head gasket in 2002 chevy malibu ... plus other

Greetings and thanks in advance for your help. I have a 2002 chevy malibu that began using a bit of water. Just under a quart a month or so for several months. I was not too worried.
Figured i had a small leak somewhere. The other day I checked the coolant and it was fine. about 12 hours later I checked it and there was quite a lot of oil in the overflow bottle. Figure it is a blown head gasket, and have ordered the parts (I am in the Army in Germany, so it takes a while). They should be here in a few days. I went out today to look around the engine (no, I have not driven it since finding oil in coolant), and noticed a pool of a reddish/pinkish (much darker than dexcool, does not smell like xmission fluid to me, tastes quite bitter) fluid sitting on a recess just to the right (as looking at the engine) and a bit below the lower intake manifold/front head. It is a bit "oily" but fairly thin. First thought is transmission fluid, but why? looks to be a bit more at the lower intake manifold to block area. Now for the questions if you would.
What is the mysterious reddish fluid? Why is it there? If it is transmission fluid, is it possible that coolant has been leaking into the transmission? How would I check?
Am I on the right track with everything else so far? I will be checking the xmission fluid when I get it into the shop, but still need to figure out how. Would like to know if I need to order more parts asap (like xmission filters, etc.). Again, thanks for your help. Chris
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

The reddish stuff is probably concentrated dex cool. Trans fluid is closer to motor oil in color unless it is new. The oil in the overflow could be trans fluid. Since you mentioned "lower intake" I assume it is a 60 degree 3.x engine. I'm sure you are aware of the intake manifold problems with this engine. Make sure you mark the push rods. Head gasket leaks are fairly rare nowadays. If more than a few drops of water were getting into the trans, the trans would be dead by now.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I had a problem much like yours with my 3.1 buick. Leak from cooling system from lower right side and front , I took it to the dealer as soon as I noticed the leak. I did not see any oil in coolant but I found it early and had it repaired. Dexcool looks pretty cruddy after a few years. I think a compression check will tell you if it is is intake gasket or the head gasket. My problem was intake gasket. Dealer reported head gasket was fine. Good luck Ernie
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thanks so far for the help. I have researched and found out about the lower intake manifold gasket problems. Most people report getting water in the oil if it gets that far. Mine has oil (nearly positive it is not xmission fluid), and quite a lot of it. No water in oil that I can see. Would the lower intake gasket cause this. I am now sure coolant is leaking externally from lower intake to block (as reddish fluid mentioned before was concentrated dexcool and see where it is leaking). It would be great to save taking off the heads, but still contemplating doing so while I am that far (and parts are on the way). How worried should I be about thougoughally flushing the coolant (I will do so to some extent). What about new coolant. They do not make dexcool anymore from what I have heard. The good old green stuff or the new Prestone? (yellow bottle, mixes with anything). At any rate, plan on tearing into it soon. Thanks, Chris
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

No pressurized oil galleries in the intake manifold. Oil in the water is probably from a blown head gasket. It sounds like the engine may been overheated once. I would go ahead and do the head gaskets. I hope you ordered new head bolts.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Dexcool is still readily available from what I've seen on the shelves in Advance and Wal-Mart.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I have an 87 Pontiac Fiero with the iron duke doing the same thing, oil in the water but no water in the oil. Mechanic thinks it is cracked block. He put new heads on & it stopped leaking for a very short time but is doing it again. Wonder if it is the head gasket, he thinks no. Any other ideas as I hate to go for a rebuilt motor if that is not the problem.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Some of those Iron Duke POS's were very susceptible to cracking of the block. The crack occurs at the water jacket above the lifter gallery. You can access that gallery by taking off the stamped sheet metal plate on the side of the engine. The traditional crack will be an inch or two above the floor of the lifter gallery and will run horizontally IF THIS IS YOUR PROBLEM.
GM told me my series was not at risk for this cracking, but it cracked nevertheless. And when I went to the junkyard to find cores to rebuild, 4 out of 5 I found were cracked.
Yours may be something totally different. Just relating my experience with the Iron Puke and lying GM.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

If you are going to replace the upper and lower intake gaskets why not replace the head gaskets as well. I wish I did soon after replacing the intake gaskets a oil leak started. Also the service manual suggest putting sealer tablets in after the repair. I did not and hope I do not regret that as well. Greg
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Well, I got the Malibu apart. On most Army bases they have an Auto Skills Shop where you can "rent" a bay ($4 per hour for flat bay, $6 per hour for a lift) , use any tool you can think of free (air tools, hand tools, special tools, etc... welders, tire machines, lathes, etc. are an additional small fee), and have a competent mechanic to answer questions as necessary. One of the best services I think. Wonder if it would work as a buisness. Anyway, one of the mechanics was doing the same thing on a 3.4l chevy Venture (they will work on your vehicle for $36 per hour), and another 2001 malibu was outside ready for, again, same problem. Mine and the Venture both had quite bad lower intake gaskets. I also found that there was water in the oil as well as oil in the water in mine. ended up taking off heads too, just in case. Head gaskets looked fine. Have taken heads in for checking, etc. Figured while this far, might as well ensure all is ok and not have to do this job twice. I like my malibu and hope to get another 100,000 miles out of it once fixed. However, I think I will be looking at toyota or honda products next. So, all is going well. Three 3.1 or 3.4 chevy's with same problem in on same day on small army post in Germany seems like there is a problem. I am just glad I know enough to do the job for $6 per hour (my fees) plus parts ($204 plus fluids and filters when done) and head servicing (here about $150 for both to check for cracks, level, grind valves, and replace valve seals, though I will be doing valve seals just for experience). Thanks again. I will post again when done. Chris
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Greetings again, After over 3 weeks, I finally got the heads back (not as convinient or cheap in Germany). Had heads checked for cracks, new valve seals, valve seats ground, and planed. Cost about $350 here. Got the car together today (fired up first try). Seems to be doing great. I am going to drive it carefully and short trips for about a week, then change fluids again (coolant and oil). Question is, GM reccomends in a service letter putting coolant sealer (stop leak) in in conjunction with replacing lower intake gasket, and I have never cared for any of the "stop leak" products. Any suggestions. Should I do it? Thanks again. Chris
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Got a '02 in the driveway ready for intake gaskets and no I will not use sealer in the cooling system. Didn't put it in my sister's '01 when I did her intake gaskets. Just keep an eye on the coolant level and a quick oil analysis test will confirm if no visible leaks are found and your losing coolant. Stop leak was a stop gap to prolong the inevitable gasket replacement. I myself don't want to chance plugging a heater or rad. core.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Most likely failure on these motors is the intake manifold gasket. It seems that almost every GM 3.1/3.4l engine of that era is destined for intake manifold gasket failure.
The big problem is if the coolant has gotten into the oil enough to cause additional damage!
John
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.