2014 Toyota Prius Engine Bay
Peter Neilson's picture

How Long Do Toyota Prius Engines Last?

Believe it, people do ask this question, and they ask it a lot. Toyota made Prius for people who would help change the world. What does this mean for terms of longevity? You are about to find out.
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Toyota Prius. More than a car, it is a lifestyle and a movement that has been changing people since 1997. The Eco-conscious vehicle was a massive shock to the automotive industry. Many hated the car for what it stood for. Still, as time has gone one, many "haters" have now embraced the technology and found that the future is exciting.

Toyota built the Prius as a car that would last. They created it to be eco-friendly and in more ways than just a fuel miser. Prius takes less engine and transmission oil. The coolant is changed far less often, and the brakes last what seems to be like forever.

Please watch this video about the longevity of Toyota Prius engine and share your comments on how you maintain your Prius. Also, please click to subscribe to Torque News Youtube channel for daily automotive news reports.

Still, Prius is not without problems. Hybrid battery failure plague many owners, along with EGR problems, head gasket issues, and other things. Between Gen 2 and Gen 3 Prius, there are plenty of things that can go wrong.

While these issues exist in a mass-produced vehicle, there are many things that Toyota did get right. I want to cover why the engine in Gen 1, 2, and 3 Prius is better than most may think and why they should last longer than most give them credit for. I also want to share with you how you can get yours to last longer as well.

The Toyota Prius Engine 1.5 and 1.8L - Built To Last With Proper Care
I know some people will read this and say to themselves. Well, my Prius consumes oil, or my Prius had a head gasket failure, so this does not apply to me. Actually, it does. The reason for this is called consumer education.

I am an automotive technician, as well as an automotive instructor at my local college. Education helps dispel the ignorance we all live in one way or another. The "why" this applies to you is this. You have not been taught to care for your Prius properly.

Most people will buy a car off of a recommendation they get from someone who may "know cars" better than themselves. People may rely on a salesperson to tell them everything they need to know about the car before they buy it. But what most people fail to get from their buy experience is how to care for the darn thing.

Many consumers know that you need to change the oil, fill it with fuel if necessary and fix it if it breaks. But what about taking care of it before it breaks? Preventative maintenance is something I know many do not see the value in because they are unaware of the benefits of such services.

BG Hybrid Repair Kit Restores Toyota Prius Engines

For instance, oil consumption is a significant problem with Gen 1, 2, and 3 Prius. Many consumers are going to places like Wal-Mart or Jiffy Lube for "cheaper" than the dealer oil changes. What they are doing is causing more harm than good. These places do not use the same quality oil and filter that the dealer does.

The second part of this is what lands on you as the consumer. You are not changing your oil when it is needed. Here is why. Prius goes through a lot of starts and stops scenarios. This action is one way Prius achieves high fuel econ ratings. What you are not told, is that this action wears your oil down, heavily. Couple that with short trips where the oil does not get to operating temperature, and you have a recipe for sludge, varnish and oil consumption,

When oil breaks down, it turns into hardened carbon and chokes piston rings keeping them from pulling oil away off the cylinder walls. The oil gets burned in the combustion chamber and thus consumed over time.

Toyota makes an impressive engine, even if there are some flaws. These flaws mainly come out when the engines are neglected by the owner/operator of the Prius. There are plenty of Prius on the road today with hundreds of thousands of miles on them doing just fine. The engines are ticking away perfectly, and why? Maintenance. Do it, learn it, become one with it.

Toyota often does not make junk. There is a reason behind the following they have and the loyalty of the customers that keep buying their products. Think about it. When the MK5 Supra was being designed, even though it was using a BMW engine, Toyota engineers still went through it with a fine-tooth comb. Why? Because they believe in giving their best work into all they do. Prius is no exception to that.

If you want your Prius engine to last, take better care of it. In an upcoming video, I will be explaining oil and filters along with what you need to know when changing your oil.

Conclusion
Toyota makes a great engine. Prius is meant to last, but you need to do your part and take care of it. Do the right thing and put only quality filters and oil in that are meant for your driving habits.

Prius has given many owners hundreds of thousands of miles. I see many post all the time of 300, 400 and over 500 thousand miles on their cars. So to answer the question, can the engine last forever? I think that Prius is well on the way to proving that statement true.

Thank you for reading, and I will see you in the next story. What are the differences between the 2nd and 3rd Generation Toyota Prius?

Watch this Toyota Prius truck with a nice little bed and click to subscribe to Torque News Youtube for daily automotive news analysis.

Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter is also an Instructor of Automotive Technology at Columbia Basin College. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting. Read more of Peter's stories at Toyota news coverage on Torque News. Search Toyota Prius Torque News for more in depth Prius coverage from our reporters.


