The only problem I've seen is the balance shaft bearing (exactly like
a camshaft bearing in a pushrod engine) starts to spin in the block,
gets spit out and then the balance shaft chews up the block. At this
point, you will be looking at a lot of money to pull the engine and
possibly have the block repaired. We don't do it at the dealership,
we just replace the engine. It's not a common problem, but when
it happens it can be expensive.
The 4.0 liter engine is simply a smaller displacement version of the
Northstar in the Cadillac vehicles. It has the identical problems that
the Northstar has, water pumps leak, water pumps sieze and throw
the belt and/or melt the plastic pulleys, head bolts pull out of the
block, case half seals leak oil. Many of these repairs are very
costly. And the engine needs to be worked on by someone who
knows the engine and is familiar with repair techniques for
these engines. Otherwise, you might just end up with scrap for
Ouch! That doesn't sound pleasant. How frequent is such a problem? 1 in
I've heard the 3.5l burns a quart or two of oil between oil changes. Are
there any other interesting characteristics?
Did this engine die with the Olds line, or is it being used elsewhere at GM?
Not to cause a flame war, but does GM make anything that doesn't have fatal
flaws? It seems to me from reading this group that every engine family that
GM makes has some kind of self-destruct mechanism built in to it.
What's the most reliable GM product on the market today (the Pontiac Vibe
Well, it's probably not fair of me to comment too much. I work on
them all day long and see all the bad things that go wrong. Example:
We just had 2 Gen III 3800 engines come in the shop within days of
each other...complaint: no/low oil pressure.....problem: spun camshaft
bearings....identical problem in both engines. Are these one-off's? I
guess we will see.
We have very few problems with the inline all aluminum engines...
except the 5 cylinder. There seems to be some issues with the cylinder
head design on that engine. We've had 2-3 engines with wierd misfires
that ended up needing either all the exhaust valve springs replaced, or
a new updated cylinder head installed. The 6 is pretty much bullet
proof....we do almost nothing to them. I suspect the 4 will be like
that too. The 4 cylinder Ecotec looks good. We have had a number
of them come in with oil leaks....turns out to be porous blocks. Does
GM replace the engines...nooo.....we epoxy the area of the block that
is porous....yay for GM! The new generation small block (came out
in 99) is by far and away the best engine GM has come up with. We
rarely do anything to them. The cold piston noise is about the
only real complaint. I've seen about 3-4 of them replaced since
their inception. One had a crack in the block...some sort of manufacturing
defect....another one, the oil pump cratered and took the motor with
it. And then all the new VVT engines seem to be working quite good.
We just got the first Impala with the 5.3 Displacement on Demand
engine in it. We road tested it.....as far as we can tell, you cannot feel
when the engine goes between the 8 cylinder and 4 cylinder mode.
So there are a lot of good engines out there....and I think they are
getting better. Most of the engines now have gone away from
designs that allow coolant and oil to mix due to gaskets blowing.
Guarantee you that all other manufacturers have the same basic
amount of problems. Ok, maybe not the Japanese ones, but they
are still on a different level from the domestic manufacturers.
Thanks for the info. What models use the 6 cyl inline and the new gen small
block you mention?
So far my 02 Impala LS (3.8 Gen II) is doing fine - I watch the coolant
level and get the oil analyzed occasionally for peace of mind. Just a shame
that I need to even worry about it.
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