Head Gasket problems

kroeserkroeser Member Posts: 1
edited March 2014 in Pontiac
I have a 98 Bonneville SSE. The cooling system uses dex cool. Friday the low coolant light came on and went off right away. Saturday the light came on so I bought dex cool and refilled the tank. Today the car took a sh*t. The oil has dex cool in it. I was told that it was probably the head gasket, but here's my problem the car has 80,000 miles on it, is it common that such a large part should go when the car is not that old? The car is out of warranty and I've only had it for a year. Could this be a problem with just my bonneville or does anybody else have this problem. I take my car every 3,000 miles for oil changes (I even use vavoline max life oil for cars that have over 75,000 miles)I have had it tuned up in April (using the best parts on the market) I have also replaced the sending unit for the fuel tank, and put new brakes on it all the way around with drums and rotors. Is my car a chronic lemon or is this happening to anybody else?

Comments

  • pluto5pluto5 Member Posts: 618
    I understand there is a head gasket problem with the 3.8 liter engine. You might get some $$ assistance from GM, particularly if you had the car serviced at a GM dealer. It's a long shot but worth a try; if you are out of warranty GM doesn't usually help out.
  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Member Posts: 872
    I am not sure if it is a common problem with the Bonniville, but I bet if you post in the Bonniville problems topic they can give you some sound advise and help if you want to try getting GM to chip in on the repair.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    It's worth a try but an 80K head gasket problem is not outrageous. That's about when these things can start to deteriorate--you might say 80K is the earliest reasonable mileage to expect this sort of problem. But a bit premature compared to most modern engines.

    Possible blessing in disguise that you caught it without having an engine catastrophe, like at 90 mph and overheating.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,726
    be thankful that the head isn't cracked! (At least let's hope it is not).

    80K seems too early for a car that has been taken care of to blow a head gasket, but that 3.8L does have a lot of that sort of problem. Maybe you can combine it with a valve job and put the car back on the road for the next 100K!

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • dshepherd3dshepherd3 Member Posts: 194
    This might be a more common problem related to the egr passage in the composite manifold causing coolant leaks, actually this engine is not head gasket prone.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    So you mean that the problem may have been currently misdiagnosed, or that the coolant leaks eventually cause overheating and a blown head gasket?
  • dshepherd3dshepherd3 Member Posts: 194
    I would think this is a case of misdiagnosis, unless the normal procedure for head gasket problems is followed. This manifold problem is quite common, including a TSB published, also coolant can enter the combustion chamber just like a head gasket because it enters the int. manif. when the composite material cracks between the egr passage and the intake runner at the coolant passage. What I am saying is this can be easily misdiagnosed as a head gasket and the same problem would occur.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    you can't xray the crack in composite because there isn't enough density in the material, it's a direct path between byproducts and the cooling jacket just like the gasket blew out, that's kind of a sly issue to track down. either way, it tends to be an expensive repair, but it helps you hide the manifold failures to blame it on fifteen-dollar gaskets.

    gawd, ain't plastic parts wonderful?
  • montanafanmontanafan Member Posts: 945
    The 3.8L engine does not have a history of any Head Gasket Problems. As pointed out in a couple of the posts, when checking for coolant loss, among the items that should be checked is the EGR passages in the intake manifold. While it could be a head gasket, more likely it is the intake manifold gasket, or the intake manifold itself. If manifold, costs should top out about $800.
  • ichagiichagi Member Posts: 1
    I just joined, however I have read this board for years since buying my Bonnie. 1998 SE, beautiful car but what a lemon! At 48K a new tranny and now at 55k she is in the local GM shop having the engine re built. I have also replaced the A/C compressor and bearings - twice. I too saw a loss of coolant over the past month or two, then went to get gas, parked the car and noticed a bad miss and water streaming out of the exhaust, it wouldn't start so I had her towed in... diagnosis - blown head gasket and $2300 for a rebuild. In checking, I found the Bonnie prone to both the tranny problems and to the head gasket. Time to take the loss and get rid of her. I don't know if I'd ever buy another - even though I love the car.
  • shesfyneshesfyne Member Posts: 32
    97 SE Lemon owner here with 60K.
    2 Trannys somewhere in the 40k's
    several alternators, 3 I think
    warped rotors
    2 waterpumps
    coil pack, twice
    3 serpentine belts
    and now:::::drum roll:::::
    intake manifold at $1100 which resulted in a new engine at $5400 + labor.
    Book is $7300 on the car.
  • cutehumorcutehumor Member Posts: 137
    you should post over on smart shopper board in the thread "Real world-trade in values" to find out the true value of your car. dealers do not go by blue book on trade ins
  • montanafanmontanafan Member Posts: 945
    Has this been dealer work? If you bought your car new in New York and it has New York emissions, the Intake Manifold could be covered under warranty for 7 years / 70,000 miles.
  • shesfyneshesfyne Member Posts: 32
    Has this been dealer work? If you bought your car new in New York and it has New York emissions, the Intake Manifold could be covered under warranty for 7 years / 70,000 miles.

