GM V6 Engine Warning - True Sad Story (Long)

Lesson Learned : Check engine for coolant leak if you own a 1996-2003 GM vehicle with either a 3.1L or 3.4L V6 engine. Your engine may self-destruct
without warning!!!
I have a 1997 Venture with a dead 3.4L V6 engine (37,000 mi). Two weeks ago, the engine abruptly died while vehicle is running. Prior to that, there was no sign that anything was wrong. No engine overheat, check engine light, fluid on the ground etc., the only incidence was a lit "low coolant light" and a re-fill with Dex-Cool. After a tow to the dealer, I was informed that I would need a new engine installed for $5200. The problem was that coolant had leaked into the engine via the intake manifold gasket, which seized up the bearings causing the camshaft to break. I immediately contacted GM Customer Assistance, thinking that the mileage is too low to have required engine replacement and coolant has started leaking long before the warranty end. After pleading for help and leaving many messages on un-returned phone calls, I was told a week later that GM CANNOT render any help (even though the 4 yr/50000 mi warranty expired out of time but not of mileage). The only and FINAL "help" came from the dealer dropping the price to $4500.
I shopped around, talking to local repair shops and did some research. One repair shop told me that they did 2-3 vehicles a week with this coolant problem. Most had intake manifold replaced for hundreds of dollars, but quite a few had engine blow-ups just like me. If you look up this web site (http://www.gmintakeleak.com ) and this (http://www.gm-v6lemons.com ), you will see the extent of the problem and not be surprised. This problem is wide spread for all GM cars and vans from 1996 to 2003 with the 3.1L or 3.4L engine. The GM Technical Service Bulletin # 03-06-01-010 (http://152.122.48.12/prepos/files/Artemis/Public/TSBs/2003/SB-10001282-8175 .pdf) lists the vehicles affected. Because of the problem, currently 3640 GM customers have signed a petition http://www.petitiononline.com/GMcnsmrs/petition.html ) to recall these engines, and the number of signiture is growing on an average of 10 a day. BUT, still GM is in DENIAL.
While shopping around, I find that I can buy a brand new GM Goodwrench engine from GMPP for $2000 and have it installed for about $1100. So I think the GM dealer still makes a handsome profit with its last offer. Their priority was apparent when they refused to release the vehicle unless I pay them $45 for the work they did: say maybe 10 minutes of labor to check compression in two cylinders? They said they did me a favor by not charging $90.
Now the Venture is sitting in a repair shop waiting for a used engine to be put in (for $2900). It will come with a 1 yr. warranty. I am keeping my fingers crossed for the used engine to work. I will get the dead engine back for autopsy and future claim against GM. Another GM car I had, a Grand Am with the 3.1L engine (36,000 mi) had the intake manifold gasket replaced by dealer a few months ago under warranty (surprise !!, surprise !!! the "low coolant light" turned on this one too). Now that I've learned how this engine can self-destruct without notice, I have quickly traded-in the Grand Am for another vehicle. Just imagine being caught with sudden engine failure on a busy freeway scares the hell out of me. I have owned exclusively GM vehicles in my household for at least the past 25 years. So with the one of my three GM cars now gone for good (you didn't expect me to replace my Grand Am with another GM car did you? the other cars will soon follow), a perfect example in the making of how GM is losing market share.
Hopefully, GM will one day WAKE UP and start taking care of its customers. You have to question the wisdom of a company when it is willing to give $4000 incentive to sell a vehicle but unwilling to spend a single penny to retain a faithful customer. Furthermore, given the extent of the problem, any responsible company would have recalled these engines already
TRUE story but SAD to see a great company seeking its own destruction.
- Please contact me at snipped-for-privacy@angelfire.com for any questions or comments (remove abc from name for real email address)
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I looked at this website and the only thing I can say is if these people would learn to pop their hoods and check their coolent levels they would have noticed a coolent loss and could of prevented most if not all the damage that had occurred to their engines by having this taken care of. I mean if your bottle is low or becoming low over a few miles and theres nothing on the ground that should tell you something! I guess these vehicles didnt have idiot lights on the dash for low coolent.

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By the time you notice a loss of coolant, the intake manifold gasket has already broken. Gasket replacement typically costs $700 or more at GM dealers.
says...

