97 SE feels low on power, now coolant issue. NEW PICS - Page 2 - GM Forum - Buick, Cadillac, Chev, Olds, GMC & Pontiac chat


1992-1999 Series I L27 (1992-1994 SE,SLE, SSE) & Series II L36 (1995-1999 SE, SSE, SLE) and common problems for the Series I and II L67 (all supercharged models 92-99) Including Olds 88's, Olds LSS's and Buick Lesabres Please use General Chat for non-mechanical issues, and Performance and Brainstorming for improvements.

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Old 11-02-2004, 02:56 AM   #11
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Alright guys, I now know that I'm dealing with something serious here. I would really appreciate any feedback from those who read this. I can verify that I am slowly losing coolant, but I don't know where it'* going. Can't change the oil until this weekend, but there doesn't seem to be coolant on oil dipstick when I check it. Upper intake mani has been replace within the last year and a half, so my natural fear is a head gasket problem. The car just started noticeably misfiring, and it'* giving me the flashing Check Engine light to let me know how ticked off it is.

Here'* my dilemma:
I'm at college, which is almost 3 hours from home. I have no place to do any work on the car while here. I can't even check the oil for coolant. I'd like to troubleshoot on my own before I take it to a shop, but that means driving the 3 hours. I would really like some educated opinions on whether I should make the drive this coming weekend, or just give in and take it somewhere here in Ames. I would really like to save money, but I don't want to risk losing the whole motor by driving it with coolant in the oil. Arrrgghhhh! I feel like my hands are tied! What kind of problems would be indicated by gradual loss of power, gradual loss of coolant, and subsequent misfiring? Sorry, I haven't been able to get the codes out of it yet.
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Old 11-02-2004, 03:32 AM   #12
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hmmm did you check you tranny fluid level? I think low fluid can cause sluggish shifts.
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Old 11-02-2004, 03:35 AM   #13
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oh and if you had a blown head gasket, youd be seein a steady stream of white smoke comin from your rear and alot of coolant loss.
Did you check the coolant elbo that'* on the passenger side? i know mine leaks occasionally.
That'* all i got at 2:30 am.i
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Old 11-02-2004, 12:19 PM   #14
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coolant elbow? no, i might give that a look, but the thing that scares me ties in with another post i had up here. i've smelled a real acrid burning odor from time to time over the last few weeks and i thought it was power steering. but since then it has started missing and lost a little coolant. i don't think there'* any way this could all be coincidence.
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Old 11-02-2004, 02:42 PM   #15
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You should really find SOMEONE w/ a 10mm socket and pull your tb to have a look at the egr/coolant passages. 3 bolts, 1 hour absolute tops time to check it out.
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Old 11-03-2004, 02:26 PM   #16
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Thanks for the replies guys. I just got off the phone with the mechanic (I figured I had better take it somewhere in case there was coolant leaking somewhere it shouldn't be), and he said there was a random misfire code. Most of the misfiring was occurring in cylinder 1, so they did a compression test to see if the head gasket was holding up. Didn't find anything that would suggest a loss in compression, so blown gasket or warped head is ruled out. He can't even find where the coolant is leaking... maybe it is the coolant elbow that was mentioned. I don't know anything about the replacement UIM because I didn't care as much about the internal workings of the car back then, but either way the guy who'* checking the car said everything looks good with the UIM. I'll have to ask about the lower intake gaskets. He also said there were no signs of coolant in the oil. I'm glad it'* nothing catastrophic, but at the same time I'm bummed because he can't find anything particularly wrong with the car. Don't you hate that? When you can't find a specific cause to a problem? So based on everything I've related here, what steps should I take now? What things can I check out further, and what do I need to keep my eye on in case of further problems? Thanks in advance.
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Old 11-04-2004, 01:54 AM   #17
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hmmm,,, I'm thinking that Jr's3800 is "zeroing in" on a very likely source for your problem: that is, the lower intake gaskets. AND, a cooling system pressure test, in my opinion, would be an excellent idea Also, sorry I have to be so honest, but an awful lot of "quickie service" places may not do an adequate system pressure test. Luckily I was able to "rig up" my own test, with a nice 0-15psi gage, compressed air,etc. I slowly and carefully brought the air pressure up to where the radiator cap started to relieve pressure (about 13psi) then let it sit in that condition for about 30 minutes. Re-checked to make sure pressure was holding. (-that was after my repairs, including replacing the lower gaskets,)

Sorry, but I really suspect the lower intake manifold gaskets are your problem.