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Comments

I understand about preventive maintenance, but if what you're saying is correct, the factory recommended oil change interval of 10000 miles is not adequate to prevent damage. Why does Toyota not shorten the interval officially, to 5000 or even 3000? To prevent oil consumption, my mechanic recommended switching to 5w20 oil instead of 0w20. Less oil is left on the cylinder walls to burn and we change the oil at 5000. What say you?
Our 2012 Prius had 179,000 miles on it and had been burning oil badly. One 800 mile trip with oil changed and topped off plus fuel additive before the trip and by the time we arrived it burned 2 quarts with nothing registering on the dip stic. Started the engine day after arrived and engine was shaking and making loud noise to discover the no oil. After adding oil it ran quite and smooth but the engine light stayed on. Took it to the nearest dealership (Gosch Toyota in Hemet CA) and they said the engine was no good and needed to be replaced as pistons were leaking out oil. It had developed a problem of burning oil at about 100k miles. I followed the Toyota recommended oil change until I realized oil needed much more often change interval. This was the problem since 10k mile interval was ridiculous. I dropped from 5k down to 3k change. why did Toyota tell owners to change at 10k? That ruined our engine and our 2012 Prius lasted only 179k miles. We ended up having to practically give it to the dealer (they gave us $1000 for our 2012 Prius that was loaded and in great shape otherwise) and get a new car. On top of all that our experience with Gosch Toyota was a nightmare series of non stop screw ups and rip offs. We've been a Toyota family for decades with numerous Toyota vehicles but the experience and disappoint with our 2012 Prius and subsequent purchase nightmare with Gosch Toyota has left us questioning ever getting another Toyota.
I agree, O followed the mfg recommendation if oil change every 10k, using Valvoline oil full synthetic as required and the engine began burning oil. Granted I'm at 200k mes plus so it's still running but requires oil changes every 3k.
Why did you let it get w quarts low? On an 800 mile trip you ne up about half way therr. Check the oil level at EVERY fill-up! Since the Prius only takes 3.5 quarts, you were down to 1.5. No wonder you are having problems.
Great question. My answer is this. Oil changes depend on the driving habits of the owners. The best way to get the most out of your engine oil is to keep it in the optimal heat range it is designed for. In other words long steady drives. The reason Toyota has 10k intervals is that they have data supporting that this should be the average expected time for change on 0w20. The correct way to monitor oil life is to have it tested in a lab, no one does that though so we have to put a "timestamp" on the interval. The reason Toyota will not change that to a 5k interval for 0w20 is that would ruin the CAFE rating of Prius and they would be hit with a lawsuit. Good question!
My 2012 currently has 576,000 and still sounds and feels great. 2 sets of brake pads and monthly oil changes is all it has needed
Hello Alan Have you ever changed the battery and hybrid battery?
Not changed the battery per se, rather, replaced a bad cell in the battery. The Hybrid Battery consists of 28 individual "cells" that are bolted together. It is a relatively simple process to take the Hybrid Battery apart and replace one or more bad cells. Good cells can be purchased on Amazon for about $30 each. There are many helpful videos on YouTube that show you how to do this.
Monthly oil changes? That’s $40 a month roughly , so $1800 a year??
You'd better check with a 3rd grader to get your math straight on that. You're only off by $1320.
Toyota recommends every 10k miles? Are you sure? My car reminds me every 3k I believe
It is 5000 miles/6 months in 2nd gen Prius with 0w-30 or 5w-30 oil. 3rd. Gen 10 000 miles/1 year with full synthetics 0w-20. But only under normal condition. If you tow, driving in city often, full passangers, mountains, cold area, 5000 miles/1 year is still apply for any Toyota until today
0w20 is thin oil. 5w-20 is only different when the engine is still cold, a temporary condition. It is slightly thicker than 0w during this temporary condition. That's it. Once the engine reaches optimum temp, same oil.
Correct
Our 2012 Prius has 322000 miles, one set of breaks, several sets of Nokian Tires, scheduled oil changes. BEST CHOICE IN 2012.
You’re lucky..my Prius died at 185,000 miles after new brakes and a set of new tires. Worst part..the dealer, LeMieux Toyota refused to stand behind the damage their technicians set in motion to cause the head gasket collapse in my vehicle
How often do you recommend changing oil in a 2010 Prius. Obviously 10000 miles isn't doing the trick since mine is now consuming oil.
My unit is approaching 400k miles. It was a taxi before and we got it @ 256k miles. I have changed one cell in the battery, one optimum starting battery tires and brakes. I added a pvc catch can to eliminate water going back into the intake. The mileage actually had gotten better from doing that. I do the oil changes at the required times and havent been burning as much oil since the added catch can. Working on the vehicle is not so easy, but make sure to get things ready and built up. Since I did the catch can, I also did a tune up, and front suspension in a day since the front end would be half apart. This car has definitely been very reliable. I should be able to get another 200k miles at an investment of approximately $2,000. That's less expensive then purchasing a new one.
