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 Post subject: Head gasket?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2018 4:49 pm 
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Year and Trim: 2001 SE
I have a 2001 SE with 244,xxx miles. I've had it since it had 26,xxx and have fixed every single issue immediately, including regular summer visits to Andrew in Browerville, MN. Engine has been running rough at idle. Just this year I've replaced the EGR, CAT, Ignition coils, ignition module, all six injectors, steering rack, upper intake gasket, radiator, some hoses, Gabriel Ultra Struts up front and half shaft assemblies (actually last summer), and a few things from this past spring that I've forgotten. But the Service Engine Soon light is on constantly. The ignition module, coils, and fuel injectors got the car running again but it is running rough and I can feel vibration. Also, sometimes the hood gets hot to touch on the drivers side about half way down the hood and you can smell a kind of acrid smell. My mechanic thinks it might be the head gasket which is bad and which might have contributed to the cracked radiator based on the place of the crack. He told me he just might want to sharpen his skills and do the head gasket job for fun (we've been sort of friends for over 10 years) for a nominal price. I want to keep the car (even though my wife is getting fed up). I've replaced so many parts (and spend so much especially this year) that if the head gasket solved the engine problem, I'd have a great car. No smoking. All leather seats without tears. New tires, lifetime alignments . . . I've talked to Andrew about putting another engine in the car as well. Need some advice.


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 Post subject: Re: Head gasket?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2018 7:17 pm 
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Location: Midland, Michigan
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Hood getting hot right there... the front exhaust manifold is ran right below that, it gets pretty hot. Bad head gasket will typically show in one of two ways or both, clouds of white smoke out the exhaust even when hot (normal to have white smoke / steam on any engine when cold) and/or overpressure in the coolant system. Upper radiator hose will get rock hard before engine temp comes up and will remain hard after it cools down, also you will likely see bubbles coming up through the coolant reservoir.

I see no mention of the lower intake gaskets being done on this engine, which is almost always misdiagnosed as a bad head gasket on a 3800. In 11 years in this group I can only recall one or two confirmed cases of head gasket failure on a 3800, but hundreds of intake gasket failures and many of those originally misdiagnosed as head gaskets.

Have you had the car scanned to read what codes are present? This should be the first step.

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 Post subject: Re: Head gasket?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2018 1:18 pm 
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What Ryan said.

Definitely check to see if the intake gaskets have ever been replaced with the updated metal ones. You should be able to see them between the head and the lower intake. Black gasket = bad. Silver/gray gasket = good.

Since the car is NA, you will also want to check on the upper intake. My money is on the fact that it has never been replaced. How does your coolant level look? Is your oil milky at all?

Come back to us with what codes you pull.

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 Post subject: Re: Head gasket?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2018 1:35 pm 
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Heading over to the shop now to get it scanned. This would be the third time in past 5 years for doing the LIM if that is the culprit. Andrew suspected that the detailed preparation protocols that are in the Club's how-to for the LIM were not, ahem, followed closely. Probably right on that one.

The Upper Intake Gaskets were done this past spring. Did the newer Upper Plenum about six or seven years ago. Bought OE kit for the Upper just as I did for the Lower. The LIM have been done either two or three times in the past six years or so. The last time was maybe three years ago. Just installed a new radiator. Coolant was leaking but the color seemed fine.


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 Post subject: Re: Head gasket?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:18 pm 
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It is 100% possible for the new upper to fail again. It happened to me.

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 Post subject: Re: Head gasket?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:34 pm 
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If the LIM gaskets have been replaced two or three times in the last couple years I feel something definitely is not being done exactly right. Same shop or same person do the work?

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2003 Bonneville SSEi - The Black Mirror SOLD!
2002 Bonneville SE - The Mutt Complete 2004 SLE interior, drivetrain, and body harness swap, ECC swap, HUD swap, black GXP wheels, GXP headlights and tinted tails - SOLD
2003 BMW 540i M Sport, 2001 BMW X5 4.4i, 2010 GMC Acadia, 2017 Grand Design Imagine 3150BH
1982 Cutlass Supreme - The fun one

MattStrike wrote:
It was the worst week of my life! *pause, drinks beer... smiles* But I'm better now!


