But then I think you already knew that!

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30 minutes ago, Gerg said:

"In Europe, the octane rating on the pump is simply the RON figure. America, by contrast, uses the average of the RON and the MON figures, called the AKI (anti-knock index). Thus, 97 octane “super unleaded” in Britain is roughly equivalent to 91 octane premium in the United States."

When did that come about, eh?  I'm happy for this to be disputed, of course

Yes, it's always been like that, the yanks have to be different, as usual 🙂 

Though those numbers are a bit off:

"Regular" there is 87 AKI, which is about the equivalent of 91 RON, as I said. And that's what Toyota recommend for the Prius in countries where it's available.

The standard "Unleaded" in the UK and Ireland is 95 RON, which is around 90-91 AKI.

The fancier petrols (V-Power or whatever) in the UK are usually 98-99 RON, which is around 93-94 AKI.

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Ah, I see!

I've never seen the AKI listed as a measure before, just the RON.  I wonder if these units often get swapped around (incorrectly) by journalists?

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