"It's the big one"....maybe - 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 04-26-2007, 11:30 PM   #1
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Default "It'* the big one"....maybe

Some of you may recognize my screen name, I've used this forum to my advantage in the past, and I'm hoping for some mroe good advice.

My Boonny is on life support and the wife wants to junk her, so i need to have her fixed this weekend or else!

Some history:this engine was a junkyard buy after I trashed the last one. I know their bullet proof, but I vapor locked it going 75 when the UIM failed. 3 years later it finally gave out. that was two years ago, now I have the junkyard engine. Note:I do all the work myself, but am not a master mechanic. I build jet engines, I TRY to build car engines. This engine has about 50K, and had 75k when I bought her, so its not new, but should still be servicable. I checked the UIM, but besides that I just dropped it in. Seemed to be working fine.

Problem: i started losing power earlier this week and didn't think much of it. needs new plugs, or tuneup......something. Today i was getting a pretty good rattle when trying to get to speed, but again just dismissed it. This evening there was a decent tick, and the check oil light flashed on then off (she does have a slight oil leak), so I topped her off. She was about a quart and a half low. it seemed a bit excessive, but i had been neglecting her a bit. Then tonight while in a drivethrough the engine just quit, after a serious rattling noise. I pushed it into a spot, ate my burger and started it back up. there was a decent knocking noise but it went away and now it sounds as if I have an exhaust leak...basically the sengine is louder than it should be. I pulled the throttle a few times and she seemed to settle down but I could still hear the occasional knock. SO I tried to drive it a bit and see if it intensified. It did. I went about 200 yards and parked it. When I parked it the knock was very noticeable, and the engine stalled. I knew enough that she was going no where.

Troubleshoot?: Something I didn't mention, every day for about a week the check oil light has been popping on when i first start the car, then dissappears as soon as I get moving. I figure indication problem, or a little low, because it never stayed on. A few days ago i noticed the slight tick, and figured mayber the oil pump was getting weak or something, but had never heard of that before. Besides that and what I explained before about no poer, thats all the symptoms.

Maintenance: I don't always take care of her the way I should, but she always has oil changes on time or close. Haven't had a good tune up since I dropped it in.

Fix: i will be tearing into it this weekend. Anything I should look for or just the obvious? I will post some pics if you all like, I got a new computer that makes it really easy. Is she toast? Sounds like a Rod knock but I don't want to believe that, or even how it happened. I don't hot rod it....much. She seemed to be running fine up till this last week. I am a little concerned becaus the oil pressure sensor has never worked since I busted it during installation. it works intermittently, but I never pay attention since its probably always wrong. So I dont even know what the pressure was.

Sorry bout the book, any help fellas? I've always gotten good advice here before and now I....and my Bonny...need it like never before.

Thanks in advance!!
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Old 04-27-2007, 12:00 AM   #2
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Sure sounds like a rod bearing. You could drop the pan and check each journal for radial play. I've done several lower end jobs on 3800'* and if you need a crank kit, better figure on about $500 to fix it. $200 for the reground crank and bearings, $200 for all the other gaskets, and $100 for stuff we forgot about, like taking the offending rod to a shop and making sure the big end is right before you put it back in. And, make sure you check the condition of the balance shaft bearings too. I wish I had checked mine when I had mine apart the last time.
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Old 04-27-2007, 11:17 AM   #3
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It sounds like rod knock...

BUT... You mention the oil level light... you never mention the oil pressure. What is the oil pressure at warm idle?

Edit..you mention it..get a mechanical gauge on it..
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Old 04-27-2007, 12:59 PM   #4
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You might as well figure it'* one rod bearing or more.

What may have happened is that oil and sludge congealed after drifting down into one or more of the rod "big end" oiling passages while waiting for you at the junkyard. You'd never know. To boot, the previous owner may have let oil change frequencies lapse terminally.

If you're burning oil, then you have either ring and/or valve guide wear. Plugs can tell you alot. Since you don't know the history of this engine, you can't really be sure of much internally without a total engine overhaul. Hate to say it, but I think you'd be into alot of time, trouble, expense and frustration without the total overhaul. And you might just end up more or less where you started. I've been there. :(

Good luck!
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Old 04-27-2007, 02:01 PM   #5
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I'd think there'* too many miles since the swap for a problem from sitting in the junkyard.
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Old 04-27-2007, 02:15 PM   #6
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Without a working oil pressure gauge, you had no way of knowing if it lost pressure. Did you replace the intake gaskets when the replacement engine went in?
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Old 04-27-2007, 11:20 PM   #7
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Well the jury is in. It was a rod bearing. Just one and itall it did was spin a bit. I got a consensus from my other shade tree mechanic freinds, no one thinks it warrants getting the crank turned or replacing the rod. What do you guys think? There was some scuffing on the journals, but not a groove enough for me to put a fingernail in. I think it would probably be ok to just replace the bearing.

But why would it go bad to begin with? Thats my concern. Any ideas?
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Old 04-27-2007, 11:37 PM   #8
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usually they go cause they are starved for oil.

Are you swapping fluids... have the lim/uim gone bad since you put the engine in ?

You can replace the bearing..... You might get lucky......

At this point..you have tough decisions to make... try replacing the rod bearings.. they are realitively inexpensive. Find out exactly what starved the engine in the frist place. As I said you might get lucky.

Or you can replace the engine again. No car payment is a nice thing.

Some will say fix the engine, get the crank turned etc etc... My personal opinion is to replace the engine from a wreck.

Others will chime in..

And what year mileage etc does the car have ?
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Old 04-28-2007, 12:20 AM   #9
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theres 185k on the car and about 100k on the engine. The UIM and LIM are fine. I did notice a lot of sludge in the engine though. Maybe the prior owner used synthetics? I use Valvoline. I was thinking about replacing the oil pump just in case, not sure if that was worth it or not. Maybe I could put some air into all the galleys and orifices and see if that helps.

Either way, this is probably her last leg. My plan was to give it to my 16 year old daughter. Maybe too much power for a teenager but its a fairly safe ride
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Old 04-28-2007, 09:54 AM   #10
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That spun bearing will have damaged the big end of the connecting rod as well as scuffing the journal. Replacing that one bearing without resurfacing the journal and resizing the rod will almost certainly not effect a lasting repair. If the big end of the rod is out of round, the bearing won't last. You might install a new bearing and check the clearance at the bottom of the throw with plastigage to get an idea if the oil clearance is within spec, but again, your chances of a permanent fix are not good.

Starting a car and revving the engine before the oil has a chance to get to the space between the journal and the bearing can cause a bearing to spin. Or oil starvation from a plugged strainer, very low oil in the sump, or debris that blocks flow to the bearing.
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