I recently moved to a new town and had to get some work done on my car
and things happened after the work was done and wondering if there
might be any fault or blame on the garage that worked on my car.
I started with a small oil leak that got progressively worse in a
matter of 2 or 3 days. So I took it in to have it checked out. The
seal/gasket on the timing cover was the cause of the leak. There were
several things starting to have problems so I figured I would get it
all done as I had not put much maintenance in the car in the past year
that I owned it. Just routine oil changes and fluid checks. After
all was down they replaced the water pump which had been leaking a
little as well, radiator flush/fill, oil change, timing cover gasket
and I think maybe it was the front main seal.
Well after $500 and what I thought seemed like a decent job and a
good deal I have put 360 miles on it with any problems. The RPMs
seemed to be on average 2-3 hundred higher than before the work. i.e
at 55mph it used to run at 1700rpm, after the work at 55mph the engine
was running at a solid 2000rpm. That was the only difference I
Well it stalled on my coming home last Sunday a week and a half and 360
miles after it was worked on. I turned the key off and restarted the
car. It was running very rough and knocking. I was in my apartment
complex already so I let it idle back to my parking space it was about
a minute in total.. I didn't give it any gas as to not make it worse.
The gauges did not indicate any problems even though the engine felt
very hot when I opened the hood. I let it cool off over night and
attempted to start it the next morning. It started with a little
knock that I could hear and 1 or 2 seconds after that I heard a noise
and didn't know what it was at the time. I shut it down and got out
and discovered the noise was oil spraying all over the ground. I
didn't know it at the time but the seal on the oil filter blew out and
began spraying oil all over.
I had it towed back to the shop that did the work before and they took
the motor out and told me that it had spun a bearing which caused the
rod to blow up and then causing it to put metal shavings through out
the motor. Needless to say they tell me I can fix it for about $1800
but no guarantee on if metal shavings got spread throughout the motor
or I can put a new motor in for about $3000.
My main concern about all of this is what actually caused this to
happen. The car has low mileage 57k and it has been maintained very
well by the previous owner and I have owned it for the last 10k and
have done 4 oil changes. Could they have done something on the first
repair that would have caused this problem and how would I be able to
I already had $500 into the repair the last time so now I am looking at
a total cost of $3500 for all the repairs.
Let me know your comments or if you have any additional questions
His car may well be junk, but the manifold is NOT the issue. That
Regal has a Series I 3800, not a Series II. Fortunately, the Series I
3800s don't suffer from this problem: the EGR system is totally
Yes, 1995 was the first year, but not all 3800s made in 1995 where
Series II. Have to look at 8th character of the VIN: Series I is VIN
code "L"; Series II is Vin code "K". With Buicks, Regals and LeSabres
used Series I engines - Park Avenues and Riverias used Series II.
Sorry about this goofy post.
I have researched this a number of times, and it is still confusing. As
Bill said, the Series II
came out in 1995.
I had the impression that a few Series II engines slipped out in 1994, but I
can find nothing to
back that up, and it doesn't matter for this conversation anyhow.
In 1995, it may have been possible that you could have gotten a Series I,
just as Bill posted.
The VIN tells the tale.
That's odd. Unless the trans is slipping or something like that. Engine
work should not change a gear ration.
Unlikely as they should not have touched anything that would affect a rod or
a bearing. OTOH, did they fill the oil after draining it? All the way?
You probably will never know and will not be able to prove anything. I
would expect the engine to last well over 100k, maybe even 200k, but "stuff"
Your car is not worth putting 3k in repairs. Look for a used engine. Woman
I work with just had an engine swap done for less than $600 including engine
and labor. Off hand I don't know if it was a 4 or 6 in a Pontiac, but in any
case, far less than your quote. Call a couple of shops and bone yard for
My theory is no lockup of the converter - don't know why unless the
electrical connections from PCM to transaxle where bad or PCM not
initiating lockup (but that should have set a DTC).
Anyway, that's a side issue to the engine problem in my estimation.
First, the RPM difference: 300 RPM difference at 55 MPH sounds like
the torque converter clutch was not locking up as it should. Side
issue though - not directly related to your engine problem (probably a
bad connection at the transaxle electrical connector).
There are numerous things that could have caused the engine failure.
Sounds like a case of oil pressure starvation to the main oil
galleries. The main bearings are fed directly from the main gallery
and the rods through drilled passages in the crank. A blockage of the
main gallery would strarve all the mains and rods of oil, leading to
spun main and/or rod bearing(s) and possibly a thrown rod. The oil
pressure gauge / lamp would NOT catch this problem since it is located
in the timing case cover and actually measures the oil pressure coming
out of the oil filter - if the passage from the timing case cover to
the main gallery where blocked, all you'd see is a higher than normal
One possible cause is that debris from the old timing case cover
gasket got into the main oil gallery passage and blocked it. The fact
that, when you restarted the car the pressure from the oil pump (which
is inside the front cover) was high enough to blow out the oil filter
seal makes me think that may well be the case. Another possibility is
a defective oil filter, though the bypass valve is supposed to let oil
pressure still get to the engine even if the oil filter is plugged
(and this would show up as a low oil pressure gauge reading).