    >>>>>

    It is dealer work and we bought the car in NY. There's an emissions warranty? Car has 64K, and is a 97.
  • shesfyneshesfyne Member Posts: 32
    Thanks, but my husband just clued me in. I guess that emissions warranty only applies in the city. We're upstate.
  • danomtdanomt Member Posts: 3
    I own a small repair shop and I have seen many intake problems (egr area) and no head gaket problems. They have the same symtoms, which are coolant in the combustion camber and then into the oil. List price for the manifold (17113136) is $294.84 which includes gaskets and the labor is about 3 1/2 hours. We have done 3 in the last week.. DanO
  • montanafanmontanafan Member Posts: 945
    New York means the whole state. Check your warranty booklet in your glove box. If the car was sold as a new car with New York emissions. In the trunk, I think on the spare tire cover, there should be a white sticker with option codes. Check for NG1.
  • danomtdanomt Member Posts: 3
    Sorry, but the intake leaking problem in not an emission problem. It is considered a mechanical problem and is only covered for 36/36.
  • montanafanmontanafan Member Posts: 945
    "If an emission related part listed in your vehicle warranty booklet specially noted with coverage for 7 years or 70,000 miles is defective, GM will repair or replace it. This is your long term emissions control systems Defects Warranty" Page 17-1997 Pontiac Warranty Booklet (Courtesty of my brother's Montana's glove box). Page 20 under "Air Management System" lists "Intake Manifold" with notation that it is included under the 7 year / 70,000 miles, whichever comes first, California emission coverage. A coolant leak would be a defect. Dan, there are three seperate warranties listed under the California Section. PERFORMANCE WARRATNY, if fail a smog check 3/50, SHORT-TERM DEFECTS WARRANTY, if any emission related part on your vehicle is defective 3/50, and LONG-TERM DEFECT WARRANTY.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,726
    that California's emissions warranty is very different than that in other parts of the country - it covers a lot more stuff, and consequently is often shorter in duration than that of the equivalent model in other states.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • shesfyneshesfyne Member Posts: 32
    New York means the whole state. Check your warranty booklet in your glove box. If the car was sold as a new car with New York emissions. In the trunk, I think on the spare tire cover, there should be a white sticker with option codes. Check for NG1.
    >>>>>>>