GM
self-destruct
engine
coolant
problem
gasket,
immediately
to
before
any
of
One
site
is
3.4L
(http://152.122.48.12/prepos/files/Artemis/Public/TSBs/2003/SB-10001282-8175
3640
day.
unless
check
charging
be
my
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Longer version of my reply
By the time you notice a loss of coolant, the intake manifold gasket has already broken. After that, no amount of coolant you add can fix this problem. Coolant will enter the engine until it breaks. You can replace the broken gasket for about $700, but it will fail again. In fact, I stopped at the nearest store to top off the coolant as soon as the low coolant light turned on. That did not help. GM owner manual tells you to take the vehicle to service if you have to add coolant more than 4 times a year. The intend of this post is to help people be aware of this problem. No ill will against GM. Only GM can fix this engine for good and it should.
says...

1996-2003
weeks
that,
on
not
the
coolant
but
web
you
or
(http://152.122.48.12/prepos/files/Artemis/Public/TSBs/2003/SB-10001282-8175
I
to
engine
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By the time you notice the level is low and continues to loose antifreeze, the damage for the most part is already done. I had the intake manifolds replaced immediately at the dealer after noticing the coolent loss. The dealer 'refused' in writing to quarantee or take any responsibility for any damage to the engine already caused thru this obvious design flaw. The car ran for another 10k before the engine seized even after checking the fluid levels weekly. It was a '95 GA 3.1 and I was quoted 3500$ to replace the engine. I said screw that and bought a new car at a new dealer... lesson learned.

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This isn't actionable, is it? If I understand "Self-destruct without warning" correctly, I should just avoid buying another 3.1.

GM
self-destruct
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Yeah I dont trust any engine that I cant see and touch all the injectors on. V90 deg car engines are all I'd want to own.

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I'm pretty sure the 3800 isn't 90deg. And I can see and touch all my injectors.
Nick.
says...

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Oh! *grins* Shows how much attention I've paid to its design. :-) Thanks for pointing that out my friend.
Nick.

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"Nick Trounson" wrote

Hey, no problem....I find it hard to believe that any one of us could possibly know everything about anything. I learn new things on these newsgroups all the time.
Ian
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Alright so I don't know everything about the 3800. :-) The engine didn't appear here until 1989, so knowing its origins is pretty much out of the question.
And in the Fiero's case you could only see three plugs, the other three were facing the firewall. Commodores you can see all six though! :-)
Nick.
says...

that
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Yeah, what is it with GM and lopping off cylinders? I mean other mfgs.are guilty of the same, but with GM it seems to be their first choice. They had that little 4 cylinder in the Chevy II that was an inline 6 with 2 cylinders lopped off. On the tempest, they cut a what, 326 or 389?, V8 in half, long ways. And then the aforementioned V6's. They even did it on carbs, who can forget the infamous front half of a QuadraJet, the "DualJet"?
says...

that
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On Sat, 16 Aug 2003 18:34:46 GMT, Bonnevilles R Kewl

That's what I was thinking. As long as they don't try converting them to diesel.

--
2001 Grand Prix GT
http://727tj.tripod.com /
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@KNOThotmail.com says...

Lol thats true.
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whats wrong with a diesel, i have a 1983 buick with a 5.7 liter diesel with 213,000 miles on it, just replaced the injection pump twice, nothing else has been touched, and i have owned it since new......
wrote:

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I think though what they are saying is that making something such as a 3.4L V6 (or any other originally designed gasoline engine) and trying to make a diesel out of it would probably be disastrous. I had a friend once that had an old Chevy Caprice that was diesel and it ALWAYS ran like complete crap. After researching we found it was originally gasoline. Although the engine was a different one, the computer wasn't. :) I'm quite sure yours is original. I like diesels for some purposes myself. But things that would drive me nuts is noise and smell. That's one of many reasons I hate those Dodge trucks with diesels. To me they are WAAAAAY too loud, even by Diesel standards. I heard one of the new Chevys, wasn't too bad. I was impressed.
Tony
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One thing I overlooked in your post. Yours is a 5.7L. :) Which also comes in gasoline form.
Ooops.
Tony
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My Blazer's 4.3 V6 was once (historically) a 350 V8, I heard it took GM a little while to figure out the "balance shaft" needed to smooth-out a V-6 that was once a V-8 though. GW
Nick Trounson wrote:

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