Normally rod bearings don't "spin" on a 57K engine - something has
to cause that to happen, like oil starvation.
The only way to know if this is the case is to tear down the front
of that engine and examine the main oil gallery for obstructions. I
assume that the shop has pulled the timing case cover off the front of
that engine in their examination, and I wonder if they looked at the
oil gallery (and, to be blunt about it, would they give you the
straight story if they had, knowing that if the gallery where blocked
due to old gasket debris they would owe you an engine).
Now on to the bottom line: is the car worth the work. First, I don't
think replacing the entire egine is necessary: replace the short block
(a short block is the cylinder block with crank, rods, pistons,
camshaft and associated parts) and reuse the existing heads,
manifolds, etc. Make sure the parts that are reused are thoroughly
cleaned. Also, DO NOT reuse the existing head bolts: they are special
"torque to yield" bolts and should be replaced.
You're probably looking at $2500 or so to do this job right. The
car, with a properly working engine, would be worth about $3000
retail. So, to replace the car with another equiv. car would cost you
not much more than the repair, but with the repair would would
basically have a new engine. Damn near a "flip the coin". Depends on
how much you like the Regal and if you want to keep it. That is a
question you will have to answer for yourself.
Without a physical exam of the car myself this is about all I can
tell you. Best of luck and if you have any further questions I'll try
and answer them for you.
Thanks for all the responses everyone. I did have the engine replaced
and yes it was a hard call because as you all know the value of the car
and the cost of engine replacement were very close. The good things
about the car I can say are that there is no rust on it at all and the
insurance on it is cheap as well.
With this investment into the car I just look at it now that I have to
keep it for another 10 years at least. I was trying to get an
assessment to see if the work that was done a few weeks ago could have
been the root cause of the problem.
They did take the oil filter off and have that sent back to NAPA to be
tested. the work they did 2 weeks ago also involved an oil change so
it was a new filter that they put on as well.
I tend to believe that it did have something to do with the work they
did on the timing cover gasket and causing blockage in the oil
cavities. I guess I will throw that at them real hard and see how
they respond to it.
They did check the oil pressure near the filter after they had gotten
the new filter on and had it running. The oil pressure was up around
35 to 50 PSI, which they tell me is normal. They used that to say that
there wasn't a problem with the oil pumping system and that oil
system was still working properly. The said it could have been some
sort of intermittent problem in the oil system where it got plugged up
and caused it to stop pumping oil for a period of time which caused the
problem. My one question then is what caused the oil system to get
plugged up?? Was it some debris that was left in there from when they
replaced the timing cover gasket??
Unfortunately, no one can answer that question for you now. There are
probabilities that could come into play, but without the engine to examine
it would all be pure speculation. I might try to get the engine from the
shop and have it examined by another shop. First - I'd talk to an attorney.
You don't know if pursuing it will be cost effective in the end. So many
factors to consider.
Excellent point - debris from the old timing case gasket could have
lodged in either the intake or output passages in the block.
The reason I'd look at the main oil galleries is that if the feed or
suction side was blocked, the oil pressure gauge/light would have
shown a drop in pressure as the pump starved for oil.
Tim, I'd follow up on that old engine and that original repair. Even
if you where only to get a partial compensation it would sure beat
Without that engine in front of me for examination I can only
speculate on what caused the failure. As I said previously, my first
thought is that some of the debris from removing to old timing case
cover gasket ended up in the main oil gallery, eventually blocking the
oil from reaching the main and rod bearings and hence the engine
Keep us imformed on what is happening and best of luck to you both on
that and the new engine.
It's worth a shot. The front timing cover contains both the
oil pump "and" the pressure relief valve. I've seen the relief
valves stick and cause no oil pressure conditions. The pump
itself will usually pump on thru thick and thin....it's the relief
valve in the side of the cover that is susceptible to debris or
scoring in it's bore.
This sounds like a fairly classic symptom of an engine that is siezing.
After the engine cools it will often re-start and run, albeit with notible
damage. Likely you spewed oil to the point that you had insufficient
lubrication/cooling of the pistons and bearings. You might have a fight of
sorts on your hands but I'd be going after the shop that did the repairs
given the defective seal on the oil filter.
Again - I believe the tell-tale indicator is the seal on the oil filter. It
could have been installed without lubricating the seal first, which will
often result in grabbing and distortion of the seal, or it could simply be a
defective filter. In any event, I would lay that straight in the lap of the
shop performing the work. All of the other factors are incidental to the
failure in the lubrication and cooling of the engine.
You may need a lawyer before this is over.
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