Whats the deal with the Head Gaskets?


2010-2015 Prius (Gen3) and 2012-2017 Prius V all have the same engine and can have the head gasket and oil consumption issues. Proper maintenance will prevent these issues. The problem is, nobody knew that proper maintenance requires cleaning out the EGR system every 100k miles. Cleaning out the EGR system is something people on the forums and Facebook groups have just started talking about over the last year or two. EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) system consists of the EGR cooler, EGR valve, EGR pipe and intake manifold. These parts need to be removed from the car and cleaned every 100k miles so they don't become clogged up and put pressure on the head gasket. When we do an EGR service we also clean the throttle body and replace the PCV valve. Most Toyota dealers don't offer this service or even recommend it to their customers. The engine coolant also needs to be drained and filled every 100k miles to prevent it from breaking down and becoming acidic. The acidity in the coolant strips away the coating on the head gasket from the inside. Oil changes every 5k miles are critical in properly lubricating the piston rings so they can fully expand and scrape the oil back down into the oil pan. Extending oil changes beyond 5k intervals leads to oil consumption issues which leads to multiple problems including prematurely clogging the EGR system. Running a car with low oil levels increases engine temperatures and wear and tear. Every one of our 3rd generation Prius, Prius V wagons and Lexus CT200h hybrids gets the EGR system serviced prior to sale. We also change the oil with full synthetic, filters and spark plugs before selling them. Any Gen 3 with over 150k miles automatically gets an upgraded Fel-Pro head gasket installed and comes with a one-year warranty on the engine. Symptoms of a blown gaskets can include the "death rattle" or "morning shakes". The "death rattle" happens when coolant seeps into a cylinder through the breached head gasket after sitting for a while and runs on 3 cylinders until the piston pushes the coolant out and the engine runs smooth again. Other symptoms can be low engine coolant levels, check engine light with cylinder misfire codes and/or white smoke coming from the tail pipe.

Do you service hybrids?

We service all of our cars prior to sale. Every Prius gets new oil, filters, spark plugs, throttle body cleaning. All 3rd generations get the EGR system cleaned. Any 3rd generation Prius with over 150k miles gets the head gasket upgraded as preventative maintenance.

We do most services On Prius and some other Toyota/Lexus hybrids but do not do oil changes and tire rotations. We work by appointment only.

Because of demand we give priority appointments to our previous customers. In busy times we may be unable to accomodate other customers.

What happens if the hybrid battery fails?

Here is a battery pack partially disassembled during the balancing process.

Original hybrid batteries generally last 10-15 years. Several factors will speed up battery degradation like extreme heat, cold or sitting idle without being driven for extended periods. If you use your Prius regularly and limit exposure to direct sunlight you should get 12-15 years out of your battery in Florida. Mileage is not as much of a factor in battery life as time.

Hybrid batteries can be rebuilt. (I do not recommend this as a long-term solution) Generally when a pack fails there are usually only one or two cells that are defective (cells cannot be individually removed, 6 cells together makes up a module, there are 28 modules for a total of 168 cells, a pair of modules makes up a block, there are 14 blocks). The battery pack is removed from the car, disassembled and each module is "load" tested. Any module that fails the load test is replaced. When all modules are tested, replaced as necessary and working, the battery is re-assembled and all bus bars and hardware are cleaned and polished to remove corrosion. It is then grid charged,  It is then tested in a car for 4-6 hours. Many places that offer this service skip the extensive balancing step because it is time consuming and requires expensive chargers, However, by skipping these crucial steps, the pack will fail again because it is still out of balance. Even if all steps are taken the battery can still fail because it is assembled with older used parts from failed packs. I am no longer offering this service but still have parts and offer advice for anyone who wishes to do this themselves. A rebuilt battery is not a permanent fix but will kick the can down the road for a while. Used batteries from salvaged Prii are available. Used batteries are a better option because they have all original 28 modules and have never failed. Prices range from $1500-$2000* depending on age. All used batteries are grid charged and tested. Used batteries are assembled from wrecked 2010-2020 Prii but retro-fitted for the 2004-2009 Prius. All frame wires and bus bars are replaced with brand new OEM Toyota parts for better conductivity.I can also install a brand new factory Toyota battery for $2400-$2600*.  Please call for more information and availability. We occasionally will have older less expensive used packs available also.


*The old pack is required for exchange.

Why do you have so many Toyota Prius?


I specialize in Toyota Prius. Specifically 2004-2015 Toyota Prius models. I have found that these cars are virtually indestructible and have been known to last 600-700k miles in fleet and taxi services. Because they were mass produced, parts are abundant and reasonably priced. DIY service info is readily available on the internet, and although the hybrid batteries usually last 10-15 years (mileage is not as much a factor as time) they can be rebuilt or replaced with used ($1200-$2000) or new ($2600) which is a much cheaper alternative to paying the dealer $3000-$4000 for a replacement. Since I have experience with the second and third generation Prius, I have seen and done many of the repairs that are common to these cars and have come across very few that are expensive to make. I routinely average 50+ MPG on the Prius that I drive and most of them have over 100k miles. The resale value on them is fantastic and insurance is reasonable, making the total cost of ownership very low! 

How many miles per gallon can I get with a Prius? Really?


This a great question and a difficult one to answer. Mileage varies by many factors. The main factor is the driver. Your driving style will make the biggest impact on your actual mileage. Learning how to drive your hybrid and getting the car set up right will also make a difference. There are numerous articles available online and on hybrid chat sites. If you learn how to drive them you can easily achieve 50-60 MPG with any Prius. I am happy to coach any new hybrid driver and help get the car set up correctly.

Does the hybrid battery require any maintenance?


Typically not if the car is used regularly. The battery pack in the Prius is made up of NIMH (nickel metal hydride) cells. If the car sits for extended periods regularly (one month or more) it can self discharge. If this occurs then a grid charger is recommended to restore and balance the modules. There are several companies that make grid chargers for the Prius. There is one in particular that I recommed. It is made by http://hybridautomotive.com/gc/shop.html . The reason that I recommend this one is that it has a patented harness that you install one time that connects to the cars hybrid cooling fan and cools the pack as it is charging eliminating heat build up. It also offers an optional discharge feature which helps restore an older/ out of balance pack. I have several of these and use them to balance older packs that are showing signs of starting to become out of balance.

Preventative care for your battery pack would be parking in a garage or covered area if possible. When that is not possible, have the windows tinted, always close the cargo shade if the car has one, invest in a windshield shade and/ or window vent shades so you can crack the windows and not get rain inside. Always use the air conditioning when its hot outside. The hybrid cooling fan pulls in cabin air to cool the battery so if you are not using AC then you are cooling your battery with hot air which will shorten it's life. If you have a pet that rides with you and sheds or you drive on dirt roads, the pet hair and dust will find its way into the cooling fan and reduce its efficiency. The fan should be cleaned periodically to keep it running well. This is a service I offer also.

Prius fuel savings calculator

Tampa Hybrids Inc.

Todd Thompson
Tampa FL 33613
(813) 241-5307