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 Post subject: Re: Head gasket?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2018 2:05 pm 
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How long do the timing chain and valves last on these engines?

Have you had a compression test done?


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 Post subject: Re: Head gasket?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:04 am 
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imidazol97 wrote:
How long do the timing chain and valves last on these engines?

Have you had a compression test done?


Basically will outlast the body of the car but will have some slack by 200,000 miles.

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Check out my detailing page on facebook! --> Next Level Detailing
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2003 Bonneville SSEi - The Black Mirror SOLD!
2002 Bonneville SE - The Mutt Complete 2004 SLE interior, drivetrain, and body harness swap, ECC swap, HUD swap, black GXP wheels, GXP headlights and tinted tails - SOLD
2003 BMW 540i M Sport, 2001 BMW X5 4.4i, 2010 GMC Acadia, 2017 Grand Design Imagine 3150BH
1982 Cutlass Supreme - The fun one

MattStrike wrote:
It was the worst week of my life! *pause, drinks beer... smiles* But I'm better now!


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 Post subject: Re: Head gasket?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2018 4:07 pm 
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Well. Nothing revealed by the scan, although a small scanner rather than the big expensive one was used. Just the same evap code that we've been unable to solve for about five or six years. He said that the symptoms of head gasket fail mentioned above would only be occurring when the situation was critical. The car is still running rough and when I was idling in traffic the temp popped over 200 a couple of tics before dropping back down. So, I'm back in the dark. There's some oil around the lower intake but that was there before. It still smells rubber when it is running over 200 but it keeps running. Not sure what to do. The timing chain has never been fiddled with. There is some vibration or shake when doing a hard acceleration although I have gotten used to babying the car. So many new parts this year that I want to keep the car. But I can't seem to get a better diagnosis.


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 Post subject: Re: Head gasket?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:11 am 
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And your coolant level is not dropping and your oil looks fine?

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 Post subject: Re: Head gasket?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2018 6:22 pm 
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Next step would be a compression test and leak down test.

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Ryan
Check out my detailing page on facebook! --> Next Level Detailing
Image
2003 Bonneville SSEi - The Black Mirror SOLD!
2002 Bonneville SE - The Mutt Complete 2004 SLE interior, drivetrain, and body harness swap, ECC swap, HUD swap, black GXP wheels, GXP headlights and tinted tails - SOLD
2003 BMW 540i M Sport, 2001 BMW X5 4.4i, 2010 GMC Acadia, 2017 Grand Design Imagine 3150BH
1982 Cutlass Supreme - The fun one

MattStrike wrote:
It was the worst week of my life! *pause, drinks beer... smiles* But I'm better now!


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 Post subject: Re: Head gasket?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 3:02 pm 
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Sorry for being dim, but are those tests expensive to run? I'm sure the shop can run them but I'd want to know what's reasonable to expect in terms of price. The coolant level is not dropping and the oil seems OK. Burns some but it's not bad. Drove all the way from Minneapolis to Roanoke, 1200 miles with only a very small loss. Also, I was curious about the timing chain issue mentioned above. I've always been told by my mechanic that I didn't ever need to do anything about this as long as it didn't break. Is there a benefit to changing it for a new one? How much of a job is that?


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 Post subject: Re: Head gasket?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 6:37 pm 
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You may be able to rent a compression tester at your local auto parts store, I know for sure you can buy them for under $100 and they are as simple to use as pulling a spark plug, threading the tester into the hole, and turning the key for a couple seconds.

_________________
Ryan
Check out my detailing page on facebook! --> Next Level Detailing
Image
2003 Bonneville SSEi - The Black Mirror SOLD!
2002 Bonneville SE - The Mutt Complete 2004 SLE interior, drivetrain, and body harness swap, ECC swap, HUD swap, black GXP wheels, GXP headlights and tinted tails - SOLD
2003 BMW 540i M Sport, 2001 BMW X5 4.4i, 2010 GMC Acadia, 2017 Grand Design Imagine 3150BH
1982 Cutlass Supreme - The fun one

MattStrike wrote:
It was the worst week of my life! *pause, drinks beer... smiles* But I'm better now!


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