Yes. Gasket problems still remain a known "feature" on the 3.4L engine.
Buy a Vibe. It's better built - a joint venture between Toyota
and GM, like the Prism/Corolla was. In fact, it's actually a Corolla
with a new exterior and body on it.
The Vibe, IIRC, has a $2000 cash back incentive right now, and
your GM dollars should be good for at least $2000 or more, so
you can end up with a Vibe for about 10-12K. Actually, the money
should be good on any GM vehicle. I've never heard of specific
models having different rules.
The HP/weight ratio is about the same, but the reliability should
be better on the Vibe.
Go for one. I have a Montana 2002 and I am very satisfied. I know that I
will get the intake leak so I monitor the coolant level closely. I am not
rich but I dont think that I cannot afford to have it fixed, man that
doesn't cost more than 1 more car payment !!!
You will enjoy your van, rides well, fairly quiet, lots of room, and decent
reliability. You can buy the brand you want , you are going to have a
problem sooner or later.Murphy's law rules !!
We like our 1998 Trasport as a kid and grocery hauling machine. The reason we
went with it was because of the seating system they had. We had 3 car seats at
the time and they all fit in the second row's 3 bucket seats. Really we didn't
want a van but like it now with the kids growing up. My wife though would like
to switch back to a car when the kids get bigger.
The front brakes are kinda weak. I've replaced the pads 3 times and the last
time I put on new rotors. Now they seem to be lasting better.
I had to do the intake gasket as my post below talks about it. I just wish I
would known about the problem earlier I'd paid closer attention and done it
My major beef with the van is the the heater!!!!!!!!!!
It has a crappy heater in it especially for us as we have cold winters up here.
The heater fan roars away so loud that you can't hear the radio. But nothing
much comes out for air flow. I had it at the dealer when it was under warranty
but they pretty much said pull out the filter and thats as good as it gets!
I've replaced the spark plugs and an O2 sensor, tranny service, intake gasket,
water pump, front brakes pads 3 times and rotors once. This is in 87,000 miles.
My father has a 96' buick regal with the 3800 in it. In a 100,000 miles he's
done his brakes at 90,000 miles, plugs, water pump, and a tranny service. Its
been a really good car so far for him.
If you like the van and the price I would still get it. We like our '02
Silhouette very well except for the intake leak.
Also keep an eye on the coolant. Ours turned milky brown in the first
20,000 miles. Do not believe the Dexcool 5 years, 100,000 miles thing!
SOn Thu, 19 Feb 2004 22:39:36 -0800, "John Horner"
So you guys are telling me you would buy one of these 3.1 or 3.4
engines with the historic gasket problems and consider the almost
inevitable gasket failure as a routine maintenance expense, kind of
like a new set of tires? It sounds good in theory, but what about the
risk of missing the window between detectable gasket failure and
permanent damage or destruction of the engine?
I would want an infallible way of detecting gasket failure as soon as
it begins to happen.
"Other than the frighteningly high probability that the engine will
self destruct shortly after the warranty expires, the Venture is
really one of the nicer vans on the market" is kind of like saying
"Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?"
Routine oil analysis when you do oil changes. Costs $20 per test. That
caught mine in the early stages.
Our purchased new vehicles over the past 20 years have included a VW, Ford
Taurus, another VW, a Volvo, Chrysler, Oldsmobile and Honda. None of them
have been trouble free, though the 1985 VW was the best of the bunch having
had no >$200 repair needed in it's 110,000 mile life time. It was lost to
an idiot who rear ended us on a clear day. The Taurus had a/c problems
early on which were around $1000. The second VW needed a new auto tranny
under warranty at 10,000 miles. The Chrysler minivan had a failure which
the dealer never could fix and which was repurchased from us with 100% cash
Considering all of those things, the Olds intake gasket seems par for the
The best way to check for coolant intrusion into the oil is
to take oil samples and have them checked out. Plenty of
posters have provided links to a company that does this
sort of thing....if you happen to live in a large city, I'm sure
you can find a company that does oil analysis.
Other then that....here's what I see as indications that
the intake gasket is leaking. Visually inspect the engine,
at the left rear cylinder head to intake manifold parting
line, you often can see the intake gasket beginning to
"leak" coolant at that parting line. It usually starts as
a very small stain, and progresses to coolant leaking
down the back of the block at that point.
You can also pull the oil filler cap and check for
evidence of coolant on it, or inside the valve cover.
Usually if you see what I'm going to show you in
the next few pictures....the problem is very advanced,
and the likelyhood of damage to the engine is higher.
Obviously, checking your coolant level in both the overflow
bottle (hot or cold) and your radiator (cold, preferably, unless
you want to burn yourself) is the best visual way of seeing
that you have some sort of coolant consumption problem
that is not normal. Do not believe anyone that tells you that
coolant "evaporates" and some dropping of the level is
normal. Have it checked out and fixed.
Other then this problem, and the occasional head gasket
failure, and a general lack of good heat from the heater,
the van is quite reliable.
Yes, I think your photos indeed show very much advanced case of coolant
My 3.4L engine (97 Venture) broke a cam shaft and it looked not nearly 1/4
as bad as what the photos show.
I think if you need to top off the coolant more than once, you are toasted.
That happened to me.
Exactly. The Vibe/Matrix is a nice option - van-like useability
for around town, seats 5 comfortably, and has a great engine.
Lots cheaper as well.
If you still need big, get a 2-3 year old Surburban or Yukon.
That engine's not going to self-destruct.
I would not consider a Venture at all. Sold my Montana and bought a 04
Mazda Tribute. The Montana was in great condition, but I could NEVER live
my life wondering when the lower intake manifold gasket was going to puke
again. I got lucky the 1st time and caught it before engine damage happened.
rick wrote : you are going to lose sleep with the tribute too!
You Know why?
1991 Pontiac Bonneville LE
3800 V6 ( C ), Black/Slate Grey
_~_~_~_~277, 028 miles_~_~_ ~_~_
Harry you weren't supposed to answer that question !! ;-)
I was just playing with his mind. Loosing sleep on something silly like a
gasket always make me laugh, especialy when somebody spend 30 grand to save
The problem with his tribute is that he doesn't know what problem he will
get !!! and so because he is going to have some problem ... ;-)
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