Coolant leaking in engine

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I have a 1994 Pontiac Grand Am with the V6 3.1 engine. About a month or so ago I noticed a temperature spike on the guage. It shot up from about 1/4 to over 1/2 and cold air was coming out of the vent. I
topped up the coolant, and everything was fine. Well about 2 weeks later the same thing happens, so once again I did the same thing. I have checked the dipstick, and it looks kinda greyish brown, and it goes way up the stick. I just had an oil change a couple of weeks ago too. So I am pretty sure that it is leaking coolant into the engine. Luckily enough for me I got a warranty that covers power train including head and head gaskets as well as seals and gaskets for all fluids, so I am pretty sure it is covered.
My question is this. How long can I go before it causes serious or irreversible damage to the engine. The car runs fine, good power, pretty smooth, so I don't notice anything wrong with it. Like I said I have had this problem for maybe a month or a bit more, and I haven't driven alot in that time, perhaps 1000-2000 KM tops. I am planning on taking the car in this week to get it fixed. Do you think I have waited too long ? What is the procedure for something like this ? My warranty covers up to $1500 Candian, I'm pretty sure that should cover the intake gasket if thats where the leak is. I suppose it could also be the head or head gasket too, but I'm not sure.
Any info or advice would be greatly appreciated.
Regards, KDawg
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Take it in and get it checked out, that's what you paid the cost of the warranty for.....
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It may have already caused irreparable damage. Do a google search on the lower intake manifold gasket problems with the GM 3.1 and 3.4 engines. Dex Cool erodes the bearings and a lot of people have had the cam bearings freeze up and break the cams. Get it fixed immediately and make sure they flush the engine good to remove all the crud. Around here they want $770 to $1000 to replace the gasket.

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Probably a head gasket, if it were intake I think water would be on the ground.

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Go to the repair shop, go directly to the repair shop, do not pass go and fork out the deductable from your warranty. Water in the oil (brown sludge) is not conducive to good lubrication, and you run the risk of spinning a bearing the very next time you start it.

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Thanks everyone for the replies. I am taking the car in in the next 2-3 days, and I don't plan on using it much before I take it in. If something was seriously wrong, would I not notice something in the way the car runs/feels ? I am not using Dexcool, just the green stuff that comes premixed. Not sure if that helps much. It hasn't overheated yet, it has gotten up over 1/2 on the temp guage, but nowhere near the red. There is alos no visible signs of coolant leaking so it must be an internal leak. I can also smell coolant when the temp rises, not sure if that helps to detrmine if it's a manifold leak or head gasket leak. Thanks again to any and all who responded, any further feedback is welcome.
Regards, KDawg

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OK I took it in this morning, and the tech said it definitely looks like it's the manifold. The dipstick looks like it has been dipped in a double double coffee. He said it looks like I brought it in in time, and doesn't think there will be any damage. He also said they will flush the whole thing out real good, and the good news is that it is all covered under warranty.
Regards, KDawg

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Not sure how its covered under warranty after you contaminated the system. Havent you been reading the groups Kdawg? You post in here all the time. How have you missed all the dexcool and conventional coolant talk?
In article <uEMVb.17652$R6H.15092

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Sorry I don't follow the group unless I am having a particular problem. I thought that it was dexcool that was the bad stuff ? My warranty covers seals and gaskets, and as far as I know at this point, the intake manifold gasket became defective, which allowed coolant to leak into the oil. I had just had an oil change 2 weeks ago, and no noticeable signs of coolant were visible in the oil, but now it is visible. I don't see how this is not covered, and the tech read over my warranty, and said it would be covered too. I'm just wondering why you think this would not be covered. ?
Regards, KDawg

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I would say driving for 2000 miles would kill your warranty right off the bat, myself. Hopefully you didn't tell the mechanic that's you had driven the car the distance of Florida to Canada and then some.
Also, if you've driven that far, you've put excessive wear on components internally. Water contaminated oil DOES NOT LUBRICATE, and because of this, the engine has been exposed to unnecessary wear. A good guess as to one of the main reasons your temperature gauge was reading higher, is that even if the cooling system is full, but the oil is contaminated, the additional friction of the improperly lubricated systems within the engine created additional heat.
In short, start thinking about a rebuild very soon, 'cause that motor is going to be poooooched before long.

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Well I just got off the phone with the tech, and he got the go ahead to repair it under warranty. In the meantime they gave me a new Honda Civic to use, and my 94 Grand Am runs alot smoother than this thing they gave me. I really don't think it caused much damage. The coolant leak may have been small before, because even as recent as 2 weeks ago there were no signs of coolant in the oil. But within the past 3 days it has shown up, and I have maybe driven 20-30 km in the past 2-3 days. The engine is not the original, it is a used engine that has about 120,000 KM or 80,000 miles on it. I hope it will last another year or 2.
Regards, KDawg

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Just pointing out, he said it was in KM not miles. So, 2000KM = 1232.742 miles. Not to mention he said 1000KM, 2000KM tops.
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You should have never mixed standard coolant with dexcool.
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I never mixed, in fact I have never used Dex cool, I have only ever used the premixed green stuff. That is what they told me when to use when I got the car from the same garage that is fixing it for me. I just got off the phone once again with them, and they have the engine apart, and they said the intake gasket was bad. They are fixing it now, and it is covered under warranty, so I am pretty pleased about that.
Regards, KDawg
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Oh you didnt buy new from a dealer I take it. There was a poster that did just that and lost their warranty on their cooling system because of that. The rumors that dexcool is bad is just that rumors. Bad news travels fast and it always comes from people to ignorant to understand what really went wrong with their cooling systems. I didnt catch the year your car was but since it no longer has dexcool dont bother switching back unless you plan on changing dexcool every 2 years instead of 5.
In article <DSUVb.56873$3YE1.37777

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I bought the car (94 GrandAm 3.1) used from a garage. They had finished putting a used engine in with about 120,000 KM (80,000 Miles) and I opted to get a warranty which covered powertrain, and also included seals and gaskets. I am getting near the end of my warranty period (about 1500km left) and I plan on renewing it. When I got the car from this garage I asked them what was being used for coolant and they said it has been using the generic green stuff, so that is what I stayed with.
Regards, KDawg
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You should try to get the dealer to give you some additional warranty on this engine. I had a 97 Venture with essentially the same engine. The cam shaft broke even though I did not notice any water in the oil. So beware. My engine had only 37,000 mi when it broke. It may still happen to you. Running an engine with even a small amount of water in the oil can cause permanent damage to the cam and crank shaft bearings. The cam shaft happened to break first because it is the weaker of the two. Good luck.
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On Mon, 09 Feb 2004 22:31:00 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@xmission.com (GMAN) wrote:

and needs changing every 2 years. Other than that id does no damage.
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Any coolant in the oil is definitely a bad thing - it's mainly the glycol that reacts badly with the oil, not the additives which are the only difference between DEX-COOL and traditional coolant.
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Robert Hancock Saskatoon, SK, Canada
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