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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 11-07-2009, 12:57 PM   #1
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Default Coolant Elbow

Thanks in advance for any assistance

My daughters car, 97 Bonneville SE - I spent the last hour or so isolating the coolant elbow as the cause of the anti freeze leak. Hit the gas a few times, and it comes spraying our of the black plastic elbow where it meets the block. Thought it was the water pump, got scared it was a gasket etc

I am about a B- wrench ... I am further stupid enought to think I can tackle this. Is there a step by step instruction for this on the site ? To what I read this morning, the altenator has to come off and then the tensioner. I further understand that it is the tensioner 'body' itself that moves coolant. Looking at the car, I can see how the alt comes off. The next step is the tensioner. Is the tensioner two pieces ? It looks like the idler pulley itself is one part, then the impeller that I assume moves coolant to the heater core is a second piece No ?

It also looks like the tensioner assembly is big Will I have a better idea once the alternator is off ?

What is this on a scale of difficulty ? (given my questions )

Thanks again, John - Macungie Pennsylvania
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Old 11-07-2009, 01:10 PM   #2
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this is the closest thing i could find scroll through and it explains how the tensioner assembly comes off and goes back on it is not too difficult however you will need to drain some coolant out til it is below the upper radiator hose
https://www.gmforum.com/t278911/
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Old 11-07-2009, 02:03 PM   #3
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First thing you need to do is see if your tensioner uses a lower plastic elbow. Some where between 97 and 98 they started using a lower and upper plastic elbow.
You will need a new lower elbow or lower o-ring depending on which tensioner you have.
Here is a picture of a removed tensioner from a 96 L36 that does not have a lower plastic elbow. The lower elbow on the early tensioners were part of the aluminum casting like in this picture.

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You open the drain on the bottom of the radiator and let all the coolant drain into a pan.
Remove the negative battery cable.
Remove the serpentine drive belt
Remove alternator and front brace taking note of where each bolt goes.
Remove the two heater hoses from the tensioner pipes. If you remove the tensione pipes from the tensioner you will need to replace the rubber o-rings.
Now remove the two bolts still holding the tensione on. One bolt is hid out of sight on the left hand side of the tensioner.
Once the bolts are temoved gently wiggle the tensioner till it comes off.
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Old 11-07-2009, 02:20 PM   #4
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When replacing the elbow make certain that any broken pieces get removed. You may have to pick and pry it all out. Also, use a very small amount of Vasoline on the new elbow and O'ring. This will help slip it into place. You will still need to wiggle it in, but the O'ring wont roll on you if it'* been lubed up.
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Old 11-07-2009, 02:27 PM   #5
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Thanks guys, excellent

The elbow that is leaking is plastic, Black. My Black elbow is where you are pointing in BLUE 'Elbow' I cant see the other elbow at this point, but as I just felt around, it sure doesnt feel like there is another elbow, so I assume this is the one. Thanks for the diagram .. awesome.

So, once the alt is off, I unbolt the tensioner, its a matter of wiggling it off. But on the flip side, how the heck does it go back on ? so its just a finess job getting the two orings to 'snap in' CAREFULLY ! and bolt it back ?

Lastly, I only grabbed the tensioner by hand, I could not move it. So when putting the belt back on, is it a matter of a crowbar etc to move the tensioner to get the belt to slip back on ? (thats how my saab worked)

Thanks again, the diagram really helped

John
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Old 11-07-2009, 02:29 PM   #6
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Kevin, got , that is what I just asked.

Im diving in !

Its a nice car, I bought it not too long ago for you my daughter. Its gold with cloth, the gold wheels which I like. It was a classic old ladies car, only had about 55k on it

really nice until my daughter bumped into a bus and dented the front fender.

John
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Old 11-07-2009, 02:46 PM   #7
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To remove the belt put a 15mm box wrench or ratchet and socket on the tensioner pulley bolt and turn counter clockwise.
The tensioner pulley bolt has left hand threads so rotating it counter clockwise will not loosen.
I use a one foot cheater pipe on a 15 mm box wrench the tensioner spring is stiff.
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Old 11-07-2009, 03:05 PM   #8
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Ron

Thanks, correct, I used to know that !! New serp belt going on as well. Off to get parts, thanks again for the quick answers, God forbid my daughter goes without a car for a day !

John
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Old 11-30-2009, 11:36 PM   #9
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Hope this thread isn't dead but I need to replace the elbow on my 95 SSE. Have a few questions on the procedure:

1) Can I leave the heater hoses attached to the tensioner when I pull it off? Then I don't have to replace the O-rings on them right? The picture shows an arrow to another O-ring or is this the one that must be replaced also. How many O-rings do I need if I replace them all (same size)?
2) When pulling off the tensioner, the elbow should come with it (detaching from the engine) right, just wiggle it right?

Last edited by iggy; 12-01-2009 at 12:15 AM.
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Old 11-30-2009, 11:39 PM   #10
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The hoses don't have O rings, only the elbows do.

Ya, just wiggle and twist. When you put them back, use a little lube on the O ring.
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