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
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
.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
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.
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