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Old 06-05-2006, 01:10 PM   #1
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I stole this from my Denali Trucks site, but Bonnevilles are directly impacted by this...

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Ruling is near on GM engine coolant
Class action sought over Dex-Cool
BY JUSTIN HYDE
FREE PRESS WASHINGTON BUREAU

May 23, 2006

Targeted models
Here'* a list of models targeted by lawsuits against GM over engine coolants and gaskets. Any of the following vehicles from model years 1995 through 2004, sold with a 3.1, 3.4, 3.8 or 4.3-liter V6 engine and Dex-Cool coolant:

Chevrolet and GMC */T Blazer, Jimmy, Sonoma, S10 pickup, GMC Envoy.

Buick Century, Rendezvous, Riviera, Park Avenue Regal and LeSabre.

Chevrolet Lumina and Lumina APV, Venture, Malibu, Monte Carlo and Impala.

Oldsmobile Alero, Bravada, Cutlass, Silhouette, Ninety-Eight, Eighty-Eight and Intrigue.

Pontiac Trans Sport, Grand Am, Montana, Grand Prix, Aztek and Bonneville.


A federal judge may soon rule whether General Motors Corp. will face a national class action accusing GM of selling millions of vehicles with a faulty coolant.

The suits stem from GM'* use of Dex-Cool, a coolant it first introduced in its vehicles in 1995 and sold in more than 35 million cars and trucks between 1995 and 2004. According to GM, 14 federal and state lawsuits seeking class-action status have been filed against GM over a variety of engine problems linked to Dex-Cool.

Customers have complained of problems ranging from small coolant leaks to complete radiator and engine failure. Court documents show that GM has received tens of thousands of repair requests related to Dex-Cool and engine gaskets in the affected models and considered recalls for some models.

The company has issued several technical bulletins to its dealers about cooling-related problems in the engines, but says it prefers to handle customer complaints on a case-by-case basis.

When GM introduced the orange-colored Dex-Cool, it said in owners manuals that Dex-Cool could last up to five years or 100,000 miles without being replaced, and later extended Dex-Cool'* life to 150,000 miles. Dex-Cool uses a different set of chemicals to protect engine parts than traditional green-colored coolant, which requires more frequent replacement, and GM was the first U.*. automaker to use it.

Attorneys for the owners say that clause means GM should repair any Dex-Cool-related problems, even if they crop up outside the engine'* typical 3-year or 36,000-mile engine warranty.

"What we're looking for is to have GM step up and honor its warranty obligation," said Eric Gibbs, a San Francisco attorney and one of the lead lawyers for the owners. "There'* a significant public interest in this problem, no question about that."

GM claims that the owners manual clause was not a warranty, but a service interval. In its court filings, the automaker says Dex-Cool "has performed without problems in the vast majority of GM vehicles."

"The recent motion to certify a class action is unfortunate," said GM spokeswoman Geri Lama, "and the situation with our customers has been grossly overstated through unsubstantiated allegations in statements which have not been proven in court and will be vigorously defended."

Six of the federal lawsuits have been consolidated in a federal court in East St. Louis, Ill. U.*. District Judge G. Patrick Murphy could rule at any time whether the cases, which have about 100 named plaintiffs, should be granted class-action status, meaning they could represent millions of former and current GM owners.

Three similar lawsuits has been filed in Canada, while a state lawsuit in Missouri has already won class-action status, a decision GM is appealing.

The troubles blamed on Dex-Cool range from leaking coolant to blown engines, and often include failed intake manifold gaskets, pieces that rest between the engine block and the air intake to prevent coolant and oil from leaking. Replacing a gasket usually runs about $700, but a bad gasket can cause enough damage that the engine has to be replaced.

Mixing Dex-Cool with another coolant can cause other problems, and GM doesn't recommend using other coolants in Dex-Cool engines, although some mechanics do swap coolants.

About 110 complaints of coolant leaks in the GM vehicles targeted by the lawsuit have been filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, according to a Free Press review. The agency rejected a call for a defect investigation in 2002, saying the problems weren't safety related and was therefore outside its purview.

Many of the complaints say the problems appear to begin around 60,000 miles, well beyond the engine'* warranty but sooner than many customers believe they should have problems with their cooling systems. A few have been reported as early as 20,000 miles.

Mark Reynolds, a radiator repair shop owner in San Carlos, Calif., says he sees one or two GM vehicles a week with Dex-Cool problems. A typical repair requires flushing the cooling system and in some cases taking the radiator apart.

"It'* a shame -- vehicles in their fourth or fifth year with this awful, gooey mud attacking the top of the radiator cap and fouling up the radiator," he said.

GM has argued against certifying the lawsuit as a class action, noting that state courts in Michigan and California have already turned down similar lawsuits. It contends that the plaintiffs want to represent past and present owners who don't have any problems, and that they "complain of just about everything that can go wrong with a vehicle, attributing every bit of it to Dex-Cool."

Lama said if a GM customer has a problem beyond the warranty, GM has a process for dealing with it through its dealers.

"The first priority of General Motors and its dealers is helping our customers," Lama said.

Contact JUSTIN HYDE at 202-906-8204 or [email protected].

Copyright 2006 Detroit Free Press Inc.
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Old 06-05-2006, 01:38 PM   #2
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Old 06-05-2006, 01:43 PM   #3
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No big surprise here.