    I'll take a look. It's definitely worth a try. Thanks!
  • danomtdanomt Member Posts: 3
    Im a little confuse, Montanafan states warrenty for California Im from Montana and Person with problem is from New York. ??? Then goes on to say 7 yrs or 70,000 miles, whichever comes first, and the problem car has 80,00 miles. My dealer will not replace these under warrenty.??? My warreny book (pg18) states Federal coverage for 2 years or 24,000 miles. I would love for warrenty to cover this for Kristen, but it would not in my town. Try yours, maybe, (hope hope) Dano
  • montanafanmontanafan Member Posts: 945
    Sorry for the confussion. California Emissions Warranty applies to California or any state that has adopted California Regulations (New York and Massachusetts) (page 16). My first post (#14) to shesfyne was longer but I edited out the part that refered to Mass/NY and California being the same. While this will not help Kristen who started the topic, my replies have been directed to shesfyne who has 69K on her car.
  • montanafanmontanafan Member Posts: 945
    Did you talk things over with your dealer or Pontiac? Any resolution? Please, more people need to post the end of the stories, I 'm dying to find out.
  • shesfyneshesfyne Member Posts: 32
    Sorry to leave you hanging. We're kind of hanging here too. I did look at the emissions page and you were correct, to some extent. I can't say for sure that the manifold work would be covered under emissions because the car has been in the dealership for a month and I haven't been up to look at for the sticker. My husband is fairly certain it won't be the emissions# you mentioned (N1), but we're going to look. As for Pontiac, they cut off communications. When the engine failed, we called Pontiac Customer service and started a file. We also called DMV. In NYS they have a a unit that investigates complaints about repairs. Since we feel the engine failure was in direct relation to the repair work on the manifold we want the dealership to take responsibility. Of course we all know the ultimate responsibility falls on GM and the poorly designed manifold. Anyway..the next day Pontiac called us back and said they can no longer correspond with us as we've notified DMV and it's become a "legal matter". The dealership autopsied the engine this week in the presence of the DMV investigator to discern the actual cause of the seizure. The investigator called my husbands voice mail while he was out of town on Friday, and we can't reach him until Monday. So we're left hanging this weekend. I guess I'm pessimistic at this point, but I'm assuming if he found the dealership at fault, he would have just left a message saying so. At this point, all I have left is to check the emission sticker, and then try to take up the fight with GM regarding the poorly designed manifold. Even if the emissions is covered, they'll argue that the engine is beyond the scope of coverage. And if the dealership isn't found to be at fault regarding the repair, I think we'll be fighting the poorly designed manifold issue with GM from a point of weakness, if DMV doesn't feel the dealership was at fault for the repair.

    Completely discouraged with the whole thing.
    I'll let you know the ultimate outcome.
  • montanafanmontanafan Member Posts: 945
    If you can not get to the car, Pontiac Customer Assistance should be able to tell from checking out your VIN (17 digit number) if it has New York Emissions. Should be something like "1G2HX5-K---------". And if the leak in a covered part was to blame for the failure of the engine, then the engine should be covered. Several years ago, my grandmothers furnace had a covered problem and the cleaning of all the furnature in the house was covered. Post your vin and we will see if someone can check it out. Keep your head up, and maybe the Bills and Patriots can tie.
  • shesfyneshesfyne Member Posts: 32
    ---------". And if the leak in a covered part was to blame for the failure of the engine, then the engine should be covered.
    >>>>>>

    You would think so, wouldn't you? But you know, I was looking at the TSB thread and one of the hosts posted a TSB that related to a similar leakage problem on the Sunfires and Cavaliers. It stated that GM would pay for the repairs specific to the leakage, but not to any engine damage that was caused by it. Not that this has anything to do with my Bonneville, but it gives me the feeling that that's the stand they'll take.

    Here's the vin #1G2HX52K5VH276018. I'd call Pontiac myself, but I doubt they'll talk to me until this is concluded. I am going to run a carfax report on this car, after we find out where we stand. It's a shot in the dark, but this car has been so problematic, that I'm wondering it it might of been a buyback. It was a leftover, one of few on the lot. But, I was going to wait until the investigation was over and get the 1 month deal at Carfax so I can also run any cars I'm considering replacing this one with.

