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The Quad 4

ziegmanziegman Posts: 7
edited March 2014 in Pontiac
well i found a car the other day good shape what i am looking for. 94 grand am GT good shape 96k on it. but when i popped the hood i noticed the Quad 4 engine in there which i know has a reputation for blowing head gaskets. which is what will happen when you try to make a high output 4 cylinder engine with some [non-permissible content removed] mechanics behind it. my question is if i get the head gaskets replaced will they last for very long or what would be the cost of finding a 4 cylinder twin cam or a DOHC and putting that in.


  • jc1973jc1973 Posts: 63
    well i can tell u this be happy it,s not a 3.1 v6 my 97 grandam has this engine they are junk quad 4 is much better faster also
  • tbonertboner Posts: 402
    The Quad 4 is actually a pretty sweet engine. GM wasn't the only one having issues with Iron blocks and Aluminum heads (different expansion rates)

    But you are correct that these tend to destroy head gaskets at a higher rate than do today's engines.

    I'd expect a head gasket change to cost $300-$600 depending on any machining needed.

    Bottom line, if you like the car, buy it and know that all cars break something, so you might as well drive something you like.

    At least you won't be spending that same money on timing belts, the Quad 4 is a timing chain engine.

  • drwilscdrwilsc Posts: 140
    A long time ago I had an '88 Buick Skylark with a Quad 4. Sure enough, it blew a head gasket in December, 1994 when it had 96,000 miles on it. It actually cost me close to $1000 to fix it. I had a lot of other problems with the engine as well. I'm not sure whether the later Quad 4's were better than the 1988, which was the first year they came out.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,492
    especially starting in 1996, which I believe was the year that the DOHC was bumped up to 2.4 liters. I think the '88-95 model was a 2.3. The earlier models actually came in two forms. One had 150-160 hp, and the more potent one had more like 175-180 hp.

    From '96 until the end (it was ultimately replaced by the Ecotech) it had 150 hp. I had a '99 Alero rental car with that engine for a day once...that was a sweet little car!

    My ex-wife had a head gasket go on an '88 LeBaron turbo. Same basic problem...aluminum head, iron block, and different expansion rates. When this one went though, it needed a new head, as the old one got warped too badly. I think it cost her about $750 for a new gasket and a used head. Then it was another $75 for my mechanic to put all the wiring, hoses, vacuum lines, etc on top of the engine back together the RIGHT way! >:-(
  • ziegmanziegman Posts: 7
    when i do get it fixed about how long will that last? i don't wanna get a new one put on there and only have it last 50k. i think the quad 4 was a good idea they just should have thought through it a little more. would it just be better to put one of the twin cams or DOHC in instead?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    A head gasket blows after 96,000 miles and it's considered a major problem.

    It wasn't too many years ago when 96,000 miles without an engine overhaul was unheard of!
  • ziegmanziegman Posts: 7
    i am not saying it is a big deal. i just don't wanna get a car with a problem like this and have nothing but problems with. my cousin bought a 97 acura and it blew a head gasket, he ended up paying a little more than $2000 on it. sure it is a foreign but a head gasket is a head gasket and it will cost money.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    When you find a make or model that won't ever have a problem after 96,000 miles, please let the rest of us know what it it!

    My point's cars are pretty reliable compared to what they used to be.
  • ziegmanziegman Posts: 7
    there probably aren't any cars after 69k that won't have problems. but the best way to go about buying a car is to be informed about the car and the problems it can have. i don't know if you remember the 305 IROC that came with the camaro in the late 80's but that thing was a piece. at 100k it was done. so people would sell them at 95k to a person who knew nothing about it. well a little while later the engine stops working so well and they find out that the engine is shot. i am not asking for a perfect car when it is used but i would like one that isn't going to be a pain in the [non-permissible content removed] all the time
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I remember hearing stories that the Quad 4 was characteristically a rough engine, that is, vibrated a lot, etc. Is that true or just a car mag's one-time complaint?
  • wainwain Posts: 479
    wonder how much GM tested that engine before they released it?
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,492
    is that when something breaks, it's a big hassle to fix. Head gaskets didn't used to blow out that frequently, unless you neglected the engine, and if they did, it was usually just because of the gasket. The head was usually still fine.

    It's one thing for a head gasket to blow, and only have to pay a few hundred bucks, or even $700 or so. That's no big deal. But when you start getting into the thousands or, worse, needing a whole new engine, then we have a problem! A guy at work recently had the head gasket in his '98 Windstall blow. Took out the whole engine, and it was something like $5,000 to replace!
  • mullins87mullins87 Posts: 959
    My girlfriend at the time, she's now my wife, has owned two of them. The first one was a '90 Grand Am. That car didn't last very long as it was smashed in a wreck at only 4,500 miles. I do remember it running extremely high oil pressure at anything over 2k rpms. The second one, a '91 Grand Am, was ok for 55k miles. It blew a head gasket. Luckily for us, GM had an extended 60k warranty on that part. Funny thing, it took a non-Pontiac dealership service manager to tell us that, we had no idea it was covered. We traded it in at 67k miles. Both engines were rather "raspy." IMO, I think they are "wound" too tight. That is a peppy little engine, but I think they hot-rodded it just a little too much at the factory at the expense of long term reliability.

    Just my experience and $.02 - I agree with everyone else. If you buy something with that many miles on it, don't pay much, because most likely you will have some problems with it.
  • ziegmanziegman Posts: 7
    it is a characteristic of the quad 4 to blow a head gasket. it has to do with different expansion rates and then you can get antifreeze in there and you can't compress antifreeze. the parts aren't what kill you to replace it only around $200 to get the parts and everything you need but almost around $1000 for labor because it can take up to 15 hours worth of work. if you have cruise and a/c it raises it because they have to reconfigure it and remove them and then replace them again. the worst part about nowadays when things break is that there is the damn computer which can either be helpful to find problems but can be a problem if it is messed up.
  • burdawgburdawg Posts: 1,524
    For a short but good technical discussion of the variations in the quad 4 from inception, try:
  • dracos95zdracos95z Posts: 1
    I am looking to buy a 2.3lHO I was woundering if the 91 Grand Am 2.3HO came as an Auto? Does anyone know?
This discussion has been closed.