Added pcv to eliminate water? May be oil is what you wanted to write? Pls correct and connect. Tks
While I agree with most of your article, there are some things I disagree with. It's known that the Japanese have a high work ethic and thus failure is not an option. We expect quality from the Japanese and it shows in their products, everything from cars to DVD players, etc. I think the problem is with the American dealership. My 2012 Prius v2 never burnt a drop of oil until I switched dealerships when I switched job locations. I think they were puting standard oil in from the bulk tank rather than the required synthetic. At 130k miles, I started burning oil. I also noticed a lot of detonation when idling forward at a drive thru with the engine running. I now do my own oil changes, and run premium fuel to help keep the top end clean. Oil consumption is less, about 3 quarts per 10k miles. And now that I'm at 195k miles. I change it every 5k instead of the book recommended 10k interval. My 2012 was purchased new only owned by me, I commute 50 miles to work each way so it's never short tripped. My father is now retired but was an asce certified mechanic as well. From our research, there is a know issue with later model engines....where the relief holes in the Pistons behind the oil rings were drilled too small. This combined with carbon buildup (likely from the wrong oil or cheap oil) causes those holes to plug and amplify the oil burn. Toyota unfortunately won't touch it unless it used 3 quarts in 1200 miles. I like my Prius, but likely won't purchase another. Oh, and I'm still on the original brakes. But it's time to change the 12v battery as fuel mileage has fallen off.
I'm very sure the 12v batt has no impact on the MPGs
Toyota won't even touch it if all of the oil is consumed in 2000 miles if it isn't under warranty and they don't have an active recall on the engine. How do I know? My car is dead in Gallup, NM instead of with me in Memphis, TN. I have only had the vehicle serviced by my Toyota dealership and on the prescribed schedule. I just had the 90K servicing done before I left on the trip. No evidence of any oil leaks, so 4.4 quarts of oil burned off in approximately 2000K. If I had an oil consumption issue why was it not caught by the dealership service dept? I'm not a mechanic and not even an enthusiast. I follow the servicing guidelines as instructed. Dearlership and Toyota corporate are both like "Eh... sorry but you're just out of luck man!" This is a known problem with the Prius engines but the company does nothing about it. I am without a car and my loyalty to this brand has been returned with a "so sorry." I doubt I will ever buy another Toyota and if I do, it will be traded in before the warranty runs out because they will not do squat to help you once the warranty is done. After all, they have gotten your money by that point through both the car purchase and the overpriced service costs. So, so, SO Disappointed in Toyota.
Our prius has 244k and I watch the oil consumption carefully. I use mobil one oil and filters and it uses a quart at around 4000miles . I change it at 5k. The pcv valve which is behind the intake manifold goes bad and causes oil to enter the manifold and foul the plugs
Use Pennzoil Full Synthetic better than Mobile 1
My 2012 Prius has 198,000 miles. I just spent $4,000 replacing the EGR valve and having the head gasket redone and planned on driving it another 200,000 miles the car is unbelievable the brakes just now need to be done in my batteries are perfect this is one of the best cars Toyota ever made don't kid yourself dollar-for-dollar It Last Forever it still looks brand new inside and out it's a 2012 Prius V. Thanks for listening
That was a flaw by Toyota i had the same done recently. It was never a recall but it was a service bulletin issued to all Toyota mechanics. I have sought the Attorney General and an attorney.
275,000 miles on 2006, oil every 3,000 at dealer than to 5,000 when car got older and oil better. Uses 1 qt between oil changes. Brakes once even hauled a trailer with it. Sold bought RAV-4 hybrid 2019 40 mpg
Pretty sure the start/stop tech of a prius adds minimal wear to oil and with the HSD, the ICE will actually be used 10% or so less, so that is also a plus on engine life. The article is pretty useless, IMO, and the only advice I see is "change your oil & filter according to the manual"
I agree. The oil is not damaged. It never is. It is only contaminated. He is correct on the heat cycles, however. Short drives back to back (anything less than 15 minutes) allow three things to happen. First, the engine does not heat up to operating temperture, allowing the oil to be able to do its job of cleaning the engine of internal deposits. This gums up the engine over the long haul. Second, it does not allow the engine to heat up and evaporate off the gasoline that leaks into the oil past the piston rings, diluting the oil. Third, on short runs, gasoline does not burn completely, and the oil accumulates carbon particles from poorly burned gasoline and from the extra gasoline that is added to the cylinders to accomodate the engine being cold.
My 2012 Prius has 537,000 on it and uses no oil between 10,000 mile oil changes. I have put new brakes on twice and just changed the 12 volt battery

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