1995 Buick Le Saber coolant leak.

Hi Folks, I got this 1995 le sabre that just started having small then large anti freeze puddles under it when idleing. I took a flashlight and peered under the hood to see a coolant leak way up
under the shroud covering the plug wires somewhere. Seeing as it's -17 degrees out I didn't want to start to take anything apart yet. I guess my question is - is this a common problem at about 103,000 mi? Is it a big problem for the snowbank mec. that I am or is this a job for the big boys with the adding machine on their desk. In other words an involved job or a common easy problem. OR one for the local shop. Any advice would be appericated, Thanks, Tom
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Do some google research on GM plenum problems and GM intake manifold gasket problems. You'll find everything you ever wanted to know. The repair is about a 4-5 hour repair for the home or shop mechanic, if you've done one before but is more like 8 hours if you've never done one. It's not a bad job as things go, but I sure would not do it out by the snowbank.
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On mine, the best local independent mechanic quoted $250 on this. I think the plenum itself cost $150. The dealership ate some of the cost and actually did the work for $300 and change.
Base on the price from the independent, the job cannot be more than two hours. (Normal shop rates here are $60 per hour)
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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.nix wrote:

That could only be for replacing the upper plenum. I've done a couple of these over the last few weeks, and to not replace the lower intake gaskets at the same time would be a mistake. To replace the lower gaskets and the upper plenum is about 4.5 hrs labour. Every one that I've had apart shows signs of coolant getting into the engine not only thru the upper plenum, but thru degradation of the lower intake gasket (same basic material/design as the infamous 3.1/3.4 engine).
Ian
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Hey Ian - you mentioned (a while ago) that you don't pull the rear valve cover to replace the gaskets. How do you do this without cutting the gasket? Has to be magic, man. If you can get away with cutting it to get it around the pushrods, why not do it on the front gasket as well? I've always pulled both front and rear, but I'm always up for new ideas as well.
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Mike Marlow wrote:

Mike, that would be for the 3.1/3.4 style engine, not the 3800 intake manifold gasket replacement. No magic...and no cutting of the gasket. At least not the rear valve cover gasket. You still have to remove all of the push rods and you can accomplish that in two ways, wrench the rocker arm bolts out, which is hard, but do-able with the rear valve cover in place, or (the method I use) just pry up the rocker arms with a suitable tool (I use an 11mm brake line wrench, Craftsman to be exact) and remove the push rods that way. You do need to be careful and use common sense, sometimes the engine will be in a position where you will be pushing the valve against the piston. In this case, either turn the motor by hand until you can push the rocker arm without interfering with the piston, or simply wrench that rocker arm until it's loose enough to remove the push rod.
Here, a picture is worth a thousand words:
http://members.shaw.ca/ianrmac/Images/DSC00609-1.JPG
I have a number of "gearwrench" wrenches....I love these things, everybody who works on cars ought to have a set, they aren't even that expensive and you will be amazed at how well they work. I use them all the time on this type of job and many others.
Ian
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Outstanding Ian. I could not figure out how you did it without the explanation. Now it seems so obvious. Saves on a ton of disassembly.
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wrote:

Im sure they only replaced the upper plenum, Ian, The car has run nearly 25,000 miles since the work, and we have had no further problem.
It is time to buy a new car.
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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.nix wrote:

That works too...as long as everyone is aware of the risks. I no longer try to actively sell the GM lower manifold as the customer ends up paying an enormous amount of money for a new manifold that has a different size EGR tube. I usually ask how long they plan to keep the vehicle, if it's only for a few years, just replacing the upper plenum and the lower gasket will suffice.
I'd get the pipe kits, but because we are a dealership and because of the mindset of our management, we won't install aftermarket type kits. Mainly to do with liability and warranty issues.
Ian
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Are you talking about the pipe kits you epoxy into the system, made in Canada? I found those on the net, but they are not widely available in the aftermarket IIRC.
We will buy a new car soon, and - if anything - wont have to worry about the plenum issue anymore. We may find that we only move on to new areas of vexation;>)
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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.nix wrote:

Yes, there are kits that come with a new plenum with a steel sleeve installed in the plastic plenum and the smaller size pipe that you install into the old lower manifold. If it was my own vehicle I'd use this method.
Little story.....one of the salesman in our dealership had his 3800 ingest antifreeze recently. He had it towed to the shop, and it was pronounced dead by the shop foreman. He was in the process of getting a new engine ordered for it when I happened to be talking with him. He told me what was going on, and I pulled him aside and mentioned that replacing the plenum only would probably be all he had to do.
I did it for him one Saturday down at the shop. New upper plenum, new lower gasket, new plugs, cranked the coolant out of the cylinders, changed the oil and it ran like a charm. He was very happy! Most of these engines, even when they've ingested enough coolant to hydrolock, are fine when the above is done. Every now and then, yeah...you bend a rod. But I haven't seen many of those.
By the way, our dealership has no problems with any of the techs working on an employee of the dealerships cars in the shop if they make their own arrangement. Just don't want anyone thinking that I steal work from my own employer. I do not do that!
Ian
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I think that is pretty decent of the dealership. It creates loyalty to help the employees.
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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.nix wrote:

Yes...and if the person wants to just have the job done thru the shop, they only charge them 1/2 the door rate for labour, and they can go pay for the parts over the counter at 10 percent over cost...so even that is a pretty good deal!
Ian
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Ian,
Is that also true of the Series I 3800s? If my memory serves, the 1995 LeSabres and Regals had Series I (VIN Code "L") engines, whereas the Riv and Park Avenues had Series II (VIN Code "K") engines.
On the VIN Code "L" engines you don't have the issue with the EGR system roasting the upper plenum since the EGR feed is introduced into the plenum behind the throttle body.
Regards, Bill Bowen Sacramento, CA
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wrote:

While there doesnt seem to be as much of a problem with the Series I, I bought a medium mileage one out of a junker a couple of years ago to rebuild for my Reatta.
The engine had fine compression as it was, but I wanted a really fresh engine. When I tore it down, I was surprised at the condition of the intake gasket. It wasnt leaking but looked like it should have been. It was just looked BAD.
I too would like to hear what Ian has to say about the Series I.
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William H. Bowen wrote:

Yes, the Series I did not have the same problems as the Series II. Probably the biggest problem that it had was the camshaft sprocket had the plastic teeth which would eventually shear off, jump the timing chain, and bend valves.
The Series I (as you mention) introduced the EGR gases into the top of the plastic plenum where it seemed to do no harm.
Ian
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Have you noticed deterioration, but not necessarily failure, of gaskets in this engine. I was surprised at what I found on my core engine.
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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.nix wrote:

Yes, though it's been a while since I've worked on a Gen I 3800. The gaskets are all the same crappy design that GM has had for years, doesn't matter whether its the v-6's or v-8's.
Ian
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Thanks for the replys guys, I don't think that is beyond my capabilities. Seeing as I have more time that money. I guess I will wait for some warmer weather and do it to it. I got a Dodge 4X4 to drive in the meantime though it's a bit thirsty 8-10 Mpg. Oh Well. thanks again, Tom
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