For what it'* worth, I also expienced random misfiring, and loss of power when the lower gaskets failed.

DO THE SYSTEM PRESSURE TEST next. -a decent, full service radiator shop should be able to do this.

BTW, how much/how fast is the coolant disappearing ? Also, sorry if I have missed earlier posts and replies on your topic here, but are you using Dex Cool, and also, have you ever used any stop leak in the system?

Hope this forum helps you zero-in on the problem. I really hate to see people just sort of "poke around" and "throw parts and money" at a problem, without doing enough careful diagnosis work. Good Luck with this one !!
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Old 11-04-2004, 02:15 AM   #18
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Again, thanks so much for the continued help in this area.

No, I don't believe a coolant system pressure test was done... as far as I know he only pressurized the cylinders to check the status of the head gasket. I did ask him about the lower intake gaskets (plural or singular?) and he said it'* a possibility. He also said lower intake stuff requires much more disassembly to check. I'm more than willing to do the work myself, and I'm assuming my Chilton'* can walk me through that process.

Coolant is disappearing very gradually right now. Nothing catastrophic, but over the last week the cold engine level in the reservoir has gone from being right on the "Cold" line to being approximately 1/2 an inch below the line. Like I said it'* not much, and it only requires a splash or two after a week to bring it back up, but it has done this a couple weeks in a row. There is definitely coolant going somewhere. Interesting note from the mechanic though: he said if the random misfiring in #1 was due to coolant in the cylinder (i.e. bad UIM or lower intake gasket) the spark plug should be unnaturally clean from the water. However he said the plug in #1 looked just like the plug in #2. This seemed logical to me, but still the question remains: where is the coolant leaking, and why has the car been low on giddy-up and now started misfiring bad enough to throw a code? Can any of you comment on this?

Also, to wrap things up, I bought the car with Dex in it, but the shop that did my UIM a little over a year ago switched me over to the green. Didn't even ask me, they just did it. But that'* another hill of beans. Thanks in advance for sharing your know-how guys.

EDIT: 57chevy, I just reread your post, and you make it sound like lower intake is a pretty big deal? Am I underestimating the technicality or importance of this thing? Also, would it be stupid for me to drive this thing 3 hours of interstate to get home and work on it myself?
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Old 11-04-2004, 03:05 AM   #19
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Ben, I'm not too sure just how to best answer your questions,,,,,

Let me just say this: I came D A M N close to loosing the whole engine when my lower intake gaskets finally catastrophically failed. (-dumped almost all of the coolant into the oil about 10 miles from home, and of course I didn't know that was what happened until I pulled into the garage, and checked under the hood) -in fact I drained out EXACTLY two gallons of nice steamy hot chocolate milk where there should have been motor oil.

Never Ever Again will I ever do any intake work on a Series II 3800 without changing those lower intake gaskets.

Pretty cheap insurance, in my book.

By the way, a lot of people on these forums, have changed over to the "green" coolant, so as to divorce themselves from the possibility of having any BAD BAD problems related to Dex Cool.

(personally, I will never again use the Dex Cool. I changed over to the Prestone "orange" extended life 5/150, especially since it is supposed to be "mulit-compatible.")

BUT, TO EACH THEIR OWN. I'd have to guess that the pink stuff would work out fine, assuming you NEVER let any air get into the system, NEVER use any stop leak, and NEVER run it a day past five years. -In fact, I'd say they had better change it about every three years. JUST MY TRUE FEELINGS. (-by the way, just for fun do a "google search" on "dexcool problems.")
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Old 11-04-2004, 11:56 AM   #20
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Do any of you guys have theories about the comments my mechanic made regarding coolant in the cylinder "cleaning" the spark plug? I'm not sure what to think about this. View my previous post for exact details about it.
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