I agree though, based on what we've seen here, that some of the issues being tied to DexCool use are more than likely stand-alone issues. We do know, for instance that the UIM failures and LIM gasket failures are independant failures and are usually due to their respective faulty designs. GM has tacitly acknowledged this by updating the designs in obvious attempts to fix them after the fact.

On the other hand, GM has taken the wrong approach to handling customer problems IMO. My personal experiences are case-in-point. Every time I've discussed the UIM and LIM gasket failure with a dealer rep, there is a complete and total denial of the fact that a problem exists. Quote from the DeLand, FL Pontiac Service Manager; "We really don't see this problem here. It'* an unusual failure that we don't see on these cars."

If GM'* approach to customer service is to consistently deny that a problem exists, until or unless forced to take action by extremely persistent customers, then they've chosen the wrong approach and should pay the consequences for that choice.
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Old 06-05-2006, 01:54 PM   #4
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............Interesting.

So,that could have been the actual cause of the engine damage from UIM failures instead of the UIM itself
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Old 06-05-2006, 01:57 PM   #5
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............Interesting.

So,that could have been the actual cause of the engine damage from UIM failures instead of the UIM itself
No, the UIM failure is due to the EGR and stovepipe sizing most likely. This erodes the UIM through heat and once it cracks, it dumps coolant into the upper manifold and cylinders.

The LIM gaskets that we see here where they are caving in toward the passages are considered the cause of the Dex Cool.
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Old 06-05-2006, 01:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbeast420

So,that could have been the actual cause of the engine damage from UIM failures instead of the UIM itself
Doubtful. The UIM/EGR port area is a very poor design from GM. It doesn't matter if straight water was used for coolant, that design is weak.
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Old 06-05-2006, 02:17 PM   #7
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This is a bit of a touchy subject for me...

we know that the Dex is of a more gasket damaging nature than the Green( Silicate ) coolant...

The engines listed all use plastic gaskets, Radiators with plastic tanks... On and on...

I have seen the gaskets on the 3100'* die and early death with green coolant... Most were between 80k and 120k some made it to 150k...A few went too early to comprehend...

The Same goes for the 3400 V6 which has always had Dex... I have heard of them going at 30K, but I have seen most of them go 80k-120k... Seen 1 or 2 at 160k before the gaskets went out...

I have seen the Vin L 3800'* kill of the lower gaskets with green coolant, but thats usually with 150k+ on the clock...

I have seen a few of the 3800 II'* make it to 120K or better on the upper intake and lower gaskets...

If we look at the old 3.1( early 3100 ) they didn't have all of the issues with the intake gaskets, and I believe that had a lot more to do with the design of the gaskets... If memory serves they were a Paper/Fiber design as opposed to the plastic...

The old 3.8 used a valley Pan / Intake gasket iirc( been a while )... The 3800 went to the plastic gaskets and lasted a long time without issues... But they too suffered over time...

My opinion is that the plastic gaskets were never a good idea in any application... On the 3800 you have cast iron heads and plastic gaskets sandwhiched between the alluminum lower intake.... I'd have to say that would have to be a harsh environment for plastic gaskets...

And now with the upgrade to the new alluminum frame gaskets for the 3800 II / III engines, Gm must have seen this as a problem as well, and in the least the Dex will not be able to add to the degradation of the intake gaskets...

I feel that the owners that had issues in the warranty period should have been taken care of properly and treated as such... Maybe a bit after the warranty too being that GM knew they had an issue... It would have been far easier for GM to replace the gaskets at 40-60k too keep the customers happy...

Now for cutomers that drove the snott out of their car, never checked the coolant, never checked the oil.... Had the gaskets go at 150k.... I would not feel sorry for that person in the least...

Now this makes me wonder if GM has upgraded the gaskets for the 3100/3400/3500 and the 3900 as well... I'm sure alluminum versions would save a lot of headaches in the longrun...

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Old 06-05-2006, 04:28 PM   #8
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While this is a great step in the right direction.......I still am upset that they let a huge problem go on for over 9 years. Of course, I'm talking about the terrible design of the UIM. Then when the problems became apparent, they did nothing but deny...

Quote:
"complain of just about everything that can go wrong with a vehicle, attributing every bit of it to Dex-Cool."
I think that is their answer on this issue. I could read that as "due to our poor design on many engine components (LIM gaskets, UIM'*), people blame DexCool to be the problem. This simply isn't true, it is not the DexCool'* fault, it'* our stupid engineers."

Anyways, I'm done venting...
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Old 06-05-2006, 04:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ten_gigahertz
While this is a great step in the right direction.......I still am upset that they let a huge problem go on for over 9 years. Of course, I'm talking about the terrible design of the UIM. Then when the problems became apparent, they did nothing but deny...

Quote:
"complain of just about everything that can go wrong with a vehicle, attributing every bit of it to Dex-Cool."
I think that is their answer on this issue. I could read that as "due to our poor design on many engine components (LIM gaskets, UIM'*), people blame DexCool to be the problem. This simply isn't true, it is not the DexCool'* fault, it'* our stupid engineers."

Anyways, I'm done venting...
Ahhh... Thank you

I couldn't agree more

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Old 06-05-2006, 05:35 PM   #10
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Ahh, a very interesting read.

Now upon reading this, I was slightly concerned becasue I need to perform a radiator flush, and I'm sure there'* other newbies that may need to do a flush, what should we refill the radiator with? Dexcool or another brand? Dexcool has been reported more eroding than the regular green coolant, so should I fill it up with Dexcool or switch over to a different brand?
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