    Thanks for the help
  • montanafanmontanafan Member Posts: 945
    . Since this all starts from California regulations, went to the CARB (Air resources board) site and search "warranty". Came up with CCR 2037 (Defects Warranty Requirements ....) Chapter 1 Article 6 Section d item 7 ( http://www.arb.ca.gov/regs/title13/2037.pdf ) on page 2. "The vehicle or engine manufacturer shall be liable for damages to other vehicle components proximately caused by a failure under warranty or any warranted part".
  • shesfyneshesfyne Member Posts: 32
    "The vehicle or engine manufacturer shall be liable for damages to other vehicle components proximately caused by a failure under warranty or any warranted part".
    >>>>>>>

    Maybe. I guess until I know if the emissions code is the same I shouldn't get my hopes up. Thanks for digging for me, I really appreciate it. Sure would be nice to come out on the top of this thing.
  • cutehumorcutehumor Member Posts: 137
    well, it's been 45 days. what did the dmv conclude was the cause of the engine damage?
  • lpppreslpppres Member Posts: 1
    98 3.8 series, not supercharged,110,000 miles,bought off dealer with 27K miles,found out had factory crate motor which dealer would not own up to,replaced alternator for $300.00 around 65000 miles, at 97000 miles engine failed(coolant in intake manifold)Replaced with used 3.8. Now alternator is acting up again at 110000 miles. Whatever happened to good old fashioned class action lawsuits????????? This year car is a real lemon. Wife is driving 89 Ford Tiempo with 118000 miles on it because she is afraid of the Pontiac!
    Would love to hear from others with same problems to see what strength in numbers can do!!
  • pjyoungpjyoung Member Posts: 885
    But Ford sure had their share of them.
  • jc1973jc1973 Member Posts: 63
    i can tell u this never buy a pontiac ive had 2 a 94 sunbird and a 97 grand am both with the pos 3.1 garbage motors these cars just suck period will never buy another pontiac again
  • SPYDER98SPYDER98 Member Posts: 239
    Would lower than normal oil pressure be an indicator of a possible head gasket issue?
    Over the past year, I've noticed more and more blue smoke being generated by my eclipse from the exhaust and decreasing oil pressure also. Especially after the car is warmed up. During cold starts the oil pressure is fine for a little while, then begins to decrease. Even at 3000rpm when the car is warm, the oil pressure is lower than it is at 1500 rpm during a cold start.

    My car does have 143k miles on it..
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    a large loss of pressure would make me think the crankshaft bearings are pretty worn, and a lot of oil pressure is being wasted there blowing a stream of oil past the rods and so less gets on the top of tne engine. that has its own bad effects, as you can well imagine.

    start thinking in terms of either a rebuild, a drop-in engine, or a trade. if the oil pressure was low in all circumstances, I'd think an oil pump might be the ticket, but this smells like crank wear. I would think the basic sound of the engine would have changed as well with this, to maybe a more mellow and flabby sound, a snore rather than a snarl. if there is any knocking or clanking from the engine, you are close to the end. the blue smoke is probably from blowing oil by the rings, so it's not like a set of bearings is all you need.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,726
    have you measured oil loss over a set amount of miles, say 1000-2000? If you are losing more than a quart of oil per 1000 miles to consumption, the rings are going fast. If it is less than that, you might also try switching to a heavier oil and see how that affects oil pressure and oil loss.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Is this car a turbo?
  • SPYDER98SPYDER98 Member Posts: 239
    The engine is turbo charged. The car is on its 2nd turbo, which was installed at 70k miles.
    I've been adding a quart of oil about every 2500 miles lately. I had the low oil pressure problem checked a year ago by a local dealer. They tested a similar turbo spyder side by side with mine and the readings were about identical. But what I didn't like was...when they ran the test, both cars were cold. And they only checked the oil pressure upto 3000 rpm.

    I wish they ran the test with the cars fully heated up, as this is when mine begins to show signs of drastically dropping oil pressure and continues to increasingly drop at high rpm. The needle on the gauge will only climb as high as to the border of the normal operating range at 3000rpm when the car is warm. As the rpms begin to rise from that point on, the needle begins to fall below the normal operating range increasingly all the way up to the redline.

    This is an issue which started around the 100k mile mark. 43k miles later, the car still starts and runs great. But lately, I've noticed the oil pressure looks like it's barely striving to stay above the minimum operating range and I'm starting to get worried.

    But with 143k miles on the original engine, I guess I can't be too bummed out..
This discussion has been closed.