Pinging

Discussion in 'Toyota Prius Family' started by brick, Jul 20, 2012.

  1. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    For two months I thought that I had a loose heat shield or some kind of valve problem. Every time I revved much above 2500rpm the car produced a metallic clatter. Eventually it dawned on me that it might be pinging (which would be a first for me in any car) so I put about 4 gallons of premium fuel in when it got down to half tank. Amazingly enough, the clatter is nearly gone under load. Fuel economy is up around 5% over last week, too.

    What do we think? Carbon buildup? The car does have 91,000mi on it, and it probably doesn't see engine speeds above 3500rpm more than once every couple of months. Anybody have a favorite fuel additive to recommend to clean things up? Sadly, an "Italian tune-up" is impossible with a CVT without getting arrested.
     
  2. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

    Plugs?..Carbon buildup?.. I like using marvel mystery oil, seafoam is also popular but I have never tried it. Works the same way I understand, in an easier-to-apply self foaming action.
     
  3. Ophbalance

    Ophbalance Administrator Staff Member

    Not sure that it matters, but isn't it coming up on a plug change as well?
     
  4. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    Plugs are due at 100k, but I could swap them a little early.
     
  5. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

    Plugs first then.. inspect them for carbon build up, some ethanol/methanol in the fuel will also help clean out the carbon slowly, mix-in 10-20% E85 if you can find it in your area.
     
  6. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    Plugs are easy so I swapped them out. Advanced had the NGK IFR5T11 (latest OEM replacement iridium) for a reasonable enough price.

    The old ones have a bit of carbon buildup but they don't look too bad for 91,000mi.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It's interesting that #1 (far left) and #4 (far right) have visibly more junk on the ceramic than #2 and #3. It must be a temperature or a mixture thing, those being the outside cylinders. They might run a touch cooler, and/or they might get just the slightest bit less air from the manifold.
     
  7. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    I'm on my phone at the moment, Are the center electrodes still flat or are they rounded?
     
  8. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    The electrodes are table-top flat. I just looked under 15x mag.
     
  9. Ophbalance

    Ophbalance Administrator Staff Member

    How much time did it take to pull the plugs? I'll be doing this in about 7k miles myself (about 2-3 months given the current commute).
     
  10. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    Doesn't look they were a problem. Do you use the same brand of gas all the time? Try some BP or Shell.
     
  11. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    The plugs took maybe 45 minutes. It only takes that long because access is a little tight. You have to unbolt the relay box and move it out of the way. Then you can unbolt the coils and either unclip & remove them individually or just leave them connected to the harness and carefully move them out of the way like the relay box. (I do the latter.) After that the only trick is working with the shroud & sound deadening so close to the top of the valve cover. It can be tough to maneuver the socket, extension, and a spark plug into or out of the hole, but it's doable. #1 cylinder is the easiest, #4 is the tightest.

    I'm inconsistent about brand of gas. Depends on where I am when I need to fill. I haven't noticed the problem being worse or better after any given fill. I assume it's mostly an issue with the engine. In my travels today I also bought a couple of doses of gumout "regane" additive. I'll run it through and see what happens. I almost grabbed a can of seafoam, but I'm not sure I'm brave enough for that yet. Running that stuff through the induction system sounds pretty harsh.
     
  12. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

    why would it be harsh?, please use quality gas.. I like Chevron.

    Those plugs looked pretty cruddy to me.

    You can also use the water cleaning method, get a spray bottle with about 12oz of water.. while the engine is running at a moderate level spray a mist into the air intake but not enough to stall the engine, until you run out of water. Dont squirt water in or you will hydrolock the engine and break something. This is called the Pepsi method because old mechanics would dribble (slowly) a Pepsi bottle full of water into the carb while racing the engine with the other hand on the throttle. The steam formed in the chamber would blast the carbon out. Seafoam, ATF and Marvel Mystery Oil work by softening the carbon overnight (it swells up and gets crumbly), then when you start the engine the next day the soft carbon will burn away in huge clouds of smoke. The chemical way seems to be faster.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2012
  13. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    The part that concerns me is the blasting of all that crud through my catalytic converter all at once. Little by little I would expect it to burn away without building up. It seems like doing it all in one shot introduces a risk of plugging the cat, even if only partially. Granted, i have been wrong before.

    My area is dominated by Exxon/Mobil, Gulf, and a huge population of no-name stations. Google puts the nearest Shell, BP, or Chevron 15-20 miles away. I guess Exxon and Mobil stations are the only game in town if one believes in the 'top tier' branding.
     
  14. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

    I'm sure the catalytic converter will burn it up eventually, water would be a slower cleaner. Try some E85.
     
  15. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    I thought I was wrong once. But it turned out I was merely mistaken about that.
    What a relief !
     
  16. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Edwin:
    :D

    Tim, did the new plugs cure the pinging? I would not think they would as they are lucky to fire, not hold any heat to pre-ignite the incoming charge?

    Wayne
     
  17. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    This was one of the Prius?
    Distracted by that gorgeous/handsome Swede now I guess.
    It sure has a caverous back-probably 65-70" to the front seat backs with rear seats down.
    A shorter person 5'5"-me-could easily sleep 2 up(with dog and wife) in it.
    44" between wheels wells- not much less than the 49" Suburban-much more than most hatches(usually 39-40"-wheel well)
    Your dog certainly appreciates your choice!
    Charlie
     
  18. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

    You are going to have fun sleeping in the back of a car..having to wake up every couple of hours to pee while stepping on the pooch and the wife :)
     
  19. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    Herm
    We-my 225 lbs son-me(180lbs but short) and two leggy 75 lbs greyhounds slept in the back of the Honda Pilot while enroute to Flagstaff AZ(and on the way home).
    I had to fashion a plywood "filler extender" to fill in between the back of the front seats and front of the flopped down rear seats.Air mattress etc.Dogs sleep On you!

    That Volvo has lots of room for a car-lotta head room also-
    Bricks road trips are 500 miles I think-8 hours-so sleep room isn't essential- but nice to have if you are leaving after work on a Friday-tired- most tired catches a nap while least tired drives-3 hours later sleeper-now refreshed and tanked on coffee-takes over at dark.
    In any case the least tired after work person drives until dark while the other catches some ZZZZs.
    It is nice to be able to stretch out and close you eyes on long trips-even when you don't sleep-it sharpens you up to close your eyes

    Current travel vehicle is so huge 2 adults+ 1 dog-queen sized futon mattress-comfortable at rest stops-no wasting $$ on motels enroute(who wants to pay $60 to spend night in Childress Tx(or Amarillo, or DFW, or Witchita Falls??) besides Tx has great-clean-rest stops.
     
  20. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    This thread was about one of the Prius (mine). New spark plugs didn't do anything at all for the pinging. The only thing that "fixed" it was running premium fuel. (It ran like a sewing machine on 93 octane.) I had begun treating the fuel with PEA cleaner under the assumption that this was caused by carbon buildup in the combustion chamber, but I never really got to the bottom of it. Strangely, my wife's car is still completely fine.

    My final guess is that carbon built up in mine due to the stop & go commute and lots run time at less than full temp. My wife's car, on the other hand, gets up to temp 99% of the time she drives it and stays there until she gets where she has to go, usually some distance away.

    I recently changed my work schedule (to suit my life, not to suit the cars) which should get me out of the worst of the traffic most days. With any luck the Volvo won't give me the same sort of trouble. But if it does, I will probably reach for a can of seafoam and get it overwith.
     

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